jīnɡ, quán 经、权
Constant and Temporary
Jing (经), which means the constant, and quan (权), which means the temporary, are terms used in the historical discourse of Chinese philosophy referring to a pair of philosophical concepts concerning the permanent and temporarily changing aspects of the Dao. The constant is the normal manifestation of human relations and daily life. It is thus the normal way that should be observed. It has normative functions and significance. The temporary means a change of the function of the Dao to suit circumstances or to meet needs of the day. In special circumstances, to follow the constant may result in deviation from the Dao. When this happens, a flexible way, that is, the temporary, may be adopted. The temporary seems to deviate from the Dao, but it actually conforms to requirements of the Dao in a flexible manner. The application of the constant or the temporary in different circumstances is determined by one’s keen understanding and mastery of the Dao.
Confucius said, “There are some whom you can join in study but whom you do not necessarily join in following the Dao. There are others whom you can join in following the Dao, but with whom you may not always share the same belief. There are still others with whom you may share the same belief, but whom you cannot join in applying flexibility as needed when following the Dao. (The Analects)
The constant is a general expression of the Dao, while the temporary is a flexible application of the Dao. Dao unifies both the constant and the temporary.(Classified Conversations of Zhu Xi)