Mahavairocana Buddha seated on a golden lotus flower , by Unkei, 13th C, Japan


The translation and interpretation of The Secret of the Golden Flower in this website is based on the idea that all esoteric traditions have the same inner meaning. In China during the Song (960–1279) and Ming (1368-1644) Dynasties, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were considered to be different paths to the same goal.

Is it not a fact that the three doctrines (of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism) may be three, but the Way is ultimately one? But that hasn`t stopped the priesthood of later generations from sole devotion to their own sects and repudiation of others, causing the basic essentials of all three philosophies to be lost in false distinctions, so that they cannot be unified and end up at the same goal. -- Introduction of Understanding Reality by Chang Po-tuan (11th C. Taoist master)
Although these scriptures are the source of foreknowledge and reflection for my school, they are truly the origin of all Three Schools.
-- Journey to the West (one of the four great Chinese classical novels)

Not only Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are different paths to the same goal, the inner meaning of all esoteric traditions is basically the same. In fact, once one understands the inner meaning, one sees they are actually the same path to the same goal.

Ask of those who have attained God; all speak the same word. All the saints are of one mind; it is only those in the midst of the way who follow diverse paths. All the enlightened have left one message; it is only those in the midst of their journeywho hold diverse opinions.
-- Dadu (16th c. Indian saint)
The Hierarchy is one, and the esoteric sides of all religions were launched by it, as was the great experiment started through Ouspensky and Gurdjieff for our own time.
-- Rodney Collin (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

The sacred texts of all esoteric traditions use symbols and metaphors.

Higher esoteric ideas are coded to protect the knowledge from being lost in the tide of time and humanity. They are coded through symbol, sign idiom, analogy, metaphor, and parable to protect esoteric knowledge from the profane.
-- Alexander Horn ( c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)
The sutras of the Buddha contain countless metaphors. Because mortals have shallow minds, they don't understand anything deep.
-- Bodhidharma (First Partriach of Zen Buddhism. 6th c.)

These symbols and metaphors can be unique to one particular tradition, relating to the culture and time that the tradition developed in, or common to many or all esoteric traditions.

The mystery of Christ`s redemption was not absent in any previous era, but it was made known under different symbols.
-- St. Augustine (4th c. Christian saint)

The inner meaning of all symbols in saced texts revolve around the principles of control of the worldly lower self, the cultivation of a spiritual path, and the awakening of the Higher Self into the Divine Present.

From the most ancient times till today, this is not empty talk, but the sequence of the Great Way in the true method of producing an eternally living and immortal spirit and holy man.....When the conscious spirit has been transformed into the primal spirit, then only one can say that it has attained an infinite capacity for transformations and, departing from the cycle of births, has been brought to the sixfold present, golden genius. -- Commentary on Chapter 2 of the Secret of the Golden Flower (Edition of Richard Wilhem)
The holy man who understands the mysteries of creation inherent in end and beginning, becomes superior to the limitations of the transitory.
For him, the meaning of time is that in it, the stages of growth can unfold in a clear sequence. He is mindful at every moment and uses the six stages of growth as if they were six dragons (the image attributed to the individual lines) on which he mounts to heaven.
-- Commentary on hexagram #1, the Creative (The I Ching p 371, Wilhelm/Baynes edition)

Iranian miniature of a warrior smelling
a flower,1651, Hermitage museum,
St. Petersburg

A drawing by William Blake

A Mexican figurine called "First Woman" with a vessel coming from her heart,
1200 BC

Jacob’s Ladder, Jacques Stella (c. 1650) Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(Click to enlarge)

Two dragons chasing a flaming pearl
(Click to enlarge)

Reality is so subtle that the ancient immortals called this reality a tiny pearl. In reality it has no such shape; they call it thus because there is a point of conscious energy hidden in the center, and because that point of awareness contains the whole cosmos, space, and the universe.
-- Liu Yiming