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渥強之人，不卒其壽，若夫無所遭遇，虛居困劣，短氣而死，此稟之薄，用之竭也。此與始生而死，未產而傷，一命也，皆由稟氣不足，不自致於百也。 天地生物，物有不遂；父母生子，子有不就。物有為實，枯死而墮；人有為兒，夭命而傷。使實不枯，亦至滿歲；使兒不傷，亦至百年。 然為實、兒而死枯者，稟氣薄，則雖形體完，其虛劣氣少，不能充也。
Chapter XXV. Long Life and Vital Fluid (Chi-shou).
The fate which every one receives is of two kinds, one determines those events which he must encounter, the other is the fate of strength and weakness, of long or short life. The events to be encountered are war, fire, crushing, and drowning, etc.; strength and long life, weakness and short life are connected with the copiousness and scarcity of the received fluid. War and fire, crushing and drowning can supervene, therefore there is not necessarily a period of invariable length for what has been received as fate. 1
If the limit of strength and long life be a hundred years, then the fluid of those who do not reach a hundred years must be insufficient.
When the fluid is copious, the body becomes strong, and the body being strong, life lasts long. On the other hand, when the vital force is scanty, the body is weak, and with a weak body life is short. A short life is accompanied by much sickness. If the span be short, people die soon after they are born, and are annihilated, before they are fully developed. That is because their vital fluid is too little and too weak.
Those imbued with a copious and a strong fluid do not all at once end their lives. If people do not meet with any accidents, and, leading a quiet life, become exhausted and worn out, until they die for want of vitality, it is owing to the insufficiency of their vital fluid, which they have completely used up. Their fate is similar to that of those who expire soon after their birth and are cut off, before they have grown up. In all these cases the deficiency of the fluid is the reason, why those persons do not live a hundred years.
The fluid which fills men is either full and abundant---then they are strong and vigorous, or scanty and poor---then they are weak and feeble. Imbued with a full quantity, they are strong, and live long, filled with a small dose, they are weak, and lose their bodies.
When Heaven and Earth produce things, sometimes these things do not grow to their full growth, and when father and mother engender a child, sometimes its full development is checked. It happens that a plant bears a fruit, but that this fruit withers, dies, and drops, and it also happens that people have a son who is killed in his youth. Had this fruit not withered, it would also have completed one year, and had the son not been killed, he would likewise have lived a hundred years. The decay of the fruit and the death of the son are brought about by the weakness of their vital force. Although their forms be complete, their feeble fluid does not suffice to fill them.
When the cries of a new-born infant are shrill and piercing, it will live long, when they are whining and pitiful, it will die young. Why? Because, when the new-borns receive their fate of longevity or short life, the greater or smaller quantity of their fluid forms their nature. 2
When a mother nurses her child at longer intervals, it will be fit for life, whereas, when she nourishes it very frequently, it will die. Why? Because the nursing at intervals shows that the fluid is copious, and the child is strong. The frequent suckling proves the insufficiency of the vital fluid and the weakness of the baby.
A fondling is a son anterior to whom another son has already been brought up and died. They say that such a fondling cannot live, and call it a fondling. The idea is that, another son having already died, the mother is too anxious about the new one, and spoils his nature. The former son is dead, and the fondling is doomed, because he is nursed much too often. His fluid being too feeble, he cannot thrive. Though he may grow up, he is too easily affected by external influences. He will always be the first to catch a disease, and his alone will prove incurable.
A fate of a hundred years is the proper one. Those who cannot complete a hundred years, though they have no proper fate, still have a fate. In the same manner the proper height of the human body is ten feet. 3 Therefore a man is called chang-fu,4 and chang-jen is an honorary designation for an old gentleman and an old lady. 5 A man not measuring ten feet has not the proper height, but nevertheless he possesses a body. A body cannot be declared to be no body because of its falling short of ten feet. And so fate cannot be said to be no fate on account of its not coming up to a hundred years.
Heaven does not distribute long and short fates, of which every one would obtain either. We may say that man receives his fate in his fluid from Heaven, which is the same, whether he finishes it sooner or later. There is a saying to the effect that, if somebody aspires to royalty and does not succeed, this pretender can remain a leading prince. Leading princes are unsuccessful pretenders to royalty. A pretender should rise to royalty, as a long life ought to come up to a hundred years. Unable to become a king, he retires and continues a leading prince, and thus he who cannot attain to a hundred years resigns himself to a premature death.
A king and a pretender do the same, but are given different names, the one an honourable, the other a contemptible one. A long and a short life are caused, as it were, by the same fluid, but they are of different duration, either long or short. How do we know that he who does not live a hundred years, and dies an untimely death, possesses a fate of a hundred years all the same? Because his bodily frame is as big and as tall as that of others. A body that has lived a hundred years does not differ from another of fifty years. The bodies not being different, the vital fluids cannot differ either. Birds and animals have other bodies than man, hence the length of their lives must differ from the human.
How can we prove that human life, if it be long, lasts a hundred years? There are such cases in the world, and the Literati say that during the time of universal peace people used to be very tall, and live about a hundred years, which was the effect of the harmonious fluid. In the Canon of Yao, Yao syas, "I have been seventy years on the throne." 6 He wished to abdicate, and found Shun. Shun was tried and had occupied the throne thirty years, 7 when Yao retired owing to his old age. Eight years afterwards he expired. Ninety-eight years had elapsed until his decease. 8 But he must already have lived, before he ascended the throne. Counting all these numbers together we arrive at an aggregate sum of over a hundred years.
It is further stated that "Shun was thirty years old, that he was tried thirty years, and that he was on the throne fifty years, when he went on high and died," 9 which makes just one hundred years. 10
Wên Wang said to Wu Wang, "I am a hundred years, and you are ninety. I will give you three years of mine." Wêng Wang was ninety-seven years old, when he died, and Wu Wang ninetythree, when he departed. 11
The Duke of Chou was a younger brother of Wu Wang. Between brothers there is generally no greater difference than ten years. After the death of Wu Wang, Chou Kung became regent. Seven years later he returned the government, and retired owing to old age. That would make about a hundred years. The Duke of Shao was an elder brother of the Duke of Chou. At the time of King K`ang12 he was still Senior Tutor, which would make more than a hundred years.
Sages are endued with the harmonious fluid, therefore the years of their destiny have the proper number. The harmonious fluid is conducive to a tranquil government. Therefore during the age of universal peace the number of tall and long-lived persons was particularly great. One hundred years is the proper number of years of a long human life, as autumn is the proper time for the fate of plants, since plants live until autumn, when they die.
Plants perishing before or after autumn are similar to men whose life either exceeds or falls short of a hundred years. The time before or after autumn corresponds to more or less than a hundred years. Some plants fade already after they have pierced the earth, as men may die soon after their birth. Other plants may pass the autumn without withering just like men whose years may eventually be from one hundred to three hundred.
It is on record that Lao Tse lived over two hundred years. 13 The Duke of Shao became one hundred and eighty years old. Kao Tsung14 reigned one hundred years, and King Mu of the Chou dynasty likewise one hundred. 15 Including the time before his ascension, there must have been upwards of one hundred and thirty-four years altogether.
1. What has been received as fate is the vital fluid or life. The length of life depends on the quality of this fluid, but it can be shortened by accidents, such as war, fire, etc. coming from abroad, before vitality is exhausted, and death would ensue under normal conditions.---The Chinese word used here, means "fate" as well as "life."
2. And this nature becomes manifest by the way in which the new-borns cry. Strong babies have strong voices, weak ones give only a whine.
3. On the Chinese foot see p. 320 Note 1.
4. Wang Ch`ung explains the term chang-fu "young man" as originally meaning a man of ten feet = chang.
5. . A husband thus addresses his father and mother-in-law.
6. Quotation from the Shuking Pt. I, chap. III, 12 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. I, p. 25).
7. The Shi-chi chap. 1, p. 20 (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. I, p. 69) writes twenty years.
8. In that case Shun cannot have reigned for him longer than 20 years, for 70 + 20 + 8 = 98.
9. Quotation from the Shuking (Shun-tien) Pt. II, Bk. I, chap. VI, 28 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. I, p. 51).
10. The computation gives 110 not 100 years. We should read "he was tried twenty years" instead of thirty, the reading adopted in the Shi-chi and defended by several old commentators. Cf. Legge's notes to the passage and Chavannes loc. cit. p. 91 Note 2.
11. Quoted from the Liki, Wên Wang shih-tse (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 344). The commentators are at a loss, how to explain that Wên Wang was only ten years older than his son, Wu Wang, and how he could give him some of his years.
12. 1078-1053 b.c.
13. Sse Ma Ch`ien mentions this report in his biography of Lao Tse (Shi-chi, chap. 63, p. 3). Some said that Lao Tse became over 160 years old, others that he lived over 200 years, prolonging his life by the practice of virtue.
14. The Shuking Pt. V, Bk. XV, 5 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. II, p. 467) expressly states that Kao Tsung = Wu Ting enjoyed the throne for fifty and nine years, not for a hundred. He reigned from 1324-1266 b.c.
15. Thus the Shuking (Lü-hsing) Pt. V, Bk. XXVII, 1 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. II, p. 588) as Wang Ch`ung and others understand the passage (On Legge's different view cf. his notes). According to the Shi-chi King Mu's reign lasted but 55 years. It is usually reckoned from 1001-947 b.c.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|