Neiye - Section 16 - The Dao of Eating

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Section 16: The Dao of eating


The Dao of eating:
gorging is harmful, the form will not be fine;
fasts of abstinence make the bones brittle and the blood run dry.
The mean between gorging and abstinence is the harmonious perfection:
the place where the essence dwells
and wisdom is born.
If hunger or satiety lose their proper measures,
attend to this.
If you have eaten too much, move about rapidly.
If you are famished, make broader plans.
If you are old, plan in advance.
If you have eaten too much and do not move about rapidly,
your qi will not flow through your limbs.
If you are famished and do not make broader plans,
your hunger will not be alleviated.
If you are old and do not plan in advance,
then when you are in straits you will be quickly exhausted.



凡 食 之 道 Always : regarding the Dao of eating –
大 充 傷 而 形 不 臧 Over-filling causes injury, and your form will not be right;
大 攝 骨 枯 而 血 沍 Over-fasting makes your bones wither and your blood congeal.
充 攝 之 間 When you reach the space between filling and fasting,
此 謂 和 成 This is called achieving harmony –
精 之 所 舍 That which is the dwelling place of essence
而 知 之 所 生 And that which is the creation of understanding.
飢 飽 之 失 度 When hunger and satiation lose their proper value,
乃 為 之 圖 Then use this plan of action :
飽 則 疾 動 When you are satiated, then move about quickly.
飢 則 曠 思 When you are hungry, then neglect your contemplation.
老 則 長 慮 When you are old, then take charge of your concerns.
飽 不 疾 動 If you are satiated and do not move about quickly,
氣 不 通 於 四 末 Your Qi will be obstructed in your four extremities.
飢 不 曠 思 If you are hungry and do not neglect your contemplation,
飽 而 不 廢 When you eat you will get full but you will not stop.
老 不 長 慮 If you are old and do not take charge of your concerns,
困 乃 速 竭 When you are distressed, then you will be quickly exhausted.



-- Section 23 --

1. For all he Way of eating is that:
2. Overfiling yourself with food will impair your vital energy
3. And cause your body to deteriorate.
4. Overrestricting your consumption causes the bones to wither
5. And the blood to congeal.
6. The mean between overfilling and overrestricting:
7. This is called “harmonious completion.”
8. It is where the vital essence lodges
9. And knowledge is generated.
10. When hunger and fullness lose their proper balance,
11. You make a plan to correct this.
12. When full, move quickly;
13. When hungry, neglect your thoughts;
14. When old, forget worry.
15. If when full you don’t move quickly,
16. Vital energy will not circulate to your limbs.
17. If when hungry you don’t neglect your thoughts of food,
18. When you finally eat you will not stop.
19. If when old you don’t forget your worries,
20. The fount of your vital energy will rapidly drain out.

Shazi Daoren: Dao of Eating


-- Section 23 --
As for the Dao of eating,
overeating harms the body
and brings misfortune.
Under eating dries up the bones,
and congeals the blood.
The point between overeating and under eating:
This is called harmonious completion.
It is the where Jing abides,
and where wisdom is generated.
When hunger and eating lose balance,
then make a determination.
When full, move away from gluttony;
when hungry, expand your thoughts beyond food;
when old, abandon anxiety.
If you don't move away from gluttony,
Qi will not circulate within your extremities.
If when lusting food you don’t expand your thoughts,
when you eat you will not stop.
If when old you don’t abandon anxiety,
this will cause your alertness to be exhausted.




-- Section 23 --
Considering the way of eating,
If you over-indulge, your qi will be injured.
This will cause your body to deteriorate.
If you over-restrict, your bones will be weakened.
This will cause your blood to congeal.
The place between over-indulgence and over-restriction,
We call this “harmonious completion.”
Here is the lodging-place of vital essence.
It is also where knowing is generated.
When hunger and satiation lose their regulation,
You must make a plan to rectify this.
If you are overly satiated, engage in activity.
If you are hungry, expand your thinking [beyond food].
If you are old, forget your worries.
If you are overly satiated and do not move,
The qi will not circulate through the limbs.
If you are hungry and do not expand your thinking,
When you finally do eat you will not stop.
If when old you do not forget your worries,
The well-spring of your vitality will dissipate.


297 凡食之道,
Invariably, the Dao of eating
298 大充
Is that to over-fill
299 傷而形不臧。{40}
Causes injury, and for the form to be misshaped.
300 大攝骨枯
Being overly conservative in one’s diet causes the bones to dry out
301 而血沍。
And the blood flow to weaken.
302 充攝之間,
To be between filling and conserving
303 此謂和成。
Is called “achieving harmony.”
304 精之所舍,
This is where vital essence resides,
305 而知之所生。
And knowledge flourishes.
306 飢飽之失度,
When hunger and fullness lose their proper balance,
307 乃為之圖。
Enact the following plan:
308 飽則疾動,
If you eat to capacity, expend effort;
309 飢則廣思,
If you are hungry, broaden your thoughts (to think about something else).
310 老則長慮,
If you are elderly, be even more careful in this.
311 飽不 疾動,
If you eat to capacity but do not expend effort,
312 氣不通於四末,
Energy-breath will not circulate within your limbs.
313 飢不廣思,
If, when hungry, you do not broaden your thoughts –
314 飽而不廢。
You will satiate yourself without leaving a scrap.
315 老不長慮,
If you are elderly and do not take extra care in these matters,
316 困乃遬竭。
An onset of illness will exhaust you.


{40} 不臧 bu cang is often read here as “not storing,” however it commonly appears in ancient texts to mean “wrong; not


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That seems like very sound advice, I struggle a lot with food issues and binge eating followed by fasting to make up for it and I never feel balanced.  But at the same time I really BELIEVE in fasting, I simply have trouble doing it correctly which I attribute mainly to the area I live in and my lifestyle/work situation.  I feel like if I were living in the tropics with less stress and less temptation all over the place I'd have a much easier time doing a fast one day a week or something.  Is fasting a concept that is out of line with the Taoist principle of moderation and everything in balance?  Or do Taoists fast.

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