Monday, July 03, 2006

Simple notes on Guai / Breakthrough

Hexagram 43 Guai comprise of five lower light (yang) lines and one dark (yin) line at the top. On a matter of timing, it represents the third month (April – May).

One has skipped two sequential sovereign hexagrams – Tai and Da Zhuang – in the alchemy (neidan) process to discuss Guai in line with an ongoing discussion in the I Ching Community Forum on the second line of the hexagram. This entry allows me to weigh in without the necessity to join the forum and argue point by point with others who may not agree to what one has to say. (Ha, this blog remains handy for such things.)

The Judgment:
Breakthrough. One must resolutely make the matter known at the court of the king. It must be announced truthfully. Danger. It is necessary to notify one's own city. It does not further to resort to arms. It furthers one to undertake something.

The Image:
The Lake has risen up to heaven: The image of Breakthrough. Thus the superior man dispenses riches downward and refrains from resting on his virtue.

Before we present technical points for others to consider, we need to be circumspect on our own knowledge about a hexagram or the line meanings before wading into deeper waters and blame it on a wrong translation of a word or omissions of words by renowned translators such as Wilhelm and Baines.

How do we know for sure that the dictionary translation of a word written in Classical Chinese is correct in the first place? Is it really that simple to understand Classical Chinese or to understand the Zhouyi which comprises of 64 hexagrams and 384 lines? Do we realize why a Chinese Professor, the head of Zhouyi and Ancient Studies in Shandong University, China had said that he does not consider himself a student of the Book of Changes? Was it just out of humility?

While it looks enticingly easy and simple, many top scholars down the ages still had to struggle to get to the meaning of a word, a line, or an entire hexagram of the profound Book of Changes, let alone interpreting its 64 hexagrams.

Yet many like to presume that they can handle the daunting task that is to translate the Zhouyi from Classical Chinese. Perhaps the text of the first line of Guai serves as a good reminder to most of these 'experts' : Mighty in the forward-striding toes. When one goes and is not equal to the task, one makes a mistake.

My ensuing take (in italics) on the second line does not differ much from many others who use the W/B translation. It says: A cry of alarm. Arms at evening and at night. Fear nothing.

With the cry of alarm, a truthful announcement and a notification had been made (also see Judgment). Together with arms close at hand and everyone in readiness (or awake); what is there to fear?

In a practical sense, when an alarm has been raised, those meaning to do evil such as thieves and robbers would rather scamper away. The element of surprise and stealth are no longer available to the evil when the intended victims and/or their neighbors had been aroused (from their sleep) by the sound of an alarm. This probably explains why there is no indication of the outcome (good fortune or misfortune). Perhaps a simple understanding of the line and hexagram serves us better than getting a grade ‘A’ in Yi scholarship?

Now into something completely different, that of neidan practice.

The light has slowly mounted up to push out and fills up the void left by the five lower dark lines of Kun. In hexagram Guai, the sole dark line at the top remains a hurdle to be crossed. This is a time when things can still fail. The Light and the Qi may not be able to breakthrough to Heaven and remain stuck at this stage which can result in a painful blockage at the back of the head, just above the nape.

Therefore the Judgment advises furtherance to undertake something – to overcome the last dark line – and to reach Qian (Heaven) represented by six light lines. Guai does not contain the right time or space for a rest.

Of course, it is easier and simpler to understand the imagery, than to achieve an actual breakthrough in neidan practice?

Meanwhile you would make no big mistakes if you remember the title of this blog which depicts my limited knowledge. (With this reminder, perhaps even the Daoist immortals and the adepts may have no cause to laugh at my simple notes on neidan?)

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