MANY PEOPLE WILL EXPERIENCE, at least once in their lifetime,the urge to venture beyond the everyday world of the mundane into the world of the spirit. These journeys into the spiritual world often take us into a universe we normally do not encounter in our daily lives, and allow us to explore regions of our consciousness that we have not before known.This book is a guide to the spiritual landscape of Taoism. In it you
will encounter events in the history of Taoism, meet the sages who wrote the Taoist texts, be introduced to the various schools of Taoist thinking, and get a feel for what it means to practice Taoism today.The spiritual landscape of Taoism is a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds. It is also a land of silence and stillness. It can be friendly and attractive, and at the same time challenging and dangerous. In this book, you will be traveling through the spiritual terrain of Taoism.On your journey, you will see shamans dressed in animal skins dancing the patterns of the stars as they fly to the sky and tunnel beneath the earth; you will see talismans displaying symbols of power that are
designed to heal, protect, and ward off malevolent spirits; you will see people sitting, standing, or sleeping in unusual postures, cultivating the breath of life and longevity; you will see colorful tapestries,
images of deities and immortals, huge brass cauldrons, altars with sticks of incense, and oil lamps burning eternal flames. On this journey, you will see, etched on bamboo sticks,hexagrams, the symbols of change, used by diviners to interpret the pattern of events in the universe; you will also see ordinary people tending the aged and the sick, teaching the young, and helping others who are less fortunate than themselves; you will hear the loud clang of cymbals and drums,the shrill and melodious sound of Autes, and slow, rhythmic voices chanting to the beat of a wooden block. You will hear the silence of
a meditation hall, the soft gait of feet walking on the flagstones of monastic cloisters, and the occasional sound of a bell amid the rustle of leaves. All these are features in the spiritual landscape of Taoism-a tradition of wisdom accumulated over thousands of years
that has changed human consciousness, and yet been changed by it.This book is a guide, and a guide differs from a textbook or an anthology of translated texts.
First, a true guide is based on the personal experience of someone
who has traveled the terrain; one cannot write a guide about places one has not been to. Information contained in a guide is not based on book knowledge alone but on experience.