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This paper discusses the distinction between our inherited and acquired 神 shen (spirit-mind), and their influence on our psychological traits and mental-emotional patterns. Because the shen was considered by the Chinese a special manifestation of nature and human life, our discussion begins with early Chinese perspectives of nature and the ‘continuity of being’. Nature generates human life and its organising 理 li-principles manifest as our individual 命 ming-life/destiny. Every human life has attributes and abilities derived from many generations of human evolution, and depending on our inherited allotment, each human life also has a certain potential for developing those abilities. The paper examines the characteristics and abilities of our inherited (元神 yuanshen) and acquired (识神 shishen) spirit-mind, and the potential and implications of their interaction for our mental and emotional development.
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