My rough translation of line 22 is: “Stand like a balance scale; move like the wheel of a cart.”
As I noted above, most accepted versions of the Taijiquan Lun use the term “ping2zhun3” for what I’ve translated “balance scale,” whereas the posted simplified-character version has “zheng4zhun3.” Shen Shou’s annotation for this line notes that the variant “zhengzhun” appearing in “some published versions” is likely a scribal or printing error. (Shen Shou, Taijiquanpu, p. 27) In my own observation, although the first character in that compound, “zheng4” means “a steelyard,” I’m not aware of a compound “zhengzhun” having general currency as a term. Shen Shou glosses the more prevalent term, “pingzhun” as “tian1ping2,” which is a standard term for a balance scale of the type with two pans used for weighing objects. This interpretation is broadly accepted as the meaning among commentaries I’ve seen for the Lun.
The problem is that “pingzhun” is not a standard term for a scale. In the Han dynasty, pingzhun was the name of a government bureau—the Bureau of Standards. This bureau was responsible for procuring grains and other commodities when there were surpluses, selling them during shortage, in order to stabilize prices throughout the empire. The term was similarly used during the Song Dynasty for a government price stabilization section. I’ve never seen any evidence for the usage of pingzhun as a term for a scale. However, it could be that pingzhun had currency in some regions or during some time periods as a word for a scale. After all, the Han dynasty was greatly preoccupied with the standardization of weights and measurement, writing script, axle lengths of carts, and widths of roads between market towns. The imagery of the two graphs would lend themselves to this usage, as ping means “level, even,” and zhun means “a standard, to measure, to weigh, to equalize” but is rooted in its use as a term for a carpenter’s level. I believe early Chinese carpenter levels were variously of the spirit level or water level type, as well as a mechanical type based on a plum-line, and in fact resembling a balance scale. Barbara Davis, by the way, neatly translates the line in question: “Stand like an even level.” (The Taijiquan Classics, p. 114)
So how do we derive “balance scale” from “pingzhun?” We have two statements—one about how one stands, one about how one moves—each involving a metaphor. Since the metaphor for movement is a mechanical metaphor—a wheel—it’s reasonable to conclude that the metaphor for standing is also mechanical, hence a balance scale or the like. The two metaphors are notable for sharing characteristics of balance and equilibrium; for a centered still-point of either the scale's fulcrum or the wheel’s axle; and for responsiveness to outer conditions.
Those are a few of my thoughts for the discussion. What do you folks think?
[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 11-09-2008).]