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26. Awakened Minds
Grouped under Gong mode2
醒心集 1
Xing Xin Ji  
Image: opening page of Xing Xin Ji 3            
Xing Xin Ji intends to awaken minds (xing xin) through a collection (ji) of rhymed didactic but inspirational verses set to music. The lyrics sound largely Daoist, but they reflect the ideas of a religious movement that seeks to combine or otherwise synthesize both intellectually and spiritually the differing elements within the three main sources of its religious and philosophical traditions, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism: the Three Religions/Teachings (San Jiao).4

There is a long history in China of religious and philosophical efforts to combine elements of these three religions/teachings. Here, specifically, the five verses of Xing Xin Ji can be found amongst the Awakened Mind Poems (Xing Xin Shi) that are included in writings connected to one such San Jiao synthesis. Started in Fujian province by Lin Zhaoen (1517-1598),5 it may be called the Three Teachings School of Master Lin (Linzi San Jiao6). However, a more popular name is Sanyi (Three in One).

The main emphasis within the original Sanyi teachings was apparently on Confucian values. And although its syncretic nature did sometimes draw strong opposition from conservative neo-Confucians, it at one time spread around China, specifically to Nanjing and particularly to the Fujianese communities in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Today there are said to be many temples dedicated to it around Fujian province in particular.7

Lin Zhaoen himself was a near contempory of Yang Biaozheng (1520-1590), compiler of the handbook that includes the melody. In addition, Yang, although he lived many years in Nanjing, was from Yong'an in Fujian, not far from Lin's home town, Putian. It thus seems quite likely that this is connected in some way to Yang including this piece in his handbook. However, the actual source of both the lyrics and music of the present verses remain something of a mystery. They are attributed to man named Chen Zhen,8 but the Chen Zhen who can be found in available biographical diectionaries lived from 1447 to 1525, and in any case details of what the person of this name actually contributed are uncertain: it seems equally possible he wrote only the lyrics or only the music. In addition, available materials have not yet shown a specific connection between Lin, Yang and Chen.9

The lyrics of Xing Xin Ji are paired in the usual manner, but the preface included with the piece gives no direct indication as to whether its lyrics were intended simply to be read silently or aloud, or whether they were specifically intended as song or chant lyrics. If intended as lyrics, were they to be sung in public, either individually or by a group? Qin tradition might suggest they were largely intended as private meditations, perhaps shared with other players or friends. On the other hand, the preface does suggest that the combination of music and words in this piece would naturally inspire people to get up and dance (or otherwise disport themselves), and a preliminary examination of the music shows it to have a kind of straightforwardness that would have allowed it to be treated this way.10

Qin pieces called Xing Xin Ji appear in only three handbooks: 1585 (here), 1618 (different melody) and 1876 (says it copies "Xifeng's tablature", but there are many differences between it and the present edition);11 the lyrics of all three are nearly identical The first two of these handbooks relay the music of two qin masters in Nanjing, to which Sanyi is said to have spread, so it is perhaps not a coincidence that they have songs connected to San Yi.

The prefaces to the first two versions of Xing Xin Ji (the 1876 version has no commentary) both attribute it to Chen Zhen, and it is generally assumed that this means that Chen created the melody and perhaps the lyrics as well. However, the fact that the melodies of these two editions are quite different suggests that perhaps the attribution refers to the lyrics. On the other hand, Yang Biaozheng himself is generally thought to have either created or arranged the qin versions of most if not all of the melodies in his handbook, and perhaps likewise with Zhang Tingyu in his 1618 handbook. Could these be two versions of a melody originally created by Chen Zhen? Does the fact that there is no attribution to Chen in the existing collections that contain only the lyrics suggest that Chen Zhen's contribution had something to do with the music? This may be, but for now it should be said that from the available evidence it is not clear whether the statement in the preface refers only to the lyrics, to the melody, or to some combination of both. 12

The nature of the lyrics suggests that at least some of them were created specifically to be sung. To explore this further requires examining the source from which they apparently came, i.e., the collected writings of the San Yi school.13 To facilitate this study the relevant part of one of these texts has been copied here on a separate page. There, sandwiched between two sets of quatrains on the theme of Awakened Mind, one consisting of 81 quatrains the other of 36 quatrains, one can find a further 40 entries (if my counting is correct), each consisting of a titled poem or titled poem sets; these have varying structures.14 The five Awakened Mind poems that have been set here for qin are included amongst these 40, where they are, in order, #19, #12, #15, #16 and #17. 15

Original Preface 16

The 1585 preface is as follows (translation tentative):

As for this piece, Chen Zhen wrote this (the lyrics?) in a Huashan book collection. It seems to have the essence-seen-in-my-heart that one can see but not attain, and so it is transmitted to sounds and moves the spirit. This is what can be used to cause people to dance with exhaltation, and leisurely gain what is beyond the words."

Music and lyrics (Timings follow my recording: listen)
Lyrics of the five stanzas are as follows. Chinese stanza titles are given first as with the melody Xing Xin Ji, then (in brackets) as in the web page titles:17

  1. 00.00 Closing harmonics, used here as a prelude

    Song of a Peaceful and Happy Nest

  2. Using Breath Control go "hu xi"

  3. A clear radiant light is bright and shining

    須臾吹散(吹散)萬里雲,現出青天一輪月。  (吹散 was not repeated in original text)

  4. Achieving a Dao without boundaries
    委心而任運,逍遙以徜徉(以徜徉)。  (,以徜徉 was not repeated in original text)

  5. The Supreme Ultimate is Nothingness
    天數五,地數五,五而(五)之二十五。     (omits one cluster and the bracketed 五; see also 易經,繫辭)
    06.58 - 07.11 (Alternate ending with "玄門之真土")

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Awakened Minds (醒心集 Xing Xin Ji) references
40827.1 醒心:謂神志湛然 having a clear state of mind/consciousness; quotes a poem by 張養浩 Zhang Yanghao (1270-1329; Wiki). Xing Xin can also be translated as "Awakened Hearts", and one should also consider the possibility that the sense here is Mind/heart Awakening Collection. As for 集 ji, it seems to suggest here minds awakened to (or awakening minds to) all three religions, but perhaps it could also mean something like "completion". In the latter case the resulting full translation could be, "Achieving an Awakened Mind" or "Achieving a clear state of mind".

For further information on Lin Zhaoen and his religion see:

The contemporary situation of the Three in One religion in Putian is also described in Kenneth Dean and Zheng Zhenman, Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain, Volume Two.

Reconstructing this piece necessarily entails further exploration of this religion, but this may only contribute in terms of providing deeper appreciation of the thoughts behind the music: as yet there is no evidence linking the present qin melody to any specific music associated with any known religious music outside the qin tradition, nor is there evidence of these lyrics having been sung or recited in any religious context.

2. Gong mode (1585)? Zhi mode (1876)?
In 1585 Xing Xin Ji is the last piece in the section that follows the 宮 gong modal prelude, but the very similar 1876 versions says it is 徵音 zhi mode. The web pages Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature, as well as the individual introductions to gong mode and zhi mode, have details of my understanding of the modes in the qin repertoire of that time. However, this piece does not easily fit into the modal descriptions given there.

The two most important factors in determining mode are as follows:

  1. What is the relative tuning for the melody? In the earlier Ming handbooks I have studied, gong mode melodies generally consider the relative tuning as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 with the open third string playing the main tonal center (i.e., 1 or gong). However, zhi mode melodies generally treat the tuning as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 with the main tonal center on the equivalent of the open "zhi" (i.e. 4th) string. Here the relative tuning is most naturally considered as the latter.
  2. What are the ending notes for phrases and sections? Here the melody consists almost entirely of couplets (see lyrics), though not necessarily of equal length. With the tuning considered as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 the final note of the first phrase of each couplet is usually 2 (re) or 5 (sol), otherwise it is 1 (do); the final note of the second phrase of each couplet is almost exclusively 1.

Complicating this analysis, however, is the fact that the ending for the whole piece seems to change this: the main body ends on 5 (sol) while the closing harmonics seem to end on 4 over 1 (fa over do: this is not exactly clear, as the tablature itself indicates the last note as a chord, but has both notes played only the third string, which is impossible; 4 over 1 is based on assuming one of the tablature intended to indicate the first string and the third string). The 1876 version changes both these endings to end on 1, but this may be a 19th century "correction" rather than, as it implies, a copy of a different 16th century edition.

3. Image: Opening page of Xing Xin Ji
See QQJC IV/354. There seems to be a copy error on the first note, making it illegible here. This was copied from the online version at www.qinzhijie.com.

4. Three Teachings (三教 San Jiao) (Wiki)
"Three Teachings" refers to Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. "Teachings" (jiao) can also be translated as "religion" or "philosopical system". It can be used when referring to them separately, as with the title of the qin handbook called "Paired Music for Three Religions", or it can be used when referring to them as an interconnected system.

10.1215 San Jiao first defines this as religion of the 夏殷周 Xia, Yin and Zhou dynasties, second as the combination of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, giving as its earliest reference 北史,李士謙傳 History of the Northern Dynasties, Biography of Li Shiqian (523 ~ 588). Just as in China there is a long history of people naturally combining elements of its three dominant religions (or ways of thought), there is a long history of formal attempts to combine the three as well as studies of the same. Combining the three may be called 三教合一 San Jiao He Yi (Three Teachings Harmonized into One). This term seems to have been popularized in connection with Lin Zhaoen (below), but was not exclusive to him.

5. 林兆恩 Lin Zhaoen (also written Lin Zhao'en; 1517-1598)
Also known as 林龍江 Lin Longjiang or by other names, including Master Lin (林子 Linzi), Religious Master of the Three in One (三一教主 Sanyi Jiaozhu) and so forth. He came from a family with a significant literati tradition, but after initial success in the examination system he left that path to pursue one that in turns shows him as a philosopher and as a religious leader within the sanjiao tradition. Commentary on the former role points to the corpus of works related to his efforts to synthesize elements of what have been called the Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China. Commentary on the latter has him contributing to the syncretic religious trends particular associated with people of his native Quanzhou (興化 Xinghua) region, leading to his deification. There is some further detail in the Dean and Zheng Zhenman book referenced above, as well as in the footnote below concerning the Three Teachings School.

14858.97 林兆恩 says,

From Putian (between Quanzhou and Fuzhou in Fujian), style name Maozhu (Maoxu), nicknames Longjiang (and) Ziguzi, and also called Mr. Three Religions. Learned and inquisitive, his studies combined three religions into one. He was also able to use the "good back" method to control illnesses. He wrote a Lin Quan Zi Ji. See biography in Famous People of the Ming, 3; and Ming Poetry Selections, 50.

Bio/1449 has similar information. Elsewhere mention is made of a 三教會編 San Jiao Hui Bian (Joint Chronicles of the Three Teachings). Regarding the religion see also this footnote, while for further online texts (in Chinese) see this footnote.

A website devoted to San Yi (www.31jiao.com) depicts Lin (called 林子 Linzi) as a sage, apparently suggesting supernatural powers.

6. The Three Teachings School of Master Lin (林子三教 Linzi San Jiao) (Wiki: Sanyi teaching)
"Sanyi" (三一) refers to the Three-in-One Religion/Teachings of Lin Zhaoen. 教 Jiao may be translated as "teachings" as well as "religion" (or "sect", etc.). The name Sanyi shows the conscious efforts made to combine them. This is also true of another name commonly used, San Jiao He Yi (Three Religions Harmonized into One). Another name, Xia Jiao (Religion/Teachings from the Xia dynasty), shows a belief that this was getting back to true essence of Chinese religion.

It should be emphasized that Lin Zhaoen apparently considered himself a Confucian and interpreted Buddhist and Daoist teachings in that light. This and his great involvement with good works in his home region seem to be at the heart of his apparent success at staying in the good graces of the government. It is interesting to compare the way he phrased many of his arguments with the way Matteo Ricci during his years in China (1583-1609) couched his espousal of Christianity so as not to offend Confucians.

A syncretic practice attributed to Lin Zhaoen is the 孔門心法 Kongmen xinfa, "Confucian mind-cultivation", which includes sitting quietly and meditating on what has been learned (compare self-cultivation).

It seems that the government did not control syncretism at religious shrines as much as it did with such ideas expressed in literati writings. It has often been noted that many Chinese temples incorporate elements from all three beliefs/ways of thought, and such combinations certainly did not begin with Lin Zhaoen. However, I have not yet seen specific details regarding temples dedicated to Lin. It is said that they all include his images as well as those of such other figures important to the sect, such as 卓晚春 Zhuo Wanchun and 張三丰 Zhang Sanfeng.

Standard sources such as the 中文大辭典 seem to have few references, for for further information (including texts and images) it has been necessary to do internet searches for words and phrases such as the following,

Speficic online sources include:

  1. www.31jiao.com
    The aforementioned website devoted to San Yi, based in Putian, Fujian.
  2. blog.sina.com.cn/u/2870979637
    A blog with religious and other texts relatived to San Yi; also based in Putian.

I have not yet found English pages with further information.

7. Spread of San Yi
Forms of San Yi spread from Fujian around south China, including Nanjing in particular, where it seems likely that it is more than a coincidence that Yang Biaozheng was not only from Fujian but also lived and worked in Nanjing. After the end of the Ming dynasty it was surpressed or otherwise went into decline, and it is difficult to trace evidence of it until after the Cultural Revolution. Now there are hundreds of temples honoring Lin Zhaoen a varying forms of San Yi. There are details of this in Dean.

8. 陳震 Chen Zhen
42618.1059xxx (3rd c). Bio/1356: (1447 - 1525) 明陝西慶陽(慶湯?)衛人,字文靜。成化二十三年進士.... A Wei person from Qingyang in Shaanxi, style name Wenjing, attained his jinshi degree in 1487/8....(Source given:《獻徵錄》卷58 Folio 58 of Xianzheng Lu [www.chinaknowledge.de]).

This website identifies Chen Zhen as a 歷史古琴大師 a guqin grand master from historical times and as a 明朝琴家 Ming dynasty qin expert, specifying 15th century. However, its only sources seem to be the commentary with Xing Xin Ji, where it is nowhere stated that he actually played the qin and may actually have only written the verses. Presumably the mention of the 15th century is due to the biography of the Chen Zhen mentioned here, but if he did live in the 15th century it is either unlikely that he created the music for the present lyrics, or it is evidence that the Lin Zhaoen collections were copying earlier material.

A search for "陳震" "字文靜" gives most of the information there. In addition, I have found no mention of literary capabilities and no other mention of qin.

9. Specific connection between Lin Zhaoen, Yang Biaozheng and Chen Zhen
The identity of Chen Zhen himself (see below) is uncertain, and it is unclear who actually wrote the verses. Given their backgrounds it seems unlikely that Yang did not at least know about Lin. According to Berling, by 1580 Lin Zhaoen was at the peak of his career. Here it is perhaps significant that Xing Xin Ji is not included in the earlier edition of Yang's handbook.

10. Get up and dance (or otherwise disport themselves)
懽忻鼓舞 Huānxīn gǔwǔ: 11764.3 喜悅也 + 49321.91 鳴鼓而舞,或動奮發之意;鼓術之一種. It is generally assumed that qin pieces were intended for private play, perhaps at home and/or with a few friends or students. In any case, it is unlikely that they would have been played publicly in a noisy place such as a temple. As for actually dancing with them, although there are qin melodies that concern or make allusion to dance (e.g., cranes dancing, leaves dancing), I have not yet found any specific descriptions pr depictions of people dancing to qin music (except in ritual ensembles). Quite likely here the idea is that people will want to get up and disport - and not that they will actually do so.

11. Tracing Xing Xin Ji
Guide 26/215/396:

  1. 1585 (not in 1573; IV/354-5)
  2. 1618; VIII/300; lyrics almost the same but musically unrelated)
  3. 1876 (XXV/357; "copied from Xifeng")

Xifeng is Yang Biaojun, but the 1876 version actually has some differences in the text and many in the music. The first problem is that often the indicated phrasing of the lyrics and tablature do not line up. In some places it seems that some of the tablature differences are in places where there are difficulties in 1585, but rather than change the problematic note (e.g., the first one in the whole piece) the whole phrase is changed. I have not yet been able to find out whether there is another surviving version of Yang Biaozheng's handbook which might have included the changes earlier, or whether they were specifically made for the 1876 edition. If so, it was done rather sloppily.

12. Contribution of Chen Zhen
As yet this does not shed any light on the role played by Chen Zhen.

13. San Yi texts
The main sources for examining these texts are listed in a footnote on a separate page that has the relevant texts themselves. The footnote also has further commentary on the texts.

14. Structure of the verses
The five verses set to music here are mostly organized into couplets of equal length (from 4+4 to 11+11; the fifth verse varies most from this), but mixing them within each verse.

15. Original texts
As yet I have not found any translations.

16. Preface
The original text is:


If 華山書籍 Huashan Shuji is actually the name of a book I have not found references to it (31910.7xxx). Also, could 華山 be referring to 九華山 Jiuhua Shan? 173.450 九華 Jiu Hua has this as the name of a mountain in Putian as well as the famous sacred Buddhist mountain in Anhui, north of Huangshan).

The shorter preface in 1618 is as follows:

As for this piece, Chen Zhen wrote this (the lyrics) in a Huashan book collection. Its mysteries are innate, its words contain arcane truths, truly sufficient to awaken ones' senses, and arouse thoughts of renouncing the world.

Translation very tentative.

17. Music and lyrics (Regarding modal issues see further above.)
The section titles here are:

  1. 安樂窩歌 Ān lè wō gē: Song of a peaceful and happy nest

  2. 服氣呼吸 Fú qì hū xī (14668.57xxx): Using Breath Control go "hu xi"

  3. 淸輝炯炯 Qīng huī jiǒng jiǒng (18003.654xxx): A clear radiant light is bright and shining

  4. 至道無垠 Zhì dào wú yín (30816.277xxx): Achieving a Dao without boundaries

  5. 太極虛無 Tài jí xū wú (5965.406xxx): The Supreme Ultimate is Nothingness

As for the music, based on my preliminary reconstruction of the 1585 edition, the structure of the entire tablature and melody seems to lend itself well to a quite metered but freely played interpretation. However, the writing style in this handbook is generally different from that of earlier handbooks, and I have not yet reconstructed enough melodies to feel confidence in my understanding of the idiom. So far I have found virtually no reconstructions from this handbook by any other players.

In addition, interpretation of this melody is complicated by some unclear and/or mistaken clusters in the tablature, including the first and last notes: the first cluster in the tablature is illegible and the final cluster seems to have the piece ending on strangely written and non-idiomatic chord.

There are also idiosyncrasies in the tablature, most notably the use of 上 and 下 . In the harmonic sections 上 and 下 seem only to indicate that the next note is to be played in an upper or lower position respectively; however, in stopped passages 上 and 下 are used as normal, to indicate a slide up or down (but never indicating the position to which the slide is made); 上下 together means up and down. In contrast, the standard symbol 立 is never used, and the only indication of vibrato is the three times where there is a 退吟下 (going down fast-vibrato); 猱 (slo-vibrato) is never used. There is no indication of sliding down (注) or sliding up (綽) into a note.

It is also noteworthy that here the figure 對起 duiqi, a left thumb pluck while the ring finger stops the string, is here (except for one occurrence) assigned two characters rather than the usual one. This is uncommon, but was common practice in the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu of ~1491.

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