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俗有大諱四： 一曰諱西益宅。西益宅謂之不祥，不祥必有死亡。相懼以此，故世莫敢西益宅。 防禁所從來者遠矣。
令史〔與〕質睢以為西益宅審不祥，則史與質睢與今俗人等也。」 夫宅之四面皆地也，三面不謂之凶，益西面獨謂不祥，何哉？西益宅，何傷於地體？何害於宅神？西益不祥，損之能善乎？西益不祥，東益能吉 乎？夫不祥必有祥者，猶不吉必有吉矣。
實說其義，「不祥」者、義理之禁，非吉凶之忌也。夫西方、長老之地，尊者之位也。尊長在西，卑幼在東。尊長、主也 ，卑幼、助也。主少而助多，尊無二上，卑有百下也。西益（主）〔宅〕，益主不增助，二上不百下也，於義不善，故謂不祥。不祥者、 不宜也。於義不宜，未有凶也。何以明之？
慚愧（先）者，謂身體刑殘，與人異也。古者（用）〔肉〕刑，形毀不全，乃 不可耳。方今象刑，象刑重者、髡鉗之法也。若完城旦以下，施刑綵衣系躬，冠帶與俗人殊，何為不可？世俗信而謂之皆凶 ，其失至於不弔鄉黨屍，不升佗人之丘，惑也。
極原其事，何以為惡？ 夫婦人之乳子也，子含元氣而出。元氣、天地之精微也，何凶而惡之？人、物也，子、亦物也。子生與萬物之生何以異？諱人之生謂之 惡，萬物之生又惡之乎？
Chapter XXXVI. Four Things to be Avoided (Sse-hui).
There are four things which, according to public opinion, must be avoided by all means. The first is to build an annex to a building on the west side, for such an annex is held to be inauspicious, and being so, is followed by a case of death. Owing to this apprehension, nobody in the world would dare to build facing the west. This prohibition dates from days of yore.
Whe have a record that [Duke Ai of Lu1 wished to build an annex to the west. The astrologer opposed this scheme as unpropitious. Duke Ai flushed up and got angry; his attendants remonstrated several times, but he would not hear and asked the prime minister Chih Sui saying, "I wish to build an annex on the west-side, and the astrologer declares it to be unpropitious. What do you mean?"
`There are three unpropitious things in the world,' replied Chih Sui, `but building an annex on the west side is not among them.'
The duke cheered up, and shortly afterwards again asked which were the three unpropitious things. The other said, `Not to act fairly and justly is the first unpropitious thing. To give way to one's unrestrained desires is the second, and not to listen to a proper remonstrance is the third.'
The duke became meditative and, having pondered for awhile, he frankly acknowledged his fault and changed his mind. The annex was not built], 2 for the astrologer and the prime minister both received the order to stop building.
The annex in the west caused useless trouble, it is true, but we know not whether it was auspicious or inauspicious. Should the astrologer and Chih Sui have been of opinion that an annex in the west was inauspicious indeed, then both would be on a par with the common people of the present day. 3 On all the four sides of a house there is earth; how is it that three sides are not looked upon as of ill omen, and only an annex in the west is said to be unpropitious? How could such an annex be injurious to the body of earth, or hurtful to the spirit of the house? In case an annex in the west be unpropitious, would a demolition there be a good augury? Or, if an annex in the west be inauspicious, would it be a lucky omen in the east? For if there be something inauspicious, there must also be something auspicious, as bad luck has good luck as its correlate.
A house has a form, and a spirit disposes of good and bad luck; a cultivation of virtue leads to happiness, and an infringement of the laws brings about misfortune. Now, if an annex in the west is believed to be unpropitious, where must it be built to be propitious? Moreover, who is it that takes exception at people extending their house to the west? Should earth resent it, what damage does it do to earth, if the west side of an eastern house be enlarged and, at the same time, the east side of a western building be diminished?
Provided that the spirit of the house dislike an annex to the west, a spirit resembles man, and every man would gladly see his residence enlarged; for why should he dislike it? Supposing that the spirit of the house dislikes the trouble caused by the alteration, then all annexes on the four sides ought to be ill-omened.
The experts in the various arts and professions, in explaining omens, specify the different cases. The house builders state that in erecting a house mischievous spirits may be met with, in removing one's residence care should be taken to avoid the spirits of the year and the months, in sacrificing, certain days may be encountered when bloodshed is to be shunned, and in burying one may fail against the odd and even days. In all these instances these prohibitions are given in view of ghosts and spirits, and evil influences. Those who do not avoid them, fall sick and die, but as for building an annex in the west, what harm is there, that it is held to be inauspicious, and how does the subsequent calamity manifest itself?
Properly speaking, this prohibition of something inauspicious is based on reason, and not to be observed on account of good or bad luck:---The west is the region of elders and the seat of the honoured. The honoured and the elders being in the west, the inferiors and youngsters are in the east. The superiors and elders are the masters, the inferiors and youngsters, their assistants. Masters are few, and assistants many. There can be no two superiors above, but there are a hundred inferiors below. When in the west an addition is made to the master, 4 whereas the assistants are not increased, there are two superiors, but not a hundred inferiors (for each). That is contrary to justice, and therefore called unpropitious. 5 Being unpropitious it should not be done. Yet though being contrary to justice, it is not of ill omen for the following reason:
A tomb is a place where a dead man is interred; a field one whence man gets his food and drink; and a house the place where man lives. In respect to auspiciousness these three places are the same for man. Now, an annex to a house in the west is considered inauspicious, whereas nobody pretends the same of an annex made in the west of a tomb or a field. A tomb, being the residence of a dead man, is somewhat neglected and treated with indifference, and in a field which is not inhabited by man, the distinction between superiors and inferiors is not drawn. In a house old and young live together, therefore great care is taken to carry out this idea, and the prohibition is insisted upon. The rule is diligently observed in houses, but great laxity prevails in regard to graves and fields.
The second thing to be avoided is that a convict having suffered corporeal punishment ascends a tumulus. People merely know that this should not be allowed, but do not understand the reason of this interdiction, and if you inquire of those insisting upon this prohibition, they ignore the meaning of this avoidance; nor do those complying with this advice trouble much about it. One imitates the other; this goes so far, that when the father and the mother of a culprit die, he does not bury the dead, and being near their tomb, does not venture to approach and inter them. He does not even condole, and looks upon the coffin as if it belonged to a stranger.
A good man, being convicted, after having suffered corporeal punishment is called a convict. 6 Such a one may ascend a tumulus. The two parents after their death are said to be deceased. What difference is there between a house and a tomb, or between living and deceased parents?
If convicts be reproved by their ascendants for having suffered punishment, then they ought not to enter their home, or see their parents either, and if, on the other hand, convicts be not allowed to have commerce with the dead, then, when their parents have expired in their hall, they should not cry by their coffins. If, in fine, convicts be not permitted to ascend a tumulus, then they should not be allowed to mount hills or mountains either.
Which reasons have those people to give who enforce this prohibition? As a matter of fact, there are two reasons why convicts do not ascend a tumulus; the injunction is based on these causes, and there can be no question of any avoidance of unlucky influences:
The convicts are aware that their ancestors have generated them complete, and that the descendants should also return their bodies complete. [Wherefore Tsêng Tse being ill called to him the disciples of his school, and said, "Uncover 7 my feet, uncover my hands ...... Now and hereafter, I know my escape, my young friends."] 8
Tsêng Tse was so considerate, that before his end he wanted to show that his body was intact, and he was glad that he had escaped all bodily injury. Confucius said, "The body, the hair, and the skin, we received them from our parents, and dare not impair them." 9
A dutiful son dreads falling into the clutches of the law: the cutting and branding of the body as well as the disfiguring and scathing of the hair and the skin, are the upshot of a lack of virtue, of unworthy dealings, and carelessness. A criminal is ashamed of having suffered the disgrace of a punishment, and most earnestly reproaches himself. It is for this reason that he does not ascend a tumulus.
According to the ancient rites, the sacrifices to ascendants were performed in temples, the modern custom is to offer them at the grave. Consequently, a convict does not ascend a tumulus out of shame lest he should cause displeasure to his ascendant. That is the first reason.
A tomb is the abode of ghosts and spirits. As regards the place of sacrifice and the sacrificial rites, it is of the utmost importance that there should be penance and absolute purity. Now, people that have suffered punishment are disgraced, and not fit to attend at an offering, or to worship their ascendants. Their modesty and reverence demand that they should retire and humiliate themselves, for their ancestors, remarking that their descendants have suffered punishment, would commiserate them, and feel unhappy, and most likely, at the sacrifice, not be able to enjoy the offering. This is the second reason why the former do not ascend a tumulus.
In times of old, T`ai Po noticed that Wang Chi had a holy son, Wên Wang, and he knew that T`ai Wang wished to raise him to the throne. Therefore he repaired to Wu, where he collected medicinal herbs, cut off his hair, and tattooed his body, to follow the customs of Wu. At the decease of T`ai Wang, T`ai Po returned, and Wang Chi intended to yield the supreme power to him. T`ai Po again declined, but Wang Chi would not hear of it. So he declined three times, saying, "I went to Wu and Yüeh, and, in accordance with their customs, cut off my hair, and tattooed my body. I am like a man who has been subjected to torture, and cannot be the chief of the ancestral temple and of the altars of the land and grain." Wang Chi admitted that it was impossible, and, much against his will, accepted his resignation. 10
A convict not ascending a burial mound is like T`ai Po declining the royal dignity, which means that he is unqualified to perform the sacrificial rites, but not, to conduct the funeral, when a coffin is to be buried.
At the burial of a descendant the ancestors are grieved, and the aspect of a convict fills them with sorrow. When such a person, worthy of pity, buries somebody whose death is a cause of grief to his ascendants, the latter, provided that they are conscious, would feel grieved at the death, and commiserate the disgrace of their descendant, wherefore then should he be abashed? Should they be unconscious, then the burial mound is nothing but a piece of uncultivated land, and there is still less any occasion for shame.
These convicts are said to stand abashed before their ascendants, because their body is mutilated by torture and not like that of other people. Anciently, by torture the body was in fact, racked, and did not remain intact, which may have rendered it unfit. But, at present, the penalties are merely symbolical, 11 the gravest consisting in shaving the head and in an iron collar. The lesser delinquents whose punishments are less than forced labour at building a wall, may wear coloured silk dresses and caps and girdles different to those worn by common people, why should they be unfit for a funeral? The public believes them all to be obnoxious, and carries its error to the length of not allowing such persons to condole at the death of a fellow-villager, or to ascend the tumulus of a stranger; a great mistake this.
The third thing to be shunned is a woman who, having born a child, is believed to bring ill-luck. Those who have some lucky undertaking in hand, go far away into mountains and forests, traversing streams and lakes, and have no intercourse with such a woman. They even avoid coming near her house, and only, after having passed a month in the huts on burial grounds and on the roads, they return. The unexpected sight of the woman appears to them very unlucky.
If we study the question carefully, on what is this dislike based? When a woman gives birth to a child, it comes into the world, filled with the original fluid. This fluid is the finest essence of Heaven and Earth, how could it be harmful and detestable? Man is an organism, and so is a child. What difference is there between the birth of a child and the production of all the other organisms? If human birth be held to be baleful, is the creation of the myriads of organisms baleful too?
The new-born issues with the placenta. If the placenta be deemed foreshadowing evil, the human placenta is like the husk 12 of fruits growing on trees; 13 wrapped round the infant's body, it comes out with it like the egg-shell of a young bird. What harm is there to justify people's aversion? Should it be due to its supposed inauspiciousness, then all organisms with husks and shells ought to be detestable.
There is such a plethora of organisms, that I am at a loss where to begin with my deductions: Human birth does not distinguish itself from that of the Six Domestic Animals. 14 They are all of them animated beings with blood, that breed and bring forth their young not otherwise than man. Yet the aversion applies to human birth only, and does not include that of animals. Is it perhaps in view of the bigness of the human body and of the quantity of its vital fluid and its blood? But the size of an ox or a horse is much greater than that of man.
If, with reference to distasteful objects, there is no equality, and only one singled out, irrespective of its similarity to all the others, the case becomes rather doubtful. Now, the Six Animals are hardly different from man, and they produce their young in the same way. That, (notwithstanding this similarity between the Six Animals and man), the latter is avoided, and not the former, proves the ignorance of the people.
Supposing they could make a distinction between the birth of a child and the breeding of the Six Animals, I would admit their avoidance, but in case they are unable to draw a line, I must say that this popular avoidance is unreasonable.
There is certainly nothing more loathsome for man than putrescence and fetor; putrid and fetid smells make one sick. The nose smelling stench, and the mouth eating something rotten, people feel their stomach turn, make a wry face and begin spitting and vomiting. Privies 15 may be said to be fetid, and dried fish to be putrid meat, yet there are persons that put up with privies even, and do not shudder at them, 16 and for many dried fish are a relish from which they do not recoil. That which the mind does not turn to, is thought of as disgusting, and its good or bad qualities are left out of account.
Now, as for detestable things, (such as black varnish bespattering one's body), 17 after the eyes have seen, and the nose has smelled them, and they have passed, everything is over. Why still abhor them, when they have vanished, and are no more to be seen?
If going out on the road, we behold a man carrying a pig on his shoulders, or remark some foul stuff in a ditch, we do not take this for evil omens, because the filth is on somebody else's body, and not on our own. Now, a woman bearing a child, carries it with her, why then must people be so scrupulous as to shun her?
North of the Yangtse, they do not leave the house when a child is born, knowing that there is no harm in it, but when a bitch whelps, they place her outside the house, which is likewise an absurdity. North of the Yangtse, they are afraid of a dog, but not of a human being, south of the Yangtse, they recoil from a human being, but not from a dog. In either case the superstitious attempts to avert evil are not the same, but what difference is there between a human being and a dog, or a place within or without the house? What the one detests, the other does not, and what people of this side stagger at, the other side does not fear. After all, there is no principle in all these popular precautions.
As regards the darkening of the moon, a month is counted from each conjunction of the sun and the moon in a solar mansion. When, on the eighth day of a month, the moon is cut in two halves, it is called a "crescent," 18 when, on the fifteenth, sun and moon face each other, it is called the "facing moon," 19 and on the thirtieth, when sun and moon are conjunct in a mansion, it is called the "dark moon." 20 The dark moon, the crescent, and the facing moon are in reality the same. On the last day of the mouth, the moonlight is no other than on the first day of the following month. Why is this light called auspicious after the commencement of the next month? If it be really ill-boding it cannot be said to be auspicious in the next month, and if it really be so it would make no difference that the new month had not yet begun.
As a matter of fact, the injunction to keep aloof from newborn infants and puppies, is intended as an incentive to self-purification, preventing people from polluting themselves with filth and sordid things. When they are clean in their bodies, their minds are pure, and their minds being pure, their proceedings are undefiled. These irreproachable dealings are the basis of honesty and unselfishness.
The fourth thing to be shunned is the bringing up of children born in the first or the fifth months, because such children are supposed to kill their father and mother, and therefore on no account can be reared. Father and mother having perhaps died through some calamity, this assertion has found credence and is taken for certain. Now, wherefore should children of the first or the fifth months kill their father and mother?
The human embryo, filled with the fluid, remains in the womb, where it develops ten months, when it is born. All are imbued with the same original fluid; what difference is there between the first and the second months, and what diversity between the fifth and the sixth, that an ill omen might be found in them?
This opinion has long spread in the world, and all those who cling to destiny dare not act against it. If men of vast erudition and great talents carefully go into the question, and minutely examine the difference between good and bad omens, they must arrive at a clear understanding.
Of old, [a humble concubine of T`ien Ying, minister of Ch`i, had a son, whom she named Wên. As Wên had been born in the fifth moon, T`ien Ying told his mother not to bring him up, but the mother clandestinely reared him. When he had grown up, the mother took her son Wên together with his brothers, and introduced him to his father.
T`ien Ying, very angry, said to her, "I ordered you to do away with this son, how did you dare to keep him alive?" Wên bowed his head, and interfering in the discussion, said, `What is the reason that Your Honour does not want to rear a fifth month child?'
"Because," replied T`ien Ying, "a fifth month child grows as high as a door, and will do harm to his parents."
Wên rejoined, `Does the fate which man receives at his birth depend on Heaven, or does it depend on a door?'
T`ien Ying made no reply. `No doubt,' said Wên, `it depends on Heaven. Then, why are you dissatisfied? Should fate be received from a door, and the child become as high as a door, who could attain to that?'
T`ien Ying acquiesced and said, "Leave off, my son."] [Subsequently, he entrusted him with the superintendence of his household and the reception of guests. Their numbers increased daily, and T`ien Wên's name became known to all the princes.] 21 He grew higher than a door, but T`ien Ying did not die.
According to the reasons put forward by T`ien Wên and corroborated by the fact that his father did not die, the common dread is baseless. T`ien Ying was an ordinary father, but T`ien Wên an exceptional son, the former trusted in the general prejudice, and did not inquire into its reasons, whereas the latter confided in fate, and did not admit the avoidance. As their parts were different, ordinary and exceptional, so were their actions. T`ienYing's name is obscure and unknown, while his son's fame spread far and wide, and never faded.
Still this common avoidance has also its reason: The first month is the beginning of the year, and in the fifth the Yang reaches its acme. A child being born in one of these months, its original nature is fiery and impetuous and weighs heavily on its parents. Not being strong enough to offer resistance, they must come to grief. 22
This idea has gained ground, and no one contradicts it. It is an unfounded assertion, and there is no proof of a real misfortune. The world suffers itself to be imposed upon and to fall into the greatest errors. Things to be avoided are manifold, but always some prodigy is put forth, and if really somebody should happen to die, then the public is convinced of the truth of the assertion, and abides by it.
As to what is to be dreaded and shunned, different views prevail everywhere. I shall give some instances of universal customs, which I trust will be considered. There are innumerous minor rules and observances, all meant to induce to virtue and to exhort to particular carefulness. 23 Nothing is to be feared from ghosts and spirits, and no calamities are due to mischievous influences:
In making bean-sauce people dislike very much to hear thunder. 24 One person did not eat the sauce in order to induce people to hasten its preparation, and not to allow the stuff to lie about in their premises up to spring time. 25
One avoids grinding a knife over a well---lest it fall into the well, or, as some say, because the character hsing (capital punishment) is composed of ching (a well) and tao (a knife) . Grinding a knife over a well, the knife and the well face each other, and one apprehends suffering capital punishment (hsing ). 26
One must not sit under the eaves of a house---a tile might fall down and hit one on the head.
One must not hang up a cap upside down---for it would resemble the garments of a dead man, or, as some say, it should not be turned, lest it be filled with dust.
One must not lie down flat---for one would be like a corpse. 27
One must not receive chopsticks from anybody---because they are not solid. 28
One must not expect others to sweep the ground for one--- for a man building a grave might request one to sweep for him. 29
All these "One must not" are to induce people to exert particular cautiousness, and to exhort them to do good. The Liki says, ["One must not roll the rice into a ball, and one must not slobber."] 30 These are prohibitions regarding propriety and righteousness, and not spoken in reference to good or bad fortune.
1. 494-468 B.C.
2. Quoted from Huai Nan Tse XVIII, 18v.
3. Common people believe in these superstitions.
4. I. e., when a new building is erected in the west for the use of a second master. The other possibility that the new building is destined for the one master to enlarge his dwelling, is not taken into acconnt.
5. The Fêng-su t`ung, quoted in the Pei-wên-yün-fu, gives a similar reason:--- The west is the seat of the superiors, and a new building in this direction would be hurtful to them.
6. Even a good man may innocently suffer punishment and thus become a convict.
7. . Our text of the Analects reads:---.
8. Analects VIII, 3.
9. See Liki, Chi-yi (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVIII, p. 229).
10. Cf. Vol. I, p. 120 and 131, where Wang Chi is called "king Chi" or Chi Li.
11. Vid. p. 81.
12. . This meaning is not found in the dictionaries.
13. . Ed. A and B have for . might be equivalent to "fresh fruit."
14. The horse, the ox, the goat, the pig, the dog, and the cock.
15. , a term strangely corresponding to the German word "toilet" = privy.
16. Most Chinese privies are so horrid, that even Chinese try to avoid them.
17. Chinese varnish is so poisonous, that its smell alone suffices to produce a cutaneous eruption.
21. Quotation from the Shi-chi chap. 75, p. 2r. the biography of T`ien Wên. Cf. also Vol. I, p. 161, where, in line 10, "He replied" should be written for "She replied," and, in line 13, "He rejoined" for "She rejoined."
22. This reason may be in accordance with Wang Ch`ung's system, to us it appears inane.
23. This is Wang Ch`ungs opinion. The belief of his countrymen is that many actions, apart from their qualities, entail misfortune, and solely for this reason are to be shunned.
24. Perhaps the electricity caused the sauce to spoil, as milk becomes sour when the air is charged with electricity. Wang Ch`ung does not know this.
25. The first thunder-storms are in spring. This single case, Wang Ch`ung seems to intimate, was the reason that, subsequently, people always liked to have their bean-sauce ready before the first peal of thunder was heard viz. before the beginning of spring.
26. Similar "avoidances" have come down to our own rational times. E. g. one must not thank any one for a knife or a pair of scissors, otherwise they would cut the friendship. A young lady avoids cutting a fresh pat of butter, otherwise she is sure not to marry during the year.
27. This rule goes back to Confucius, who in bed, did not lie like a corpse. Analects X, 16.
28. This may be an allusion to the frailty of the body or of friendship.
29. A man making such a request would be like one having somebody to bury. The very sensible reasons given for these various customs are Wang Ch`ung's.
30. Liki, Ch`ü-li p. 18r. (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 80).
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