Sayings of the Early Sages 先賢格言 선현의 격언


Written By Jun Heo(許浚, 1539~1615), Translated by Namil Kim, Wung Seok Cha et al., Published by Ministry of Health & Welfare (Korea)

It is said in Son the wise man’s Inscription on Nurturing Life (養生銘): All diseases do not occur if people work using their bodies, and if people do not drink until drunk. One must rub his abdomen with his hands and walk 100 steps after having meals. On In days and Chuk days, cut the fingernails and toenails, and comb the hair 100 times. Urinate while standing if full, and urinate while sitting if hungry. Do not walk around when it’s windy and stay in a room with no holes. One must lie down with cleaned feet before going to sleep, and not eat until full. Too much thinking harms the spirit; too many emotions damage qi greatly. Cut the nose hair often and do not spit on the ground. When one wakes up in the morning, step with the left foot first to prevent troubles, pathogenic qi, and evil spirits. When one practices the Seven Star Walk (七星步, A type of raining which was modeled after the Big Dipper), one lives long and becomes happy. A sour taste hurts sinews, bitter taste hurts bones, sweet taste hurts flesh, hot taste hurts essence-qi, and salty taste hastens death. Therefore, one must not purposely take one taste. One must not let go much during spring and summer and abstain from sexual intercourse during autumn and winter. Sleeping alone protects genuine qi, and calmly restraining oneself is the biggest treasure. Money and wealth have their places among humans; therefore, one must know how to be satisfied. Effort on trying to know by force is the biggest worry; eventually, there would be no trouble if one lets go of desire. Keeping the mind calm and being comfortable all the time are the two things one must always keep in mind when training the Tao. I am writing this on the wall to let the wise men know.”


② It is said in the Records on Sleeping (枕上記) by Son the wise man: “One must eat a bowl of porridge in the early morning, and not eat too much for dinner. Click the upper and lower teeth together 36 times when Gyeongyangjong (景陽鐘, a bell for announcing the start of dawn) sounds. One must avoid extreme heat or cold; one must not hover over sexual desires or have intercourse after getting drunk or eating too much as this will lead the five viscera turning inside out. Moxibustion is not as good as sleeping alone. Do not sit or lie down at a windy place. Take a warm bath often. Walk 100 steps after eating fully and rub the abdomen often with hands. Do not eat fish without scales and meat of all kinds of animals. Eating the meat of an animal that has died naturally will hasten death. There will be favors and luck if one seeks luck by making figures with soil and wood. How can the essence from the father and body from the mother be divided? A person who cares for one’s life and body has the glow of six white lights like jade.”


③ In the Inscription on Nurturing Life (養生銘) by Son the wise man, it is said: “Too much anger hurts qi; too much thinking hurts spirit. When the spirit gets tired, the heart is also likely to get tired; when qi gets weak, diseases occur. Do not grieve or enjoy too much, and eat various foods evenly. Do not get drunk at night; do not get angry in the early morning. Play the heavenly drum when going to bed at hae time (9:00 pm ~ 11:00 pm), clean the teeth with saliva waking up at in time (5:00 am ~ 7:00 am) to prevent pathogenic qi and let essence qi spread over the body. One must always restrain from the five spicy foods (refers to spring onion, garlic, chives, scallion, and ginger), if one does not want to get any disease. One must always live happily and joyfully to put one’s mind in a comfortable state. One must retain one’s placid and pure nature to save one’s own qi. One must not argue over the fate of a long life and young death and keep training oneself. The training is up to oneself. If one keeps these methods, the essence can be met even in daily life.”


④ In the Writings on Nurturing Life (養生文) by Chang Zhenzi, it is said: “Too much alcohol scatters blood qi, and eating lightly flavored foods puts the spirit and ethereal soul in a comfortable state. It is better to clean the teeth at night than in the morning; it is better to eat in the morning than at night. One must tonify the kidneys if the ears ring, and tonify the liver if the eyes are blurry. Restraining from drink naturally leads the spleen to become healthy, and less thinking always comforts the spirit. Wind should not be faced when sweating and tea should not be taken too much on an empty stomach.”


⑤ In the Discipline of Self-examination (省言箴) of Dongyuan, it says: “Qi is the grandfather of spirit, and essence is the son of qi; therefore, qi is the origin of essence-spirit. How great it is! Stack qi to gather essence, and stack the essence to complete the spirit. Following the Tao calmly with a pure mind, one will be able to become the heavenly man. What kind of person am I? Here I am, earnestly reflecting on myself.”



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