(revised, corrected, augmented 1/1/'03)
My word! What a book ...
Formerly, it was Israel Regardie's 'Lazy Man's Guide to Relaxation' that blew me away with its usefulness over health issues. Now, Cleary's 'Taoist Meditation' sits next to Regardie's excellent volume (no doubt soon to be reprinted,) on my bookshelf.
Contained within the pages of Cleary's book is some of the most immensely useful advice on relaxation and health one might expect to find in any book. I am certain it is not the unfamiliarity with oriental thought that relaxed and compelled me to practically nod asleep on the bus home, as I read this powerful little volume. Reasonably powerful stuff, well worth the investment, to Taoists and health-seekers alike! It is also mercifully within the price-range of many.
Don't overlook Thomas Cleary's 'Taoist Meditation' just because it has a pretty cover. I'm a persnickety, demanding SOB when it comes to shelling out money for would-be 'useful' books. Beleive me, the present Thomas Cleary volume under discussion fully satisfies my insistent, demanding, no-nonsense nature, when it comes to books!
Also, for an older classic, still in print, one ought to consider resort to the standard 'Science of Breath' by Yogi Ramacharaka. It can also be immensely useful to those exploring breath, relaxation, 'prana' and 'healing energy' issues. Ramacharaka's book is a perfect companion to Thomas Cleary's new 'Taoist Meditation' handbook. Benefits to the reader will, no doubt, accrue.
Yet, allow me to make a further recommendation: Israel Regardie's 'Art of True Healing.' Unlike the Regardie offering mentioned in the first paragraph above, this essay is currently in print. It is available in an edition offered up with additional material by Marcus Allen. I often wish that oriental meditation material was as useful, generally, as Regardie's book is. 'The Art of True Healing' sets forth a species of meditation which can not only be used for general health, but for healing just about any other area of your life. It is based on western qabala, yet is very simple to learn and use. Surely it ought to have a place, if only for reasons of comparison, on anyone's shelf, who is interested in oriental alchemy/ meditation, or just meditation in general!
Add to this Eva Wong's 'Cultivating Stillnes,' 'Cultivating the Energies of Life,' and 'The Tao of Health, Longevity, and Immortality,' and one should be well on the way towards a useful orientation on these classic contributions to health and well-being.
Cautioned is advised when pursuing any actual alchemy material set forth in some of these oriental books. Yet much of Thomas Cleary's and Eva Wong's books are laced and littered with valuable, useful, and usable Taoist perspectives on life, health, and well-being.
I might also add, that adding Durckheim's 'Japanese Cult of Tranquillity' to your health bookshelf, would hardly be a mistake.
..but see my recent review (note dates) on Eva Wong's 'Tao of Health,etc.', and Michael Saso's 'Gold Pavilion' for further elaboration.
quite possibly the most amazing book i have ever picked up. in only thirty minutes with this book i reached a level of stillness that i could not even concieve of beforehand, much less attain. i recommend it for anyone interested in taoism or meditation... or even their mental or physical health. the passages are short, gripping, and insightful. a truly wonderful book.