"The Cantong qi is the forefather of the scriptures on the Elixir of all times. Its words are ancient and profound, arcane and subtle. No one can fathom their meaning." Thus begins a preface found in one of the commentaries to the Cantong qi (The Seal of the Unity of the Three). These words express several significant features of the work translated in the present book: the charm of its verses, the depth of its discourse, its enigmatic language, and its intimate relation to Taoist alchemy (Waidan and Neidan).
Under an allusive poetical language and thick layers of images and symbols, the Cantong qi hides the exposition of a doctrine that inspired a large number of commentaries and other works, and attracted the attention not only of Taoist masters and adepts, but also of philosophers, cosmologists, poets, literati, calligraphers, philologists, and bibliophiles.
As shown by its title, the Cantong qi is concerned with three major subjects, namely Cosmology (the system of the Book of Changes), Taoism (the way of "non-doing"), and Alchemy, and joins them to one another into a unique doctrine, known as the Way of the Golden Elixir. In addition to a complete translation of the text, this book contains explanations of each of its sections, notes on many of its verses, and a detailed introduction to its history and doctrines.
Table of contents
The Title of the Cantong qi, 2
A Single Author, or Multiple Authors?, 5
The Dating Riddle, 11
The Three Books and the "Ancient Text," 28
Main Commentaries, 33
Dao, Cosmos, and Man, 36
The Way of "Non-Doing," 47
Alchemy in the Cantong qi, 53
From the External Elixir to the Internal Elixir, 58
Book 1, 69
Book 2, 92
Book 3, 114
TEXTUAL NOTES, 231
TABLES AND FIGURES, 245
Two Biographies of Wei Boyang, 263
Chinese Text, 266
Index of Main Subjects, 286
Glossary of Chinese Characters, 295
Works Quoted, 303