Awakening to Reality

by Richard Bertschinger

The main idea behind this eleventh-century writing by Zhang Boduan, doyen of the Southern School of Neidan (inner alchemy) practitioners, is that of awakening us to our true nature, ie. ‘Life’s precious jewel’.  This is a thing – partly psychological, partly philosophical, in his eyes, never physiological – he was also a devout Buddhist, who advocated the enrollment of women on ‘the Way’.  An enlightened fellow!

     Our true nature is something uncomplicated, near at hand, to be discovered, who we really are, to be grasped …. – akin to the Ch’an Buddhist wu (Japanese satori), as the title Wu Zhen P’ien or “On Awakening to Reality” illustrates.

    This poem is constructed with much, much, very rich imagery and notable references to the hexagrams and trigrams of the Yijing – yet is also eminently readable as poetry in its own right, without an fore-knowledge of its philosophical foundations.

About this Book

His text draws upon the natural world  – the passage of the seasons, behaviour of animals, passing of the solstices and equinoxes, waning and waxing of moon, stars, and planets, coming and going of day and night. This is Stone-age science, preserved as Taoist wisdom. Herein lies the clue to our true oneness with Nature, we can never separate from the rhythm of the cosmos or natural world. Accepting it we finally understand and may re-present ourselves. Man and woman kind, one with Nature. Nature goes through changes – but there is a pattern and regularity, of sorts, to these changes.  This he manages to outline in this remarkable work.

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