Mr. Wylie says (Notes, p. 179) that the Pivot of Jade is much used in the ritual services of Tâoism, meaning that it is frequently read in the assemblies of its monks. The object of the Treatise, according to Li Hsî-yüeh, is 'to teach men to discipline and refine their spirit;' and he illustrates the name by referring to the North Star, which is called 'the Pivot of the Sky,' revolving in its place, and carrying round with it all the other heavenly bodies. So the body of man is carried round his spirit and by it, and when the spirit has been disciplined and refined, till it is freed from every obscuring influence, and becomes solid, soft, and strong as jade, the name, 'the Pivot of Jade,' is appropriate to it.
The name of the Treatise, when given at full length, is--'The True Classic of the Pivot of Jade, delivered by the Heaven-Honoured One, Who produces Universal Transformation by the Sound of His Thunder.' To this personage, as Wylie observes, the Tâoists attribute a fabulous antiquity, but there is little doubt that the author was a Hsüan-yang Dze, about the time of the Yüan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1367). From the work of Wang Khî (ch. 243), we learn that this Hsüan-yang Dze was the denomination of Au-yang Yü-yüen, a scion of the famous Âu-yang family. What he says is to the following effect:--
1. The Heaven-honoured One says, 'All you, Heaven-endowed men, who wish to be instructed
about the Perfect Tâo, the Perfect Tâo is very recondite, and by nothing else but Itself can it be described. Since ye wish to hear about it, ye cannot do so by the hearing of the ear:--that which eludes both the ears and eyes is the True Tâo; what can be heard and seen perishes, and only this survives. There is (much) that you have not yet learned, and especially you have not acquired this! Till you have learned what the ears do not hear, how can the Tâo be spoken about at all?' 1_1
2. The Heaven-honoured One says, 'Sincerity is the first step towards (the knowledge of) the Tâo; it is by silence that that knowledge is maintained; it is with gentleness that (the Tâo) is employed. The employment of sincerity looks like stupidity; the employment of silence looks like difficulty of utterance; the employment of gentleness looks like want of ability. But having attained to this, you may
forget all bodily form; you may forget your personality; you may forget that you are forgetting.' 2_1
3. 'He who has taken the first steps towards (the knowledge of) the Tâo knows where to stop; he who maintains the Tâo in himself knows how to be diligently vigilant; he who employs It knows what is most subtle.
'When one knows what is most subtle, the light of intelligence grows (around him); when he can know how to be diligently vigilant, his sage wisdom becomes complete; when he knows where to stop, he is grandly composed and restful.
'When he is grandly composed and restful, his sage wisdom becomes complete; when his sage wisdom becomes complete, the light of intelligence grows (around him); when the light of intelligence grows around him, he is one with the Tâo.
'This is the condition which is styled the True Forgetfulness;--a forgetting which does not forget; a forgetting of what cannot be forgotten.
'That which cannot be forgotten is the True Tâo. The Tâo is in heaven and earth, but heaven and earth are not conscious of It. Whether It seem to have feelings or to be without them, It is (always) one and the same.'
4. The Heaven-honoured One says, 'While I am in this world, what shall I do to benefit life? I occupy myself with this subtle and precious Treatise for the good of you, Heaven-endowed men. Those
who understand it will be allowed to ascend to the happy seats of the Immortals.
'Students of the Tâo believe that there are (the influences of) the ether and of destiny. But the (conditions of) climate being different, the constitutions received by men are naturally different, and hence they are ascribed to the ether. And the (conditions of) wisdom and stupidity being different, their constitutions as fine and coarse are naturally different, and hence they are ascribed to the destiny. The destiny depends on fate; the ether depends on Heaven.
'The restraints arising from the ether and destiny are the manacles decreed by Heaven. But if one acquire the True Tâo, though stupid, he may become wise; though coarse, he may become fine;--if there only be the decree of fate.
'Stupidity the darkest, and coarseness the densest, are consequences of climate; but the suffering of them and the changing of them may take place, when Heaven and Earth quicken the motive spring. When this is done without the knowledge of men, it is said to take place spontaneously. If it be done with a consciousness of that want of knowledge, it is still said to take place spontaneously. The mystery of spontaneity is greater than that of knowledge; but how it comes to be what it is remains a thing unknown. But as to the Tâo, It has not begun to come under the influence of what makes stupid and coarse. Hear this all ye Heaven (-endowed) men; and let all the multitude in all quarters rejoice.' 1
266:1_1 'Heaven-honoured (Thien Zun)' is a title given by the Tâoists to the highest objects of their reverence and worship. Chalmers translates it by 'Celestial Excellency,' and observes that it is given to 'all the Three Pure Ones;' but its application is much more extensive, as its use in this Treatise sufficiently proves. No doubt it was first adopted after the example of the Buddhists, by whom Buddha is styled 'World-honoured,' or 'Ever-honoured' (Shih Zun).
The phrase Thien Zän, which I have translated here 'Heaven-endowed Men,' is common to the three religions of China; but the meaning of it is very different in each. See the Confucian and the Tâoist significations of it in the Khang-hsî Thesaurus, under the phrase. Here it means 'the men possessed by the Tâo;--Tâo-Zän of the highest class.' In a Buddhist treatise the meaning would be 'Ye, devas and men.'
267:2_1 'All this,' says Lî Hsî-yüeh, 'is the achievement of vacuity, an illustration of the freedom from purpose which is characteristic of the Tâo.' Compare par. 14 in the sixth Book of Kwang-dze.
268:1 It may be considered as a proof of the difficulty of the Text that to this long paragraph Lî Hsî-yüeh does not subjoin a single explanatory remark.