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且物之變，隨氣，若應政治，有所象為，非天所欲壽長之故，變易其形也，又非得神草珍藥食之而變化也。人恆服藥固壽， 能增加本性，益其身年也。遭時變化，非天之正氣、人所受之真性也。天地不變，日月不易，星辰不沒，正也。人受正氣，故體不變。時 或男化為女，女化為男，由高岸為穀，深谷為陵也。應政為變，為政變，非常性也。
假令人生立形謂之甲，終老至死，常守甲形。如好道為仙，未有使甲變為乙者也。夫形不可變更，年不可減增。何則？形、氣、性 ，天也。形為春，氣為夏。人以氣為壽，形隨氣而動。氣性不均，則於體不同。牛壽半馬，馬壽半人，然則牛馬之形與人異矣。稟牛馬之形， 當自得牛馬之壽；牛馬之不變為人，則年壽亦短於人。
世稱高宗之徒，不言其身形變異。而徒言其增延年壽，故有信矣。 形之血氣也，猶囊之貯粟米也。一石囊之高大，亦適一石。如損益粟米，囊亦增減。人以氣為壽，氣猶粟米，形猶囊也。增減其壽， 亦當增減其身，形安得如故？如以人形與囊異，氣與粟米殊，更以苞瓜喻之。苞瓜之汁，猶人之血也；其肌，猶肉也。試令人損益苞瓜之汁 ，令其形如故，耐為之乎？人不耐損益苞瓜之汁，天安耐增減人之年？人年不可增減，高宗之徒，誰益之者？而雲增加。如言高宗 之徒，形體變易，其年亦增，乃可信也。今言年增，不言其體變，未可信也。何則？
Chapter XXVII. Unfounded Assertions (Wu hsing).
Men receive the vital fluid from heaven at their birth, and are all given a fate fixing the length of their lives, in accordance to which their bodies exist for a longer or shorter period. Just so vases are formed out of clay by the potter, and plates from copper by the founder. As the shape of a vessel, once completed, cannot be made smaller or bigger, thus the duration of the corporeal frame having been settled, cannot be shortened or prolonged. The said fluid forms the constitution, which determines fate and shapes the body. The fluid and the material body pervade each other. Life and death correspond to fixed periods. The body cannot be transformed, and likewise fate cannot be lengthened or shortened. We may elucidate the question as to the duration of human life by observing the potter and founder.
Some one might object saying, "True, if a potter uses his stuff to make a vase, this vase, after its completion, lasts, until it breaks, but cannot be formed anew. If, however, a founder casts a plate out of copper, although it be finished, it can be melted again, and be made into a cup or, if that is not possible, into a vessel. Although men, who owe their spirits to heaven, all have a destiny fixing their span, by which their bodies are regulated, they can, if they know the right way and an effective elixir, change their bodies and prolong their lives all the same."
I reply, "If a founder recasts a finished vessel, he must first liquefy it in fire, before he is able to enlarge or diminish, extend or shorten it. If a man desiring to protract his years, should wish to be like the copper vessel, there must be some sort of a furnace with coal, where the change and the transmutation of his body could take place. The body having been changed, the lifetime might also be extended. How could men, in order to change their bodies, undergo a smelting process like a copper vessel?"
The Li Ki states, "When the water pours down, one does not offer fish or turtles for food." 1 Why? Because, when the rain water rushes down, snakes and reptiles are changed and become fish or turtles. Since they give up their original real nature and are transformed only for a while, the servants take care and dare not offer them to their masters for food. Would men desirous of having their bodies transmuted, be satisfied with a change like that of reptiles and snakes? Those reptiles which are liable to a change are worse off than those which do not change at all. Before they change, they are not eaten by men, but, when they have been transformed into fish and turtles, men eat them. Being eaten, their long lives are cut short, and that is not what people desire.
Years and months change, and the intrinsic fluid may transform one species into another. Frogs become quails, and sparrows turn into clams. Man longing for bodily transformation would like to resemble quails and crabs. These are in the same plight as fish and turtles. Man fishes for crabs and eats them, when he catches them. Although without a metamorphose of the body, life cannot be lengthened, this result 2 cannot be aimed at.
Duke Niu Ai of Lu was laid up with a malady for seven days, when he was transformed into a tiger. 3Kun4 when banished to Mount Yü-shan turned into a moose. Do those who seek transformation desire to become a tiger like Niu Ai, or a moose like Kun? The life of a tiger or a moose is not longer than the human. In this world the human nature is the noblest of all, therefore the transmutation of a man into a bird or a beast cannot be desirable. It would be a great boon, if an old man could be transformed into a youth, or if at least the white hair could turn black again, the lost teeth grow once more, and the animal forces be strengthened, so that the person could jump about, devoid of all decrepitude. This would be grand indeed! Where would be the advantage of a transformation, if life were not prolonged thereby?
If a thing is transformed, its concomitant fluid, as it were, favours the change. Human work may produce new forms, it is not Heaven which transforms things in order to prolong their duration. No more can a transformation be brought about by eating divine herbs or wonderful drugs. A man constantly using cordials can thereby merely strengthen his constitution and add to his years. A sudden transmutation is not caused by the real heavenly fluid or the true nature, with which men are endowed. Heaven and earth do not change, sun and moon are not transformed, and the stars do not disappear. Such is their real nature. As man has received part of their real fluid, his body cannot be transformed either: men do not sometimes become women, or women men. A high mound may be turned into a valley, or a deep ravine into a hill. But then the change keeps pace with human labour, it is a change by labour, not by inherent nature.
At the rise of the Han dynasty, an old man presented Chang Liang5 with a book, and then was transformed into a stone. Therefore the essence of a stone was a propitious omen for the rising Han. Similarly the essence of the River 6 became a man who gave a jade-badge to the envoy of Ch`in, which was an unlucky augury, indicating the downfall of Ch`in.7
The silkworm feeds on mulberry leaves, when it grows old, it sets to spinning, and becomes a cocoon, and the cocoon again is changed into a moth. The moth has two wings, and in its altered form widely differs from the silkworm. Grubs change into chrysalisses, and these turn into crickets. The crickets are born with two wings, and are not of the same type as grubs. A great many of all worms and insects alter their shapes and transform their bodies. Man alone is not metamorphosed, being the recipient of the real heavenly fluid. Born as a child, he grows into a man, and, when he is old, into greybeard. From birth to death there is no metamorphose, for such is his original nature. Creatures which by their nature are not transformed, cannot be induced to do so, whereas those which must pass through a metamorphose, cannot forego it. Now, the length of life of those transformed creatures does not compare favourably with that of non-transformed ones. Nothing would be said, if a man desirous of a metamorphose could thereby prolong his years, but if he only changes his body without increasing his years, he would be merely on a level with crickets. Why should he like this?
Dragons are reptiles which appear sometimes, and then again become invisible, and which sometimes are long and sometimes short. It is in their nature to undergo transformations, but not for good, since after a short while, they relapse into their previous state. Ergo, every thing considered, we find that the human being, endowed with an unchangeable body, is not liable to metamorphoses, and that his years cannot be prolonged.
Kao Tsung8 having witnessed the abnormal growth of a paper mulberry, 9 is reported to have repented of his faults, changed the style of government, and enjoyed happiness for one hundred years. 10 This is not correct. Of Duke Ching of Sung11 it is said that on his having uttered three excellent maxims, the planet Mars left out three solar mansions, and twenty one years were added to the duke's life, 12 which is likewise unfounded. Duke Mu of Ch in13 is believed to have been rewarded by God 14 with nineteen extra years on account of his conspicuous virtue, an untruth too. Ch`ih Sung15 and Wang Ch`iao,16 they say, became genii by their love of Tao, and lived on without dying, also a falsehood.
Let us suppose that a man is born, gets a body, and is given the name A, then he always preserves this body called A through his whole life up to his death. Adherents of Tao are said to have become genii, but it never has happened that A was transformed into B; neither can the body pass through a metamorphose, nor years be added. Wherefore? Because of the body, the vital force, and the constitution, which are from heaven. The body being spring, the vital force is summer. 17 Man's lifetime is the outcome of his vitality. The body follows the vital force in its actions. If the vital force and the constitution are not the same, there must be a diversity in the bodies also. The life of an ox is half as long as that of a horse, and a horse lives half as long as man. Therefore, the outward forms of the ox and the horse must be different from the human. Having obtained the shape of an ox or a horse, one cannot but get their spans too. As oxen and horses do not change into men, their lifetime is also shorter than that of human beings.
Because of Kao Tsung and the like it is not stated that they underwent a transmutation, but simply that their lifetime was lengthened, people put faith in these reports. The force pulsating in the veins of the body is like rice hoarded up in a sack. The bulk of a picul sack also corresponds to a picul. If rice be taken away or more added, the sack appears smaller or bigger. The vital force determines the length of the human life. It is like the rice, and the body like the sack. In order to increase or diminish the lifetime, the body too must become bigger or thinner, it cannot remain the same. Should anybody think the human body to be quite different from a sack, and that the vital force cannot well be compared to rice, we may still take another illustration from a gourd. The juice of a gourd is like the human blood, its pulp like flesh. Now, let a man take away or add some juice but so that the gourd's form remains unaltered; he will be unable to perform this. It being impossible to man to diminish or to replenish the juice of the gourd, how can Heaven extend or curtail the human span? As the human life can neither be lengthened nor shortened, who could have done such a thing in the case of Kao Tsung and others, so that we might speak of an increase of years? The assertion that Kao Tsung and others were metamorphosed, and their years increased would after all be credible, but the statement advanced now that their years were prolonged, no mention being made of any transformation of their bodies, is past all belief for the following reason:
Man receives the vital force from Heaven. When it is complete, the body is informed. During life both work harmoniously together up to the last, death. Since the body cannot be transformed, the years cannot be increased either. As long as man lives, he can move, but when he dies, he collapses. At death the vital force vanishes, and the body is dissolved and decomposed. As a man, while in possession of life, cannot be metamorphosed, how should his years be prolonged?
What changes on the body from birth to old age is the hair and the skin. The youth's hair is black, the aged man's, white. Later on, it turns yellow. But this change concerns the hair alone, not the body. A youngster has a white skin, an old man a dark one, which, later on, becomes blackish, as if covered with dust. Respecting the yellow hair and the dusty skin the Li-ki says: "We will have yellow hair and wizened faces indefinitely." 18 If the hair changes, people reach an old age and die late. Despite this, bones and flesh do not change; the limit of life being reached, death ensues.
From amongst the five elements earth alone admits of several transformations. Moistened with water, it can be shaped into a horse, and this again be altered into a human being, but be it noted that it must not yet have been put in a kiln and burned. If, after having been modelled as a utensil, it has already been hardened by burning in the kiln, a new transformation is out of the question. Now, man may be thought of as having been baked and moulded in the furnace of Heaven and Earth. How can he still undergo a change after his shape has been fixed?
In representing the bodies of genii one gives them a plumage, and their arms are changed into wings with which they poise in the clouds. This means an extension of their lifetime. They are believed not to die for a thousand years. These pictures are false, for there are not only false reports in the world, but also fancy pictures. However, man in reality does not belong to the class of crickets and moths. In the thirty-five kingdoms beyond the sea there live plumigerous and feathered tribes. Feathered relates to their pinions. 19 These people are the produce of their soil, it cannot be said that their bodies were covered with plumage and feathers through the influence of Tao. Yü20 and Yi21 visited Hsi Wang Mu,22 but she is not reported to have had a plumage or feathers. There are also immortals in foreign countries, but they are not described as having a plumage and feathers, and, conversely, the plumigerous and feathered tribes are not said to be immortal. As plumage and feathers are not ascribed to the immortals, these attributes cannot imply immortality. How then can it be inferred that the genii must live for ever, because they have wings?
1. Li Ki chap. 1, No. 1 (Chü-li), p. 20v. (Legge's translation Vol. I, p. 84.) Various reasons have been assigned by the commentators for this rule. They say, in opposition to Wang Ch`ung, that during heavy rain-falls fish are so easily got as not to be valuable, or that then they are muddy and not fit for eating. This last reason seems the most plausible.
2. To become like a quail or a crab.
3. Quoted from Huai Nan Tse, who adds that the tiger devoured his brother, when he opened the door.
4. A legendary minister of Yao and father to Great Yü.
5. An adherent of the founder of the Han dynasty. The Taoists have claimed him as one of their patriarchs and mystics. See p. 235.
6. The Yellow River.
7. This event is told in detail on p. 233.
8. Posthumous name of the Shang emperor Wu Ting, 1324-1265 b.c.
9. A paper mulberry tree grew in the court of the Emperor, which had two spans of circumference on the second day already. This was, of course, regarded as a portent. Cf. Lun-hêng Bk. V, p. 1 (Yi Hsü) where the legend is told in full.
10. According to the Shuking Pt. V, Bk. XV (Legge Vol. III, Pt. II, p. 467) Kao Tsung reigned 59 years
11. 515-451 b.c.
12. This story is told in full in Lun-hêng Bk. IV, p. 9v. which seems quoted from Huai Nan Tse XII, 11v. The planet Mars being in the constellation of the "Heart," the astrologer Tse Wei informed the Duke that Heaven was going to inflict a punishment upon him, advising him, however, to shift this misfortune on his prime minister, or on his people, or on the year. The prince thrice declined to allow others to suffer in his stead, giving his reasons for each refusal. These are the three good maxims of our text. Tse Wei then changed and congratulated the Duke, saying that Heaven had heard the three excellent sentiments uttered by him, that the same night it would cause Mars to pass through three solar mansions, and that it would add twenty-one years to his life, each mansion consisting of seven stars and each star representing one year.
13. 658-619 b.c.
14. Shang Ti, the supreme being, God.
15. A magician of the time of Shên Nung.
16. A prince of Chin 571 b.c., who became a Taoist and an immortal. He was seen riding through the air upon a white crane. Mayers, No. 801.
17. The meaning is, as summer is preceded by spring, thus the body exists, before it is informed by the vital force.
18. This verse does not occur in the Liki, but in the Shiking Pt. IV, Bk. III, Ode II (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Pt. II, p. 635):---"He (the ancestor) will bless us with the eyebrows of longevity.---We will have yellow hair and wizened faces indefinitely."
19. Fore more details see the Shan-hai-king.
20. Great Yü 2205-2197.
21. A minister of Yü.
22. A Taoist goddess. Cf. my article "Mu Wang und die Königin von Saba" in the Mitteilungen des Seminars für Orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin Vol. VII, 1904.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|