Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wu Jing and Wu Xing 五经与五行

The Five Canons 五经:

Shi Jing 诗经 (Canon of Poetry)
Shang Shu尚书 (Supreme Book)
Yi Jing 易经 (Canon of Changes)
Li Ji 礼记 (Propriety Narration)
Yue Jing 乐经 (Canon of Music)

are also classified under Wu Xing:

Shi Jing is classified as Earth because poetry expresses the feeling of people in the most trustful way.

Shang Shu is classified as Metal because history events show the path of righteousness.

Yi Jing is classified as Water as it is the product of human wisdom.

Li Ji is classified as Fire as propriety is the display of human dignity.

Yue Jing is classified as Wood because music is soothing and kind.

If we try to apply the Sheng Cycle and Ke Cycle to the above, we will have a better understanding of these two cycles. Sheng and Ke are both like a sword with two edges. They are not all good and not all bad. It only depends on how they are used.



Mellekai said...

Dear Master Yu,

can we relate the book to the dynasties, too?
I wish you and your loved ones and every one who reads this post a Merry X-max.

Best wishes


Joseph Yu said...

The five elements can be linked up with the dynasties in China. For example,

Tang 唐 is earth
Song 宋 is wood
Yuan 元 is metal
Ming 明 is fire
Qing 清 is water
Republic of China 中华民国 and
People's Repbublic of China 中华人民共和国 are both earth.

Each dynasty controls the predecessor.


Howard said...

Hi Joseph,

It is interesting that you have included the Yue Jing as one of the Five Canons instead of the Chun Qiu 春秋 (Spring and Autumn) as listed in the Tang Dynasty Wu Jing Zheng Yi 五經正義. I read somewhere, Qin Shi-Huang burnt the Yue Jing and the original Six Canons of the Confucian scholars became Five Canons instead.

Also there are at least two other different ways that I known of to correlated the Five Elements to the Five Canons or Classics, but both sources are fictional writings from the Ming and Qing periods, so I am not sure of their authenticity. I wonder where your reference on the Five Canons and their Wuxing correlations came from.

In Yi Lin Bu Wei 易林補遺, it is listed Chun Qiu as Metal, Shi Jing as Wood, Shang Shu as Water, Li Ji as Fire and the Yi Jing as Earth.

In Li Shang Yin Chun Zhuan 李商隱全傳, it is listed Chun Qiu as Water, Shi Jing as Wood, Shang Shu as Fire, Li Ji as Earth and the Yi Jing as Metal.

Very confusing indeed, but your source and comment may be able to throw a better light on the subject.

Howard Choy

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Howard,

As I mentioned before, it is just a game to link Wu Xing with Wu whatever. Games are invented and improved by people so that they become interesting to play. At different times in history, the same game was played according to the then rule of the game.

In the beginning there were only the five Jing: Shi 詩, Shu 書, Yi 易, Li 禮, Yue 樂. Chun Qiu 春秋 was added by Confucius disciples to honour their teacher. Yue Jing was unfortunately lost after Qin Shi-Huang ordered books to be burnt. So the six canons were reduced back to five.

Different books written in Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties gave different explanations of their associations between the Wu Xing and Wu Jing. Each appears to be reasonable and also unreasonable. There is no authenticity. A game is just a game. Today, the soccer game has rules very different from the rules followed 50 years ago.


Sherab Wong said...

Linking Wu Xing with the socalled 'Five Feng Shui Grand Masters'in the eyes of western FS enthusiasts - this will be quite interesting game to play.... I wonder what element each of them belong to....
Have Fun!

Sherab Wong :-)

Howard said...

Dear Joseph and Hi Sherab,

The major difference between a soccer game and our game of Wuxing or whatever is that the soccer game has an international industrial body that decides on which standards, when and what rules to enforce, we have secret transmissions and grandmasters of 101 kinds instead!

It is not an attack on anyone in particular, it is a sad observation of how the spirit of Ah Q still lives on in us, even to this day.

Well, another year and another dollar. Happy New Year!


Joseph Yu said...

Hi Sherab

The so-called 'Five Feng Shui Grand Masters' is by itself a game of promotion. I believe you know who invented this game. It is not to be taken with any degree of seriousness.

The Wu Xing game, on the other hand, can be looked upon as an entertaining but serious game.

The two are quite different but to integrate them together would be a joke of bad taste.


Sherab Wong said...

Dear Joseph, Hi Howard,

Happy New Year to you!
I am just speaking out whatever is in someone's mind, their projections about what is 'grand' and who is the 'master' - as this is a game, pls don't take it seriously.
Whether we like to talk about it or not, it is in the mind of many people, especially western FS enthusiasts.
No mud, no lotus. I believe we can sometimes learn great lessons from even worst scenarios.
Hence it is good to 'transform' it from some superstitious belief into some enlightening game, of course, not with bad taste.
People try to idolize someone else in order to complement their incompleteness. in other words, they are not 'in balance' - and balance gotta do with the Five Elements, don't you think so?
To study and practice FS, it's good if we can listen to what the Buddha said:
1.Rely on the message of the teacher, not on his personality (依法不依人);
2.Rely on the meaning, not just on the words(依義不依語);
3.Rely on the real meaning, not on the provisional one (依了義經不依不了義經);
4.Rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgemental mind (依智不依識).

In reality, no one is inferior to another, and everyone is their own Grand Master of Life.

As the new year comes, how wonderful if we can teach and learn FS as education, rather than just some transmissions of knowledge and skills and experience? Wisdom and a humble heart are needed to do so.

Cheers and happy new year!

Sherab Wong

Sherab Wong said...

Hi Howard,
Totally agree with your views.
Only self awareness and deep knowledge can prevent us from falling into this trap.
Education, discussions, exchange of views - the phenomenon need to be addressed before it can be resolved, or at least be brought to a higher level of awareness.
Avoiding the problem is also an Ah Q syndrome.
Thanks to the Wu Xing theory, so that we can now look for real remedies for some mental/elemental inbalance- which can possibly happen to anyone, including you and me.
Then we can progress together, helping each other, reaching the same goal - harmoniously and collectively.
Let's emanate some Qi of Peace and Happiness in this coming 2009!


Fourpillars.net said...

Dear Joseph,

I think this is a good example of where using 5 element classification stops making sense.

First of all, because there are 5 classic canons does not automatically imply that each of them must be related to a different element.
One could equally find a way to make the case that 3 of them belong to Wood and the 2 others are Earth in nature.

This kind of classification is only a game indeed, but if people take it serious then it can be a damaging game.
Some people may conclude that they should not touch the I Ching book, because it is Water (and maybe Water is unfavorable in their 4P chart..)

At the end of the day all books are Wood because they are made of paper. But then black ink was used to print them, so the book also contains Water..
We can go on like this and will find that every book contains all 5 elements in some way or other..

At best this kind of classification is a kind of "jogging for the mind", it keeps the brain fit.

Happy New Year


Joseph Yu said...

Dear Danny

This is exactly the point. Five element addicts connect everything with the five elements. This includes classifying all kinds of jobs and professions into the five elements.

One classic example is to consider the restaurant business with fire just because fire is used in the kitchen for cooking. Therefore if fire is unfavourable to a person according to his bazi, then he should not work in a restaurant or run a restaurant business. This is very bad advice.


Howard said...

Hi Joseph and Danny,

Couldn't agree with you more, therefore it is important that we understand the nature of correlative thinking, not as a tool to predict or to judge, but as a tool to contrast and to "oriented human beings in a very practical manner to their external surroundings".


Best wishes for the new year.


Antje said...

Hi Howard,

you might find the source of the Five Canons version you asked for on Dec 28th in the Bai Hu Tong. It´s in the 39th chapter on the Five Canons.

Hope this helps,