ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SYNOPSIS FOR MYSELF): Zhuāngzĭ 莊子 Book of Master Zhuang

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“The Zhuangzi, also known as Nánhuá zhēnjīng 南華真經 or Authentic Scripture of Southern Florescence, goes back to Zhuāng Zhōu 莊周 (Zhuangzi), a Taoist thinker of the fourth century BCE (?-290) who lived in the southern part of China and had various contacts but little official relation with the aristocracy of his time. As we have it today, the text consists of thirty-three chapters divided into three groups: Inner Chapters (nèipiān 內偏; chapters 1-7), Outer Chapters (wàipiān 外偏; chapters 8-22), and Miscellaneous Chapters (zápiān 雜偏; chapters 23-33).”—Livia Kohn

“In contrast to the Daode jing, Zhuāngzĭ 莊子 is not concerned with society but finds the individual mind of central importance. He thoroughly rejects involvement with government and reinterprets non-action (wúwéi 無為) as a mental state to be realized by the individual instead of as a political doctrine.”—Livia Kohn

“In this his view is similar to the later Chan Buddhist idea of no-mind (wúxīn 無心) and anticipates the notion of oblivion (see zuòwàng 坐忘). Moreover, Zhuāngzĭ 莊子 does not see history and moral development as key factors but insists that the Golden Age of the past is gone once and for all, the sages of old being only dust and bones. Instead of trying to recover what is gone, one should rather look forward, enjoy life as long as it lasts in “free and easy wondering” (xiāoyáo 逍遙), by going along with the changes and transformations of the world in as much of a realization of spontaneity (zìrán 自然) as one can manage.”—Livia Kohn

Earlier, in the entry ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (REAL NOTES ON UNREAL EXPECTATIONS): Zhēnrén 真人 Real Man or Woman I have already cited Chapter 6, but now rereading translation by Livia Kohn I had found another part of this chapter; together they both can give more clear picture of perfectness now, I guess.

“What, then, are the perfected? The perfected of old did not resent being humble, did not take pride in success, and never plotted their affairs. From this basis, they could be without regret if things went wrong, remain free from self-congratulation when they went right.”

“For this reason, they could climb high places without getting scared, dive into water without getting soaked, and pass through fire without getting hot. Their understanding was such that they could rise up and join Tao at all times. The perfected of old slept without dreaming and woke without concerns. Their food was plain and their breath deep. In fact, the perfected breathes all the way to the heels while the multitude breath just to the throat—bent over and submissive, they croak out words as if they were retching; full of intense passions and desires, they have only the thinnest connection to heaven.”

“The perfected of old had no clue about loving life and hating death. They came to life without celebration; they left again without messiness. Calmly they came, calmly they went—and that is all. They never forgot where they came from; they never inquired about where they would end. They received whatever came and enjoyed it; they lost whatever went and just let it go. This way of being in the world is called not using the mind to oppose Tao, not using human faculties to assist heaven. This, indeed, is what the perfected are like.”

“The perfected of old maintained social responsibility and never waivered, accepting nothing even when in dire straits. They were dedicated to observing the rules but not rigid about them; extensive in their emptiness but not fanciful with it. Humble and withdrawing, they were always cheerful; eminent and superior, they gave themselves no airs. Collected, they knew how to present a proper demeanor; outgoing, they knew when to stop within the range of their inherent potency.”

“Open-minded, they seemed to be just like everyone else; self-contained, they yet went beyond all constraints. Linked in, they seemed like they enjoyed a bit of leisure; spaced out, they forgot what they were trying to say.”

“They considered punishments as the substance [of government], propriety as its supporting wings, wisdom as the key to good timing, and inherent potency as its main guideline. Punishments as substance means being lenient in the infliction of death; propriety as supporting wings means behaving with care in the world; wisdom as key to good timing means not elevating personal causes above the needs of affairs; and inherent potency as the main guideline means taking things one step at a time to get up the hill.”

Translation by Livia Kohn in Chuang-tsu: The Tao of Perfect Happiness—Selections annotated & explained, 2011 SkyLight Paths Publishing

One small lesson I took after having done with Encyclopedia of Taoism reading first time: if I would choose my next reading in taoism, along three sources (1) Daodejing, (2) Zhuangzi, and (3) Nèiyè 內業 (“Inner Cultivation” or “Inner Development”) I would like to reread Neiye (generally dated to 350-300) due to one splendid feature: this is the oldest text and therefore it is closer to those people which now we can consider ‘perfected’. I understand that ‘perfected’ of old times are gone and they are just ‘dust and bones’ now. I understand that I am not one of them. But in addition I understand that several times during the day I am within those ideas and I feel that time of the day is really mine. Perfectly well feeling to see the world by the eyes of those who lived thousand years ago and thousand of miles away but still are one thousand right in cultivation of inner development.

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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SYNOPSIS FOR MYSELF): Zhōutiān 周天 Celestial Circuit

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“The term zhōutiān 周天 denotes the continuously circular movement of the universe. In nèidān 內丹 and also in qigong, this term is related to a method of purification and transformation. Two main types of zhōutiān 周天 are distinguished, namely, the Lesser Celestial Circuit (xiăo zhōutiān 小周天) and the Greater Celestial Circuit (dà zhōutiān 大周天).”–Martina Darga

The Control and Function Channels (dūmài 督脈 and rènmài 任脈) and the lower Cinnabar Field (dāntián 丹田) are the main energetic centers involved in this practice.
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The Lesser Celestial Circuit 小周天 (xiăo zhōutiān)

“The main purpose of the Lesser Celestial Circuit is to preserve the essence (jing) and transform it into energy (qi). This method, also known as “returning the essence to replenish the brain” (huanjing bunao), is performed in the first stage of the neidan process, the second and third stage being the transformation of energy into spirit (shen) and the transformation of spirit into emptiness (xū 虛).”—Martina Darga

The Greater Celestial Circuit 大周天 (dà zhōutiān)

“The practice of the Greater Celestial Circuit is meant to transform energy into spirit and is therefore related to the second stage of the inner alchemical work. The lower Cinnabar Field is likened to a furnace, while the middle Cinnabar Field is a crucible. The energy should circulate through the twelve channels (jingluo). There is no division of the channels into sections in this practice: the whole body is involved. Energy should circulate without stopping, while heart and mind dwell in absolute quiescence.”—Martina Darga

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SYNOPSIS FOR MYSELF): Zhŏngxī 踵息 breathing through the heels

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““Breathing through the heels” is first mentioned in the Zhuangzi 6, which states that “the Real Man (zhēnrén 真人) breathes through the heels whereas the ordinary man breathes through the throat”. A study by Ishida Hidemi (1988) shows that zhongxi designated in antiquity one of four kinds of breathing: through the skin, through the nose and mouth, through the throat (to absorb the celestial breath), and through the heels (to absorb the earthly breath).”—Catherine Despeux

“From the Song period (960-1270), under the influence of neidan, zhongxi also refers to the circulation of the inner energies that descend to the heels and then rise from the yŏngquán 湧泉 point, located in the middle of the sole of the foot, to the top of the head.”—Catherine Despeux

As always I have put tones in Pinyin; I feel myself better that way.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (A TRULY PRIVATE NOTE): Zhēnwŭ 真武 Perfected Warrior

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“Zhēnwŭ, also known as the Dark Warrior (Xuánwŭ 玄武) or Highest Emperor of the Dark Heaven (Xuántiān shàngdì 玄天上帝), is a divinity known for his powers of healing and exorcism. In Han dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE), the Dark Warrior was one of the four animals corresponding to the cardinal directions (see under siling). Usually depicted as a serpent coiled around a tortoise, the Dark Warrior was correlated with winter, water, the color black, and the constellations of the northern quadrant of the sky.”—Theodore A. Cook

Under any circumstances I could imagine myself like the Dark Warrior or Highest Emperor of the Dark Heaven, no. But I am truly correlated several months of the year with winter, water in the form of snow, the color black (typically one week every month when the moon is too small to be visible), and the constellations of the Northern Polar sky. And who we are when we try to be honest with themselves and we cannot be always sure we are right? Dark Warrior is inside us, no matter how light we look in the sunny days.

Zhēnrén 真人 Real Man or Woman, or THE LIST FOR EVERYDAY CHECKUPS

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The perfected of old did not resent being humble.

They did not take pride in success.

They never plotted their affairs. From this basis, they could be without regret if things went wrong, remain free from self-congratulation when they went right.

They received whatever came and enjoyed it; they lost whatever went and just let it go.

Their food was plain and their breath deep. In fact, the perfected breathes all the way to the heels while the multitude breath just to the throat.

The perfected of old slept without dreaming and woke without concerns.

The perfected of old had no clue about loving life and hating death. They came to life without celebration; they left again without messiness. Calmly they came, calmly they went—and that is all. They never forgot where they came from; they never inquired about where they would end.

They could climb high places without getting scared, dive into water without getting soaked, and pass through fire without getting hot. Their understanding was such that they could rise up and join Tao at all times.

Livia Kohn, Chuang-tsu: The Tao of Perfect Happiness—Selections annotated & explained, 2011 SkyLightPaths Publishing, Chapter 6 (I put this chapter into the list, made it shorter, and changed the sequence a bit: from humbleness of a man to the highness of the Tao)

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (REAL NOTES ON UNREAL EXPECTATIONS): Zhēnrén 真人 Real Man or Woman

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Zhēnrén 真人 Real Man or Woman, Authentic Man or Woman, True Man or Woman, Perfected

“The term zhēnrén 真人 denotes one of the highest states in the Taoist spiritual hierarchy. While the world zhēn 真 does not appear in the five Confucian classics, it is found in both the Daode jing and the Zhuangzi.”—Miura Kunio

The Zhuangzi describes the zhēnrén 真人 as follows:

“What is the meaning of zhenren? The zhenren of ancient times did not struggle against adversity, was not proud of success, did not plan his actions….One who was like this could climb high places and not be afraid, go into water and not get wet, enter fire and not be burned. This is because his knowledge was able to rise to the Dao. The zhenren of ancient times slept without dreaming, and woke without any worry. He ate without carrying about taste, and his breath was very deep. A zhenren breathes through his heels whereas the ordinary man breathes through his throat…. The zhenren of ancient times knew nothing about delighting in life, not did he hate the world of death. He was not glad of coming forth, not reluctant to go in. He merely went with composure and came with composure. (Chapter 6, see also trans. Watson 1968, 77-78)”—Miura Kunio

Now I can suggest to read another translation of Chapter 6, this time it is done by another sinologist, Livia Kohn (of course she is a member of Encyclopedia’s staff too). My opinion is that reading of some translations is always better, and different translators bring us readers closer to the source text. Or not. The last chance to understand what you really love is to study the original language and after reading some translations come back and muse again on the original text. Or translate it by self and sleep well.

“What, then, are the perfected? The perfected of old did not resent being humble, did not take pride in success, and never plotted their affairs. From this basis, they could be without regret if things went wrong, remain free from self-congratulation when they went right.”

“For this reason, they could climb high places without getting scared, dive into water without getting soaked, and pass through fire without getting hot. Their understanding was such that they could rise up and join Tao at all times.
The perfected of old slept without dreaming and woke without concerns. Their food was plain and their breath deep. In fact, the perfected breathes all the way to the heels while the multitude breath just to the throat—bent over and submissive, they croak out words as if they were retching; full of intense passions and desires, they have only the thinnest connection to heaven.”

“The perfected of old had no clue about loving life and hating death. They came to life without celebration; they left again without messiness. Calmly they came, calmly they went—and that is all. They never forgot where they came from; they never inquired about where they would end. They received whatever came and enjoyed it; they lost whatever went and just let it go. This way of being in the world is called not using the mind to oppose Tao, not using human faculties to assist heaven. This, indeed, is what the perfected are like.”—Livia Kohn, Chuang-tsu: The Tao of Perfect Happiness—Selections annotated & explained, 2011 SkyLight Paths Publishing

SRI YANTRA MASTER AND ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (A REAL NOTE ON NON-EXISTING NOBILITY): Zhāng Sānfēng 張三丰 or 張三峰 (both names are pronounced by the same way)

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Unfortunately for straight heart people, I have to cite following lines from Encyclopedia volume (Routledge, 2008) about non-existing Zhang Sanfeng personality: “Zhang Sanfeng (“Zhang Triple Abundance” or “Zhang Three Peaks”) is a famous Taoist said to have lived between the end of the Yuan (1260-1368) and beginning of the Ming periods (1368-1644). His historical existence, however, is unproved.”—Martina Darga

Nevertheless, never mind.

“In the first years of the Ming period, Zhang reportedly established himself on Mount Wūdāng 烏當 (Wudang shan, Hubei), where he lived in a thatched hut. With his pupils he rebuilt the mountain monasteries destroyed during the wars at the end of the Mongol dynasty… As time went on, the legends multiplied and became increasingly exaggerated. Zhang is known as the founder of tàijí quán 太極拳 (a claim without historical evidence) and the patron saint of practitioners of this technique. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a connection to the sexual techniques (fángzhōng shū 房中書) was also established and texts dealing with these practices were ascribed to him.”—Martina Darga

I cannot say I am much bothered by the fact of existing or non-existing a real person behind the name: during centuries of humanity strange and unexplained things do happen every day. What I really like is the time of texts’ creation, it is still my favorite period of Chinese history, and the time after 1644 is definitely stranger than anything else—people begin to write and print too much books and they are too long to read them all. If I have a choice to choose sources for my daytime (and I have the choice) I always prefer shorter and more ancient to prolific and modern. If I am not satisfied a bit what I have already found now I just add a bit silence to my day. This small gesture always helps a lot.—Sri Yantra Master

The idea to attach martial art techniques to sexual guides and all philosophy behind it to the one personality is absolutely marvelous and Asian:) In European culture nobody’s name comes to mind. Am I wrong?