Ancient Chinese shamans understood that life is part of nature and that the life cycle is the same as the cycle of nature. The human life cycle can be com pared with the four seasons of the year: spring corresponds to the life stage of zero to 20 years old; summer is from 20-40 years old, autumn is from 40-60 years old. Winter starts after 60 years old. Of course, an enlightened being is one who has jumped out of this cycle since high-level spiritual practitioners may transfer the physical body back to the spring stage.
The first stage of life, from birth to young adult, is the spring season. As we can see in nature, new life is emerging and growing in the spring. Farmers need to take good care of their land during this season. They need to plow and fertilize the land, sow the seeds, and feed, water, and fertilize their plants. Similar to this pattern in nature, Chinese shamans regard a new baby as a new "life tree" in the world. Parents need to take good care of their babies on the physical and spiritual levels. During the baby-to-young-adult stage, a person is not only growing physically very quickly but is also learning very quickly. A person should study and get a good education during this time period because this is the best time for learning. People at this life stage have the best memories and the ability to easily absorb knowledge.
The second stage of life, from young adult to middle-age, is the summer season. In the summer, the plants grow and we can see their features clearly. All living beings reach their peak life energy in the summer season. The Yijing tells us that the Ten Thousand Things are coming together in this season. This means that natural life energy reaches its peak. In summer, Yang energy is the strongest in nature and in human beings. It is the time when a person's physical body has finished growing, education has been completed, and knowledge in a specific field has been developed. Therefore, the person can start achieving lifetime goals. Confucius said, "A person in his thirties should be established." This means people in business should have their own companies and people in academia should have their own theories in their fields of expertise.
The third stage of life, from middle-age to older-age, is autumn season, the harvest time. People in this time period should enjoy their lives, enjoy the harvest rather than live in fear. Maturity (the fifties) is autumn time. In this stage, people are living more in the spiritual layer and their wisdom is growing into maturity—like the harvest. Confucius said, "In your fifties, you should understand your Heavenly life (karmic life)." If you understand your life, you won't worry about your life and death.
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