內業   Nèiyè: the good and bad (well, not so bad) news for this blog followers

This spring I have decided to follow emendations of the text made by Harold D. Roth in his book Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism, 1999 Columbia University Press.

Chapter 01-07 are cleared: characters counting are correct after deleting some, the difference is only 3 characters (less). Some characters have different tones in the dictionaries, and if I need to hear Chinese vocal pronunciation I use a special application which allows me to utter Chinese characters closely to native speakers. I don’t show emendations marks and don’t comment on the chapters in blog, I really wanted to have the text I can read, meditate and enjoy.

Only the seven parts of twenty-six are cleared (that’s the bad news) but all seven are here now (and that’s the good one). Cosmogonic introduction, 氣 qì, 心 xīn and 形 xíng are the subjects for the first chapters one-three, 道 dào is considered in chapters four-six, and the seventh chapter is like a conclusion topic for the first one.

People don’t dance like this, people don’t play music like this, and people don’t write like this anymore. There is something in ancient philosophy that has been done once and for a long, long time. I am glad that I can belong to those who can appreciate old traces in the modern times.



“The term zuòwàng 坐忘 designates a state of deep trance or intense absorption, during which no trace of ego-identity is felt and only the underlying cosmic current of the Dào 道 is perceived as real. The classical passage describing  the state occurs in Zhuāngzĭ 莊子 (Chapter 6): “I smash up my limbs and body, drive out perception and intellect, cast out form, do away with understanding, and make myself identical with the Great Thoroughfare (dàtòng 大通)” (trans. Watson 1968). This passage presents a mental state of complete unknown, of loss of personal identity and self, and a kind of total immersion in the Non-being of the universe.”—Livia Kohn

As far as I can see nobody can drive a car following these conditions (Zhuāngzĭ 莊子, Chapter 6), rule a small business, or communicate with family and friends, or whatever else. This is something special we can train during our long life more or less successfully in every individual case. I was lucky once in my life getting knowledge of Sri Yantra algorithm and More Difficult Star Polygons: this sequence of steps was in oblivion and these polygons are still in oblivion, especially More Difficult Star Polygons, or better to say, people are still ignorant of their existence at all. And I can do nothing to help because I am still ignorant of making people listening to me. Of course, the existence of such beautiful polygons meant a lot to my training. Frankly, oblivion was the gift and gist of every gesture I did while drawing them on the blank sheet of paper in 1994-95.

Trying to live every day and every minute in agreement with Dao is a beautiful dream (too much distractions act around us), and I am happy enough just getting proper daoyin or yoga session for 20-30 minutes every day. Such training somehow brings me closer to the dream, yes, and that is enough for us, mortals. But this is another story.



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (SPONTANEOUS NOTES FOR MYSELF): Zìrán 自然 spontaneous, spontaneity, “so of its own”

the knife and spontaneity
“As an adjective, the term zìrán 自然 means “spontaneous,” “natural,” “so of its own,” “so of itself.” As a noun, it denotes spontaneity, naturalness, the things as they are. It is a synonym of zìzài 自在 (self-existent) and zìyŏu 自有 (self-produced), and is very close in meaning to zìdé 自得 (self-attaining) and zìwéi 自為 (working by itself, doing spontaneously).”—Isabelle Robinet

“On the cosmological level, zìrán 自然 defines the way the world goes on by itself without anyone “doing” it, and expresses the faith in a world well-ordered and self-regulated in a natural way. Epistemologically, it means that we do not know what is producing life or how life is achieved. Zìrán 自然 is then the ultimate word, not in the sense of an explication but as an expression of human ignorance and respect of the secret of life.”—Isabelle Robinet

“To respect zìrán 自然 one should not interfere (wúwéi 無為), and gently let life act and speak through oneself rather than acting and speaking individually…. To act spontaneously is to have no intention of one’s own, to let the natural force that is within everything work freely. This is not the same as giving free rein to one’s own fantasy (as the term has been misunderstood by some Xuanxue thinkers), because this fantasy is an only superficial desire to satisfy one’s immediate wishes, and not the profound naturalness without desires that is zìrán 自然.”—Isabelle Robinet

Yes, I feel satisfaction reading out the academical sources too, and yes, I feel a huge problem following them in everyday life. From another point of view it is always good to think on good things and quality sources another couple of hours while the day is running to its end. Let’s call it meditation, and let’s call it one of the way to reproach academical coolness for those who don’t bear a formal title in the taoist hierarchy or a membership in the scientific society.

No, I don’t want to achieve in this world anything my left leg is fancy, and no, I really don’t feel any respect to the idea to interfere in whatever else I see around myself. No matter what president of any country—small like Israel or big like Russia—wants for his subjects, a tribal life is the tribal life. The wisdom is the wisdom, and the wisdom is for masters only: those who feel sacral silence accepting in the heart ‘the profound naturalness without desires’ like the highest law. The highest law, period.

When I was younger, I mean much younger, I have been bearing some dreams having a sword, and a set of brushes to study Chinese calligraphy. I don’t say I am much smarter now, but I do like when my knife (not the sword) goes spontaneously and sticks in the target 9 or 10 times of ten, and my simple ink pen allows me to practice Chinese and Japanese calligraphy whenever I feel appropriate time to write another thousand of hieroglyphs—spontaneously—like it was yesterday and today, and it will be tomorrow.


“Zĭ 子 is the first of the twelve Earthy Branches (dìzhī 地支; see gānzhī 干支). Among the directions, it indicates due north, in contrast to wŭ 午 which stands for due south. As a division of time, within the day it indicates the “double hour” (shí 時) between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., and within the yearly cycle it indicates the winter solstice, in contrast to wŭ 午 which stands for the summer solstice. Thus Zi 子 is the point where the sun, representing the Yang principle, begins to rise. After the sun reaches its zenith in midsummer at wŭ, it begins its declining phase and gives rise to Yin. In the Yijing, the winter solstice (zi) corresponds to the hexagram fù 復 (Return, no. 24) and the summer solstice (wŭ 午) corresponds to the hexagram gòu 姤 (Encounter, no. 44).”—Miura Kunio

This is the last chance on the pages of project ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM for me to say something smart on Chinese combinatoric reflection system, or Chinese passion of cataloguing of everything, or reference style of Chinese thinking, or whatever you call it. Sometimes it doesn’t look easy for people craved on absolute freedom, for artists, free thinkers, and the cream of society—politicians, bankers, and CEO. Actually, it looks sympathetic for short memorizing almost all millions of things and wishes surrounding us as Mount Everest of bright goals and luscious ambitions. What Chinese thought in very restricted number of ancient texts can tell us on a simple numbers’ row from 0 to 9 is worthy to think about the whole life. And this is exactly what I am trying to do the best part of my day: to subscribe myself inside the row of simple ideas and simple behavior leading to the longevity (just to see all my enemies’ dead bodies (real and imaginative) passing in the river flow).

Me, smiling on the slope down to the river and keep smiling on the deathbed 🙂


“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.


“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.

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

““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.