ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SMART NOTES): Nèiyè 內業 Inner Cultivation

A State of Qi with its capital Linzi, where the academy Jixia Gate was established and the book Nèiyè 內業 was compiled by Guănzĭ 管子.

A State of Qi with its capital Linzi, where the academy Jixia Gate was established and the book Nèiyè 內業 was compiled by Guănzĭ 管子.

“A long overlooked text of classical times, the Neiye (“Inner Cultivation” or “Inner Developement”) is a text of some 1,600 characters, written in rhymed prose, a form close to that  of the Daode jing. It sometimes echoes that text and the Zhuangji, but it lacks many of the concerns found in those works. Generally dated to 350-300 BCE, it is preserved in the Guanji, along with two later, apparently derivative texts.”—Russell Kirkland, and the whole entry is cool enough to say what we have and what we do not have in the ancient text.

There are four translations the internet is easy to provide to careful reader, but no matter how careful you are one question is obvious: the four terms (qi ‘energy’, jing ‘vital essence’, dao ‘the way’, and sheng ‘spirit’) are too broad to understand and something should be definitely done here. Who, when, how?

Another example of difficulty to deal from the first ‘zhang’ (actually there is no ‘zhangs’ in original text, no titles to zhangs, and let us remember it, no punctuation marks for Classical Chinese up to 1919 at all): 謂之鬼神 wèizhī guĭshén  were translated ‘we call it ghostly and numinous’ (Harold D. Roth), ‘we call these ghosts and spirits’ (Indiana University, R. Eno?), and another translation under the nickname Shazi Daoren,  ‘we call this the ‘spiritual being’. More complex situation we shall have in zhang 19 in the phrase, where ‘guĭshén’ will be used twice: 鬼神將通之,非鬼神之力也,精氣之極也。

“While the ghostly and numinous will penetrate it,

It is not due to the power of the ghostly and numinous,

But to the utmost refinement of your essential vital breath.”—(Nineteen, Harold D. Roth)

“…the spirits will make it comprehensible. 

Yet it is not by the power of the spirits:

it is the utmost of the essential qi.”—(Indiana University, R. Eno?), by the way, it is Section 13: Concentration now.

“12 A Spiritual Being will fathom it,

  13 Not due to the Spiritual Being’s power,

  14 But due to the ultimate of Jing and Qi.”— (Shazi Daoren, zhang 19-Concentration qi).

I do understand people who do not have time to read two volumes of Encyclopedia of Taoism, how about to read my f***ing blog, it is smart, cute, SHORT. For example, Miura Kunio on our favorite ‘guĭshén’ phrase is here. I still believe, it can be helpful for further translations somehow (and for careful, very careful readers too).

As far as I can see, humanity is not ready to print out this text in Classical Chinese, Pinyin with tones (easy to read for every student), and two or three translations into English with numeration of every line. Probably, humanity will be ready to do it in a couple of years. 

Gimme another summer break and we shall see :)))

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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (PRIVATE NOTES): Nèidān 內丹 inner elixir, inner alchemy

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This entry was written by a specialist, Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein, and contains enough information to make my life more complex and hard to think. So, the first thing first, let us turn what he had done in seven clicks (screens) into one click (screen). I mean to find a couple of nice quotations to digest this encyclopedia article in the easy and understandable way in several minutes.

 “The aim of nèidān 內丹 is described as achieving immortality or a state of union with the Dao; this is variously imagined as attaining the rank of celestial immortal (tiānxiān 天仙), becoming a “celestial official” (tiānguān 天官) in the otherworldly bureaucracy, joining one’s spirit with the Dao (yúshén hé dào 與神合道), or obtaining “release from the corps”. In all these instances, a neidan master is thought not to die, but undergo a voluntary metamorphosis.” Absolutely great idea for many, especially that part on immortality which I would like to throw away as soon as possible. But that line, ‘a state of union with the Dao’ is deserved to be learnt by heart. Yúshén hé dào 與神合道, duh!

“Originally, the neidan adepts did not belong to any particular group of Taoists; they were mostly individuals who practiced the art with the help of a master or followed the instruction of certain texts.”—(F. Baldrian-Hussein). See, there is no particular need to go anywhere and become a part of any society actually. Once again, I am glad that I have read the whole article, because ‘mostly individuals’ and ‘a state of union with the Dao’ this is exactly what I have been feeling many years already. The means, I quess are still the same: ‘nourishing life’ (yangsheng), meditation on breathing (xingqi), gymnastics (daoyin), and sexual guidance (fangzhong shu).

Probably the best place for those practices you can find in this picture atop. But I prefer my room as always :))

Sri Yantra Master Alive and the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (VOL.2): Míngtáng 明堂 Hall of Light

Míngtáng 明堂 Hall of Light (or Bright Hall)

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Of course, there is a sacred building to use for imperial ceremonies in the history of ancient Chinese culture but for us now more important is the Hall of Light mentioned in Ge Hung’s (283-343) Baopu zi and its location one inch behind the area between the eyebrows. More detailed description can be found in the article written by Martina Darga.  

I cannot add to this note much enough. In the acupuncture  textbook this is the place for Yìntáng 印堂 (Hall of Impression) which corresponds to the area ascribed to the ‘third eye’ by many traditional cultures, and has been classified by some qigong authors as the location of the upper dāntián 丹田. That is an extra point, it does not belong to Rèn Mài 任 脈 (The Conceptor Vessel) or more exactly to Dū Mài 督 脈 (The Governor Vessel).

Speaking on many traditional cultures let us make one step into the Indian heritage of yoga. The region between two eyes is called ājñā chakra (the sixth chakra of classical set of seven or eight in Kuṇḍalinī yoga) and followers denote it like the inner mind’s eye to sense subtle energies and to be a gateway flooded with infinite wisdom, insight, and inspiration. So far so good.

Inside martial art practitioners’ milieu and Dim-Mak 點脈 (diănmài) reference books (Erle Montaigue and Wally Simpson, for example) this acupoint is translated ‘decorating place’ and described like causing KO and sometimes called ‘the old evangelist’s point’ which sounds curious enough.

The big colour picture of the ancient architecture would be probably the better illustration here.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (VOL. 2): Mìngmén 命門 Gate of the Vital Force

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This entry in the encyclopedia is short (my favorite size) and informative. There are two minuses although: (1) no tones and (2) no illustration but now we shall have fixed both. Magic of hands!

Following Monica Esposito: “In the Chinese medical literature, the term mìngmén 命門 (also rendered as Gate of Life) denotes the right kidney in its function of procreation. The mìngmén is therefore related to the Original Pneuma (yuánqì 元氣) or Yang Pneuma (yángqì 陽氣), also called Real Fire (zhēnhuŏ 真火). The same term also refers to an acupoint located along the Control Channel between the second and third lumbar vertebrae (see dumai and renmai).”

“Neidan texts often designate mìngmén 命門 as a synonym for the lower Cinnabar Field (dāntián 丹田). Although the mìngmén can be physically located in the umbilical region or be related to the kidney,  spleen, nose, and so on, it shares the ambivalent meaning of other key alchemical terms. In fact, the mìngmén is the center beyond all spatial and temporal categories. It has no shape, but all polarities can be resumed in it and all transformations can take place within it. As the point where breath ascends and descends, and where thought can be perceived in its perpetual fluctuations between movement and quiescence (dong and jing), it is a symbol of the “mechanism of Life and Death” (shēngsĭ zhī jī 生死之機).”

This transition from an acupuncture point 命門 or a right kidney to ‘beyond all spatial and temporal categories’ IS absolutely amazing! That’s exactly why I  truly adore Chinese language and culture.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (VOL. 2): MAWANDUI MANUSCRIPTS

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In the beginning of the second volume of Encyclopedia of Taoism, Routledge, London and New York (2008) I would like to open the Mawandui manuscripts comment because this finding will have great and remarkable  influence on me during some years later.

The facts around the event are explained by Robin D.S.Yates: ”In December 1973, archeologists clearing tomb no. 3 at Măwánduī 馬王堆, Chángshā 長沙 (Hunan), discovered a cache of texts written mostly on silk folded in a lacquer box. They were placed there to accompany Lì Cāng 利蒼, Lord of Dai, who died in 168 BCE, into the afterlife. This was the main discovery of ancient texts since the opening of the hidden library at Dunhuang in the early twentieth century.”

The scientists discovered a new version of Yi Jing in the Mawandui tombs and the order of the sixty-four hexagrams of it is different from the known version, that is the fact. I can say one funny thing here: it is too bad for the version. I am not a scientists, I am not going to put proves here, I want just laugh and say that the true version can be only one (considering the mathematical consequences of the known version) and this is the version we usually open in the Wilhelm/Baynes edition. And I am pretty happy with it.

“Thirty-three of the names of the hexagrams are different from those in the received version, the most important being “Key” (jiàn 鍵) for qián 乾  and “Flow” (chuān 川) for kūn 坤. There are also a great number of variant graphs in the body of the text that could well have significant philosophical implications. Edward Shaughnessy (1996b) suggests that the original referents of “Key” and “Flow” were the male and female genitalia respectively, rather than the abstract notions of Heaven and Earth.” — R.D.S. Yates. Well, now it sounds like gynecology synopsis of a bad student. Lets make it clear in a couple of seconds: if cosmological aspects have been widely known by the time of Laozi and Zhuangzi why ‘the male and female genitalia’ should play such role in 168 BCE? Or, probably, I am not an early and easy adopter of new and ‘significant philosophical implications’. In any special case, the general beauty of Yi Jing ‘as is’ suits me perfect anytime I think about it.

There are also a serious group of fifteen texts inside the Mawandui corpus concerned health and medicine, and three of them are truly the most ancient Chinese sex manuals (fáng zhōng shū 房中書): Hé Yīn Yáng 合陰陽 (Conjoining Yin and Yang), Shí Wèn 十問 (Ten Questions), and Tiānxià Zhìdào Tán 天下至道談 (Discourse on the Ultimate Way Under Heaven). Another translation of the text 天下至道談 is Discourse on the Culminant Way in Under Heaven, and both titles I try to avoid. My favorite title sounds: On Following the Dao in High and Low, and I do like when translations from Chinese into English are short and a little bit poetical, two qualities which I guess natural for classical Chinese. I have some translations of this text into two languages and I reread them and comments every time I need to extract information but I will read my own translation into English always when I want to feel the fact knowledge can fly, from hear to heart. 

That is why Mawandui manuscripts have ‘great and remarkable influence on me’ many years already and today.  

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (THE END OF THE VOL. 1 ): LIST OF TOPICS (25)

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THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM  (PRIVATE NOTES)

SRI YANTRA MASTER ALIVE AND THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM

VOLUME 1

1        COSMOGONY

2        COSMOLOGY

3        Bì qì  閉氣 breath retention

4        Dān tián 丹田 Cinnabar Field

5        Dào 道  The Way

6        Fúqì 服氣 ingestion of breath

7        Gānzhī 干支 [Celestial] Stems and [Earthly] Branches

8        Gĕ Hóng 葛洪 (283-343) and Bàopŭ zi 抱朴子

9        Guān 觀 observation

10      Guĭ 鬼 spirit, demon, ghost

11      Guodian manuscripts (1993)

12      Héqì 合氣  1. ‘merging pneumas’, ‘union of breaths’; 2. harmonization of vital energy

13      Hétú*Luòshū: 河圖*洛書 Chart of the [Yellow] River and Writ of the Luo [River]

14      Huáinán zi 淮南子 Book of the Master of Huainan

15      Huángdì nèijīng 黃帝內經 Inner Scripture of the Yellow Emperor

16     Hún and pò 魂•魄 Yang soul and Yin soul; celestial soul and earthly soul

17     Hùndùn 混沌 chaos, inchoate state

18     Huŏhòu 火候 fire times, fire phasing

19     Ishinpō 醫心方 Methods from the Heart of Medicine

20     Jīndān 金丹 Golden Elixir

21     Jìngzuò 靜坐 quiet sitting

22     Kūnlún 崑崙 Mount Kunlun

23     Liànqì 鍊氣 ( or 煉氣) refining breath, refining pneuma

24     Liànxíng 鍊形 or 煉形 refining the form

25     Liùzì jué  六字訣  “instructions on the six sounds”

The second volume is much, much longer :)) That’s due to speciality of Chinese language, I guess.