內業 : The Way, Way Back, 350–300 BCE

The concept of “philosophical Taoism” is, to a large extent, a modern fiction, which has been developed and embraced by people around the world for specific and identifiable social, intellectual, and historical reasons.

Russell Kirkland, “Varieties of Taoism in Ancient China

Neiye

Translated by Bruce R. Linnell

Always : the essence of creatures –
This then makes them live.
Below, it gives birth to the five grains;
Above, it acts to arrange the stars.
When it flows in the space between heaven and earth
We call them ghosts and spirits.
When it collects in the center of the breast of people,
We call them sages.

Thus the Qi of the citizens :
Is it bright?
As though ascending to heaven.
Is it dark and quiet?
As though entering into an abyss.
Is it wide and spacious?
As though residing in the ocean.
Is it close[A]?
As though residing in oneself.

Thus this Qi –
Can not be brought to rest by using force,
But can be calmed by using De.
Can not be summoned by using your voice,
But can be made welcome by using your intent.

When you can respectfully* maintain it, and never lose it,
This is called developed De.
When De develops, and wisdom* arises,
The bounty of the ten thousand creatures is attained.


Always : the form of the heart/mind is
Naturally full, naturally overflowing,
Naturally born, naturally complete.
The reason that you lose it
Is certainly due to worries and happiness, love and anger, desire for profit.
If you can leave behind worries and happiness, love and anger, desire for
profit,
Your heart/mind then returns [to its original nature] successfully.

The nature of that heart/mind
Benefits from calmness and the tranquility that comes from it.
Do not be troubled, do not be confused,
And harmony is then naturally achieved.

Is it very bright?
As though located right by your side.
Is it very easy to overlook?
As though it will never be attained.
Is it very remote and indistinct?
As though utterly without boundaries.

To examine this, you need not go far :
You use De daily.


Now : Dao is the reason that the form [of the heart/mind] is full!
But people can not be strong enough to keep it –
It goes and does not return,
It arrives but does not dwell.

Is it silent?
There is no one who can hear its sound.
Is it close[A]?
It is residing in the heart/mind.
Is it very dim and obscure?
You can not see its form.
Is it very prolific?
It gives us all life.

You can not see its form,
You can not hear its voice,
Yet there is an order to its accomplishments.
We call it Dao.


Always : Dao is nowhere to be found,
But in a virtuous heart/mind it can calmly dwell.
When the heart/mind is still and Qi is regulated,
Dao can then stay there.

That Dao is not remote :
Citizens attain it by being born.
That Dao does not depart :
Citizens rely on it for understanding.

Thus : is it close[A]?
As though it could be tied together with you.
Is it very minute and subtle?
As though it is utterly nowhere to be found.

The nature of that Dao
Detests thoughts and words about it.
But when you cultivate your heart/mind and still your thoughts,
Dao can then be attained.


Dao –
That which your mouth can not speak!
That which your eyes can not see!
That which your ears can not hear!
It is the reason that we cultivate the heart/mind and properly align

[its]

[B] form!
That which when people lose, thus they die.
That which when attained, thus they are born!
That which when duties lose, thus they fail.
That which when attained, thus they are completed!

Always : Dao is
Without root, without stalk,
Without leaves, without flowers.
By means of it the ten thousand creatures are born,
By means of it the ten thousand creatures are made complete.
This [natural] order, it is called Dao.


That which presides over Heaven is proper alignment,
That which presides over Earth is equability,
That which presides over people is calmness and stillness.

Spring, autumn, winter, summer –
The timing of heaven!
Mountains, hills, streams, valleys –
The limbs of the earth!
Love, anger, taking, giving –
The schemes of the people!

Thus the sage :
Takes part in the changing of the seasons, but is not transformed;
He attends to creatures, but is not changed by them.


When you can be properly aligned and can be still[C] –
Then, you can be settled.
With a settled heart/mind in your center,
Your ears and eyes are acute and clear,
Your four limbs are hard and strong,
You are able to become a dwelling for essence.
This essence –
Is essence of Qi!

With Qi and Dao, then there is life;
With life, then there is contemplation;
With contemplation, then there is understanding;
When you reach understanding, then stop!
Always : if the form of the heart/mind
Has too much understanding, life is lost.


Knowing the Oneness[D] with creatures can transform them,
We call this being spirit-like[E].
Knowing the Oneness with your duties can change them,
We call this being wise*.

To transform creatures, without altering your Qi;
To change duties, without altering your wisdom;[F] Only a noble man who maintains Oneness[G]
Can do this!

When he maintains Oneness[G] and does not lose it,
He can rule[H] the ten thousand creatures.
A noble man* uses creatures,
He does not allow creatures to use[I] him.

When he attains the regulation of Oneness :
A regulated heart/mind resides in his center,
Regulated speech comes from his mouth,
Regulated duties are assigned to people.
Then, the world is regulated!

One word[J] is attained by him, and the world obeys him;
One word[J] settles him, and the world listens to him.
We call him fair and just!


If the form [of the heart/mind] is not properly aligned,
De will not arrive.
If the center is not still,
The heart/mind will not be regulated.

When the properly aligned form takes in De,
The kindness* of heaven and the righteousness* of earth
Then naturally arrive, and overwhelmingly.

This highest of spirit-like understanding[K] –
Is it illuminating?
You will understand the ten thousand creatures.[L]

Maintain the righteousness* of the center, and you will not err :
Do not allow creatures to confuse your senses,
Do not allow the senses to confuse your heart/mind.
This is called attaining the center.


There exists a spirit[-like understanding] naturally located in the self –
One moment it goes, one moment it arrives;
There is no one who can contemplate it.
Lose it and you will certainly be confused,
Attain it and you will certainly be regulated.

Respectfully* empty its dwelling[M],
And essence will naturally arrive.
This essence – consider it and contemplate it,
Rather than study ways to regulate it.
Keeping a serious appearance, and an attitude of awe and respect*,
Essence will arrive and settle.

When you attain it and never let go of it,
Your ears and eyes will be restrained,
Your heart/mind will have no other plans.
With a properly aligned heart/mind located in the center,
The ten thousand creatures attain their proper value.


Dao fills the world
Every place the citizens are located,
But the citizens can not understand this!

With the liberation of one word[J] :
Your head can observe what is in heaven,
Your lowest extreme is on earth,
And your coils fill the nine provinces.[N]

What does it mean to be liberated by it?
You will reside in a calm heart/mind.
I regulate my heart/mind and my senses are then regulated;
I calm my heart/mind and my senses are then calm.
That which regulates them is the heart/mind!
That which calms them is the heart/mind!
The heart/mind thus contains a heart/mind;
The center of the heart/mind also has a heart/mind!

In that heart/mind of the heart/mind :
Thought thus comes before words;
After thought comes form;
After form comes words;
After words comes manifestation;
After manifestation comes regulation.
Without regulation, there will certainly be confusion;
Confusion, then death.


Where essence exists, there is naturally life –
Outside you, calmness flourishes;
It collects inside you, thus acting as a primal spring.
Like a vast lake[O], it is harmonious and equable.

It thus becomes a fountainhead of Qi.
As long as the fountainhead does not dry up,
The four limbs are then strong.

When the spring is not used up,
The nine bodily openings[P] are then open [to the flow of Qi].
Then you can span the limits of heaven and earth,
And cover the four seas[Q].

When the center is without doubt or desire,
The outside is without demonic disasters.
Those whose heart/mind is whole and complete in the center :
Their form is whole and complete on the outside,
They do not happen to meet heavenly disasters,
They do not encounter people who cause harm –
We call them sages.


When people can be properly aligned and still :
Their hair and skin are abundant and smooth,
Their ears and eyes are acute and clear,
Their muscles are supple and their bones are strong.

Then they can support the great circle of heaven,
And walk on the great square of earth.
They are a reflection of great purity,
They see with great clarity.

Respectful* and cautious, they are without error;
Each day they renew their De.
They understand the whole world
Thoroughly out to the four extremes.

They respectfully* develop their fullness;
This is called inner attainment.
However, if they do not return [to their original nature],
This creates errors.


Always : Dao is
Certainly complete, certainly all-pervasive,
Certainly magnanimous, certainly relaxed,
Certainly hard, certainly strong.

Maintain your virtue and never give up;
To pursue excess disperses and weakens it.
Once you understand the extremes,
Return to Dao and De.


When your whole and complete heart/mind is in the center,
It can not be hidden or concealed –
It is known in your form’s appearance,
It is seen in your skin’s color.

When with virtuous Qi you meet people,
They will love you as they would their brothers.
When with wicked Qi you meet people,
They will harm you with their weapons of war.
Because the sound of that which is un-spoken
Travels faster than a clap of thunder.

The form of the heart/mind’s Qi
Is brighter than the sun and moon,
More observant than a father or mother.
Rewards are not enough to encourage virtue,
Punishments are not enough to discipline excesses.
Qi’s intent is attained, and the world obeys;
The heart/mind’s intent becomes settled, and the world listens.


Because they consolidate[R] Qi like spirits,
The ten thousand creatures are prepared for existence.
Can you consolidate[R] it?
Can you unify it?
Can you foretell bad fortune and good fortune, but without divining?
Can you then stop?
Can you?

How can you never seek it from anyone,
Yet attain it yourself?
Contemplate it, contemplate it, and again repeatedly contemplate it.
Should you contemplate it yet not comprehend it,
Know that ghosts and spirits can comprehend it.
However, it is not comprehended by the power of ghosts and spirits –
But by the utmost of essence’s Qi!


Once the four limbs are properly aligned,
Once blood and Qi are still :
Unify your intent, consolidate[R] your heart/mind;
And the ears and eyes will be restrained
Even though what is remote seems near.

Deep contemplation creates understanding;
Disdain and laxity creates worries;
Cruelty and arrogance creates resentment;
Worries and melancholy create sickness.
Sickness then causes death.

If you contemplate these and do not let go of them,
Inside you will be distressed, outside you will be weak.
Do not neglect[S] to make plans for this,
Or life will leave its dwelling.

Do not eat as if you were starving,
Do not contemplate as if you were indifferent.
When you restrain these appropriately and simultaneously,
That [Dao][T] will naturally arrive.


Always : at the birth of people –
Heaven produces their essence,
Earth produces their form;
These combine in order to make people.

When these are in harmony then there is life;
No harmony, no life.
Observe the Dao of harmony :
Its essence is not seen,
Its manifestations are not wicked.
When equability and proper alignment completely fill your breast,
And the principles of regulation are in your heart/mind,
This gives long life.

When love and anger lose their proper value,
Then use this plan of action :
Restrain your five desires[U],
Leave behind your two misfortunes –
Do not love, do not be angry.
Then equability and proper alignment will completely fill your breast.


Always : at the birth of people –
They certainly have equability and proper alignment.
The reason that they lose it
Is certainly due to love, anger, worries, suffering.

Thus : there is nothing that stops anger like poetry,
There is nothing that removes worries like music,
There is nothing that restrains music like propriety,*
There is nothing that maintains propriety* like respect*.[V]

[But,] there is nothing that maintains respect* like stillness.
Inwardly still and outwardly respectful*,
You can return to your [original] nature,
And your nature will be exceptionally settled.


Always : regarding the Dao of eating –
Over-filling causes injury, and your form will not be right;
Over-fasting[W] makes your bones wither and your blood congeal.
When you reach the space between filling and fasting[W],
This is called achieving harmony –
That which is the dwelling place of essence
And that which is the creation of understanding.

When hunger and satiation lose their proper value,
Then use this plan of action :
When you are satiated, then move about quickly.
When you are hungry, then neglect your contemplation.
When you are old, then take charge of your concerns.

If you are satiated and do not move about quickly,
Your Qi will be obstructed in your four extremities.
If you are hungry and do not neglect your contemplation,
When you eat you will get full but you will not stop.
If you are old and do not take charge of your concerns,
When you are distressed, then you will be quickly exhausted.


When you expand your heart/mind and free it,
When your Qi is magnanimous and vast,
When your form is calm and unchanging :
You can maintain Oneness[G] and reject the ten thousand trivialities,
You see profit and are not tempted,
You see trouble and are not frightened.
You are magnanimous, relaxed, and kind*;
When alone, you are happy with your self.
This is called cloud-like Qi –
Your intent and behavior resemble that of heaven.


Always : at the birth of people –
They certainly have joy.
When they are worried, then they lose these tenets[X].
When they are angry, then they lose the source.
Where there is worry, grief, love, anger,
Then Dao does not dwell.

Love and desire : still them.
Foolishness and confusion : properly align them.
When you do not pull and do not push,[Y]
Good fortune will naturally return to you :
That Dao will naturally arrive,
Which you can rely on and consult with.
When you are still, then you attain it,
When you are impatient, then you lose it.


This potent Qi in your heart/mind :
One moment it arrives, one moment it departs.
It is so tiny there is nothing inside it,
It is so great there is nothing outside it.

The reason that you lose it
Is because impatience causes harm.
When the heart/mind can maintain stillness,
Dao will naturally settle there.

For people who attain Dao :
Regulation supports it and it will not dissipate easily,
So that the center in their breast does not fail them.
When following the Dao of restraining desire,
The ten thousand creatures do not cause harm.[Z]

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A : altho the modern translation of this symbol is “sudden” or “abrupt”
(among other things), and is translated different ways by different
authors, I have chosen “close” (as in “within reach”, “accessible”) based
on the answers given each time this question is asked

B : using “its” here (rather than “the”) is significant, making the
difference between referring to the “form of the heart/mind” or referring
separately to “the heart/mind” and “the form”

C : this and the next 5 lines could still be talking about the sage, but
because it seems to be a different section, it is translated in this
fashion

D : Simonis claims that the grammatical sense in which “one” is being used
means “one-ing creatures”, hence knowing (or seeing, sensing, perceiving,
etc.) your oneness with them

E : “spirit-like” is taken to mean that your understanding of Dao has
reached the same level as that of the spirits, who are presumably not
confused by having senses or a heart/mind (from Simonis)

F : in this and the 5 lines above, it is assumed that it is the creatures
and duties that are being transformed and changed, because earlier it is
said that the sage takes part in changes but is not himself transformed or
changed

G : usually translated as “grasps the One” or “holds to the One” (the one
what? principle? Dao?), “maintaining Oneness” is taken to mean being able
to keep the sense of Oneness referred to above

H : he “rules” creatures in that they do not confuse his senses or
heart/mind (referred to below)

I : creatures do not “use” him in that they do not confuse his senses or
heart/mind (referred to below)

J : it is unclear what it meant here : “one word”, “one saying”, “word of
the One” (“One” perhaps referring to Dao?), “word of Oneness”, “sound of
Oneness”, possibly even “the whole utterance”, etc.; so it is just left
literally translated as “one word”

K : “spirit-like understanding” is taken to refer to a state of
consciousness where you can intuitively understand Dao very clearly (from
Simonis)

L : you will “understand” them in that you will understand their proper
value (mentioned below), you will not allow them to confuse your senses or
heart/mind (referred to immediately below), etc.

M : presumably the heart/mind, or perhaps the “center”

N : the image seems to be that of a dragon – your head is in heaven, your
tail is on the earth, and your coils fill the “nine provinces” (the whole
world)

O : this is usually translated as “flood-like” (to match Mencius), but
literally means “like a vast body of water”, and a flood does not seem to
be as harmonious and equable as a wide, calm lake

P : two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, two elimination, one sexual

Q : “four seas” also indicates the whole world

R : there are three possible symbols here, “to grasp or catch” (which Roth
says is the original symbol), “to roll into a ball with the hands”, and
“to concentrate”, and all are equally likely (as far as I can tell), so
the word used is a combination of all three

S : the symbol given (“flea”) makes no sense; however it seems that it
must complete a double negative (do not [neglect/hesitate/fail] to?),
because twice below the Nei Ye encourages the reader to make plans

T : there is no subject in this sentence in the original Chinese! But the
phrase “that Dao” is used four other times, and “that Dao will naturally
arrive” appears below (using different symbols)

U : the five senses

V : these 4 lines are expressing very Confucian ideas; Confucius himself
said “Let a person be stimulated by poetry, established in character by
the rules of propriety, and perfected by music.” (Analects 8.8)

W : the given symbol makes no sense here, but presumably means the
opposite of “gorging”

X : while the standard definition is “discipline”, according to Waley it
literally means “main thread” (as in “of the teaching”)

Y : presumably, do not pull desirable things towards you and push
undesirable things away

Z : creatures will not “cause harm” in that they will not confuse the
senses or the heart/mind (mentioned above)

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