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About Yueya

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    月牙 yuèyá (Crescent Moon)

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  1. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    Without access to Roth's critical text, it's impossible to critique his translation. For example, Roth considers 民 (citizen) to be copyist error. (See his note 29 below.) I have no problems accepting this emendation because ‘citizen’ does not make sense when following from the preceding verse about the vital essence of the sage, or leading into the second part of this verse. Linnell’s translation using 'citizen' is clumsy. Dan Reid makes a valiant effort with: “As a result (of essence), the energy-breath of common people (becomes).” He includes this note: All in all, I think accepting 'citizen' as an error is far simpler than making these translation contortions. On the other hand, I think the received text version of line 5 is better than what Roth considers to be the original line. (See Roth's note 31 below.)
  2. Neiye - Introduction - Multi-authors

    To my mind Dan Reid's book and Roth's make an excellent pair. We are privileged to have them both. For anyone interested in the Neiye, I'd say both these books are essential reading. They complement each other in that Roth uses the technique of what he calls textural archaeology to recover the original text. This recovered text then becomes the critical text on which his translation is based. It includes a reasonably large number of amendments from the received text. On the other hand, Reid doesn't accept any amendments, His translation is based wholly on the received text. Despite these different approaches and the differences in translation that follow, to my mind, the gist of the Neiye remains the same. For this Dao Bums Neiye discussion to be fair to Roth it really needs to include his critical text and his notes on his translation. To illustrate this I will post Roth's critical text and some of his notes for his verse 2 translation in that section of our discussion. I will also include a little of Reid's translation / interpretation.
  3. Neiye - Introduction - Multi-authors

    This comment and my post above are a continuation of discussion started in the "Neiye section 3" topic. What I’m wanting to show with my above post is that Roth was well aware of the huge amount of research, both Chinese and Western, that covered the Neiye chapter of the Guanzi. He was thoroughly conversant with its textual history and the many ambiguities in the text for translators to interpret. What Roth has done in his book is to emphasise the mysticism of the Neiye. Thus he interprets text ambiguities accordingly. In doing so, to my mind, he’s brought back to life the essence of the text and conveyed it in a way relevant for our contemporary spiritual needs. The gist of the text resonates very strongly with my own unfolding experiences. Hence the Neiye is an important foundational text for me. And obviously for Roth too, both as a long term Zen practitioner and academic.
  4. Neiye - Section 2 - The Nature of the Heart

    Yes, for me and for some (hopefully) many other Dao Bums members such insight is important. (And also for all the other ancient traditions people are interested in, not just Daoism.) But I often find engagement here difficult. Discussion proceeds much faster than I’d like and interest seems to rapidly fade. Also, I sometimes find the number of disparate voices off-putting. Yet I try to use my engagement with all of this difference productively; like mixing chaotic and disparate ingredients in an inner alchemical cauldron, out of which a core of stillness slowly solidifies within me. I call it an alchemical process because it’s certainly no straightforward linear progression, and the best of it seems to happen largely 'self-so'. I personally would like to see this Neiye discussion going at a slower pace by allowing a little more time between each new verse, and for discussion to proceed with greater harmony. However, as that's not the usual way of Dao Bums, I’m OK to go along with however it proceeds. I always have the option to participate (or not) as I find appropriate.
  5. Neiye - Introduction - Multi-authors

    I’ve attached a few pages from Harold Roth, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei yeh) and the Foundation of Taoist Mysticism in which he outlines the extensive research he undertook to establish a critical edition of the Neiye as the basis for his translation. (In his book he gives the full Chinese text for each verse.) I personally have neither the Chinese language skills nor the interest to critique his research, but it seems from our Dao Bums discussion, such textural background information is important to others.
  6. Neiye - Section 2 - The Nature of the Heart

    Perhaps a little tangential but somewhat relevant...... Many years ago I worked for a while as a Zen shiatsu practitioner, a healing modality which derives its theoretical framing from the same Chinese model as does TCM. Back in 1995 I did an interview with my teacher for a magazine and in it asked him this question: “The thing that Impressed me about your teaching was that it was based on treating people here in Sydney and getting results with the type of illnesses people have now, rather than, for example, ancient China.” He replied: “Yes, a very, very important idea. If only this concept gets across to people, then I think I may have accomplished all I want to do in interrelating to medical systems or creating medical systems. Applying a form of therapy to an individual has to be based on what their actual need is. If we look at China there is not only a different culture, but structurally they're different. Their body shape is different, the food is different, and so is their environment. The definition of what is feeling good maybe is different from one culture to another. So you might make a person feel better within Chinese terms but not within the cultural demands of Australia. To summarise, one not only has to understand traditional medical practice within the cultural context of the country in which it arose (that is, why it's there and what it's used for) but also one must understand it well enough to be able to isolate the actual essence of it and then reintegrate into the situation you're actually working in.”
  7. Neiye - Section 2 - The Nature of the Heart

    For me, the Neiye is a powerful aid for my own inner work. A catalyst for inner change. Thus discussions about exactly what it meant in the context of ancient China are of secondary importance for me. What I do know is that although our society is far different from then and our intellectual knowledge has mushroomed, our human emotions are little changed from that time. Hence the timeless essence of the Neiye is its emotional and spiritual content. I hold the text in a certain reverence. That way it reveals its essence to my heart, through my heart. It helps bring order to my somewhat chaotic xin. I value all the people who have sought to bring its wisdom to us Westerners. (Even Taoist Texts with his rather arrogant manner occasionally has what I consider as valuable insights.) All these people have my respect. None of them are idiots. I know Roth, for instance, has spent at least ten years on his examination of the Neiye.
  8. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    Once again, here's my comment written before reading most of the above.... Following from the previous verse, the qi being referred to here is likewise the shen of later Daoism, as in the conceptual model: Jing Qi Shen (精氣神). At the highest level, to my mind, this shen can be likened to Buddha Mind, or to the Christian notion of Holy Spirit. Hence we have this description of the first five lines from A C Graham: “This may well be the earliest Chinese interpretation of the experience of mystical oneness.” (Roth bases his version of line five on what he considers from his extensive research to be the wording of the original line. I followed Roth in my version but if I were redoing it I’d go with something like Eno’s: "So compact! As though residing within oneself." Or go free form and add Eno’s as a new line after Roth’s line five.) The second part of the verse brings in the important notions of de and also awareness / intent. In my comment on the first chapter I wrote: “Whereas for the sage of the Neiye the same vital essence burns continually with a steady glow. They have somehow transmuted vital essence into something stable and manageable.” Here we learn this stabilisation requires personal de. Moreover, the vital essence (shen) itself helps develop de. They must be allowed to work together for wisdom to develop. (For those who aren't familiar with the Chinese notion of de there's extensive discussion on it in the archives of DaoBums and on the web in general.)
  9. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    Yes, I agree. As Limahong has said, that’s called listening with the heart. But I don’t see that much happening here with the Neiye discussion so far. People are mostly talking in terms of systems and concepts that postdate the text. They’re finding in the Neiye confirmation of what they already know. And that’s understandable. It’s the only way to orientate oneself to something new. We all do it. And these fast paced DaoBums discussions exacerbate the tendency. Listening with heart happens in its own way and in its own time. And it’s best achieved with the type of calm xin the Neiye speaks of. Otherwise all we tend to find is echoes of our own emotional imbalances and intellectual biases.
  10. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    I wrote in the introduction that the Neiye could also be called The Art of the Heart-Mind, or The Way of the Numinous Xin. That’s what I consider the Neiye to be. And this first chapter gives a glimpse of the end result. The sage is someone with vital essence stored within their chest. This realised, high level, vital essence of the sage referred to in the Neiye is in later Daoism called shen. Here’s how Louis Komjathy attempts to explain it: “The heart-mind is the emotional and intellectual centre of the human person. It is associated with consciousness and identified as the storehouse of spirit (shen 神). In its original or realized condition, the heart-mind has the ability to attain numinous pervasion: in its disoriented or habituated condition, especially in a state of hyper-emotionality or intellectualism, the heart-mind has the ability to separate the adept from the Dao as Source. The latter is often referred to as the "ordinary heart-mind" or more poetically as the "monkey-mind”, while the former is often referred to as the "original heart-mind". The ordinary heart-mind is characterized by chaos and instability, while the original heart-mind is characterized by coherence and constancy.” The term “monkey mind” for me has always been associated with thoughts. But thoughts are only half of xin. Important, yes, but what underpins it all for me is feelings / emotions. It’s about transmuting the vital essence of my chaotic human heart into a stable numinous heart. And to do this I need to cultivate my innate connection with the xin of Dao, the numinous heart-mind. The remainder of the Neiye gives some clues as to how I might do so.
  11. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    Yes. A good method and well expressed. But that’s only half of xin. The intellectual half. The other way of exploring a text is with the heart.
  12. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    I've just come back to this topic after a day's break from the web and I will make my post before reading all the above discussion so I'm not distracted by it. When I first read the Neiye the gist of it spoke clearly to me. I didn’t dwell on any of the obscure images. It was only when I started to write it out for myself that I puzzled over lines like the one being discussed. (And there’s not many in the Neiye like this, mostly it’s relatively straightforward.) Here is some imagery I find relevant to this line and to the Neiye as a whole...... Jolie Holland sings in her song of passionate longing, Amen: “There's a light inside my chest That switched on when we first met And it will not let me rest - Amen “ It seems to me that in ordinary people this high level manifestation of vital essence we call passionate love flares up and flames out relatively quickly. It’s something amazing, numinous but chaotic and unstable. Whereas for the sage of the Neiye the same vital essence burns continually with a steady glow. They have somehow transmuted vital essence into something manageable that can be stored in the chest.
  13. Neiye - Section 1 - The Essential Qi

    That's the line I found the most interesting too. I puzzled over it, wondering what it actually meant to those ancient Chinese; wondering what inner experience they were referring to. I'm interested to hear what others think it means. (I now have some idea from my own inner experience, but it is something very new and tentative for me. A partial realisation only. I had no idea when I first read the Neiye. )
  14. Neiye - Introduction - Multi-authors

    @dawei Thanks for listing those similarities, most of which I was aware of. That’s why many of us consider that the Neiye expresses foundational aspects of Chinese cognition. No problems with that. What I thought Taoist Texts was asking was why don’t we find the Neiye as a text referenced in later works like we do with the Laozi, Zhuangzi etc. As far as I know Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) doesn’t mention it either. For me, answering this question is not important. It’s something for historians to speculate about. And no one seems to question that the Neiye predates these other better known works. I like the text because I found in it strong parallels with my own experience. It puts into words and takes further core aspects of what’s important for me. I find it extremely encouraging to know that people have been working along these lines for thousands of years. These ancient Chinese feel like my spiritual ancestors. Incidentally, I was surprised to see my version of the Neiye referenced here. It’s something I did for myself and made into a printed booklet so I’d have a hardcopy at hand. Mine is not a translation from classical Chinese like the other four, but a composite based on Roth’s work with reference to other translators, especially Louis Komjathy. For anyone interested, it’s available for free download here as a pdf file. And it has excellent pictures.
  15. Neiye - Introduction - Multi-authors

    Dawei, are you planning to post all the chapters below and make this one long thread? Or were you going to start a new topic for each of the chapters? My strong preference is for the latter option. I mightn’t add many comments, but I’ll be actively reading it all with interest. The Neiye is a very significant text for me. Could also be called The Art of the Heart-Mind, or even The Way of the Numinous Xin. It may not be much quoted directly as a text in other Chinese works but to my mind it concisely expresses core aspects of foundational Chinese cognition. Dan G Reid’s The Thread of the Dao is also an excellent on the Neiye with extensive commentary. But perhaps left until after the whole text is read and personally meditated on before reading such detailed interpretation by someone else. I find these types of discussion helpful, yet also somewhat paradoxical: Considering the disposition of this Dao, How can it be conceived of or discussed? Cultivate the heart-mind and still your thinking; The Dao may then be realized.