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THIS treatise is one of the most interesting and important in the Taoist canon. Tradition ascribes its authorship to the mythical Emperor Huang Ti, or one of his six Ministers; but although it of course appeared at a considerably later date than this, all scholars agree in attributing it to a very remote antiquity. The earliest Commentator who published an edition of the work is said to have been Chiang Tsze-ya, otherwise known as T‘ai Kung, ###, the famous Minister of Hsi Pŏ, and a reputed descendant of the Yellow Emperor; so, if this were true, we should be able to trace its existence at least as far back as the Shang dynasty, or say twelve hundred years before Christ.
The aim of this ancient compilation, to quote the authority of Mr. Wylie, is to "reconcile the decrees of Heaven with the current of mundane affairs." It is supposed to contain the very root and essence of Taoism, and its entire freedom from all allusions to the later and baser developments of that philosophy appears to constitute a strong argument in favour of its distant origin. Our translation of the title, Yin Fu, ### is of course merely approximative, and may be criticised accordingly. Fu means a seal, divided into two parts. On one half of this seal we have the visible phenomena of the world around us; this we can all see, but, the diagram being incomplete, we require the other half of the seal, that bearing the ### of Heaven or the Unseen World, before we can understand the why and the wherefore of the existing order of things. In this book the two halves of the seal are professedly brought together, and we are thus enabled to perceive the hidden harmony which runs through all things where before we could see nothing but discord, and are presented with an explanation of all the mysteries of the world, the secret coincidences between the Seen and the Unseen, of which in our unenlightened state we are profoundly ignorant. The idea is a remarkably beautiful one, and the representation of such a 'Clue to the Unseen' by a divided seal, strikes us as singularly forcible and apt. The edition now translated bears the name of Chang Shih-ch‘un as editor, a scholar of Honan who lived in the reign of Ts‘ung Chêng, last Emperor of the Mings.
To observe the TAO of Heaven, and grasp its method of operation, is the limit of all achievement.
The root of Heaven is in TAO; and TAO being fixed, Heaven secures it and so brings about its transmutations. Principles have their root in circumstances, or facts; and facts being determined, it is Principles by which they are modified or varied. Thus Principles have no unvarying course, and facts no essential uniformity; both belong to the region of the unlimited. It is only by observing the TAO of Heaven, and grasping that, that the limit can be reached.
Thus Heaven has Five Despoilers: and he who perceives them will flourish.
There is no benefit intended towards man when the Five Atmospheric Influences* are set in motion; how, then, can there be any intentional injury to things? Observing the nourishing and beneficial results of these Influences, men call it virtue; observing the injury and ruin they cause, men call it spoliation. As soon as we see a thing produced, it is destroyed; and having witnessed its destruction, we see it come into being again. The Afflatus of the East is antagonistic to the Centre; the Afflatus of the Centre is antagonistic to the North; the Afflatus of the North is antagonistic to the South; the Afflatus of the South is antagonistic to the West; the Afflatus of the West is antagonistic to the East.† When these Five Afflati promote the growth of one another, they move freely; but the very ease with which they flow leads to their exhaustion. When they act in antagonism to each other, their motion is arrested; but if such arrest be counteracted they are re-established [in their course]. Man is in the centre of Heaven [and Earth]; the heart is in the centre of man. When anything occupies a central position, it may be removed to the outside. If one wishes to control much by means of a little, it is necessary to use contrivances—or, to employ one's faculty of contrivance—in manipulating the material under one's hand. Nevertheless, let the mind be once set in motion, everything under Heaven may be accomplished; while by using antagonistic agencies, that which is complete and permanent may be produced.
The Moral Nature of Heaven is Man: the Mind of Man embodies his motive power; and the Principle of Heaven being established, the destiny of Man is fixed.
The Moral Nature is that entity which produces human genius; the region which contains, or holds in reserve, all mutations [of the mind]. Heaven has no Moral Nature of itself; Man is the Moral Nature of Heaven, just as the mind, which, located in the centre of the body, is united with that body and so completes the human shape. But the mind is the natural disposition of the body; the motive power within is the origin of spontaneous or voluntary action, and embodies the capacity of intelligent action; and when a man avails himself of this motive power, its action may not be arrested. The mind has but a material seat—the heart; yet although this is but so much matter, it possesses certain capacities, and these capacities constitute the motive power of the man. When [these capacities] are located in a body which is incompatible with them, they cannot be said to constitute the true mind belonging to that body; and [the man himself], being thus placed in a position unconsonant with Heaven, cannot be regarded as constituting Heaven's true Nature.* The Principle of Heaven being established, the destiny of man is fixed.
When Heaven sends forth its engines of destruction, the stars are moved out of their places and the constellations metamorphosed. When Earth sends forth its engines of destruction, dragons and snakes appear on the dry land.† When Man puts forth his faculties of destruction, Heaven falls and Earth is overthrown. When Heaven and Man do so in concert, all the disorganised phenomena are re-established on a new basis.
The stars and constellations are the countenance of Heaven. In like manner,‡ when a man is angry, his countenance will surely change. Dragons and serpents are the breath and blood [the hidden agencies] of earth. In like manner, when a man is sick, his breath and blood will surge up, or overflow. Man, situated in the centre of the Universe, is as it were the abdomen of Heaven and Earth. When the viscera are injured, the effects are manifest from top to toe; everything, from the head down to the feet, is thrown into disorder. When Earth is in harmony with Heaven, Man occupies the same relation towards each. For Heaven to respond to human requirements, or affairs, it is necessary p. 52 to wait until such affairs be brought to a state of completion. If any one such affair be uncompleted, even the Sage will be unable to undertake its achievement; but when it is perfected—q.d., in such a forward state as to be prepared for the co-operation or assistance of Heaven—the response of Heaven will come, as in former cases.* This may be compared to the capture of Wu by the Prince of Yueh.
The Five Despoilers pertain to the Heart; but their operation is diffused all over the world. The Universe is in one's Hand; all transmutations take their rise from the body.
Thieves, or despoilers, are so called because they are unseen; if, in acting as thieves, they are perceived, their depredations are put an end to. The antagonism which exists between Water and Fire is turned to advantage when brought into contact with matter, and eventual welfare is the result.† The Five Despoilers of Heaven are identical with the Five Despoilers of men. These Five Despoilers residing in the human heart, their agency is diffused far and wide; but is Heaven within the range of my—i.e., any man's—activity? Now co-operation implies the same object being held in view by two persons. If the other man acts, it is as though I myself acted; just, for instance, as in riding,—the rider is identified with his horse; and where the horse arrives the rider arrives too. Therefore a journey of a thousand li may be said to be held in the hollow of one's hand; for if a desire arises in the mind to go, say, from Yen in the north to Yueh in the south, you will be able to reach your destination supposing you make proper use of your intellectual faculties.
Sagacity and stupidity are both integral parts of Man's nature; and both may be concealed from view.
The existence of dualism in things causes doubt; from this arises duplicity, and thus the nature of man becomes no longer homogeneous. This nature includes both sagacity and stupidity. If pretended sagacity be apparent outwardly—lit., in the teeth and heels—stupidity may be peaceably maintained [within]; while if the outward appearance be characterised by pretended stupidity, the real sagacity of the man will have free scope for action. This amounts to a mutual concealment, by the two qualities, of each other. Therefore genuineness consists in homogeneity, while duplicity is the result of dualism. These two are the outcome‡ of the principles of Truth and Falsehood respectively; they may therefore be put into practice ad infinitum.
The Abuse of the Nine Openings of the Body having specially to do with the Three which are most important, action and rest are both possible.
The Nine Openings are, all of them, the organs of intelligent perception; even those which have least capacity serving as passages for air. Eight of these openings are channels for the exercise of sagacity; it is only the private part behind, which is without any such faculty. The implication [in the text] that they are all liable to misuse, is simply made as applying to the majority, [the one exception] being wrongly included for the sake of convenience. But it is the Ear, the Eye, and the Month, which are the most liable to deception and abuse; therefore their action should be confined within certain limits, and subjected to the will of their owner. Then they may be made to act and abstain from action; by which means the body may be nourished and provision made [for any exigencies that may arise].
The diseases to which men are subject are the result of abuse. It is only the Sage who knows how to value this abuse [of the bodily organs], for, when it becomes violent, it is only the Sage who is able to hinder its operation. Then [the man's] action becomes in accord with the principle Yang, and his repose in accord with the principle Yin; [the man himself] developing mental powers of superhuman excellence.
Fire is produced from Wood; but in the case of any disaster arising [from fire] the wood will be overcome. Treacherous [Ministers] arise in States; as soon as they act, the result is disaster. Those who understand how to refine and discipline themselves are called Sages.
Alas! the hiding-place of treachery is in my own body. If one is able to recognise its quality, or nature, it may be changed into goodness; if one is unable to do so, it will always remain treachery. It is the Five Elements who destroy me; it is the Five Elements to whom I owe my life. The process of refinement consists in discarding the redundant; that of discipline, in discarding the coarse or low.
The productive and destructive attributes of Heaven constitute a governing principle of TAO. Heaven and Earth are the plunderers of All Things; All Things are the plunderers of Man, and Man, also, is the plunderer of All Things. When the Three Plunderers are in mutual accord, the Three Powers will be settled in tranquility.
Men all regard Heaven, Earth, and All Things as having been established for mutual production or support; but the Sage regards them as having been established with a view to mutual destruction. With respect to the productive attributes of Heaven and Earth: what p. 54 they produce to-day they afterwards destroy. Now to give life again to what they have once destroyed renders that destruction purposeless, and the life itself as though it had never been conferred; for which reason Heaven and Earth are the plunderers of All Things. Man is supported or nurtured by All Things, and yet incurs actual danger from them; for which reason All Things are the plunderers of Man. Man makes All Things,* and then lays them under contribution for his food and clothing; and thus he is the plunderer of All Things. These plunderers are such by reason of their ignorance that what they do is plunder. If each one sees only the life-giving process, and not the process of destruction, the Three Plunderers will be each in its proper sphere [quoad the other two], and the Three Powers enabled to hold permanent sway.
Wherefore it may be said that when Sacrifices are partaken of [by Spirits] their bones will be at rest; and when the mainsprings [of the Universe] are set in motion, its various transmutations will go on undisturbed.
When men lay violent hands on matter, the most honourable use they make of so doing is in offering food in sacrifice;† when Heaven and Earth act as the plunderers of All Things, the most honourable use they make of so doing is in influencing and rectifying their springs of action. When the Three Plunderers are all prevented from overstepping their due prerogatives, they are then in their proper sphere.
Days and months have their fixed numbers; greatness and smallness their due capacity—or measure. This proceeds from the merit of the Sages, and is produced by the intelligence of Spirits.
Sacrifices are offered once every twelve years; in pursuance of which the Sage fixes a certain period [for the ceremony]. Bodies have their respective measures, or capacities; in pursuance of which the Sage establishes a regular standard, assigning the different degrees in which things may be used in the morning and evening respectively,‡ and regulating the respective capacities of the breath and blood. When, in the world, the recurring intervals of sacrifices are estimated with precision, and things are employed with a due regard to their compatibility to the affair in hand, it results from the profundity of the merit of the Sages and the perspicacity of spiritual beings.
The motive-power of the Three Plunderers is invisible and undiscoverable by men generally. When the Model Man obtains it, he is enabled to p. 55 fortify his body; but when the Mean Man obtains it, he sets light store by his life.
To pilfer and use the motive-power of Heaven and Earth; to pilfer and employ the motive-power of creation at large; to pilfer and control the motive-power of my own body,—all constitute a robbery of motive-power. But there is a proper and an improper use to which such motive-power may be put; and from these two methods benefit and injury respectively result. Thus, there are those who avail themselves of it for the strengthening of their physical frame; who use both their own powers and the powers of the world around them for their own tranquillity. There are others who, having obtained it, set light store by their life; who perversely bring about their own destruction, and provoke destruction from the world around them; so that what they have obtained is far removed from them.
The blind are quick of hearing; the deaf are quick of sight. If all advantages be concentrated into a single source,* you will have ten times as many soldiers under your command as you would otherwise; and after the revolution of three days and nights you will have ten thousand times as many.
When the human Spirit is contained in the Mind, it is complete in all its completeness, in the Mind. If it be divided into three, its strength will be no longer complete. For instance, sight is not hearing; but in exercising the faculty of sight, there really is a secret appropriation of the hearing power. Hearing is not sight; but in exercising the faculty of hearing, there is really a secret appropriation of the power of vision. How do we know that this participation takes place? Thus—that the blind are quick of hearing, and the deaf quick of sight; that is how we know it. If, of these two things, one be discarded, the remaining one will obtain just so much the more power;† and thus we may know that, if anything be divided between two, both will have but little. Thus if one particular advantage be made exclusive use of, and gathered into a single source, the force at your command will be increased ten-fold. If, then, the advantage being all thus concentrated, you put forth greater energy, your force will be increased a hundred-fold, whether you be engaged in the employment of your own perceptive faculties or in that of soldiery.
The Mind is produced from matter and dies with matter; the working faculty resides in the Eye.*
Man has no Mind [as existing apart from his body]; his Eye is his mind. What the eye sees, the mind acquires; what the eye cannot see the mind does not obtain. What the eye sees is matter; what the mind knows is simply whatever object is seen with the eye.† How, then, can those who are born blind acquire knowledge? They acquire knowledge by depending on the eyes of others.
Though Heaven has no benignity, the most benign results are produced by its operations; there is nothing to which even the crashing thunderclap and the cruel wind do not impart vitality.
The very injury done to man and things is a source of benefit to them. The very death visited upon them leads to their revivification. Those who understand this law are able to govern both themselves and others.
Perfect joy consists in one's nature having abundance, or being fully satisfied; perfect tranquillity, in being contented with little.
If [man's] nature has not abundance, it is dissatisfied. Joy consists in the mind having abundance, more than it possesses capacity for Quiescence consists in the mind being as it were unsatisfied, having less than it possesses capacity for. One may use much or little according to the measure of one's faculty; and I understand the use that should be made of both.
Heaven appears most partial; but in reality its dealings are most just.
Heaven, in its relations with created beings, deals with them all differently; which seems partial in the extreme. But these differences are equalized, or harmonised, by virtue of their very differentiation,—or, harmony is evolved from these very inequalities; and thus their treatment on the part of Heaven is, in reality, most just.‡
It is on account of this apparent partiality that things attain perfection; for although they are treated unequally, such treatment is really right and just. Jutice, or equity, consists in [equitable] distribution. p. 57 Partiality, or selfishness, consists in the setting-up of one's self, and so apportioning [one's energies] as to become a match for the whole world. The selfish are such as are exclusively devoted to themselves; and exclusive devotion to any one thing results in the subtilization or refining [of the power thus cultivated]. Now all beings have their own special vitality, which is exercised by this refined or subtle faculty; thus individuality becomes lost,—[i.e., the body is as though it were not, being reduced to a mere passive instrument].* Individuality cannot be a factor in the equitable; what a man loses himself, another cannot make up to him. Great as is the Earth, there are yet men everywhere; wherefore the rain and dew descend, and overspread it. Earth gives birth to herbs, trees, birds and beasts, and receives them again at their death; the Sun and Moon shine upon her, and she is brought under the influence of their light and heat; in the course of a single year she derives in great abundance all that is thus diffused. Heaven has never yet conferred gifts, as such; but nothing that proceeds from it ever returns to it again. Thus it is that Heaven is perfectly equitable in its actions—i.e., just to all alike; but men only know that Heaven is equitable—they do not know the use made by it of partiality. The partiality, or inequitableness of Heaven is far removed from its capacity for self-sufficiency. Heaven has no affection for anything external to itself; in its exercise—or dealing with such things—it is sparing of its most subtle agencies and parsimonious of its vitalizing influences; it is only its superfluities that it dispenses abroad. It is for this reason that it is able to act without limit.† The partiality of Heaven is far greater than that of the Earth, but its equity is also far greater than the equity of the Earth; for if Heaven were not avaricious of its own, its resources would in time be exhausted, and how could men or things rely upon it any more? Wherefore partiality is the very essence of TAO, and the height of partiality proves to be the height of justice.
The Laws affecting the Animal Creation reside in the Breath, or Vital Fluid.
All things in the world confer vitality‡ upon each other; and when the use made of the material form [thus produced] is great, the injury is small. When all things use their refined and subtle essence in competing p. 58 with each other, the Breath of Vital Fluid is not called much into play, and great consequences are obtained. It afterwards becomes known that the superiority of the great over the small results from the employment of the Vital Fluid, which, hidden in the body, enables the body to confer it in its turn on others; for what power to do so has the body of itself?
Life is the root of Death; Death is the root of Life. Beneficence is produced from Injury and Injury from Beneficence.
When men seek advantage where no advantage properly exists, any advantage so acquired will be utterly nullified—or, turned into injury. If injury is sought where no injury properly exists, injury will result from [what would otherwise be] advantage. If this theory be minutely investigated, and examined by the light of the past, we may arrive at an understanding of its intrinsic or essential truth. [For instance]: winter exercises a beneficial influence in heralding the spring, while summer exercises a pernicious influence in introducing autumn.
If the stupid study the science of Heaven and Earth, they may become wise; I, by studying the science of Seasons and Things, become enlightened. Those who fear stupidity, become stupid; I, because I do not fear stupidity, am wise. Others use means with a view to becoming wise; I do not so. Wherefore it may be said that those who drown themselves in water in order to extinguish a fire, seek their own destruction.
The minute investigation of the science of Heaven and Earth suffices to confer a knowledge of Height and Depth. The minute investigation of the science of Seasons and of Things suffices to confer a knowledge of what is Subtle and Diminutive. Though others always pursue their researches among the Distant, I pursue mine amid the Near. This is quite sufficient, the Near being the necessary condition of the Distant. Wherefore, those whom others call wise, I regard as stupid. In cases where the extreme summit of all Doctrine has been reached, the epithets 'wise' and 'stupid' should both be abjured. Thus there are, among men, those who desire stupidity and those who aim at wisdom; but I neither pursue the one nor seek the other. Abiding in neither stupidity nor wisdom, I also rest not in mere enlightenment [or cleverness]. The place where my body is at ease is outside both stupidity and wisdom; it is in [the contemplation of] Times and Things that I penetrate the mysteries of the Sublime. How, then, can I run counter to those mainsprings of action which exist in the world around me? Let the Outward manifestation [of wisdom and stupidity] be once seen, and the injury inherent in both will be experienced. The one will plunge men into water and the other throw them into fire, so that in either case they will come to an untimely end.
The Principle of Spontaneity* is quiescent; and from it Heaven, Earth, and All Things are produced.
Spontaneity acts, yet acts not;† its force, or influence, is silent. If we observe the growth of vegetation, we see that the process takes place secretly in the dead of night; when we rise next day we find suddenly that there is augmentation. By this it may be known that things are born of stillness, the verification of which fact is found in the stillness of the night. But there is stillness which belongs to the day, too; and the nature of this stillness is most recondite. Yet when its greatness is investigated, what part is it not found to have played in the production of Heaven and Earth?
The Principle of Heaven and Earth is gradual in its working; so that the Yin and Yang flourish abundantly. When the Yin and Yang alternate with each other, the transmutations of the Universe flow smoothly on; for which reason the Sage knows that the Law of Spontaneity may not be opposed, and so he controls it [by gentle means].
Cold may produce the congealment of water; heat will cause the fusion of metal. These two influences are mutually antagonistic. But both, in reaching their culminating points, progress by degrees, and this law of degrees implies a gradual process, extended over a long period of time. By such a protracted process water may be changed into fire, and winter into summer. Of those who originate, or embody, ideas, and those who carry such ideas into execution, the former are characterized by quiescence, while the latter work cautiously, or step by step; and where these two things exist, everything may be accomplished. I owe all the power I possess to them. The usefulness of an axe is fulfilled in thinning out a forest; a vessel speeds along only when its sails are filled with wind. All the strength I have, I derive from quiescence, and the habit of acting gradually; all my knowledge has been conferred upon me from the same source,
The Sage acts by this Law of Gradation to transform both Things and Thoughts, and to change the expression of another's countenance; he acts by the Law of Quiescence to control all beings that move, and to fathom the motive principles of Heaven.
The Yin is antagonistic to the Yang; but now, if the principle of gradualness be brought into play, the opposition between the two will be forgotten. The Yang is entered from the Yin, and the Yin from the Yang; for both are the same fundamentally.‡ And how is this? It results from that Circularity to which Heaven conforms its external shape. Heaven is circular; circularity is the condition of its stability; and all p. 60 things thus revolving in a circle, with Heaven, pass through stages of decadence and decay. Now deteriorating, now compliant, now waning, and now dependent on one another, each gets nearer to the other the further each one goes. A superficial contemplation of what lies abroad enables one to distinguish the four points of the compass; but if a man pushes his investigations to the furthest possible limit, what does he find does not follow [the universal order]?
Seeing that the Principle of Quiescence cannot be brought under the control of calendrical computations, it needs be that there is a mysterious Receptacle [in Nature];* and from this have sprung the Myriad Simulacra, the Eight Diagrams, the Sexagenary Cycle, the potent faculties of Spirits, and the invisibility of Demons. The mystery of the antagonism between the Yin and the Yang is clearly manifest, and enters into all forms of visible existence.
The things recorded in calendars are recorded in the order of their progression; when this is not so, they are noted according to the spontaneity of their nature. Now Spontaneity is the highest form of Quiescence; what is recorded is the active, or working, phase of things; and this active phase being placed on record, the quiescent element becomes more absolutely hidden than ever. Wherefore quiescence is the mysterious Receptacle of Heaven; quiescence produces transmutation and change, and it is through this that Vital Force and Destiny exist.† Destiny takes its rise from the two constellations Emptiness and Danger;‡ and from it proceeds the Sexagenary Cycle. Days, months, years, and hours are all dated from the first stem of the Cycle, and the first of each is named Chia Tsze accordingly. The Chia Tsze being once established, the full number of the Sexagenary Cycle became completed, the four points of the compass and the four seasons were instituted, everything which has form was produced. But the root from which they all sprang was the One Spontaneous Quiescence; is not this wonderful—mysterious? We call it wonderful, but the epithet is insufficient. Wherefore it may be said, with reference to the potent faculties of spirits and the invisible element in demons, that it is from this that the spirits derive their powers inexhaustibly, and from this that demons derive their invisibility, without ceasing. Thus it may be known that the antagonism which exists between the Yin and the Yang takes its rise from this cause; and p. 61 further we may know that this antagonism does not lie in outward, visible things. When a certain destination has been reached, and the person so reaching it then passes beyond it, that is called advancing. The alternation which takes place between the Yin and the Yang constitutes their present difference; and this comes from their spontaneous nature, which constituted their difference in the past.
The Intelligent Faculty resides in the Mind; but its exercise is wholly dependent upon the existence of external objects. If there is nothing upon which to rest the thoughts, the thinking power will perforce remain unoccupied; if the intelligent faculty be not centred upon the abstruse or sublime, the thoughts will not be deep; if it be not employed upon the perplexing and that which has only the semblance of reality, the thoughts will not be able to branch off into side issues; from which it follows that this faculty must necessarily have its tally, in the shape of something objective to work upon, before it can begin to act. But if it borrows any of the foregoing objects of thought as a vehicle for itself, the faculty is still most certainly subjective—or, it still resides in me, and is at my own disposal; consequently contemplation can be pursued to the very furthest point. If one looks steadfastly at the empty air for any length of time, one begins to see tiny objects floating dimly before the eyes; if one peers into darkness for any length of time, one begins to distinguish a little light; but these appearances have no actual objectivity,—they are purely subjective, and exist only in myself. Wherefore this book, the 'Clue to the Unseen,' is intended to show men how to look for Correspondences in the Obscure; and here may be found [the explanation of] all that perplexes, and which has only the semblance of reality. Whether one desires to use this book to nourish the body, or to assist him in military tactics, both objects may be attained. If one holds a definite object in view, the course to attain it should be followed with a single mind; for a multiplicity of ideas will never agree with one another—they are mutually incompatible. Yet can it be said that this teaching is deceptive and far-fetched? The myriad changes and transformations which take place in the world are all included under one law; wherefore the Yî Ching deals with all existing simulacra as they are pourtrayed in the Ho-t‘u and the Lo-shu.* If a small portion [of this principle] be applied, or brought into coincidence, with created things, it is not that this will environ or comprehend them all equally; it is that p. 62 all things are really one [in their reception of the influences of Heaven]. Those who understand this cause, wherever their eyes and ears may reach, will all be able to recognise the hidden correspondences of Nature, and will not need to study the 'Clue to the Unseen' itself. Only let the doctrine here taught be brought face to face with [the phenomena of] Heaven and Earth, and it will prove to have sprung from the Radical, the Great, and the Primordial. Thus the Five Elements act with a view to beneficence; the Sage alone regards them in the light of robbers. The myriad transmutations take place with a view to utility; the Sage alone regards them as destructive. The nine openings exist with a view to what is right and proper; the Sage alone regards them as the means of abuse. All things contribute to each other's growth, or welfare; the Sage alone regards them all as plunderers. But in observing the immediate sequel of these phenomena, men fail to get a knowledge of their ultimate destiny or aim; so that the affairs of the world are some of them in good repute, while others are looked upon as evil, ordinary reason being pointed at as the essence of all knowledge! Therefore, I recognise good influences in robbery itself; I can distinguish utility in the midst of destruction; I can find advantage in the midst of plunder, and gather what is of real consequence out of the midst of abuses. An absence of all benignity (passionlessness) constitutes Law—or, the Principle of Nature; utter partiality constitutes super-excellence; while the Six Evils contain in themselves the gist and essence of this 'Clue to the Unseen.'
* Rain—which is the influence of the element Wood: Fine Weather—the influence of the element Metal: Heat—the influence of the element Fire: Cold—the influence of the element Water: and Wind—the influence of the element Earth.
† The Five Breaths or Afflati represent, in the order in which they stand, the Five so-called Elements of Nature—see above, Note.* Thus Earth, or that which is in the Centre, may be injured by Wood.—q.d., implements of husbandry; Water by Earth—the solid and fluid being mutually opposed; Fire by Water—the latter extinguishing the former; Metal by Fire—as being melted by it; while Wood is liable to be cut and spoiled by Metal.
* Referring to the theory put forward in the italicised text, that Man is the Moral Nature of Heaven. I think I may claim to have translated this most enigmatical passage correctly. The Chinese runs as follows: ###.
† Invisible agents become supernaturally visible.
‡ That is, the stars and constellations, which are the countenance of Heaven, are all disturbed and thrown into confusion when Heaven is angry; just as the face of a man becomes distorted when the man is in a rage. Each of these short sections is simply an amplification of its heading.
* According to the English proverb that Heaven only helps those who help themselves.
† For instance, the antagonism of water to fire is of great use to matter in the case of a conflagration; and matter thus reaps the benefit.
‡ The idea evidently is that ### and ### are the ### of which ### and ### are respectively the ###.
* Possibly referring to the Holy or Ideal Man, who is said in some mystic sense to be the creator of the world. Or it may mean that many things owe their existence to the energies of man, as vegetable productions, which are sown and reared by human Instrumentality.
† The Chinese idiom is here puzzling in the extreme: ###.
‡ Here again the text is most difficult to make anything of. It runs ###.
* This is the translation of a very obscure idiom in the original: ###. It occurs in the ### of Huang T‘ing-chien, where it is followed by the phrase ###.
† This reminds us of a scene in the Malade Imaginaire, where Toinette recommends Argan to poke out one of his eyes in order that he may see better with the other.
* This short section is peculiarly interesting as embodying a bold denial of any future life or the existence of spirit apart from matter.
† All knowledge is objective; the mind has no subjective existence or perceptions. It is as it were, created by the object perceived, just as colour is produced by the rays of light which are thrown back from the object instead of being absorbed. Light is a necessary condition of colour; if there were no light, colour could not exist; and similarly if there were no external object of perception there would be no perceptive faculty—no mind. The same idea occurs in Chuang Tsze, where it is affirmed that a road has no actual objective existence; it is the act of walking which produces the road, and if no one walked the road would not exist.
‡ In other words, a law of compensation runs through the whole economy of Nature; the rigour of northern climates being accompanied by a plentiful supply of fur for the protection of the inhabitants—and so on. See the first chapter of Huai-nan Tsze, where this idea is gone into at some length.
* This passage runs as follows: ###. It seems capable of another and less abstract rendering, in which would be synonymous with ###; but although I do not claim more than an approximation to accuracy for the translation given above, I hesitate to adopt the physiological interpretation, as irrelevant to the context.
† Its resources are never exhausted because always carefully husbanded; therefore the apparent parsimony of Heaven is really just and wise.
‡ Literally, the coarse; that is, the ###, in opposition to the ### or subtle essence.
* Including both self-existence and spontaneous or natural action. The phrase in the original is ###.
† Or, accomplishes ends by not acting. Or again, acts as though not acting.
‡ In the text, "both belong to the same category or order."
* Compare Tao Tê Ching, chap. LXII.
† For an example of the character ### being used in the sense of destiny, see the Shu Ching, where Yao addresses Shun, saying, ###. It means the appointment of Heaven, the unavoidabe lot.
‡ Two of the Twenty-eight Constellations or Stellar Mansions. "Emptiness" ### consists of two stars in a straight line, viz., Beta in the left shoulder of Aquarius and Alpha in the forehead of Equuleus. 'Danger' ### consists of three stars, in the shape of an obtuse-angle, viz., Alpha in the right shoulder of Aquarius, Epsilon or Enif, and Theta in the head of Pegasus.—MAYERS.
* The mystic scrolls presented to Fu Hsi by the river-dragon in the guise of a tortoise. The sentence in question might perhaps be translated with considerable amplification, thus: "Wherefore the Yî Ching comprehends, under this doctrine, all existing simulacra—[this doctrine] having been set forth in the Ho-t‘u and Lo-shu."