8. All animals are created based on the Li-xing (the True Character). Why is mankind the dominion?

According to the Interaction described in I Ching, the five fundamental elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) have the Qi-xing (Spiritual Character) and Zhi-xing (Material Character). 14

The Qi-xing, which is in Heaven, reflects the interactions among the five elements.

The Zhi-xing, which is on Earth, follows the basic characteristics of the five elements.

The mystical interactions among
the five fundamental elements
follow the rules of
mutual stimulation and suppression.

The order of mutual simulation is: water gives rise to wood, wood gives rise to fire, fire gives rise to earth, earth gives rise to metal, and metal gives rise to water.

The order of mutual suppression is: wood blocks earth, earth blocks water, water blocks fire, fire blocks metal, and metal blocks wood.

The interactions among these five elements vary in degree according to the four seasons and the locations. These interactions together with the flowing of yin and yang create endless changes.

5 Elements - Mutual Simulation & Suppression
5 Elements – Mutual Simulation & Suppression

The five fundamental elements form the frame of which the cosmos is built.

This is why, according to appearances, there are five classes of animal: feather, fur, scale, shell, and naked.

Since there are three-hundred and sixty degrees in a circle, which symbolizes Heaven and Earth, and the Qi in each degree differs, each class of animal has three-hundred and sixty different species.

Since the Qi contains the five elements, every five days constitute a Proper Period; so there are seventy-two Proper Periods in a year.

Three Proper Periods are grouped into a Seasonal Period; so there are twenty-four Seasonal Periods in a year. This is the basis of the Chinese lunar calendar.*

The Qi varies with the celestial latitudes, and this is why there are billions of different beings on Earth.

Fundamental element Wood

From the winter solstice to the vernal equinox, it is the young yang period and is characterized by having yin outside and yang inside.

In this period, yang starts to rise. Thus this period symbolizes east in directions and spring in seasons. In this period, all vegetation starts to grow; hence it corresponds to the fundamental element wood and the color green.

The fur class of animal, such as horses, oxen, goats, elephants, etc., is begotten from the Qi at the vernal equinox. This class of animal is strong and can substitute for human labor.

This class of animal mainly eats grass, so its hair looks like grass. Because yang is inside, they are not good at making vocal sounds. Wood represents the continuation of life and growth, so it also symbolizes benevolence.

Because of this, animals such as horses and oxen do not eat flesh. There are three-hundred and sixty different species in this class and Kirin is the leader.

Fundamental Element Fire

From the vernal equinox to the summer solstice, it is the old yang Period and is characterized by having yang both inside and outside.

In this period, yang rises to its peak and yin diminishes to nil. Thus this period symbolizes south in directions and summer in seasons. Everything flourishes in this season.

It corresponds to the fundamental element fire and the color red. The feather class of animals is begotten from the Qi at the summer solstice. Since fire is hot and causes air to rise, this class of animal can fly.

Because fire is bright, the colors of most birds are also bright. Since fire symbolizes propriety, many birds are paired for life and most birds fly in an orderly fashion.

These symbolize the propriety regarding the male and the female, and the senior and the junior. The feather class of animals has yang both inside and outside, so they can sing. There are three-hundred and sixty different species in this class and Phoenix is the leader.

Fundamental Element Metal

From the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox, it is the young yin period and is characterized by having yin in the inside and yang on the outside.

Since in this period, yin begins to rise and yang begins to decline, this period symbolizes west in directions and autumn in seasons. Activities on Earth become sluggish and dull.

This period corresponds to the fundamental element metal and the color white. The shell class of animals is begotten from the Qi at the autumnal equinox.

Since yang declines beneath Earth but not deeply, these animals can live both in water and on land. They cannot produce any vocal sound because they have yin inside.

Since metal is hard, these animals have shells on the exterior. Metal corresponds to the lung, whose function is breathing.

Hence, turtles can sustain life without eating by adjusting breathing. Because inhaling and exhaling represent yang and yin, turtles can reach Qi-tien 9, 12 and know the future.

Metal symbolizes justice, so many Chinese fortune tellers use turtle shells to foretell the future and inform people fortunes and misfortunes. There are three-hundred and sixty different species in this class and Turtle is the leader.

Fundamental Element Water

From the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice, it is the old yin period and is characterized by having yin both inside and outside. In this period, yin reaches its peak and yang diminishes to nil.

Thus this period symbolizes north in directions and winter in seasons. In this period, activities on Earth are almost non-existent. It corresponds to the fundamental element water and the color black.

The scale class of animals is begotten from the Qi at the winter solstice. Since water always flows downward, this class of animals lives in water.

Water vaporizes into the cloud, which in turn becomes rain and drops down on Earth. Dragons follow the cycle of water and thus live both in air and underwater.

Water benefits all forms of lives and yet does not ask for any favor. It avoids height and always flows downward.

Water fills any cavity and overflows afterward. It fills any shape. No colors can alter its black color.

Hence water corresponds to wisdom. Therefore, water is the first of the five fundamental elements. There are three-hundred and sixty different species in this class and Dragon is the leader.

5 fundamental elements - Seasonal Period
5 fundamental elements – Seasonal Period summary

Fundamental Element Earth

The center is the key position to four directions. It collectively carries the properties of the other four fundamental elements. It is characterized by smoothness.

Its function is to smooth the transitions of the four seasons. It corresponds to the fundamental element earth, the color yellow, and faith.

Its function is to smooth the transitions of the four seasons. It corresponds to the fundamental element earth, the color yellow, and faith.

The naked class of animals, i.e., mankind, is begotten from the Qi of the central position and possesses the balanced Qi of the five fundamental elements.

Therefore mankind possesses the essence of the three Heavens and has Shenq-qiHun-qiand Ling-qi, 3 while other animals have only Sheng-qi and Hun-qi.

Mankind possesses the complete five virtues of Tao. They do not have fur, feather, shell, and scale on their exterior.

Mankind wears clothes, lives in houses, domesticates the other four classes of animals, eats grains, fruits, and vegetables.

There are civilizations, e.g., law and order, entertainment, morality, science, literature, etc., in the human society.

Therefore mankind differs from all other animals and is the dominion. Those who attain Tao become Saints and Sages. Mankind has three-hundred and sixty races and the Saints are the leaders.


*The days that mark the beginning of the twenty-four Seasonal Periods are named, literally, as beginning of spring, rainwater, startle hibernator, vernal equinox, pure and clear, rice rain, beginning of summer, minor abundance, grass planting, summer solstice, minor heat, major heat, beginning of autumn, post heat, white dew, autumnal equinox, chill dew, frost drop, beginning of winter, minor snow, major snow, winter solstice, minor cold, and major cold.

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