Bao ying

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Bao ying (Chinese: 报应) is a concept of cosmic and moral reciprocity in the Chinese folk religion. It implies that people dwell in a moral universe, a universe that is kept ordained by mores, good actions, thus moral retribution is in fact a cosmic retribution.[1] It determines fate, as written in Zhou texts: «on the doer of good, heaven sends down all blessings, and on the doer of evil, he sends down all calamities.» (《书经•汤诰》)[2]

The cosmic significance of bao ying is better understood exploring other two traditional concepts of fate and meaning:[3]

  • Ming yun (命运), the personal destiny, in which ming is "life" or "right", the given status of life, and yun defines "circumstance" and "individual choice"; ming is given and influenced by the transcendent force Tian (天), that is the same as the "divine right" (tian ming) of ancient rulers as identified by Mencius.[4] Personal destiny (ming yun) is thus perceived as both fixed (the status of life) and flexible, open-ended (the individual choice in matters of bao ying).[5]
  • Yuan fen (缘分), "fateful coincidence",[6] describing good and bad chances and potential relationships.[7] Scholars K. S. Yang and D. Ho have analysed the psychological advantages of this belief: assigning causality of negative events to yuan fen beyond personal control, people tend to maintain good relationships, avoid conflict, and promote social harmony;[8] meanwhile, when positive events are seen as result of yuan fen, personal credit is not directly assigned, and this reduces pride on one side of the relationship and envy and resentment on the other.[9]

Ming yun and yuan fen are linked, because what appears on the surface to be chance events (for better or worse), are part of the deeper rhythm that shapes personal life based on how destiny is directed.[10] They are ultimately shaped by bao ying, good action. Recognising this connection has the result of making a person responsible for his or her actions:[11] doing good for others produces further good for oneself and keeps the world in harmony.[12]

See also


  1. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 25
  2. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 26
  3. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 21
  4. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 21
  5. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 21
  6. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 23
  7. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 23
  8. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 24
  9. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 24
  10. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 25
  11. Fan, Chen. 2013. p. 26
  12. Fan, Chen. 2013. pp. 26-27