Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Notes on Da Zhuang

This entry continues the discussion on the waxing and waning of Qian and Kun (or of the Moon). In the sequence, Hexagram 34 Da Zhuang / The Power of the Great stand in between Tai / Peace and Guai / Breakthrough. Since Wilhelm and his teacher captured the essence of this hexagram in the sequence, the selected commentary in his translation proves useful for our understanding of the hexagram and the related neidan practice.

The great lines, that is, the light, strong lines, are powerful. Four light lines have entered the hexagram from below and about to ascend higher. The hexagram is linked with the second month (March-April).

The Judgment: The Power of the Great. Perseverance furthers.

The hexagram points to a time when inner worth mounts with great force and comes to power. But its strength has already passed beyond the median line, hence there is danger that one may rely entirely on one’s own power and forget to ask what is right. There is danger too that, being intent on movement, we may not wait for the right time. For that truly great power which does not degenerate into mere force but remains inwardly united with the fundamental principles of right and of justice. When we understand this point - namely, that greatness and justice must be indissolubly united - we understand the true meaning of all that happen in heaven and on earth.

The Image: Thus the Junzi does not tread upon paths that do not accord with established order. [W/B]

Starting from the Return (24) of the light, Approach (19), then Peace (11), the Qi and the Light has reached the Power of the Great (34) and have taken four steps to push out the darkness and replace the void with the light. Four light lines are below while two dark lines remain on top.

Neidan students may find that this stage is not easy to cross. The transition from the mid point of the spinal cord where Tai stands was rather smooth and easy. However the Qi can be blocked and dammed up at this place represented by Da Zhuang – the place between the shoulder blades just above the small of the back - if the breath is not strong enough to push upwards to Guai. However we are told not to use power to push through the blockage, for if we do, further amounts of Qi will be dammed up which will cause more pain and discomfort.

At this stage, we need to be gentle and still. Not active and not to rely on our power. If the backward flow breathing is natural and soft, there is a good chance of a breakthrough. With the advice, the hexagram may help explain the difference between the Stillness method and the Active method of meditation. It also helps to differentiate the established order from bypaths.

Similar to the advice given in the judgment and the image, the lines warned against using force, and remaining stubborn which may get one trapped like a goat in a difficult position. Just like the continual damming up of Qi at this place.

If neidan students feel blockages around the small of the back or in-between the shoulder blades then it is advisable to stop the practice, and get some help from a Chinese physician or a Qigong master who is familiar with providing such relief. The dammed up Qi will remain or build up there for quite some time and will cause a lot of pain if nothing is done about it. Just like the goat in the top line of Da Zhuang, the Qi is stuck; it cannot go up nor can it come down of its own. If you realize this, stop and seek help.

For others who can pass through this stage with ease, the Qi and the light will continue upwards to Guai (43) / Breakthrough. Guai has already been discussed in a previous entry. After Guai comes Qian / The Creative, Heaven.

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