Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Synchronicity of Annual Hexagram for 2005

I Ching aficionados would probably thank Carl Jung as well as Richard Wilhelm and James Legge for propagating the wisdom in the Book of Changes to the West. To bridge the understanding gap between the East and West, Jung had coined the term, ‘Synchronicity’ to better explain that Yi divination, if done properly, is much more than mere chance or coincidental. In his foreword to the Richard Wilhelm translation, Jung provided a few examples of Yi divinations to help explain how synchronicity worked. Perhaps, this entry may add on to the understanding of the term, synchronicity.

Since one has consulted the Yi this morning for an Annual Hexagram for 2006 which will be recorded in another entry, and not to be accused of having a selective memory or choosing to post a divination willy-nilly, one will publish the annual hexagram for 2005 obtained last February for all to see. The hexagram happened to be Gou / Coming to Meet with a moving top line which change this Hexagram 44 to Hexagram 28 Da Guo / Preponderance of the Great.

In the W/B translation the commentary starts with this prior warning:

“This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from within and below. Of its own accord the female principle comes to meet the male. It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences.”

“The hexagram is linked with the fifth month [June-July], because at the summer solstice the principle of darkness gradually becomes ascendant again.”

The Judgment says: Coming to Meet. The maiden is powerful. One should not marry such a maiden.

“The inferior man rises only because the superior man does not regard him as dangerous and so lends him power. If he were resisted from the first, he could never gain influence.”

“The time of Coming to Meet is important in still another way. Although as a general rule the weak should not come to meet the strong, there are times when this has great significance. When heaven and earth come to meet each other, all creatures prosper; when a prince and his official come to meet each other, the world is put in order. It is necessary for elements predestined to be joined and mutually dependent to come to meet one another halfway. But the coming together must be free of dishonest ulterior motives, otherwise harm will result.”

Under heaven, wind: The image of Coming to Meet.
Thus does the prince act when disseminating his commands and proclaiming them to the four quarters of heaven.

Nine at the top means: He comes to meet with his horns. Humiliation. No blame.

“When a man has withdrawn from the world, its tumult often becomes unbearable to him. There are many people who in a noble pride hold themselves aloof from all that is low and rebuff it brusquely wherever it comes to meet them. Such persons are reproached for being proud and distant, but since active duties no longer hold them to the world, this does not greatly matter. They know how to bear the dislike of the masses with composure.”

The top line of Hexagram 44 is confirmed with this: The image of Preponderance of the Great. Thus the superior man, when he stands alone, is unconcerned, and if he has to renounce the world, he is undaunted.


Nothing of significance happened in 2005 except the possibility of these events.
One started this blog on March 26, to share experiences, provide a different perspective on ancient thoughts and to encourage the reading of ancient books, texts and classics.

The Tao Forum was officially closed on June 28, 2005. This forum was where one held discussions with likeminded fellows on Tao and Chinese history for a year or more.

Then there was a round of discourse in this blog, the Answers blog and Harmen’s blog on the Hexagram 44 Gou on the meaning of the powerful maiden and the inferior man in June 2005. (Refer June archives.)

Of course the closure of the forum forced a temporary ‘withdrawal from the world’ and the various discussions on Hexagram 44 could be called coincidental. But can we dismiss synchronicity since both these events happened to occur in June 2005, the month which my Annual Hexagram Gou represents?

A simple Yi divination which connects both time and space would amount to just this. And you can reread the line text and commentaries if you are still unsure of what the Yi had indicated to me.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


The difference between skilled and unskilled leaders (leaders, scholars, generals, managers, teachers, masters, experts etc) during ancient or modern times is their understanding of concepts or lack of it. Just like what Laozi said in the TTC different grades of scholars exist depending on their understanding of Tao, Buddha’s exhortations in the Shurangama Sutra (Leng Yen Ching) not to rely on intellect to follow his spiritual teachings, and the differentiation between good and bad generals/leaders by Sunzi in his Art of War.

When we understand the often simple concepts of these sages, we can become wise or even great. Many skilled leaders down the millenniums became great and well known through posterity because they could better understand the ideas propounded by the wise. And it goes without saying that such leaders successfully implemented those sagely ideas before they made themselves a good name in history. Of course, modern leaders are also known for their own simple concepts and upon successful implementation of the ideas made them great. Good examples in this generation are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and those successful in computer technology and internet searches. They use simple ideas and yet can become very wealthy or simply great. Not only their wealth is more than the foreign reserves of many a country, they tend to donate more than any to help the poor benefiting humanity that is why these rich philanthropists are simply great.

Often we muddle through concepts because we try to look sophisticated overanalyzing the true meanings behind simple ideas; thereby occasionally missing the woods for the trees. In work, mediocre managers tend to make the same mistakes and keep plodding on in the wrong directions until corrected by their superiors or owners of the businesses. If only they take the initiative to understand the ideas behind management then they can become good managers and leaders too. Once we are clearer about business concepts then we can implement them correctly. This is similar to cultivation of the three doctrines of Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist thoughts.

When we understand the underlying concepts we can cultivate the right things (virtues), once we found the right meditation (circulation of the light), we can meditate. After years of proper cultivation of this Light, we slowly realize that our actions become spontaneous and mysterious in reactions to every day life and in the work place. This according to Ziyang Zhen Ren is living in harmony with the light. With three corners of the mat lifted, perhaps you can lift the fourth to see what is actually underneath? Once you are able to see beyond self, you can come here to share with fellow travelers what you have seen.

In case, readers still cannot catch what has been said, a simple analogy can be made through martial arts. A martial arts student is taught moves on how to defend attack and counterattack. He or she goes through the same rigors daily. Years later the earnest student becomes proficient enough to do the same moves spontaneously. If this student who may have become an expert by now continues at it for a few decades, he or she could attain the highest level of proficiency in the art that of ‘Chu Shen Jin Fa’ and make magical moves like those of a spirit.

And all of these arose from simple concepts of human beings.

Gong Xi Fa Cai! A Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year to all readers!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A note on Fengshui

According to Chinese tradition the five factors which can affect the welfare (well-being) of a person in order of importance are:
Luck or Fortune
Geomancy or Fengshui
Virtues (Tao Te)

Notwithstanding whether a person is rich or poor, through his or her own actions, life can change for better or worse. It does make sense if we look at these factors in this way: A young child or person is brought up and taught virtues at home, and then encouraged to study extensively to gain knowledge and a good qualification to obtain works. With works a person can become great. Whether a person can become great, healthy and wealthy would depend on fate, luck and at times Fengshui. Being polite humble sincere and earnest, the person may find a good teacher or mentor to help in his or her progress in studies or work.

Aware that these five factors affect their well being, down the millenniums the Chinese up till today have been fascinated with the study of various types of divinations which can predict fate, fortune and provide good Fengshui. Those in their middle age and elderly Chinese be they rich, educated, illiterate or poor would know something about fortune telling and Fengshui. In a way it has become part of their culture to possess some basic knowledge of these studies. Also because of this fascination, fortune tellers and Fengshui masters in the Far East and South East Asia can make a living out of their profession.

Recently one was given a newspaper article written by a quite well known and young Fengshui master for reading. In the article, the Fengshui master wrote about his trip with his Western students to the Ming tombs in China. It was interesting as he gave a guided tour to his students and tested them on their skills and learning of Fengshui on some of the thirteen tombs; and on how to recognize the lay of the land and of each tomb, thereafter explaining the technicalities and some history on each Ming emperor.

Near the end of a seemingly well written Fengshui article he passed the following remarks:
“By the time Shen Zong died and was buried, the Ming tombs were overcrowded and the veins exhausted. The only thing that remained for the tombs to tap was what I like to call ‘leftover veins’.
What should the emperors have done instead? They should have ‘patched the dragon’ by looking for new mountains and new veins to tap into instead of recycling the same old vein and exhausting the energies.
While the reign of Shen Zong was a prosperous period for the Ming Dynasty, the emperors that followed did badly, with short reigns and disasters plaguing the country. The powerful Fengshui of Yong Le was simply not enough to see the dynasty pass its 16th emperor.
With such poor Fengshui and ‘a dragon that was not patched properly and sufficiently’, the end arrived soon.”

After reading these remarks, I put the newspaper article down and shook my head. Ah, such arrogance. Perhaps this young Fengshui master had overestimated his own ability and the importance of Fengshui. Surely the Ming emperors must have expert Fengshui masters during those days and age to take care of the layout and building of the Royal tombs. It is presumptuous to think there are no more real masters in such arts in China then or now? Where did he learn his Fengshui from?

And what has Fengshui got to do with the length of a reign, disasters and a change of Dynasty? Even the wise Chuko Liang also known as Kungming could only lament when his well thought out plan to burn the entrapped Sima Yi and sons failed because of unexpected rain that extinguished the ever enclosing fierce fire and saved them from certain death. Kungming only realized it near his death bed and said, ‘It was Heaven’s Will!’ Sima Yen, the grandson of Sima Yi, went on to found the Jin Dynasty which ruled China or large parts of it for 155 years.

Do note that there were also many wise advisers and strategists during the so called ‘Three Kingdoms’ era. Wang Bi who lived during that time and recognized by later generations as wise for his interpretations and deep understanding of the Confucian books, the Zhouyi and TTC was not even featured as such or made comparable to these advisers and strategists in 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms'.

If this young Fengshui master ever happens to read this entry, perhaps he can get hold of a copy of ‘The Mandate of Heaven’ written by Steve Marshall and learn something about the reasons for a change in dynasty, and what is considered proper research and circumspection. Perhaps in his eagerness to impress his students and the general public, he has forgotten the often quoted Chinese saying: ‘Heaven beyond Heaven; Man above Man’.

One knows little about Fengshui and is not too duly concerned about the lack of such knowledge, because by studying the Confucian Books and the Yi one can learn something about mastering and/or changing fate. Of course twitching Fengshui is much easier than mastering and/or changing fate. But which has more relevance and importance to our own welfare; I put the question to you?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Muddle through studies and life

After a lifetime study of ancient books and classics, we often like to think we know much about ancient thoughts and cultivation. Once we have become fixated in our own thoughts and opinions we become stubborn and close our minds to truths and wisdoms. However the earnest and sincere in learning keep their minds open with the hopes to extend their studies and understanding.

As depicted in the Analects, even Confucius continued to learn during his old age. And he said: ‘The Junzi, extensively studying all learning, and keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise not overstep what is right.’ (Analects 6. 25)

In Analects 7.3 he said: ‘The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards righteousness of which knowledge is gained; and not being able to change what is not good:--these are the things which occasion me solicitude.’

Yet when one wanders into Yi or Daoist forums to listen to those who spent a few decades in such studies/cultivation and to self appointed teachers, occasionally their comments depict they muddle through their studies and life. It is truly sad when they fritter their lives away and perhaps come to nothing at the end of the day. The hard nosed Confucian may say that these students ‘read dead books’ which means that they do not know how to apply their lifetime studies to humanity.

Why? Because on occasions they go against what is considered right – disparaging renowned Yi translators and well researched topics by scholars with no substantive proof or reasoning; or wanting to replace ancient wisdoms with new age thoughts that tend to mislead students and readers; or try to cultivate but followed bye paths and then argue against self cultivation; or holding court in religious Daoist forum alienating new members by telling them they are not Daoists. Probably if all these people cultivate properly, they may not fritter their lives away. Hopefully discerning students would not be misled by these so-called experts' incorrect line of thoughts.

To walk the middle path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana, Buddha advised to follow the eightfold path that of Right views; Right aspirations; Right speech; Right conduct; Right livelihood; Right effort; Right mindfulness; and Right contemplation. The eightfold path as one understands it is the dual cultivation of essence and bodily life.

For those who better understand the Book of Changes, perhaps Hexagram 34 Da Zhuang / The Power of the Great may convey a clearer meaning of what constitutes proper conduct of an earnest and sincere student in learning and cultivation.

The judgment simply says: ‘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. Therefore the added statement that perseverance furthers. For that is 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 happens in heaven and on earth. [W/B]

Comment: Inner worth comes from our own studies or cultivation. If we show it or do things too early it may not be the right time. If we think we know more than the ancient sages in studies and/or cultivation, or renowned Yi translators and scholars, we have forgotten to ask what is right. Also compare the commentary on the judgment in Hexagram 34 with what Confucius and Buddha said about learning and cultivation. Without righteousness and greatness, do we have the wisdom to master fate (Ming)? On a simpler note, did we really learn the wisdoms contained in the Yi?

The image indicates: ‘Thus the superior man does not tread upon paths that do not accord with established order’.

Comment: Daoist students and cultivators may note that the image text conveys a similar meaning with what Laozi said in TTC 53: “The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love the by-ways.”

There is a saying that “if someone masters an ancient Classic (Jing), the person can understand a hundred classics”; since all the Classics (Confucian, Buddhist, Daoist) teach the same things. With decades of studying these classics if we still have not learn a thing or two about cultivation, perhaps we may have muddled through our studies and life.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Does Heaven know about the Yi?

Millions of people in the world must have heard about or have read the Book of Changes (Yijing/Zhouyi/I Ching/Yi). But does Heaven know about the Yi?

A question many Yi students would probably like to ask but do not know who to turn to. Like them one was also curious therefore when the chance arose, the question was posed to Guan Yin (The Goddess of Mercy). That was back in the early 1980s at my eldest sister’s place. My sister and brother-in-law who wanted to seek some answers from Daoist deities had invited a medium to their house to provide the ‘link’ to Heaven. When Guan Yin spoke through the medium, I took the opportunity to ask whether the famous Daoist deity has heard about the Yi. Just like Buddha (see later), the divinity hesitated before answering in the affirmative. Guan Yin was more forthcoming when I asked about the ranks or levels of Daoist deities and Buddhas. But that is for another story.

In the 1990s, as regular readers would be aware, one had met up with a Daoist friend who is a disciple of a heavenly immortal of Quanzhen. This immortal not only have reminded my friend to read the Yi, he had posed ‘short cryptic messages’ which relate to hexagrams for me to figure out my fortune.

In 1996, there was an occasion for a brief discussion with a buddha who gave the clearest indication that Heaven indeed knows about the Yi. After some hesitation, the divinity said through a Buddhist spiritual master who was in a trance: “The Yijing is a thing (yeh) of gods and buddhas”.

Daoist deities and buddhas (through mediums) have their own method for calculating fortunes of mortals. No, one has never seen these divinities cast the yarrow or throw coins.

Although we may read the same books and classics, at times, it is nice to share our different experiences or maybe a heaven’s secret or two. Skeptics and new age Yi authors may find this entry hard to swallow, but those familiar with Chinese culture and history know that the Yi is an ancient classic that transcends religions.

No two ways about it, the Yi is also divine.

Related entries: Light and dark forces Apr 23; A special note on Hexagram 19 Approach Apr 15; Short cryptic messages Sept 27 and other related entries in Oct.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Of students and masters (Part 2)

Just like students there are various levels of masters and different categories of meditation practice. A few days ago, one had an opportunity to chit chat with two Buddhist spiritual masters on meditation. One was at the Buddhist temple to get a blessing from Buddha and to check whether everything was alright arising from my self taught practice. After the blessing and confirmation that nothing was wrong with me, one of the masters asked what type of meditation I was practising. When I had described the practice briefly, the senior master elaborated that one of her students had formerly learned the same type of meditation from a renowned Buddhist spiritual master in Singapore. After the student had learned her type of meditation, he no longer talked about the previous practice.

Meditation, both masters said, result in ‘stillness’. I verily agreed and added that it would eventually lead to ‘emptiness’. Not unlike what Guan Yin had mentioned in the Diamond Sutra on ‘emptiness and forms’. Having mentioned the Diamond Sutra, they tested me on what is meant by ‘forms’. Knowing little, one replied and pointed to ‘physical things’. The explanation seemed to satisfy them and we continued further. I elaborated on the aptitude affirmations Lu Dongbin mentioned in ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’ which confirms Buddha’s earlier teachings in the ‘Leng Yen’ (Shurangama Sutra) on the ‘Songs of the Immortals’, just in case they thought it was all a delusion. The eventual sighting of the ‘Golden Buddha’ will be a great confirmation sign of a correct meditation practice. The senior master exclaimed: ‘You are practicing qigong”! Yes, one had simply answered.

You see, qigong could be the original term for ancient breath control meditation. And after all there was no any need to highlight the differences in our practices otherwise the student cannot learn from the masters.

And this was what I had learned from them:
Deviant thoughts, the senior master said lead to deviant practices and such practitioners easily succumb to demonic possessions during meditation. An important point highlighted here for fellow travelers to take note.

The following day, I had a brief discussion with my Daoist friend on the matters discussed at the Buddhist temple. We came to the same conclusion that the two Buddhist spiritual masters are at different levels of practice.

Discussions with like minded fellows are always good for our learning and studies. Resources are readily available on the web for students to read and extend their studies when they have a need or time for it.

Under the updated Resources link there are various sites where students can spend years to accumulate knowledge on the ancients. The revised recommended links are to places where scholars and experts discuss or gather to discuss the three doctrines, ancient books and Chinese classics. Sites of interest include blogs that link here and which may provide a refreshing perspective on life and things ancient.

Related topic: Of students and masters Oct 3

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Misconstruction of Benevolence (Ren)

In the early Spring and Autumn Period, the states of Qi and Song were both very strong and prosperous. Duke (Gong) Xiang of Song was determined to dominate the zhuhou but Duke Huan of Qi was already holding the post of Alliance Chief. He had no choice but to swallow the insult. After Duke Huan’s death, a power struggle erupted among his sons and the crown prince had to flee to Song to seek help from Duke Xiang.

Duke Xiang felt this was a good opportunity to fulfill his ambition, so he thought of sending a punitive expedition against Qi. This would enable the crown prince to return to Qi and ascend the throne and would also raise the prestige of Song. When this happened, it was just the right time for him to dominate the zhuhou. When his brother objected to send troops, Duke Xiang elaborated: ‘All along, my first priority is to uphold benevolence (Ren). The crown prince is now a lonely and miserable man. It’s not benevolent (Bu Ren) not to help him restore his kingdom. It is also a betrayal to the trust placed on me by Duke Huan (to take good care of the crown prince).’

In 642 BC, the crown prince with the help of the Song army attacked and captured the capital of Qi. With the support of all civil and military officials, he ascended the throne and became Duke Xiao of Qi.

Thinking that he had rendered an outstanding service, Duke Xiang intended to capitalize on the opportunity to appeal to the zhuhou to make him a hegemon in place of Duke Huan. Since he was afraid the bigger states would not obey his orders, he arranged first with four smaller states and asked them to go to southern Cao for the purpose of forming an alliance. Two of the dukes came punctually. The duke of Teng came late. Duke Xiang ordered him arrested for being late. The fourth duke did not wish to come. Under the threat of the powerful Song army, he had no choice but to rush to the meeting place but he was late by three days. This enraged Duke Xiang considerably. He was advised to kill this duke to make the zhuhou submissive.

Feeling the advice was right, Duke Xiang ordered the execution of the duke. When the Duke of Teng heard of the killing, he was extremely frightened. Duke Xiang released him only after he had spent a large amount of gold and silver.

Many zhuhou from smaller states were not satisfied with what Duke Xiang had done. Some of the states even formed an alliance with Chu which infuriated him tremendously. He thought he could bribe Chu to form an alliance and to make use of Chu’s power to command all the other zhuhou, but he was outwitted by the Duke of Chu time and again. Chu captured Duke Xiang in the second alliance meeting arranged by him and only released him after he agreed to the appointment of the Duke of Chu as the Alliance Chief.

Duke Xiang was furious over the whole matter. His will to hold hegemony failed and he was being made fun of by Chu. In his anger he mounted a punitive expedition against the state of Zheng, a close ally of Chu. He was advised not to proceed but he persisted. In 638 BC he personally led his army and marched on to Zheng in a mighty and spectacular manner. To rescue Zheng, Chu sent her army to attack the state of Song.

When Chu delivered a letter of challenge, Duke Xiang’s general, Gongsun advised him to promise not to attack Zheng and the Chu army will withdraw of its own accord. His general also advised that the Chu army is stronger than Song’s therefore they could not defeat Chu. Duke Xiang expounded: “Chu has more than enough troops but she lacks benevolence. I don’t have sufficient troops but I‘m more than benevolent.” He then accepted the challenge of Chu.

Duke Xiang ordered his men to make a large banner and place it on the back of his carriage. The word ‘BENEVOLENCE’ was inscribed on the banner. The general groaned inwardly. He told a senior official: ‘Duke Xiang talks about benevolence when fighting in a war. I don’t know where benevolence is. We must be prudent.’

The Chu troops began crossing the river after daybreak to fight Song. Gongsun said to Duke Xiang: ‘The fact that the Chu Army crosses the river at daybreak clearly shows that they underestimate us. We should attack them when they are halfway across the river. By the time the entire army has crossed, we cannot defeat them.’ Pointing at the banner, Duke Xiang said: ‘Did you see the word ‘BENEVOLENCE’? This is an imposing array of troops of mine. How can we attack them before they reach the opposite shore?’ Gongsun could do nothing but to moan inwardly.

The Chu army landed on the south bank and began to line up in battle formation. Gongsun told Duke Xiang: ‘The Chu army are now lining up in battle formation. If we attack them before the formation is completed, they will be routed.’

Duke Xiang spat at him and reprimanded him, saying: ‘you covet the benefits of inflicting a blow on the enemy. Why don’t you give a thought to benevolence that has been appreciated one generation after another? This is an imposing array of troops of mine. How can we mount a surprise attack on them before their battle formation is lined up?

Song lost the battle with many troops killed. A large number of soldiers’ families stood outside the imperial Court. They hated Duke Xiang for not heeding General Gongsun’s advice, which resulted in military losses and national humiliation.

Duke Xiang elaborated with a sigh: ‘Ancient people said that those who understand principles would not kill their enemies who were wounded and should not capture old and weak remnant troops. Since I have benevolence at heart in carrying out my military expeditions, how can I attack them when they are in danger?’

When this word spread out, the common folk admonished him and said that he was a muddle-headed fool.
[Selected stories of Eastern Zhou - C. C. Low & Associates]

Misconstruing the concept of benevolence by a ruler can lead to many unnecessary deaths of the people. There was nothing benevolent in Duke Xiang’s conduct and his ambition to hold hegemony over the other states. A benevolent ruler does not kill a ruler of another state because he came late for a meeting or was rude. Benevolence is not for show. Depiction of the word in a large banner means nothing if we know not what it really means. Working for such a ruler, even Sunzi can do no better. War is a serious matter of state and not a game.

Just as Gongsun had done, in the Art of War, Sunzi advised: ‘When an advancing enemy crosses water do not meet him at the water’s edge. It is advantageous to allow half his force to cross and then strike.’ (Marches 9.5)

Hopefully, we learn from the past to become a bit wiser.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Likely health benefits from breath control meditation

Much has been written about the health benefits of meditation and probably the major benefits are that of stress reduction and relaxation. Stress arising from pressures at work has often been cited in the past as causes for chronic illnesses, ulcers, and even suicides. Therefore health authorities recommend a regular medical check up for those in their forties and older for any early warning sign on their health. Perhaps with meditation it can stabilize your blood pressure at 120/70.

What one is going to write a short note about today is on some ‘likely’ health benefits arising from breath control meditation which differs from the usual type of meditation.

In breath control meditation, once you are able to circulate the breath, you will feel the warmth within the body. Through regular practice the breath (Qi) becomes stronger and the warmth turns into heat which will make you sweat during the meditation. If the sweat comes out smelly, and your urine and excreta have a similar obnoxious smell, it means that toxins are being expelled from your body. It may take a few more days of meditation before most of the toxins are expelled. The expulsion of toxins from your body usually takes place in the early stages of the practice and has been confirmed by neidan practitioners. Your body may feel lighter and healthier after this experience.

With further years of continual meditation and when the Qi is much stronger, it may yield the following results for those involved in martial arts practice: (1) a dark or reddish patch will surface on the skin around the area of a former internal injury caused by sparring or fights. (2) A dark patch will appear over an area of skin covering your favorite bridge hand which you had used to block attacks. Since these blood clots have surfaced it means you would be healthier and may not suffer rheumatism arising from these internal injuries.

The heat generated from continual meditation would also slowly cure any rheumatic spot in your body or limbs. Once your Qi flows 24/7 you should be able to use ‘thermal healing’ with your palms on the rheumatic spots, blood clots, arthritis and gout too to provide quick relief to the suffering. For those who suffer chronic pains from rheumatism, arthritis and gout, you may have to watch your diet. Try to avoid pork and bacon, and eat less red meat where possible. Cut down on the drinks too but it is easy for me to say since one is a teetotaler.


Related entry: ‘Thermal healing’ July 27.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Simple approach to cast the yarrow

As a frog in the well, being self taught, one did not know about the ritual for casting the yarrow stalks until one came across an I Ching translation given to me by my youngest sister before she went to live in the United States with her family. Since the cover mentioned it was edited with an introduction by Raymond Van Over, it had been left in the book shelf for the past six years gathering dust. Ha, if only one knew that it was the translation by none other than the renowned James Legge, one would not have spent time accessing it in the net.

Under the ‘Casting the Yarrow Stalks’ section, this paragraph was dedicated to an elaborate ritual of casting yarrow stalks:

“In China and with some practitioners in the West the ritual of approaching the oracle is begun by facing the south, the Book of Changes in front of one, with a small incense tray and a receptacle nearby to hold the yarrow stalks. After prostrating himself to the ground the enquirer begins by burning some incense. Then he takes the fifty yarrow stalks and holds them horizontally in his right hand, passing them three times through the incense smoke, rotating them clockwise. During this ritual the questioner should be mentally repeating his question to himself. The greater and more perfect his concentration, the better able he will be to communicate with the oracle.”

In the next paragraph, it merely said: “The oracle user naturally does not have to use any of this ritual. He can simple begin, once his questions is clearly framed in his mind by picking up the fifty divining stalks. Holding them in his right hand he removes one and sets it aside, not to be used again.” Before moving on to describe the process of casting the remaining forty nine stalks.

Well, letting students know about the ritual without giving the reasons for it can create confusion. Then by simply dismissing the ritual and simplifying the process of consultation in the next paragraph the editor (?) seems not to understand it. Since one did not know about the ritual until last week which explains my ‘frog in the well’ remark, it serves no purpose if one adds to the confusion by giving half baked ideas on how the ritual arose. Therefore one describes my simple approach before the actual casting of yarrow stalks.

It is correct to show respect for the ancient Book of Changes otherwise there is no point in consulting the Oracle. With proper continual use of the Oracle and the Yarrow stalks, over the years, ‘Ling Qi’ (good spirits) may accumulate in the Book and the Stalks (or coins) for divinations depending on the spirituality level of each diviner. Do note that our palms emit Qi. Therefore it is advisable not to ask frivolous questions or store the Zhouyi and Stalks (or coins) anywhere you like. Asking frivolous questions and improper storing of the Book and Stalks (or coins) show a marked disrespect for things ancient.

One places the Zhouyi, yarrow stalks held in a bamboo receptacle, and a journal on top of a wardrobe, or the highest suitable place in my room. A foldable table is designated for the consultations. When one has to consult the Yi, one unfolds and wipes the table clean before placing it facing the front windows. The journal is placed on the table for writing down the question (with the time and date) once it has been framed mentally. The Zhouyi is placed further in front nearest to the windows. The bamboo receptacle containing the yarrow stalks is placed on the right hand side of the table. A pen and paper is also placed on the table for writing and for jotting down the number of remaining stalks that would eventually made up all six lines of a hexagram.

Taking out the fifty yarrow stalks, one is set aside and placed on top of the Zhouyi (treating it like incense) leaving forty nine stalks for the casting. One will continue to think about the question written on the journal placed in front while performing the actual casting. Since both the Wilhelm and the Legge translations have described the casting method in detailed no need arises to further describe it here.

This simple approach works for me for the past few decades. Perhaps those who wish to consult the Yi with yarrow stalks can use it as a guide if they find the approach simple and easy.

Relevant entries – A case for Yarrow stalks, April 11; Permanent Records July 14;

Friday, January 06, 2006

Will 2006 be a good or bad year for President Bush?

One does not reveal private predictions from Daoist immortals and deities unless they were given years ago, since it would not be quite right to reveal heaven’s secrets. But one does reveal Yi’s omens to relatives and friends on occasions after pondering and weighing it with much care. An early warning may allow them to prepare for any eventuality. Being a mortal, one’s interpretation can be wrong therefore one remains blameless and will not be penalized by Heaven for the revelation if the omens unfolded according to the predictions.

The heading of a news report in a national paper, The Star, caught my eye yesterday. It read: “God says Bush will have a good year, claims preacher”. The report by Johan Fernandez went on to say:

“Commercial TV Christian preacher Pat Robertson has predicted that 2006 will be a good year for President George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress, despite indications of some tough times ahead. It will also be good news for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and Robertson’s broadcast ministry. For most of everyone else it is a bad year. On his 700 Club program on Tuesday, Robertson said this was revealed to him in his conversation with God. (Robertson claims he talks to God often.) In addition to political advances for Bush, he reported that God indicated that Robertson’s ministry and his school, Regent University, would receive extraordinary prosperity in the New Year while most of the world was suffering from dire calamity.”

Robertson quotes God as saying: “It is My plan that a shaking will begin. Much more disasters will befall the Earth than have happened heretofore.” “There will be earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruption. The coasts will be lashed by storms and disasters, and yet this still isn’t the big one.”

The Star paper balanced it with comments from an executive director from another church. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn said the prophecy was more than a little suspicious. “Isn’t it odd that God’s prophecies and Robertson’s political agenda are one and the same? Could it be that Pat is confusing his wish list for God’s will? “I know Robertson wants President Bush to succeed in stacking the Supreme Court with nominees who share his extreme views, but I don’t think God has given Pat a green light for this agenda.”

It is quite apparent that the so called prophecy is like any good fortune telling which depicts events that may happen without advising people what to do to avoid suffering from expected dire calamity. From experience, putting fear into people without further advice is not Heaven’s way. Divinities always offer ways to overcome impending disasters or avoid human sufferings if they have reasons to reveal omens to devotees or disciples. If they choose not to or cannot disclose the impending disastrous incident, they may just give forewarnings not to go to such and such places on such and such dates. Or they may just tell the devotee or disciple to stay at home for that particular day. The rest will be up to the mortal (s) concerned.

By coincidence, the prophecy came right after the Yi’s oracle to Sam Crane on President Bush’s prospects for 2006. The oracle came in the form of Hexagram 3 Tun / Difficulty at the Beginning which changed to Hexagram 61 Zhong Fu / Inner Truth. The oracle was published last week in Sam’s blog, “The Useless Tree”.

Sam sounded optimistic about Bush’s prospects in 2006 provided Bush acts as suggested by the Yi. However since there were a repetition of Hexagram 3 and the resultant Hexagram 61 for President Bush within a short four months, one’s thoughts may tend to differ as one connects the lines. Based on my own interpretation of the Yi’s oracle to Sam, which need no green light from any divinity, one would disagree with the prophecy proffered by Pat Robertson. You see, Hexagram 3 can also spell unemployment just as it did for some of the Presidential staff who resigned over the past few months as the Yi had indicated to Sam last September. One has mentioned before in this blog and the I Ching Forum that when the Yi gives repeated hexagrams on the same topic within a short spate of time, it is time to sit up and listen to what the Yi wanted to say.

Compared to the previous one (Hexagram 3 to Hexagram 7) given last September to Sam, this oracle seems to contain a more serious connotation because of the change in the top line of Hexagram 3 Tun. In my September 23 entry, one had interpreted that of the three moving lines, Brown of FEMA represented the first line, the Head of Homeland Security the second line and Bush the ruler in the fifth line. Brown has since resigned. And the fifth line of the hexagram sounded alright for Bush with: “Difficulties in blessings. A little perseverance brings good fortune. Great perseverance brings misfortune.” The guidance suggested by the line was that ‘He must not force the consummation of a great undertaking, because success is possible only when general confidence already prevails. It is only through faithful and conscientious work, unobtrusively carried on, that the situation gradually clears up and the hindrance disappears.’

Four months later with many things still left undone for the people, and with more controversies and doubts on his sincerity arising, it does not look too good for Mr. Bush.

In this latest oracle, with Brown gone, the weak second line still changes but the previous moving fifth line representing Bush has since stepped up a notch to the precarious top line.

Six at the top means: “Horse and wagon part. Bloody tears flow.”

The difficulties at the beginning are too great for some persons. They get stuck and never find their way out; they fold their hands and give up the struggle. Such resignation is the saddest of all things. Therefore Confucius says of this line: ‘Bloody tears flows: one should not persist in this.’[W/B]

In view of what the Yi had indicated, 2006 looks more likely a bad year for Bush. If he still does not discharge his Presidential duties sincerely (Inner Truth) to obtain the confidence of the US people, as suggested by the Yi in September, President Bush may find himself in the saddest position as described in the top line of Hexagram 3. (Think former President Nixon and of his signature - a mere dot - on the last official document that he had to sign just before he left office.)

The likely chance of a flaw, if any, is that the ‘annual hexagram’ was divined before Chinese New Year. And with a changing top line, hopefully, President Bush may still be able to turn the oncoming difficulties into opportunities and go beyond the dire situation depicted by the line.

How accurate the prediction for 2006 will be is left to be seen. Perhaps one may consult the Yi asking about the US Presidency for the year in question after Chinese New Year? Well, just may be.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Simple questions and answers on Tao

“If thoughts do not lead to practices, are we really cultivating Tao? If a lengthy practice does not produce what the sages and wise described in the texts and books did we practise the correct methods? Perhaps only those sincere and discerning can find the Way?”

In a previous entry, the above questions were asked to generate further thoughts and ideas from students, scholars and practitioners with a view to share experiences. It has led to further questions in a forum; therefore one posts the same comments (with minor amendments) here in case readers may have similar questions on their minds:

There is actually no right or wrong as to whether individuals want to practise or not. It is all up to the individual. Even Daoist immortals can do nothing if their disciple (s) persists on curtailing the practice, not unlike martial arts masters if their students want to leave the art. But in a Tao forum, one finds that most are earnest to learn Tao, therefore the leading question. Since one has heard from an elderly man (in his seventies) in another forum who left ‘Taojia’ and reverted to his former religion after several years of studies with the comment that Tao is cold. If we follow the correct practices one is certain it will not be cold as we can improve our health, perhaps longevity, from meditation and become better persons from the cultivation of virtues; even if we could not attain Tao at the end of the far journey. Furthermore by walking the right path, we can also share more of our experiences with like-minded fellows of the Way (?).

The words, “to cultivate Tao”, a collective term are often quoted by learned Daoists and Immortals to signify the way to attain Tao. Perhaps the misconception lies with the thoughts that like Qi, Tao is available to and in everyone. Such thoughts may have arisen through instincts or various translations, but the mystery work rests with the acquiring of Qi and Tao. Therefore it comes back full circle to a question on practice. A good doctrine or idea remains on the drawing board until a need arises to implement it.

In dual cultivation, just like in studying the Zhouyi, we learn to emulate Heaven and Earth and not the ancients, to get to the Center. The ancient sages just point out the Way. According to them, Sincerity is a way of Heaven and it emanates from the heart. From their explanations and TTC 38, it appears that sincerity is very close to Tao. Thus perhaps only the sincere can endure the far journey and those discerning identify the correct path or practice.

It was not for nothing that Laozi lamented that his Tao was easy to follow yet many like to follow the by paths. A point one emphasized to my learned Daoist friend, who once wanted to participate in a lengthy discussion on Te in the Tao Forum, that even if Laozi himself goes there to explain his Tao and Te, Laozi might not be believed.

So there you go. Enjoy your own practice and thoughts just as the others enjoy theirs.

Relevant entries: A simple note on the Three Doctrines and Thoughts on TTC 38.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A result of sincerity

Confucian scholars know the four books and five classics well. But how many can affect, change or transform others? According to the ancients only those sincere can. In previous entries, one has already indicated that Professor Sam Crane is a top class Confucian scholar and perhaps touched by his sincerity the Yi answers his various questions with profound accuracy.

On reading his latest post in his “The Useless Tree” blog on “Is South Korea a Confucian Society?” and the remarks of two Western posters, one realized that his sincerity emanates from the heart in Confucian studies. Why? Both the posters remarked that the so called Confucian virtues are also present in the people of US and Europe although to a lesser degree. Of course both are correct. The virtues belong to humanity. Confucius compiled them for posterity. It is all up to people to cultivate the virtues. Just in case readers have not noticed, even President Bush on his recent tour to the East mentioned his sincerity to set things right. When what Sam has written in a few short months on Confucian thoughts can affect others, it boils down to his brilliant sincerity.

This underlying result confirms what the ancients said in the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong):

“Next to the above (the most complete sincerity) is he who cultivates to the utmost the shoots of goodness in him. From those he can attain to the possession of sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From being apparent, it becomes manifest. From being manifest, it becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others, they are changed by it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can transform.” [Legge 23]

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Alignment with nature

“Man models himself after Earth. Earth models itself after Heaven. Heaven models itself after Tao. And Tao models itself after Nature.” [TTC 25 Chan]

A new year brings a fresh start and hope for some; while others turn over a new leaf. It is all part of nature and mankind, for nature also has its seasonal changes. Taking lessons from such changes, the ancients learned to align with nature to be in harmony with Tao.

“If one observes the Way of Heaven, and maintains its doings (as his own), all that he has to do is accomplished. To Heaven there belong the five (mutual) foes, and he who sees them (and understands their operation) apprehends how they produce prosperity. The same five foes are in the mind of man, and when he can set them in action after the manner of Heaven, all space and time are at his disposal, and all things receive their transformations from his person. The nature of Heaven belongs (also) to Man; the mind of Man is a spring (of power). When the Way of Heaven is established, the (Course of) Man is thereby determined.” [Yin Fujing 1, 2, 3– Legge]

Watching for signs from Heaven and reading the stars together with some knowledge of nature and the interaction of the five celestial forces or “five elements” form important studies for the ancient Chinese. A total eclipse of the Sun could signify a forthcoming change of the Mandate of Heaven for example from the Shang or Yin to that of the Zhou (refer to The Mandate of Heaven by S J Marshall on the findings of a total solar eclipse in 1070 BC before King Wu’s immediate march against the Shang and for its obscure depiction in the lines of Hexagram 55 Feng.) While comets and shooting stars could presage tumultuous times and deaths of important personages respectively (refer to Records of the Historian on the first emperor of Chin during his conquest of the other states and just before his death).

“Thunder within the earth; the image of The Turning Point. Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes at the time of solstice. Merchants and strangers did not go about, and the ruler did not travel through the province.” [Hexagram 24 Fu / Return]

The winter solstice has always been celebrated in China as the resting time of the year-a custom that survives in the time of rest observed at the New Year. In winter the life energy is still underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely. [W/B]

From the image and its commentary, it appears that the ancients follow nature to recuperate. Therefore the ancients seek alignment with nature, but bloggers are not ancients, kings, merchants or strangers therefore one has to blog throughout this winter too.

Happy New Year!