Taijiquan Lun

Postby JerryKarin » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:29 am

How do you interpret these phrases?
10. 左重则左虚,右重则右杳。

I tend to think it means

(if he is) heavy on the left, then (I am)
empty on the left,

etc.
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Postby Phocion » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:00 pm

1) "bupian wuyi" (not leaning or inclining)

"Leaning" and "inclining" are synonyms and "pian" and "yi" are not (are they)? Shouldn't the sense be something like, "Do not lean [your body], do not lean on [your opponent]"?

2) Louis wrote: "The phrase "yang zhi ze mi gao" (Looking up, it becomes yet higher) is almost a direct quote from the Confucian Analects."

D'oh! [*slaps forehead*] I never made the connection. Thanks for pointing that out.

3) Jerry wrote re line 10: "(if he is) heavy on the left, then (I am) empty on the left."

Just to clarify, do you mean "if he is heavy on his left" (if his left is heavy)? Or, "if he is heavy on my left"? I favor the later but I want to be sure that's what you mean.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:25 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Phocion:
<B>1) "bupian wuyi" (not leaning or inclining)

"Leaning" and "inclining" are synonyms and "pian" and "yi" are not (are they)? Shouldn't the sense be something like, "Do not lean [your body], do not lean on [your opponent]"?
. . . </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As Zhu Xi used the phrase "bupian wuyi" it means "to be centered," but it also entails being unbiased and impartial. As Jerry suggests, from a physical perspective pian implies "to one side" while "yi" implies leaning forward or back. Given the traditional preoccupation with the four quarters or cardinal directions, this expression probably is a rhetorical way of making sure the bases are covered.

It's another instance where a straight translation into English may sound somewhat odd, but in the original it would be an idiom that seems quite natural.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:58 pm

Greetings Jerry,

The absence of agency in line 10 and the ambivalence of the word “zhong” make it difficult to know who is doing what to whom. From whose perspective is this all occurring? If we take “suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed” to refer to the ebb and flow of empty and full, so that “my” center is unclear to my opponent, then it could be that the following lines continue that theme.

I wonder if this absence of agency was deliberate on the author’s part, as a way of focusing not on the actions of “me vs. the other” but on the process—or the experience of the process—involved. By that I mean that it implies a situation where ego plays no role, or would hamper the process if it did. I do think it is clear, though, that it refers to interaction with an opponent or partner, and to the most effective response to the opponent’s action when applied to one side or the other. If we take lines 10 through 13 together, the context makes it clearer. Together, these lines all refer to dispositions or actions that result in one seeming to become unfathomable to an opponent. To me the words of line 13 “a feather cannot be added; a fly cannot land” amplify line ten—it has to do with weight being added to or landing on me. I choose to translate it from an experiential standpoint: “When the left *feels* weight, then the left empties. When the right *feels* weight, then the right is gone.” I take “weight” to mean pressure or some form of applied action from the opponent. The variant of the ending character for the two phrases (xu: empty; yao: disappears) is likely just a rhetorical flourish. The yao character adds a nice entailment of something receding into the depths, or disappearing into the mist without a trace. Again, the sense of it for me, and from some of the commentaries I’ve seen, is “unfathomable.”

Line 14 nicely sums up the result: “The other does not know me; I alone know the other.”

Take care,
Louis
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Postby yslim » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:12 am

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Phocion:
[B]Dear yslim,

Thank you for the information about the seminar. I doubt that I will be able to attend, but I have passed the information along to someone who has expressed interest. However, since the thread is about translating the Taijiquan Lun, it's probably best if we stick to the project.

Cheers!

Dave

HELLO DAVE THE GOOD, ( HOPE YOU DON'T MIND IF I CALL YOU THAT. I ALWAYS ENJOY MR. SWAIMS' WITTY SENSE OF HUMOR TO LIGHT UP THE DAY)

YOU ARE WELCOME FOR THE SEMINAR INFORMATION I SENT YOU. THE REASON I DID IT WAS TO ANSWER YOUR FOLLOWING REQUEST IN A GREATER DEPTH WITH A MASTER THAT COULD GIVE YOU AN 'ON HAND' DEMO YOU COULD ACTUALLY FEEL THEIR DIFFERENT RATHER THAN JUST TALK ABOUT IT ON PAPER. THIS WAY YOU WILL TRULY KNOW HOW THEY FEEL BY EXPERIENCED THEM FROM A HIGH SKILL MASTER ( THIS IS ONLY MY OWN OPINION WHICH I DID PUT MY MONEY,TOO LITTLE,WHERE MY MOUTH IS, WHICH IS TOO BIG) INSTEAD YOU THINK YOU KNOW ON PAPER. LIKE I ALSO MENTIONED " IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE" IF YOU CAN'T GO.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Phocion:
[B]This very interesting discussion about line eight raises a couple of questions I hope someone can answer for me.

First, I chose to render "qi" as "breath" because "jing" is clearly "energy," and I don't understand the difference between qi energy and jing energy.


[since the thread is about translating the Taijiquan Lun, it's probably best if we stick to the project.]

I AM SO SORRY I STEP OUT OF LINE. I WAS NOT 'THINKING' AND MISSED READ YOUR POST AND REQUEST WAS NOT MEANT TO BE ANSWERED. I WILL DO THE FIRST HALF OF LINE #3 AND TAKE MY 'WALK' TO THE SEMINAR. YOU BE MY GUEST DO THE 2ND HALF OF LINE #3 AND 'STICK' TO THE PROJECT. SOMEDAY WE MIGHT MEET AND COMPARE NOTES. YOU DO THE 'LITERATI' AND I DO THE 'MENIAL(KUNG) LABORERS(FU)' STILL. THAT IS COOL. UNTIL THEN YOU HAVE FUN WHILE I PUT IN MY MENIAL/KUNG LABORER/FU.

CIAO,
yslim




[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 10-16-2008).]
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Postby Phocion » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:04 pm

In regard to “suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed,” I was reading a history of Chinese science and came across a few lines of a poem by Wang Yangming (1472-1528), a Song Confucianist and "the chief representative of Chinese idealism." The author says,

"Wang Yang-Ming was a considerable poet as well as a philosopher, and some of his poetical writing, long commonplace in China, have by now become part of world literature; for instance:

'Everyone has a Confucius in his heart
Sometimes visible but sometimes hidden, ...'"

I was struck by the similarity of ideas to the line in the Lun and wondered whether Wang's poem was commonplace enough to have provided the author of the Lun with a few words. The author of the book gives no citation nor title for the poem, and my Chinese Google-fu is weak (probably because my practice is not deep enough and my teacher is no good). Anyway, I did a forum search without result, so I offer this for what is it worth.

Cheers!

Dave
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:53 pm

Greetings Dave,

I have often wondered if Wang Yangming was the source of the “suddenly hidden, suddenly revealed” line. I have also encountered some phrases in translations of his writings that seemed to come close to the meaning. So far, however, I have been unsuccessful in confirming anything close to “hu yin hu xian” in searches of his works in Chinese. You can give it a try in the link here. There are plenty of occurrences of the character “yin” (hidden), but nothing quite like the Lun line.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25142/25142-0.txt

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:51 pm

Greetings Dave,

I don't know if it would be considered the source or not, but the phrase "suddenly hidden, suddenly appearing" (huyin huxian) does appear verbatim in the 1750 novel, Rulin Waishi (The Scholars). It's in the second to last paragraph of Chapter 14:
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E5%84%92%E6%9E%97%E5%A4%96%E5%8F%B2/%E7%AC%AC14%E5%9B%9E

--Louis
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Postby Phocion » Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:57 am

Greetings all,

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
I don't know if it would be considered the source or not, but the phrase "suddenly hidden, suddenly appearing" (huyin huxian) does appear verbatim in the 1750 novel, Rulin Waishi (The Scholars).</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It's interesting that the exact phrase has appeared before. Of course, that doesn't mean that The Scholars is the source of it in the Lun, but if a couple of other phrases from The Scholars show up ....

But anyway, where are we in this project? I get the lines under discussion as:

Do not lean in any direction;
Suddenly hidden, suddenly present.
When the left is heavy, then empty the left;
When the right is heavy, then the right disappears.
If my opponent raises up, I am even higher;
If my opponent sinks down, I am even lower.
When my opponent advances, the distance seems longer;
When my opponent retreats, the distance seems shorter.
A feather cannot be added, nor a fly alight.
My opponent doesn't know me, I alone know him.

Does anyone have a different reading? And if so, why?

Cheers!

Dave
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:22 pm

Greetings Dave,

Re: "It's interesting that the exact phrase has appeared before. Of course, that doesn't mean that The Scholars is the source of it in the Lun, but if a couple of other phrases from The Scholars show up ...."

I think "huyin huxian" is just a catch phrase, like "now you see it; now you don't." It can be used to describe mountains in the mist, a flickering candle flame, or the like.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:48 pm

Greetings All,

Here’s a link to Chen Weiming’s commentary on the section we’re discussing.

http://martialart.giss.ncpes.edu.tw/taichi95/books/D1925AK0/D1925AK00127072.jpg

He says of “suddenly hidden, suddenly appearing” that it means, “The empty and full are not fixed; their transformations are unfathomable.” (xu shi wu ding; bianhua buce)

Then he comments on the phrases about the left feeling pressure and emptying, etc. He says “These two phrases explain the meaning of ‘suddenly hidden, suddenly appearing.’ When I am sticking hands with the other—and sense (jue) pressure on the left side—then that point on my left side that adheres with my opponent changes to empty. The right side is the same. The meaning of ‘disappears’ (yao) is ‘unfathomable’ (bu ke zhuomo). There should not be the slightest resistance, thereby causing him to land on emptiness at any point, [and leaving him with the feeling] of getting no purchase whatsoever (wu ke ru he).” —my rough trans.

I like Chen’s explanation here. His use of jue “to sense, perceive, feel” supports my reading “When the left feels weight, then the left empties. When the right feels weight, then the right is gone.”

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:52 am

I think maybe for 11 and 12 you don't have it quite right:
11. 仰之则弥高,府之则弥深,
12. 进之则愈长,退之则愈促。

There is a syntactic pattern of

弥 A, 弥 B
愈 A, 愈 B

This is similar to Mandarin constructions like 越帮越忙
'the more he helps the busier I get'.

The more he raises up, the more deeply I cover,
the further he advances, the quicker I retreat.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 10-23-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:21 pm

Greetings Jerry,

I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think that pattern is in play here. These are four independent clauses, not pairs of dependent clauses. If we supply some pronouns, it may make it clearer. So, to paraphrase:

When he looks up, I seem ever higher. When he bends down, I seem ever deeper.
When he advances, I seem further away. When he retreats, I shorten the distance even more.

Fu is not “cover,” and cu is not “quick.” Cu here is more like “close, near to.”

The character for fu in the version you cited is incorrect. It should be fu3 with the person radical. See: http://zdic.net/zd/zi/ZdicE4ZdicBFZdicAF.htm It means to bend down, contrasting with yang3, which means to look up. These often appear together. In fact, the four verbs in play here have been used as a cluster: “fu yang jin tui,” referring to manner or deportment.

I’ve certainly seen many cases of the yu A, yu B pattern you mention, but I haven’t come across examples of mi A, mi B. There may be examples, but the line from the Analects which the Lun is quoting does not read that way; it’s two independent clauses: “The more I look up at it, the higher it soars; the more I penetrate into it, the harder it becomes.”

What do you think?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:22 pm

I think the bigger pattern with mi and yu should hold. The punctuation in this particular copy of the text agrees with me, though that may not be saying much. Yang and Fu are actually kind of like leaning back and leaning forward. Imaging two people standing like this: \\ .
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:49 pm

Jerry,

Have a look at Chen Weiming's commentary here: http://martialart.giss.ncpes.edu.tw/taichi95/books/D1925AK0/D1925AK00127072.jpg

He explains these lines as four independent statements. It doesn't seem to support the syntactic pattern reading you're proposing.

--Louis
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