Riding the Phoenix to Penglai – Poetry by Taoist Adept Sun Bu-Er

Translation and Commentary by Jill Gonet

This book presents two poetry sequences by Jin Dynasty poet and Taoist Master, Sun Bu-Er. A Complete Reality School adept, Sun Bu-Er lived between 1119–1182 C.E. in the Shandong province of China.

Her first poem sequence presents, in fourteen poems, a concise and orderly course of study for internal cultivations, one that includes guidance and instruction in breathing styles, points of focus, lifestyle decisions and choices, development of the elixir, nutritional advice, and the way of spiritual development.

Jill Gonet, translator, has rendered the poems into English with skill and naturalness, and has also added commentary to enlarge upon the instructions given in each poem.

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Also included is a seven-poem sequence on mastery, followed by the translator’s commentary on the achievements of a master, with practical guidance for cultivators of the Tao. Readers will find this a helpful and cogent rendering of material describing the path to Taoist attainment, with Sun Bu-Er’s masterful poems, and the translator’s insightful essays about Sun Bu-Er’s program for students of the Tao.

Throughout, there is an unspoken and yet prevailing idea—that the fruits of cultivation are not merely the product of a transmission from master to disciple, but instead are accrued over time to the diligent practitioner whose aim is true, whose will is directed, and whose focus is steadfast. In this, Sun Bu-Er excels in de-mystifying the process of attaining spiritual immortality.

About the Translator, Jill Gonet, MFA

Jill Gonet earned her B.A. at the University of Massachusetts, and then moved to Seattle where she earned her M.F.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle. She has resided in the Pacific Northwest ever since. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals over the years, including PoetryPloughsharesThe New England ReviewThe Gettysburg Review, and The Best American Poetry, among others. She is the recipient of awards from the Poetry Society of America, as well as grants from the Seattle Arts Commission. Interested in ancient Daoist classics since high school years, she has studied the Dao De Jing-the Way of VirtuesYi Jing-the Book of ChangeLing Shu-the Spiritual Pivot, Zhuang-Zi,and Lie-Zi diligently. A meditator and Qigong practitioner with over 25 years of experience, she has combined her interests in writing, Chinese culture, and the art of internal cultivation by collaborating on many writings with Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun.