The Cloud Bookcase

Eliot Weinberger

Absorption of Solar and Lunar Essences
by Anonymous (4th century)

Alchemy of the Purple Coil
by Anonymous (12th century)

A treatise on sexuality. The female sexual organ is referred to as the ‘furnace of the reclining moon’. A later commentator notes that ‘it has never been known that one can obtain immortality by mounting women.’

Arcane Essay on the Supreme Cultivation of True Nature
by Anonymous (14th century)

Recommends the avoidance of sleep.

Arcane Notes on the Cultivation of True Nature
by Fu Tu-jen (11th century)

Dietary instructions. In the seventh and eighth months, worms should be eaten.

Biographies of Presumed Immortals
by Anonymous (10th century)

Biography of Mr Yang, Imperial Chamberlain, Senior Assistant of the Tunghua Palace, and Director of Destinies
by Anonymous (12th century)

The Book of Azure Emptiness
by Ch’en Nan (d. 1213)

The Book of Efficacious Seals for Penetrating Mystery
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Includes instructions for turning red beans into soldiers by rubbing them with a specific mixture of sheep’s blood, cow’s bile and mud, and pronouncing a formula over them.

The Book of the Dark Maiden
by Anonymous (4th century)

Instructions for predicting ill-fated marriages.

The Book of the Six Yin of the Sublime Grotto, the True Scripture of the Hidden Days
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Banned by the Department of Forbidden Books in 971.

The Cloud Bookcase with Seven Labels
edited by Chang Chün-fang (fl. 1008-1025)

An anthology. A later commentator notes that several sections are divided into two parts (‘Upper’ and ‘Lower’) for no apparent reason.

The Code of Nu-ch’ing for Controlling Demons
by Anonymous (3rd century)

Lists 36,000 demons who can be warded off by knowing their names. The meaning of the word or name ‘Nu-ch’ing’ is unknown.

Comprehensive Collection of True Facts Concerning the Land of Bliss
by Liu Tao-ming (c.1291)

Diagrams Illustrating the Mystery of the Cultivation of Truth, the Mystery of the Supreme Pole, and the Mystery of the Primordial Chaos
by Anonymous (12th century)

Contains only the diagrams with no explanations.

Dividing the Pear in a Period of Ten Days
by Wang Che (c.1183)

Collection of poems. The title refers to a pear that the author cut into fifty-five pieces to give to a disciple. On receiving the fifty-fifth piece, the disciple and his wife separated.

Essay on the Depths of the Mind in the Great Void
by Anonymous (date unknown)

A series of twenty-word poems.

The Essence of the Supreme Secrets
by Anonymous (6th century)

One-third of the original text is apparently missing.

Essentials for Preserving Life
by P’u Ch’ian-kuan (fl. 934-965)

Recommends that ‘one should avoid noxious winds in the same way as one would avoid an arrow.’ Fruits, meat, fish and fowl may be eaten, but no vegetables.

Final Chapter of the Continued Explanations of the True Origin, the Great Cave, and the Highest Direction
by Anonymous (14th century)

It is noted that there are no previous chapters to which this text corresponds.

Five Charms of the Mysterious Book
by Anonymous (4th century)

The text includes only one charm.

The Forest of Changes
by Ch’iao Kan (1st century)

The Forest of Opinions
by Ma Yung (c.787)

Gradual Enlightenment
by Ma Tan-yang (1123-1184)

Contains poems where the first character is deliberately omitted.

Great Method of the Jade Hall of the Three Heavens of the Supreme Mysterious Origin
by Lu Shih-chung (c.1158)

Portions of the text were dictated to Lu by the Heavenly Lord Great Master of the Teaching, whose voice, to everyone else, sounded like a baby crying.

Handbook for Making Black Frost
by Anonymous (8th century)

Hymns to the Five Planets
attributed to Chang Heng (78-139)

The text contains no hymns or poems to the planets. The attribution to Chang Heng is undoubtedly false.

The Identity of Both
by Lo Yin (833-910)

Often confused with The Identity of Both by Wu Yün (d. 778).

Illustrated Version of the Flight to the Sun and the Moon
by Anonymous (13th century)

Describes a method for flying to the sun and the moon.

Instructions on the Emanations from the Labyrinth
by Anonymous (8th century)

The Marvellous Forest of the Great Vehicle
by Anonymous (8th century)

Explains that the forest is located near the Palace of Primordial Yang in the City of the Seven Treasures on the Mountain of Unimaginable Discourse.

Marvellous Stanzas for Resuscitating Corpses
by Anonymous (8th century)

A poem in twenty-eight stanzas.

Memorials that Proclaim Mercy and Are Helpful in Working Wonders
by Tu Kuang-t’ing (850-933)

Includes a ‘Memorial to Arrest the Puppy Devil from Under the Stone’ (a demon who attacks children). Demons responsible for children’s diseases are also named, including the Wet Nurse from Heaven’s Prison and the Washing Bride.

Mr. Chou’s Records of His Communications with the Invisible World
by Chou Tzu-liang (497-516), edited and annotated by T’ao Hong-ching (c. 517)

The text was found in a mountain cave, after the author’s suicide at age 19. The editor includes the formula for the poison the author took.

Notes to Be Kept Inside a Pillow
by Anonymous (9th century)

Penal Code of the Mysterious Capital
by Anonymous (7th century)

Poems Made While Beating the Ground
by Shao Yung, ‘Yao Fu’ (1012-1077)

A collection of some 1500 poems, including a series of 135 poems titled ‘Chants of Head and Tail,’ each one of which begins and ends with the line: ‘Yao Fu does not write poems merely for fun.’

Questions of Mystery at Times of Serenity
by Po Yu-ch’an (fl. 1194-1229)

Register of Flying Steps of the Six Stars that Govern Fate
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Instructions on meditating on the six stars of the fictitious Southern Dipper. The stars should also be drawn on the soles of the feet.

Requisite Knowledge for the Alchemical Laboratory
by Wu Wu (c.1163)

Recommends that clean clothes always be worn in the laboratory, and no women, Buddhist monks, chickens, or dogs allowed to enter.

Rhapsody of the Gate of the Dark Female
by Yu Yen (fl. 1253-1296)

Rules on Purple Tablets: The Book of Blazing Light Created by Transformation
by Anonymous (4th century)

The text purportedly materialized from a condensation of light and divine breath. Includes instructions on developing long-distance vision.

Scripture and Chart for the Contemplation of Man-Bird Mountain
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Scripture for Saving Deceased Parents from Distress in Future Lives
by Anonymous (8th century)

The Scripture of the Essentials of the Clear Mirror
by Anonymous (8th century)

Instructions for seven methods for achieving immortality, presented in seven short paragraphs.

Scripture on the Recompense for Parental Kindness
by Chao I-chen (d. 1382)

Recommends that pious sons and daughters perform a three-year fast, corresponding to the period when infants nurse. Author of Returning to the Void, fourteen poems of twenty-eight words each.

Secret Register for Obtaining Release from Incantations and Spells from All Quarters
by Anonymous (15th century)

  Advice for when one is ‘possessed by the spirits of earth altars, sacred areas, forest, brooks, wells, or stoves’ or one is the victim of spells cast by the ‘devious masters of the vulgar cults of the River God’.

Sesame Song
by Liu Ch’ung-yung (c. 931)

Contains only one poem. Sesame is not mentioned.

Seven Recitations of the Divine Realm with Seven Transformations for Dancing in Heaven
by Anonymous (4th century)

The latter section includes the method for transforming oneself into a cloud.

Song for Dispelling Doubts Concerning the Correct Path
by Chung-li Ch’üan (11th century)

A single poem, which commentators note completely contradicts ideas presented by the author in other poems.

Stabilising the Creative Forces and Making the Numinous Powers Shine Brightly
by Anonymous (12th century)

Instructions for summoning the spirits of the stars of the Big Dipper.

Superior Book of the Flying Immortals by the Sovereign of Precious Truth Cinnabar Origin
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Exercises for the absorption of stellar effluvia.

Superior Scripture on the Dongfang Palace of the Brain
by Anonymous (4th century)

The title bears no relationship to the text.

Supplementary Book of the Master of the Obscure Truth
by Chang Chih-ho (fl. 752-762)

Contains three sections (‘Blue Void’, ‘Celestial Bird’, and ‘Spirit of the Waves’). Uncertain to what it is a supplement.

Three Rhapsodies on the Origin of Chaos
by Shih Te-i (fl. 860-874)

The author found the book floating in a river, but it was not wet. That evening, the guardian of the book appeared to inform Shih that previous editions contained many mistakes and that this was the correct version.

Ten Charts for Perusal While Reclining
by Li Ssu-ts’ung (c.1050)

Author of The Anthology of the Abyssal Cavern.

Ten Rules for the Initial Stage of Perfection
by Anonymous (8th century)

Other versions of this text contain eighty-one rules.

Treatise on the Art of Sitting and Forgetting
by Ssu-ma Ch’eng-chen (647-735)

Treatise on the Calculation of the Bushel in Purple Sublimity
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Divination based on the layout of eighteen partially imaginary stars. The constellation the Bushel is not mentioned.

Treatise on the Planet Venus
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Contains a list of ten types of people who will either be able or unable to understand the text.

The True Method of Returning by Chariot and Completing the Way According to the Department of the Celestial Pivot
by Anonymous (12th century)

Contains a cure for insanity through handwriting analysis.

The True Scripture of the Great Cavern
by Anonymous (date unknown)

Contains the Secret Formula of the Whirlwind.

The True Scripture of the White Monkey
by Anonymous (date unknown)

A scripture revealed by a white monkey.