Taoist I Ching 1st Edition
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In regard to Liu's alchemical system, it is similar to his commentary on Chang Po-Tuan's 'Understanding Reality' (also translated by Cleary) -- one seeks to balance yin and yang, leading to a firing process that eventually allows the golden elixir to crystallize. As usual with Taoist alchemical texts, Liu stops just short of giving you the actual secret to doing all this -- instead, you are directed to find a teacher who will give you the oral instructions. That's great, if you're able to find one. If not, you may be out of luck, as Liu specifically warns against individual guesswork. Interestingly, he also attacks those who vaunt the circulation of energy as the secret: on p. 228 he witheringly refers to "Excess in being ignorant and acting arbitrarily, listening to blind teachers, striving for elevation by conveying the energy up to boost the brain, or conveying the energy up into the head, or keeping the thought on the point between the brows. . . " -- so if you thought the "microcosmic orbit" was what it was all about, Liu would seem to suggest you're wrong. And he was indeed one of the foremost commentators on spiritual alchemy. He also attacks excess in meditation (i.e to the point of "quietism", though not all meditation itself). Oftentimes, this book seems to be more about balance in life, which is something seemingly within reach. Yet, tantalizingly, there seems to be some further secret that always remains unavailable to those uninitiated with by private oral instructions.
Well, whatever about all that, this book is well worth reading, will challenge you, and make you work hard (at least mentally). But if you just want an easy oracle that tells you what you should do in some given situation, go with the old Wilheml/Baynes.
Each book in Cleary's i-Ching trilogy -- Buddhist, Taoist and the Tao of Organization -- offers something unique and appealing. The Taoist i-Ching is the most metaphysical of the three and the most developed. Although the Buddhist i-Ching is a bit more human and friendly, Taoist thinking tends to mesh better with the underlying concepts.
The Taoist i-Ching is based on Complete Reality Taoism, which is very adaptible to beliefs from all walks of life. The processes of yin and yang rising and falling are most prominent in the commentaries. Overall, the edition reads as a very modern take on the ancient text.