Sign in to follow this  
exorcist_1699

Hundred word stone tablet (百字碑) : An English Translation

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Walker, a member of this forum , once posted a post about this important poetry  left behind by Immortal Lu of the Tang Dynasty , but it was in Chinese, without any translation, so  I try to make a translation  of it here :

 

養氣忘言守,降心為不為。
動靜知宗祖,無事更尋誰。
真常須應物,應物要不迷。
不迷性自住,性住氣自回。
氣回丹自結,壺中配坎離。
陰陽生返复,普化一聲雷。
白雲朝頂上,甘露灑須彌。
自飲長生酒,逍遙誰得知。
坐聽無弦曲,明通造化機。
都來二十句,端的上天梯

 

 


( My translation  )

 

 

Nourish your qi  by  paying attention to nowhere,  empty your mind through not expecting anything more * .

 

No matter you are in action or stay at rest,  you  let the real-Self,   consolidated by the primordial qi,  take charge ; free  and  at ease , you find  no  necessity to search  anything or anyone who claims greater # .

 

The free and real  Self  needs to trains itself in  daily challenges ;  it is through cultivating  itself in the world that it  becomes  free of worries and doubts .

 

Once not lost  and  not entangled by  fakes in this world , the Spiritual Nature of us will return ;  once it returned and stayed, the primordial qi also comes.

 

With the primordial qi returned,  the gold dan  starts to form, making Kan and Li ** mixed together  .

 

In such a mixture, a  higher level of intercourse between yin and yang  arises and reverses , producing something like a thunder thudded.


With clouds rising up to the sky,  turned into holy rains and  fell back to the  mountains,  Taoist dan is consolidated  ^  .

 

It  is like drinking  some wine  of immortality,   a feeling of  coziness  hardly others ever tasted .

 

It  is like  sitting there listening to a  string-less musical instrument played by  the nature,  you know  you have got the secret of it .


With  these phases ,  you are led climbing up  the ladder towards the Heaven with faith  .

 

 

Notes:

 

* You can't attain an emptied Mind through an intention to empty it  for  what you do  is  adding  an extra  mind to it. The more you want to empty your mind, the more you add minds to it, so  never can   you succeed.


# No search is the real search ;   there is no need to cultivate Tao, no cultivation is the   real cultivation  (" 道不用修, 可修者非道也" )

 

** Kan is said to be something yang enveloped by yin,  located somewhere in between our kidneys;  Li  is said to be something yin enveloped by yang , located somewhere inside our skull. The return of the primordial qi ( pre-heavenly qi ) makes their intercourse possible, and the jump from post-heavenly level to pre-heavenly level realized.

 

^   Dan , in fact, is  something  a result  of the intercourse between  the sky  and the land ;

Edited by exorcist_1699
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like this interesting juxtaposition on the meaning of ‘cultivation’.....

 

12 hours ago, exorcist_1699 said:

# No search is the real search ;   there is no need to cultivate Tao, no cultivation is the   real cultivation  (" 道不用修, 可修者非道也" )

 

12 hours ago, exorcist_1699 said:

The free and real  Self  needs to trains itself in  daily challenges ;  it is through polishing itself in the world that it  becomes  free of worries and doubts .

 

Could also be written:  The free and real Self needs to train itself in daily challenges;  it is through cultivating itself in the world that it becomes free of worries and doubts.

 

When I use the word 'cultivation' I use it in the somewhat paradoxical Daoist sense that these passages reveal.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Yueya said:

I like this interesting juxtaposition on the meaning of ‘cultivation’.....

 

 

 

Could also be written:  The free and real Self needs to train itself in daily challenges;  it is through cultivating itself in the world that it becomes free of worries and doubts.

 

When I use the word 'cultivation' I use it in the somewhat paradoxical Daoist sense that these passages reveal.  

 

Thanks your comment. Revised it as you suggest.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's up Exorcist, always a pleasure to see your contributions here. I think your interpretation is on-point, but in terms of translation, I think this is more of a 註 than an 譯, as the degree of 詮釋 takes the reader very far from many of the original characters. 

 

Dawei, your efforts are solid, but I don't agree with a lot of your interpretations of the logic implied by these short sentences.

 

Here's a little 10 minute translation with a few notes and suggestions I tacked on the end. Not perfect, but here goes:

 

養氣忘言守

Nurture qi, forget language,1 keep watch

 

降心為不為

Tame2 the mind, do non-doing
 

動靜知宗祖

Of movement and stillness, know their ancestor3

 

無事更尋誰

There is nothing to do, what4 else do you seek?
 

真常須應物

[The mind/the true and eternal]5 must respond to things

 

應物要不迷

When responding to things, you must not get lost
 

不迷性自住

If you do not get lost, your mind nature will naturally be present

 

性住氣自回

If you mind nature is present, qi will naturally return
 

氣回丹自結

When qi returns, the elixir naturally forms

 

壺中配坎離

Within the pot,6 you combine kan and li
 

陰陽生返复

Yin and yang are born, return, and regenerate7

 

普化一聲雷

Everything transforms with a peal of thunder
 

白雲朝頂上

White clouds gather at the crown of the head

 

甘露灑須彌

Sweet dew is sprinkled on Mt. Sumeru
 

自飲長生酒

Naturally you sip the liquor of longevity

 

逍遙誰得知

Free and without a care, who even knows?8
 

坐聽無弦曲

Sitting and listening to the song played with no strings

 

明通造化機

Enlightened to the functioning of [the universe/creation and dissolution]
 

都來二十句

It all comes from these twenty sentences

 

端的上天梯

Which are really and truly the ladder to heaven

 

___

 

1: The idea of "forgetting words" is important and explicit in quite a few Daoist and Chan writings. I wouldn't lose the character 言 in translation. Here I suspect the teaching is to externally shut the mouth and internally let go of the tendency to have a stream of verbalized thoughts. 

2: Treating 降 as xiang and not jiang

3: I.e., that prior to movement/stillness, yin/yang.

4: 誰 can mean "what."

5: 真常 can be a reference to the mind. I think that even in the definitions offered in Daoist dictionaries that don't suggest that this word refers to the mind, if you consider that "常清常靜" is a descriptor for 性, then it is talking about the nature of a realized/original mind.

6: Nan Huaijin's interpretation of this poem offers that 壺 alludes to its homonym 葫 and was an old symbol for the human body. 

7: Or, "give rise to return and regeneration." 

8: I am not sure if this is a reference to the inability of others to know what you're doing; to the fact that in this state there is no "you" left to know; both; or something else.

 

Finally, I think the first two sentences of this poem are the most important. They contain a wealth of information but I think that the instructions in them are not connected by a strictly linear logic. In other words, it is true that nurturing qi will help you to forget words and to stay watchful. But staying watchful will also help you to forget words and nurture qi. And allowing yourself to let go of the inner monologue when it arises will also help you to nurture qi and to stay watchful. Similarly, taming the mind will help you do do non-doing, but doing non-doing is also the key to taming the mind. 

 

So, there is no clear "first step here," as all of these are first, last, and middle steps, walked simultaneously, one and yet not one, not one and yet one. 合而言之,無所可言;分而言之,就那十個字。

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 3:33 PM, Walker said:

What's up Exorcist, always a pleasure to see your contributions here. I think your interpretation is on-point, but in terms of translation, I think this is more of a 註 than an 譯, as the degree of 詮釋 takes the reader very far from many of the original characters. 

 

 

Hi, Walker,  thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this