Overview
Chinese culture is a culture of ideas. The secret of Chinese success has been an ability to assibilate and even embrace what would be, to a less advanced civilization, divisive ideas and beliefs. At the core of Chinese thought are a group of concepts which have proven to be general enough to be inclusive and insightful enough to prove eternally useful. What the future of China's beliefs will be on the competitive stage of world history, no one can tell. Here are some texts which speak to people today with the same force as the Iliad, the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh and all other great works of human thought and dreams

KM020 Meditation's Secret Treasure
Awakening to the Mystic World
$17.95 Plum price $15.95 softbound, 191 pages

It has long been my contention that the science of the East is meditation. What in modern times is the concept of a rarefied objectivity is mirrored in the Eastern tradition of a distanced view of the world around you, a perspective that strives to return us to something even more basic than our own personality, ultimately to re-instate our true nature.

Of course, most people think of this as the product of years of the most rigorous and sometimes even tortuous practice. But, as I also contend, there are well-regarded alternative methods of “awakening to the mystic world.”

What makes this book so unusual is that Mr. Strasnick was never a believer. His background encompasses computer graphics, political science (he taught at Stanford) and other intellectual realms. True, he has a good deal of martial training, but that barely explains the events in his book: “Meditation's Secret Treasure: A True Story of Visionary Travel by the Accidental Mystic.”

And what did happen? In a word, transformation, complete and deep. Mr. Strasnick had little inclination toward metaphysical sensation. But then, “...a skeptical spiritual neophyte sat down to began a daily practice of meditation and somehow slid through a crack between worlds, ultimately ending up in a strange new psychic dimension of the Soul…" In repeat visits over an extended period, the author's experience offers seventy strange visions and apparitions. This led him on a journey across multiple realms and worlds.

This is the story of someone who was not already indoctrinated, who did not bring a cosmology (at least, not a religious one) to the table. How would it be for you? These things seem like charming fairy tales where the reader suddenly pops up in the story. If you want to know what it would be like for someone who is not “inclined” in that manner, here is the book.


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KC059 Confucian & Taoist Wisdom
by Edward L. Shaughnessy
175 pages, Hardbound, marker ribbon, photographs
Regular price $16.95
PLUM price $5.95, Hardbound

This book is a beautiful designed hardback edition that might be a gift or kept at bedside for inspiration. Here are quotations from some of China’s greatest thinkers, and most influential spiritual leaders. Starting with a introduction telling about each of them and their respective philosophies it gives you a sense of the direction of Chinese thinking. At his place at the table is MoTzu who felt that love was man’s nature. He sits right across from Xun Zi who believed that man was essentially evil. Lao Zi runs the game while Zhuang Zi sits off to the side dreamily puffing his pipe. Each section is introduced with a full page photograph. This is followed by excerpts on the subject listed such as Family, Education, Warfare, The Dao, Government, Sagehood and Death.

Meng WuBo asked about filial piety. Confucius said, “Let the father and mother’s only worry be about your being ill.”

“Only after there are things that a man will not do can he do great things.” Mencius

“Heaven does not stop winter on account of men hating the cold, the earth does not stop being broad on account of men hating long distances, and the gentleman does not stop acting on account of petty men’s carping. Heaven has it constant ways, earth has its constant number, and the gentleman has his constant bearing. The gentleman follows his constancy while the petty man calculates his achievements. “ Xunzi.


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KP018 The Philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan
by Freya and Martin Boedicker
$14.95 PLUM price 13.45, 98 pages, Hardbound

(Sale-priced copies—$8—available on our "hurt books" page here)

Mr. Boedicker has already made a contribution to the martial arts by producing one of the most beautiful books in English on the Wu style of Tai Chi with his teacher Ma Jiang Bo —regrettably now out of print. This new survey book is a nice introduction to the cultural and philosophical backgrounds of Martial Arts and Chinese culture in general showing through commentary and selected translation a "taste" of many seminal sources for the wisdom embodied (literally, to make a pun) in not only Tai Chi but all martial movement. Sources draw from that old boy Lao Tzu, the niceties of the Book of the Mean, the twin suns of military tactics Sun Bin and Sun Zi, the magical Lieh Zi and others. A bit of an anodyne for the flood of "kick ass" writings in martial arts.

 

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I Ching
Don't even ask if we have a collection of Chou I books. There are some good ones, many bad, some very bad. The I Ching is not for the faint hearted but it is a storehouse of amazing observations and insights by a people struggling to understand their place IN the universe not above it. Here are some of the books we think deserve special attention by interested parties. There are not many. There will be more. But we think quality counts and quantity nods.

KC045 The Complete I Ching
by Alfred Huang
$19.95 PLUM price 17.95, 252 pages

Without a doubt one of the best translations and complications of the I Ching on the market today. Huang's story is very interesting. He was introduced into the Ching's deeper meaning while imprisoned. He decided to do his own translation because he found that the Western translations, though good, didn't have enough "hope." He relates his work to previous translators like Wilhelm and Blofeld but gives alternative names for many of the Kua and excellent background on their names and meanings. A very thorough book with much ancillary information that will keep the I Ching enthusiast going for quite some time. Highly recommended.

 

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TAO
There are those who might not see the connection between martial arts and what they think of as the ultimate pacifist religion. But historically, as well as spiritually, Taoism is one of the keystones of classical martial thinking. Throughout a bloody history Taoist generals have distinguished themselves as experts in military strategy, from which even today the world takes lessons. At the same time they developed the concept that the best war is never even fought, that the general who fights and wins is inferior to the general who never has to fight. In these and a hundred other ways the philosophy of Taoism has had a profound impact on the thinking of real martial artists.

Nourishing the Essence of LifeKD014     Decoding the Dao
Nine Lessons in Daoist Meditation
Tom Bisio
$29.95, 400+ pages,

Tom Bisio has done us all a favor, especially those who are conducting deeper studies relating to Daoist philosophy, meditation, Qigong and the like. This book compiles years of reading and primary material and then, in classical Chinese manner, adds Bisio’s own comments and clarifying insight. He has also added a clever method by assembling nine progressive lessons in the meditative school branch of Daoism. These lessons are well selected because they will indeed bring you into the meditative practice in one of the easiest and most developed curriculums we’ve seen in text form. Following a basic Daoist principle that encourages you to actually experience the process, to ride the river yourself, Tom has arranged Wuji Standing and other related practices in a sequence. Each section takes at least ten days to complete with the overall regiment of three months, placing your feet directly on the right path. And that’s just the first nine chapters. Beyond these, treating the essence of Daoist material as a code—which is exactly what it is—he unravels many of the key references and symbols that have informed this practice for more than two thousand years. Some forms of knowledge become ‘coded” not because they are meant to hide things from others but because the overlap of pattern, intent and symbol could only concentrate the information into a “code.” There are times when a poem has more information than an essay. Tom Bisio’s text retains the patterns and images intact while decaoding the meaning behind the cipher. I don’t mean that the rose of Daoism will just fall open like petals at dawn, but this book is definitely an on-the-desk reference collecting for you the information you might have scattered through your library. There is no other text I can think of that brings so much of Daoism’s scattered story into the same arena.

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Nourishing the Essence of LifeKN007 Nourishing the Essence of Life
Eva Wong
$15.95 ours 14.35, 104 pages,

This book presents three classic texts on the nature of the Tao. It examine the macrocosm of the universe related to the microcosm of the human body. We see this reflected in the three levels of Taoist teachings, the Inner, the Outer and the Secret (Xuan). The Outer level deals with Human life in its social and familial setting. The Inner level deals with the energetics of the individual practitioner. The secret level discusses transformations which bring ineffable and unpredictable aspects of cultivation. This is not a critical account of Taoism but a discussion from the standpoint of classical students. It records rituals and aspects or authentic Taoist ritual which might be confusing and a little mysterious to some but that’s Taoism at the cultural level. A very good, slim volume on ancient Taoist practices and beliefs.

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Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)KT043 TaoTeChing
Translated by Red Pine
$14.95 softbound, 180 pages

In this well-recieved version Red Ping not only translates the Tao but "corrects some errors" previously associated with it. This version also has a face-to-face Chinese text and selected commentaries from many scholars throughout the last 2000 years.

"The Way that becomes a Way is not the Immortal Way."

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Taoist MeditationKT014 Taoist Meditation
Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body
Translated by Thomas Cleary
$12.95, 130 pages, softbound,

One of Thomas Cleary's most accesible and interesting translations.This is a compilation from numerous texts on Taoist meditation (though certainly with Confucian and Buddhist perspectives also represented). Among the other, longer sections there is purported to be a section on meditation by the semi-legendary creator of T'ai Chi; CHANG SAN FENG.

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Taoist Body

KT013 Taoist Body
Kristopher Schipper
$27.95, 279 pages, softbound,

Now this is an important book ! Prof. Schipper is presently one of the world’s experts on Taoism. Unlike so many who have written on Taoism he studied from the inside, becoming a Tao Shih (Taoist Priest) in the process. Taoist Body is about real Taoism, not the coffee house variety where "everything goes". It discusses ritual, lineage, beliefs and philosophy. The chapter on the Inner Landscape is worth the price of the book. He challenges many misunderstandings and myths about the study while giving a thorough and fascinating account of Taoist trasditiona and its continuity through history. His book explores Taoist priesthood and its meaning. Very good work.

Note: There is only one available distributor for this book so expect a little longer wait when ordering.

 

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KT015 Taoist Yoga
Charles Luk(Lu KuanYu)
$12.95, 240 pages, softbound,

Often referred to as "Taoist Yoga," this is a fine text on the art of Chi Kung. One of the first ever written and widely available in the English language. Still a classic it contains not only some instruction but, more importantly, a properly respectful attitude that this (Chi Kung) is something more than a New Age exercise for the Spa of the Future.

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