Master Zhuang’s teachings on the YIjing will soon be published innew book entitled “MYSTIC, SHAMAN, ORACLE, PRIEST” (SAIA): 2012 The Dao of Change: the I-ching 易經 (Yijing)

The Yijing is an ancient book written to help early Zhou dynasty kings keep their people in harmony with nature.The word for “King” (Wang) pictures a person who connects the three worlds, ( 三 ), by drawing a line connecting heaven, earth, and underworld ( 王 ). In ancient times, the king was the person who ruled by connecting humans to the three lines, called “trigrams,” in the Yijing, (易经) Book of Changes. The original three-line “trigram” messages, found in the I-ching (Yijing) , date from the early Zhou dynasty, 1050-760 BCE.

Nature’s changes take place in eight steps, called Ba Gua (八卦 8 trigrams), as Dao moves from pure yang to pure yin, and back again. The 8 Trigrams of change rule the inner body, as well as outer nature. Inside the body (三) the top line of the trigram is for head-heaven, the middle line for heart-earth, and the lower line for belly-water. Daoist Meditation harmonizes us with these eight changes, from Pure Yang to Pure Yin and back. (See appendix 1, “Ho-tu and Luo-shu” Ba Gua 八卦 illustrations).

The 8 Trigrams teach harmony with Dao when nature is changing (you-wei有为), and when it is at rest (wu-wei无为). The 8 trigrams are arranged in two sets, to explain this. The first set, the Trigrams of the invisible, Primordial Heavens 先天八卦 are pictured as a circle (the Neolithic 璧 bi jade). The Prior Heaven Trigrams unite us with Wu wei Dao, when the mind and heart are free of judgment and images. The moving Dao,
Yu-wei有为 之道 is square (the Neolithic 琮 cong jade) . It represents change in the visible world. It later was given the name Trigrams of the Later Heavens 后天八卦 and teaches oneness with Dao’s moving cycle of change, in the body, and in nature (See diagram #3, in the appendix, for these two arrangements of trigrams).

To help us find a more precise harmony with the Dao, the Yijing (I-ching) author multiplied the trigrams, 8 x 8, into 64 “hexagrams” (two trigrams written over each other). The 64 hexagrams, as used by Daoists, are spiritual as well as practical guides to Dao’s cyclical changes. The key to using the Yijing (I-ching) is simple. Nature always changes in four steps: spring, summer, autumn, winter; — birth, puberty, maturity, old age/death; – dawn, noon, sunset, midnight, always in a cycle of four.

To teach us how keep in harmony with nature’s four stages, the ancient Yijing (I-ching) scientists used four mantic (i.e., “coded”) seed words, which appear at the beginning of each hexagram. They explain how to respond spiritually to the 64 possible changes inside our hearts, as well as the world around us. The four “mantic” code words, explained below, are contemplative guides to Daoist prayer.

The Four stages of Daoist meditation

The Yijing’s 4 coded meditation words are: yuan 元,for nature’s rebirth in spring, when Dao ploughs and purifies us, implanting new Qi 炁 energy in the inner and outer Cosmos; heng 亨 for summer, when Dao sits like a hen on this Qi energy, to nourish and ripen it; li 利 for autumn (qiu 秋) when Dao cuts or harvests, by emptying our minds of words and our hearts of desires; and zhen 贞 for winter, when Dao writes on our bones and heart (贝), with a fiery brand (卜), as we meditate on Dao’s inner presence (贞). Note that the Yijing uses the 64 simple statements, written at the beginning of each hexagram, as a coded way to respond to external change, and keep our hearts in harmony with nature.

Daoists teach that 49 (7 x 7) of the Yijing hexagrams describe the Moving Dao, (you wei zhi Dao有为之道), while 15 (8 + 7) statements relate to the “Wu wei non-moving Dao, “wu-wei zhi dao 无为之道.” Each of the 49 hexagrams of “change,” yu-wei Dao, begin with one, two, three, or four of the sacred mantic code words. They teach us four ways to respond to change in nature. When ancient kings sought counsel of the Yijing, and one or more of these mantic words occurred, the kings behaved in accord with the meaning of the four sacred words, as follows:

. yuan 元 , purify the fields, and the mind, by plowing and planting (spring); heng 亨 nourish and ripen the heart (summer-kataphasis) by “meditating;” li 利 harvest, or “cut away” all images and judgments, (autumn-apophasis);

zhen 贞 rest – contemplate; be one with Dao presence in the belly (winter).

When consulting the Yijing, and one of the statements without a code word (16, 20, 23, 35, 43, 44, 48, 54) or negating them (12, 29, 33, 38, 52, 61, 63) occur, then the ancients knew that the Wu-wei, Dao of “apophasis” was present. It was time to do nothing, except, as Chuang-tzu (Zhuangzi) recommends, sit in forgetfulness, and perform heart fasting meditation. The Yijing is a manual leading to a four step, contemplative form of prayer and ritual meditation, in accord with the brief readings at the head of each hexagram.5 Images of the Yijing trigrams are found everywhere in Daoist Jiao 醮festival and Zhai 齋 burial liturgy.

How Daoist ritual uses the Yijing (I-ching)

Yijing symbols (not the book itself) are used everywhere in Daoist ritual, as well as in meditation. When performing rites of renewal (Jiao 醮), or burial (Zhai 斋), we ritually “close” the trigram Gen 艮 , (see appendix) the northeast “Gate of Demon” (Guei Men鬼门). We do this to purify all sacred places set aside for meditation and ritual. Then we “open” the Gate of Heaven (Tian Men 开天门 ,乾, 三) , in the northwest, to make Wu-wei 无为之道 Dao present. We do this to heal, bless, and renew, during the entire cycle of life’s change. Daoists must first be “one with Wu Wei Dao,” by inner cultivation. Only then, can we provide Rites of Passage, to renew and heal the communities in which we live. (Daoist Master Zhuang, 3rd edition, Los Angeles, 2012, Ch. 5, explains this process more fully).


Rainbow apeared while writing and posting this Lu document

Jie 戒 Rules for receiving Daoist Lu 籙 registers and meditation lessons

The First Ten Rules or “vows” given to the novice, before receiving the Daoist Master’s instructions (Daoist Master Zhuang, 3rd edition, Ch.5):

1. Banish all hatred, anger, and sadness from the heart; otherwise the powers of the “Yin” Underworld (“3 worms”) will devour the internal organs; 2. Be benevolent and merciful to all living beings; 3. Do good; avoid anything that harms others; 4. Purity includes mind as well as body; banish all impure thoughts; 5. Never speak or think badly of others; 6. Breathing must be calm and regulated, during ritual as well as meditation; 7. Do not put oneself above others, always yield and take the last place; 8. Do not argue or dispute, realize that we are always in “Dao” presence 9. Life breath (Qi 炁) is diminished by seeking good as well as bad things;

10. Keep Zhuangzi’s rule, “fast in the heart, sit with empty mind” 心齋坐忘

Ten vows taken before receiving Daoist Lu Registers from a master: 收錄十戒

1. Do not kill; respect all living things; 2. Do not lust, after another’s wife, or any other person; 3. Do not steal; do not take recompense for teaching Daoism; 4. Do not use force or deceit to achieve one’s way; 5. Do not drink to excess; alcohol is forbidden during Daoist keyi ritual; 6. Treat all men and women as one’s own family; 7. See the good points of everyone; help everyone be joyful; 8. If a person is sad, fill them with good thoughts and blessings; 9. Treat all other as if their needs were your own; never seek revenge;

10. Work that all attain the Dao

The Lu 籙 registers for Daoist “Jiao” 醮 life ritual and “Zhai” 齋 post life/burial ritual, include the meditations of Inner Alchemy. (See next post).

Michael Saso, Mar 24, 2012, (with rainbow appearing over Honolulu)


Daoist Contemplation 道教修行观想法. Lesson #1

Traditional Daoist contemplation, and Daoist ritual are closely related systems. 道教观想和科仪法 有密切的关系; they are taught together by the Daoist master.

Before learning to meditate, or perform 科仪 keyi rites of renewal, however, the Daoist master insists that the disciple first learn and practice Ch. 67 of the Laozi: “Compassion, frugal simplicity, never put self above others;” – that is, never think or say bad things about anyone; live a life of quiet simplicity; never “put down” others, condemn or criticize, or think or say negative things about anyone. Until the disciple is filled with positive good thoughts about others, and has learned to practice Chapter 4 of Zhuangzi “Heart fasting, sitting in forgetfulness” 心齋坐忘, learning Daoist meditation or contemplation is not allowed, by strict Daoist jie 戒 regulation.

The Daoist Trinity

Return to the Origin, find one’s roots 回源反根 is the goal of Daoist meditation. Ch. 42 of Laozi, “Dao gave birth to the One; One gave birth to 2; 2 gave birth to 3; 3 gave birth to the myriad things” 道生一,一生二,二生三,三生万物 (自然) “Dao” means the Transcendent, Wuwei dao 道=无为之道 1 = the moving Dao, Taiji, primordial breath; 有为之道,太極,元氣,炁,意 2 = yang, 陽 i.e., the male, action oriented, desires of the human heart 心,志,神 3= yin 陰,女,生之元,智, yin, woman, birthing, wisdom 精, (in the belly). Yin

(精), ie, the “3”, gives birth to all of nature, and restores energy to 1 (炁) & 2 (神)

1 = heaven, the head thinking and judging; 2= earth, the heart desiring and willing; 3= the belly, lower cinnabar field 下丹田 alchemical furnace, refining 1 and 2 into wisdom, 精 i.e., the ability to be always aware of Wuwei Dao’s gestating “now” presence.

Daoist contemplation brings all of the mind’s images and desires (“the past”), and all of the heart’s selfish desires (“the future”), into the belly, and refines them into a “now only” awareness of Transcendent Wuwei Dao. The mind uses up “Qi” by thinking negative thoughts and judging; the heart uses up “shen” spirit by selfish desires instead of loving and healing others; when shen and qi are exhausted, death occurs; with belly’s refined jing 精wisdom, longevity is achieved, living to a ripe old age (120 years) is possible, and health is restored.

Taoyi, Daoist ruler of the Underworld

Dao births the 4 seasons: spring 春/元, summer 夏/亨, autumn 秋/利, winter 冬/貞. The four Yijing (I-ching 易經) mantic words used here, ie, yuan, heng, li, zhen 元亨利貞 have deep spiritual meaning! Yuan means primordial purification; heng means nesting and nourishing sacred images; li means cutting away all images and desires, after which the Dao writes on the heart-mind with a fiery brush zhen 貞, like a heated iron used to draw on an oracle shell 卜+貝.

Lesson two shows how Dao births the 5 elements, 6 tones, 7 stars, 8 trigrams, etc.
(lesson 2 will be taken from the qingwei mijue ben 清微祕訣本說明.

Dou Mu, mother of Big Dipper,


Daoist Masters in China – Oral and Written Traditions

1) – Finding a Daoist Master 清道教師傅修養科儀法 Daoism as it is practiced and taught in China is like a multi-faceted “jewel,” containing multiple schools, religious orders, and spiritual teachings. Daoist teachers, male as well as women masters, classify themselves as follows: – “recluse” (yinshi 隱居) , who practice monastic or mountain recluse celibacy, – “fire dwelling” 火居, who live by the fireside, marry, and pass on the Daoist legacy to their children and disciples Monastic Daoists belong to the Quan Zhen 全真 school with two major orders, the “Longmen” 龍門 Dragon Gate – celibate monks and nuns who live in monasteries, and Qingjing 清靜 women religious who follow the teachings of Sun Bu-er (a married woman who in her mature years founded a spiritual way for women). Fire Dwelling Daoists belong to five major orders, and many minor or local systems; the 5 major orders are listed in Daoist “Mijue” manuals as follows: Shang Qing, Zhengyi Mengwei, Lingbao, Beidou, Qingwei, and Shenxiao 上清,正一盟威,靈寶,北斗,清微,神霄;Daoists who belong to one or more of these orders receive at the time of their “ordination,” or empowerment as Daoists, a Lu 籙 “register,” of spirits’ images, names, mantric seed words and mudra hand symbols specific to each school, to summon and command spirits during ritual and contemplation. They also receive a 40 character poem identifying their order, the generation of their master’s ordination, as well as their own entry into a specific order. Daoist masters are not allowed to reveal the content of the poem, or the register, to scholars, and with few exceptions, strictly follow this rule or jie 戒 which they must vow to observe at the time of ordination. There are in all more than 85 lesser orders, 83 of which are listed, with their identity poems, in the White Cloud Monastery gazetteer 白雲觀志 of Beijing. The Lü Shan order, 閭山派, one of the most popular and widespread forms of popular Daoists in southeast China, though not included in the White Cloud Monastery’s Gazeteer, is listed in one of the Daoist Master’s privately preserved manuals, commonly known as the Daojiao Yuanliu 道教源流本 . Other heterodox sects, such as those who call themselves “Mao Shan daoists,” from HK, and more recently Honolulu, Hawai’i, have no historical or spiritual relationship to the registers or meditations of “Highest Pure” Daoism, of Mao Shan, (near Nanjing in Jiangsu). Five major “fire-dwelling” orders are listed in the Daojiao Yuanliu, as follows: 1. Yüjing 玉景,(茅山上清派)Daoists with Highest Pure Mao Shan registers, who practice Jiao rites of renewal, Zhai rites of burial, and Yellow Court 黃庭經 meditation 2. Tianshu 天樞 Daoists, a coded name for Qingwei Thunder-Vajra 清微雷法 registers; 3. Beidou 北斗 Daoists, with Pole Star registers shared with Tantric Buddhism;* 4. Yufu 玉府 Daoists with Lingbao and Mengwei registers, who counter and rectify the often harmful magic used by Shenxiao Daoists;

5. Shenxiao 神霄 Daoists, heterodox texts from the mid Song dynasty, “rectified” and brought into the orthodox fold by Bai Yuchan, a Song-Yuan dynasty master.**

Three of the oldest, most prestigious Daoist mountains, Longhu Shan, Gezao Shan, and Mao Shan, preserve and transmit the original registers of Zhengyi, Lingbao, and Shangqing Daoism, respectively. Their meditation manual, known by the title “Sanshan Jilu Yuanke”
三山給籙元科 (Three Mountain, Original Ritual for Transmitting Daoist Registers) is still in use at Longhu Shan and Mao Shan today. Copies of the Daojiao Yuanliu, and Ji lu Yuan ke are in press, and in the process of being restored to the other great mountain monasteries of China, during the spring of 2012.

Both the Ji Lu Yuan Ke ordination manual, as well as the Daojio Yuanliu Daoist Master’s textbook, list nine grades of perfection for each of the five major orders. The highest Grade One ordination is based on knowledge of the Shang Qing Yellow Court Canon. Grade Two is awarded to those who have mastered the Qingwei Thunder-Vavjra method. Grade Three indicates knowledge of the Pole Star Rites, with mudra and mantra shared with Tantric Buddhist masters. Grade 4 and 5 are reserved for those masters who know the Zhengyi Mengwei registers. All Daoists from Grade One through Grade 5 add the words Xian Qing 仙卿 to their titles, when signing document addressed to the world of spirits.

Daoists of the lower ranks, from Grade 6 through Grade 9, must use the lesser title Xian Guan 仙官 to sign ritual documents, for performing Daoist ritual. Grade 6 indicates knowledge of the Ling Bao Sanwu Dugong”靈寶三五都攻 level of Daoist training (the much studied Daoist Chen family of Tainan bears this title). The Du Jiang chief cantor is Grade 7, the Fujiang assistant cantor is Grade 8, and the acolytes, incense bearers, and procession leaders are given grade 9 recognition. The discrimen between the lower xian guan grades 6-9, and the higher xian qing grade 5 and above, the Ji Lu Yuan Ke manual indicates (p 33b) is “purity in mind and body,” ie, those who practice or advocate fangzhong (“sexual hygiene”) are not allowed to learn about the higher Daoist orders. (Daoists and scholars included). However, when a true Daoist Master is asked, by a scholar or would be student what his/her title and grade of ordination is, he or she will always, invariably respond with the words “I am only a lowly Grade Six Daoist.” This is the sign of a true Daoist master, to become a disciple of such a person is indeed a great honor.

Michael Saso 1-5-2012 posted from HNL Hawai’i


Well kept secrets At last, Daoist Master Zhuang’s mijue

One of the best kept secrets of modern Daoism is the content of the Mijue 秘訣 Esoteric manuals which the Daoist Master uses to teach his closest disciples, and children. These manuals may be transmitted, in hand written form, only once during the Daoist master’s lifetime, just before he dies.

Though mijue manuals can still be found in Taiwan and Hong Kong, very few survived in China Mainland proper, due to the devastating years of the Cultural Revolution. Here is a list of 3 such manuals, where they came from, and how readers of this website may obtain copies, for scholarly or Daoist “Inner Alchemy” use.

The Mijue manuals listed here come from a collection preserved in Hsinchu City, north Taiwan. In a final request made by Daoist Master Zhuang (see illustration), just before his death in 1976, I was asked to return them to the sacred mountains from which they originated. This process, begun in 1986, is due to be completed this month, November 2011. The history of the manuals, and how to acquire the first 3 DVD/CD presentations, is as follows:

A Daoist named Lin Rumei brought these 3 sets of Mijue manuals, with seal of the 61st Celestial Master of Longhu Shan on them, to Hsinchu city in 1868. After his untimely death, they were kept in the library of Zhuang’s maternal grandfather Chen Jiesan. When Lin Rumei acquired these manuals, the 61st Celestial Master of Lunghu Shan made a prophetic request. 100 years from 1868, he told Lin Rumei, there would be a great tragedy in China. All of the original hand-written manuals would be burned. Lin Rumei, following the Celestial Master’s request, asked his disciple to have these manuals returned to Longhu Shan, Mao Shan, and the other great centers Daoist centers, when China was safe from the predicted “devastation.”

The preservation, printing in digital format as well as hard copy, and attainment of an ISBN number for each manual (to insure their proper distribution as a “not-for- profit” sacred obligation), has at last come to fruition.

The Mijue manuals in the Zhuang-Lin collection number some 35 hand written documents, preserved in microfilm as well as jpg image format. The three most important sets, preserved in manuscript form and on DVD are as follows:

1. The 25 Volume Zhuanglin Xu Daozang 莊林續道臧. An earlier, incomplete version of these documents was first published by Chengwen Press in Taipei, in 1975. The first edition having sold out, a new, 2nd edition from the original copies of Zhuang is now available in DVD or CD format, here on this website, with a brief English and Chinese printed Index and directions for use. An entire 3 day jiao 醮 liturgy of renewal, a Zhai 齋 rite of burial, the Mijue directions necessary to use them, and samples of the popular Shenxiao and Lv Shan rites 神霄,閭山 小法 make up the 1st DVD/CD set. 2. A rare, never before published manual called 道教源流 “Daojiao Yuanliu” (The Origins of Liturgical Daoism), consisting of 150 pp. of text, with sacred dance steps, lists the Major Daoist schools, each with nine grades (“jiu pin” 九品) of liturgical and meditative perfection (2nd DVD/CD set). The schools include the Shangqing, Qingwei, Beidou, Zhengyi Mengwei, Lingbao Sanwu Dugong, (上清,清微五雷法,北斗法,正一盟威,靈寶三五都攻,among others registers/lists of mijue legerdemain.

3. A unique, precious and widely sought after ordination manual, with the seal of the 61st Generation Celestial Master of Longhu Shan, is the third DVD/CD mijue manual made available for the first time for scholars and Daoist masters to use. The manual, called “Ji Lu Yuan Ke” 給籙元科 is presently used again at Mao Shan, Gezao San, Longhu Shan, and other great Daoist centers of China. (Note that the first character 給, which is usually pronounced “gei” in modern Putong Hua, is given the sound “Ji” when used in Daoist context).

These manuals may soon be purchased for cost-only price either through the University of Hawaii press, or by contacting Professor Michael Saso through the website, where images of the texts can be found.

Michael Saso
Los Angeles and Beijing, Nov. 2011

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