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The Secret of the Golden Flower is an ancient Chinese book about spiritual development. It was first translated to German by sinologist, Richard Wilhelm who also made the I ching (Book of Change) known to the western world. He was a friend of Carl Gustav Jung which provided comments on the translation. Thomas Cleary translated it again in 1991 and criticized the validity of the earlier translations. I would recommend Monica Esposito, The Different Versions of the Secret of the Golden Flower and Their Relationship with the Longmen.
If you are happy with an electronic version you can find the link here under books or else you can order it from Amazon or other places.
Let me start with a quote from the first chapter:
“The Golden Flower is the Golden Pill (Elixir of Life). All changes of spiritual consciousness depend upon the heart. This wonderful charm, although it works very accurately, is yet so fluid that it needs wisdom and alertness, and the most complete absorption and tranquillity. People without this highest wisdom and alertness won`t find the way to apply the charm; people without this utmost capacity for absorption and tranquillity cannot hold on to it.”
As you re-read this quote just think about the similarities with our western traditions.
We have just had Easter, a time for the Holy Supper of bread and wine, symbols of wisdom and love. “The one dependent of the other, as two sides of the same coin”, to quote Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov. The need of combining love and wisdom on the path to truth is known in both the East and the West. It is also a central symbol in the Divine Marriage of the King and the Queen in alchemy, as the importance of getting to know your anima or animus from a Jungian perspective.
We also recognize the so highly loved principle of the Djed in old Egypt, the principle of stability. Stability as a state of deep inner peace or tranquillity. The blessing Peace be with you, or the old version of BR or “Best regards” in spiritual letters was Pax Profundis, deep inner peace.
The esoteric principles or the steps we need to take on the spiritual path are the same. This Chinese text is valuable in many ways and unique of its kind.
We might find a slight difference in the value put on “action in non-action” or “fasting of the heart” but it is still very much the same as internally focus on prayer, meditation, fasting or just silence (Read more about silence here and here and here about levels of sleep).
The Treatise of the Golden Flower of the Supreme One (T’ai-yi kin-hua tsong-che) can not be said to be recipe book or manual from a spiritual Master, it is more notes from a tradition, like the Bible consist of notes from the life of Jesus.
It contains a description of a spiritual method of mastering, quite complete, but still intended to be part of a training or having some additional guidance. It has digressions, repetitions and some more obscure parts that make it feel like a composition from different sources, but still the methodology is consistent showing an un-going tradition with solid roots.
The meditation technique is set forth poetically with a formula of how to sit, how to breath, how to make the Qi move or revolve and how to contemplate it. The same goes for the opening of the Golden Flower.
This is a book about the spiritual path of self-awareness, self-realization or mastery in life, how to turn on the light or enlightenment, how to wash you heart or emotion and purify, and how to turn on inspiration or the firing process.
Let me leave you with one last quote:
“Turning the light around is a matter of single-minded practice: just use the true breath to stabilize awareness in the central chamber. After a long time working with this you will naturally commune with the spirit and attain transmutation. Quieting the mind and stabilizing energy is the basis. When the mind is forgotten and the energy congeals, this is a sign of effectiveness. The emptiness of the mind and quietness of breath is the formation of the elixir. The unification of mind and energy is incubation. Clarifying the mind and seeing its essence is understanding the Way. You should each practice diligently; what a pity if you waste your time. If you do not practice for a day, then you are a ghost for a day; if you do practice for a single breath, then you are a realized immortal for a breath. More effort ! More effort !”
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