Inter -  Faiths  Dialogue

Illusion ? > Qi, Prana, Pneuma

18  quote(s)  | Page 1 / 1

I said, "The human mind and things form the same body. In the case of one's body, blood and the vital force in fact circulate through it and therefore we can say they form the same body. In the case of men, their bodies are different and differ even more from those of animals and plants. How can they be said to form the same body?"
The Teacher said, "Just look at the matter from the point of view of the subtle incipient activating force of their mutual influence and response. Not only animals and plants, but heaven and earth also, form the same body with me. Spiritual beings also form the same body with me.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2452 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 3:57a-58b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 


E ven Heaven and Earth cannot exist without the innate knowledge that is inherent in man. For at bottom Heaven, Earth, the myriad things, and man form one body. The point at which this unity manifests in its most refined and excellent form is the clear intelligence of the human mind. Wind, rain, dew, thunder, sun and moon, stars, animals and plants, mountains and rivers, earth and stones are essentially of one body with man. It is for this reason that such things as the grains and animals can nourish man and that such things as medicine and minerals can heal diseases. Since they share the same material force, they enter into one another."

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2448 | 
Wang Wen-ch'eng Kung ch'uan-shu, or Complete Works of Wang Yang-ming, Instruction for a Practical Living, 3:29b-30a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 35 
material force = Qi


W hen a thing first comes into existence, material force comes gradually into it to enrich its vitality. As it reaches its maturity, material force gradually reverts to where it came from, wanders off and disperses. Its coming means positive spiritual force (shen), because it is expanding (shen). Its reversion means negative spiritual force (kuei), because it is returning (kuei).

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2390 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Cheng-meng, ch. 5, Chang Tzu ch'uan-shu, sppy, 2:16a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 


I n its original state of Great Vacuity, material force (Qi) is absolutely tranquil and formless. As it is acted upon, it engenders the two fundamental elements of yin and yang, and through integration gives rise to forms. (1)

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2376 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
(1) Generally referring to physical forms and specifically referring to the Four Secondary Forms or Modes variously identified as Metal, Wood, Water, and Fire or yin, yang, strength, and weakness, or major and minor yang and major and minor yin.


M aterial force moves and flows in all directions and in all manners. Its two elements unite and give rise to the concrete. Thus the multiplicity of things and human beings is produced. In their ceaseless successions the two elements of yin and yang constitute the great principles of the universe.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2375 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 


F rom the Great Vacuity, there is Heaven. From the transformation of material force, there is the Way. In the unity of the Great Vacuity and material force, there is the nature (of man and things). And in the unity of the nature and consciousness, there is the mind.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2371 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
material force = Qi


T he Great Vacuity is clear. Being clear, it cannot be obstructed. Not being obstructed, it is therefore spirit. The opposite of clearness is turbidity. Turbidity leads to obstruction. And obstruction leads to physical form. When material force is clear, it penetrates; and when it is turbid, it obstructs. When clearness reaches its limit, there is spirit. When spirit concentrates, it penetrates like the breeze going through the holes (of musical instruments), producing tones and carrying them to great distances. This is the evidence of clearness. As if arriving at the destination without the necessity of going there, penetration reaches the highest degree.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2370 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
material force = Qi


T he integration and disintegration of material force is to the Great Vacuity as the freezing and melting of ice is to water. If we realize that the Great Vacuity is identical with material force, we know that there is no such thing as non-being.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2369 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
material force = Qi


I f material force integrates, its visibility becomes effective and physical form appears. If material force does not integrate, its visibility is not effective and there is no physical form. While material force is integrated, how can one not say that it is temporary? While it is disintegrated, how can one hastily say that it is non-being? For this reason, the sage, having observed phenomena and examined above and below, only claims to know the causes of what is hidden and what is manifest but does not claim to know the causes of being and non-being.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2364 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
material force = Qi


T he Great Vacuity of necessity consists of material force. Material force of necessity integrates to become the myriad things. Things of necessity disintegrate and return to the Great Vacuity.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2359 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 
material force = Qi


A lthough material force in the universe integrates and disintegrates, and attracts and repulses in a hundred ways, nevertheless the principle (li) according to which it operates has an order and is unerring.
As an entity, material force simply reverts to its original substance when it disintegrates and becomes formless. When it integrates and assumes form, it does not lose the eternal principle (of Change).
The Great Vacuity of necessity consists of material force. Material force of necessity integrates to become the myriad things. Things of necessity disintegrate and return to the Great Vacuity.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2358 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 


T he Great Vacuity (Hsu) has no physical form. It is the original substance of material force. Its integration and disintegration are but objectifications caused by Change.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2356 | 
Chang Tsai, Cheng-meng, Ch.1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 30 


M aterial force is one. It is produced by ch'ien (the Principle of Heaven). Spirit is also one. Through material force it changes and transforms, and operates freely in the realm of existence and nonexistence as well as in the realm of life and death. It has no spatial restrictions and is unfathomable.

Confucianism / Neo Confucianism Quote n°2337 | 
Shao Yung, Supreme Principle Governing the World (Huang-Chi Ching Shu), 7B:2b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 29 
(1) Material force = Qi


B efore heaven and earth took shape, there was only undifferentiated forrmlessness. Therefore it was called the great beginning. (1) Tao originated from vacuity and vacuity produced the universe (of space and time). (2) The universe produced the material force. The material force was extremely secure. (3) That which was clear and light drifted up to become heaven, and that which was heavy and turbid solidified to form earth. It was especially easy for the clear and refined to unite but extremely difficult for the heavy and turbid to solidify. Therefore heaven was formed first and the earth became definite later. The material forces (4) of Heaven and Earth combined to form yin and yang. The concentrated forces of yin and yang became the four seasons, and the scattered forces of the four seasons became the myriad things. When the hot force of yang accumulated, fire was produced and the essence of the material force of fire became the sun. When the cold force of yin accumulated, water was produced and the essence of the material force of water became the moon. The excess of the essence of the sun and moon became the stars and planets. Heaven received the sun, moon, and stars, while earth received water and soil.

Daoism Quote n°2270 | 
Huai-nan Tzu, SPPY, 3: 1 a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 17. 
(1) Read chao (light) as shih (beginning), according to Wang Nien-sun (2) According to Kao Yu, yu-chou (universe) means space (yu) and time (chou). (3) Instead of translating the Chinese phrase as "having limits" as practically all other translators have done, I have followed Kao Yu's interpretation. (4) Ching means material force, according to Kao Yu.


T here was a beginning. (2) There was a time before that begining. (*1) (3) There was a time before the time which was before the beginning. (4) There was being. (5) There was non-being. (6) There was a time before that non-being. (7) There was a time before the time which was before that non-being.

(1) What is meant by "There was a beginning" is that there was accumulation which has not sprung unto activity. There were signs of sprouts and shoots but no physical form. (*2) Like insects moving (*3) they are about to spring into life but their species have not yet been formed.

(2) At the time before that beginning, the material force (ch'i) of Heaven began to descend and that of Earth began to ascend. Yin and yang interacted and united, competing leisurely to expand in the universe. Embracing genuine character and containing harmony, they were interfused and stayed together.. (*4) They wanted to come in contact with other things but they had not yet had physical form.

(3) At the stage when there was a time before the time which was before the beginning, Heaven contained harmony but had not yet descended, and Earth embraced the material force but had not yet ascended. It was empty, quiet, desolate, and dark, there was nothing which was even indistinct. At last the material force greatly penetrated the realm of darkness.

(4) "There was being" means that the myriad things appeared (*5) in great numbers. The roots, stems, branches, and leaves of plants were young, luxuriant, flourishing, and colorful. Insects flew, moved, crawled, and breathed. They could be touched and grasped and they could be counted in quantities.

(5) "There was non-being" means that the eye looked at it but could not see any form. The ear listened to it but could not hear any sound. The hand touched it but could not feel anything tangible. And as one look at it, its limit could not be reached. Great and extensive, it could not be measured and was identical with light.

(6) At the time before that non-being, Heaven and Earth were enclosed and the myriad things were molded and produced. The great universal (Tao) (*6) was undifferentiated and noumenal. Nothing, however deep, extensive, vast, or great, existed beyond it. Even the minutest hair and the sharpest point could not exist within it. It was space without surrounding walls. It produced the root of being and non-being.

(7) At the time before the time which was before that non-being, heaven and earth had not come into existence and yin and yang had not been distinguished. The four seasons had not yet separated and the myriad things had not yet been born. It was extremely peaceful and very tranquil. Forms were not yet visible. It was like light in the midst of nonbeing which retreats and is lost sight of. (*7)

Daoism Quote n°2269 | 
Huai-nan Tzu, SPPY, 2: la-2a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 17. 
The seven stages were first mentioned by Chuang Tzu (ch.2, nhcc, 1:33b) but Huai-nan Tzu provided them with a content. Hu Shih (1891-1962) has arranged them in this order: 7, 3, 6, 2, 1, 4, 5 Huainan Tzu's view may not be scientific or logical. It is remarkable, however, that in an age of prevalent superstitions and common belief in prodigies, he should have maintained an absolutely naturalistic attitude toward creation.


E ssence and material force (ch'i) are combined to become things. The wandering away of spirit (force) becomes change. From this we know that the characteristics and conditions of spiritual beings are similar to those of Heaven and Earth and therefore there is no disagreement between them. The knowledge [of spirit] embraces all things and its way helps all under heaven, and therefore there is no mistake. It operates freely and does not go off course. It rejoices in Nature (T'ien, Heaven) and understands destiny. Therefore there is no worry. As [things] are contented in their stations and earnest in practicing kindness, there can be love. It molds and encompasses all transformations of Heaven and Earth without mistake, and it stoops to bring things into completion without missing any. It penetrates to a knowledge of the course of day and night. (1) Therefore spirit has no spatial restriction and Change has no physical form.

Confucianism Quote n°2266 | 
Books Of Changes, APPENDED REMARKS," PT. 1, Ch. 4, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 13. 
Exactly what is meant by "spirit" is not clear, but it is surely not the spirit of a deceased person that influences human affairs. Traditionally kuei-shen means either simply spirits of ancestors or spiritual beings. In the latter case, it may mean either good or evil spirits or the positive and negative aspects of the soul, respectively. But here it is simply the unfathomable force behind all transformations. Later in Neo-Confucianism, it is to be understood purely as the spontaneous activity of yin and yang.


A ll species have originative or moving power (chi). When they obtain water, they become small organisms like silk. In a place bordering water and land, they become lichens. Thriving on the bank, they become moss. On the fertile soil they become weeds. The roots of these weeds become worms, and their leaves become butterflies. Suddenly the butterfly is transformed into an insect, which is born under the stove (for its heat), and which has the appearance of having its skin shed. Its name is called chu-t'o. After a thousand days, chu-t'o becomes a bird called kan-yu-ku. The spittle of the kan-yu-ku becomes an insect called ssu-mi. The ssu-mi becomes a wine fly, which produces the insect called I-lu. The insect huang-k'uang produces the insect called chiu-yu. Mosquitos come from the rotten insects called huan. The plant yanghsi paired with the bamboo which for a Iong, time has had no shoot, produces the insect called ch'ing-ning. The ch'ing-ning produces the insect called ch'eng, ch'eng produces the horse, and the horse produces men. Man again goes back into the originative process of Nature. All things come from the originative process of Nature and return to the originative process of Nature.

Daoism Quote n°2253 | 
Chuang Tzu, ch. 18 (school of Tchuang Tzu), NHCC, 6:36a-b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 8. 
Is this natural evolution? Hu Shih (1891-1962) thinks so (See his Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China, pp. 131-139). Whether it is or not, it cannot be doubted that Chuang Tzu conceived reality as ever changing and as developing from the simple to the complex.


T ao produced the One.
The One produced the two.
The two produced the three.
And the three produced the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry the yin and embrace the yang, (1) and through the blending of the material force (ch'i) (2) they achieve harmony.

Daoism Quote n°2199 | 
Laozi 42, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 
It is often understood that the One is the original material force or the Great Ultimate, the two are yin and yang, the three are their blending with the original material force, and the ten thousand things are things carrying yin and embracing yang. However, there is no need to be specific. The important point is the natural evolution from the simple to the complex without any act of creation. This theory is common to practically all Chinese philosophical schools.


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