The Five Elements

According to Fengshui(风水), a Chinese mythical philosophy, The Five Elements(五行) are the essence of the universe. They are Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, and are conventionally enumerated in this particular order in ancient scriptures. They do not exist separately in the nature; instead, they are coordinated by two types of cycles: the generating cycle(相生) and the overcoming cycle(相克)。 The sub-cycles under each category consist of a duality of the elements.

In the generating cycle, one element enables or supports the existence of another. Firstly, Wood produces Fire, because wood is combustible, and it fuels the burning of fire. Secondly, Fire produces Earth. As fire burns out, it leaves ashes that fertilise and eventually integrate into the earth. Thirdly, Earth produces Metal, because plenty of metal, ore and crystal is formed by chronic biochemical transformations underneath the earth. Fourthly, Metal produces Water. This is not to be interpreted literally, but to be seen as a supportive relationship. Minerals, metal at micronutrient levels, makes water more nourishing to organisms. Lastly, Water produces Wood, because water fundamentally nurtures the growth of trees.

In the overcoming cycle, one element weakens, restricts or annihilates the existence of another. Firstly, Wood controls Earth. As trees grow, they extend their roots and thus occupy space for soil. The roots also prevents the free flow of earth as they snatch and condense the surrounding soil. Secondly, Earth controls Water, because earth can be used to block flood. Thirdly, Water controls Fire, because water is the primitive means to extinguish fire. Fourthly, Fire controls Metal, as the solidity of metal is subject to the heat of fire. Lastly, Metal controls Wood, because metallic tools, such as axes, chop off trees and split them for utility.

The generating cycle conveys an abstract sense that where there is harmony in simultaneous existence, one element produces and supports another. Conversely, the overcoming cycle indicates that in the event of rivalry in simultaneous existence, one element exercises its power over another.
[大学3年级] 字数:1809 投稿日期:2016-12-30 6:36:00

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