POEMS, SONGS and CANONS

POEMS, SONGS and CANONS

Postby psalchemist » Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:25 pm

Greetings All,

Delving into the subject of Taijiquan certainly implicates the Chinese culture, language and so on...As I explore these realms I am finding difficulty with some of the distinctions between the English and Chinese expressions.

One aspect that has me quite confused is the labelling of "SONG", "POEM", "CANON" (To name a few...) .

I am wondering what the differences between these expressions are...Are they simply casual terms, arbitrarily used, or are they specific outlines/guidlines for what is included withinin the works.

For example
==========

*YANG FAMILY:
:SABER FORM 13 POSTURE POEM
-(Translated by Audi Peal )

*Chen Wang Ting, Writer of "Song of the Canon of Boxing".

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 06-15-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:01 am

Greetings Psalchemist,

There are several terms used for the various texts associated with taijiquan. They can be variously translated, but I’ll try to summarize the general sense of some of these words.

Jing: this is often translated “classic.” It can refer to a single text, or a body of texts, and implies documents that carry great weight and authority. The translation “canon” is also a good one, and jing is also the word used in Chinese for Buddhist scriptures (sutras). Interestingly, both jing and sutra are etymologically based in textile-related meaning. Jing has the silk radical, and can refer to the warp threads of fabric. Sutra (thread) is related to the words suture, seam, sew, etc.

Ge: this means song, but a ge is not necessarily sung; it is usually relatively short, and has an easily memorized rhythm and may contain rhymes.

Jue: like ge, jue were learned orally, so they have the same sort of characteristics. The saber document you mention is a jue. Jue is a very common short text form that one can find in many contexts in traditional China. Jue were often used to convey important knowledge in an easily remembered form, sometimes to students with marginal literacy. Organizations that depended upon close teacher-student transmission, such as daoist communities, conveyed teachings with jue. Craftspeople such as carpenters and masons had jue for various aspects of their trade. The word jue can be translated as “rhymed formula,” or “knack formula.” Variants are, “kou jue” (oral formula), and “mi jue” (secret formula).

Jie: this essentially means, “unravel,” but is more conveniently translated “explanation.” These are usually short explanations of terms and techniques. There are a number of taiji texts called jie.

Lun: this means, “discussion,” “discourse,” or “treatise.” A lun is generally more discursive than the other shorter kinds of texts, and tends to discuss matters of theory and principle in broader strokes. Lun is part of the title of the book we know as the Confucian Analects—the Lunyu—“arranged discussions.” The Greek/Latin word Analects was first used, I think, by James Legge to translate Lunyu, perhaps to go along with the latinized word Confucius, which had earlier been coined by Jesuits to represent the name Kongzi.

Pu: this is a fairly general term, meaning a table, chart, or register of some kind, but often meaning a manual of collected documents for a given trade or art. So collections of taiji or other martial arts texts are called “quanpu” (boxing manuals).

Is this helpful?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Yury Snisarenko » Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:29 am

Hi Psalchemist, Louis

Louis, thank you for sorting out these terms.

It's amazing that such abundant and profound experience of famous masters sometimes was expressed in so short and laconic forms. Definitely ge and jue texts were not easy to untangle for outsiders. And of course they gave students inside the school good reason to think and ponder their meaning.

It's very interesting to read explanations (jie) written by masters of past to taijiquan classics. For example Gu Luxin wrote jie to taijiquan lun which is quite informative.
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:47 pm

Greetings Louis,

A most excellent and bountiful response to my query...quantifying and compartmentalizing in utter efficiency. Many thanks, very helpful. Image

Besides the informative, direct translations, I also appreciated all the interesting flourishes...Quite a many...

The common radical stitching the Jing and Sutra expressions is a fascinating one.

So...the Chinese too, perhaps, "Weave Tales", and consider, perhaps, "The Fabric of Society" in similar metaphorical terms...

A very interesting post, Louis.

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:08 pm

Greetings Yury,

Thanks for your input.

It was a useful demonstration for me to see how two can be linked together (the Jie of Jing)-(explanation of classics), having so little basis established for the Chinese language myself.

And I must agree about the abundance of metaphorical materials within the realms of Taijiquan theory and documentation...

Simply part of the charm of journeying the path of Taijiquan... Image

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:28 pm

Greetings Louis,

I am presently seeking a good translation of the "Tao Te Jing".

I was wondering if you have done one yourself, if so I would be interested in obtaining a copy...

If not, have you any references for a reputable interpretation?

From what I understand , Tao Te Jing is divided into two parts...the "Tao"(way/path of?) section and the "Te" section.

The classics of the Way & The classics of...Te??? Could you explain the meaning of Te, please?

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:24 am

Greetings Psalchemist,

I can’t say that I’ve translated the Daodejing, but I’ve worked passages from it, and I’ve studied it for years. There are many good translations, and lots of bad ones. It’s hard to recommend just one, because some versions bring out more of the poetic qualities, and some more of the self-cultivation qualities, and some more of the social critique qualities, etc. The most recent version I’ve read is Roger Ames’ and David Hall’s -_Daodejing: “Making This Life Significant” A Philosophical Translation_ (2003, Ballantine). Ames has a very good understanding of early Chinese texts and their social-philosophical context. This one has an excellent introduction, a glossary of terms, useful commentary, and includes the Chinese text preceding each translated passage.

Some of the other translations I would recommend are, Robert G. Henrick’s _Lao-tzu: Te-tao ching_ (1989 Ballantine). Henrick’s is one of the first versions to translate exclusively from the Mawangdui manuscripts discovered in a tomb in 1973. In those versions, the De sections precede the Dao sections, hence the reversal in the title. Victor Mair also translated the Mawangdui version, but I don’t find his rendering very satisfying. Two old favorites are Arthur Waley’s, and D.C. Lau’s. There are still more I could recommend, but these are all stong candidates.

If you’re interesting in some additional study, there are a couple of excellent collections of Laozi scholarship you might check out. One is Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, eds., _Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching_ (1998, Suny), and the other is Mark Csikszentmihalyi and Philip Ivanhoe, eds., -_Religious and Philosophical Aspects of the Laozi_ (1999, Suny).

As for the meaning of De, that’s way more than a post full. It’s often translated “virtue,” but shouldn’t be confused with a moralistic virtue. It’s more like the virtue inherent in something, as the virtue of a seed would be to sprout. Ames has some good commentary on De in the translation mentioned above, noting it’s sense of “insistent particularity,” defining “the particular as a focus of potency or efficacy within its own field of experience.”

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jun 20, 2004 5:34 am

de µÂ is cognate to de µÃ, which means 'get', 'obtain'. Both were pronounced a bit like the english word 'duck' in ancient times. It means what you have coming to you, a bit like karma, only in the present time. The description from Ames strikes me as scholarly obfuscation. In ancient Chinese philosophy, like attracts like. de µÂ is the power by which this happens.


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 06-20-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jun 20, 2004 7:56 pm

Greetings,

Jerry may be right about scholarly obfuscation, but let’s just say that one man’s obfuscation is another man’s clarification. He may be responding to my overly brief attempt to summarize Ames’ insights on de. For those interested in learning more about the matter, they can read Ames’ Daodejing translation and commentary and see if it obfuscates or clarifies. Ames also wrote a more comprehensive essay on the topic, “Putting the Te Back into Taoism,” in J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames, eds., _Nature in Asian Traditions of Though: Essays in Environmental Philosophy_ (1989, Suny, pp. 113-144). I also like Sarah Allan’s analysis of de, based on considerable knowledge of the earliest uses of the word in bone and bronze inscriptions, as well as in daoist and Confucian texts, in her book, _The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue_ (1997, Suny, see especially pp. 101-07). She also notes the “particularity” of the concept of de:

“This particularity of de distinguishes it from xing, or ‘nature’ which is also associated with the heart/mind. All people have the mind/heart of a human being and the ‘nature’ or xing associated with it, but individuals and their clans or families have different kinds of de. If we think of de by analogy with plant reproduction, its meaning becomes clearer. Just as all plants (or animals) tend to reproduce according to their own kind, there are different types of plants within a species (red oaks, white oaks, etc.) and some specimens are nevertheless better, stronger, healthier, and more beautiful than others. All people have de, and it can always be cultivated to advantage, but some people are born with unusual de.” (Allan, p. 102)

The cognate relationship with the “to get, obtain” word is often cited for sound reasons, but I would quibble with the comparison with the Buddhist notion of karma. I’ll admit, though, to not knowing much about karma. A.C. Graham has also written effectively in many places on de. In his book, _Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China_, (1989, Open Court), for example, he notes the usual translation as ‘virtue,’ saying that it’s to be understood as “‘The virtue of cyanide is to poison’ rather than in ‘Virtue is its own reward’.” (p. 13)

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jun 20, 2004 9:05 pm

I haven't read Sarah Allen's stuff but she sounds all wet to me. De isn't something you are born with. You are born with xing4 and can choose to nourish it or not. De depends on your behaviour. Her botanical analogy - "..different kinds of plants within a species(red oaks, white oaks, etc)" - reveals little besides an abysmal ignorance of biology. Look, de is a concept used by millions of Chinese for thousands of years. You do not find Chinese agonizing through the millenia over the question: What is this thing called De?" It is not something mystical, obscure, arcane, or unknowable.

A.C. Graham really understood the classics and is a good source of information on these terms. He uses terms like potency, power to influence people, charisma.
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 20, 2004 10:18 pm

==============================================================
Greetings Louis and Jerry,

Louis, thank you for taking the time and energy to provide all those references for the Tao Te Jing, this will certainly assist me in finding my way through the amazing myriad of knowledge on the market. I will look for the books you suggest.

<<As for the meaning of De, that’s way more than a post full>>LOUIS

Image I can see that, now. I do appreciate the attempts.

<<It’s often translated “virtue,” but shouldn’t be confused with a moralistic virtue. It’s more like the virtue inherent in something, as the virtue of a seed would be to sprout.[[A.C. Graham has also written effectively in many places on de. In his book, _Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China_, (1989, Open Court), for example, he notes the usual translation as ‘virtue,’ saying that it’s to be understood as “‘The virtue of cyanide is to poison’ rather than in ‘Virtue is its own reward’.” (p. 13)]] Ames has some good commentary on De in the translation mentioned above, noting it’s sense of “insistent particularity,” defining “the particular as a focus of potency or efficacy within its own field of experience." >>LOUIS


<<Jerry may be right about scholarly obfuscation, but let’s just say that one man’s obfuscation is another man’s clarification.>>LOUIS

LOL!.....LOL!... Image ...............LOL!

<< For those interested in learning more about the matter, they can read Ames’ Daodejing translation and commentary and see if it obfuscates or clarifies. Ames also wrote a more comprehensive essay on the topic, “Putting the Te Back into Taoism,” in J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames, eds., _Nature in Asian Traditions of Though: Essays in Environmental Philosophy_ (1989, Suny, pp. 113-144).>>LOUIS

Thank you, Louis, I will judge for myself.

<< I also like Sarah Allan’s analysis of de, based on considerable knowledge of the earliest uses of the word in bone and bronze inscriptions, as well as in daoist and Confucian texts, in her book, _The Way of Water and Sprouts of Virtue_ (1997, Suny, see especially pp. 101-07). She also notes the “particularity” of the concept of de:
“This particularity of de distinguishes it from xing, or ‘nature’ which is also associated with the heart/mind. All people have the mind/heart of a human being and the ‘nature’ or xing associated with it, but individuals and their clans or families have different kinds of de. If we think of de by analogy with plant reproduction, its meaning becomes clearer. Just as all plants (or animals) tend to reproduce according to their own kind, there are different types of plants within a species (red oaks, white oaks, etc.) and some specimens are nevertheless better, stronger, healthier, and more beautiful than others. All people have de, and it can always be cultivated to advantage, but some people are born with unusual de.” (Allan, p. 102)>>LOUIS

<<I haven't read Sarah Allen's stuff but she sounds all wet to me. De isn't something you are born with. You are born with xing4 and can choose to nourish it or not. De depends on your behaviour. Her botanical analogy - "..different kinds of plants within a species(red oaks, white oaks, etc)" - reveals little besides an abysmal ignorance of biology. Look, de is a concept used by millions of Chinese for thousands of years. You do not find Chinese agonizing through the millenia over the question: What is this thing called De?" It is not something mystical, obscure, arcane, or unknowable.>>JERRY

<<A.C. Graham really understood the classics and is a good source of information on these terms. He uses terms like potency, power to influence people, charisma.>>JERRY

...I can see how potency, power and charisma would apply to botanical natures inherently, as well as something perhaps developed, cultivated in a human...

Although I have no knowledge of "De" or its context, or if Ms.Allens works accurately translate this expression...I CAN, however, appreciate what she is conveying...I would probably agree, from what has been supplied of the work.

Finding out WHY this would be so, might be interesting ...

<<* de µÂ is cognate to de µÃ, which means 'get', 'obtain'
* It means what you have coming to you, a bit like karma, only in the present time.
* In ancient Chinese philosophy, like attracts like. de µÂ is the power by which this happens. >>JERRY

I had never thought of Kharma as "like attracts like", before, but this makes sense...Fine tuning perceptions...

<<The cognate relationship with the “to get, obtain” word is often cited for sound reasons, but I would quibble with the comparison with the Buddhist notion of karma. I’ll admit, though, to not knowing much about karma. >>LOUIS

Kharma and inherent or genetic virtue would be two very different matters...Would they not???

I guess that leaves my mind wide open. Image Wuwei Image

Thank you both very much for your thoughts on "De".

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 06-20-2004).]
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 20, 2004 10:29 pm

Greetings Jerry,

...You specifically noted "present" kharma...I could actually see the correlation if you included past kharma...this would then work very well into the virtue concept...

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 06-20-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jun 20, 2004 10:41 pm

A further thought on de. It is something that you xiu1, 'spruce up', 'enhance', 'work on', 'cultivate' etc. The phrase xiu de is found all over in the classics. My point here is that de is not something inherited or genetic, like the DNA of a species. This is something dynamic which changes as a result of behavior and cultivation. Nowadays this same word has come to mean something like 'morality' as in Wu de 'martial de'. Possibly Ames and Allen have some point they are making with this 'insistent particularity' which makes sense within some highly technical philosophical framework they are using. Within the context of ordinary language translation this stuff is misleading. De is a perfectly common and ordinary word in the classics and even in modern Chinese and should not be made into some mystery.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jun 20, 2004 11:03 pm

Karma means 'work' hence it has a rather different root from the 'getting' of De. In the common sense of the retribution or reward awaiting one because of one's works, it is rather like De, except that with de there is no notion of next life or reincarnation. More like if you do good 'works' then you build up a kind of good 'attraction' which has the potential to bring good things and good people to you.
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Postby psalchemist » Sun Jun 20, 2004 11:11 pm

Could they perhaps, be expounding on the concept that one must follow his OWN particularity,...enhance and cultivate his OWN particular inherent virtue (God given gifts/genetic tendancies/fate/destiny), ones moral duty to find and follow ones own path...according to ones OWN "virtues"...???

Which are theories of old standing, really, not mysterious at all, I find...

I really think your "Like attracts Like" is a most excellent rendering for Kharma...I don't believe in rewards...it is like attracts like...Very good.

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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