Sebastian

Help Needed to Translate Alchemy Book

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Hey Dao Bums -

 

One of my friends currently studying in Taiwan at NTU is currently 1/3rd through translating Professor Ge Guolong's (戈國龍) 2010 book, "Ten Discourses on Daoist Alchemy". It's a an enlightening commentary on alchemy texts written by a professor of religion at the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. 

 

It's a major undertaking for my friend because the book is over 140,000 Chinese characters long. He has the backing of Red Pine, who most people on DaoBums will know, being the author of the best selling translation of the Tao Te Ching in English. Because this would take months of dedicated work, most likely in seclusion, he recently set up a Gofundme page in case anybody was interested in backing the project, and enjoying early access perks, things like that.

 

Personally, I'm very excited about it because the book is a bridge between philosophy and practice. From the samples I was shown, I found Professor Guolong's writing to be super clear, and a breath of fresh air compared to other esoteric alchemy manuals like "Taoist Yoga" for example. Instead of making you feel more confused, the text reads like an elucidation and makes alchemy directly understandable and accessible to the modern Chinese and now Western mind.

 

I can also highly recommend my friend as an outstanding translator (having lived in China for a decade), and a wonderful spiritual cultivator. I can also vouch for the value of these texts for your own cultivation. Here is an outline of the chapters for example, but you will find more information on his official page. 

 

Chapter outline

 

1.      Unsurpassed Destiny
2.      Illuminating the Mind to See Its True Nature 
3.      The Portal of the Mysterious Pass 
4.      Advancing the Fire and Gathering the Medicine 
5.      Empty, Nonexistent Qi 
6.      Dual Cultivation of Xing and Ming 
7.      Primordial Jing and Primordial Shen 
8.      Two Heavens and Earths 
9.      Going Back to the Root, Returning to the Source
10.    Universe and Individual, Interconnected 

 

As was posted in the Daoist sub-section, we really need more translators of Chinese texts like this. Think about how many of Master Nan Huai Chin's books still haven't been translated in English for example, and how valuable each and everyone is to our community at Dao Bums. The truth is there are no translators working on them. And the reason is that you need a very high level of Chinese and you also to be an advanced practitioner of these arts.  The market is so small that it's not even worth the time and effort from a financial standpoint for the people who meet this criteria. So when someone is motivated to take months out of his life to complete a project like this,  just so we all benefit, I think we should encourage it, at least as Dao Bums. Thumbs up from me.
 

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On 13.6.2019 at 2:28 PM, Sebastian said:

Hey Dao Bums -

 

One of my friends currently studying in Taiwan at NTU is currently 1/3rd through translating Professor Ge Guolong's (戈國龍) 2010 book, "Ten Discourses on Daoist Alchemy". It's a an enlightening commentary on alchemy texts written by a professor of religion at the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. 

 

It's a major undertaking for my friend because the book is over 140,000 Chinese characters long. He has the backing of Red Pine, who most people on DaoBums will know, being the author of the best selling translation of the Tao Te Ching in English. Because this would take months of dedicated work, most likely in seclusion, he recently set up a Gofundme page in case anybody was interested in backing the project, and enjoying early access perks, things like that.

 

Personally, I'm very excited about it because the book is a bridge between philosophy and practice. From the samples I was shown, I found Professor Guolong's writing to be super clear, and a breath of fresh air compared to other esoteric alchemy manuals like "Taoist Yoga" for example. Instead of making you feel more confused, the text reads like an elucidation and makes alchemy directly understandable and accessible to the modern Chinese and now Western mind.

 

I can also highly recommend my friend as an outstanding translator (having lived in China for a decade), and a wonderful spiritual cultivator. I can also vouch for the value of these texts for your own cultivation. Here is an outline of the chapters for example, but you will find more information on his official page. 

 

Chapter outline

 

1.      Unsurpassed Destiny
2.      Illuminating the Mind to See Its True Nature 
3.      The Portal of the Mysterious Pass 
4.      Advancing the Fire and Gathering the Medicine 
5.      Empty, Nonexistent Qi 
6.      Dual Cultivation of Xing and Ming 
7.      Primordial Jing and Primordial Shen 
8.      Two Heavens and Earths 
9.      Going Back to the Root, Returning to the Source
10.    Universe and Individual, Interconnected 

 

As was posted in the Daoist sub-section, we really need more translators of Chinese texts like this. Think about how many of Master Nan Huai Chin's books still haven't been translated in English for example, and how valuable each and everyone is to our community at Dao Bums. The truth is there are no translators working on them. And the reason is that you need a very high level of Chinese and you also to be an advanced practitioner of these arts.  The market is so small that it's not even worth the time and effort from a financial standpoint for the people who meet this criteria. So when someone is motivated to take months out of his life to complete a project like this,  just so we all benefit, I think we should encourage it, at least as Dao Bums. Thumbs up from me.
 

Hi!

 

When will this book be out?

 

best

Michael

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On 6/15/2019 at 10:19 PM, MIchael80 said:

Hi!

 

When will this book be out?

 

best

Michael

 

Hi Michael,

 

Sorry my delayed response on this.  I was told it would roughly coincide with when the funding will be received. This makes sense because they are currently at 1/3rd of the funding, and 1/3rd through the book. But in terms of actual date, I would refer you to the GoFundMe page where you can directly ask questions.

 

And also, just to confirm, 1/3rd of the book is already out to people backing the project. So you can get immediate access to chapters 1,2, and 3 depending on if you make a tier 1,2 or 3 donation. This is a little bit like Kickstarter perks. These chapters specifically have already been written.

  •  Unsurpassed Destiny - a discussion of how one comes to have an affinity with Daoist practice and the implications of such a life destiny
  •  Illuminating the Mind to See Its True Nature - an exploration of the mind training common to and central to all Daoist inner alchemy schools, as well as that which links these traditions to Chan/Zen Buddhism (the title of this chapter is a well-known Chan Buddhist concept)
  • The Portal of the Mysterious Pass - a further exploration of mind training with an emphasis on explaining the uniquely Daoist concept of “the mysterious pass”

When the book is finished for everyone to peruse, I will update this thread.

 

Hope it helps,

Seb

   

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The translator referenced here has been a personal friend of mine for some years now, and asked me if I would post on this. As long timers here know, I said I would never post here again, so that should give some idea of my regard for the person in question. He is someone who I have spent a fair amount of time around here in Beijing, so I can vouch for his credentials directly.

 

Most importantly, this is something that I believe can benefit a lot of people, and that is why I am happy to lend my support to it.

 

So, why participate? What qualifies this person to translate these kinds of works?

 

Firstly, he has completed a degree course in TCM at a prestigious university in Beijing, in the Chinese language. He is now doing post graduate studies in Taiwan, again in the Chinese language. Anyone who knows anything about TCM knows that it is inseparably connected to Daoist thought and principles. Someone who sincerely studies Chinese medicine is also doing so the same in respect of the Dao.

 

Further to his academic studies, my friend has also sought out capable and qualified experts in Chinese medicine, at his own personal expense in time and money (and continues to do so.) He has always shared what he has learned with others, and not just kept it to himself. I can personally testify to his skills and sincerity.

 

He is a practicing, lineage Daoist. He has teachers who are authentic lineage members. Not theorists, faux philosophers, or lightweight intellectual dandies, but people who live and breathe the Dao. People who drink deeply from the well, not the typical shallow draught brigade. 

 

As if full time studies were not time consuming enough, in the years that I have known him, he has always been busy helping numerous people with numerous problems, from medical issues, to spiritual assistance from authentic, legitimate Daoist lineage masters. This is something he continues to do. 

 

I know the subject of college tuition fees is a thorny one. Those who have worked to pay their own way through college know how hard this is. Imagine doing so in a foreign country and culture. There are some who feel they should get something for nothing, but ultimately someone has to pay. People have bills to cover, not to mention their own precious time to use wisely.

 

There has been, and continues to be, much debate over what Daoism is, and is not. I would think anyone who sincerely wants to know would jump at the chance of supporting a person who sincerely wants to share this knowledge; a person who has the academic and intellectual ability to do so, and who has access to recognised, lineage Daoist masters who can advise and guide on the important details.

 

My friend could easily just read these books and enjoy them for himself. He doesn't personally need to translate them, and he already has well paying translation work. Translating obscure texts doesn't pay anything like what commercial work does, and not many translators actually have a clue about this kind of material. This is a great opportunity for people who don't have Chinese language skills and access to authentic sources. I would urge people to take it. If not, then it is a real loss for non-Chinese speakers, and real understanding of these subjects will remain privy to only a small number of people.

 

I'm returning to my self-imposed exile, so please direct any questions you have to the OP.

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On 7/1/2019 at 1:20 PM, mjjbecker said:

The translator referenced here has been a personal friend of mine for some years now, and asked me if I would post on this. As long timers here know, I said I would never post here again, so that should give some idea of my regard for the person in question. He is someone who I have spent a fair amount of time around here in Beijing, so I can vouch for his credentials directly.

 

Most importantly, this is something that I believe can benefit a lot of people, and that is why I am happy to lend my support to it.

 

So, why participate? What qualifies this person to translate these kinds of works?

 

Firstly, he has completed a degree course in TCM at a prestigious university in Beijing, in the Chinese language. He is now doing post graduate studies in Taiwan, again in the Chinese language. Anyone who knows anything about TCM knows that it is inseparably connected to Daoist thought and principles. Someone who sincerely studies Chinese medicine is also doing so the same in respect of the Dao.

 

Further to his academic studies, my friend has also sought out capable and qualified experts in Chinese medicine, at his own personal expense in time and money (and continues to do so.) He has always shared what he has learned with others, and not just kept it to himself. I can personally testify to his skills and sincerity.

 

He is a practicing, lineage Daoist. He has teachers who are authentic lineage members. Not theorists, faux philosophers, or lightweight intellectual dandies, but people who live and breathe the Dao. People who drink deeply from the well, not the typical shallow draught brigade. 

 

As if full time studies were not time consuming enough, in the years that I have known him, he has always been busy helping numerous people with numerous problems, from medical issues, to spiritual assistance from authentic, legitimate Daoist lineage masters. This is something he continues to do. 

 

I know the subject of college tuition fees is a thorny one. Those who have worked to pay their own way through college know how hard this is. Imagine doing so in a foreign country and culture. There are some who feel they should get something for nothing, but ultimately someone has to pay. People have bills to cover, not to mention their own precious time to use wisely.

 

There has been, and continues to be, much debate over what Daoism is, and is not. I would think anyone who sincerely wants to know would jump at the chance of supporting a person who sincerely wants to share this knowledge; a person who has the academic and intellectual ability to do so, and who has access to recognised, lineage Daoist masters who can advise and guide on the important details.

 

My friend could easily just read these books and enjoy them for himself. He doesn't personally need to translate them, and he already has well paying translation work. Translating obscure texts doesn't pay anything like what commercial work does, and not many translators actually have a clue about this kind of material. This is a great opportunity for people who don't have Chinese language skills and access to authentic sources. I would urge people to take it. If not, then it is a real loss for non-Chinese speakers, and real understanding of these subjects will remain privy to only a small number of people.

 

I'm returning to my self-imposed exile, so please direct any questions you have to the OP.

 

Hello "mjjbecker". I would like to ask you for something unrelated. Do you have an email address or can you activate the PM for a while in order to send you my message?

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Really interesting, thank you for sharing!

 

Everyone should note that sponsoring authentic Dharma or cultivation texts' translation and publishing is an excellent merit. The chief benefit is that in future lifetimes you will be able to receive such texts yourself.

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On 7/1/2019 at 6:20 PM, mjjbecker said:

Translating obscure texts doesn't pay anything like what commercial work does, and not many translators actually have a clue about this kind of material.

 

Hi mjjbecker,

 

Can obscure texts be translated? Will 'translation' be a misnomer re content and context when it comes to obscurity?

 

Will 'interpretation' be more realistic?

 

Why are some texts made obscure in the first instance?

 

- Anand

 

Edited by Limahong
Correction

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On 8/9/2020 at 6:49 AM, Limahong said:

Can obscure texts be translated?

 

Hi All,

 

How do/can I translate this...?

 

?imw=512&imh=512&ima=fit&impolicy=Letterbox&imcolor=%23000000&letterbox=true

 

 

- Anand

 

 

Edited by Limahong
Enhancement

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23 minutes ago, Limahong said:

 

 

How do/can I translate this...?

 

 

You were spot on in your previous post. 

It's interpretation as well as translation, and to have a useful interpretation, the translator have to be inside a living tradition. 

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I got this interesting update from GoFundMe:

 

Quote

Just want to let everybody know that Purple Cloud Press has just published "The 49 Barriers of Cultivating the Dao," which is a based upon Qing dynasty Longmen Daoist master Liu Yiming's "Tong Guan Wen" (劉一明道長所著的《通關文》), but includes extensive commentary delivered by Master Li Xingde, currently abbot of Five Immortals Temple on White Horse Mountain, which is close to Mount Wudang in Hubei province in China.

I wrote a preface for this book that includes translations of a few ancient poems on inner alchemy, part of which can be seen on Amazon's preview, which is here: https://www.amazon.com/49-Barriers-Cultivating-Dao/dp/B08RC71226

(For the record, I've got no financial stake in this book. I heartily recommend it to anybody looking for an in-depth discussion of the challenges that arise on the cultivation path!)

 

 

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Posted (edited)

https://www.gofundme.com/f/translation-of-ten-discourses-on-daoist-alchemy?viewupdates=1

 

The rough draft of chapter 7 is finished! Below is a brief excerpt where Professor Ge presents a plainspoken explanation of an internal alchemy teaching that tends to elicit quite a bit of concern, confusion, and even obsession amid those who are curious about Daoist meditation (especially the young fellas).

As I start on chapter 8, I humbly any supporters who belong to Facebook groups or message boards where other members might be interested in reading "Ten Discourses on Daoist Alchemy" to please consider sharing a link to this page. The rough draft of chapter 7 is 15,000+ words long and took over 50 hours to complete. This means I've still got another ~200 hours of translation left to do, and *then* I've got to hire a proofreader! Still a long way to go. I thank you in advance for considering spreading the word.

_______________________

Except from Chapter 7, "Primordial Jing and Primordial Shen" (italics in the text can't be reproduced here):

We need to examine the principles that underlie “refining jing to transform it into qi,” in order to be sure about what “jing” means in the context of this work. Many people misunderstand this concept, and as a result they conflate the later heaven jing related to reproduction and primordial jing. Because later heaven jing has already turned into a substance with a physical form, it is no longer possible to directly transform it into qi. It is already “old,” and therefore cannot be used in inner alchemy. If anybody states that this unclear form of jing can be transformed into some kind of qi, he or she is pointing to a side door leading towards a crooked path. Even a worldly scientist with no knowledge of Daoism can tell that this is impossible, because the principles behind such a practice are illogical.

We have to distinguish ordinary jing and primordial jing, but there is a somewhat tricky point we need to be clear about in order to do so. The jing that is refined in inner alchemy is primordial jing. Primordial jing is a relatively subtle form of energy or sustenance found in the human body, and it needs be made to transform into qi, which is an even more subtle and rarefied form of energy. This process is in some ways akin to cooking—when we put ingredients into a pot and add heat, the ingredients will start to steam, meaning that the substances that had been in a liquid state are turning into gases. The tricky point where this analogy breaks down lies in the fact that that primordial jing is formless; it is only akin to a fluid, but it not actually something in the liquid state of matter. Similarly, qi is merely analogous to something in the gaseous state, because it is something that flows throughout the body, but it is not actually a gas. Nevertheless, we use this analogy because when “fire” (which represents the effects created by consciousness) and “wind” (which represents the effects created by the breath) are regulated in tandem, jing can transform into qi, which means that jing transmutes into a more sublime form of energy. That is the meaning of “refining jing to transform it into qi.”

Even though primordial jing is distinct from later heaven, corporeal jing, the two are nevertheless closely related. For this reason, if we are to practice internal alchemy, it is necessary to moderate our desires, which means reducing the exhaustion of our sexual energies as much as possible. What principle underlies this statement? Primordial jing is the basic energy of life. If it is called to do so, it will fulfill its function by turning into the body’s sexual fluids and energies. Turning into reproductive jing is the route that primordial jing commonly takes, and as this happens it gets used up. Thus, if we constantly consume our reproductive essences, at the same time our primordial jing will constantly transform into corporeal jing, which means that we will lack the basic ingredient for the alchemical work of “transforming jing to turn it into qi.”

Conversely, if we sublimate and refine primordial jing before it has undergone the process of turning into post heaven, physical jing, it will become a higher level energy. Simultaneously, that change will reduce the strength of the impetus that pushes primordial jing to go in the direction of becoming bodily jing. The natural result of this process is to transform sexual energies as well as reduce the rate at which they are consumed; both outcomes are closely intertwined.

Edited by virtue

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An update from June 13, 2021 excerpts chapter 8. It really makes clear that the true accomplishment of Neidan is not mundane by any measure.

 


 

Humans, born of heaven and earth, ultimately come from the single qi of primordial pure yang. This qi is the qi of great harmony. It is the limitless indivisible that fills all space.

Humans are sculpted by yin and yang, and thus our bodies of blood and flesh are born. Though this yin and this yang come after taiji, they are still true yin and true yang, free of dreg or residue, and still close to the primordial qi of the great harmony.

Once a person is born, one’s qi is constrained and one is deluded by external objects and phenomena. All of the yin and yang in one’s physical body transforms into the shen of cognition and perception; into the qi of breathing and movement; and into the jing of sex between husbands and wives. Then there is only yin but no yang. This qi cannot be used as a “medicinal ingredient,” so how could it then become the elixir?

It is clear that later heaven jing and qi are but dross; they are residual substances. Nevertheless, in cultivation one cannot but make use of them in order to enter the gate. But be that as it may, the formation of the elixir makes no use of them whatsoever. Thus: those who use that which has shape and form cannot create the grain of golden elixir that is empty and nonexistent.

If a person cultivates hsing by vainly refining his or her temperament, and, in the cultivation of ming, refines only his or her flesh-and-blood life, it cannot be said an elixir cannot be created. Yet, even if such a person does create an elixir, it will only be an illusory elixir, and he or she will plummet into the dens of foxes and into the ranks of snakes and rats. Unable to avoid angering the gods, struck down by thunderclaps, he or she will never again be able to obtain a human body. How is this not tragic?

Outstanding people fully recognize that the great way of the golden elixir is achieved via clear, numinous qi. But clear, numinous qi does not return to us of its own accord, so one must make use of the true yin and true yang within one’s own body, and then one will be able to summon this qi to come and gather. When the ancients spoke of the “the homogenous two-eight substances,” they were speaking of true yin and true yang.

It is especially important to know that primordial qi is fundamentally without any markers that can be searched for, and that it has no location that can be guessed at. How, then, does one seek it and glimpse it? Only by this: it is at the moment when the true yin and true yang in one’s own body become active that primordial qi has entered the body. One must then seize and take charge of the numinous mercury and yin jing in one’s own body, and allow them to naturally congeal into the elixir.

An ancient immortal thus said: “Those who cultivate the Dao must first know that there are two heavens and earths, and two yins and yangs. Only then can one begin the work.”

What is that which is called “two heavens and earths?”

None other than prior heaven and later heaven.

What is referred to by “two yins and yangs?”

It is like this: when one is meditating, one must have something within the later heaven physical body that can be relied upon as a starting point. Well, exhalations and inhalations are yin and yang. Yin and yang originate in the qi of oneness; when the qi of oneness dissipates, it becomes yin and yang—in and out breaths are of ordinary yin and ordinary yang. So, when students meditate, they must first regulate the external breath, in order to elicit the primordial breath of Realized Humans.

In the harmonizing of the external breath, in the beginning one must give priority to intention. Mencius said: “Will, it is the commander of qi.” An ancient immortal said: “If one wishes to complete the cultivation of the nine turns, one must first refine the self and manage the heart.” It is thus clear that rightening the heart and making one’s intent sincere is the basis of cultivation.

To regulate breathing, one lets one’s eyes observe the center of the dantian, and lets the breath descend into yinqiao. Lift the qi of yinqiao so that it enters the yellow court; then, use the breath to cause the yin jing in the purple palace to descend so that it meets the dantian. All of this involves ordinary yin and ordinary yang.

After doing this for some time, yin jing and yang qi will blend together and congeal within the earthly cauldron of the dantian. Naturally, yin essence will transform into the essence of the jing of true yang, and ordinary qi will transform into the qi of true yin. Vigorous and flourishing, they will fill one’s entire body. All of this involves true yin and true yang; primordial qi is not far off.

All of you should know that primordial qi is fundamentally formless and unconditioned. That which is vigorous and flourishing is true yin and true yang; it is not the universe’s primordial qi. If one refers to true yin and true yang as though they were the universe’s primordial qi, one has strayed far from the Dao.

Know this: when, from within the vigorous and flourishing, there comes that which is placid, tranquil, still, and serene, this marks the returning of primordial qi. It is not separate from yin and yang; yet, it does not mingle with yin and yang.

My teacher instructed us that, each time we sat to meditate, it was necessary to have an experience of peacefulness, naturalness, and contentment, as only in this way could we glimpse our original faces. We could not become fixated upon primordial qi and see it as some kind of object. This was the correct way to practice.

When my teacher transmitted these mysteries, it could be said that she fully revealed the profound essentials, as though she dug out her own heart and liver to put on display for her students. Students, you must really put this into practice. Be like Dong Zhongshu, who said: “Be straight upon your path and do not scheme for personal benefits; understand the way and do not fuss over gain and loss.” This is the correct way to practice.

As for whether or not there will be results: do not expect results, do not become elated or despondent because you gain or lose. This is how you approach the Way.

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