It turns out that our first mistake doing business in China was giving our hosts a gift of dessicated turtle bones wrapped in bamboo and silk. They were polite enough to accept our offering and one of the younger staffers even commented on how well preserved the carapace seemed to be, but we never did get that contract, and they stopped replying to our emails. Chalk it up to cultural differences.

This is an advanced show,and it's a bit different from anything we've done to date. While we have a reading here that teaches some of the basics in parsing classical Chinese, our focus is more than just providing a resource for those interested in reading classical Chinese, since we also have the chance to highlight some of the debates that real Chinese people continue to have about traditional Chinese philosophy, and Zhuang Zi in particular.
 said on
August 30, 2012
Thanks guys, this one is really helpful, I would love to see more of these sorts of lessons! I'm studying martial arts and Daoism on Wudang Mountain, and it's great to find some inspiration to keep on studying on your site :-)

Btw, I have a question that I'd be delighted if you would be able to help me with. I'm currently studying the short, but for me still complex 太上老君说常清静妙经 (or just 清静经)and I'm studying a section where it discusses emptiness. 观空亦空,空无所空,所空既无,无无亦无,无无既无,湛然常寂。I'm slightly confused about the meaning of the first 亦 (probably the rest of it also). Does it just mean "also", or can it mean something else... also? I think the meaning of the rest of it is something like: Emptiness is not actually empty, in fact emptiness is already non-existing. The absence of nothing is non-existant as well. If the absence of nothing is gone, deep and profound silence will follow.

Now, I'm pretty sure I've messed some of that up somewhere. Pretty confusing section. 我每一次开始思考这个问题,马上头疼了。

Don't know if you can help me with this, but I would appreciate it if you could.
 said on
August 30, 2012

I think you can look at that part together with two more clauses before it: 三者既悟,唯见于空。观空亦空,空无所空。If you have already seen through those three things, all you will see is transience/emptiness. And when you see the transient nature of transience as well, then you will see that transience doesn't exist either. 所空既无,无无亦无。As since transience doesn't exist, nothing actually exists.

Therefore, both 亦 can be translated as "also".

Wow, Wudang Mountain? That's like where 大侠们 come from.


 said on
August 31, 2012
@Echo, David,

This lesson was absolutely awesome, I really enjoyed it and I love classical Chinese (I wish it could be the Mandarin that we speak today).

It seemed that you had recorded a lengthy lesson that never really made it into the final lesson recording. While I found the Brendan Echo banter hilarious, I was hoping that it could contain a discussion about the finer points of classical Chinese.

I imagine listeners at this would be interested in delving deeply into the fascinating challenge of 文言文.
 said on
September 1, 2012
@Xiao Hu,

Thanks, although there wasn't actually a full recording here. We were just chatting before another show and decided to use this snippet after the fact as an introduction for a selection from Zhuangzi.

I'd definitely like us to do more with 文言文, especially since it's an area I'm personally weak. Our delicate hints to David Moser have not yet resulted in him taking us up on the offer of running some sort of show. But we live in hope!

 said on
September 2, 2012
Brilliant!! Although I could've used you guys a couple of months ago when writing an essay on Zhuangzi. In particular 'Joy of Fish' and 'Turtle in the Mud'
 said on
September 3, 2012
I hope that didn't come off as sounding sarcastic....I actually did enjoy this
 said on
September 3, 2012

Not at all. I enjoyed this one too.
 said on
September 4, 2012

If Moser could do a show about some of the basics that would be absolutely awesome! Maybe if there could be an ongoing program about 文言文 featuring the works of 庄子,孟子,孔子, 孙子 and other classics, that would be a real dream come true. I can at least fantasize.

I believe the following proclaimation sums it up best,






It may not be a verbatim quote, but you get the picture.
 said on
February 24, 2013
Any updates on doing more lessons like this? I would love to see/hear a few lessons that focus on elementary classical Chinese as this is something I have not had exposure to, but do have a great deal of interest in. As always, keep up the great work. BTW - great to hear Miao Miao in the recent podcasts, I really enjoy listening to her voice.

I would love to hear an advaned lesson with Gao and Miao Miao in the dialogue ......hint hint :)

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