The Wu Xing, or the Five Movements, Five Phases or Five Steps/Stages, are chiefly an ancient mnemonic device, in many traditional Chinese fields.
It is sometimes translated as Five Elements, but the Wu Xing are chiefly an ancient mnemonic device, hence the preferred translation of "movements", "phases" or "steps" over "elements". By the same token, Mu is thought of as "Tree" rather than "Wood".
The five elements are:
- Fire (Chinese: 火, pinyin: huo)
- Earth (Chinese: 土, pinyin: tu)
- Metal (Chinese: 金, pinyin: jin)
- Water (Chinese: 水, pinyin: shui)
- Wood (Chinese: 木, pinyin: mù)
| The Wu Xing (the Five Movements, the Five Phases, the Five Steps or the Five Stages)
||Change of seasons
(Every third month)
The doctrine of five phases describes two cycles, a generating or creation (生, sheng) cycle, also known as "mother-son", and an overcoming or
destruction (剋/克, kè) cycle, also known as "grandfather-nephew", of interactions between the phases.
The common memory jogs, which help to remind in what order the phases are:
- Wood feeds Fire;
- Fire creates Earth (ash);
- Earth bears Metal;
- Metal carries Water (as in a bucket or tap, or water condenses on metal);
- Water nourishes Wood
- Wood absorbs Water;
- Water rusts Metal;
- Metal breaks up Earth;
- Earth smothers Fire;
- Fire burns Wood.
- Wood parts Earth (such as roots; or, Trees can prevent soil erosion);
- Earth absorbs (or muddies) Water (or Earth dam control the water);
- Water quenches Fire;
- Fire melts Metal;
- Metal chops Wood.
Taijitu (Traditional Chinese: 太極圖; Simplified Chinese: 太极图; Wade-Giles: T'ai Chi T'u; Pinyin: tài jí tú; Rough English translation: “diagram of ultimate power”) is a term which refers to a Chinese symbol for the concept of yin and yang (Taiji). The taijitu consists of a symmetrical pattern inside a circle. One common pattern has an S-shaped line that divides the circle into two equal parts of different colors. The pattern may have one or more large dots. The classic Taoist taijitu (pictured right), for example, is black and white with a black dot upon the white background, and a white dot upon the black background.
Yin and yang
In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang ([yin – simplified Chinese: 阴; traditional Chinese: 陰; pinyin: yīn] [yang – simplified Chinese: 阳; traditional Chinese: 陽; pinyin: yáng], normally referred to in the West as yin and yang) is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other. The concept lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (tai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung) and of I Ching divination. Many natural dualities—e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot— are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).
Yin yang are complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in western cultures.
There is a perception (especially in the West) that yin and yang correspond to evil and good. However, Taoist philosophy generally discounts good/bad distinctions and other dichotomous moral judgments, in preference to the idea of balance. Confucianism (most notably the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu, c. the 2nd century BCE) did attach a moral dimension to the idea of yin and yang, but the modern sense of the term largely stems from Buddhist adaptations of Taoist philosophy.
The word "Dao" (道) has a variety of meanings in both ancient and modern Chinese language. Aside from its purely prosaic use to mean road, channel, path, doctrine, or similar, the word has acquired a variety of differing and often confusing metaphorical, philosophical and religious uses. In most belief systems, Dao is used symbolically in its sense of 'way' as the 'right' or 'proper' way of existence, or in the context of ongoing practices of attainment or of the full coming into being, or the state of enlightenment or spiritual perfection that is the outcome of such practices. Some scholars make sharp distinctions between moral or ethical usage of the word Dao that is prominent in Confucianism and religious Daoism and the more metaphysical usage of the term used in philosophical Daoism and most forms of Mahayana Buddhism; others maintain that these are not separate usages or meanings, seeing them as mutually inclusive and compatible approaches to defining the concept. The original use of the term was as a form of praxis rather than theory - a term used as a convention to refer to something that otherwise cannot be discussed in words - and early writings such as the Dao De Jing and the I Ching make pains to distinguish between conceptions of Dao (sometimes referred to as "named Dao") and the Dao itself (the "unnamed Dao"), which cannot be expressed or understood in language. Liu Da asserts that Dao is properly understood as an experiential and evolving concept, and that there are not only cultural and religious differences in the interpretation of Dao, but personal differences that reflect the character of individual practitioners.
Dao can be roughly thought of as the flow of the universe, or as some essence or pattern behind the natural world that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.It is related to the idea of qi, the essential energy of action and existence. Dao is a non-dual concept - it is the greater whole from which all the individual elements of the universe derive. Keller considers it similar to the negative theology of Western scholars, but Dao is rarely an object of direct worship, being treated more like the Hindu concepts of karma or dharma than as a divine object.Dao is more commonly expressed in the relationship between wu (void or emptiness, in the sense of wuji) and yinyang (the natural dynamic balance between opposites), leading to its central principle of wu wei (non-action, or action without force).
Dao is usually described in terms of elements of nature, and in particular as similar to water. Like water it is undifferentiated, endlessly self-replenishing, soft and quiet but immensely powerful, and impassively generous.Much of Daoist philosophy centers on the cyclical continuity of the natural world, and its contrast to the linear, goal-oriented actions of human beings.
Feng shui (/ˌfʌŋˈʃweɪ/ ( listen) fung-SHWAY, formerly /ˈfʌŋʃuː.i/ FUNG-shoo-ee; Chinese: 風水, pronounced (or Fung shui) is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu (simplified Chinese: 堪舆; traditional Chinese: 堪輿; pinyin: kānyú; literally: Tao of heaven and earth).
The term feng shui literally translates as "wind-water" in English. This is a cultural shorthand taken from the following passage of the Zangshu (Book of Burial) by Guo Pu of the Jin Dynasty.
Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.
Depending on the particular style of feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or a compass.