Monday, October 20, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao) – Circulation of the Light

Meditation is popular because it can help reduce stress and provides some health benefits. The Confucians have their own type of meditation, so do the Chan Buddhists and many others in the world. To avoid frivolous claims, instead of titling this article, meditation or ancient meditation, it is titled Circulation of the Light since Guan Yinshi – the person whom Laozi wrote the Tao Te Ching for - was the first to call it by that term.

With correct practice and using the backward flow movement, light would circulate together with breath energy (Qi) up to Heaven / Qian and down to Earth / Kun. Thus the apt term: the Circulation of the Light. The diligent and continual practise of this ancient meditation will provide a student the means to cultivate the Tao of heaven – the dark and the light – as determined by the Holy Sages who wrote the Book of Changes.

In TTC Chapter 40, Laozi taught that “Return (reversal) is the movement to Tao. Yielding is the usefulness to Tao. Myriad things under Heaven are born from being. Being(s) born from non being.

And in TTC Chapter 16, he had indicated that top scholars of Tao can make the Return by an empty mind (Xin) and a still heart (Xin). An empty mind and a still heart signify meditation. (Also refer to Hexagram 52 Gen / Keeping Still / Mountain.)

To empty the mind during meditation is not difficult, yet many including masters and grandmasters make a hash out of it. Neo Confucians probably not truly understanding the teachings of Confucius and Mencius do away with the workings of Qi and went on to contemplate instead. Their contemporary Chan Buddhists also caught on the idea of contemplation meditation. However, contemplation only clutters the mind with ponders and not empty it of thoughts.

Probably these Chan Buddhists did not really understand the fasting of the mind (Xin Zhai) of Zhuangzi or being illiterate did not read it. The fasting of the mind means to empty it. And Zhuangzi had had also indicated that the Light can be seen. (The text of Zhuangzi and the teachings of the Buddha and Laozi are deemed important to Chan Buddhists.)

The Chan masters who prefer the bypaths of “sudden enlightenment” and “turning the light around” will get nowhere fast. Nor can they achieve longevity – the first stage of the Zah Yung Ching. How could they when their practices follow not the teachings of Laozi and/or of the Buddha? Their misled students in the West are propagating falsehoods of the Way on online Tao and Buddhist forums. So be wary of them.

Eminent Neo Confucians like Han Yu of Tang and Zhu Xi of Song would have progressed far in the cultivation of Tao if they just knew how to empty the mind since having studied the four books and five classics they can probably still the heart. If only they were yielding enough to learn Daoist meditation. Furthermore, both scholars had shown in their writings that they possessed the requisite extreme intelligence and clarity to work the secret charm of the Circulation of the Light. No wonder Han Xiangzi, one of the famous eight immortals, tried hard to convince his uncle Han Yu to cultivate the Way. Instead Han Yu went on to write his study of the Confucian Way comprising of benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi) – which influenced later Neo Confucians - and stuck to it. According to the Shou Gua (Eighth Wing) in the Book of Changes, benevolence and righteousness constitute the Tao of man.

The best way to learn the Circulation of the Light without a doubt is from the Daoist celestial immortals. While names for the meditation could differ, the practice is the same. But even if a student is taught by these real masters, he or she still has to read the four books and five classics to acquire the extreme intelligence and clarity to work the secret charm of the Circulation of the Light.

An alternative, if no real masters can be found, is to learn the Circulation of the Light from the Secret of the Golden Flower which was planchette written by Lu Dongbin, a Daoist celestial immortal. The translated text by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes will provide many a self-taught student who already possessed extreme intelligence and clarity an avenue to reach preliminary levels of neidan (inner alchemy). Although the Daoist text has been corrupted and/or substituted in parts with Buddhist writings – which Wilhelm has had already informed as much – diligent and serious students can still learn from it and practise the Circulation of the Light.

To practise the Circulation of the Light, the student has to learn how to breathe like a baby all over again. A baby’s breathing is ever so soft that it cannot be heard. Breathing in, the abdomen extends, breathing out, the abdomen contracts.

However breath control is required for the backward flow movement. (Refer to TTC 42 on breath control) Breath energy (Qi) has to sink into the lower elixir field (Dantien) before the Qi can be made to reach Return / Fu to begin the Circulation of the Light. (Refer to the articles on Circulation of the Light and I Ching for further information.)

Breath energy is sparse when the student first begins the Circulation of the Light. With continual practice, the breath energy slowly accumulates since the circulation passes through essence locations. When essence transforms into breath energy, there will be more Qi available for use.

Qi when fully mature has to be put to use otherwise it goes to waste.

Some early signs of progress:

After a few short years of practice, students can feel the Qi tingle their palms at seven pm in the evening when they think about it. Those who have several years of practice would also feel heat in the palms.

This thermal heat in the palms can help quicken the healing of bruises and of broken bones. Furthermore, if the thermal heat is properly applied for only a few minutes to the neck area of someone who shows signs of an oncoming flu, it can prevent a full blown influenza for years to come.

Some preliminary eternal signposts of the Way:

Diligent and serious students who use Wilhelm’s translation of the Secret of the Golden Flower would be able to practise the Circulation of the Light up to the stage of entering the Mysterious Gates and visiting Heaven - similar to what the ancient Daoist immortal, Guang Zhengzi and his student, Huangdi had done (as indicated in the text of Zhuangzi).

To do that, students must first see the Light during meditation as indicated by Zhuangzi in his Xin Zhai. They then have to learn how to investigate it as taught by the Buddha in the Shurangama Sutra. Later they have to learn how to use the Light as indicated by Laozi in his Tao Te Ching before they can enter the Mysterious Gates (Tao Te Ching Chapter 1) to visit Heaven. In between they will see the interchanging of the dark and the light, of yin yang, and of forms and emptiness. (Refer to TTC 14 for forms and formlessness)

If a student has already obtained extreme intelligence and clarity after studying and practising the teachings in the four books and five classics for a decade or two, the entire process from the beginning of the meditation practice to visiting Heaven could take several years. It is assumed that the student is already a person suitable for Tao. (Refer to the Hui Ming Ching for the definition of a person for Tao with reference to TTC 18 on the cultivation of virtues.)

For those without extreme intelligence and clarity, and for those who chose to practise bypaths, the magical event would never happen.

Major eternal signposts of the Way

Using the backward flow movement (or reversal) to circulate Qi and the Light would bring about the alchemical transformations of essence (Jing), of breath energy (Qi), and of spirit (Shen). When the germinal vesicle develops, the cooking of the medicine (Kan and Li) will begin in order to produce the golden elixir (Jin Dan). Swallowing the golden elixir will bring about a non being (a spiritual embryo) within being (the adept). After having been nurtured for some years, the non being emerges via the top of the head to open space (Xu) bearing the image of the adept. With further nurturing, the non being produces beings before returning to the Way (Tao). (Refer to TTC 40, the Secret of the Golden Flower, and the Hui Ming Ching.)

Those including masters and grandmasters who cultivate human nature (Xing) and fate (Ming) are many, yet only top scholars of Tao will witness the eternal signposts each and every step of the Way. The signposts are eternal because they still exist after so many millennia have gone by.

No wonder, Laozi lamented in TTC Chapter 70:

My doctrine is easy to understand, and very easy to practise. Yet the world cannot understand it, nor practise it.”

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P. S.

It is recommended that the Circulation of the Light be practised by laity only when they have reached the mature age of late thirties or older. By that time, they would have read and practised some of the teachings embedded in the four books and five classics for a decade or two. By that time, they would have procreated and fulfilled their filial duties.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao) – The studies

If Yijing aficionados put on their thinking cap for a while; they would realized that the holy sages who wrote the Book of Changes and the three great ancient sages – Laozi, Confucius, and the Buddha - were incredibly wise. If intended neidan (inner alchemy) practitioners have the affinity to consult Daoist celestial immortals; they would also find these divinities extremely wise.

The question to be addressed in this article is how that these personages and divinities became so wise?

Since there is a dearth of records on how the holy sages, Laozi, and the Buddha became so knowledgeable, intelligent, and wise; it could be appropriate to look into what Confucius and Daoist celestial immortals had done before they became great.

However it would be pertinent to first look into the Ten Wings on what the holy sages had done:

In the Discussion on the Trigrams (Shou Gua) (Eight Wing), ancients of great antiquity indicated that “the holy sages by thinking through the order of the outer world to the end, and by exploring the law of their nature (Xing) to the deepest core, they arrived at an understanding of fate (Ming).

Their purpose was to follow the order of their nature and of their fate. Therefore they determine the Tao of heaven and called it the dark and the light. They determined the Tao of earth and called it the yielding and the firm. They determined the Tao of man and called it benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi)
.” [Book of Changes - W/B]

Since the very actions of the holy sages stated in the Eight Wing could act as a guide but could be beyond many a Yijing aficionado or a neidan practitioner, it is suggested that they look at something simpler to learn more about human nature and fate.

Confucius had had compiled five ancient classics for posterity. They are the Book of Changes (Yijing), Book of History (Shujing), Book of Odes (Shijing), Spring and Autumn Annals (Chun Chiu), and the Book of Rites (Li Ki).

According to Sima Qian (the grand historian of Han), Li Er better known as Laozi was a Royal Zhou Court librarian which means that he also had access to versions of the five ancient classics.

Since both sages are known to greatly admire the ancients, they would have studied and practised their teachings embedded in these five classics. Probably by studying and practising the teachings, both became knowledgeable, intelligent, and wise.

Confucius, his students, and his grandson’s student, Mencius, had had made it even more simpler and easier for posterity to learn about human nature and fate by recording their thoughts and teachings in what is known as the four books. These books are the Analects of Confucius, the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung), and the Works of Mencius.

The Chinese called these writings; the “Four books and five classics”.

From tradition, the four books and five classics were imperative readings for scholars who sat for and/or passed the imperial exams to become court officials in olden China. By diligently studying the writings over the years or decades, a student could gain extreme intelligence and clarity. This is important for the intended neidan practitioner since according to Lu Dongbin in his Secret of the Golden Flower, only those with extreme intelligence and clarity can work the secret charm in the ancient Circulation of the Light.

Therefore those who delve into the Circulation of the Light meditation without first having the extreme intelligence and clarity would find to their chagrin that they have wasted much of their time and efforts. That probably explains why the many who have had claimed online that they got it after spending decades practising what is taught in the Secret of the Golden Flower actually never did. How could they when they seemed not to possess the extreme intelligence and clarity to make it work?

Furthermore, none of them have had ever mentioned the requisite studies and/or the eternal signposts of the Way that can be witnessed. This statement is equally applicable to the many ‘masters’ who currently teach neidan or its meditation. So be careful.

The dual cultivation of nature (Xing) and fate (Ming) start not with meditation as many tend to believe but with the studies. For without the requisite studies how do students emulate the holy sages to think through the order of the outer world to the end and investigate into their own nature to understand fate? And without the studies, how could they possess extreme intelligence and clarity to work the secret charm in the Circulation of the Light?

The skeptical and those with bias of things Confucian could be in for a surprise to know that several of the renowned Neo Daoists who went on to become celestial immortals have had read the four books and the five ancient classics from a young age. From their biographies, most of these Neo Daoists have been court officials or have had sat for the imperial exams.

If anyone can penetrate the real teachings in the four Confucian books and the Book of Changes; they would deepen their knowledge of the Yijing, they would be able to change and/or master their fate (Ming), they could rectify and keep still their heart (Xin) and by cultivating the four cardinal virtues taught therein they could become good to also enjoy the protection of Heaven. By putting these teachings into practice, they could become a Junzi (superior person) of old.

In the Records of the Grand Historian, Sima Qian had indicated that the Han Court officials who followed the Huang / Lao tradition read the Tao Te Ching during their leisure. Intended neidan practitioners must also study this ancient classic in time to come. Reading the Tao Te Ching could become rather more meaningful after several years of practising the Circulation of the Light meditation; since this particular ancient classic contains many eternal signposts of the Way.

By now, readers would understand a bit more on how the holy sages, the great ancient sages and the Daoist celestial immortals had had become so incredibly wise.

Therefore whether you are young or old, if you really want to practise neidan and/or learn more about Chinese culture, it is best that you read the four books and five classics.

However since the studies, the meditation, and the cultivation could take a lifetime to master, it is for those with seriousness of purpose to consider properly before they decide to embark on the magical far journey to Tao. Probably millions have tried and only a handful of them have had succeeded in the return to Tao.

This brings to mind, an archaic truth where Confucius said: “By nature, men are nearly alike: by practice, they get to be wide apart.” This deep insight into humanity remains true till today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao) - Neidan

What is Neidan? Neidan (Inner Alchemy) is a generic term commonly used in the West to differentiate it from that of Waidan (Outer Alchemy).

Waidan was practised over the span of a few centuries in China by the ignorant and the foolish who misunderstood the metaphors - especially of the furnace, of the cauldron, of the medicine and the cooking of it - written in earlier Daoist texts by realized persons (Zhen Ren). They literally fired up the furnace, cooked and melted various physical metals in the cauldron to make the so-called elixir of life (Dan). Quite a number of those including royalty who took in this physically manmade elixir, slowly got poisoned over a span of time and paid with their lives for their ignorance.

The metaphors used by realized persons in earlier Daoist texts had in fact pointed to the alchemical experiences of those who have correctly practised Neidan. The furnace (Kun / Earth) and the cauldron (Qian / Heaven) and the cooking of the medicine (Kan / Water and Li / Fire) are depicted in the scanned picture accompanying the articles on “The Circulation of the Light and the Book of Changes”.

Whether you know it, accept it or not, neidan is an integral part of the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming).

If neidan meditation based on the ancient Circulation of the Light is practised correctly, essence (Jing) within the body would gradually transform into breath energy (Qi). With continual practice, the Qi (and the Light) would gradually transform into Spirit (Shen).

At a later stage, those with latent talents from Heaven would witness the development of the germinal vesicle. (Liu HuaYang has described the germinal vesicle in his Hui Ming Ching as translated by W/B.) If the germinal vesicle remains undeveloped, there will be no genuine fire to fire the furnace and the medicine cannot be cooked in the cauldron – Zhong LiQuan and Zhang Boduan have had emphasized to posterity its importance in their respective texts. They have had also indicated therein the exact location of the germinal vesicle based on the Book of Changes.

Top scholars of Tao including those who have spent decades in correct neidan practice may fail or get stuck at this stage and later drop out. They could have trivialized prior important instructions given a decade or two ago by their real teacher(s) to further their studies and now remain stuck. At this advance level of neidan they probably have to penetrate (Tong) the designated books and designated ancient classic to obtain the spiritual clarity and the lucidity of a sage before they can unlock the latent talents from Heaven to witness the major eternal signposts of the Way. After all, it is not that easy to join the ranks of the likes of the wise and legendary Zhang SanFeng, and Liu HuaYang at stage two of three of the Zah Yung Ching. (Refer to previous articles which discussed this stage two of the Zah Yung Ching.)

With the continual mixing of the Qi (breath energy) and the Spirit (Shen), and the cooking of the medicine, a golden elixir of life (Jin Dan) would be produced. Upon the intake of the golden elixir, a spiritual embryo would be born. And upon this happening, there will be a non being (Wu) within being (You). Wu Wei will be reached. The exact lodging of the non being would also be witnessed. (Refer to the Secret of the Golden Flower and the Tao Te Ching.)

According to the two referred texts below, the spiritual embryo needs to be constantly nurtured so that it would eventually emerge from the top of the head into empty space (Xu). Once the embryo emerges into empty space, enlightenment is attained with rays of light shining forth. The spiritual embryo would take on the image of the immortal or of a Buddha. (Refer to the Secret of the Golden Flower and the Hui Ming Ching as translated by W/B)

The spiritual embryo has to be further nurtured so that it can return to Tao thus becoming a celestial immortal or a Buddha. Upon this eventuality happening, beings (You) will be generated by the non being (Wu). (Refer to the Hui Ming Ching.)

The penetration (Tong) of the Tao Te Ching could be something like this. The foregoing three paragraphs explain why Laozi said in Tao Te Ching Chapter 40:

Return (reversal) is the movement to Tao

Yielding is the usefulness to Tao

Myriad things under Heaven are born from being

Being(s) born from non being

And that the third paragraph explains why he said in Tao Te Ching Chapter 16, “Tao last forever, without body, (there is) no death”.

There you go, in summary, these are the five alchemical transformations of neidan of Jing - Qi – Shen – Xu – Tao. Essence (Jing) is transformed to breath energy (Qi) and breath energy and the Light are transformed to Spirit (Shen). The spiritual embryo is nurtured and emerges to empty space (Xu) before it returns to the Way (Tao).

It all starts with the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming); you could do well to remember that.

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

A study of the ancient Way (Tao)

Tao is a very profound subject to know and few down the ages have shown the wherewithal to write a complete study of the Way. For without a deep working knowledge of the Book of Changes, and of the Tao Te Ching, a study of the Way would just contain a lot of bias and misinformation leading to unnecessary hindrances to its cultivation.

This intended comprehensive study of the ancient Way (Tao) will comprise of a series of articles that could show up the bias of past eminent Chinese scholars and the accompanying misinformation which probably had hindered many down the ages from the cultivation of Tao.

Since the Tang Dynasty, eminent Chinese scholars have had made studies of the Way (Tao). The most prominent of these scholars was probably top Tang poet Han Yu better known by his honorary name Han Wen Gong (Duke Wen of Han). It is to be noted that Han Yu had taught Confucian studies to his young nephew, Han Xiangzi – who later became one of the famous Eight Immortals (Ba Xian). However, Han Yu in turn rejected his nephew’s proffered teaching of Tao. His study of the Way while influential to Neo Confucians including Zhu Xi of Song restricts readers’ knowledge to the confines of benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi). To remain truthful, he called it the study of the Confucian Way.

Yet true scholars of Tao, similar to Laozi and Confucius before them, know for a fact that the Way is universal. Why then is the Way universal?

The holy sages who discovered Tao during their lifetimes embedded this extraordinary natural phenomenon in the Book of Changes for posterity. In the Judgment of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return (extract), it is said:

Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the Way (Tao). On the seventh day comes return.”

This is the course of heaven. [Commentary on this part of the Judgment by Confucius – W/B]

Return is the movement of Tao.” Laozi, Tao Te Ching Chapter 40.

Since Tao cannot be perceived with any of the senses and can seemingly appear or disappear anytime for years, it can be called an extraordinary natural phenomenon.

While Tao cannot be directly perceived, the holy sages, the two great ancient sages – Laozi and Confucius –, and Mencius had had taught how to determine its presence or its absence all under Heaven. And according to these sages, when Tao is all under heaven, myriad things flourish. When Tao withdraws from all under heaven, myriad things recede.

When Tao can so affect the myriad things and mankind with its appearance or its disappearance, is it not therefore universal? (Refer to the Book of Changes, Tao Te Ching, Analects of Confucius, and the Book of Mencius.)

And the Book of Changes could also forewarn the utmost sincere who can foreknow and is like a spirit of the impending disappearance of Tao from all under heaven. (My previous articles on the phenomena and on the particular omen of the then impending closure of Heaven and Earth on September 15, 2008, as it unfolded provide easy reference for eminent Yijing and/or Daoist scholars if they want to do further research.)

In the Discussion on the Trigrams (Shou Gua) (Eight Wing), ancients of great antiquity had indicated that the holy sages put themselves in accord with Tao and Te (natural law and moral law), and in conformity with this laid down the order of what is right. By thinking through the order of the outer world to the end, and by exploring the law of their nature to the deepest core, they arrived at an understanding of fate.

Their purpose was to follow the order of their nature (Xing) and of their fate (Ming). Therefore they determine the tao of heaven and called it the dark and the light. They determined the tao of earth and called it the yielding and the firm. They determined the tao of man and called it benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi). They combined these three fundamental powers and doubled them; therefore in the Book of Changes a sign is always formed by six lines.” [Book II pages 263 and 264 W/B]

In the Commentary on the Words of the Text (Wen Yen) (Seventh Wing), it is indicated that “Because the holy man is clear as to the end and the beginning, as to the way in which each of the six stages completes itself in its own time, he mounts on them toward heaven as though on six dragons.” [Qian / The Creative Book III page 371 W/B]

The holy man, clear to the end and beginning, is therefore able to mount on the six lines of Qian toward heaven as though on six dragons.

Therein lays the ancient secret to the dual cultivation of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming).

In so doing, humans would cultivate the tao of heaven, the tao of earth and the tao of man; eventually putting themselves - like the holy sages - in accord with Tao and Te. And attain immortality.

Celestial immortality is reached where “Tao last forever, without body, (there is) no death” – Laozi, Tao Te Ching Chapter 16.

The cultivation of Tao (Siu Tao) is the common term used by both Daoists and Buddhists in the Far East for this dual cultivation of human nature and fate; while Western translators have had in the main translated the term to: “the cultivation of essence (Xing) and bodily life (Ming)”.

Top scholars of Tao would eventually come to know that the technical term “human nature and fate” rather than “essence and bodily life” is more appropriate to their study and cultivation of the Way.

In the meantime, go and find a real teacher. The Quanzhen celestial immortals are the real teachers of the Way (Tao). Their knowledge of human nature (Ren Xing) and fate (Ming) is infinite.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hexagram 47.3 Oppressed by stone

In Hexagram 47 Kun / Oppression, the lake is above, water below; the lake is empty, dried up. The upper trigram belongs to the principle of darkness, the lower to the principle of light. Thus everywhere superior men are oppressed and held in restraint by inferior men.

Six in the third place means:

A man permits himself to be oppressed by stone, and leans on thorns and thistles. He enters his house and does not see his wife. Misfortune.

This shows a man who is restless and indecisive in times of adversity. He butts his head against a wall and in consequence feels himself oppressed by the wall. Then he leans on things that have in themselves no stability and that are merely a hazard for him who leans on them. Thereupon he turns back irresolutely and retires into his house, only to find, as a fresh disappointment, that his wife is not there. [W/B]

This collective wisdom passed down the ages in the Book of Changes also teaches professional managers or coaches what not to do. That is “Do not rely on the unreliable, otherwise they could butt their heads against the wall and feel oppressed by it.”

Those professional football coaches who rely on their tried and tested players during qualifications seemed to have a better success rate than others at the FIFA World Cup 2014. While professional football players can enjoy a huge success in scoring goals at club levels, they can fail to score any at the world cup stage – remember the failure of Lionel Messi, the then World Footballer of the Year, to score any goals at the FIFA World Cup 2010?

Most of the top strikers during recent qualifications or at previous world cups performed their part at the group stage where goals do count. Lionel Messi counts among the top strikers with a tally of four goals - from three group matches - at this World Cup.

On the contrary, Spain’s national team coach may have provided a very good example to depict this six in the third place of Hexagram 47.

Under his superb leadership and guidance, Spain won their first ever FIFA World Cup held in South Africa in 2010 and subsequently successfully defended their European Championship title in 2012.

The coach was spoiled for choice with so many good Spanish players in the team to choose from. Yet his selection of the eleven players who played in the first two group matches in the World Cup 2014 comprised of an untested forward and of nil scoring strikers and midfielders who have had appeared in as many as eight qualifiers. When these players cannot even score a goal against weaker teams in seven or eight qualifiers, what are the chances of them scoring goals at the highest stage of football?

Does this not mean relying on the unreliable?

This would probably help explain why Spain could only score one goal - through a penalty - out of two group matches.

Spain, the FIFA world champion, was humiliated 5 -1 by the Netherlands in the first match and was outclassed 2 - 0 by Chile in the second. In the third and final group match, the untested forward and some of the unreliable were omitted from the starting lineup.

David Villa, Spain's scorer of most goals ever in the World Cup, was finally allowed to play for his country in this third match. He duly obliged by scoring the first goal against Australia with the final score 3 - 0, a face saving match. Yet he was substituted twenty minutes later after his goal for no apparent reason.

Confucius has this to say about the line:

"If a man allows himself to be oppressed by something that ought not to oppress him, his name will certainly be disgraced. If he leans on things upon which he cannot lean, his life will certainly be endangered.

For him who is in disgrace and danger, the hour of death draws near, how can he then still see his wife?
" [W/B]

History has shown that favoritism of appointing inferior men instead of superior men to important posts of heavy responsibility often leads to failures in wars and battles. It is said in the Book of Changes that oppression lessens rancor. But how many can learn from this wisdom?

For clarity, professional managers or coaches of today would just be replaced or resign in disgrace - their lives would not be endangered. (There are plenty of examples in the recent global financial crisis.)

However if the line happens to be a prognostication or an omen, it is a different matter altogether. Yijing aficionados will then have to take into account the entire line judgment and commentary by Confucius for its interpretation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Creating our own luck (2)

Many street smart retail investors will have heard about the conventional wisdom of buying low and selling high and would try hard to achieve that. Yet most of them fail to do so because of various factors that affect their decisions.

In the main, emotions and greed will hamper their ability and decision to buy low and/or to sell high. Another important factor is that of timing cum trade cycles – within the country or global. (Foreknowledge of timing cum trade cycles can be had by Yijing diviners with the particular expertise.)

Keeping the heart still amidst emotions and greed in investing is just as difficult as in neidan (inner alchemy) meditation.

Having preset targets to buy and to sell would make it easier for retail investors to act on their decisions and/or to create their own luck. (Remember my “Free Lunch” advice given to regular US and UK readers to buy plunged blue chips in their respective countries during the recent global financial / credit crisis?)

Adhering to preset targets would circumvent greed, unless retail investors keep moving their goal posts. Who do not want to buy at the lowest or sell at the highest, if they could?

Having bought stocks and shares at low prices, we must also know when to sell them to take profits or to cut losses. Therefore knowledge of timing cum trade cycles and of the investment is important to creating our own luck.

In line with conventional wisdom, I have had invested in five public quoted counters in the KLSE in May 2013 - during a time of uncertainty; the then ongoing PIGS credit crisis and the then upcoming Malaysian general elections. The prices of these five counters had by then already fallen by 50% to 70% from their three years high. I know four of these counters well having traded them on several occasions since 2005.

The first counter which had reached my preset target of a 100% capital return and sold was Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd, a state majority owned company. I had bought its shares at RM 1.09. The shares were sold before its price reached the year highest of RM 2.49 cum special dividend.

The second counter bought and sold was Borneo Oil Bhd, a company dealing in fast food. Its shares were bought at 35 sen and sold below the highest of 74.5 sen.

The third counter bought and sold was Talam Transform Bhd, a property development company. Its shares were bought at 5.5 sen under its previous name of Trinity Corporation Bhd and sold below its highest of 11 sen – the then high volume trade momentum did not push the price any higher.

The fourth counter bought and sold was RCE Capital Bhd, a small “finance” company which provided loans to government civil servants. This counter was bought to make up the numbers (five) and allocated the minimal investment. It was a safe bet and I also know the traits of the owner. It was bought at 30.5 sen and sold on the same day as the sale of Talam shares at a small profit.

The fifth and last counter is being held waiting for its majority shareholder to make his move. This particular very experienced owner can outplay any investor or trader of his counters. He tends to buy the lowest and sell the highest – because he can.

Therefore a lot of patience is required to make some money from this investment. Let us see how it goes.

Every four years there is a major modern event that can affect global shares markets trade. That particular event is called the FIFA World Cup and the competition kicks off on 12th June 2014.

Following the convention of selling in May and go away – to watch World Cup football – in 2014 could be the correct timing. Savvy Malaysian retailers have been net sellers in the KLSE in the last week of May. Nothing wrong with taking profits since stock markets would be rather quiet for the next one month.

Perhaps you could also create your own luck in shares investment after reading these two articles?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Of students and masters (15) – Space between thoughts

In order to clearly experience this state devoid of all thoughts, it is necessary to practice and recognize the space between thoughts. Then you have to practice for weeks, months, and years to be familiar with the empty clarity of mind."
[Lopön Tenzin Namdak RInpoche - (extracts) commentary from The Three Precepts: From the Oral Transmission of the Great Perfection in Zhangzhung transl. Jean-Luc Achard]

To return to destiny, one has to empty the mind (Xin) and to keep the heart (Xin) still. (Laozi – Tao Te Ching)

Emptying the mind takes a shorter time and is easier to achieve compared to keeping the heart still. Therefore masters would probably rather concentrate on teaching how to empty the mind during meditation than teach how to keep the heart still. Yet often times they do not discuss how to make an empty mind possible.

A mind is empty when there are no thoughts. But thoughts continuously flow in and out whether one thinks or not. Therefore I have previously indicated that those Chan Buddhists who only concentrate on contemplation during meditation will clutter the mind and not empty it.

To practice and recognize the space between thoughts – to empty the mind – is a good suggestion by the accredited venerable Buddhist Tibetan master and teacher. However students may not quite get it – since the practice is not elaborated on, and is there really a space between thoughts? Therefore it can lead to confusion and pages of online forum discussion – with some suggesting ‘aiming at the space between thoughts’.

‘Aiming at the space between thoughts’ is of course off the target. That is not the way, and can lead to bypaths – visualizations or even delusions - if students are not careful, whether or not they are taught by teachers.

Since thoughts continuously flow in and out there is no need for an ‘artificial separation’ to create a space between them. And one cannot expand the space between thoughts - that is like separating the sea (of thoughts) to create a path!

Seeing where thoughts come in and where they leave is good enough according to Lu Dongbin in the Secret of the Golden Flower. There is no need to find the origin of a thought; for it is impossible to do so according to the divinity.

We should not aim at the space between thoughts, nor artificially create a space or a larger one between thoughts. Do not play games with the mind; it can lead to illusions and/or delusions.

When no more thoughts flow in after thoughts had flowed out, the mind is empty. Then there is that space between thoughts, so to speak.

Everything is natural in neidan (inner alchemy) meditation. With the correct practice, it just takes time and effort. Even for achieving spiritual clarity (Shen Ming).

Meanwhile focusing on the breath will do.