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凡人在世，不能不作事，作事之後，不能不有吉凶。見吉則指以為前時擇日之福， 見凶則刺以為往者觸忌之禍。多或擇日而得禍，觸忌而獲福。工伎射事者欲遂其術，見禍忌而不言， 聞福匿而不達，積禍以驚不慎，列福以勉畏時。故世人無愚智、賢不肖、人君布衣，皆畏懼信向， 不敢抵犯。歸之久遠，莫能分明，以為天地之書、賢聖之術也。人君惜其官，人民愛其身，相隨信之， 不復狐疑。故人君興事，工伎滿閤；人民有為，觸傷問時。奸書偽文，由此滋生。巧惠生意，作知求 利，驚惑愚暗，漁富偷貧，愈非古法度聖人之至意也。
聖人舉事，先定於義，義已定立，決以卜筮 ，示不專己，明與鬼神同意共指，欲令眾下信用不疑。故《書》列七卜，《易》載八卦， 從之未必有福，違之未必有禍。
孔子曰：「死生有命，富貴在天。」苟有時日，誠有禍祟，聖人何惜不言？何畏不 說？案古圖籍，仕者安危，千君萬臣，其得失吉凶，官位高下，位祿降升，各有差品。家人治產，貧富 息耗，壽命長短，各有遠近。非高大尊貴舉事以吉日，下小卑賤以凶時也。
以此論之，則亦知禍福死生，不在遭逢吉祥、觸犯凶忌也。然則人之生也，精氣 育也；人之死者，命窮絕也。人之生，未必得吉逢喜；其死，獨何為謂之犯凶觸忌？以孔 子證之，以死生論之，則亦知夫百禍千凶，非動作之所致也。
孔子聖人、知府也，死生、大事也，大事、道效也。孔子云：「死生有命 ，富貴在天。」眾文微言不能奪，俗人愚夫不能易，明矣。 人之於世，禍福有命；人之操行，亦自致之。其安居無為，禍福自至，命也；其作事起功， 吉凶至身，人也。
能行之物，死傷病困，小大相害。或人捕取，以給口腹，非作窠穿穴有所觸， 東西行徙有所犯也。人有死生，物亦有終始；人有起居，物亦有動作。血脈、首足、耳目、鼻口與 人不別，惟好惡與人不同，故人不能曉其音，不見其指耳！及其游於黨類，接於同品，其知去就， 與人無異。共天同地，並仰日月，而鬼神之禍，獨加於人，不加於物，未曉其故也。天地之性、人 為貴，豈天禍為貴者作，不為賤者設哉？何其性類同而禍患別也？
歷陽之都，一夕沉而為湖，其民未必皆犯歲、月也。高祖始起，豐、沛俱復， 其民未必皆慎時日也。項羽攻襄安，襄安無類，未必不禱賽也。趙軍為秦所坑於長平之下，四十萬眾同 時俱死，其出家時，未必不擇時也。
Chapter XLIII. Criticisms on Noxious Influences (Pien-sui).
It is a common belief that evil influences cause our diseases and our deaths, and that in case of continual calamities, penalties, ignominious execution, and derision there has been some offence. 1 When in commencing a building, in moving our residence, in sacrificing, mourning, burying, and other rites, in taking up office or marrying, no lucky day has been chosen, or an unpropitious year or month have not been avoided, one falls in with demons and meets spirits, which at that ominous time work disaster. Thus sickness, misfortunes, the implication in criminal cases, punishments, and even deaths, the destruction of a family, and the annihilation of a whole house are brought about by carelessness and disregard of an unfortunate period of time. But in reality this idea is unreasonable.
In this world men cannot but be active, and, after they have been so, they become either lucky or unlucky. Seeing them lucky, people point at this happiness and regard it as the happy result of their previously having chosen a lucky day, and seeing them unlucky, they look at their misfortune as the fatal consequence of their former inattention to an ill-timed hour. However, there are many persons who become unhappy, although they have chosen their day, and others who obtain happiness in spite of their neglect. The horoscopists and seers, desirous of propagating their mystical theory, are silent upon such misfortunes, when they observe them, and hush up those cases of happiness. Contrariwise they adduce abundance of misfortunes with a view to frighten people, lest they should be careless in electing a day, and give many instances of happiness to induce them to be cautious in observing the proper time. Consequently all classes of people, no matter whether they be intelligent or feeble-minded, virtuous or depraved, princes or common citizens, believe in this from fear, and dare not make any opposition. They imagine that this theory is of high antiquity, and make the nicest distinctions, regarding it as a revelation of Heaven and Earth and a doctrine of wise and holy men. The princes are anxious for their throne, and the people love their own persons, wherefore they always cling to this belief, and do not utter any doubts. Thus, when a prince is about to engage in some enterprise, the horoscopists throng his halls, and, when the people have some business, they first ask for the proper time to avoid collision and injury. A vast literature of sophistic works and deceitful writings has appeared in consequence. The writers are very clever in passing their inventions off as knowledge for their own profit, winning the stupid by fear, enticing the rich, and robbing the poor.
This is by no means the method of the ancients or conformable to the intentions of the sages. When the sages undertook something, they first based it on justice, and, after the moral side of the question had been settled, they determined it by divination to prove that it was not of their own invention, and showed that ghosts and spirits were of the same opinion, and concurred with their view. They wished to prevail upon all the subjects to trust in the usefulness of divination and not to doubt. Therefore the Shuking speaks of the seven kinds of divination by shells 2 and the Yiking of the eight diagrams. Yet those who make use of them, are not necessarily happy, or those who neglect them, unhappy.
Happy and unhappy events are determined by time, the moments of birth and death, by destiny. Human destiny depends on Heaven, luck and misfortune lie hidden in the lap of time. If their allotted span be short, people's conduct may be ever so virtuous, Heaven cannot lengthen their span, and, if this span be long, Heaven cannot snatch it away from them, though their doings be evil.
Heaven is the master of the hundred spirits. Religion, virtue, kindness, and justice are the principles of Heaven, trembling and fear, heavenly emotions. 3 The destruction of religion and the subversion of virtue are attacks upon the principles of Heaven; menaces and angry looks are antagonistic to the mind of Heaven.
Among the irreligious and wicked none were worse than Chieh and Chou, and among the lawless and unprincipled of the world none were worse than Yu and Li.4 Yet Chieh and Chou did not die early, and Yu and Li were not cut off in their prime. Ergo it is evident that happiness and joy do not depend on the choice of a lucky day and the avoidance of an unpropitious time, and that sufferings and hardships are not the result of a collision with a bad year or an infelicitous month.
Confucius has said, "Life and death are determined by fate, wealth and honour depend on Heaven." 5 In case, however, that certain times and days are to be observed, and that there are really noxious influences, wherefore did the sage hesitate to say so, or why was he afraid to mention it? According to the ancient writings scholars have been enjoying peace or been in jeopardy, thousands of princes and ten thousands of officials have either obtained or lost luck or mishap, their offices have been high or low, their emoluments have increased or diminished, and in all this there have been many degrees and differences. Taking care of their property, some people have become rich, others poor, they have made profits, or suffered losses, their lives have been long or short, in brief, some have got on, while others remained behind. The exalted and noble have not selected lucky days in all their doings, nor have the mean and ignoble chosen an unlucky time.
From this we learn that happiness and unhappiness as well as life and death do not depend on the lucky auguries which people encounter, or on the time of ill omen or dread, whith which they fall in. While alive, men are nurtured by their vital fluid, and, when they expire, their life is cut off. During their lives people do not meet with a special luck or joy, nor can it be said that at their deaths they fall in with an ominous time of dread. Taking Confucius as a witness and basing our arguments on life and death, we come to the conclusion that the manifold misfortunes and calamities are not brought about by human actions.
Confucius is a sage and a store of knowledge. Life and death are the greatest events. These great events prove the justness of our theory. Confucius has declared that life and death are determined by destiny, and that wealth and honour depend on Heaven. All the writings and covert attacks cannot invalidate this dictum, and common and weak-minded people cannot controvert it. Our happiness and unhappiness in this world are fixed by fate, but we can attract them ourselves by our actions. 6 If people lead a tranquil and inactive life, happiness and misfortune arrive of their own accord. That is fate. If they do business and work, and luck or mishap fall to their lot, they have themselves been instrumental.
Very few of the human diseases have not been caused by wind, moisture, eating or drinking. Having exposed themselves to a draught, or slept in a damp place, people spend their cash to learn, which evil influence has been at play. When they have overeaten themselves, they rid their vital essence from this calamity by abstinence, but, in case the malady cannot be cured, they believe that the noxious influence has not been detected, and, if their life comes to a close of itself, they maintain that the divining straws have not been well explained. This is the wisdom of common people.
Among the three hundred and sixty naked animals 7 man ranks first; he is a creature, among the ten thousand creatures the most intelligent. He obtains his life from Heaven and his fluid from the primordial vapours in exactly the same manner as other creatures. Birds have their nests and eyries, beasts their dens and burrows, reptiles, fish, and scaly creatures their holes, just as man has cottages and houses, high-storied buildings and towers.
Those moving creatures die and suffer injuries, fall ill and become worn out, and the big and the small ones prey upon one another, or man hunts and seizes them as a welcome game for his mouth and belly. They do not miss the proper time in building their nests and burrowing their hollows, or fall in with unlucky days in rambling east and west. Man has birth and death, and so other creatures have a beginning and an end. He is active, and so other creatures have their work likewise. Their arteries, heads, feet, ears, eyes, noses, and mouths are not different from the human, only their likes and dislikes are not the same as the human, hence man does not know their sounds, nor understand their meaning. They associate with their kindred and consort with their flock, and know, when they can come near, and when they must keep away just like man. They have the same heaven, the same earth, and they look equally up at the sun and the moon. Therefore one does not see the reason, why the misfortune caused by demons and spirits should fall upon man alone, and not on the other creatures. In man the mind of Heaven and Earth reach their highest development. Why do the heavenly disasters strike the noblest creature and not the mean ones? How is it that their natures are so similar, and their fates so different?
Punishments are not inflicted upon high officials, and wise emperors are lenient towards the nobility. Wise emperors punish the plebeians, but not the patricians, and the spirits visit the noblest creature with calamities and spare the mean ones? This would not tally with a passage in the Yiking to the effect that a great man shares the luck and mishap of demons and spirits. 8
When I have committed some offence and fallen into the clutches of the law, or become liable to a capital punishment, they do not say that it has been my own fault, but that in my house some duty has been neglected. When I have not taken the necessary precautions for my personal accommodation, or when I have been immoderate in eating or drinking, they do not say that I have been careless, but discover some impordonable disregard of an unlucky time. In case several persons die shortly one after the other, so that there are up to ten coffins awaiting burial, they do not speak of a contagion through contaminated air, but urge that the day chosen for one interment has been unlucky. If some activity has been displayed, they will talk about the non-observance of lucky or unlucky days, and, if nothing has been done, they have recourse to one's habitation. Our house or lodging being in a state of decay or delapidation, flying goblins and floating spectres assemble in our residence, they say. They also pray to their ancestors for help against misfortunes and delivery from evil. In case of sickness, they do not ask a doctor and, when they are in difficulties, they do not reform their conduct. They ascribe everything to misfortune and call it offences or mistakes. Such is the type of the ordinary run; their knowledge is shallow, and they never get at the bottom of a thing.
When delinquents are employed by the Minister of Works for hard labour, it does not follow that the day, when they appeared before the judge, was inauspicious, or that the time, when they were condemned to penal servitude, was one of ill omen. If a murderer selects an auspicious day to go out and meet the judge, who inflicts his punishment, and if he chooses a good time for entering the prison, will the judgment then be reversed, and his pardon arrive?
A man is not punished, unless he has met with mishap, nor thrown into jail, if not punished. Should one day a decree arrive, in consequence of which he could walk out released from his fetters, it would not follow that he had got rid of evil influences.
There are thousands of jails in the world, and in these jails are ten thousands of prisoners, but they cannot all have neglected the precarious time of dread. Those who hold office and have their revenues, perhaps from special towns and districts, which have been given them in perpetual fief, number thousands and tens of thousands, but the days, when they change their residences, are not always lucky.
The city of Li-yang9 was flooded during one night and became a lake. Its inhabitants cannot all have been guilty of a disregard of the year and the months. When Kao Tsu rose, Fêng and P`ei10 were recovered, yet their inhabitants cannot be said to have been particularly cautious with reference to times and days. When Hsiang Yü stormed Hsiang-an, no living soul was left in it. 11 This does not prove, however, that its people have not prayed or worshipped. The army of Chao was buried alive by Ch`in below Ch`angp`ing. 400,000 men died at the same time together. 12 When they left home, they had surely not omitted to choose a propitious time.
On a shên day one must not cry, for crying entails deep sorrow. When some one dies on a wu or a chi day, other deaths will follow, yet in case an entire family dies out, the first death did not of necessity take place on a shên, wu, or chi13 day. On a day, when blood-shed is forbidden, one must not kill animals, yet the abattoirs are not scenes of more misfortunes than other places. On the first day of the moon, people should not crowd together, yet shops are not especially visited with disasters. When skeletons become visible on the surface of the soil, they have not necessarily come out on a Wang-wang day, and a dead man, whose coffin is standing in a house, must not just have returned on a Kuei-chi days. 14 Consequently those who interpret evil influences cannot be trusted, for if they are, they do not find the truth.
Now, let us suppose that ten persons living and eating together in the same house do not move a hoe or a hammer, nor change their residence, that in sacrificing and marrying they select but lucky days, and that from Spring to Winter they never come into collision with any inauspicious time. Would these ten persons not die, when they have attained a hundred years?
The geomancers will certainly reply that their house would either be in good repair or commence to decay, and that, on the Sui-p`o or Chih-fu days they would not think of leaving it. In that case they might every now and then ask the soothsayers about the state of their house and remain in it, as long as it is in good repair, but leave it, when it begins to delapidate, and, on the Suip`o and Chih-fu15 days, the whole family might move. But would they not die then at the age of a hundred years?
The geomancers would again object that while changing their residence they would hit upon an unlucky time, or that their moving to and fro might be unpropitious. Then we would advise them to consult the seers and not to move, unless they can safely go, nor revert, unless their coming is without danger. But would they remain alive then after having reached a hundred years?
The geomancers would not fail to reply that life stops and that age has a limit. Ergo human life and death solely depend on destiny; they are not affected by unlucky years and months, or influenced by a disregard of fatal days of dread.
1. Not a moral offence, but a disregard of noxious influences.
2. Shuking, Hung-fan Pt. V, Bk. IV, 23 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. II, p. 335). By another punctuation the commentators bring out another meaning viz. that there are seven modes of divination in all, five given by the tortoise and two by milfoil.
3. We must not suppose that Heaven can fear and tremble, for, as Wang Ch`ung tells us over and over again, Heaven is unconscious and inactive. It possesses those qualities ascribed to it only virtually. They become actual and are put into practice by man, who fulfils the commands of Heaven with trembling awe. Its moral feelings are heavenly principles and heavenly emotions. Cf. p. 129.
4. Two emperors of the Chou dynasty of bad repute. Yu Wang reigned from 781 to 771 b.c.,Li Wang from 878 to 828 b.c.
5. Cf. p. 136.
6. Even in that case there is fate, which includes human activity.
7. Snakes, reptiles, and worms which like man have no scales, fur, or feathers.
8. Yiking, 1st diagram (Ch`ien).
9. Vid. p. 136.
10. Cf. p. 185.
11. The Shi-chi chap. 8, p. Ilv., where this passage occurs (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 343), speaks of the city of Hsiang-ch`êng in Honan, whereas Hsiang-an is situated in Anhui.
12. Cf. p. 136.
13. Three cyclical numbers.
14. On a Wang-wang day one must not go out, and on a Kuei-chi day returning home is desastrous.
15. Wang-wang, Kuei-chi, Sui-p`o, and Chih-fu , are technical terms used by geomancers and in calendars to designate certain classes of unlucky days.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|