Why is China the only Surviving Human Cradle Civilization?


Xiaoming Guo for Waterloo

Fengshui (风水) is part of Chinese culture today. Many companies are concerned about the Fengshui of their office and their building. Many families are also fans of Fengshui in their home decoration and evaluation of a house purchasing. The theory of Fengshui is a branch of the theory of I Ching (易经)。 I Ching is the Confucian Bible of Change. It ranks on the top among all Confucian Classics (十三经之首). According to the Records of the Grand Historian, or Shiji (史记), King Wen of Zhou (周文王,1152-1056 BC) developed the 64 hexagrams (64 卦) when he was imprisoned by King Zhou of Shang (殷纣王). The 64 hexagrams are the back bone of the I Ching. The philosophy of I Ching is deeply rooted in Chinese culture ever since. The 64 hexagrams are deducted from Bagua, the Eight Symbols (八卦). According to I Ching, Bagua was invented by Fuxi (伏羲)and Fuxi is the head of an ancient clan. He married his sister, he led his people hunting and fishing. The description by to the Records of the Grand Historian and I Ching about the production and living culture of Fuxi matches well with anthropological classification as the later Paleolithic era or the earlier Neolithic era. Based on archaeology discoveries in China, it is estimated that Fuxi corresponding to a culture of 10 thousand to 8 thousand years ago.

I Ching has a philosophy of change with periodical movement as its core. One of the main themes is that everything has a finite life length. Usually, we call this phenomenon a “life cycle”. A life cycle is “birth, growth, mature, and die”. It is called cycle that after “die”, it rebirth again. I Ching applied this idea to the change of season, change of the shape of the Moon, and lives.

The I Ching philosophy believes that when a system reaches its extreme, it collapse or change to its opposite. In I Ching’s terminology, when Yin grows to its extreme, it gives the birth of Yang and Yin will disappear. Of the 64 hexagrams of I Ching, each hexagram has six positions from the bottom up, represent the life cycle of different phenomena. It births at the first position, and reach the end at the sixth position. So the fifth position is most strong position as the system reaches excellent. The sixth position is facing abrupt change to the opposite.   There is a famous phrase in Chinese that “Extreme is the opposite” (物极必反)。

Based on this philosophy, Confucian has a classic of Doctrine of Mean (中庸)。 According to Confucianism, if you push the good to the extreme, it becomes an evil. That’s exactly what we called extremism today. Extremists believe they are for the good, but they push their theology to the extreme and become terrorists.

China for five thousand years knows the cycle phenomena. Chinese know that when a life grows to mature, the life will decline. To avoid decline, refuse to mature. Refusing to mature is not refusing to grow. It revitalizes the life before it mature. It is like to stay at the fifth position of the hexagrams of I Ching and refuse to enter the sixth position. China is just doing that. It is called reform. Before China begin to decline, or before China reach the stage of mature, China reforms. I Ching is so deeply rooted in Chinese culture that many Chinese apply its philosophy unconsciously.

China already enters the track that reform has become a perpetual government occupation. As a result, China will never decline.

That’s why all the economic or political predictions of “China Crash” failed time and again. By observing the trajectory, China is going to fall, however, China changes the trajectory by reform. Thanks to Western media who are very picky of any tiny faults of China, that China knows all the shortcomings to be reformed. No country gets so many negative feedback as China does from the Western media. For a large system, a negative feedback is a stabilizer. China keeps reform by adjusting from the negative feedback and becomes very stable.

China economy is the one that last longest in history and in the world without a crash. China will never decline from now on as Chinese government put reform as its daily agenda.

The reform of China reflects the way how Chinese ancient civilization has been evolving into modern times, and forever.


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