Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism

Paperback | November 24, 2004

Translated byHarold D. Roth

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Revolutionizing received opinion of Taoism's origins in light of historic new discoveries, Harold D. Roth has uncovered China's oldest mystical text-the original expression of Taoist philosophy-and presents it here with a complete translation and commentary.

Over the past twenty-five years, documents recovered from the tombs of China's ancient elite have sparked a revolution in scholarship about early Chinese thought, in particular the origins of Taoist philosophy and religion. In Original Tao, Harold D. Roth exhumes the seminal text of Taoism-Inward Training (Nei-yeh)-not from a tomb but from the pages of the Kuan Tzu, a voluminous text on politics and economics in which this mystical tract had been "buried" for centuries.

Inward Training is composed of short poetic verses devoted to the practice of breath meditation, and to the insights about the nature of human beings and the form of the cosmos derived from this practice. In its poetic form and tone, the work closely resembles the Tao-te Ching; moreover, it clearly evokes Taoism's affinities to other mystical traditions, notably aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Roth argues that Inward Training is the foundational text of early Taoism and traces the book to the mid-fourth century B.C. (the late Warring States period in China). These verses contain the oldest surviving expressions of a method for mystical "inner cultivation," which Roth identifies as the basis for all early Taoist texts, including the Chuang Tzu and the world-renowned Tao-te Ching. With these historic discoveries, he reveals the possibility of a much deeper continuity between early "philosophical" Taoism and the later Taoist religion than scholars had previously suspected.

Original Tao contains an elegant and luminous complete translation of the original text. Roth's comprehensive analysis explains what Inward Training meant to the people who wrote it, how this work came to be "entombed" within the Kuan Tzu, and why the text was largely overlooked after the early Han period.

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From the Publisher

Revolutionizing received opinion of Taoism's origins in light of historic new discoveries, Harold D. Roth has uncovered China's oldest mystical text-the original expression of Taoist philosophy-and presents it here with a complete translation and commentary.Over the past twenty-five years, documents recovered from the tombs of China's...

Harold D. Roth is professor of religious studies and East Asian studies at Brown University. He is the author of The Textual History of the Huai-Nan Tzu.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 6.1 × 9.1 × 0.6 inPublished:November 24, 2004Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231115652

ISBN - 13:9780231115650

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Table of Contents

IntroductionA Textual Revolution"Textual Archaeology"A "Mystical Hermeneutic"The Significance of Inward TrainingBeyond "Lao-Chuang"Chapter 1: The Text of Inward TrainingThe Literary Genre of Inward TrainingThe Nature and Filiation of the Kuan Tzu CollectionThe Formation of the Kuan Tzu CollectionThe Dating and Authorship of Inward TrainingA Confucian Inward Training?Chapter 2: A Critical Edition and Translation of Inward TrainingThe Critical Edition of Inward TrainingTechnical TerminologyTranslation of Inward TrainingChapter 3: The Teachings of Inward TrainingA Thematic Overview of Inward TrainingThe Philosophical Foundations of Inward TrainingCosmology: Vital Essence and the WayPsychological Dimensions: Tranquility Inner Power, and the Numinous MindThe Practice of Inner Cultivation in Inward TrainingThe Fourfold AligningThe Cultivated MindThe OneThe Holistic Benefits of Inner CultivationChapter 4: Inward Training in the Context of Early Taoist MysticismWhat Is Mysticism?The Mysticism of Inward TrainingMystical Practice in Inward TrainingMystical Experience in Inward TrainingMystical Philosophy in Inward TrainingInward Training and the Lao TzuInward Training and the Chuang TzuThe Stages of Meditation in Inner Cultivation PracticeInner Cultivation and Physical HygieneChapter 5: Inward Training in the Context of Early TaoismTowards a Definition of Early TaoismThe Six Schools of Ssu-ma T'anThe "Techniques of the Way"Inward Training and the Lao TzuInward Training and the "Lore of the Way"A New Approach to the Evolution of Early TaoismInward Training and Early TaoismNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In his rigorous scholarship of textual archaeology and mystical hermeneutics, Harold Roth has given us invaluable insights, the analytical tools and a perspective to examine the religious traditions of not only China, but of the rest of the world as well. Original Tao is an outstanding contribution to the study of early Taoist religion and thought. No one who is interested in these subjects will be able to ignore it.