Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics

The Chinese divide Chinese Metaphysics into five main subjects of study call Wu Shu (五 术) or the Five Arts. They are Mountain 山, Medicine 医, Life 命, Divination 扑 and Appearance 相.

The first of the Five Arts are Mountain (Shan). It is also called the Philosophical art as it includes the thoughts and teachings of well known ancient Chinese philosophers on the study of man and nature. Other study that fall under this art includes diet, physical health, martial arts, meditation and self-healing. Examples include Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan.

The Second art is Medicine (Yi) which deals with healing. It includes all form of traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture and medical prescriptions.

The third is Divination (Pu) or Prediction and the Yi Qing feature prominently in this study. Popular study in this art includes Tai Yi, Da Liu Re, Qi Men and Dua Yi. They rely on numerical analysis to reveal one’s part and future.

The fourth is Destiny Analysis (Ming) or fate. It includes horoscope studies, Ba Zi (Four Pillars or Eight Characters) and Zi Wei Dou Shu (Purple Star Astrology).

The fifth and last study is Appearance (Xiang) which refers to the study of forms. It includes between others, Yin (burial) and Yang Feng Shui (form of the living environment), Palmistry (form of the hand) and Face Reading (form of the face) and Naming.

The five arts are the fundamental guide to living for the Chinese people throughout the ages. The content of each of the five arts are complex and very difficult to master. As such, practitioners focus in one or two of the five arts and many only on one of two of the disciplines within the arts.

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