This year, due to ongoing travel restrictions, I wasn’t able to attend the 2023 6th World Yijing Summit Forum in person. I’ve been to this conference twice before, both times in the Chinese city of Wuxi, and it has been both stimulating and fun. This year, although I was not able to be there in person, I was delighted to get an invitation to take part, so that I could participate again, even if from afar. And I’m delighted to say that my paper “Death, Life, Mourning, Nourishing” was awarded first prize.
The paper starts with the fable of Bede’s Sparrow as an image of life’s brevity. It is a persuasive fable, but I argue that it leads us astray, towards philosophical conclusions that are neither necessary nor helpful. So in this article, I trace four terms — death 死, life 生, mourning 衰, and nourishing 養 — through the text of the Yijing, and through later Chinese philosophy, to set out a different approach to some deep and enduring philosophical questions about life and death.
I may publish a version of the paper here in the next couple of months, once I have had a chance to tidy it up (and once I have got hold of the Chinese version of my paper as well). As for next year’s conference, I’m hoping I’ll be able to attend again in person, to catch up with some old friends, as well as to make new ones.
Image: 仙萼長春冊》紫藤稷穗圖 c.1730. Via Wikimedia Commons.