A search of the meaning of “huo po po di (活泼泼地)”

YANG Shaohan1

(1.School of Philosophy and Social Development, Huaqiao University)

【Abstract】“Huo po po di (活泼泼地)” was a term frequently used by Neo-Confucians and Chan masters in the Song and Ming dynasties. A similar term was “huo bo bo di (活鱍鱍地)” in Chan school. This term was originally a colloquial one in daily life in the Song Dynasty. In both Neo-Confucianism and Chan school, it was introduced into exegeses directly from colloquialisms and there was no direct inheriting relationship between the two. Neo-Confucians only used “huo po po di (活泼泼地)” and almost never used “huo bo bo di (活鱍鱍地)”; Chan masters before the Song Dynasties mostly used “huo po po di (活泼泼地),” and rarely used “huo bo bo di (活鱍鱍地),” but after the Song Dynasties they used both terms. “Huo po po di (活泼泼地)” used by Neo-Confucians meant natural and flexible, ubiquitous and orderly, but “huo po po di (活泼泼地)” or “huo bo bo di (活鱍鱍地)” used by Chan masters only meant natural and flexible, which was the fundamental difference between Confucians and Buddhism in this aspect.

【Keywords】 huo po po di (活泼泼地); huo bo bo di (活鱍鱍地); proverb ; Neo-Confucianism (li xue理学); Chan school (禅宗);


【Funds】 National Social Sciences Foundation for Young Scholars (13CZX035)

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    [23]. ③ For example, Hang Shijun quoted in Vol. 87 of Continued Commentaries on the Book of Rites (续礼记集说) from Wang Fuli’s The Supplement to Commentaries of the Four Books (四书集注补) that, “The Analects of Four Confucian Classics (章句) quoted Cheng brothers’ words, ‘how to conduct oneself in everyday life is the thing that matters to Zisi, huo po po di (活泼泼地).’ According to this, Songxi Taoist priest, wu gou zi (无垢子) wrote in Notes to Heart Sutra (心经注) that,‘neither existing nor empty, huo po po di (活泼泼地).’”(Revised Version of the Four Treasuries (续修四库全书), Book 102, p.528). Note: Songxi wu gou zi (松溪无垢子) was He Daoquan (1319–1399), a Quanzhen Taoist priest in the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties. “No end of old age and death” in notes to Heart Sutra (心经): “As being neither existing nor empty, huo po po di (活泼泼地), zhuan lu lu di (转辘辘地), yuan tuo tuo di (圆陀陀地) and guang shuo shuo di (光烁烁地), how could there be an end?” (Notes to Heart Sutra (般若心经注解), CBETA, X26, n0574, p0959, c8–9). There are two questions about Wang Fuli’s statement: first, as He Daoquan was a Tao priest in the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties, why the Cheng brothers quoted from him? Second, it was originally huo ba ba di (活鲅鲅地) in He Daoquan’s Notes to Heart Sutra (心经注) rather than huo po po di (活泼泼地). [^Back]

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    [26]. ③ In addition, “po po (泼泼)” and “bo bo (鱍鱍)” were originally interlinked in ancient times. “Fa fa (发发)” in “fishes leap (zhan wei fa fa 鳣鲔发发)” of the Shiji · Shuoren (诗经·硕人) means “po po (泼泼)”in “Poems of Lu (鲁诗);” “bo bo (鱍鱍)in Poems of Han (韩诗) and “ba ba (鲅鲅)” in Poems of Qi (齐诗) are all onomatopoeic reduplicated words. (As said by Sun Yutai 孙玉太) that is to say, “po po (泼泼)” and “bo bo (鱍鱍)” are onomatopoetic words, which means “the carp moves its tail, producing sounds like ba ba (鲅鲅)” (Tang Kejing, A Contemporary Explanation of the Origin of Chinese Characters (说文解字shuo wen jie zi). Changsha: Yuelu Press, 1648 (1997)). At this point, the two words are interconnected. [^Back]

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    [35]. ① As said in Volume 63 of the Analects of Zhu Xi (Zhu Zi Yu Lei 朱子语类), “the hawk flies and the fish leaps in the deep water” just describes what one sees and hears. Buddhists also depicted what they saw, but all in chaos. By now, we Confucians fixed the duties of sovereign, minister, father and son. The hawk is sure to fly and the fish is sure to leap in the deep water.” (Complete Works of Zhu Xi (zhu zi quan shu朱子全书), Volume 16, p.2072) [^Back]

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