Mig

Reading Zhuang zi

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I finally got to read some stories from ZZ, first from Derek Lin, then Watson. After reading Watson, I really just read as stories and nothing else. Nothing else, nothing more without noticing a message or lesson. My question is how you as an educated reader how did you interpret the content of ZZ parables or short stories? It is until I read Derek's translations that it hit me immediately why those stories had  a meaning and how is interpreted by the Chinese. Any thoughts or advice? Thanks.

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In the Northern Darkness there is a fish and his name is K'un. The K'un is so huge I don't know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P'eng. The back of the P'eng measures I don't know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.

 

(https://terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu.html)

 

I'm probably wrong but I feel like this could have something to do with the Yuan Shen moving upon the face of Primordial Nature to create an incarnation of Life Force. Some of the other stories then demonstrate that no matter what ridiculousness of acquired circumstances may ruffle but a feather of this great bird, to align with the true fate is to become unstoppable.

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The relation to and experience of my awareness to my life process is unfolding into allegory and metaphor.

 

All literalism falls away like petals from a spent flower.  effortless.  natural.

 

My Raw Beingness unfolds as it is and in this... some of Chuang Tzu's writings catapult off the page with resonant meaning while others just lie flat and unresponsive.  I liken this to tuning forks in music and sympathetic vibration of similarly tuned instruments.

 

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1 hour ago, Nintendao said:

 

I'm probably wrong but I feel like this could have something to do with the Yuan Shen 

Yuan Jing. 

It is a fair description of a part of the process including yuan jing. 

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Posted (edited)

Screenshot_20200613-220215.thumb.png.9a16935ead5f1a18e2da1454fa9c24ee.pngWater and Wind. Both needed to get to the South, darkness (doesn’t that relate to "mystery"? 

Hmmm, sounds nei danish.. ūüėĀ¬†

Edited by Cleansox
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Something interesting considering texts that mention cardinal directions: Didn't ancient Chinese maps / compass have the South at the top?¬†ūüôÉ

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Me:  (randomly blurted out this question to my son while walking through the room) Hey!  Where is the top of Earth?

Son:  (without looking up)  Yes.

 

I always know what up seems like to me, yet I'm constantly aware that my up is someone else's down.

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2 hours ago, Nintendao said:

Didn't ancient Chinese maps / compass have the South at the top?¬†ūüôÉ

Yes, so is there a map that has an ocean at the lower part (north), that shows an ascending route to the south, and have a lake of heaven/heavenly pool? 

Something nei danish? 

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The question is, is this coincidence or are there other stories in zhuang zi that relates to nei dan? 

It might be coincidence, and one shouldn't read to much in to it. 

 

Proverb: 

Not every obscure chinese text is a nei dan manual. Only most ūü§™

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Posted (edited)

Well, this thread is intriguing. I've never actually heard the text be spoken about this way. I've only ever read it more as philosophy through satirical tales, with the occasional pointer for cultivation (i.e Confucius' speech for fasting the mind)

 

This might explain why the first chapter is a slow starter for me. I've always struggled with that one.

 

So, what about the mokeys' "three in the morning" chapter? Sorry, I don't have exact references at hand...just saw this thread passing by!

Edited by Rara

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For me, it was years ago that I read it, and only the first one stuck in my memory. 

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2 hours ago, Rara said:

So, what about the mokeys' "three in the morning" chapter?

Quote

When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, "You get three in the morning and four at night." This made all the monkeys furious. "Well, then," he said, "you get four in the morning and three at night." The monkeys were all delighted. 

 

Even though it comes out to the exact same thing, nobody wants to exert patience having to wait for the better part. This seems more like your standard aphorism to help put things in perspective. Reaching for a hint of internal or at least longevity practice, i'd say as many people would rather burn up early, conserving youth for a later ripening is also good. But then again, what have you really gained overall? Maybe better to make sure and savor every acorn no matter when. Well now i'm just rambling :D

 

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Going back to big bird, the thread by Marblehead on this (Chapter 1, first section) has a breakdown on some of the most important characters and their connection to a hexagram. Normally hexagrams in nei dan relates to the firing times, but this specific hexagram relates to what Wang Mu calls yao (medicine). 

 

Still coincidal. Easy to interpret stuff in any which way by breaking down complex characters. 

But interesting. 

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10 hours ago, Nintendao said:

But then again, what have you really gained overall? Maybe better to make sure and savor every acorn no matter when. 

 

Well actually, this is what I always took from it - it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. Unless there is a slight chance of indigestion taking the four at night. Idk lol

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Posted (edited)
On ‚Äé6‚Äé/‚Äé14‚Äé/‚Äé2020 at 3:27 PM, Cleansox said:

The question is, is this coincidence or are there other stories in zhuang zi that relates to nei dan? 

It might be coincidence, and one shouldn't read to much in to it. 

 

Proverb: 

Not every obscure chinese text is a nei dan manual. Only most ūü§™

 

I think this is actually a very normal way of reading texts, until recently. It is true too in the West where commentators would routinely find in old texts (Homeric poems, the book of psalms, etc) all kinds of allegorical and mystical meanings that seem farfetched if we are strictly reading the text with a concern for literalism and (supposed) authorial intent. Such readings shouldn't be pressed dogmatically but they are useful both for the message they uncover and the exercise of analogical thinking. Finding hidden connections between seemingly disparate things is in my view an important spiritual skill, as we work to integrate ourselves within the motions of Heaven and Earth. That is why the study and practice of poetry can be so beneficial; likewise the practice of Yijing divination or reading marvelously figurative texts like Zhuangzi.

Edited by SirPalomides
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What's great is we often have no way of even knowing whether the author was explicitly transmitting something in particular, or we are simply resonating a source wisdom already innate, as with @silent thunder's tuning forks. 

I saw an interview with Paul McCartney on one of those late nite talk shows. He said sometimes fans would come up to him to talk about how a certain song really opened up for them. They might say, "wow, so by this-or-that lyric in such-and-such song, did you really mean so-and-so? You are so wise!" Paul sheepishly admitted to the host that, at the time, he was just trying to write something catchy that would make money :lol:. Instead of answering the fan directly he just praises their insight and maybe thanks them with a hug :wub:

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2 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

It is true too in the West where commentators would routinely find in old texts (Homeric poems, the book of psalms, etc) all kinds of allegorical and mystical meanings that seem farfetched if we are strictly reading the text with a concern for literalism and (supposed) authorial intent. Such readings shouldn't be pressed dogmatically but they are useful both for the message they uncover and the exercise of analogical thinking. Finding hidden connections between seemingly disparate things is in my view an important spiritual skill, as we work to integrate ourselves within the motions of Heaven and Earth. 

 

I'd like to explore this more. I don't know Psalms very well, but I have heard it said that Moses and the burning bush and speaking to God was basically the guy tripping out.

 

When I read Revelations, I thought I was reading somebody's lucid nightmare. Do I believe it's a prophecy? Sort of...but not literally. All I know is just when the world is about to tip over the edge and lose its Way, a big disaster happens.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Rara said:

 

I'd like to explore this more.

 

In the Christian tradition there is a long and colorful practice of making mystical and allegorical readings of the scriptures. One of the best examples is St Gregory of Nyssa's The Life of Moses. He goes through each event of Moses' life and extracts some lesson from it for spiritual practice. History comes in a distant second as a concern for him. Since you mention the burning bush, here is his comment on the episode:

 

[When]…we are living at peace, the truth will shine upon us and its radiance will illuminate the eyes of our soul.

Now this truth is God. Once in an ineffable and mysterious vision it manifested itself to Moses, and it is not without significance for us that the flame from which the soul of the Prophet was illuminated was kindled from a thorn-bush.

 

If truth is God and if it is also light ‚Äď two of the sublime and sacred epithets by which the Gospel describes the God who manifested himself to us in the flesh ‚Äď it follows that a virtuous life will lead us to a knowledge of that light which descended to the level of our human nature.

 

It is not from some luminary set among the stars that it sheds its radiance, which might then be thought to have a material origin, but from a bush on the earth, although it outshines the stars of heaven.

 

This also symbolizes the mystery of the Virgin, from whom came the divine light that shone upon the world without damaging the bush from which it emanated or allowing the virgin shoot to wither.

 

This light teaches us what we must do to stand in the rays of the true light, and that it is impossible with our feet in shackles to run toward the mountain where the light of truth appears.

 

We have first to free the feet of our soul from the covering of dead skins in which our nature was clad in the beginning when it disobeyed God’s will and was left naked.

 

To know that which is, we must purify our minds of assumptions regarding things which are not. In my opinion the definition of truth is an unerring comprehension of that which is.

 

He who is immutable, who does not increase or diminish, who is subject to no change for better or worse, but is perfectly self-sufficient; he who alone is desirable, in whom all else par­ticipates without causing in him any diminution, he indeed is that which truly is, and to comprehend him is to know the truth.

 

It is he whom Moses approached and whom today all approach who like Moses free themselves from their earthly coverings and look toward the light coming from the bramble bush, at the ray shining on us from the thorns, which stand for the flesh, for as the Gospel says, that ray is the real light and the truth.

 

Then such people will also be able to help others find salvation. They will be capable of destroying the forces of evil and of restoring those enslaved by them to liberty.

 

This kind of thinking permeates the hymns of the Byzantine church where every event in the life of Christ or the saints is related- often in surprising ways- to events and visions of the Old Testament.

 

Quote

 

I don't know Psalms very well, but I have heard it said that Moses and the burning bush and speaking to God was basically the guy tripping out.

 

There are people who ascribe pretty much any religious experience to drugs, mental illness,  hallucination induced by fatigue/ hunger/ thirst, autosuggestion, or some combination of any of the above. It's usually an assumption impossible to prove or disprove and just leads us back to the ideological commitments of the person making the claim. Anyway, the whole account of Moses is highly mythological so these discussions miss the point IMO.

 

 

Edited by SirPalomides
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16 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

Anyway, the whole account of Moses is highly mythological so these discussions miss the point IMO.

 

Fair enough. And thanks for the commentary. As per usual, the idea of "the light" being something universal across pretty much all spiritual beliefs as something to follow.

 

16 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

It is he whom Moses approached and whom today all approach who like Moses free themselves from their earthly coverings and look toward the light coming from the bramble bush, at the ray shining on us from the thorns, which stand for the flesh, for as the Gospel says, that ray is the real light and the truth.

 

Meditation or contemplation, perhaps. Whichever one, it made Moses see his true nature and what was being done to his people. I think there's something in this, being taught about the clarity gained from such practice.

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On 6/13/2020 at 11:41 AM, silent thunder said:

The relation to and experience of my awareness to my life process is unfolding into allegory and metaphor.

 

All literalism falls away like petals from a spent flower.  effortless.  natural.

 

My Raw Beingness unfolds as it is and in this... some of Chuang Tzu's writings catapult off the page with resonant meaning while others just lie flat and unresponsive.  I liken this to tuning forks in music and sympathetic vibration of similarly tuned instruments.

 

As pretty and eloquent you write it shows, I still wonder why it does resonate and if the way you interpret it is the same ways is taught and understood by the native Chinese speaker?

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2 hours ago, Mig said:

As pretty and eloquent you write it shows, I still wonder why it does resonate and if the way you interpret it is the same ways is taught and understood by the native Chinese speaker?

I cannot ever be wholly certain that I know how anything is interpreted by another from their words, nor if what I experience is what is experienced by another...  Nor can I assume that I interpret the words of another as they intended them to be conveyed.

 

We all occupy the center of our own awareness and thus, experience of reality.

 

I share what I experience without claiming authority over anything but that this is how I try to convey what I've experienced given the words and concepts I have and my understanding of them at this time...

 

My words may not have the meaning of the ancient's, or yours, or anyone's...

 

Words, concepts in the end, are rather paultry, insignificant things...

mostly unsuited to conveying meaning beyond limited mind box things.

Edited by silent thunder
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16 hours ago, Mig said:

As pretty and eloquent you write it shows, I still wonder why it does resonate and if the way you interpret it is the same ways is taught and understood by the native Chinese speaker?

 

14 hours ago, silent thunder said:

I cannot ever be wholly certain that I know how anything is interpreted by another from their words, nor if what I experience is what is experienced by another...  Nor can I assume that I interpret the words of another as they intended them to be conveyed.

 

We all occupy the center of our own awareness and thus, experience of reality.

 

I share what I experience without claiming authority over anything but that this is how I try to convey what I've experienced given the words and concepts I have and my understanding of them at this time...

 

My words may not have the meaning of the ancient's, or yours, or anyone's...

 

Words, concepts in the end, are rather paultry, insignificant things...

mostly unsuited to conveying meaning beyond limited mind box things.

 

When we know, we know.

Words don't get in the way.

When there is uncertainty or doubt, words can be as much an obstacle as a guide. 

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5 hours ago, steve said:

 

 

When we know, we know.

Words don't get in the way.

When there is uncertainty or doubt, words can be as much an obstacle as a guide. 

Again, how ZZ readings are understood? Is it  the way you read the English translation of ZZ or the way is explained by the native speakers in Mandarin Chinese?

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15 minutes ago, Mig said:

Again, how ZZ readings are understood? Is it  the way you read the English translation of ZZ or the way is explained by the native speakers in Mandarin Chinese?

 

If we do not read and speak Chinese, our only option is to read translations.

Fortunately, there are many translations available in a variety of languages.

Even if one does speak and read Chinese, that is no guarantee of an accurate or better understanding than someone dependent on translations. 

All we have to work with is what our karma provides and that is not limited to fluency in any particular language.

There are many other variables that affect our understanding, our ability to connect to a teaching.

All we can do is work with what we have or work to improve our circumstances and conditions if we don't find them satisfying or supportive. 

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Even for a native Chinese speaker and reader...  Classical Chinese is not modern Chinese and poses challenges to comprehension.

 

Had a conversation about this not long ago with a friend who studies and is trying to translate ancient Chinese; the distinctive differences between Classical Chinese and Modern is similar to the differences between our Modern English and Old English... Pick up an Old English story and give it a whirl sometime if interested.  I find it fascinating how language evolves. 

 

I studied Old English while training as a classical actor and was deeply interested in Etymology.

 

It is significantly different, in both nomenclature/verbage and especially in the cultural tonations and the unspoken implications and meanings of phrases that to folks of that day, were obvious and clear, but to our modern sensibilites, are quite alien and cryptic.

 

And yet... human experience is universal.  Smiles, laughter, tears need no translations.  This is how to me, some concepts ring through with clarity and resonant sense even after centuries and translations.

 

We all share that core of being human and thus, some aspects, no matter how long separated by time, or language resonate as clearly as a bell.

 

We all share the same human tones and their ancient songs (and experiential truths) resonate now... (as I've experienced it).

Edited by silent thunder
expanded for clarity
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