Side Ways

The Tao is no longer understood. There is an endless number of side doors and twisted byways, constituting a few basic groups. There are those who are fixated on voidness and those who are attached to forms, and those who do psychosomatic exercises. There are seventy-two schools of material alchemy, and three thousand six hundred aberrant practices. Since the blind lead the blind, they lose the right road; they block students and lead them into a pen. -- Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao
It is difficult to enumerate the three thousand six hundred false methods of cultivation, but they all have one common characteristic: they all focus on the physical body. -- Shui-Ching Tzu, Commentary on Cultivating Stillness
There are thirty-six hundred methods in Taoism; people each cling to one and consider it fundamental. Who knows this opening of the mysterious pass is not in the thirty-six hundred methods? -- Li Dao Chun, The Book of Balance and Harmony

All esoteric traditions use the number seventy-two to refer to the many sideways that exists in all religions.

All the seventy and two heresies lurk in you; Have a care lest one day they prevail over you! -- Rumi
Our laws are different from other laws. Our religion is like no other. It is different from the seventy-two sects. -- Yunus Emre
O Lord, forgive the warring of the seventy-two nations. -- Hafiz
The Lord took seventy-two different colors, threw them into the vessel, and brought them out all white. -- Gospel of Philip
The Kings of various kinds of monsters, seventy-two in all, all came to pay homage to the Monkey King. -- Journey to the West
Mahavairocana Buddha, representing the Dharma body, the indestructable body of gold.
By Unkei, Enjoji temple, Nara Japan.

Return to the Commentary on Journey to the West