Fate and Destiny (II)
December 16, 2008
We had a great discussion on Joseph Yu’s blog concerning the following classic phrase and the Five Elements:
(3) Feng Shui
(4) Accumulation of hidden virtuous deeds
(5) Study books
In the end it is about the role of Feng Shui plays in our fate and destiny (Ming, fate, Heaven’s decreed or mandate), which brought me to Wing-Tsit Chan again with his comment on Mencius in page 78 of his “A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy”, which I think every student of Chinese Metaphysics (Xuan Shu) should read.
Mencius said, “He who exerts his mind to the utmost knows his nature. He who knows his nature knows Heaven. To preserve one’s mind and to nourish one’s nature is the way to serve Heaven. Not to aloow any double-mindedness regardless of longevity or brevity of life, but to cultivate one’s person and wait for (destiny to takes its own course) is the way to fulfill one’s destiny”
Chan’s comment, “In ancient China there were five theories about destiny or the Mandate of Heaven. The first was fatalism: the Mandate of Heaven is fixed and unchangeable. The second was moral determinism: Heaven always encourage virtue and punishes evil; therefore man can determine his reward and punishment through moral deeds. The third was anti-fatalism, advocated by the Moist School. The fourth was naturalistic fatalism, which means that destiny is not controlled by Heaven in the sense of an anthropomorphic God but by Nature and works automatically. Lastly, there was the Confucian theory of “waiting for destiny”. According to this doctrine, man should exert his utmost in moral endeavor and leave whatever is beyond our control to fate. It frankly admits that there are things beyond our control but that is no reason why one should relax in his moral endeavor. The tendency was definitely one of moralism and humanism. The Confucian theory represents the conviction of enlighten Chinese in general”.
In view of the above, the study and the use of Feng Shui (and other branches of Xuan Shu for that matter) straddles the boundary between destiny and free-will, we should use these ancient knowledge as a tool to help use do our utmost and only after we have tried our best, will our destiny be a true to self one and not to fall into the abyss of fatalism and determinism of all kinds.