Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Notes on Hexagram 19 Lin / Approach

In the sequence of the waxing and waning of Qian and Kun (or the Moon), Lin / Approach come after the hexagram Fu / Return. While Fu represents the eleventh month, Lin represents the twelfth (January-February). The sole light line of Fu has moved up to the second line while another light line has joined at the bottom. Thus Lin comprises of the lower trigram Dui and the upper trigram Kun.

The Judgment

Approach has supreme success. Perseverance furthers. When the eighth month comes, there will be misfortune.

With the passing of the winter solstice and the approach of spring there will be much work to do and hope for advance. When there are things to do, one can become great. The work has to be completed before the eighth month arises and the light lines go into retreat.

The Image

The earth above the lake: The image of Approach. Thus the superior man is inexhaustible in his will to teach, and without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people.

The earth moves downwards while the lake moves up. The moisture from the lake fructifies man’s inner being. [W/B, I & III]

One has seen neidan diagrams in some commercial websites and in a book which could have wrongly depicted the sequence of the waxing and waning of Qian and Kun. The commercial ‘neidan’ websites have depicted fourteen sequences (sic) while the book places hexagram Fu / Return at the bottom with hexagram Gou / Coming to Meet on top of the head.

However if we refer to the Earlier Heaven sequence, we can see that Qian is placed in the South and Kun in the North. Therefore one suggests that the correct depiction should be Qian on top of the head and Kun at the bottom of the body when one sits and forgets. This would also tie in with the meaning of Ru Ding (Furnace and Cauldron) and the other meaning of ‘top of the head’. Since Heaven is on top and Earth below and not as depicted in the particular book and the commercial websites.

If we follow the Earlier Heaven sequence and place Kun at the bottom, Fu / Return will then be at the sacrum while Lin / Approach will be at the kidneys. This seems to make more sense since the trigram Dui represents a lake and the moisture from the kidneys rises because of the heat (from the fire) and fructifies man’s inner being when we meditate using the backward flow or Circulation of the Light.

Therefore we need to discern whenever we study ancient thoughts and/or practice breath control meditation, lest we are inadvertently led astray. After all the Neo Daoists and Neo Confucians know what they were on to when they tied in their neidan practice with the Book of Changes (Zhouyi). And quite a number of them went on to become Heavenly immortals.

Those who are unfamiliar with the twelve monthly hexagrams or the Sovereign hexagrams can read more about them and their sequence in Steve Marshall’s website, Yijing Dao.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A dream of the Zhouyi

It was night when I reached out for the Zhouyi which lay on top of the wardrobe to check on something. Of the several hundreds of occasions, this time it was different. The Book of Changes seemed to have a life of its own. With my outstretched hand holding on, Zhouyi flew out of the bedroom window.

Instead of falling down from the first floor window, Zhouyi with me tagging along soared through heaven. While the sky was grey, I remembered, it was a cloudless night. I felt the swirling wind which brought the cold, but the Zhouyi seemed to have a mind of its own flying through the air, knowing where to go.

It was a long while, before we came to a place, unknown to me. It was dark inside and chilly, not unlike an atmosphere when one enters a big cave. The place did look like a huge cavern. We were floating beneath its roof when I looked down below.

Lights were blinking like occasional flashes from cameras taking pictures of a show within a darkened hall. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw groups of monks meditating on the ground below and a few monks had stared up at us. The blinking lights seemed to have emitted from the top of their heads. Although it was still dark, one could make out by their shapes that the entire cavern was filled to the brim with monks who had sat there to forget. I saw more bald heads as we flew across the cavern before returning home.

I woke up the next morning and thought nothing about the strange dream. That was way back in the early nineties.

A few years later, one came across newspaper articles about old caves, grottoes and caverns in China wherein Buddhist monks had gathered to meditate in large numbers. One cave in Longmen apparently is called the ‘Cave of the Ten Thousand Buddhas’. Today, we can surf the net to learn more about this and other caves designated for tourists.

Perhaps the Yi, my teacher had wanted to tell or show me something then. Till today, although one has spoken to a fellow traveler who may have reached that level,one still has not reached the stage where the head emits light. Or has it already, one cannot see or know.(The fellow traveler by chance had other people witnessed the emission of the light.)

And one writes this entry in the blog to keep a record before my memory fades.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dealing with sorrow

Any one who has relatives loved ones and friends would feel sadness and grief when one of them passes away either because of old age, illnesses or accidents. The grief could be greater if the deceased had been murdered or unintentionally killed. Perhaps the greatest grief of all (to the Chinese) is when a ‘white hair’ person (parent) has to send off a ‘black hair’ person (child). Notwithstanding we accept the fact that every human being whether they are healthy or ill will have to ‘go’ eventually. It is just too difficult to overcome the loss of a loved one especially one too young to die.

Our national newspapers for the past few days have headlined the death of a young boy aged seven and the grief of his parents and siblings at his funeral. The boy was kidnapped, killed and his body stuffed in a travel bag found floating in a river. The kidnapper turned out to be a male relative whom the boy’s father helped from time to time with money. The kidnap and murder of the child occurred a few weeks after his father refused to give more money to the unemployed relative.

In such events that bring deep sorrow, kind words and acts can only lessen the pain for a moment. Heartaches take time to heal.

While Zhuangzi did not show much emotion on the death of his wife, he beat his drum and was philosophical about the event of her passing. Confucius on the other hand could not contained his grief on hearing of the death of Yen Hui, his favorite student. He exclaimed: ‘Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me!’

You see, notwithstanding their high level of cultivation, Sages are humans like us and have emotions too. Dealing with sorrow and other human emotions, the ancients have this to say:

While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.

Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
[Doctrine of the Mean 1. 4 & 5]

In memory of Sam Crane's son, Aidan and the young boy, Ho Ping, aged seven.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The humble square

Just like with the circle, human civilizations have made use of the square for thousands of years. Wells, homes, palaces, carriages and fields were made in the shape of a square, to make efficient use of available space on mother Earth. Perhaps as part of duality, the ancient Chinese determined that while the circle (think Sun and Moon) represents Heaven, the square is relative to lowly or humble Earth. Or they may have thought that Earth was square, in the first place?

In the Hetu (Yellow River Map) diagram, both the five and ten dots that appear in the center of a square were designated to represent the ‘element’, Earth. Although in the later Loshu (Lo River Writings) diagram, while the ‘element’ Earth now introduced as trigram Kun and migrated to the South West, the five dots remained in the center surrounded by the eight trigrams. The Loshu diagram is also known as the magic square of three, while the five dots in the center represent change.

Therefore in both ancient diagrams, Earth remains in the center of the square(s) surrounded by the other four ‘elements’ of metal, water, wood and fire. (Each ‘element’ generates the next.) Or if reversed, Earth can be said to be surrounded by water, fire, metal and wood. (Each ‘element’ destroys the next.) These two sequences are so well known and used by those familiar with the study of Chinese metaphysics that nothing more need to be said.

However the deep thinkers, if they have not realized by now, should think a tad deeper about a third sequence, if any. If they get this ‘missing’ link, perhaps they may come to understand the beauty and the effects of this third sequence, and the unity of the magic square of three.

If we correctly read the ancients, the Neo Daoists and Neo Confucians, the circle represents heavenly essence and the square represents earthly virtues. That is why references have been made to the circle within and the square without in some Daoist texts. There is no need to be carried away by sage(s) who prefer the cultivation of heavenly essence to that of earthly virtues, and rebelled against ancient wisdoms handed down. Or think it is not hip or fashionable to learn or cultivate ‘down to earth’ virtues. Staying centered or balanced is important to our own learning and cultivation.

If we do not cultivate kindness, can we become benevolent (Ren) all of a sudden? If we do not understand justice (Yi), will our actions be deemed right? If we do not learn the mores of a people, can we reciprocate with correct propriety (Li)? If we have not learned and cultivate till virtuous actions arise with spontaneity, can we be considered wise (Zhi)? Probably such questions have been constantly raised by humanity down the ages.

Like the receptive Earth, be broad and generous, follow the ancient thoughts (Zhouyi, Laozi, Confucius, and Buddha), try not to lead and you would not go astray. After all, Earth represents the humble square or virtues. And hidden within the center – the heart of all things - lays sincerity (Zheng).

Just in case, you think the ancients do not know much, take a look at what was said about Earth in passing:
“The earth before us is but a handful of soil; but when regarded in its breath and thickness, it sustains mountains, without feeling their weight, and contains the rivers and seas, without their leaking away.” ….“The water now before us appears but a ladleful; yet extending our view to its unfathomable depths, the largest tortoises, iguanas, iguanodons, dragons, fishes, and turtles, are produced in them, articles of value and sources of wealth abound in them.” [Doctrine of the Mean 26. 9 Legge]

If we remain ignorant, stubborn or proud, and yet think that we know, even with access to the best ancient sages and/or heavenly immortals, we may still learn nothing about the magical circle and the humble square.

For how much do we really know about Heaven and Earth?

Saturday, May 20, 2006


For years, I wander here and wander there
Trying to hold discussions with likeminded fellows
In forums and temples
On what one has learned
While there is lots of hot air
What I hear is just wind.

Across the net, fortunate are the few
To understand or know ancient thoughts
Ha, the real masters are hidden dragons!

Thus it takes forever to find a good teacher and friend.
Does this not explain why Yu Ching of old dropped everything?
Just to provide moral support to a friend.
And why till today, I still call the Zhouyi, my teacher.

Are the ancients’ thoughts really that profound?
Or are we not that intelligent?
To seek the Way, we try not to be smart
Since both Laozi and Kongfuzi said that sincerity, from the heart,
Is the highest virtue.

To understand the Yi, we need to be easy and simple
Just like Heaven and Earth
Try not to stay attached to meanings and words
Ponder; allow thoughts to naturally flow like the Qi and Tao
Spiritual awareness will provide the true answers.

Perhaps not many can be sincere and earnest
To truly understand what it takes, to
Study the Yi and/or follow the Way.

Therefore it would be ten times better to remain quiet
To wander among the mountains and the lakes
Cross the great rivers and the seas
Circulate the light
Together with the sun and the moon
Rest in stillness
Exit through emptiness
And return to space.

To understand what is being and non being
Reside in the Center
And attain the Way of Heaven.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Of students and masters (3)

Perhaps to understand why the real masters of old seldom take in students to learn the Way, we turn to listen to what Zhuangzi has to say:

“The Way has its reality and its signs but is without action or form. You can hand it down but you cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source, its own root. Before Heaven and earth existed it was there, firm from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God; it gave birth to Heaven and to earth. It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it deep. It was born before Heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.”

“Hsi-wei got it and held up heaven and earth. Fu Hsi got it and entered into the mother of breath. The Big Dipper got it and from ancient times has never wavered. The Sun and Moon got it and from ancient times have never rested. K'an-p'i got it and entered K'un-lun. P’ing-i got it and wandered in the great river. Chien Wu got it and lived in the great mountain. The Yellow Emperor got it and ascended to the cloudy heavens. Chuan Hsu got it and dwelt in the Dark Palace. Yu-ch'iang got it and stood at the limit of the north. The Queen Mother of the West got it and took her seat on Shaokuang - nobody knows her beginning, nobody knows her end. P'eng-tsu got it and lived from the age of Shun to the age of the Five Dictators. Fu Yueh got it and became minister to Wu-ting, who extended his rule over the whole world; then Fu Yueh climbed up to the Eastern Governor, straddled the Winnowing Basket and the Tail, and took his place among the ranks of stars.”

Nan-po Tzu-k'uei said to the Woman Crookback, "You are old in years and yet your complexion is that of a child. Why is this?"

"I have heard the Way!"

"Can the Way be learned?" asked Nan-po Tzu-k'uei.

"Goodness, how could that be? Anyway, you aren't the man to do it. Now there's Pu-liang Yi - he has the talent of a sage but not the Way of a sage, whereas I have the Way of a sage but not the talent of a sage. I thought I would try to teach him and see if I could really get anywhere near to make him a sage. It's easier to explain the Way of a sage to someone who has the talent of a sage, you know.”
[Extracts of Section SIX - THE GREAT AND VENERABLE TEACHER translated by Burton Watson.]

In the third paragraph, Zhuangzi named the ancients who got the Way. (Like Zhuangzi, Daoist sects keep a register of immortals that have attained Tao.) Those who read ancient Chinese history and myths may know that the named ancients were already virtuous before they attained Tao. Perhaps they have the talent of a sage, before they were taught (Think Yellow Emperor) or found the Way of a sage.

Perhaps even today real masters and heavenly immortals may not really teach to students who do not have the talents of a sage, The Way. If a student is not virtuous by nature (purity) (Think Guan Yin - Goddess of Mercy) or through cultivation (rectification of heart/mind), he or she may not be the right person to attain Tao. For Heaven favors the good.

Unless you really think that you are already virtuous or a sage, it is better to start or continue the cultivation of virtues while practising your meditation and contemplation. This to the ancients including Laozi, Buddha and Confucius; Boddhidharma, and the heavenly immortals is dual cultivation of the Way. It is simple as that. Yet many students and ‘masters’ may disagree.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fellows of the Yi society

It may be of interest to know that not only sages, the wise, rulers, scholars, professors, scientists, students and ordinary folks like me study the ancient Chinese books and classics. Even business tycoons study them too.

Lucio Tan, one of the richest men in the Philippines has mentioned years ago in an interview that he would like to send his children to Beijing University to study the ancient books and classics for a few years, because he studies them and found such learning good. An industrialist, Lucio Tan became a major shareholder of the Philippines Airlines after rescuing it.

One suggests that he reads the Yijing, and so does Quek Leng Chan, who qualified as a lawyer in England and one of the richest men in Malaysia. Perhaps the Yi oracles provide good guidance for both of them to often make the right and timely business decisions.

Quek’s Hong Leong group headquarters was built and completed in the shape of a Bagua looking up at Heaven just before the Asian financial crisis hit in 1997/98. At one time even the ash trays on stands lining the lobby beside the elevators were made in the shape of a Bagua. (At the time, I had the chance to meet his senior management at the premises on a few occasions to talk about some deals.) The Bagua ash trays were later removed.

Not only did his group of companies avoid the aftermath of the financial crisis, Quek managed to dispose of his Dao Heng Bank in Hong Kong for billions in cash to DBS Bank, Singapore. Talk about superb timing. In financial crises, cash is king!

A few years ago, the logo of his group that of a Dragon was replaced by three unbroken lines (although set in a wavy pattern) which on keen observation represents the trigram Qian – Heaven. It shows that he is a sincere student of the Yi, putting ancient wisdoms into good practice, every step of the way.

Ha, I guess most readers and I as fellows of the Yi society still have much to learn about the ancients and the Zhouyi and how to put our theoretical knowledge into practice in this time and age.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Time seems to fly when we have things to do. A year has gone by so quickly. This week, millions of people will be celebrating the birthdays of two old folks (Lao Ren Jia). One is an ancient about two thousand and five hundred years old and the other, by comparison, a much younger man. The ‘young’ man, a heavenly immortal, is younger than the ancient by one thousand and three hundred years, only.

Probably Buddhists around the world would once again be busy preparing to celebrate Buddha’s birthday tomorrow – May 12 - the full moon of the fourth month. My kids who have an affinity with Buddha are looking forward to visit and pray at the two Buddhist temples again. They do not have to attend school tomorrow which is a Friday since Vesak Day is a public holiday in my country.

Therefore I wish Buddha, a Happy Birthday and Buddhist readers, a happy Vesak Day.

The other birthday ‘boy’ is none other than the renowned Daoist immortal, Lu Dongbin. His birthday falls on the fourteen day of the fourth month, which is today – May 11. My Daoist friend and his fellow disciples will celebrate Lu’s birthday on Sunday, May 14th in their Quanzhen temple.

Lu Dongbin was born in 798 AD during the Tang Dynasty. Although he is 1,208 years old today (2006 less 798), he is younger than Buddha by about 1,300 years.

Therefore I wish the 'young one', Lu Dongbin a Happy Birthday too. To Daoist readers, who celebrate Lu’s birthday, enjoy yourself.

To all other readers, have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dragon appearing in the field

In Yi studies, Hexagram 1 Qian / The Creative is taken to represent the month of May, even though technically it crosses a few days into the month of June. Many good things can happen in the month of May and it could be partly due to the influence of this hexagram which represents Heaven.

Quite often over the years, the share markets will suddenly rise in May and then fall near the end of the month. While the falls can be easily explained, just ask the British! – They always sell in May and go away for their summer holidays. – The inexplicable sudden rises during the month will only be explained later by the research analysts from hindsight.

Although the blue chips and therefore the indices of my local share market has not moved much, the low liners and penny stocks have already started to move upwards. The retailers and punters are jumping into the band wagon. So did some foreign fund managers. Obviously the indices have not moved much since time is still traversing the first line of the Qian hexagram – Hidden dragon. Do not act.

But next week could be a different scenario. That belongs to the second line of Qian which says: Dragon appearing in the field. It furthers one to see the great man.

In line with the time sequence, the dragon appearing in the field, one expects the local share market to soar next week and continue to rise the following week. The world share markets may fly up too. Perhaps, the time is ripe to mount up towards Heaven until reaching the fifth line of Qian which says, ‘Dragon flying in the heavens’.

If we do not dispose of the shares to realize some gains before the top line of Qian is reached then perhaps the Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent. Hey, do not forget about the British fund managers selling! It is never wrong to take profits like them and go for a holiday too. Or you can stay home and watch World Cup soccer.

Whether one predicts the markets correctly, is this not a good reason for Yi students to learn about timing and what each monthly hexagram may depict to add to their knowledge?

P.S. The GT shares have continued to go up with volume. Apparently various fund managers have been buying the shares since last week. Today it has gone up 4.5 times from its lifetime low. One is still waiting for the fivefold increase as predicted earlier before realizing some gains. When that target price is reached, one will indicate the next level the GT shares may go up to. Meanwhile my friends and relatives who had followed the Yi and me earlier to buy the shares have taken some profits and/or riding on huge paper gains.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

There was no wind

For the past several years, I meditate with the windows in front and the bedroom door behind me locked to avoid any undue disturbances. However since the doorknob has broken recently and not replaced, the door lever does not work. Therefore the door cannot close properly and cannot be locked from the inside. Whenever there are heavy thunderstorms, strong winds come through the ventilation shaft and often blow the door ajar.

Just the other day, something strange occurred during my daily meditation. In the midst of my meditation, one quiet and still morning, I heard some scratching on the door behind me. Thinking that it could be my young daughter who had woken up in the wee hours of the morning and fooling around, I ignored the slight disturbance. Then one heard the door being opened and closing slowly. On the third such occurrence, still sitting in my meditation pose, I decided to ask aloud who it was. There was no reply.

My wife who was sleeping in the bedroom woke up and I asked her to find out who was swinging the door to and fro. She got up, went out to investigate and said there was no one outside the bedroom. The children were still asleep in their own rooms, she had said before going back to bed.

Just as I was about to finish the meditation, the door swung open and slammed shut by itself. Getting out of the meditation, I swung around and opened the door to take a look. Indeed there was no one around. My wife woken by the sound of the door slamming shut asked what happened and suggested that it could have been the wind.

My reply to her was, ‘Yes, but there was no wind.’

Monday, May 01, 2006

Simple notes on Hexagram 24 Fu / Return

When relationships are estranged or split apart, a return can follow. Therefore in the sequence it is said that, Things cannot be destroyed once and for all. When what is above is completely split apart, it returns below.

After darkness have crept in through the first yin line in Hexagram 44 Gou (June – July) and dominated the next five months until Hexagram 2 Kun (Nov– Dec), Fu signifies the return of the light with the first yang line at the bottom in time for the winter solstice (Dec – Jan). A time of rest for the light to become stronger and thereafter moves upwards to Hexagram 19 Lin (Jan – Feb) that represents Spring.

The hexagram Fu comprise of the trigram Chen at the bottom and the Kun trigram at the top. From the Discussion of the Trigrams (Shou Gua), we know that the Chen trigram, the Arousing in the East, begins life.

The judgment says:
Return. Success. Going out and coming in without error. Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the way. On the seventh day comes return. It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

The hexagram Return contains many meanings for cultivators and Yi students alike, perhaps many may have missed the intended messages contained in the Judgment.

For the Yi students, it is time to return to self knowledge, turning away from the confusion of external things to return to one’s inner light. When one is treading bypaths, it is time to return to the light and the Way.

For the neidan practitioners, Fu is the start of the Waxing and Waning of Qian and Kun – return of the inner light and the message of ‘To and fro goes the Way.’ Perhaps that is why Laozi said, ‘Return is the movement of Tao.’(Chapter 40)

‘On the seventh day comes return’ contains a special message for neidan adepts who have already traveled very far, after all ‘It furthers one to have somewhere to go’ and should know what it means. If not they will not be able to read this entry or too late to understand the meaning. Therefore they need no explaining to. For the rest, perhaps they do not need to know since knowing the meaning does not get them anywhere anyway.