Xing Qi English Translation 1999

In: Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism by Harold D. Roth, 1999

01   To circulate the vital breath:

02   Swallow it and it will collect.

03   When it is collected, it will expand.

04   When it expends, it will descend.

05   When it descends, it will be become stable.

06   When it is stable, it will be firm.

07   When it is firm, it will sprout.

08   When it sprouts, it will grow.

09   When it grows, it will return.

10   When it returns, it will become heavenly.

11   The heavenly dynamism is revealed in the ascending [of the breath];

12   The earthly dynamism is revealed in the descending [of the breath].

13   Follow this and you will live;

14   Oppose it and you will die.

Xing Qi Traditional Chinese Text With English Vocabulary

01 行氣 xíngqì

02 吞則蓄 tūn zé xù

03 蓄則伸 xù zé shēn

04 伸則下 shēn zé xià

05 下則定 xià zé dìng

06 定則固 dìng zé gù

07 固則萌 gù zé méng

08 萌則長 méng zé cháng

09 長則復 cháng zé fù

10 復則天 fù zé tiān

11 天機舂在上 tiān jī chōng zài shàng

12 地機舂在下 dì jī chōng zài xià

13 順則生 shùn zé shēng

14 逆則死 nì zé sĭ

Xing Qi Different Characters (1-20)

01 xíng (1) walk, move, travel, about to, soon, will, behavior 

02 氣 qì (1) vital energy, air, vapor

03 吞 tūn to swallow, to take (1)

04 則 zé (11) rule, standard, norm, example, imitate, follow, linking statements: then, already, turned out that, but …

05 蓄 xù to store up, to grow (e.g. a beard), to entertain (ideas) (2)

06 伸 shēn extend, stretch out, open up; trust (2)

07 下 xià (3) postpos.: under, below, lower, get down from, go down

08 定 dìng to set, settled, to fix, fixed,  to determine, to decide, to order, forehead, name of a star (2)

09 固 gù hard, strong, solid, sure, assuredly, undoubtedly, of course, indeed, admittedly (2)

10 méng people, sprout, bud (2)

11 cháng (2) long, height, (read zhăng = grow, increase, excel)

12 復 fù (2) again, return, repeat

13 天 tiān (2) sky, heaven, nature, god, divine

14 機 jī changes, motion, machine, secret, engine, opportunity, intention, aircraft, pivot, crucial point, flexible (quick-witted), organic (2)

15 舂 chōng to pound (grain), beat (2)

16 在 zài (2) be at, rest with, consist in, be present, be alive

17 上 shàng (1) postpos.: on, above, upper, ascend, go up, supreme

18 地 dì (1) earth, round

19 順 shùn to obey, to follow, to arrange, to make reasonable, along, favorable (1)

20 nì disobey, rebel, oppose, contrary, opposite, backwards, to go against, to betray, accord with (1)

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Xing Qi English Translation 1997

One of the first Xing Qi English translation can be found in the book: Early Chinese Medical Literature by Donald Harper, 1997

“Swallow, then it travels; traveling, it extends; extending, it descends; descending, it stabilizes; stabilizing, it solidifies; solidifying, it sprouts; sprouting, it grows; growing, it returns; returning, it is heaven. Heaven—its root is above; earth—its root is below. Follow the pattern and live; go against it and die.”

To compare parallel translations easier, I put the numbers of lines according to the translation made by Harold D. Roth in his book Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism by Harold D. Roth, 1999

01   xing qi [Harper thinks this is a title and he begins his translation from the second line 吞則蓄 tūn zé xù]

02   Swallow, then it travels;

03   traveling, it extends;

04   extending, it descends;

05   descending, it stabilizes;

06   stabilizing, it solidifies;

07   solidifying, it sprouts;

08   sprouting, it grows;

09   growing, it returns;

10   returning, it is heaven.

11   Heaven—its root is above;

12   earth—its root is below.

13   Follow the pattern and live;

14   go against it and die.

I would like to add a couple of paragraphs from the point of view of D. Harper to make some details clear.

“The verbs that identify the stages of cultivation are not obscure words (travel, extend, descend, etc.), but neither is it obvious exactly how the technique is excited. Like the ’Neiye’ and the Laozi, the text is an example of verse meant for recitation by initiates who would have received fuller knowledge of its meaning either orally or in ancillary texts. The verse itself is the verbal distillation of the technique, each verb an icon of the act of circulating vapor.”

“The true focus of the Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan macrobiotic hygiene texts is on techniques. Unlike the ’Neiye,’ which is theoretical exposition on the physiology of the sage, the excavated texts are meant to teach how to do it—whether it be breath cultivation, exercise, sexual  cultivation, or dietetics. Prior to their discovery, the only ancient example of a macrobiotic technique was a rhymed inscription on a dodecagonal block of jade bearing the title xingqi 行氣 (To circulate vapor). The artifact is thought to be late Warring States (perhaps late fourth or early third century B.C.). The technique is presented in nine trisyllabic phrases which describe the stages of breath cultivation from first swallowing the vapor to completion; four explanatory phrases concludes the text.”

I have to say, that running along the cold or hot mountain’s dirty road and keeping in mind all those transformations between the earth and heaven like a smart human being that’s probably the best hours in my life now.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (CIRCULATING PRIVATE NOTES): Xíngqì 行氣 circulating breath

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Once again, it is so good to read this encyclopedia to learn some facts and details from past time which are reliable lighthouses to lead to present day. Two quotes from the article written by an outstanding sinologist Catherine Despeux look better with Traditional Chinese and tones in Pinyin and dates. (I have to say that recently I have found yet another interesting book, A History of the Japanese Language by Bjarke Frellesvig and every time he speaks on Chinese intersection he uses tones but that’s totally another story).

“Methods for circulating breath are attested during the period of the Warring States (403-221), became well known during the Six Dynasties (220-589), and developed during the Tan (618-907) and Song (960-1279) periods. Their most ancient source is an inscription dating from ca. 300 BCE that describes the circulation of breath throughout the body (see Harper 1998, 125-26). In the Han (202 BCE-220 CE) period, circulating breath is mentioned in several texts, including the Huángdì nèijìng (Língshū 靈樞, sec. 11.73).”—Catherine Despeux.

“Circulating breath is often associated with gymnastics (dăoyĭn 導引) and breath retention (bìqì 閉氣). It is generally performed in a reclining position for 300 breaths, before one expires the breath slowly and inaudibly. One begins with retaining breath for twelve breaths (the so-called “small cycle,” xiăotōng 小通), and then progresses up to 120 breaths (the “great cycle,” dàtōng 大通). Tang documents add to this classical model a circulation of inner breath in which Intention (yì 意) plays a major role.”—Catherine Despeux.

I hope very much that this note like all others can make your further searching online more easily performed.
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