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Translating the 胎息經 – Scripture of Embryonic Breathing with OpenAI

June 7, 2024 No Comments 4 Min Read

Introduction

Exploring the Scripture of Embryonic Breathing (胎息經) with the help of AI translation tools reveals how technology can aid in understanding texts across different languages. This blog post showcases an initial translation provided by OpenAI and an updated version that integrates insights from various sources to enhance accuracy and context. This project is in its early stages, aiming to demonstrate how AI can be used to translate and refine ancient texts.

Initial Translation

胎息經 – Scripture of Embryonic Breathing

高上玉皇胎息經 – High Sovereign Jade Emperor Scripture of Embryonic Breathing
玉皇天尊曰: – The Jade Emperor, the Revered Celestial Venerable, says:
胎從伏氣中結, 氣從有胎中息。- Embryo forms from the condensation of breath, and breath exists within the embryo.
氣入身來謂之生, 神去離形謂之死。- When breath enters the body, it is called life; when the spirit departs from the form, it is called death.
知神氣, 可以長生。- By understanding spirit and breath, one can achieve longevity.
故守虛無, 以養神氣。- Thus, maintaining emptiness and non-being nurtures spirit and breath.
神行即氣行, 神住即氣住。- When the spirit moves, breath moves; when the spirit stays, breath stays.
若欲長生, 神氣相注。- If one wishes for longevity, spirit and breath must mutually infuse.
心不動念, 無來無去, 不出不入, 自然常在。- When the heart is free from thoughts, neither coming nor going, neither exiting nor entering, it naturally remains constant.
勤而行之, 是真道路。- Diligently practise this; this is the true path.

Incorporating Another Translation

To provide more context, we referred to another translation found at Sickness Kung Fu. This helped us refine the understanding of key Daoist concepts and improve the overall translation quality.

Comparison Notes:

  1. Title and Header: Both translations accurately reflect the title and headers with slight variations in wording.
  2. Translation of Terms: Translation 2 uses pinyin (e.g., Qi, Shen, Xin) for key concepts, whereas Translation 1 translates them directly into English (breath, spirit, heart). This choice affects clarity and accessibility depending on the reader’s familiarity with Daoist terminology.
  3. Sentence Structure: Translation 1 tends to use simpler and more direct sentences, while Translation 2 includes more detailed explanations and conjunctions, making it slightly more complex.
  4. Literal vs. Interpretive: Translation 1 is more interpretive, capturing the essence of the original text in a way that’s easier for general readers to understand. Translation 2 is more literal and preserves the original structure and nuances, which might be preferred by those familiar with Daoist concepts.

Updated Translation

The updated translation combines elements and preferences of both to create the next version.

胎息經 – Embryonic Breathing Classic

高上玉皇胎息經 – The Most High Jade Emperor’s Embryonic Breathing Classic
玉皇天尊曰: – The Jade Emperor Tianzun said:
胎從伏氣中結, 氣從有胎中息。- The embryo forms from the condensation of Qi, and Qi exists within the embryo while breathing.
氣入身來謂之生, 神去離形謂之死。- Qi entering the body is called life; Shen (spirit) departing from the form is called death.
知神氣, 可以長生。- By understanding Shen and Qi, long life is possible.
故守虛無, 以養神氣。- Therefore, guard emptiness and non-being to nurture Shen and Qi.
神行即氣行, 神住即氣住。- When the Shen moves, Qi moves; when the Shen stays, Qi stays.
若欲長生, 神氣相注。- If you desire longevity, Shen and Qi must mutually infuse.
心不動念, 無來無去, 不出不入, 自然常在。- When the heart (Xin) is free from thoughts, neither coming nor going, neither exiting nor entering, it naturally remains constant.
勤而行之, 是真道路。- Diligently practising this is the true path of the Dao.

Thoughts on a First Step

By leveraging the strengths of multiple translations, we can offer a more nuanced and guided translation of the Scripture of Embryonic Breathing and others. This approach has the potential to enrich our comprehension by bridging linguistic and cultural gaps. As this is an early stage of the ideas I have to translate the texts, future iterations will continue to refine and enhance the translations through further technology advancements and human-AI collaboration through discussion.

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