November 16, 2011

Zhonghe ji 中 和 集 (Anthology of Central Harmony)

Here is Isabelle Robinet's entry from the Encyclopedia of Taoism on the Zhonghe ji:
[ABF note: Words preceded by an asterisk (*) have their own entry in the Encyclopedia of Taoism.]

The Zhonghe ji (中和集) consists of a set of *Li Daochun’s 李道純 (fl. 1288-92) treatises, dialogues, songs, and poems collected by his disciple Cai Zhiyi 蔡志頤 (fl. 1288-1306), with a preface by *Du Daojian  杜道堅 (1237-1318) dated 1306. Some portions of the text (4.6b, 4.9a) are dated to 1292. Li associates the title of his work with a passage of the Zhongyong 中庸 1.4 (Centrality and Commonality; trans. Legge 1893, 384-85): “the Center lies in the state of mind not yet manifested, which is the hidden and unfathomable spirit, while Harmony is its manifested state, which is in accord with the activating force of the world (1.2a-b, 1.9a).”  

In juan 1 and part of juan 4, Li deals at length with the basic unity and dialectical relation of pairs of complementary notions such as movement and quiescence (*dong and jing), substance and function (*ti and yong), change and permanence, human and celestial mind (*xin), inner nature and vital force (*xing and ming), body and spirit, knowledge and action, contraction and expansion, and so forth. He stresses their fundamental unity and underscores the coincidena oppositorum operated by a tertium quid. This third element is the central one, the Mysterious Pass (*xuanguan), represented for instance by the intention (*yi) in the pair body and spirit.

The second juan is largely devoted to *neidan. It contains several diagrams and an exposition of the degrees of practice (three for the gradual teaching, followed by a final superior degree) and the three main stages of the alchemical work. The latter three stages are the Three Passes (*sanguan) or Three Primes (*sanyuan), which are related to essence, pneuma, and spirit (*jing, qi, shen). Li rejects many old practices as erroneous (including the sexual techniques or *fangzhong shu) or inferior (for example, *waidan, diets, and visionary meditation).

The third juan, which is also partly found in juan 6 of the Qing’an Yingchan zi yulu 清庵螢蟾子語錄 (Recorded Sayings of [Li] Qing’an, Master of the Shining Toad), is cast in the form of answers to his disciples. Here Li defines several alchemical terms and explains basic sentences used by neidan or Neo-Confucian authors, taken from the Xici 繫辭 (Appended Statements, a portion of the *Yijing), the Shujing 書經 (Book of Documents), and the Lunyu 論語 (Analects) of Confucius. He dwells at length on the importance of the precosmic particle of light that is the materia prima of neidan as well as its final goal (see *dianhua).

Part of juan 4, and juan 5 and 6, contain songs and poems.

Li Daochun’s syncretism is closely related to his inclination toward a subitist (dun ) method of teaching and learning. He repeatedly states that the only necessary thing is the Mysterious Pass, equated with the precosmic and transcendent particle of light and more important than the practices themselves. The highest degree of alchemy does not use the Yijing system as do many neidan texts (4.2b). In Li’s view, the Buddhist “full awakening” (yuanjue 圓覺) and the Confucian Great Ultimate (*taiji) are synonyms of the Golden Elixir (*jindan).

Isabelle ROBINET
The Routeledge Encyclopedia of Taosim, pp. 1282-83

[ABF note: Dr. Robinet’s entry includes some Latin technical terms which I have looked up and glossed here.]

coincidena oppositorum  -  unity of opposites

tertium quid  -  refers to an unidentified third element that is in combination with two known ones. The phrase is associated with alchemy. It is Latin for “third thing”, a translation of the Greek tríton ti (τρίτον τι).

materia prima  -  first or prime matter

subitist  -   Subitism as applied to Buddhism is derived from the French ‘illumination subite’ (lit. ‘sudden illumination’), contrasting with ‘illumination graduelle.’ It gained currency in this use in English from the work of sinologist Paul Demiéville, whose 1947 work ‘Mirror of the Mind’ was widely read in the U.S. and inaugurated a series by him on subitism and gradualism. Latin adjective subitus (meaning “sudden”).

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