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10: CHAPTER VII. Heaven's Original Gift

CHAPTER VII. Heaven's Original Gift (Ch'u-ping). 

A man predestinated at his birth for wealth and honour, is imbued with the spontaneous fluid from the beginning. After he has been brought up, and grown to manhood, his lucky fate manifests itself. 

Wên Wang received a scarlet bird, Wu Wang a white fish and a red crow. 1 The scholars are of opinion that with the bird Heaven's decree was transmitted to Wên Wang, which in the case of Wu Wang was done by the fish and the crow. Thus Wên Wang and Wu Wang would have received their fate from Heaven, which used the bird, the fish, and the crow to pass it on to them. Heaven used a scarlet bird to invest Wên Wang, but Wên Wang did not receive the mandate of Heaven." 2 Then Heaven took a fish and a crow, and enfeoffed Wu Wang. This would imply that primarily the two received no fate from above, and that it was not before they purified themselves, and did good, and the news thereof reached Heaven, that Heaven endowed them with imperial honours.  The bird, the fish, and the crow would then be heavenly messengers carrying the investiture, which emperors must have received to have the power over life and death. However, a thorough investigation shows us that fate has nothing to do with these cases. 

Fate is what comes over people at the beginning, when they are created. They then receive their mind as well as their fate.  Mind and fate come together and at the same time. The mind does not precede, or fate follow. How can this be made clear? 

Ch'i 3 served under Yao as territorial official, became super- intendant of agriculture, and therefrom received the title of Lord of Agriculture (Hou Chi). His great-grandson Duke Liu lived at T'ai, but later on moved to Pin.4 His great-great-grandson Tan Fu, the 

1 Cf. Shi-chi, chap. 4 p. 8 (Chavannes, Mem. Hist. Vol. I, p. 216 Note 1 , and p. 226) . 

2 Wen Wang did not yet attain the imperial dignity, which subsequently devolved upon his son, Wu Wang. 

3 The ancestor of the Chou dynasty. 

4 T'ai and Pin were both situated in Shensi. 

Heaven's Original Gift. 131 

"Old Duke'' had three sons: — T'ai Po, Ch'ung Yung and Chi Li.  The son of Chi Li was Chang, the later Wên Wang. When he was still in his swaddling clothes, there appeared portents indicative of his holiness. Therefore Tan Fu said: — "It is through Chang that my family will become illustrious." When T'ai Po 1 heard of it, he retired to Wu, 2 tattooed himself, and cut his hair in order to make room for Chi Li. Wên Wang is believed to have met with his fate at that period. Yet Heaven's fate is already at work, when man comes into being. Tan Fu, the Old Duke, found it out very soon, but it was already there, before Wên Wang was even conceived by his mother. The fate which emperors acquire becomes their mind internally and their body externally. To the body belong the features and the osseous structure, which man gets at his birth. 

Officials with a yearly income of more than a hundred piculs, but of a lower rank than princes and counts, such as lang-chiang,3 ta-fu, and yüan-shih,4 or provincial officials like intendants and prefects, in short, all salaried functionaries have obtained a fate predestinating them for wealth and honour, which after their birth is apparent in their faces. Hsü Fu and Ku Pu Tse Ch'ing perceived these signs. 5 Officials rise in office, some to the ranks of lords and ministers. They are predestinated to grandeur and a very exalted position. An emperor possesses the highest dignity, and his rank is the most exalted. At his birth, he is endowed with a glorious fate, and his body shows peculiar signs of nobility at that time. The " Old Duke " was well aware of this, when he beheld the remarkable four nipples,6 for these four nipples were the marks of a Sage. Wên Wang received the heavenly decree making him a sage, when he was still in his mother's womb, or did the four nipples grow only, after he had become a man, and practised virtue? 

1 The Shi-chi chap. 4 p. 4 relates that T'ai Po as well as Ch'ung Yung, whom the Shi-chi styles Yü Ch'ung, retired to the barbarians out of regard for their younger brother Chi Li. 

2 The kingdom of Wu, the modern province of Kiangsu, at that time still inhabited by aborigines, hence the tattooing. 

3 Chamberlains of the Palace Guard. 

4 These offices are mentioned by Mencius Bk.V, Pt. II, chap. 2, who informs us that a chief minister had four times as much income as a ta-fu, and a ta-fu twice as much as a yüan-shih. Legge translates " great officer " and " scholar of the first class," which does not say much. I would like to say "Director of a Department " and " First Clerk." 

5 Two renowned physiognomists, cf. chap. XXIV. 

6 A peculiarity of Wên Wang, cf. chap. XXIV. 

182 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

As regards the four nipples, we know also that lambs have them already as embryos. Dame Liu sleeping by a big lake dreamt that she met with a genius, and thereupon gave birth to Kao-Tsu At that time, he had already obtained his fate: When Kuang Wu 2 was born in the Chi-yang palace, a brilliant light shone in the room at midnight, though there was no fire. One of the soldiers Su Yung said to the secretary Ch'ung Lan: — " This is a lucky thing," and nothing more.'' At that time Kuang Wu had already got his destiny. The assertion that Wên Wang and Wu Wang received Heaven's decree together with the scarlet bird, the fish, and the crow is, therefore, erroneous. Heaven's order once being issued, an emperor arises, and there is no further need for another decree. 

Favoured with a fate conferring the highest distinctions upon them, emperors are born as a matter of course, as will be seen from the following: — Old men of wealthy families hoard up thousands of chin.4 They come into the world with the physiognomies of rich men. They work, and produce, and amass wealth, until, in their old age, they have become rich old folks. Emperors are the old men in possession of the empire. Their fate is inherent to their bodies, precisely as with birds the distinction between cocks and hens exists already in the egg-shell. When the eggs are hatched, cocks and hens creep out. After days and months their bones wax stronger, and at last the cocks pair with the hens quite of their own accord. They are not taught to do so, after they have grown up so, that they would dare to pair only then. This is a spontaneous act, after their constitution has been strengthened.  Now emperors are the cocks in the empire. They are destined to become emperors. This, their destiny comes down upon them, when they are still in an embryonic state in the same manner, as the future grandees get their peculiar physiognomies, which they possess at their birth, and as the cocks are formed in the egg. 

This is not only true of men and birds, but of all organisms.  Plants and trees grow from seeds. They pierce the earth as sprouts, by their further growth stem and leaves are formed. Their length and coarseness are developed from the seeds. Emperors are the acme of greatness. The stalk of the " vermilion grass " is like a needle, the sapling of the " purple boletus " like a bean. Both 

1 See p. 177. 

2 The first emperor of the Later Han Dynasty, 25—58 a.d. 

3 Cf. p. 18p. 

4 Old coins. 

Heaven's Original Gift. 133 

plants are auspicious. There is something auspicious about emperors also, who come into existence, endowed with the heavenly fluid. 

Some people believe that emperors have received Heaven's decree, when they are born, but that Heaven invests them again, when they assume the supreme power, just as lords, ministers, and the lower grades await the imperial brevet, before they dare to take charge of their post, and that the scarlet bird, the fish, and the crow were emblems of the investiture by august Heaven. That would mean that human affairs are ordered and regulated by Heaven's interference, whereas spontaneity and inaction are the principles of Heaven. To enfeoff Wên Wang by means of a scarlet bird, and Wu Wang through a white fish, would be on purpose. 

Kuan Chung divided gain with Pao Shu 1 and apportioned more to himself.2 Pao Shu did not give it him, and he did not ask for it.3 That is, they knew each other, one regarded the other as his own self, and had no scruples about taking anything for himself.  A Sage takes the empire, as Kuan Chung the property. 4 Amongst friends their is no question about giving or taking. August Heaven is spontaneous.5 If it really issued orders, then its principle would be purpose, whereas friendship is spontaneous. 

When Han Kao Tsu slew the big snake,6 who prompted him to do so? Did an order from Heaven arrive first, which encouraged him to do the deed? It was an outburst of his valour, a spontaneous impulse. The slaying of the big snake, the destruction of Ch'in,7 and the killing of Hsiang Yü, 8 all amount to the same. That the two Chou emperors Wên Wang and Wu Wang received Heaven's de- cree, and defeated the Yin dynasty, must be understood in the 

1 Kuan Chung and Pao Shu Ya lived in the 6th cent. b.c. They were intimate friends, and are the Chinese Damon and Pythias. 

2 The Shi-chi chap. 62 p. 1v, Biography of Kuan Chung, states that Kuan Chung cheated his friend. He there admits himself that in doing business with Pao Shu Ya, he took more than his share of the gain, but that he did it, because he was very poor, and not out of greed. 

3 Kuan Chung took more than his share not on purpose, out of greed, but unintentionally. 

4 The empire falls to the share of the Sage, he takes it as a matter of course, but does not long for it. 

5 His actions are like those of intimate friends: — natural, unpremeditated, and spontaneous. 

6 This incident is told more fully on p. 178. 

7 The imperial house of Ch'in, which was dethroned by Han Kao Tsu. 

8 Hsiang Yü committed suicide, when defeated by Han Kao Tsu. 

134 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

same sense. If Kao Tsu took the reins of government without a special order, it cannot be true that Wên Wang and Wu Wang alone were invested through a bird and a fish. 

The objection may be raised that in the " Announcement to K'ang Shu " it is stated that: — " God heard of it, and was pleased, and Heaven gave Wên Wang a great charge."1 If such a decree were impossible, how could the Annals and Classics speak of a great command given by Heaven to Wên Wang"? — The expression great command does not signify that Heaven issued orders to Wên Wang. Whatever a Sage does, he fulfills the commands of Heaven.  He agrees with Heaven, as if he had done what Heaven bade him.  In the Shu-king K'ang Shu is just admonished and exhorted to do good, therefore it is mentioned that Heaven above heard of Wên Wang's good deeds, and thereupon gave him a great charge. 

The Shi-king says: — " (God) sent his kind regards round to the west, and then gave an abode."- This is the same idea.  Heaven has no head and no face, how could it look about. Man can look around. Human qualities have been ascribed to Heaven.  It is easy to see that. Thus one speaks of looking about. Heaven's command given to Wên Wang and his looking are very much the same. In reality Heaven gives no orders, which can be proved in this way: — 

" The perfect man resembles Heaven and Earth in virtue, sun and moon in brightness, the four seasons in regularity, and ghosts and spirits with regard to lucky and unlucky omens. When he acts first. Heaven does not disagree with him, and, when he follows Heaven, he conforms to his periods."3 

If in order to act there would always be a decree of Heaven required, how could there be actions preceding that of Heaven, and others following it. .Since the Sage acts, without waiting for Heaven's decree, just on the impulse of his heart, sometimes he takes the initiative, sometimes he follows Heaven, which means that he is always in harmony with Heaven's periods. Hence it is said that Heaven does not disagree, and that the Sage conforms to Heaven. 

The Analects 4 say: — "Great is Yao as a sovereign! Heaven is great, and Yao corresponded to him." Emperors correspond to 

1 Shu-king Pt. V, Book IX, 4. 

2 Shi-king Pt. Ill, Book I, Ode VII, 1. 

3 Quotation from the Yi-king, Ch'ien Hexagram (N. 1). The commentator says that the Sage and Heaven are always in accordance, no matter who acts first, because they both follow the same principles. 

4 Analects VIII, 12. 

Heaven's Original gift. 1H5 

Heaven, that is to say, they are not in opposition to, and obey Heaven. Bringing the spontaneous nature into harmony with Heaven, that is the meaning, of the great command given to Wên Wang. Wen Wang had his own ideas, and acted by himself. He was not driven on by Heaven, nor was the scarlet bird commissioned to tell him that he should be emperor, whereupon he dared to assume the imperial sway. Wên Wang's scarlet bird and Wu Wang's white fish were not messengers bringing the assurance of Heaven's glorious help.  Whatever a lucky man begins, turns to his advantage. He finds adherents without seeking them, and auspicious objects without taking any trouble to get them. A latent sympathy pervades all things. If he be induced to come forth, and to hear and look, and he then sees something very propitious, it is mere spontaneity.  When Wên Wang was going to stand up as emperor, the scarlet bird happened to appear. The fish jumped up, and the bird came flying, and Wu Wang chanced to perceive them.1 It was not Heaven which sent the birds and the white fish. The lucky objects were moving about, and the Sages met them. Of the white fish which jumped into the Emperor's boat, Wang Yang 2 said that it was a chance. At the time, when Liu K'un,3 president of the Banqueting Office, was still governor of Hung-nung,4 a tiger crossed the Yellow River. The emperor Kuang Wu Ti said that it was nothing but a curious coincidence, and a spontaneous act, and that nobody had sent the tiger. What Wang Yang called a chance and Kuang Wu Ti a coincidence, were all, so to speak, instances of spontaneity. 

1 Shi-chi chap. 4 p. 8. 

2 A famous teacher and in later years a minister, of" the 1st cent. a.d. 

3 A native of Hunan, died 57 b.c. Giles, Biogr. Diet. N. 1323. 

4 A city in Honan. 

136 Lun-Hên: B. Metaphysical.