Neiye 內業: Inward Cultivation

translated by Bruce Linnell  edited by O Society


凡 物 之 精 Always : the essence of creatures –
此 則 為 生 This then makes them live.
下 生 五 穀 Below, it gives birth to the five grains;
上 為 列 星 Above, it acts to arrange the stars.
流 於 天 地 之 間 When it flows in the space between heaven and earth
謂 之 鬼 神 We call them ghosts and spirits.
藏 於 胸 中 When it collects in the center of the breast of people,
謂 之 聖 人 We call them sages.
是 故 民 氣 Thus the Qi of the citizens :
杲 乎 Is it bright?
如 登 於 天 As though ascending to heaven.
杳 乎 Is it dark and quiet?
如 入 於 淵 As though entering into an abyss.
綽 乎 Is it wide and spacious?
如 在 於 海 As though residing in the ocean.
卒 乎 Is it close?
如 在 於 己 As though residing in oneself.
是 故 此 氣 也 Thus this Qi –
不 可 止 以 力 Can not be brought to rest by using force,
而 可 安 以 德 But can be calmed by using De.
不 可 呼 以 聲 Can not be summoned by using your voice,
而 可 迎 以 意 But can be made welcome by using your intent.
敬 守 勿 失 When you can respectfully maintain it, and never lose it,
是 謂 成 德 This is called developed De.
德 成 而 智 出 When De develops, and wisdom arises,
萬 物 果 得 The bounty of the ten thousand creatures is attained.


凡 心 之 形 Always : the form of the heart/mind is
自 充 自 盈 Naturally full, naturally overflowing,
自 生 自 成 Naturally born, naturally complete.
其 所 以 失 之 The reason that you lose it
必 以 憂 樂 喜 怒 欲 利 Is certainly due to worries and happiness, love and anger, desire for profit.
能 去 憂 樂 喜 怒 欲 利 If you can leave behind worries and happiness, love and anger, desire for profit,
心 乃 反 濟 Your heart/mind then returns [to its original nature] successfully.
彼 心 之 情 The nature of that heart/mind
利 安 以 寧 Benefits from calmness and the tranquility that comes from it.
勿 煩 勿 亂 Do not be troubled, do not be confused,
和 乃 自 成 And harmony is then naturally achieved.
晢 晢 乎 Is it very bright?
如 在 於 側 As though located right by your side.
忽 忽 乎 Is it very easy to overlook?
如 將 不 得 As though it will never be attained.
渺 渺 乎 Is it very remote and indistinct?
如 窮 無 極 As though utterly without boundaries.
此 稽 不 遠 To examine this, you need not go far:
日 用 其 德 You use De daily.


夫 道 者 所 以 充 形 也 Now : Dao is the reason that the form [of the heart/mind] is full!
而 人 不 能 固 But people can not be strong enough to keep it –
其 往 不 復 It goes and does not return,
其 來 不 舍 It arrives but does not dwell.
寂 乎 Is it silent?
莫 聞 其 音 There is no one who can hear its sound.
卒 乎 Is it close?
乃 在 於 心 It is residing in the heart/mind.
冥 冥 乎 Is it very dim and obscure?
不 見 其 形 You can not see its form.
淫 淫 乎 Is it very prolific?
與 我 俱 生 It gives us all life.
不 見 其 形 You can not see its form,
不 聞 其 聲 You can not hear its voice,
而 序 其 成 Yet there is an order to its accomplishments.
謂 之 道 We call it Dao.


凡 道 無 所 Always : Dao is nowhere to be found,
善 心 安 處 But in a virtuous heart/mind it can calmly dwell.
心 靜 氣 理 When the heart/mind is still and Qi is regulated,
道 乃 可 止 Dao can then stay there.
彼 道 不 遠 That Dao is not remote :
民 得 以 產 Citizens attain it by being born.
彼 道 不 離 That Dao does not depart :
民 因 以 知 Citizens rely on it for understanding.
是 故 卒 乎 Thus : is it close?
其 如 可 與 索 As though it could be tied together with you.
眇 眇 乎 Is it very minute and subtle?
其 如 窮 無 所 As though it is utterly nowhere to be found.
彼 道 之 情 The nature of that Dao
惡 意 與 聲 Detests thoughts and words about it.
修 心 靜 意 But when you cultivate your heart/mind and still your thoughts,
道 乃 可 得 Dao can then be attained.


道 也 者 Dao –
口 之 所 不 能 言 也 That which your mouth can not speak!
目 之 所 不 能 視 也 That which your eyes can not see!
耳 之 所 不 能 聽 也 That which your ears can not hear!
所 以 修 心 而 正 形 也 It is the reason we cultivate the heart/mind and properly align [its] form!
人 之 所 失 以 死 That which when people lose, thus they die.
所 得 以 生 也 That which when attained, thus they are born!
事 之 所 失 以 敗 That which when duties lose, thus they fail.
所 得 以 成 也 That which when attained, thus they are completed!
凡 道 Always : Dao is
無 根 無 莖 Without root, without stalk,
無 葉 無 榮 Without leaves, without flowers.
萬 物 以 生 By means of it the ten thousand creatures are born,
萬 物 以 成 By means of it the ten thousand creatures are made complete.
命 之 曰 道 This [natural] order, it is called Dao.


天 主 正 That which presides over Heaven is proper alignment,
地 主 平 That which presides over Earth is equability,
人 主 安 靜 That which presides over people is calmness and stillness.
春 秋 冬 夏 Spring, autumn, winter, summer –
天 之 時 也 The timing of heaven!
山 陵 川 谷 Mountains, hills, streams, valleys –
地 之 枝 也 The limbs of the earth!
喜 怒 取 予 Love, anger, taking, giving –
人 之 謀 也 The schemes of the people!
是 故 聖 人 Thus the sage :
與 時 變 而 不 化 Takes part in the changing of the seasons, but is not transformed;
從 物 而 不 移 He attends to creatures, but is not changed by them.Dzhu-Da-Pejzazhnyj-kvartet.jpg能 正 能 靜 When you can be properly aligned and can be still –
然 後 能 定 Then, you can be settled.
定 心 在 中 With a settled heart/mind in your center,
耳 目 聰 明 Your ears and eyes are acute and clear,
四 枝 堅 固 Your four limbs are hard and strong,
可 以 為 精 舍 You are able to become a dwelling for essence.
精 也 者 This essence –
氣 之 精 者 也 Is essence of Qi!
氣 道 乃 生 With Qi and Dao, then there is life;
生 乃 思 With life, then there is contemplation;
思 乃 知 With contemplation, then there is understanding;
知 乃 止 矣 When you reach understanding, then stop!
凡 心 之 形 Always : if the form of the heart/mind
過 知 失 生 Has too much understanding, life is lost.


一 物 能 化 Knowing the Oneness with creatures can transform them,
謂 之 神 We call this being spirit-like.
一 事 能 變 Knowing the Oneness with your duties can change them,
謂 之 智 We call this being wise.
化 不 易 氣 To transform creatures, without altering your Qi;
變 不 易 智 To change duties, without altering your wisdom;
惟 執 一 之 君 子 Only a noble man who maintains Oneness
能 為 此 乎 Can do this!
執 一 不 失 When he maintains Oneness and does not lose it,
能 君 萬 物 He can rule the ten thousand creatures.
君 子 使 物 A noble man uses creatures,
不 為 物 使 He does not allow creatures to use him.
得 一 之 理 When he attains the regulation of Oneness :
治 心 在 於 中 A regulated heart/mind resides in his center,
治 言 出 於 口 Regulated speech comes from his mouth,
治 事 加 於 人 Regulated duties are assigned to people.
然 則 天 下 治 矣 Then, the world is regulated!
一 言 得 而 天 下 服 One word is attained by him, and the world obeys him;
一 言 定 而 天 下 聽 One word settles him, and the world listens to him.
公 之 謂 也 We call him fair and just!


形 不 正 If the form [of the heart/mind] is not properly aligned,
德 不 來 De will not arrive.
中 不 靜 If the center is not still,
心 不 治 The heart/mind will not be regulated.
正 形 攝 德 When the properly aligned form takes in De,
天 仁 地 義 The kindness of heaven and the righteousness of earth
則 淫 然 而 自 至 Then naturally arrive, and overwhelmingly.
神 明 之 極 This highest of spirit-like understanding –
照 乎 Is it illuminating?
知 萬 物 You will understand the ten thousand creatures.
中 義 守 不 忒 Maintain the righteousness of the center, and you will not err :
不 以 物 亂 官 Do not allow creatures to confuse your senses,
不 以 官 亂 心 Do not allow the senses to confuse your heart/mind.
是 謂 中 得 This is called attaining the center.


有 神 自 在 身 There exists a spirit[-like understanding] naturally located in the self –
一 往 一 來 One moment it goes, one moment it arrives;
莫 之 能 思 There is no one who can contemplate it.
失 之 必 亂 Lose it and you will certainly be confused,
得 之 必 治 Attain it and you will certainly be regulated.
敬 除 其 舍 Respectfully empty its dwelling,
精 將 自 來 And essence will naturally arrive.
精 想 思 之 This essence – consider it and contemplate it,
寧 念 治 之 Rather than study ways to regulate it.
嚴 容 畏 敬 Keeping a serious appearance, and an attitude of awe and respect,
精 將 至 定 Essence will arrive and settle.
得 之 而 勿 捨 When you attain it and never let go of it,
耳 目 不 淫 Your ears and eyes will be restrained,
心 無 他 圖 Your heart/mind will have no other plans.
正 心 在 中 With a properly aligned heart/mind located in the center,
萬 物 得 度 The ten thousand creatures attain their proper value.


道 滿 天 下 Dao fills the world
普 在 民 所 Every place the citizens are located,
民 不 能 知 也 But the citizens can not understand this!
一 言 之 解 With the liberation of one word:
上 察 於 天 Your head can observe what is in heaven,
下 極 於 地 Your lowest extreme is on earth,
蟠 滿 九 州 And your coils fill the nine provinces.
何 謂 解 之 What does it mean to be liberated by it?
在 於 心 安 You will reside in a calm heart/mind.
我 心 治 官 乃 治 I regulate my heart/mind and my senses are then regulated;
我 心 安 官 乃 安 I calm my heart/mind and my senses are then calm.
治 之 者 心 也 That which regulates them is the heart/mind!
安 之 者 心 也 That which calms them is the heart/mind!
心 以 藏 心 The heart/mind thus contains a heart/mind;
心 之 中 又 有 心 焉 The center of the heart/mind also has a heart/mind!
彼 心 之 心 In that heart/mind of the heart/mind :
意 以 先 言 Thought thus comes before words;
意 然 後 形 After thought comes form;
形 然 後 言 After form comes words;
言 然 後 使 After words comes manifestation;
使 然 後 治 After manifestation comes regulation.
不 治 必 亂 Without regulation, there will certainly be confusion;
亂 乃 死 Confusion, then death.


精 存 自 生 Where essence exists, there is naturally life –
其 外 安 榮 Outside you, calmness flourishes;
內 藏 以 為 泉 原 It collects inside you, thus acting as a primal spring.
浩 然 和 平 Like a vast lake, it is harmonious and equable.
以 為 氣 淵 It thus becomes a fountainhead of Qi.
淵 之 不 涸 As long as the fountainhead does not dry up,
四 體 乃 固 The four limbs are then strong.
泉 之 不 竭 When the spring is not used up,
九 竅 遂 通 The nine bodily openings are then open [to the flow of Qi].
乃 能 窮 天 地 Then you can span the limits of heaven and earth,
被 四 海 And cover the four seas.
中 無 惑 意 When the center is without doubt or desire,
外 無 邪 菑 The outside is without demonic disasters.
心 全 於 中 Those whose heart/mind is whole and complete in the center :
形 全 於 外 Their form is whole and complete on the outside,
不 逢 天 菑 They do not happen to meet heavenly disasters,
不 遇 人 害 They do not encounter people who cause harm –
謂 之 聖 人 We call them sages.


人 能 正 靜 When people can be properly aligned and still :
皮 膚 裕 寬 Their hair and skin are abundant and smooth,
耳 目 聰 明 Their ears and eyes are acute and clear,
筋 伸 而 骨 強 Their muscles are supple and their bones are strong.
乃 能 戴 大 圜 Then they can support the great circle of heaven,
而 履 大 方 And walk on the great square of earth.
鑒 於 大 清 They are a reflection of great purity,
視 於 大 明 They see with great clarity.
敬 慎 無 忒 Respectful and cautious, they are without error;
日 新 其 德 Each day they renew their De.
遍 知 天 下 They understand the whole world
窮 於 四 極 Thoroughly out to the four extremes.
敬 發 其 充 They respectfully* develop their fullness;
是 謂 內 得 This is called inner attainment.
然 而 不 反 However, if they do not return [to their original nature],
此 生 之 忒 This creates errors.


凡 道 Always : Dao is
必 周 必 密 Certainly complete, certainly all-pervasive,
必 寬 必 舒 Certainly magnanimous, certainly relaxed,
必 堅 必 固 Certainly hard, certainly strong.
守 善 勿 舍 Maintain your virtue and never give up;
逐 淫 釋 薄 To pursue excess disperses and weakens it.
既 知 其 極 Once you understand the extremes,
反 於 道 德 Return to Dao and De.


全 心 在 中 When your whole and complete heart/mind is in the center,
不 可 蔽 匿 It can not be hidden or concealed –
知 於 形 容 It is known in your form‟s appearance,
見 於 膚 色 It is seen in your skin‟s color.
善 氣 迎 人 When with virtuous Qi you meet people,
親 於 弟 兄 They will love you as they would their brothers.
惡 氣 迎 人 When with wicked Qi you meet people,
害 於 戎 兵 They will harm you with their weapons of war.
不 言 之 聲 This is because the sound of that which is un-spoken
疾 於 雷 鼓 Travels faster than a clap of thunder.
心 氣 之 形 The form of the heart/mind‟s Qi
明 於 日 月 Is brighter than the sun and moon,
察 於 父 母 More observant than a father or mother.
賞 不 足 以 勸 善 Rewards are not enough to encourage virtue,
刑 不 足 以 懲 過 Punishments are not enough to discipline excesses.
氣 意 得 而 天 下 服 Qi‟s intent is attained, and the world obeys;
心 意 定 而 天 下 聽 The heart/mind‟s intent becomes settled, and the world listens.


搏 氣 如 神 Because they consolidate Qi like spirits,
萬 物 備 存 The ten thousand creatures are prepared for existence.
能 搏 乎 Can you consolidateR it?
能 一 乎 Can you unify it?
能 無 卜 筮 而 知 吉 凶 乎 Can you foretell bad fortune and good fortune, but without divining?
能 止 乎 Can you then stop?
能 己 乎 Can you?
能 勿 求 諸 人 How can you never seek it from anyone,
而 得 之 己 乎 Yet attain it yourself?
思 之 思 之 又 重 思 之 Contemplate it, contemplate it, and again repeatedly contemplate it.
思 之 而 不 通 Should you contemplate it yet not comprehend it,
鬼 神 將 通 之 Know that ghosts and spirits can comprehend it.
非 鬼 神 之 力 也 However, it is not comprehended by the power of ghosts and spirits –
精 氣 之 極 也 But by the utmost of essence‟s Qi!


四 體 既 正 Once the four limbs are properly aligned,
血 氣 既 靜 Once blood and Qi are still :
一 意 搏 心 Unify your intent, consolidate your heart/mind;
耳 目 不 淫 And the ears and eyes will be restrained
雖 遠 若 近 Even though what is remote seems near.
思 索 生 知 Deep contemplation creates understanding;
慢 易 生 憂 Disdain and laxity creates worries;
暴 傲 生 怨 Cruelty and arrogance creates resentment;
憂 鬱 生 疾 Worries and melancholy create sickness.
疾 因 乃 死 Sickness then causes death.
思 之 而 不 捨 If you contemplate these and do not let go of them,
內 困 外 薄 Inside you will be distressed, outside you will be weak.
不 蚤 為 圖 Do not neglect to make plans for this,
生 將 讓 舍 Or life will leave its dwelling.
食 莫 若 無 飽 Do not eat as if you were starving,
思 莫 若 勿 致 Do not contemplate as if you were indifferent.
節 適 之 齊 When you restrain these appropriately and simultaneously,
彼 將 自 至 That [Dao] will naturally arrive.


凡 人 之 生 也 Always : at the birth of people –
天 出 其 精 Heaven produces their essence,
地 出 其 形 Earth produces their form;
合 此 以 為 人 These combine in order to make people.
和 乃 生 When these are in harmony then there is life;
不 和 不 生 No harmony, no life.
察 和 之 道 Observe the Dao of harmony :
其 精 不 見 Its essence is not seen,
其 徵 不 醜 Its manifestations are not wicked.
平 正 擅 匈 When equability and proper alignment completely fill your breast,
論 治 在 心 And the principles of regulation are in your heart/mind,
此 以 長 壽 This gives long life.
喜 怒 之 失 度 When love and anger lose their proper value,
乃 為 之 圖 Then use this plan of action :
節 其 五 欲 Restrain your five desires,
去 其 二 凶 Leave behind your two misfortunes –
不 喜 不 怒 Do not love, do not be angry.
平 正 擅 匈 Then equability and proper alignment will completely fill your breast.


凡 人 之 生 也 Always : at the birth of people –
必 以 平 正 They certainly have equability and proper alignment.
所 以 失 之 The reason that they lose it
必 以 喜 怒 憂 患 Is certainly due to love, anger, worries, suffering.
是 故 止 怒 莫 若 詩 Thus : there is nothing that stops anger like poetry,
去 憂 莫 若 樂 There is nothing that removes worries like music,
節 樂 莫 若 禮 There is nothing that restrains music like propriety,
守 禮 莫 若 敬 There is nothing that maintains propriety like respect.
守 敬 莫 若 靜 [But,] there is nothing that maintains respect like stillness.
內 靜 外 敬 Inwardly still and outwardly respectful,
能 反 其 性 You can return to your [original] nature,
性 將 大 定 And your nature will be exceptionally settled.


凡 食 之 道 Always : regarding the Dao of eating –
大 充 傷 而 形 不 臧 Over-filling causes injury, and your form will not be right;
大 攝 骨 枯 而 血 沍 Over-fastingW makes your bones wither and your blood congeal.
充 攝 之 間 When you reach the space between filling and fasting,
此 謂 和 成 This is called achieving harmony –
精 之 所 舍 That which is the dwelling place of essence
而 知 之 所 生 And that which is the creation of understanding.
飢 飽 之 失 度 When hunger and satiation lose their proper value,
乃 為 之 圖 Then use this plan of action :
飽 則 疾 動 When you are satiated, then move about quickly.
飢 則 曠 思 When you are hungry, then neglect your contemplation.
老 則 長 慮 When you are old, then take charge of your concerns.
飽 不 疾 動 If you are satiated and do not move about quickly,
氣 不 通 於 四 末 Your Qi will be obstructed in your four extremities.
飢 不 曠 思 If you are hungry and do not neglect your contemplation,
飽 而 不 廢 When you eat you will get full but you will not stop.
老 不 長 慮 If you are old and do not take charge of your concerns,
困 乃 速 竭 When you are distressed, then you will be quickly exhausted.



大 心 而 放 When you expand your heart/mind and free it,
寬 氣 而 廣 When your Qi is magnanimous and vast,
其 形 安 而 不 移 When your form is calm and unchanging :
能 守 一 而 棄 萬 苟 You can maintain Oneness and reject the ten thousand trivialities,
見 利 不 誘 You see profit and are not tempted,
見 害 不 懼 You see trouble and are not frightened.
寬 舒 而 仁 You are magnanimous, relaxed, and kind;
獨 樂 其 身 When alone, you are happy with your self.
是 謂 雲 氣 This is called cloud-like Qi –
意 行 似 天 Your intent and behavior resemble that of heaven.

Zhang Daoling.jpg

凡 人 之 生 也 Always : at the birth of people –
必 以 其 歡 They certainly have joy.
憂 則 失 紀 When they are worried, then they lose these tenets.
怒 則 失 端 When they are angry, then they lose the source.
憂 悲 喜 怒 Where there is worry, grief, love, anger,
道 乃 無 處 Then Dao does not dwell.
愛 慾 靜 之 Love and desire : still them.
愚 亂 正 之 Foolishness and confusion : properly align them.
勿 引 勿 推 When you do not pull and do not push,
福 將 自 歸 Good fortune will naturally return to you :
彼 道 自 來 That Dao will naturally arrive,
可 藉 與 謀 Which you can rely on and consult with.
靜 則 得 之 When you are still, then you attain it,
躁 則 失 之 When you are impatient, then you lose it.

Zhang Guo Lao.jpg

靈 氣 在 心 This potent Qi in your heart/mind :
一 來 一 逝 One moment it arrives, one moment it departs.
其 細 無 內 It is so tiny there is nothing inside it,
其 大 無 外 It is so great there is nothing outside it.
所 以 失 之 The reason that you lose it
以 躁 為 害 Is because impatience causes harm.
心 能 執 靜 When the heart/mind can maintain stillness,
道 將 自 定 Dao will naturally settle there.
得 道 之 人 For people who attain Dao :
理 丞 而 屯 泄 Regulation supports it and it will not dissipate easily,
匈 中 無 敗 So that the center in their breast does not fail them.
節 欲 之 道 When following the Dao of restraining desire,
萬 物 不 害 The ten thousand creatures do not cause harm.





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