Xiu Shen - 修身 - xiūshēn


"Self-cultivation is a broad term that denotes a multi-faceted pursuit of three distinct but related goals: individual health, social harmony, and environmental concord. (Each of these can be further analyzed into more precise concerns; for example, individual health can be divided into physical and mental health; social harmony, into political stability and ethical pluralism, and so on.) 'Self-cultivation' may be readily understood in English, but it is nevertheless an enigmatic term; while it is a central and rather well-understood term in the intellectual history of China, if not all of East Asia, it has no specific cultural traction in the West. The closest example in the West may be the ancient Greek idea of eudaimonia (well-being), but this remains a relatively unknown term outside of Classics or early Philosophy specialties. Thus, a better point of comparison for the Westerner may be soteriology, the study of how to be 'saved.' This comparison founders on the fact that early China had no 'heaven' and 'hell' with the religious sense that they commonly hold today, nor was there the idea of an eternal soul which would go to one of these places after death. But the comparison works well teleologically because self-cultivation and soteriology both occupy similar central places in the intellectual histories of the East and West. Early China has had an extensive and lasting influence on Chinese culture that extends to the present day. Meanwhile, modern China once again has an extensive and still-growing influence on the rest of the world. For anyone who is curious about global approaches to the meaning of life, then, an inquiry into the early Chinese approaches of self-cultivation should be of interest." Fischer, Paul (2022): Self-Cultivation in Early China, Albany: State University of New York Press E-Book

修煉 xiūliàn Selbstkultivierung
修身 xiūshēn Selbstkultivierung
修己 xiūjǐ Selbstkultivierung
修仙 xiūxiān Selbstkultivierung
xiū reparieren, ausbessern, kultivieren, bauen, konstruieren, studieren
liàn läutern, verfeinern, raffinieren, härten
shēn Körper, Leib
eigen, selbst
xiān göttliches Wesen, der Unsterbliche

"The doctrines concerning Nature and Existence are deemed to be fundamental in Liu Yiming’s works and in many earlier or later texts. Earlier masters, for instance, called Nature and Existence 'the roots of self-cultivation,' 'the secret of the Golden Elixir,' 'the essentials for refining the Elixir,' and 'the learning of the divine immortals.' 8 Liu Yiming himself writes in another work: 'The Way of the Golden Elixir is the Way of cultivating Nature and Existence.' 9 In Cultivating the Tao, Nature and Existence are repeatedly mentioned and are the main subject of Chapter 5, where Liu Yiming gives an important explanation of their properties. The shift from the precelestial to the postcelestial, he says, involves that both Nature and Existence take on two aspects: (1) A true (precelestial) Nature bestowed by Heaven, and a false (postcelestial) nature consisting in one’s character (or personality, temperament); (2) A true (precelestial) Existence consisting in the Breath of the Tao, and a false (postcelestial) existence consisting in one’s 'destiny.' With 'true Existence,' Liu Yiming means that each individual is given life by the One Breath of the Tao, and is in fact nothing but a transient form created by the One Breath. Within this broad framework, each individual is supposed to perform its own function as part and parcel of existence as a whole. This is one’s 'true destiny,' different from the ordinary concept of destiny as a passively acquired or endured sequence of events that make up one’s life. Just like one’s true Nature can be hidden by one’s false personality, so can one’s true Existence (one’s 'true destiny') become concealed by 'following the course' (shun) of life. With its gradual backward process - which, in fact, is an upward process - Internal Alchemy provides a means for 'inverting the course' (ni), making it possible first to 'return to one’s destiny,' and then to 'see one’s Nature.'" Cultivating the Tao - Taoism and Internal Alchemy, By Liu Yiming (1734-1821), Translated by Fabrizio Pregadio, Golden Elixir Press, 2013, S. 6-7

"In a variety of contexts, xiu shen is advocated as a means to prepare for and cope with worldly matters in general. It is mentioned in the context of advice about moderating one’s appetites and avoiding social friction. It features in what may have been codes of conduct for members of the shi class and also entered the into jargon that this class (or their Han successors, who applied the same designation to themselves) used to lay claim to moral superiority and, hence, political power and social influence. In the possessive ideological embrace of Han Fei zi, xiu shen was muted into quietistic rule-following and integrated into a blueprint for an authoritarian state, whereas 'cultivation' (xiu) remained in the Shang jun shu a heresy irreconcilable with the principles of a state envisioned as a mechanism to transform agricultural production into military prowess. In the rhetoric of the Mohists, xiu shen was wielded as a propagandistic weapon against the Confucians, whom the former accused of hyprocrisy (i. e. promoting xiu shen whilst hypocritically failing to adhere to it). Yet, in contexts that range chronologically from the last decades of the Warring States period to the Eastern Han, xiu shen also assumed a non-emphatic sense of common decency, synonymous with a unwillingness to engage in unlawful activity. Lastly, advocating a conception of rulership that can be conceived of as the obverse of the Zhongyong and Daxue’s rule by moral excellence, the 'Tian dao' chapter of the Zhuangzi merges non-action, the ideal of a carefully adjusted administrative machinery, and the notion of self-cultivation into a vision of the state which approaches that of socalled 'Legalist' authors such as Shen Buhai and Han Fei." Weingarten, Oliver: "Self-Cultivation" (Xiu Shen 修身) in the Early Edited Literature: Uses and Contexts, in: Oriens Extremus 54.2015, S. 163 - 208


Buchtipp: Self-Cultivation in Early China

Self-Cultivation in Early China is an introduction to multiple aspects of the foundational practice of self-cultivation in early China (c.1000 to 100 BCE). Drawing on the Chinese classics and the dozens of scholars' texts (both received and excavated) that together form the basis of intellectual history for China and all of East Asia, the book's analysis relies on the topics and categories that were central to the thought of these authors, including such well-known thinkers as Confucius and Laozi. This book describes a salient point of view from which we may consider the broader landscape of Chinese intellectual history and presents an important paradigm of the scholarly Chinese worldview that is ideal for comparison with paradigms in other communities, ancient or modern, across the globe. Bild und Text State University of New York Press. Fischer, Paul (2022): Self-Cultivation in Early China, Albany: State University of New York Press E-Book. Kommentar zum Buch bei michaelditsch.de

Buchtipp: Cultivating the Tao

This book contains the first complete translation of one of the main works by the eminent Taoist master Liu Yiming (1734-1821). Divided into 26 short chapters, Cultivating the Tao is at the same time a comprehensive overview of the basic principles of Taoism and an introduction to Taoist Internal Alchemy, or Neidan, written by one of the greatest representatives of this tradition. Liu Yiming was an 11th-generation master of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) lineage. Having recovered from severe illness in his youth, he undertook extended traveling that led him to meet his two main masters. In 1780, he visited the Qiyun mountains, in the present-day Gansu province, and settled there. He devoted the second half of his life to teaching and writing, and to charitable activities including restoring shrines and buying burial ground for the poor. His works mainly consist of original writings on Neidan and of commentaries on major Neidan scriptures. Few other masters have illustrated the relation between Taoism and Internal Alchemy as clearly as Liu Yiming does in this book. Grafting Internal Alchemy into the teachings of the Daode jing (Book of the Way and Its Virtue) and of the later Taoist tradition, he shows how the Way of the Golden Elixir can lead to the highest state of realization according to the Taoist principles. © Bild und Text Golden Elixir Press. Cultivating the Tao - Taoism and Internal Alchemy, By Liu Yiming (1734-1821), Translated by Fabrizio Pregadio, Golden Elixir Press, 2013

Buchtipp: Original Tao

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. About the Author: 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. © Bild und Text Columbia University Press, 1999. Original Tao - Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism, Translated by Harold D. Roth, Columbia University Press, 1999

Buchtipp: Dimensionen der Selbstkultivierung

"Selbstkultivierung" ist ein Grundthema der Philosophie in Indien, China und Japan. Die hier ver­sam­melten Beiträge legen dar, in welcher Weise die Gestaltung des Lebensweges in den Traditionen Süd- und Ostasiens philosophisch reflektiert worden ist. Aber nicht nur in Asien sind Formen der Selbstkultivierung von zentraler Bedeutung gewesen, sondern auch in Europa. In der Einleitung zu den Metaphysischen Anfangsgründen der Tugendlehre formulierte Immanuel Kant die prinzipielle Pflicht des Menschen, sich selbst zu kultivieren, um dem eigenen Menschsein gerecht werden zu können: "Mit dem Zwecke der Menschheit in unserer eigenen Person ist also auch der Vernunftwille, mithin die Pflicht verbunden, sich um die Menschheit durch Cultur überhaupt verdient zu machen, sich das Vermögen zu Ausführung allerlei möglichen Zwecke, so fern dieses in dem Menschen selbst anzutreffen ist, zu verschaffen oder es zu fördern, d.i. eine Pflicht zur Cultur […]." Kants kritische Erörterungen aufnehmend, haben sich die Autoren dieses Bandes der Frage nach der "Pflicht zur Cultur" neu gestellt und zu zeigen versucht, dass der Einbezug einer Philosophie asiatischer Lebensformen ein gegenwärtiges Philosophieren über "Selbstkultivierung" weiterführen und um wichtige Dimensionen bereichern kann. © Bild und Text Verlag Karl Alber. Dimensionen der Selbstkultivierung - Beiträge des Forums für Asiatische Philosophie, Marcus Schmücker u. Fabian Heubel (Hrsg.), Verlag Karl Alber, 2013


Weingarten, Oliver: "Self-Cultivation" (Xiu Shen 修身) in the Early Edited Literature: Uses and Contexts, in: Oriens Extremus 54.2015, S. 163 - 208

Mehr Informationen