Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yin Yang

It is interesting to note that debates on yin yang continue in forums after more than two thousand years of their origin. That proves their popularity. When the terms yin yang came into used during the Warring States era they were meant to explain the effects of Qi (breath/energy) in the universe, heaven, on earth and man. Of equal interest is that both the Book of Changes (the Yi) and Tao Te Ching explain the effects of heaven and earth, the light and the dark on man, but made no specific references to yin yang.
Scholars of the Warring States, the Han or later dynasties probably ascribed the usage of yin and yang to Ancients to gain creditability and acceptance and to help explain the abstract meanings of heaven and earth, light and dark. With the advent of philosophical and religious Taoism, inner alchemy, fengshui, martial arts (qigong/taiqiquan/others) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the original meanings of yin yang expanded to cover a wider scope of subjects especially those deemed to have a polarity as yin is taken to represent negative (-) or dark forces while yang represents positive (+) or light forces.
Consequently broken (dark) lines and unbroken (light) lines in trigrams and hexagrams of the Yi are read as yin and yang lines respectively. TCM doctors advocate a balance of both yin and yang to restore health while fengshui masters create yang or positive forces to improve wealth and/or health.
Meanwhile the debating continues.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Whenever one divines and receives an answer from the Yi which requires sincerity to resolve a matter at hand or as proper conduct, one ponders doubly hard and much deeper to examine whether one holds any insincere thoughts or has a vested interest before coming to a decision and implementing it. Sincerity comes from the heart, no motives no vested interests no contrivances nothing just heart. Just like a parent slowly following a toddler and reaching out to hold him whenever he stumbles. Just like making a donation to a favorite charity or a disaster fund without being asked. No expectations of gratitude or a response. Of course if your toddler turns around and gives you a big smile it warms your heart and makes your day. If the charity or disaster fund sends a thank you note you may probably just smile and think nothing of it. That is sincerity.
The last prognostication that requires sincerity received from the Yi (in 2003) was Hexagram 17 Following with changing fourth and fifth lines with a resultant Hexagram 24 Return. Both the changing lines had emphasized sincerity.

Nine in the fourth place means:
Following creates success. Perseverance brings misfortune. To go one’s way with sincerity brings clarity. How could there be blame in this?

Nine in the fifth place means:
Sincere in the good. Good fortune.

Every man must have something he follows—something that serves him as a lodestar. He who follows with conviction the beautiful and the good may feel himself strengthened by this saying.
[I Ching or Book of Changes] [Wilhelm/Baynes]

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Songs of the Immortals

While sitting in meditation one hears their continuous singing or chanting in monotonous voices and yet the songs contain a melody which lulls one into an enhanced peaceful state of mind in quiescence. Instead of calling it a choir, one would rather name this state* as “Songs of the Immortals”. Does it mean that upon hearing their songs one have reached the Valley Spirit(s) as depicted by Laozi in Chapter Six of the Tao Te Ching? If not present at the valley itself, one cannot be too far away.
Having reached this stage of cultivation one has to bear in mind Buddha’s teachings in the Shurangama Sutra (Leng Yen). Buddha said, "This state is called ‘the essence and souls alternately separating and uniting, and the planting of good seeds.’ It is a temporary state and does not indicate sage hood. If he does not think that he has become a sage, then it will be a good state”. So continue one’s far journey quietly with no arrogance and maybe, just maybe see the Golden Buddha next.

*Lu Tungpin (one of the eight immortals) called this state as 'the presence of the gods in the valley'. The first of three confirmatory experiences which can be tested.

What do the Ancients teach?

After spending much time on the Ancients’ thoughts, my simple understanding is that the great masters (Laozi, Confucius, Buddha and others) all teach a way to cultivate and return to the Tao. The neo Taoists (including immortals), neo Confucians and neo Buddhists (including Bodhidharma) named this method as the cultivation of both essence and bodily life. To return to the Tao one therefore has to meditate (essence) and cultivate virtues (bodily life) forming the main part of one’s cultivation.
Lest you forget about the ancient Book of Changes (I Ching or Zhouyi), there are references to the trigrams and hexagrams in inner alchemy texts so it is advisable to study the Zhouyi too. If you do divination it can heighten your spiritual awareness. And if the Zhouyi truly speaks to you, wow!
Writing here may spark intensity to analyze and research the Ancients’ thoughts in a different perspective from what you and I have delved in so far. Learning shall not cease. Sometimes the truth is in front of you, inside you, or out there.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Heaven and Earth

The Creative knows the great beginnings. The Receptive completes the finished things.
The Creative knows through the easy. The Receptive can do things through the simple.
What is easy, is easy to know; what is simple, is easy to follow. The person who is easy to know attains fealty. The person who is easy to follow attains works. Those who possess attachments can endure for long; those who possess works can become great. To endure is the disposition of the sage; greatness is the field of action of the sage.
By means of the easy and the simple we grasp the laws of the whole world. When the laws of the whole world are grasped, therein lies perfection.
(Ta Chuan/The great treatise)

One has been following Heaven and Earth for decades, putting into practice what is easy and what is simple and yet unable to grasp the laws of the whole world. So wherein lays perfection? Perhaps one day.