25 January 2014

The Best Chinese New Year Wish for You - 福(Fu) And Its Origin

My Chinese New Year wish for you is 福. May you have an abundant of 福 (祝福满满). Looking up the origin of the word reveals the rich meaning of the word 福. It may even surprise you that the best meaning of 福 is the Aaronic Blessing!
The best Chinese New Year wish for anyone is not 财(wealth) but 福 (God's blessings). Wealth is just external material things and could not buy some very important things like true love and relationship, peace, health and even safety. God's blessings are all encompassing. Digging into the original formation of the word 福 tells us much much more, and I hope you will be truly blessed in this coming year.

A  large collection of Chinese Characters is pictograms - words that are made up from pictures. They are like icons in today high technology terminology. If you do a google on 福 and its origin, you can find many articles and images that describe it. The best one is this http://www.vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3860.  A bigger and clearer and similar image is shown below:

(1) Represent the sacrificial 'things' on top of the (2) worship table.  Some interpretation combine (1) and (2) and say that the picture represents praying or asking from God for a blessing by offering  a sacrifice. (3) shows the cup and (4) the bottle of wine with (5) both hands lifting up the bottle of wine to worship God or heaven.

The progression of the writing is shown as with the hands removed and other pictures simplified:


We can learn the following:
  1. Ancient Chinese know and worship the God of Heaven. Other idols or gods were actually created later. (We can be sure of this as we look up other ancient chinese characters and historical writings that recorded the practices as well).
  2. They prayed and asked God for blessings or forgiveness by offering sacrifices and one of the key ingredient was wine. They recognize God as the source of life and provider for every good things.
  3. The original meaning is 用美酒祭神,祈求富足安康。to use good wine to worship God and to ask God for an abundance and sufficiency in all things, including peace and health. 
  4. Modern dictionary definition: 福,祐也。Fu is the God's protection and blessing. If we look at 祐, it is made up of a left half that represent God's and right half of the word right. It is like the Right's hand of God, God's strength, is helping or covering you.
    Consider this Bible verse  Isa 41:10 fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.
  5. Chinese do not just use the word Fu alone. They tend to use the two word phase, XingFu, 幸福 more often. The article cited at the start says 
    1. “幸”* 是临死获赦而活着;Xing is facing death and was forgiven and spared to live ! It is like the death sentenced criminal being forgiven and set free at the last moment. 
    2. “福”是活得富足安康。Fu, as explained above it, abundance, sufficiency, peace and health.
Ancient Definitions for 福 Fu:
To understand Fu better, we look at how the ancient Chinese defined it.
  1. Everything progressing smoothly (according to one's wishes)
    1. “福者,备也。备者,百顺之名也,无所不顺者谓之备。”——《礼记·祭统》
      Fu is completely prepared or all ready. All ready is the name for hundred smooth going. Nothing stopping the going is called all ready.
    2. 宋 张载 《正蒙·至当》:“至当之谓德,百顺之谓福。”
      Attaining righteousness is moral character. All progressing is called Fu.
       
  2. Peace and Profitability
    1. 安利之谓福。——贾谊《道德说》
      Peace or Security and Profitability is called Fu.
       
  3. Longevity, Wealth and Honor is called Fu. 全寿富贵之谓福。——《韩非子·解老》
     
  4. Five Attributes of Fu
    《尚书·洪范》云“五福:一曰寿,二曰富,三曰康宁,四曰攸好德,五曰考终命”
    1. Long life.
    2. Great wealth.
    3. Health and Peace.
    4. Good Moral Character
    5. Good Death or Die in peace at home with love ones around and without accident, sickness etc. See Life is about Living to Die Well -Ecclesiastes 6

So my Chinese New Year wish for all is "祝福满满" that you may be abundantly blessed with God's blessings and protection so that you may be in the state of abundance, satisfaction, peace and good health all through the years.

The meaning of 福 is best capture in the Aaronic Blessing Number 6:22-24 as:
  
  May the Lord 1 bless you and 2 keep you.
  May He 3 makes His face to shine upon you that you may know his great treasures for you,
                4 be gracious to you putting you life in order and beauty.
  May He 5 turn His face towards you and receive you fully
                6 and give you peace and wholeness of health, wealth and relationships.
  May His Name and His Kingdom be exalted forever.


Lim Liat (c) 25 Jan 2014
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