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Ke/Sheng Cycles vs. Cosmological Arrangement of Five Phases

 In ABW I discuss the advantages of the “Cosmological Arrangement” of the Five-Phase theory. Below is an excerpt from chapter five:

 …The idea of restriction or control among phases of Yin-Yang transformation comes from direct opposition. You can’t get direct opposition out of the ke cycles as we learned them. They have each phase being controlled by another phase and controlling a third phase. That is a problem. Opposites oppose each other – period. There is no third phase involved. As far as the sheng cycle is concerned, phases don’t “create” or “generate” other phases. Qi transformation flows sequentially through the various phases. Wood doesn’t generate fire anymore than 11 a.m. generates 12 p.m.

 Additionally, we have the problem of the seasons. There are four seasons…period. Whenever anyone tries to tell me the last 18 days of a season belong to the earth phase or that there is a “late summer” I want to whip out one of those old-school models of the solar system and say, “Show me.” Dividing our orbit around the sun into five seasons makes no sense. It is arbitrary and contrived. So I don’t use it.

 …the systematic correspondences that are the core of Five Phases thinking are absolutely indispensible.  I find the correspondences to be readily observable in my everyday life, especially in clinic. The Five Phases have been used as a model to understand the workings of the mind with great success. I don’t challenge the associations and resonances that define the Five Phases. I just want to shift our focus to another way of seeing the relationships between the phases. The traditional sheng and ke cycles are emphasized in school, but we also learned another way to see the phases – the cosmological arrangement.

The cosmological arrangement shows us the Yin-Yang opposition be-tween different phases. This arrangement is congruent with Yin-Yang theory. It shows the four extremes and their center.

 My understanding of the Five Phases is based on their “cosmological arrangement.” This arrangement places the earth in the center with the other phases arranged around it. This makes sense to me because it is just a picture of what is actually happening. Take the seasons as an example. The seasons happen to the earth. Remember that the Yijing tells us that heaven initiates and earth responds. Changes in our relationship to the sun are what initiate the changes on earth. The seasons are the product of the changes in heaven and the subsequent changes on earth. The Yin side of things provides the form and substance while the Yang side gives us the energetic fluctuations of heat, daylight, etc. The earth is not a season and it is not a phase in the transformation. It is what’s transforming.

 The earth is the thing that is transforming with the seasons. The seasons of winter and summer are the Yin-Yang polarity of that transformation. Likewise, in the human being our spleen/stomach system is what we are. They produce you. Your spleen/stomach system is your post-heaven Qi. Your spleen/stomach system is situated dead-center because it is the intersection of its two poles in the kidney and heart systems. All of this is located in the middle field as the intersection of the lower and upper fields. Our spleen/stomach system is the whole of us and the center of us just as Qi is the whole of us and our center.

 The center is a product of extremes. The location of the extremes determines the location of the center. The extremes define the whole and its center simultaneously. That is the primacy of Yin-Yang theory in action. It always boils down to the relationships among polar extremes whether you’re zooming in looking for the center of the phenomenon, or zooming out to understand the whole of it. The middle is the whole. The whole is in the middle – Yin-Yang over and over again.

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Categories: FIVE PHASES