Saturday, March 12, 2011

The wisdom of Can Tong Qi (周易參同契) - Chapter 2


My renditions below each Chinese passage:

天地設位,而易行乎其中矣。天地者,乾坤之象;設位 者,列陰陽配合之位;易謂坎離,坎離者,乾坤二用。

Heaven and Earth establishes the field
and “I” being the principle of all actions within
Heaven and Earth are the expressions of Qian and Qun
Field establishment means everything inside
follows the principle of yin and yang
“I” appears as Kan and Li
Kan and Li is a manifestation of Qian and Qun

二用無爻位,周流行六虛,往來既不定,上下亦無常, 幽潛淪匿,變化于中,包囊萬物,為道紀綱,以無制有,器用者空,故推消息,坎離沒亡。

As manifestation of Qian and Qun
Kan and Li merged, and flow among all Emptiness
Neither come nor go
Neither up nor down
Can’t be found, can’t be seen
Yet being the foundation of all changes
and manifested in all things
as demonstration of Tao
Emptiness gives value to Substance
Like the emptiness of a bowl
defines a bowl itself
Based on the above analysis
Kan and Li are always there

言不苟造,論不虛生,引驗見效,校度神明,推類結 字,原理為徵。

My speech will not be frivolous
and my argument will not be unsubstantiated
My teachings can be substantiated with specific experience
as well as demonstrated benefits
My techniques can be fine-tuned using an enlightened mind
My language is profound and substantiated by theory


Kan, signified by the fifth heavenly stems, seeks for the essence of the Moon
Li, signified by sixth earthly branches, seeks for the light of the Sun
Sun and Moon together forms “I”
Hard and soft equalized, the element Earth nurtures the four seasons in cycles
Four colors of the four elements, each positioned at one corner
With all four managed by the center Earth
All being embraced by the heavenly stems and the earthly branches

Paul’s comment: Element Earth establishes the center of the cauldron, whereas the other four Elements establish the four cardinal points of the cauldron (top, bottom, front and back).  This establishment is essential to inner alchemical practice. The 10 heavenly stems (天干) and 12 earthly branches (地支) are included within the theoretical structure of the practice, with the fifth stem 戊 signifies Kan and the sixth branches 巳 signifies Li. The metaphors of a wheel and a bowl are borrowed from Tao Te Ching. I-Ching references are freely used. A well-knitted and elegant theoretical structure is intended to be built up.

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