Vitality / Vital Force
The term refers to vitality which is needed for the human or animal body to sustain its life and which reflects the state of life. It is something one is born with, representing the body’s needs of material things. A person exhibits different levels of vitality at different stages of life, reflecting changes in the strength of life. Vitality is unstable in youth; it reaches its peak in the prime of life, and in old age it wanes. Furthermore, different people have different levels of vitality, some overflowing with vigor, while others are subdued. People’s vitality can be changed by means of rites, music and through education; it is the basis for shaping a person’s moral and emotional trait.
Confucius said, “One should guard against three things in life. In his youth his vital force is unstable and he should guard against lust. As his vital force strengthens in the prime of life, he should guard against aggressive behavior. In his old age his vital force weakens, and he should guard against greed.” (The Analects)
All things born between heaven and earth with vital force have consciousness; and with consciousness they all love their own kind. (Xunzi)