Transcendence

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 13:11
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The goal of Daoist cultivation has classically been understood as "immortality." More recently, however, scholars have realized that this is not the best English word to represent what was intended in the Chinese tradition, and have favoured other words such as "transcendence" or "transfiguration." In this final section of the website, we hear from contemporary American practitioners about their vision of Daoist cultivation. What does immortality mean? How do they understand the Daoist body that has been transformed through cultivation practice?

While watching these three clips, some questions to consider are:

  • How do the practitioners define the goal of Daoist cultivation?
  • Do these goals of Daoist cultivation conform more with contemporary Western ideas about spirituality or with the Chinese Daoist tradition?
  • How do we decide if these spiritual ideals represent a break with tradition or a cultural adaptation?
  • What do you find inspiring about these goals, and why?

We start with Michael Winn's interpretation of the meaning of immortality.