Autore: Elisabeth ROCHAT DE LA VALLÉE /
Body and consciousness /
A study of relationships between body and consciouness in classical Chinese texts.
The West has built an opposition between what belongs to the body and what belongs to the spirit and mind. Traditional Chinese thought sees a human as the result of the meeting and intertwining of Heaven and Earth, of yin and yang qi. Certainly, the body, all that has substance, belongs to the Earth while the mind, the spirit, all that is incorporeal, belongs to Heaven. But rather to place them in opposition, even in a struggle, an interdependent and complementary relation links them at the likeness of Heaven and Earth.
A human life is the embrace of the spiritual and bodily souls (Hun and Po). The very notion of “bodily souls” is not an oxymoron in Chinese but a necessity. A hierarchy does exist between these two kinds of souls, but normally they realize an harmonious mingling. The body and its souls need the guidance of the mind and the spirit; but the mind, the consciousness could not exist without the body.
At the centre of a human life, the heart is exemplary. Both physical, fleshy and immaterial, spiritual, it is also related to all parts of the body through the regular flowing of the blood. What the heart is, is in the blood. The ability to perceive and to know is linked to the blood, to its free circulation and its constant relation with the heart. Thus, there is a kind of consciousness which acts everywhere in the body depending both on the state of the he art and the quality of the blood.