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East Asian History Sourcebook:

The Yin Fu King, or Classic of the Harmony of the Seen and Unseen, c. 800 CE

Chapter I.

1. If one observes the Dao, and maintains Its doings as his own, all that he has to do is accomplished.

2. To Dao there belong the five mutual foes, and he who sees them and understands their operation apprehends how they produce prosperity. The same five foes are in the mind of man, and when he can set them in action after the manner of Dao, all space and time are at his disposal, and all things receive their transformations from his person.

3. The nature of Dao belongs also to Man; the mind of Man is a spring of power. When the Dao is established, the Course of Man is thereby determined.

4. When Dao puts forth its power of putting to death, the stars and constellations lie hidden in darkness. When Earth puts forth its power of putting to death, dragons and serpents appear on the dry ground. When Man puts forth his power of putting to death, Dao and Earth resume their proper course. When Dao and Man exert their powers in concert, all transformations have their commencements determined.

5. The nature of man is here clever and there stupid; and the one of these qualities may lie hidden in the other. The abuse of the nine apertures is chiefly in the three most important, which may be now in movement and now at rest. When fire arises in wood, the evil, having once begun, is sure to go on to the destruction of the wood. When calamity arises in a State, if thereafter movement ensue, it is sure to go to ruin.

When one conducts the work of culture and refining wisely we call him a Sage.

Chapter II.

1. For Dao now to give life and now to take it away is the method of the Dao. Dao and Earth are the despoilers of all things; all things are the despoilers of Man; and Man is the despoiler of all things. When the three despoilers act as they ought to do, as the three Powers, they are at rest. Hence it is said, "During the time of nourishment, all the members are properly regulated; when the springs of motion come into play, all transformations quietly take place."

2. Men know the mysteriousness of the Spirit's action, but they do not know how what is not Spiritual comes to be so. The sun and moon have their definite times, and their exact measures as large and small. The service of the sages hereupon arises, and the spiritual intelligence becomes apparent.

3. The spring by which the despoilers are moved is invisible and unknown to all under the sky. When the superior man has got it, he strengthens his body by it; when the small man has got it, he makes light of his life.


Chapter III.

1. The blind hear well, and the deaf see well. To derive all that is advantageous from one source is ten times better than the employment of a host; to do this thrice in a day and night is a myriad times better.

2. The mind is quickened to activity by external things, and dies through excessive pursuit of them. The spring of the mind's activity is in the eyes. Dao has no special feeling of kindness, but so it is that the greatest kindness comes from It. The crash of thunder and the blustering wind both come without design.

3. Perfect enjoyment is the overflowing satisfaction of the nature. Perfect stillness is the entire disinterestedness of it. When Dao seems to be most wrapt up in Itself, Its operation is universal in its character.

4. It is by its breath that we control whatever creature we grasp. Life is the root of death, and death is the root of life. Kindness springs from injury and injury springs from kindness. He who sinks himself in water or enters amidst fire brings destruction on himself.

5. The stupid man by studying the phenomena and laws of Dao and earth becomes sage; by studying their times and productions he becomes intelligent. He in his stupidity is perplexed about sageness; I in my freedom from stupidity am the same. He considers his sageness as being an extraordinary attainment; I do not consider mine so.

6. The method of spontaneity proceeds in stillness, and so it was that Dao, earth, and all things were produced. The method of Dao and earth proceeds gently and gradually, and thus it is that the Yin and Yang overcome each other by turns. The one takes the place of the other, and so change and transformation proceed accordingly.

7. Therefore the sages, knowing that the method of spontaneity can not be resisted, take action accordingly and regulate it for the purpose of culture. The way of perfect stillness cannot be subjected to numerical calculations; but it would seem that there is a wonderful machinery, by which all the heavenly bodies are produced, the eight diagrams, and the sexagenary cycle; spirit-like springs of power, and hidden ghostliness; the arts of the Yin and Yang in the victories of the one over the other: all these come brightly forward into visibility.



From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. XII, Medieval China, pp. 227-230.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet East Asian History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, July1998

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