The Enigma of Neidan


The Seal of the Unity of the Three

Quoted from:

The World Upside Down: Essays on Taoist Internal Alchemy, by Isabelle Robinet, pages 24-25

The result is that one of the functions of the alchemical language is to destabilize those who stick to their habits of thought, to the terms or the schemes. For the masters, the point is not simply saying the truth, but teaching how to think the truth. The discourse of Neidan is not deemed to be the discourse of a subject, but the discourse of life. It is a discourse with an objective intent, where the enunciating subject is either erased, or multiple.

"Nobody understands me," laments the author of the Wuzhen pian (Awakening to the Truth), evoking the sighs uttered in the Daode jing (Book of the Way and its Virtue).(1) This means: I do not aim for compliance; I do not say anything of what people expect; my language is not conditioned by the recipient of my words. I speak the true, not the plausible or the admissible.

An enigma in itself, suited to the enigma of life, Neidan proposes one enigma after the other and invites one to penetrate and solve them. It engages and keeps awake, and incites to exercise.



(1) Wuzhen pian, "L├╝shi," poem no. 11. Daode jing, 70: "My words are very easy to understand and very easy to practice; but in the world no one is able to understand them, and no one is able to practice them."


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