Already from his early age on, Yin Xi not only studied philosophical texts, but he actually lived according to them.

From him it is said that eventually he submerges in the ineffable.   

Centuries later, Zhuang Zi called him:

Already from his early age on, Yin Xi not only studied philosophical texts, but he actually lived according to them.

An ancient, erudite immortal one“.


In the Zhuangzi (the work of Zhuang Zi and his followers) there are a few quotes from the of Yin Xi, for instance in chapter 33 / VIII:

‘To him who does not dwell in himself the forms of things show themselves as they are.

His movement is like that of water;

his stillness is like that of a mirror;

his response is like that of the echo.

His tenuity makes him seem to be disappearing altogether;

he is still as a clear (lake), harmonious in his association with others,

and he counts gain as loss.

He does not take precedence of others, but follows them.’

Translation by James Legge

In the above quotation Yin Xi touches the core of the mystery of Dao. Dao is and will always be hidden, concealed, but from Dao a working emanates that we can perceive.  

About this, Yin Xi says to his students:

The ‘Dao’ that we perceive is in fact the De

The De is the activity that emanates from timeless Dao.  

Dao is like a hidden Source.

The De is like the water that flows out of it, so that the land becomes fertile.

We are temporary people, but within our heart lays a drop of this mysterious source. One drop, that is part of the entire Source of water.

Because Dao and De are omnipresent, the entire All reflects itself in every drop. To a certain extent we can become conscious hereof; it is then quite a job not to identify ourselves with it. If we want to grab hold of the water, we lose it.  


In ordinary daily life only too often we do not experience this complete unity. Especially when we are strongly focused on ourselves, or when we experience the ten thousand things as the sole reality. Then we do see the water as it were, but we are not aware of the source. Then we are stuck within ourselves, as Yin Xi states it.

Besides that, our water is only too often not altogether peaceful and quiet. If we chase after our many desires, it swirls and sways, and with every form of struggle it gets wild and splashes to all sides. Because of this, the All cannot reveal itself in us. The seeker for Dao then finds himself, herself, in a situation described by Yin Xi as follows:

The door to Dao is open,

but it is not accessible.


Whenever we desire something in the world of the ten thousand things, we strive for it with our utmost effort to make it happen. Initially, the seeker for Dao  is inclined to do the same with respect to Dao.

Yin Zi told his students the following:

Dao cannot be reached by wanting and acting.

Dao cannot be reached by chasing after it.  

When de seeker for Dao tries this, he strands within himself because his self is then used as the starting point. Just as someone once said:  I am totally aware of the importance of becoming lesser, but no matter how hard I try, I do not succeed.

Dao is not one of the ten thousand things and can therefore not be reached with the means of this world.


Yin Xi clarifies to his students that an entirely different life attitude is required., in which not our person takes the central point, but the activity that emanates from De.

He says:

The attitude of the Sage with respect to Dao is like an arrow that is shot without preference or dislike.

Only when the Sage renounces his own will, ,

can the arrow follow its own course.

This is the definition of a complicated situation. There is a temporary human being with an arrow and a bow, and there is a goal that does not belong to time and space. The sage is aware of the ‘drop of water’ within his heart, to which he surrenders his own will. Based on this attitude of life he lets go of the arrow, which is then as a matter of course drawn towards the ‘Rose’; the arrow is drawn towards De through the power of De.

He who unites himself with this, will retain it.

But he who wants to grab hold on it, will lose it.


Archer and arrow are connected to each other. When the arrow hits  the ‘target’, that is: connects itself with the power that emanates from Dao, the De, a fire is kindled. Its warmth bounces back on the archer. In his heart, that has become empty, free of personal willing, a profound silence descends, unknown in this world. When this void remains within him, such silence will be part of him. But as soon as he wishes to get control over it, or puts himself up for it, immediately he is standing in the anxiety of the ten thousand things again.


We wish to accomplish something that we still do not possess. But because Dao is omnipresent, it is already there. In order to accomplish something in the world of the ten thousand things, we must really give an effort. With respect to Dao, this is precisely the other way around.

To reflect upon this, Yin Xi spoke the following words to his students:

But how can then even live in accordance with Dao?

By consistently emptying our mind as to the many thoughts and ideas.

In Daoist philosophy, the heart and the head are one.

It is all about becoming empty with respect to all this self-centered thinking, feeling, willing and the therefrom resulting acting.

For the seeker for Dao, the void in his heart is conditional to open for the power that emanates from Dao; the De. The De fills his emptied heart with utter Unity.


Yi Xi says:

The sage is aware of the fact that ideas and sentiments are volatile.

The sage knows that the things are merely things of himself.

For that reason he approaches them in the light of the High Wisdom.

Becoming empty spontaneously results from the ‘non-doing’. And the ability for non-doing is given to us by the power that emanates from Dao: the High Wisdom.

Getting less is: becoming void.

Becoming void is returning to Dao.

Returning to Dao is passing through the Gate.

Passing through the Gate is being without self. Being without self is: from the profound silence working in the midst of the turmoil of the ten thousand things.


Yin Xi ended this lesson to his students with the following metaphor:

When two persons play a game of chess, only one proudly presents himself to the other one as conqueror.

When two persons are joining together in Dao, they have nothing to show to each other.

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