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Ji Kang’s Ideas about Life Nurturing (Ⅲ)

III. Life Nurturing should be done in daily process

Ji Kang believed that human emotions could do harm to both the Shen and the body. He also said: “Over-eating leads to various diseases and having too much sex leads to over fatigue.” So he suggested people to control erotism, because “this can wear up the human body”. After Ji Kang completed Life Nurturinglun, another thinker and litterateur Xiang Xiu wrote Nan Life Nurturinglun to question Ji Kang’s ideas. Xiang Xiu disagreed with Ji Kang's opinion of suggesting people to “repress natural instincts” and “get rid of worldly affairs”. He said: “People are born with five different kinds of Qi in their body. So they want to eat different kinds of food and see different things to meet their needs. Finding a shelter when cold and looking for food when hungry are human natures. It is enough just to control them properly.” He regarded eliminating human natures to get longevity as “inhuman and unnatural”. To refute Xiang Xiu’s idea, Ji Kang further explained his Life Nurturing theories. He agreed that human all have various desires. He then emphasized that these desires, if not controlled, will do harm to health and sometimes even cause deaths. So he suggested that people should control their desires for wealth, high post, alcohol and other external things. Only in this way can people get rid of troubles. He pointed out the five difficult tasks to do during Life nourishing: Giving up fame and wealth; Being calm; Getting rid of entertainment; Forbidding greasy food; Trying not to over-think. If a person completed these five difficult tasks, he can be lucky and long-living even if he didn't pray for that.

IV. The mistakes of Ji Kang's Life Nurturing theories

Ji Kang’s Life Nurturing methods can be concluded into two points: Guishen and Fusan (taking mineral powder). Ji Kang wrote in his poem A Tour to the Wonderland: “I collect herbs on the celestial mountain and eat them to change my appearance.” In Life Nurturinglun and Danan Life Nurturinglun, he mentioned several times that he took mineral powder for Life nourishing. The practice of Ji Kang and other famous scholars represented the fashion of the society at that time. Lu Xun pointed out in his work Wei Jin Demeanor and the Relationship Between the Article and the Medicine and Wine: At that time, the famous scholars took mineral powder and believed that this can improve their health. Regarding taking mineral powder as important was a major characteristics of Life nourishing during the era of Wei and Jin.

According to Zhubingyuanhoulun, a medicine book completed in Sui Dynasty by Chao Yuanfang, Huangfu Mi, a famous doctor in Wei and Jin Dynasties said that the Five Minerals Powder (Wushisan) formula was created by the medical sage Zhang Zhongjing. He Yan, the Shangshu (a civil official) of Wei was referred to as “The first man to have mineral powder” by Lu Xun. He combined the formulas of “Houshiheisan” and “Zishiyingfang” and created “Wushigengshengsan”, using purple quartz, white quartz, Chishizhi (a kind of red stone containing tetrahydrate aluminum silicate), stalactites and sulfur. This powder could help long-term bedridden patients recover quickly. In Jin Dynasty, the formula of Five Minerals Powder had some little changes and was roughly the same with the original formula. During those days, “Officials and nobles all have Five Minerals Powder and were cured miraculously.” (quoted from volume 722, Taipingyulan)

(By Niu Aijun)

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