Zhang Hongbao in Blast Furnace

A Documentary on How the Outstanding Spiritual Leader

Transformed to a Political Leader


Back to Index >>

Four: The Sacred Hand that Manipulates the World

� The law of mutual promotion and restraint and counterbalancing of the five elements.

      

       So far Mr. Zhang has expounded profoundly on the essence of “the five elements,” solved the problem of what are “the five elements,” and presented a basically static picture of the system of the universe. The present section will be focused on the exposition of the why everything in the universe is mutually related to each other and interacts with each other. The central issue is about the general order of things and special rules. The problems to be solved here is “how.” The approach is a dynamic research the law of movement and change of things.

 

       The first part places its emphasis on the theory. The second part will place equal emphases on both the theory and the methodology, on both the law governing the mutual relations and interactions among things and the application of this law on the actual work, design, and application of control and restraint within the system, as well as on how to understand the approaches and methods of counterbalancing, circulation, and operation.  The research is focused also on the law’s application feasibility as well as its unprecedented novelty, its brilliance of wisdom and strategy. The law of mutual promotion and restraint and counterbalancing of the five elements consists of six sub-laws. What follows is an introduction to these sub-laws.

 

(1) The explanations of the law of mutual promotion and restraint

 

       According to the Tianhua philosophy, there are countless ways in which things in the universe relate to each other and interact with each other. The interaction between yin and yang begets the five elements, the five elements beget everything in the universe, and everything in the universe in its turn plays its respective functions in its own ways. However, one of the most basic functions is “life-promotion” and “restraint.” Therefore, in his exposition, Mr. Zhang gives priority to the law of mutual promotion and restraint.

 

       To understand the connotations of the law of mutual promotion and restraint, we need to approach this topic in the following respects:

 

       1. What is “life-promotion”? What is “restraint”?

 

       Mutual promotion refers to the positive impact, promotion, or enhancement a thing exerts upon another thing. Restraint refers to the negative impact, constraint, limit a thing exerts on another thing.

 

       2. How are mutual promotion and mutual restraint carried out among the five elements? What is the result of the mutual promotion and mutual restraint?

 

       Each of the five elements of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal promotes the next in order and restrains the one after the next in order in an endless, circuitous fashion. And everything itself relates to the other in self-promoting, promoting the other, self-restraining, and restraining the self. Mutual promotion results in the transition of status, leading to enhancive circulation, while mutual restraint results in restrictive circulation.

 

3.      The universality of mutual promotion and restraint and their mutual relations.

 

       The relations of mutual promotion and mutual restraint exist in all things. This is an universal phenomenon. Mutual promotion and restraint is tantamount to mutual reliance, mutual penetration, and mutual assistance. To better understand this law, we can resort to the examples given by Mr. Zhang. Here let’s analyze one of the examples.

 

       In the United States, in Alaska natural conservation area, people can sometimes see packs of wolves running amuck and devouring deer everywhere. The result is a pause in the natural growth of deer population and the ensuing human campaign to eliminate wolves. What is unexpected is that, without their natural enemies, the deer population grows without any restraint, which results in the imminent destruction of originally fecund vegetation. Consequently, the previously flourishing deer begin to die in great numbers because of lack of adequate food source and because of weak physique as a result of insufficient exertion and ease of life. So how should we do to make the deer regain their strength? Americans start to reintroduce wolves into this area as “doctors” who can cure deer of their atrophies. And for the first time, wolves become the protected species in this area. And for the first time, wolves become comic characters. Eventually this natural conservation area regains its vitality. This story demonstrates the relation of mutual promotion and restraint within the system of vegetation, deer, and wolves. They are mutually dependent and inseparable. Without the restraint of the wolves, the deer will find themselves in a crisis of survival. Wolves are meant to restrain deer, but this restraint contains a factor that ensures deer’s salubrious existence. This is what is called promotion in embodied in restraint. The deer are meant to promote the wolves, but the reduction in the deer population inevitably leads to a crisis in the wolves’ survival. This is what is called restraint is embodied in promotion. Therefore, the two things are mutually promoting and restraining, interdependent and inseparable. Of course, there are plenty of similar examples that can serve demonstrate this law.

 

       The connotations of the law of mutual promotion and restraint as explicated above are part of the theory. What follows will be the specific application of this law in social lives. This is a demonstration concerning methodology. Here Mr. Zhang mainly introduces the principle of “self-promoting” and “promoting the other,” with the emphasis placed on “promoting the other,” and applies this principle to the issue of talent discovery and cultivation. The result is a systematic view of talent as advocated by the Tianhua philosophy.

 

       Talent is an important factor in social development. For a unit or an institution to develop and gain strength, an important condition is the existence of talent and the use of human resources. If mistakes are made in talent identification of talent and the employment of human resources, then the business will suffer losses, setbacks, or even failure.

 

       This view of talent includes how to identify talent, how to use talent, and how to cultivate talent. To use talent, we must know how to identify talent first. And to identify talent we must have a criterion for judgment, to make sure what kind of human resources we need. The talent criterion set by the Tianhua philosophy is the coexistence of virtue and talent. Specifically, the criteria are what Mr. Zhang describes as “the six virtues:” moral integrity, sense of justice, loyalty, dependability, courage, and wisdom. How to identify a talent? One thing we can do is to make a distinction between the genuine and the spurious and avoid judging a person by his or her appearance; in this respect, Mr. Zhang has provided us with a list of characteristics of fifteen types of people. Another important thing we should do is to test a talent. Mr. Zhang summarized the successful experience of testing talents in history and proposed ten methods of testing talents, which are of very important reference value in our attempts to identify talents. According to the Tianhua philosophy, to use a person is to use his/her strengths and avoid his/her weaknesses; guide him/her with “six virtues” and warn him/her with “six vices.” Mr. Zhagn also introduced the episodes of “six virtues” and “six vices” about Liu Xiang in West Han Dynasty. The method of cultivating talents is about educating and developing talents. According to Tianhua culture, to facilitate talent cultivation we need an environment characterized by magnanimity and tolerance. As Mr. Zhang put it, the Big Way of the universe allows the coexistence of the pure and the impure, of benevolence and malignance. The sages must have munificence, tolerance, and open-mindedness to embrace the whole society. An environment that is favorable to talent discovery and cultivation is one in which magnanimity is upheld as a high virtue and the public mentality is one of tolerance. Of course, tolerance should not be identified with indiscrimination; it should be based on principles. With this mentality, there are three specific methods: first, the establishment of a favorable environment and a positive public mentality as fertile soil for the cultivation of talents; secondly, a genuine respect for knowledge, for ability, and for talents. We should provide a stage for talents to develop their abilities and give them full confidence; thirdly, acceptance of talents from everywhere and make friends with various kinds of people. Identification of talents is the precondition for using talents, using talents is the purpose of identifying talents, and identifying and using talents are based on cultivation of talents. Without human resources, how can we use talents?

 

       All in all, we should understand the way of “promoting self” and “promoting the other, and at the same time, we should learn to employ the method of “promoting self” and “promoting the other.” We should be wise in selecting talents, hire people according to their abilities and virtues, be magnanimous with our colleagues, and make friends with as many capable people as possible. This is especially important for those who are in the leadership positions. For them, to enhance personal cultivation is particularly significance.

 

       (Two) The Explications on the Law of Cheng Ru

 

       This sub-law divulges the principle of contravariance: things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme. The mastery of this law will enable us to apply the rule of moderation to our daily lives to avoid the transition of things towards an unfavorable direction. This law contains two levels of connotations:

 

       1. “Cheng” refers to the peak of prosperity, and “Kang Cheng” refers to excessive prosperity. So “Kang Cheng” is the prelude to contravariance. “Kang Cheng,” therefore, is deleterious.

 

       2. “Ru” means humiliation and bullying. “Fan Ru” means counter restraint. “FanRu” disrupt the movement of mutual promotion and restraint, resulting in a situation where the natural process of mutual promotion and restraint comes to a dead end, thus giving rise to problems.

 

       The Law of Cheng RU actually refers to the degree of moderation concerning the mutual promotion and restraint of the five elements. Whether it is called “excessive prosperity” or “immoderation,” it both refers to the loss of balance. This law tells us the importance of temperature control, especially referring to the strategic steps concerning the battlefield as a whole. If “Kang Cheng Fan Ru” occurs, it will result in a great loss. Therefore, it is necessary to exert control over the change and limit it to a certain range; otherwise, things will get out of control.

 

       The law of Cheng Ru can also be used in reverse. That is, we can mislead the other side in the direction of “Cheng Ru” in order to reach our own goal. In the modern management theory, it is called “the incitement mechanism.” For instance, in the period of warring states, Tian Dan was defending the city of Jimo against a siege staged by the state of Yan. He purposefully spread the rumor that what he feared most was for Yan army to cut off the prisoners’ noses and put the prisoners in front of the attacking division to cause fear among the people who were defending the city of Jimo. The Yan army heard the rumor, believed it to be true, and did exactly what was stated in the rumor. The Qi soldiers and civilians who were defending the city of Jimo saw that the enemies had cut off the noses of the prisoners, was outraged, and became more determined in their resolution to fight for their city. As the next step, Tian Dan sent an espionage to leak the information to the Yan army: what Tian Dan was most apprehensive about was for the Yan army to exhume the corpses out of the graves outside the city wall, for that would break the Qi people’s heart and make them too weak to fight. The Marshall of the Yan army heard about it and thought it was a most effective strategy. So he ordered his soldiers to dig the Qi graves and burn the bones in public. The Qi soldiers and civilian watched the scene from the top of the city wall, were outraged at what they saw, and became even more determined to fight the Yan army to the end. Knowing that the right moment had arrived, Tian Dan made preparations for a counterattack. He arranged for a fake surrender to make the Yan army less vigilant and then used the bulls with their tails on fire to defeat the enemies. In this way, the state of Qi defeated the state of Yan and regained all the land they had previously lost.

 

       (Three) The explications on the law of counterbalance

 

       Counterbalancing belongs to the category of “restraint.” In human society, “restrain” must be realized through “counterbalancing.” If we compare the law of counterbalance with the law of mutual promotion and restraint, we can see that “mutual promotion and restraint” is a universal phenomenon and law of the universe, while the law of counterbalance can be applied to a society with intelligence. In other words, the law of counterbalance is a special application of the law of mutual promotion and restraint within the scope of human intelligence, a special expression of the law of mutual promotion and restraint in an intelligential society. Therefore, it is of special significance for us to determine its application range to facilitate our understanding and employment of the law.

 

       The connotations of the law of counterbalance include the following aspects:

 

       1. What is “Zhi” (counter)?

      

       “Zhi” has two connotations: first, it refers to the regulations and restrictions imposed on people’s thinking and behaviors, to the restraints, limitations, constraints and control people impose upon themselves through law, rationality, and compassion. Secondly, “Zhi” refers to the restriction, control, manipulation, and conquest realized through the means of plotting or through the adoption of means including law, rationality and compassion to achieve balance or counterbalancing.

 

       2. What is “Hua” (balance or resolution)?

 

       “Hua” is resolution or a solution that brings out life; it is a realization of solution or life through the means of “counterbalancing.”

 

       3. The relationship between life-promotion and restraint

 

         “Life-promotion” and “restraint” are interdependent. It does not work if there is no promotion, and its does not work either if there no restraint. Without life-promotion, then there is no source of birth or growth; without restraint, there will be excesses that will be deleterious.  Life-promotion and restraint rely upon each other; they coexist not only in spite of but also because of their differences.

 

       How do we understand this law? The Big Way is relentless. The Big Way demands that our world should maintain a peaceful coexistence of yin and yang and a balanced development. It is the same case with the human society. As the most basic unit of the society, a person should also follow the Way. The law of counterbalance is about humanism. In the human society, an individual is connected to a variety of other individuals and things in different ways and restrained by a variety of factor, including life-promoting factors and restraining factors. The life-promoting factors are favorable factors in an individual’s environment, factors that enhance his existence, development and progress; there are also restraining factors that regulate and control an individual’s thinking and actions. Restraint has two levels of meanings: first, if an individual follows the way and practice “self-restraint” and “self-conscious control” in accordance with the law of life-promotion and restraint, then he or she is practicing restraint, control, and limitations on the self and others in the framework of law, rationality, and emotion. If a person conscientiously abides by law, then he or she is practicing self-restraint. By the same taken, in a working unit, a person first of all has to follow the regulations and rules set by that unit. Secondly, one can also practice restraint on others according to the regulations and rules, through adopting tactics and strategies and using such means as law, rationality and emotions to realize restraint, control, manipulation and conquest to attain a resolution or balance. These two meanings are mutually inclusive and interdependent. If one only practices self-restraint and self-perfection, that can only results in an enervated self subject to bullying from the others. On the other hand, if one only focuses on restraining other people, that may result in excess self-expansion and cause the self to move in the opposition direction, heading toward self-destruction.

 

       This principle is of special importance in today’s society, which is characterized by plurality, multi-dimensions, and multi-perspectives, multi-orientations, and rapid, radiating developments. Our negligence of one of the links in today’s society may cause chain-reactions and lead to imbalance of yin and yang in the whole society, resulting in negative social consequences. That is why, from a macroscopic perspective, we need to know how to adjust the relations among various social links and learn to use various means to dissolve and transform various unfavorable factors.

 

       After divulging the content of this law, Mr. Zhang goes on, from a practical perspective, to explicate on the counterbalancing methods of self-restraint and restraining the other.

 

       In his discussion on the concept of self-restraint, Mr. Zhang touches upon the fifteen areas of governing a state, leading an army, managing a household, social ethics, human resources, inter-personal relationship, business, international relationship, litigation, restraining the other, inability to fight back, the time of prosperity, adversities, confidentiality, and mundane affairs. In great depths and detail, Mr. Zhang brilliant expounds upon the essence of self-restraint, asking us to follow the law of counterbalance. If we let our actions be guided by the law, and we will enjoy good fortunes; if we act in contrary to the law, we will suffer from ill fortunes.

 

       This law has resulted from experiences accumulated in the human struggle for survival and development over a long historical period of social practice. At the same time, this law is a scientific conclusion reached by Mr. Zhang after his creative application of the law of life-promotion and restraint to his research in the special area of the human society. This law should be the guiding principle for our work and daily activities. With a firm grasp of this principle, we are able to find our positions in our society quickly, no matter where we are and no matter from what angles we are looking at the world. This is a philosophical concept that we must study assiduously and experience repeatedly so that we can conscientiously practice self-restraint. We must use this principle as a guiding light that directs us in our struggle toward independence, survival and development.

 

       In his article, Mr. Zhang also gives a detailed discussion on the essential qualities a general must possess in leading an army. As an intelligent person in a modern society, a person actually should regard himself/herself as a marshal leading himself in the battle of life. Having a sagacious attitude towards life is a benchmark of wisdom and maturity. A person’s life is full of vicissitudes, sometimes prosperous and sometimes out of luck. A great success in your career may cause other people to misjudge you and tend to give you an assessment that surpasses your actual merits, which makes you feel as if you are equally good in other aspects, like carrying a “halo.” At a moment like this, you need to maintain your sobriety. Otherwise, you will find yourself in danger of “being murdered by accolade.” Actually, what is needed is self-restraint.

 

       There are periods of low tides in our lives. Sometimes we may suffer fatal blows, resulting in depression. But we should not allow ourselves be tied up by this type of mood. Nor should we allow ourselves to be buried in pessimism, isolation, cynicism, or even a suicidal mood. An individual who understands life can feel sad, but he or she does not indulge in sadness. This is an important distinction between sagacity and lack of sagacity in life. Essentially, this can be called the art of self-restraint in life. This principle as expounded by Mr. Zhang deserves to be ruminated over and over again, for it is so rich and profound!

 

       Another important aspect of counterbalance is restraining the other, which is the restraint imposed upon the object by the subject of self. Here counterbalance can be further divided into two major categories of check & balance and conquest. It is to attain the goal of governing by imposing restrictions, restraint, control, and limitations on the object through the employment strategies and power.

 

       The first category is check and balance. The ultimate purpose is, through the use of tactics and power, to achieve balance in a dynamic system and to ensure its movement towards the orchestrated goal. The precondition for check and balance is the establishment of relatively stable managerial order, such as the installation of a constitution, a legislative system, and a educational system after the establishment of a state. The establishment of the managerial order makes it possible to effectively implement a variety of check and balance measures. The methods of check and balance include containment, restraint, enforcement, and dissolution.

 

       Mr. Zhang goes on to discuss specifically the methods of containment, restraint, enforcement, and dissolution. This actually involves a whole set of managerial methods and managerial art, including both macroscopic strategies and microscopic tactics and their organic integration. These methods used to be secret ancient governing art stratagems and social tactics. After Mr. Zhang’s innovations, they have become a series of very practical managerial blueprints. The depths and profundity of these methods can be appreciated only after assiduous studies and researches.

 

       The second category is conquest. Mr. Zhang’s discussion here is very detailed, vivid, and scientific. Conquest is the main content of “restraining the other and also an important way of achieving counterbalance. The content of this category involves five aspects

 

       □ the purpose of conquest: to make things move in the direction favorable to our interest and our objectives;

       □ the criterion of conquest: the extent to which our interest and political and military objectives are realized;

 

       □ the method of conquest: there are two kinds: to achieve conquest by means of tactics and to achieve conquest by means of skills. Conquest by means of tactics can be further divided into complete conquest and conquest through fight. The former is to win without fighting, while the latter is to win through fighting.

 

       □ Conquest by means of tactics: Tactics can be further divided into theories and methods.

 

       In the section dealing with theories, Mr. Zhang explicates from various perspectives and at various levels, on the principles of conquest by means of tactics; in the section dealing with methods, Mr. Zhang breaks it apart into thirteen separate parts, with the emphasis on the basic principle of being flexible in the employment of specific methods, which should be determined by every particular situation.

 

       □ the essentials of leading an army to victory

 

       Mr. Zhang points out that one of the essential principles in leading an army to victory is the establishment of clear criteria for rewards and punishments. He goes on to present a list of twelve most effective methods in achieving military goals.

 

       Mr. Zhang apparently is only talking about the art of military strategies and tactics. Nevertheless, the significance of his discussion here goes far beyond military applications. The art can also be applied to politics, economy, culture, enterprise, commerce, social relations, mundane affairs, and other areas of human society. For example, he focuses his discussion on the art of war because the true way of conquest can be typically demonstrated in the art of war and military strategies. A careful research on the law of balance and art of conquest will lead us to discover that it can be successfully applied in the macroscopic area of governing a nation and in the microscopic field of managing a household or cultivating personal virtues. What it reflects is the crystallization of the Chinese people’s wisdom that has thousands of years of history. It is the classics of oriental thinking.

 

       (Four) Explications on the Multiple Arrangements

 

       The law of multiple arrangements refers to the advisability of arbitrary design and setup of various arrangements in response to specific time, space, and particular conditions. The principle of setting up the multiple arrangement is flexibility, responsiveness, and avoidance of rigidity.

 

       This law is Mr. Zhang’s creation, signaling a great leap forward from the traditional theory of five elements. What the traditional theory of five elements provides is a thinking model of enclosed, circuitous development. On the basis of the theory of five elements, the Tianhua philosophy put forward the theories of standard status, sub-status and change of status, greatly expanding the external range of the five elements, signaling a breakthrough of the enclosed movement model of the five elements and replacing it with an open, flexible, and dynamic movement model. According to the Tianhua philosophy, there are a great variety of changes in the interactions among things. Therefore, the connections among things will result in a great variety of arrangements and combinations. That is why we are required to look at the world from a comprehensive perspective and learn to deal with issues in a flexible fashion. Hence arises the need for arbitrary setups

      

       With the precondition of following the law, the setups can be arranged arbitrarily and in countless ways. The purpose of setting up the arrangements is to taking advantage of the arrangements. The principle for using the arrangements is “flexibility.” Taking a flexible approach towards a dynamic situation as a whole can ensure the movement towards the goal through containment, check and balance, and conquest. The word “flexibility” contains the meaning of “change.” Poverty makes us think of change, and change will create channels towards a long-term success. Therefore, “flexibility” is the soul of success.

      

       In the history of Chinese revolution, Mao Zedong was an expert in setting up arrangements in order to attain the goal of revolution. During the period of the First Great Revolution in 1927, because Chen Duxiu carried out a surrender policy that caused a failure in the revolution and a separation between the communists and the nationalists, the contradictions escalated and there emerged a situation of intensified conflicts. There existed a gap in the strengths of the two sides, our side was much weaker, and the revolution was in a low tide. At this crucial moment, Mao Zedong rapidly adjusted the setup to engage in a new struggle, establishing revolutionary bases in the rural areas where the enemy’s forces were relatively weaker. Thus, Mao opened a new path characterized by staging a siege of the cities from the countryside before finally capturing the cities, reserved the revolutionary forces, and successfully made the revolution to change in the direction favorable to our side.

 

       As we often put it in our daily lives, if people move they tend to prosper; if trees move they tend to die. This is the pattern of changing the arrangement. In a working unit, because of various reasons, a person may be entangled in serious conflicts with his superiors or subordinates. The adoption of the method of leaving or changing the environment is a good way out. Of course, the way to change the arrangement is very flexible. When we have a firm grasp of this law, we will be able to survive and develop more felicitously.

 

       (Five) Explications on the Law of Power of Situation

 

       1. What is the law of power of situation?

      

       Things in the world always develop along a tortuous and spiraling track. This track can be divided into several phases. It is the same case with the movement of five elements. In the process of things’ development, according to the change of time, place, and conditions, the energy stored in a particular phase and the relevant condition is called the power of situation. There are intrinsic connections such as movement, change, continuation, and restraint between different powers of situation, referred to as the law of power of situation.

 

       2. The significance of mastering the law of power of situation

 

        The mastery of the law will enable us to make correct assessments about various situations, take advantage of the normal situation, grasp the trend, set up favorable arrangements, adopt good policies, have a complete control of the situation, and gain great freedom at a higher level.

 

       3. The categorization of the powers of situation

 

       According to the temporal/spatial criteria, the powers of situations can be classified as temporal situation, temporal power; spatial situation, spatial power; from the perspective of change and development, the powers of situations can be classified into normal situation, normal power; changing situation, changing power. In addition, there are various combinations of powers of situation: high-position power, low-position power; external power, internal power; network power, spot power; single-direction power, multiple-direction power; axel power, block power; as well as acupoint power, line-surface power. In the traditional theory of five elements, in accordance with the change of powers of situation in response to different spatial and temporal points, the processes of things’ development are classified into five powers of situation: prosperity, semi-prosperity, pause, closure, and death. The law governing the change of these five powers of situation is as follows: when a certain element is situated in prosperity, the element it begets is situated in semi-prosperity, the element that begets the first element is situated in pause, the element that restrains the first element is situated in closure, and the element restrained by the first element is situated in death. Therefore, the law that governs the five elements in prosperity, semi-prosperity, pause, closure, and death can be expressed as below: When the time comes for me to be prosperous, those that I beget will enjoy semi-prosperity, those that beget me will find themselves in pause, those that restrain me will find themselves in closure, and those that I restrain will find themselves in death.

 

       This law divulges the different powers of situation for different things in different powers of situation.

 

       Following this basic principle, we should be able to constantly adjust our positions in the social life, set up different goals to strive for, make sure that our actions follow the way, and attain complete liberty both physically and spiritually.

 

       To be more specific:

 

       □ According to different characteristics of things in different temporal and spatial power situations, we identify our own positions in the society. First of all, we should identify our temperaments and dispositions. Mr. Zhang sums up five basic types of personalities: those of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. We can identify our types according to our character and temperament. Secondly, judging from the perspective of the life-promotion and restraint relations, we can look for an environment that will be life-promoting, which includes superiors and professions that will be life-promoting to us, or geographical surroundings that will be life-promoting to us.

 

       □ According to different temporal and spatial conditions and different temporal and spatial power situations, we can find the track of movement of our own prosperity, semi-prosperity, pause, closure and death, before we can determine our own strategies of action and goals in different phases and stages. In this way, we can avoid unnecessary waste and concentrate our energy and effort on the realization of our values in life.

 

       Mr. Zhang also conducted researches on the methods of applying the law of powers of situations in military and commercial fields. All in all, no matter where we apply this law, we should try to set up a favorable arrangement and be flexible in adopting our plans and strategies.

 

       How to set up a favorable arrangement and to adopt a position according to a particular situation?

 

       First of all, we need to make a judgment about the situation. Make sure that we understand the historical moment, the current situation, the allover arrangement, the power situation of the time and the opportunities; make sure that we know the temporal/spatial point we occupy; make sure that we know the various relationships. These are preconditions.

      

       Secondly, apply the law in our decisions on setups and arrangements. Make efforts to create an arrangement or environment or power situation that is favorable to us. Strategically, we need to create an overall favorable environment; tactically, we need to create an overwhelming condition in our own favor.

 

       Next, in our attempts to set up a favorable situation, we need to possess the qualities of subtlety, tenacity, resilience, latency, brevity, and flexibility. Of course, the purpose of setting up a favorable situation is to take advantage of it. In fact, Mr. Zhang uses these examples to remind people to use their own wisdom to ensure their survival and prosperity. The mastery of these tactics will enable us deal with future situations with more confidence.

 

       (Six) Explications on the Law of Transmitting Change

 

       Things in our world affect each other and interact upon each other. The change of things of one category will inevitably influence and incur changes to adjacent things, and in due course further impact others of other categories. And changes of things of other categories will in turn produce impacts on things of the first category. This is called the law of transmitting change.

 

       The transmitted change of the five elements can be classified into two categories. One is the transmitted change of things that are mutually promoting; the other is the transmitted change of things that are mutually restraining. Things that are mutually promoting form a linkage; when the energy of one link increases, it will benefit the other links. For instance, when Taiping Tianguo Revolution was in its peak, the internal sections should be mutual promoting. However, Hong Xiuquan was unable to manage well the contradictions or conflicts between Yang Xiuqing on the one hand and Wei Changhui and Shi Dakai on the other. He hanged Yang Xiuqing, who was one of the most important generals and who played a balancing role within the Taiping army. The consequence was catastrophic: the internal conflicts intensified and the strength of the uprising army was seriously weakened, resulting in the failure of the entire revolution. Things that are mutually restraining also form a linkage. For instance, when Xiang Yu marched into the interior China, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity created by the situation that all the warlords were still far away in Xianyang City. He did not take this opportunity to create inner turmoil among them, induce them to fight each other, and try to eliminate the most powerful leader in the confusion. Instead, he allowed them to coexist peacefully. The consequence was fatal: Liu Bang rose to become Xiang Yu’s formidable opponent and eventually defeated Xiang Yu to become the first emperor of Han dynasty.

 

       The law of transmitted change is universally applicable, whether it is transmitted change among things that are mutually promoting or transmitted change among things that are mutually restraining. From the medical perspective, Mr. Zhang illustrates this law through the example of the relations between the eyes and the liver, and between the liver and the kidney in order to help us to better understand the law. Of course transmitted changes take place ubiquitously. For instance, the humid climate in the temperate zone produces grasslands, grasslands in turn make it possible for the herbivore animals to flourish, and the existence of herbivores create the condition for the survival of carnivores. If bad weather occurs and causes a decrease in rainfall, a series of chain reactions are likely to ensue, having a negative impact on cattle farming. This is an example of transmitted change among mutually promoting things. There is an interesting phenomenon in the rural areas. Many farmers believe in a long-held superstition that the snake is the dragon reincarnated. If a snake is found in someone’s home, it is regarded as an auspicious sign, for people believe that the snake can protect people and bring peace to the house. This superstition was actually originated from transmitted change. Since the snake is the natural enemy of the rat and the rate to a certain extent is humans’ natural enemy, the presence of the snake in the house will keep the rat away and prevent the loss of food. In this sense, the presence of the snake in the house will bring peace to it. This is an example of the transmitted change among mutually restraining things. There are countless similar examples in our lives. Therefore, our mastery of the law of transmitted change and our ability to apply it in various fields will enable us to reach our goals in those fields. This law is of special significance as a guiding principle in our social practices.

 

       The Tianhua philosophy represents a great leap forward in the history of philosophy. Its profundity and prodigious ingenuity endow it with an irresistible, magical appeal. It may be too early to attempt to carry out a comprehensive, systematic examination, analysis, or assessment of the innovated philosophical thinking and its far-reaching impacts on our society. Therefore, what I have written so far is only intended to elicit more responses and comments from other readers who are interested in this philosophy. I look forward to corrections and criticism from my readers.

Back to Index >> 

  Print this article