Tuesday, May 31, 2005

18 Work on what has been spoiled

Two months after selling down many of my shareholdings in the stock market because of the Yi’s prior warning, with Hexagram 18 Ku / Work on what has been spoiled, the inevitable happened. The stock market is facing a mini crisis and backlash because a few top banks (two foreign, one US, the other British) are pulling credit lines because they were hurt by financing a few rogue traders whose shares were way overvalued. When one astute stockbroker first withdrew the credit line, one particular share tumbled like a deck of cards falling 90% in a matter of days with a market value of 1.3 billion wiped off. Even when the share is hovering at 10% of its previous market valuation, only the brave dare rush in to buy. (There are too many uncertainties relating to the company and its owners.)

The question remains that many investors saw the share overvalued, how could the banks (especially the foreign ones) not seen the same then? As usual the authorities came out enforce talking about what could have been done, a bit too little and a bit too late, leaving the small investors and the owners of public listed companies licking their wounds and/or scurrying for financing elsewhere. Many of whom are facing margin calls and forced selling activities by their financiers. (Already 30 to 40 billion in value have been wiped off in May from the stock market capitalization.) These actions have further dampened the share prices and the confidence of both the investing public and foreign fund managers. Until the government authorities come to their senses on how to resolve the current fiasco it appears the stock market will take quite a while to recover.

After the reduction of shareholdings early March, one is keeping still in line with what the Yi advised. Even though some of the shares one sold two months ago have fallen 50% to 70% in value. (Refer to 'Spoiled by the mother' and Hexagram 18 changing to Hexagram 52 Ken / Keeping Still.) Got to save the bullets to fight another day! And allow time for the authorities, the top banks and the stockbrokers to work on what has been spoiled?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Handing over autonomy?

From the perspectives of using the Yi as a Book of Wisdom and/or an Oracle everyone is right!

(The statement together my following comments (with proper names omitted) were recently posted in the Answers blog in relation to a brief discussion on handing over autonomy to the Yi. And whether the questions asked were wrong?)

Only those who are obsessed with repeated questionings on frivolous matters over a short spate of time get a reprimand from the Yi. This shows the lack of sincerity in the diviner. One does observe this occasionally among new students mainly because of their own exuberance or being misguided sometimes by seniors in forums. When the same hexagram appears several times in a row it is time to sit up and take note. The Yi wants to tell you something. No autonomy is handed over to the Yi if one knows what one is doing or what has to be done with no obsession. Otherwise how can earnest Yi students ever become a Junzi in time to come!

Preponderance over both the question (before it is asked) and the answer is of equal importance. Sincerity and seriousness of purpose required for a divination is an often quoted advice. Any question to the Yi will be answered. But was the question correct in the first place and did the Yi really speak to the diviner have to be considered by those who want to help in an interpretation of the answer.

The thread author’s diverse questions to the Yi were sincere and serious. And she did research on nutrition before asking. Therefore she was not wrong in asking a universal nutrition question that can affect the human species (for her new book).

Although one may not be qualified to interpret the answers, here is a tip for neidan (inner alchemy) practitioners. You may have to abstain from all kinds of meat when you want to progress to a higher spiritual level.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A sitting meditation

Not knowing anything about Zen or Chan Buddhism, one was rather surprised to read a Chan master’s writings on a full sitting meditation and understood it. Members of forums occasionally discuss meditation but so far no one has fully described a sitting meditation. Apparently there are many types or variations of such sitting meditation available on the web. The link above is to Chan Master Cijao of Changlu writings (in notes form) on a sitting meditation as translated by Thomas Cleary.

Although the method is almost similar to that of Buddha’s there appears to be a slight variation that is the placing of the leg in a half lotus position (note 5) and the hands (note 6) which appears to be the reverse of what images of Buddha do or the meditation could be meant for females.

If you happen to have or see an image of Buddha (in Thai or Indian Buddhist temples) you will note that his right hand, palm up, is placed on top of his left palm. And his right leg is on top of his left thigh in a half lotus position. (The placing of hands and leg(s) is reversed for females similar to the method described by the Chan Master in notes 5 and 6.)

Also take note that the Buddha taught that the eyes, half closed, shall look at the tip of the nose. This will allow light to stream in. Allowing light to stream in continuously is important to a neidan practitioner as he or she progresses to higher levels of cultivation (also refer to notes 8 and 13).

The sitting meditation by the Chan Master except for the slight variations noted is similar to my practice, although nothing was discussed on qigong (breath control). Indeed note 19 is an interesting comment for fellow travelers on the far journey.

Monday, May 23, 2005

When Hexagram 64 changes to Hexagram 63

It is not often that the Yi answers a question with all six lines changing. In such a case the answer lays with the judgment of the resultant hexagram* and in this example Hexagram 63 Chi Chi / After Completion.

The trigrams are water (Kan) over fire (Li). It is difficult balancing water over fire as water flows downwards and fire flames upwards, an unstable state of affairs, but saving a marriage (for example) is definitely worth the effort of both spouses.

“If the water boils over the fire is extinguished and if the heat is too great the water evaporates into the air. Only the most extreme caution can prevent damage.” “For the superior man takes thought of misfortune and arms himself against it in advance.” [W/B]

Therefore constantly watch over the details (the fire and the water represent the wife and the husband respectively) and maintain the right attitude towards the marriage and each other. Then cheerfully wait for the passing of this difficult period as depicted by Hexagram 63, for better things to come.

(*Except for the Qian and Kun hexagrams.)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Occasion to read the Yi

Those who have an affinity with the Yi will either be studying the Ching (Classic) or will ‘stumble’ onto the Book of Changes eventually. Much has been written by authors/ translators and in the web on the knowledge, history, Chinese civilization, wisdom and profoundness of the Yi therefore no need arises to add more. Except to say that the Yi contains no religious beliefs and the reader need not divine if divination is against his or her religion.

To enhance their own spiritual development, Buddhists, Confucians, Daoists and inner alchemists may also have occasion to emulate the wise who have read, studied and/or consulted the Yi throughout the past few thousand years. For the esoteric, Daoist immortals, Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) and Buddhas know about the Yi if you happen to ask any of these divinities.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Vesak Day

Buddhists all over the world are probably busy preparing to celebrate Vesak Day, the birthday of Gautama Buddha which happens to fall on Sunday, May 22nd 2005, a full moon (fifteenth day) of the fourth lunar month.

As usual my family and I will join in the celebrations by visiting two Buddhist temples. The first stop is to a temple (refer Buddhas rest under trees entry) for a free vegetarian lunch before making a trip to the second, a century old temple for prayers and blessings. One has been visiting the latter temple for the past several decades. Donations to both Buddhist temples are optional in case you are wondering. And they form part of my favourite charities.

A Happy Vesak Day to all, this coming Sunday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Arrogant Dragon has cause to repent

1 Qian / The Creative, Heaven from experience is a favorable hexagram to receive for investments. However it also depends on what the Yi wants to tell the diviner on a particular investment. The public listed company (PLC) one intended to invest in has just signed an agreement to merge with a vast timber concession holder from a neighboring country with great potential profits for both parties. The heads of government were there to witness the signing among other contracts between the two countries.

The answer from the Yi was Qian with a changing top line which changed the hexagram to 43 Breakthrough. The judgment of Qian says: “The Creative works sublime success, furthering through perseverance.” But the top line carries a stern warning: “Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent.” [W/B]

Therefore one desisted in investing in the stock although one had made substantial gains from it the previous year. At the time of asking the question the stock was quoted at 805.

After the signing, the PLC submitted an application to obtain governmental approval for the merger. There was a delay, later the application was rejected. (Apparently the owner of the PLC had been very arrogant and dealt with the officials handling the application in a high handed manner; probably thinking that the deal had been blessed by the Prime Minister who witnessed the signing ceremony.) A few years later just before the Asian financial crisis in 1997 the stock was hovering at 500. The stock fell to 10 thereafter and was subsequently delisted by the Stock Exchange in 2003. Indeed the words “Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent” contain much wisdom.

Do note that one has to do much homework on a potential investment before asking the Yi. Do not go overboard when you receive a favorable answer and forget what the ancients advised- always ponder on the prognostication. Also take note that Qian represents the fourth lunar month (falling in May-June) and not the fifth month as some Yi students may like to think.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Questions and Yi's answers

There is an interesting debate in a Yi forum on whether someone is qualified to ask questions on behalf of the entire species. The Yi had answered the diviner’s diverse health and spiritual questions on eating meat or vegetables but difficulty exists in interpretation of the answers. Those who are interested or are able to help the diviner on her questions and/or the Yi‘s answers, can either follow or participate in the blog discussion (Is this the Wrong Question?) by clicking onto Answers under the link section.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hiding the Light

Students of the Tao and the Yi have often tried to link the wisdoms found in the Tao Te Ching (TTC) and the Zhouyi (the Yi) but without much success. The failure to do so could boil down to the translations used the interpretations and probably because both the translator and the student have insufficient knowledge of ancient Chinese history. It is advisable therefore to keep to definitive translations and to read more on the historical background of the two classics for a more solid foundation.

A link which may interest students is the similarity of ancients’ thoughts in both Chapter 36 (TTC) and Hexagram 36 (the Yi).

"When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a (previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he will first have made gifts to him:--this is called 'Hiding the light (of his procedure).'

The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people." (TTC 36 [Legge] sacred-text.com)

"The name of Hexagram 36 is Ming I / Darkening of the Light or ‘wounding of the bright’. Here the hexagram talks about a man of dark nature* in a position of authority and brings harm to the wise and able man**. One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities." [W/B]

*The man of dark nature was Chou Hsin the last emperor of Shang (or Yin) dynasty. He was a tyrant who imprisoned or killed his loyal ministers and harmed the people for fun. He is represented by the top line of Hexagram 36.

** The wise and able man refers to various personages of the time, among others, King Wen (2nd line), his son King Wu (3rd line) and Prince Chi (5th line). King Wen imprisoned by Chou Hsin had to bribe his way out of jail after heaping praises on the emperor (compare 1st paragraph of TTC 36). Indeed a time of hiding the light to escape from harm. By this way, the soft overcame the hard.

After the overthrow of the tyrant by King Wu (who founded the Zhou dynasty) a momentous event, a change of the Mandate of Heaven so to speak, the rest is history. With the overthrow, the weak overcame the strong.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Magic Spell for the Far Journey

The journey in search of longevity, immortality or enlightenment can take a long time with no recourse if death arrives before the destination is reached, if at all. For according to Daoist immortals, only the right person can attain Tao. If we are on the right path and use the correct means at least we know we have tried. And life goes on. Meanwhile one shares A Magic Spell for the Far Journey with fellow travelers:

Four words crystallize the spirit in the space of energy.
In the sixth month white snow is suddenly seen to fly.
At the third watch the sun’s disk sends out blinding rays.
In the water blows the wind of the Gentle.
Wandering in heaven, one eats the spirit-energy of the Receptive.
And the still deeper secret of the secret:
The land that is nowhere, that is the true home……

1) According to Lu Tungpin (one of the eight immortals), Yu Ch’ing left behind him this magic spell for the far journey. The entire spell is on the inner alchemy process as explained by Lu in the Secret of the Golden Flower [Wilhelm/Jung/Baynes].

2) Using the correct means probably you could see the visions and feel the flows within.

3) Yu Ch’ing may be a personage in the Spring and Autumn era. “Shod in straw sandals and carrying an umbrella, he spoke with King Hsiao-cheng of Chao. After one interview he was given a hundred yi of gold and a pair of white jade discs, while after a second interview he was made chief minister. Thus he was known as Yu Ching or Minister Yu. For the sake of a friend, he gave up his fief of ten thousand families and the seal of a chief minister. After that he wrote a book, based on material from the past as well as his observations of recent events, which was handed down to posterity. The book is known as the Annals of Yu Ching.” (Shiji / Records of the Historian [Sima Qian])

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Spoiled by the mother

The hexagram 18 Ku / Work on what has been spoiled [Decay] depicts what has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. It is not immutable fate that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords with the possibilities of the time. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. [W/B]

A few months ago, the Yi answered my question, on whether to invest more into a public listed company (PLC), with a moving line two of the hexagram which changed it to Hexagram 52 Ken / Keeping Still. At the time of the question the shares were quoted at 22.5.

The PLC had undergone a major capital restructuring exercise in 2003 whereby it issued shares priced at 70 and traded off non profitable assets in exchange for a huge piece of development land in a choice location and a profitable business. On completion of the exercise the original owner of the land, a corporate entity, became the holding company (mother) but somehow its chief executive officer (CEO) came to own 55.5 million of the new shares. (There were no explanations how he got the shares and at what price from the holding company.) In a reshuffle early 2005 the CEO was removed from the Boards of both companies. The PLC subsequently announced a quarterly loss of 29 million.

Line two of hexagram 18 says:
Setting right what has been spoiled by the mother, one must not be too persevering.

This refers to mistakes that as a result of weakness have brought about decay. In setting things right in such a case, a certain gentle consideration is called for. In order not to wound, one should not attempt to proceed too drastically. [W/B]

With the clear answer from the Yi (including Keeping Still), instead of buying more of the PLC shares, one had reduced the investment by a third with some losses. After his removal from the Board, the CEO has regularly disposed his shares at lower prices not only depressing the share price but created an overhang because he still holds about 45 million shares. (He certainly has money to burn if he had paid 70 for each share.) The shares were sold down to 14 (lifetime low) recently and are now hovering at 15.

Indeed the PLC and its share price have been spoiled by the mother!

Friday, May 06, 2005

1 Qian / The Creative

Much has been discussed on Heaven and Earth in the Zhouyi, Tao Te Ching and various Daoist texts. Perhaps it is timely to look into Hexagram 1 Qian / The Creative, as the hexagram also represents the month of May and some commentaries by the ancients on the lines:

1) The superior man (Junzi) acts in accordance with the character that has become perfected within him. This is a way of life that can submit to scrutiny on any day.

2) This means a man who has the character of a dragon and is moderate and correct. Even in ordinary speech he is reliable. Even in ordinary actions he is careful. He does away with what is false and preserves his integrity. He improves his era and does not boast about it. His character is influential and transforms men.
The superior man learns in order to gather material; he questions in order to sift it. Thus he becomes generous in nature and kindly in his actions.

3) He improves his character and labors at his task. It is through loyalty and faith that he fosters his character. By working on his words, so that they rest firmly on truth, he makes his works enduring.

4) In ascent and descent there is no fixed rule, except that one must do nothing evil. In advance or retreat no sustained perseverance avails, except that one must not depart from one’s nature.

5) The great man (Ta Ren) accords in his character with heaven and earth; in his light, with the sun and moon; in his consistency, with the four seasons; in the good and evil fortune that he creates, with gods and spirits. When he acts in advance of heaven, heaven does not contradict him. When he follows heaven, he adapts himself to the time of heaven. If heaven itself does not resist him, how much less do men, gods and spirits!

6) He who is noble and has no corresponding position, he who stands high and has no following, he who has able people under him who do not have his support, that man will have cause for regret at every turn.

When the Creative, the great, undergoes change in all the nines, one perceives the law of heaven and the world is set in order. (And it is said that:)

“In his own time he mounts toward heaven on six dragons. The clouds pass and the rain falls.” All this means peace coming to the world.

(The commentaries [W/B])

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Twofold entrance to Tao

“There are many ways to enter the Path, but briefly speaking they are of two sorts only. The one is "Entrance by Reason" and the other "Entrance by Conduct"

By "Entrance by Reason" we mean the realization of the spirit of Buddhism by the aid of the scriptural teaching. We then come to have a deep faith in the True Nature which is the same in all sentient beings. The reason why it does not manifest itself is due to the over wrapping of external objects and false thoughts. When a man, abandoning the false and embracing the true, in singleness of thought practises the Pi-kuan [Wall-gazing] he finds that there is neither self nor other, that the masses and the worthies are of one essence, and he firmly holds on to this belief and never moves away there from. He will not then be a slave to words, for he is in silent communion with the Reason itself, free from conceptual discrimination; he is serene and not-acting. This is called "Entrance by Reason".

By "Entrance by Conduct" is meant the four acts in which all other acts are included. What are the four? 1. To know how to requite hatred; 2. To be obedient to karma; 3. Not to crave anything; and 4. To be in accord with the Dharma.”
(Bodhidharma on the twofold entrance to the Tao [D T Suzuki] sacred-texts.com)

Upon birth, people fall from the Tao, and human nature (Hsing) separates from life (Ming). All the great masters including Bodhidharma (who spent nine years wall-gazing inside a cave in China) and Daoist immortals realize this separation therefore they teach the same path (in their respective ways) to return to the Tao that is to cultivate essence (hsing) and bodily life (ming). The “Not Two” in the Hsin Hsin Ming may just have this meaning. Only when the two becomes one again can a Buddhist become a Buddha and a Daoist become an Immortal.

If we read and ponder the books, texts, and classics of the Three Doctrines (Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist), the great masters’ thoughts on how to cultivate essence and bodily life are contained therein. How far we can learn, practise and reach will depend on our own sincerity.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The center

In line with my understanding of the Center one appends below the chapters in the Tao Te Ching (TTC) where Laozi had referred to it including how to reach the center through the cultivation of essence (meditation) and bodily life (cardinal virtues).

6 The Center

The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;
The female mystery thus do we name.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
Long and unbroken does its power remain,
Used gently, and without the touch of pain.

14 The Meditation

We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the Equable.' We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the Inaudible.' We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it 'the Subtle.' With these three qualities, it cannot be made the subject of description; and hence we blend them together and obtain The One. Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure. Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless, and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and Indeterminable. We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the beginning, this is called (unwinding) the clue of Tao.

18 The Cardinal Virtues

When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy. When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared. (TTC by Laozi [Legge] www.sacred-texts.com)

1) The valley spirit and the mysterious female represent the light and the dark. And the gate represents the Tai Chi (supreme ultimate) where Heaven and Earth grew from.
2) Inner seeing and inner hearing are required to see the sights within, which cannot be grasped. Laozi proceeded to describe some of the sights seen by those who constantly practise the breath control meditation known as the "Circulation of the Light" revealed by Guan Yinshi (for whom Laozi is said to have written the TTC) .
3) After the fall from Tao, the ancients also taught the cultivation of virtues for people to return to the Tao. For various reasons, this part of Tao cultivation does not sit well with Western Daoists. Consequently different interpretations and understandings arise.

Sometimes the truth is front of you, inside you or out there.