Sun Buer or Sun Bu’er or Sun Pu-erh (1119 – 1182)
Many Taoists write poetry as a way to teach. From a Taoist Perspective poetry is the clearest vehicle for transmission of knowledge of the Tao. Taoism as a teaching embraces many levels of truth at once. Taoism is also always relative to one’s situation, containing many truths at once. As a result only poetry with its multiple levels of meaning can reveal the path to the Tao. Sun Buer was a Taoist Master and teacher. Much of her work reflects this style of teaching the Tao within poetry.
At the age of 51 Sun Buer took up serious study of the Tao and herself became a disciple of Wang Chongyang, and serving as a Taoist priestess. Sun Buer was a teacher with several disciples, founding the Purity and Tranquility School.
According to tradition, Wang Chongyang told Sun Bu’er that if one of his disciples traveled 1,000 miles to Luoyang, that disciple would meet an immortal there who would instruct the disciple in the ultimate secrets of the universe. Sun Bu’er resolved to go, even though it meant giving up her comfortable life. However, Wang foresaw that Sun Bu’er’s beauty would make her a target of lust-craving men if she made the journey. He explained the situation and forbade her to make the journey.
Determined to overcome the fact that her physical attractiveness would inhibit her study of the Tao, Sun Bu’er went home and burned her face with a splash of hot oil, destroying her beauty. Wang was astonished by Sun’s action. He immediately began to train her in earnest in the secrets of internal alchemy. Eventually, it is said, she did achieve immortality, ascending into heaven in broad daylight in her physical body.
Refining the Spirit
The relic from before birth
Enters one’s heart one day.
Be as careful as if you were holding a full vessel,
Be as gentle as if you were caressing an infant.
The gate of earth should be shut tight,
The portals of heaven should be first opened.
Wash the yellow sprouts clean,
And atop the mountain is thunder shaking the earth.
A springlike autumn’s balmy breeze reaches afar.
The sun shines on the house of a recluse
South of the river;
They encourage the December apricots
To burst into bloom:
A simplehearted person
Faces the simplehearted flowers.
Cut brambles long enough,
Sprout after sprout,
And the lotus will bloom
Of its own accord:
Already waiting in the clearing,
The single image of light.
The day you see this,
That day you will become it.
The great forge produces mountains and waters,
Containing therein the potential of creation.
In the morning, greet the energy of the sun;
At night, inhale the vitality of the moon.
In time the elixir can be culled;
With the years, the body naturally lightens.
Where the original spirit comes and goes,
Myriad apertures emit radiant light.
Gathering the Mind
Before our body existed,
One energy was already there.
Like jade, more lustrous as it’s polished,
Like gold, brighter as it’s refined.
Sweep clear the ocean of birth and death,
Stay firm by the door of total mastery.
A particle at the point of open awareness,
The gentle firing is warm.
Spirit and energy
Spirit and energy should be clear as the night air;
In the soundless is the ultimate pleasure all along.
Where there’s reality in illusion
Is illusion in reality,
For the while playing with magical birth
In the silver bowl.
Ts’ui Po (960-1279)
Ts’ui Po excelled at painting Buddhist and Taoist subjects, figures, landscapes, flowers, and animals. He was noted for his works in the genre of birds-and-flowers.