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Five-element theory and Lao & Chuang

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How does the five-element theory of Chinese philosophy relate to the ways of Lao tse and Chuang tse? Do they have anything to say about it? And if so, is this positive, neutral or negative?

 

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If I remember right, the wuxing developed after the DDJ was written. 

 

But understanding wuxing (like understanding I Ching) is very much about about understanding change. 

 

And Isn't that a core daoist thing? 

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It would be nice if you could post a link on that. I am trying to understand the Tao Te Ching (and the Chuang tse) from a modern scientific perspective, and that would be much more difficult when the five-element theory or the I Ching formed an integral part of it.

 

Change as a fundamental aspect of our world on the other hand is also recognized by modern science, so that would pose no problem.

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Rochat de la Vallee 

Wu Xing 

The five elements in chinese classical texts. 

 

Been years since I read it. 

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Wuxing is mentioned just one time in ZZ

 

'I should like to hear about the three swords,' said the king; and Zhuangzi went on, 'There is the sword of the Son of Heaven; the sword of a feudal prince; and the sword of a common man.' 'What about the sword of the Son of Heaven?' 'This sword has Yan-qi and Shi-cheng for its point; Qi and (Mount) Dai for its edge; Jin and Wei for its back; Zhou and Song for its hilt; Han and Wei for its sheath. It is embraced by the wild tribes all around; it is wrapped up in the four seasons; it is bound round by the Sea of Bo; and its girdle is the enduring hills. It is regulated by the five elements; its wielding is by means of Punish ments and Kindness; its unsheathing is like that of the Yin and Yang; it is held fast in the spring and summer; it is put in action in the autumn and winter. When it is thrust forward, there is nothing in front of it; when lifted up, there is nothing above it; when laid down, there is nothing below it; when wheeled round, there is nothing left on any side of it; above, it cleaves the floating clouds; and below, it penetrates to every division of the earth. Let this sword be once used, and the princes are all reformed, and the whole kingdom submits. This is the sword of the Son of Heaven.'

 

and not once in DDJ proper. It occurs 2 times in Heshangong DDJ as an equivalent of 4 seasons.

 

In general, 5 elements are not prominent in proto-daoist texts, with possible exception of medical literature, where they have but a marginal significance. They are important in confucianism.

 

 

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Thank you very much! This is a happy day indeed. :D

 

Perhaps you also know the answer to my question about the I Ching? See:

 

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5 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

Rochat de la Vallee 

Wu Xing 

The five elements in chinese classical texts. 

 

Been years since I read it. 

An excellent work in my opinion, as is her 'Secret Treatise on the Spiritual Orchid'.

By the way, the advanced five element theory of 'Tian Gan Di Zhi' sheds some light on the  five  elements and daoist alchemy...the link on this is here http://masteracupuncture.co.uk/secret medicine.html

Enjoy

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@Mikeyboy1111  I'm sure that if you presented this branch of alchemy in a thread, people here would stand in line to beg to differ 😁. 

 

I failed to see any reference to how this method would produce any Dan, and as always I find the correlations between quantum physics and (insert pre-scientific theory or mystical experience here), but maybe you will be able to show that in a clear way? 

I hope so, it would be interesting. 

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23 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

@Mikeyboy1111  I'm sure that if you presented this branch of alchemy in a thread, people here would stand in line to beg to differ 😁. 

 

I failed to see any reference to how this method would produce any Dan, and as always I find the correlations between quantum physics and (insert pre-scientific theory or mystical experience here), but maybe you will be able to show that in a clear way? 

I hope so, it would be interesting. 

Well, as you probably know, the fusion of the five elements at the lower dan creates, controls and nourishes the Spirit foetus.

 

The five elements themselves were created from the five forces; those five forces were created by the five heavens. And so, the five elements are all about the quality of qi and not the quantity of qi. 

 

This is why the way is greater or lesser, longer or shorter, quicker or slower.

 

Sure, there are many valid daoist practices for increasing the quantity of (yang) qi and opening energy gates. This is working with the qi of earth. Eventually though, it becomes necessary to work with heavenly qi, nourishing Spirit growth through internal harmonising and the harmonisation of the internal with the external. This is done alchemically through the balancing of the five elements.

 

This may be of interest to you, just saying.

 

 

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Since I do not follow a daoist method, I lack knowledge about how these descriptions relate to actual practice. When you compare modern books on the subject with translations of classics, they seem to talk about different things. 

 

As for myself, I practice a method that probably came out of a tantrik practice. That means, that even though I easily could superimpose an interpretation of what you wrote on my practice, we might still be using these terms for very different sensations. 

 

When you use the terms qi of earth and heaven, is that a reference to pre- and post-heaven energetics made famous here in earlier Nei Dan threads (that would be my interpretation)? 

There are other possibilities, but in the context I found them less likely. 

 

Since my practice also have roots in the five elements, I have read the Matsumoto/Birch book on the subject. 

At the time, years ago, I found it less useful than the book mentioned above. But much water has flowed under the bridge since then and I have another understanding of the subject now. Maybe I should give it another try. 

I recall it had discussions about the trigrams as well, a subject where I have opinions not shared in the I Ching section of this forum. 😁 

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2 minutes ago, Mudfoot said:

Since I do not follow a daoist method, I lack knowledge about how these descriptions relate to actual practice. When you compare modern books on the subject with translations of classics, they seem to talk about different things. 

 

As for myself, I practice a method that probably came out of a tantrik practice. That means, that even though I easily could superimpose an interpretation of what you wrote on my practice, we might still be using these terms for very different sensations. 

 

When you use the terms qi of earth and heaven, is that a reference to pre- and post-heaven energetics made famous here in earlier Nei Dan threads (that would be my interpretation)? 

There are other possibilities, but in the context I found them less likely. 

 

Since my practice also have roots in the five elements, I have read the Matsumoto/Birch book on the subject. 

At the time, years ago, I found it less useful than the book mentioned above. But much water has flowed under the bridge since then and I have another understanding of the subject now. Maybe I should give it another try. 

I recall it had discussions about the trigrams as well, a subject where I have opinions not shared in the I Ching section of this forum. 😁 

Hello Mudfoot,

 

I agree, tantric practice is a great way to activate, stimulate, refine and purify essence.

 

The qi of heaven is the five elements. The qi of earth is the deep energies, the six divisions. The pre-heavenly trigram arrangement describes the creation of the five elements; the five from the eight confounds many and is a mystery not known to many. The post-heavenly trigram arrangement manifests the five elements. The connection between the two trigram arrangements cannot be overlooked when examining the process of energy manifesting as matter.

My own take on the Matsumoto/Birch book is a japanese misunderstanding of what stems & branches really means. Not even a valiant effort, so why give it another try?

 

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Posted (edited)
On 2018-05-23 at 11:48 PM, Mikeyboy1111 said:

 

My own take on the Matsumoto/Birch book is a japanese misunderstanding of what stems & branches really means. Not even a valiant effort, so why give it another try?

 

Do you have a better resource? 

 

Edit 2018-05-28:

Looking at it again, I get the impression some of the eight trigram stuff is reverse-engineered from a list of correspondences, not realizing that five elements to eight trigrams mean you have doubles. And they picked the wrong ones (wrong defined as not the ones used in several buddhist and daoist methods). 

Edited by Mudfoot
Added stuff here instead of creating another post.

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6 hours ago, Mikeyboy1111 said:

 the five from the eight confounds many and is a mystery not known to many.

 

M/B have a take on that. 

Confusingly, it is different from how it is done in my tradition. 

And both methods probably differs from yours. 

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On 22/05/2018 at 12:11 AM, Mudfoot said:

If I remember right, the wuxing developed after the DDJ was written. 

 

 

Earlier ---> The Yellow Emperor ---> Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor aka Huangdi Neijing.

 

The TTC may come as a religious 'fairy tale,' I much prefer the practicality of the former, which is pure and down to earth Taoist Science, the oldest form of known science in our 'planet.'

 

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1 hour ago, Gerard said:

Earlier ---> The Yellow Emperor ---> Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor aka Huangdi Neijing.

 

The TTC may come as a religious 'fairy tale,' I much prefer the practicality of the former, which is pure and down to earth Taoist Science, the oldest form of known science in our 'planet.'

 

Maybe it is older, and maybe it's not:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huangdi_Neijing#Date_of_composition

 

Quote

the oldest form of known science in our 'planet.'

 

Certainly not correct. Take a look at the world history of science for a comparison. But I am not going to debate this, because you would have known it if you were interested. In fact it's not very fruitful to look for a winner, because all great ancient civilizations had some forms of science. See:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science#Early_cultures

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15 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

M/B have a take on that. 

Confusingly, it is different from how it is done in my tradition. 

And both methods probably differs from yours. 

 

Daoist cosmology perfectly describes the creation of the five elements from the Fu Hsi trigram arrangement. There is no method, it is what it is...interestingly this phenomenon is described in the Huang Di Nei Jing, one of the oldest books known to mankind and itself a transcript of oral transmissions going back 4500 years. The jewel in the crown of the Yellow Emperor's classic is the alchemy of 'tian gan di zhi' aka Stems & Branches.

Is that helpful?

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Posted (edited)

No. 

 

I am a believer of the process Bruce Frantzis describes:

 

This is what it says, 

This is what it means, 

This is how you do it. 

 

Things are what they are, yes. 

But without a method I will not be able to experience that for my self, that is, no alchemical transformation will take place in me. It will only be either an intellectual knowledge or an observation. 

 

So the trigrams are what they are, as the elements. But what are they? And there we enter the world of different traditions, with different takes on the subject, which brings me back to that excellent quote you used in your post 😎. 

 

And if you by the five elements mean wuxing, I believe taomeow did an excellent post on the correlations between the trigrams and the wuxing some time ago. 

Close but no cigar, if I remember right. 

Edited by Mudfoot
Added sentence

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Posted (edited)

Ahh yes, Kumar is a great teacher (I am a former qigong student of his), especially so in the first two stages of the  daoist approach to spiritual realisation e.g. lao tsu's traditional water meditation method. Even so, the third stage is not methodical. It is the approach of 'wu wei wu'. Here, the harmonising of the five elements, whose fusion created the Spirit foetus, creates Spirit realisation.

 

There are no different traditions when it comes to the authentic meaning of the trigrams and five elements. This is probably the root of your confusion and many others on trigram and five element understanding.

 

Thanks for the taomeow link, I will check it out at some point.

 

 

Edited by Mikeyboy1111
inaccuracy
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2 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

No. 

 

I am a believer of the process Bruce Frantzis describes:

 

This is what it says, 

This is what it means, 

This is how you do it. 

 

Things are what they are, yes. 

But without a method I will not be able to experience that for my self, that is, no alchemical transformation will take place in me. It will only be either an intellectual knowledge or an observation. 

 

So the trigrams are what they are, as the elements. But what are they? And there we enter the world of different traditions, with different takes on the subject, which brings me back to that excellent quote you used in your post 😎. 

 

And if you by the five elements mean wuxing, I believe taomeow did an excellent post on the correlations between the trigrams and the wuxing some time ago. 

Close but no cigar, if I remember right. 

 

Can you please send me the link of this post?

 

 

 

1 hour ago, Mikeyboy1111 said:

Ahh yes, Kumar is a great teacher (I am a former qigong student of his), especially so in the first two stages of the  daoist approach to spiritual realisation e.g. lao tsu's traditional water meditation method. Even so, the third stage is not methodical. It is the approach of 'wu wei wu'. Here, the harmonising of the five elements, whose fusion created the Spirit foetus, creates Spirit realisation.

 

There are no different traditions when it comes to the authentic meaning of the trigrams and five elements. This is probably the root of your confusion and many others on trigram and five element understanding.

 

This rings true, thanks.

May I ask where have you learnt acupuncture? In the West (Western teacher) or in the East (Eastern teacher)?

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Mikeyboy1111 said:

 

There are no different traditions when it comes to the authentic meaning of the trigrams and five elements. This is probably the root of your confusion and many others on trigram and five element understanding.

 

 

I know. 

I have the authentic understanding, the rest of you sad sods are walking through side doors with level zero dead-end practices. (You have to go back to 2016 to get that one) 😅

 

But I do have a collection of how others do this, in my PPD. I would be happy to add yours if you care to describe it more. 

Edited by Mudfoot
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Found an interesting take by Jeffrey Yuen who said that Laozi didn't talk about 5 elements because he didn't like naming and categorizing. Zhuangzi made brief reference to them but was similar to Laozi in that he felt one could do away with the need for such things by pure living, inside and out.

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My understanding of the history (which is shaky at best) is that Wuxing theory developed as it's own school of thought during the Warring States period and was only later incorporated by "Taoist" lineages. During the Warring States there was the Hundred Schools of Thought that were each competing with each other. There was the Wuxing School and the Yin Yang School etc. And these were all basically contemporary with the DDJ, ZZ, Neiye and other proto-Taoist stuff. It was only later that certain lineages began to bring them all together. 

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Although not developed into its present form until the Han dynasty, the origins of wuxing extend far back into the earliest records of Chinese intellectual history.  In the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.E.), oracle bone inscriptions

 

Between the Shang and Han dynasties, a number of texts were compiled that collectively shed light on the development of what became wuxing thought.  Chief among these are some of the “Five Classics” alleged to have been written during the Zhou dynasty (1045-256 B.C.E.) 

 

In Zuo Zhuan’s record on the 27th year of the reign of Duke Xiang (590-573 B.C.E.), the text says: “Heaven has produced the five elements which supply humankind’s requirements, and the people use them all.  Not one of them can be dispensed with.”  Although English translations of this passage usually say “five elements” and we would expect the Chinese text to say wuxing, actually the text uses wu cai (“five materials” as in “raw materials”). 

 

In the 7th year of the reign of Duke Wen (626-609 B.C.E.), the text says: “Water, fire, metal, wood, earth, and grains are called the six natural resources (or treasures) (liu fu).”  The character fu is used for the treasures of nature; the natural resources for life. 

 

During the Han dynasty, one of the most fundamental texts containing material on wuxing theory was the Huainanzi (The Masters of Huainan, 139 B.C.E.).  This text says: “The natural qualities of Heaven and Earth do not exceed five.  The sage is able to use wuxing correctly in order to govern without waste.”  The Huainanzi shows the move to standardize the number five.  It continues to draw out the correlations between wuxing in cosmology and morality, and it extends the medical implications of the system.  Sages who know what to do with the wuxing are able to rule the country, heal patients, and manage the transformations of life and longevity.  It seems that this text conflates Daoist notions of immortals (xian) with those who possess the skill necessary to master the five elements.

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10 minutes ago, Nathan Brine said:

My understanding of the history (which is shaky at best) is that Wuxing theory developed as it's own school of thought during the Warring States period and was only later incorporated by "Taoist" lineages. During the Warring States there was the Hundred Schools of Thought that were each competing with each other. There was the Wuxing School and the Yin Yang School etc. And these were all basically contemporary with the DDJ, ZZ, Neiye and other proto-Taoist stuff. It was only later that certain lineages began to bring them all together. 

 

Yin-Yang and Wu Xing theory is said to originate from the School of Naturalists but the history around this seems to be quite a mystery...:)

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On 5/23/2018 at 9:47 PM, Mikeyboy1111 said:

Well, as you probably know, the fusion of the five elements at the lower dan creates, controls and nourishes the Spirit foetus.

 

How do you do this ... which practice do you do?

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