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

zhuangzipic
“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.

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

zhenwuplusframe
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

theperfected
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

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (ONE NOTE ON ONE): Shŏuyī 守一 ‘guarding the One’

shouyiwhite

Shŏuyī 守一 ‘guarding the One’, ‘maintaining Oneness’

“The term shŏuyī (守一), which appears in Taoist literature from an early period, indicates a form of concentrative meditation that focuses all attention upon one point or god in the body. The purpose of this practice is to attain total absorption in the object and thus perceive the oneness of being.” — Livia Kohn, and it sounds wonderful, especially ‘all attention upon one point,’ and the best point which comes to the mind first is ‘breathing’.

Another proof for the usefulness of such kind of meditation is another quotation: “The shift from visualization to mental tranquility continues in the Song dynasty (960-1279), where shŏuyī (守一) appears as a basic exercise in the texts of inner alchemy (neidan), whose purpose is to protect the center of life within and thus allow the transformation of bodily energies into pure spirit and Dao. In all cases, however, the term indicates one-pointedness of mind, which focuses on a single object of meditation.”— L. Kohn, one of my favorite sinologists.

And guess, what? Another quotation for the first two proves for the previous quotation (Encyclopedia of Taoism, Routledge edition) is the whole chapter of Yoga Sūtra by Patañjali: ‘samādhi pāda’. God bless all people practicing yoga, they deserve it, especially after reading and getting the ‘oneness’ with the whole corpus of sutras.

Of course, I could suggest now a small, collective meditation on these two cultural achievements of China and India to “guard the One,” or “to maintain Oneness” but it will look like a little bit cheap trick. What doesn’t look cheap definitely is your private experience (as well as mine) of meditation on, yes, ‘breathing technique’. For instance, when I have discovered first time that my breathing wave inside my lungs strongly resembles the feeling inside the palms in the famous exercise (you keep your palms ‘face-to-face’ for some time and when you begin move them slowly closing the space,  you feel how air between the palms turns into sort of a spring, or a balloon), and that was so amazing, and I keep the feeling of this air spring every time I meet my yoga mat-à-mat again and again. By the way, you should  really be in the state of deep meditation and somehow 3-5 breathings per minute help to achieve this goal.

In general, shŏuyī (守一 ‘guarding the One’) is what we, linguists, philologists, sinologists, psychologists, and their crazy fans call ‘pure joy.’