Taoism is a path that cherishes lifelong learning and multiple sources of wisdom. Taoists can study herbalism, medicine, poetry, calligraphy, or music. Others take up the calling of spiritual mediums or diviners. Still others pursue the quest for immortality. In this fascinating introduction to Taoism, the gifted writer and commentator Deng Ming-Dao (365 Tao) focuses on the incredible life and work of Kwan Saihung, his Taoist master who went against his parent's wishes to enter a temple.

Saihung was a cheerful and mischievous student who learned from the natural world. He surprised everyone by becoming a wild martial arts fighter. His resilience enabled him to live through the Japanese occupation of China and the Chinese Revolution. And despite several periods away from the monastery, Saihung finished the training. Then his spiritual journey took him to America where he became a Golden Gloves boxer and martial arts teacher.

Deng Ming-Dao points out the breadth of this monk's spiritual regimen based on four practices: morning meditation, astral travel, sutra recitation, and evening meditation. The rest of the day consisted of martial arts routines, reading of scriptures, playing music, writing, and painting. All of this enabled Saihung to become a formidable Taoist sage dispensing wisdom to his students. Here he is talking to one of them:

" 'I wish I could see you fight.'

"Saihung looked at Steve, 'No, you don't. You don't want to see me fight. There's nothing pretty about fighting. It's not a movie, it's not opera. And I don't want to ever catch you fighting either.'

" 'But then why am I learning this?' Steve looked at him with a pout.

" 'As a means of discipline,' replied Saihung. 'If you learn martial arts, it will improve your health and give you the discipline to do anything in life. The demands to master all the facets of martial arts will shape your personality and give you the resources to face all that fate sends your way.' "