Tales of the Dancing Dragon: Stories of the Taoby Eva Wong
Here, Taoist practitioner Eva Wong offers a colorful treatment of the history and evolution of Taoism, told through traditional teaching tales. These tales, which Wong first heard as a child growing up in Hong Kong, are gleaned from the local storytellers and the uncensored chronicles known as yeshi—the wild history of China, not monitored by the/i>
Here, Taoist practitioner Eva Wong offers a colorful treatment of the history and evolution of Taoism, told through traditional teaching tales. These tales, which Wong first heard as a child growing up in Hong Kong, are gleaned from the local storytellers and the uncensored chronicles known as yeshi—the wild history of China, not monitored by the official imperial scholars and historians. The stories are by turns mysterious and intriguing, passionate and violent, and they are peppered with colorful characters, including hermits, politicians, social activists, revolutionaries, scholars, scientists, and mystics.
Arranged chronologically from prehistory through the early twentieth century, these stories introduce the schools in the Taoist lineages, and capture the defeats and victories of Taoism, its periods of decadence and decay, and its renewal, maturation, and spiritual triumph. Wong puts these stories into context, and shows that Taoism is a dynamic spiritual tradition, constantly changing—and being influenced by—history.
The title and promotional literature imply that this is a book of folktales. While folklore is certainly an element, Wong (Tales of the Taoist Immortals; Teachings of the Tao) here offers more a history of Taoism in China as conveyed through mystical legend and intermixed with actual events and people. Arranged chronologically by dynasty, the text traces the fate and development of the Taoist philosophy through periods of ascendance, decay, change, political intrigue, and spiritual renewal, emphasizing both Taoism's effect on history and history's effect on Taoism. The narrative is well written, but as it is best suited to students and researchers, it would have benefited from a few additions: an index and a bibliography, a time line of the dynasties involved, a basic definition of Taoism for the uninitiated, captions and attributions for the black-and-white illustrations (not seen in the review copy), and a less abrupt ending that might give some indication of how Taoism has developed since 1912, the end of the Qing dynasty. This book is recommended for comparative religion and Asian studies collections at all levels or where interest warrants.
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Meet the Author
Eva Wong is an independent scholar and a practitioner of the Taoist arts of the Pre-Celestial Way and Complete Reality lineages. She has written and translated many books on Taoism and related topics, including A Master Course in Feng-Shui; Tales of the Taoist Immortals; and Taoism: An Essential Guide.
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One of the great things about Eva Wong's writings is that her style flows nicely, almost as if you were being told a story by one of your caring relatives that want to ensure you got the meaning behind the words. This book was one that I read in 2 days as I couldn't put it down. Full of Taoist stories that you can allow your heart and mind to think about reality, life, and how you interact with others.
Eva Wong has done a remarkable job in pulling together Taoist stories and history, sorting them out in a chorological way that is not only entertaining but is invaluably educational on the development of Taoism as well as the development of China. Spanning Dynasties, and spiritual leaders, she continually refers back to former stories, leaders, sages, families, and other key people so that you really get to have an understanding of the influence certain people had in the development of China and the 3 major religions of China. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone as the stories will bring a smile to your face and your heart as well as a sense of peace and perhaps a new way for yourself to travel in life.
Wong's helpful mix of history and legend gives a stream of insights on Daoist practice. It's written in a simple, clear way, that reflects the world view of Daoist leaders past and present. Clearly, she is one of the most effective teachers of Daoism in modern America. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization