Golden Elixir Press, 2011
ISBN 978-0-9843082-8-6 (pbk)
ISBN 978-0-9843082-7-9 (hbk)
Paperback, US$ 24.95 (list price)
Hardcover, US$ 39.95 (list price)
For the PDF abridged translation, see this page
See also the companion Vol. 2 Bibliographic Studies on the Cantong qi: Commentaries, Essays, and Related Works. The two volumes can be purchased separately.
"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. 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.
Neidan (Internal Alchemy) is the legacy that has shaped the dominant image and understanding of the Cantong qi in China, by placing this work at the origins of its teachings and practices. Besides this one, there has been, within the Taoist tradition, a second, less well-known way of reading the text: the Cantong qi is concerned not with one, but 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 single, unique doctrine.
In addition to a complete translation of the Cantong qi, this book the fruit of more than 20 years of work contains explanations of each of its sections, notes on many of its verses, and a detailed introduction to its history and doctrines.
For a sample and free translations and excerpts, see this page
The Cantong qi is a pillar of China’s religious tradition and is also one of its most mystifying and puzzling texts. Pregadio, editor of Encyclopedia of Taoism, is the leading expert on this text and on the field of Chinese alchemy in which the text is situated. His account of its origin and history is masterly. He shows that its roots lie in the study of the Book of Changes that occupied scholars in the second century CE and their thoughts on analogies between micro- and macrocosm. Untangling a web of hagiographic fiction, he proposes 450 CE as the date when the text's composition process arrived at a first conclusion. From the eighth century CE onwards, it was adopted by practitioners of Neidan "Internal alchemy" and thus came to strongly influence meditation practices well into the nineteenth century. Today, the text still has a considerable audience, which adds to the importance of Pregadio's book. It contains the text's first reliable English translation, which is moreover eminently readable, explanatory notes, an annotated edition of the Chinese text, index, glossary, and enough lists of tables and figures to allow even the nonspecialist to follow the text’s reasoning and directly enter the world of Daoist cosmological speculation. (Full text of review by Barbara Hendrischke, University of Sydney, in Religious Studies Review, 38.4, December 2012, p. 259)
"[Pregadio] offers a glimpse of the painstaking detective work required to produce a high quality translation. . . . He faithfully translates the Can Tong Qi into readable English without sacrificing the richness of the original. . . . Fabrizio Pregadio's translation of the Zhou Yi Can Tong Qi is a remarkable contribution to those interested in the study of Taoism and Internal Alchemy. Very few of the old texts have been translated into English, let alone with such high quality." (Shawn Cartwright, Traditional Chinese Culture Institute International - Read the original review)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Best translation of Cantong qi. [Pregadio] offers in this translation with commentary, a very readable and clearly explained version of an extremely important inner alchemy work called "Can tong qi" (Pronounced "tsan tong chi" in modern accent). In a very readable introduction (pp. 1-63) the origin and content of the present text is examined, after which the text itself is translated, pp. 69-126. The most important contribution of Pregadio's work is found in the extensive notes, pp. 130 to 244, which are easily understood by the lay person . . . A must read! Recommended for university courses as well as the general public! (Prof. Michael Saso - Read the original review)
"[This book] has already opened my eyes to things that I would not have appreciated before." (Email from a Reader)
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