The Taoist Experience

An Anthology

Edited by Livia Kohn

Subjects: Chinese Religion And Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791415801, 408 pages, October 1993
Hardcover : 9780791415795, 408 pages, October 1993

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Table of contents



Part One: The Tao

Chapter One. The Tao

1. The Tao That Can't Be Told

2. The Tao in the World

3. Pure and Tranquil

4. Ineffable Knowledge

Chapter Two. Creation

5. Scriptures Create the Universe

6. Numinous Treasure—Wondrous History

7. The Lands of the Immortals

8. Gods and Goddesses

Chapter Three. The Teaching

9. The Three Caverns

10. The Transformations of Laozi

11. The Path

12. The Way to Complete Perfection

Part Two: Long Life

Chapter Four. Discipline

13. Precepts and Prescriptions

14. Protective Measures

15. How To Be Taught

16. Passing the Test

Chapter Five. Physical Practices

17. Breathing for Life

18. Gymnastics

19. Drugs and Diets

20. Sexual Techniques

Chapter Six. The Cosmic Body

21. The Structure of the Body

22. The Body As the World

23. The World in the Body

24. The Gods Within

Part Three: Eternal Vision

Chapter Seven. The One

25. Lights in the Body

26. The True One

27. The Three Ones

28. One in All

Chapter Eight. Insight Practice

29. Two Kinds of Observation

30. Energies and Elixirs

31. Observing Life

32. Glimpses of the New Mind

Chapter Nine. Ecstatic Excursions

33. The Far-off Journey

34. Trips through the Stars

35. Divine Loves

36. Ecstatic Sleep

Part Four: Immortality

Chapter Ten. Immortal Personality

37. The Perfected

38. To Be a Sage

39. Magical Powers

40. The Virtue of Wine

Chapter Eleven. Ascension

41. Alchemical Transformation

42. The Inner Elixir

43. Gradual Dissolution

44. Eyewitness Accounts

Chapter Twelve. Immortal Life

45. Celestial Garb

46. The Administration of Heaven

47. Sojourn Among Mortals

48. Feasting in Paradise

List of Chinese Texts Translated




Containing sixty translations from a large variety of texts, this is an accessible yet thorough introduction to the major concepts, doctrines, and practices of Taoism. It presents the philosophy, rituals, and health techniques of the ancients as well as the practices and ideas of Taoists today. Divided into four sections, it follows the Taoist Path: The Tao, Long Life, Eternal Vision, and Immortality. It shows how the world of the Tao is perceived from within the tradition, what fervent Taoists did, and how practitioners saw their path and goals. The Taoist Experience is unique in that it presents the whole of Taoist tradition in the very words of its active practitioners. It conveys not only a sense of the depth of the Taoist religious experience but also of the underlying unity of the various schools and strands.

Livia Kohn is Assistant Professor of Religion at Boston University. She has written Taoist Mystical Philosophy: The Scripture of Western Ascension, also published by SUNY Press, Seven Steps to the Tao, Sima Chengzhen's Zuowanglun, and Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques.


"Livia Kohn is one of the very best and most prolific Taoist scholars in the world. Here, she draws upon the revolution in Taoist scholarship during the past few decades, and provides a much needed representative anthology of primary Taoist texts, making these important materials available to the non-specialist scholar, to students, and to the general public. " — Norman Girardot, Lehigh University

"This is a work whose time has come, a landmark that bears testimony to the coming of age of Taoist studies in the West. The author's erudition and enthusiasm give the work a special sparkle, and communicate a sense of excitement that brings these literary artifacts to life. Well conceived, well organized, and well executed by a scholar uniquely qualified for the task. " — Douglas Wile, Brooklyn College