“The Three Character Classic” – Unit 18

Zheng Jian Editing Group for Chinese Culture Teaching Materials

PureInsight | July 19, 2011


Unit 18

有(yǒu) 連(lián) 山(shān),有(yǒu) 歸(guī) 藏(cáng),
有(yǒu) 周(zhōu) 易(yì),三(sān) 易(yì) 詳(xiáng)。
有(yǒu) 典(diǎn) 謨(mó),有(yǒu) 訓(xùn) 誥(gào),
有(yǒu) 誓(shì) 命(mìng),書(shū) 之(zhī) 奧(ào)。

(1) 連山(lián shān):a book written by Fu Xi, or a divination system of the Xia Dynasty. It starts with the Gen trigram, a divination symbol that looks like one mountain on top of another, and is thus named “Lian Shan” (meaning “continuous mountains”)
(2) 歸藏(guī cáng):a book written by the Yellow Emperor, or a divination system in the Shang Dynasty. It starts with the Kun divination symbol of “field,” which stores all things on earth, and is thus named “Gui Cang” (meaning “store together”).
(3) 周易(zhōu yì):a book derived from Hetu and Luoshu, and developed into hexagrams for divination, now called the Book of Changes
(4) 三易(sān yì):referring to the three books about change, The Lian Shan System, The Gui Cang, and The Book of Changes
(5) 詳(xiáng):detailed and complete
(6) 典謨(diǎn mó):a chapter pattern of Shangshu (The Book of Documents or The Classic of History). “Dian” records the emperors’ achievements; “mo” records the course of emperor-minister discussions.
(7) 訓誥(xùn gào):a chapter pattern of Shangshu (The Book of Documents or The Classic of History). “Xun” refers to advisory remarks; “gao” indicates the remarks of warning or praise.
(8) 誓命(shì mìng):a chapter pattern of Shangshu (The Book of Documents or The Classic of History). “Shi” refers to the words of an oath; “ming” refers to the emperor’s imperial order.
(9) 書(shū):referring to Shanshu, The Book of Documents or The Classic of History
(10)奧(ào):mysterious and profound

Text Explanation
The Lian Shan, The Gui Cang, and The Book of Changes are three books about change. They use ancient divination symbols to provide detailed explanations about the changes of all things, and ways to live harmoniously in the universe. In The Book of Documents there are six patterns of discourse; Dian, Mo, Xun, Gao, Shi, Ming, which constitute the mysterious and profound essence of the book.

Discussion Questions
1. Do you like having your fortune told? Why?
2. Do you believe that we all have our own destiny? What is the correct attitude toward our destiny?


Two Dreams of a Scholar

A scholar went to the capital city to take the imperial examination for the third time. Two days ahead of the examination, he had two dreams. In the first dream, he planted cabbages on a wall; in the second dream, he wore a bamboo hat and used an umbrella on a rainy day.

Curious about what the dreams meant, the scholar asked a fortuneteller for an interpretation. The fortuneteller patted his thigh, saying, “You’d better quit the test and go home. Isn’t it a vain effort to plant cabbage on a wall? Isn’t it unnecessary to wear a bamboo hat and use an umbrella at the same time?”

Depressed about the fortuneteller’s interpretation of his dreams, the scholar went back to his hotel, and packed his things to go back home. The inn keeper felt concerned about the scholar and asked, “The test will be held tomorrow. Why do you leave for home today?”

The scholar told him what the fortuneteller had said about his dreams. The hotel owner responded with excitement, “No, I see it differently. I think you should stay and take the test. Planting cabbage on a wall indicates that you’ll be ranked at the top. Wearing a bamboo hat and using an umbrella at the same time means that you’re well prepared and unlikely to fail the test.”

The scholar felt that this interpretation of his dreams made more sense to him. Encouraged and empowered, he achieved the third highest marks in the imperial examination.

Writing Reflection
Positive thinking makes a difference. How a person views what is happening to him will determine his outcome. Please write down your reflections on the above story.

Simplified Chinese: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/4/3/43091.html


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