Thursday, September 28, 2006

A tip on timing

While it differs from year to year, the Zhouyi yearly chart at times remain almost unchanged. If you do not already know how to, it is difficult to explain how to draw up a yearly chart using intuition and awareness. It also takes much time and effort because of the deep pondering required. However if a good friend or a close relative wants to select a fortunate date for doing something special and of importance like marriage or celebrating a birthday, one can still oblige by looking up the charts.

For this year, 2006, one has relied on a yearly chart done years ago and it still works for my investment in shares in Malaysia. That probably explains why one could with certain accuracy predict when the local share market will rise and fall and by what percentage over the past several months. After the recent low liners predicted fall of 50% to 60% between mid July and mid September, it is time for these particular shares to go up again. The million dollar question is when?

Except for the contrarians, not many investors like to buy when share prices are falling and most like to chase when share prices rise. But readers are aware one follows the Yi. And for share investments, one also monitors the timing shown in the drawn up Yi monthly charts for the year.

The charts show that the low liners would flare up in the KLSE next week. To make some money, it may be the right time to buy some shares this week, rather than chase after them at higher prices next week. How much and what shares to buy, if any, will be up to any Malaysian reading this entry. It could be wise to set target prices for buying and selling. And not wait too long for higher profits. Low liners tend to rise and fall quickly. It largely depends on the timing, the volume, value and velocity of trade.

For Yi aficionados, this is one way to read and know about timing. And over the years, the Zhouyi yearly charts had tied in with the fortunate and unlucky dates given or indicated by Daoist deities for special occasions. Therefore if a Yi yearly chart drawn is accurate, it can be relied upon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Empty and still

If we sit and forget
Be empty and still
Let Qi fill the lighted room
Spontaneous moves from complete stillness.

Focus on the breath
Contemplate the Light
Endure the heat
Witness the gates.

What we see
What we hear
And what we feel
No different from what the ancients did.

Listen to the songs
Enjoy the colors
Do nothing
And everything gets done.

From one direction
The lotus circulates to another
Simple and easy
Just be empty and still.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The ruler and the general

A prominent Thai female historian in a newspaper interview discussed the recent coup d’etat of her country and said the coup was not a step backward but a way forward for democracy for Thailand. While the West has condemned the coup and may have reservations about the Thai generals who led it, the coup has popular support of the people. Public opinion polls show that 86% of the Thai people approve of the move.

In her interview, the historian observed (a classic case of) the general who did not have confidence of the then ruler (the prime minister) and therefore not given the authority to coordinate the resolving of problems in the south of Thailand. The general had wanted to hold talks with the Muslim insurgents to understand their grievances while the ruler wanted to use force against them. She went on to say that if the general had been a good friend of the prime minister, the coup would not have happened.

How often have rulers missed what the ancients advised? The ruler needs to be humane and just to rule the country for his people (No, not talking about cronies and self.). And to place trust on his general to resolve conflicts and fight wars.

In case there is doubt, we turn to Sunzi for his advice. In the well known military drill of 180 concubines of King Holu of Wu, he was about to execute two of the king’s favorite concubines for flagrant indiscipline when the king beg him to spare them. Sunzi replied, ‘I have been appointed commander, and a general in the field is not bound by orders from his sovereign.’

After the execution, the remaining concubines followed the drill orders accordingly and were made ready for inspection. While King Holu had lost his desire to inspect the troops, he was convinced of Sunzi’s skill as a commander and later made him a general. In the west he defeated mighty Chu, entering its capital, Ying. In the north, he struck awe into Chi and Tsin, and Wu’s fame spread through all the states. All this was partly thanks to Sunzi. (Records of the Historian)

In Hexagram 7 Shih / The Army, the Judgment says: The army needs perseverance and a strong man. Good fortune without blame. And the Image says: In the middle of the earth is water. Thus the superior man (Junzi) increases his masses by generosity toward the people.

Without a strong man, there will be indiscipline. Without the requisite discipline, the army will be disorganized, orders given forth will not be heeded, and misfortune threatens. (Refer to the first line of Hexagram 7)

The second line says: In the midst of the army. Good fortune. No blame. The king bestows a triple decoration.

The place of the general who resolves conflicts for the country is in the midst of the army. Good fortune. The ruler in the fifth line shows his confidence in the general by bestowing awards on him. In ancient times the general shared his rewards with his army. Thus the ruler rewards his general and the army after a victory. (Refer to the Image and the top line)

If a ruler has no experience in war, he has to rely on his experienced general to defeat the enemy. If he or his war minister keeps countermanding and undermining the general’s orders because of face, cronyism, indecisions, or corruption, things will certainly go awry. Many wars down the ages have been lost because of such intervention and by the replacing of good and experienced generals who are both humane and just, with weaker ones. (Refer to the fifth line of the hexagram which depicts the ruler)

When the war has ended successfully, the ruler rewards his generals and ministers (with generosity) and in line with the theme of the entire hexagram this top line advises not to employ inferior people (Xiao Ren).

If readers go through this entry carefully, they may discern that current or recent rulers had made the same mistakes and it could explain why they cannot win decisive wars and pacify the people (of both sides). Perhaps they do not have the generosity and the breadth of character to do so? Sooner or later, such rulers could be forced out of office.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Does your hair stand on end?

An elder of a Daoist temple had always fancied himself versed in the practice of Qigong and had augmented his ancient master’s breath control meditation techniques with various other methods. After practicing breath control for more than a decade, he gathered enough courage to ask his ancient master for permission to teach breath control to some students. The heavenly immortal through the planchette answered, “No.”

Another decade had passed and one night he thought to himself, “Ah, after decades of neidan practice I have made much progress and have reached a very high level already. It is time to seek the ancient master’s acknowledgement of my achievements.”

The next day, he could no longer withhold his excitement and in front of his fellow disciples asked aloud for the ancient master’s acknowledgement. (For privacy, questions to the Heavenly immortal can be in writing or in thoughts.) Back came the reply in an equally loud and clear tone, “When you practice your meditation, does your hair stand on end?”

The elder blushed, choked, mumbled to himself and drifted from the main hall to a far end corner of the temple.

On a couple of occasions one had heard this elder speak. He likes to talk about various Qigong techniques (some deviant practices) rather than that of the Circulation of the Light meditation. When concepts are unclear the fault lies with the teacher, if concepts are clear but the student likes to take bypaths instead, then the teacher cannot be blamed.

Even if someone has spent several decades practicing neidan, it does not necessary mean he or she has reached a high level in the practice. (The same can be said of Yi students in the practice of divination.) It depends on many things – for example - right teacher, right method, right books, continuous practice, sincerity, earnestness and self cultivation.

Not all who practiced neidan are prepared to (or can) read and understand the ancient texts and writings. Even with the best teachers available (read heavenly immortals), without the requisite readings (theories), how far can we expect to progress in our practice? Do not be surprised if you come across some Buddhist spiritual masters or so-called Daoist masters who have not heard of the Shurangama Sutra (Leng Yen) or a number of Daoist texts quoted in this blog. However it does not mean they do not know anything or do not cultivate.

If this elder have read or referred to the Leng Yen and the necessary Daoist texts (for example – The Secret of the Golden Flower) he would have known what stage of the neidan practice he has reached. While good progress has been made if there were actual confirmations, it does not mean we are close to the center. Still far from it, I believe.

When a friend related the above story and what the Daoist immortal had said, I quipped: ‘Oh now that is easy! Apply some gel and the hair will stand on end during meditation.”

Sunday, September 17, 2006

How Confucius learns

A question was posed to me once whether cultivation means that the cultivator tries to emulate a sage. Ha, the answer remains that one tries to emulate Heaven and Earth instead. For the knowledge of ancient sages is so profound and their contemplation so deep, that it may take a few lifetimes to try to emulate them; unless we think of New Age definitions of sages. The extent of their contemplation and how an ancient sage learns something can be best seen in this event in the Records of the Historian (Shiji).

‘One day Confucius was playing the chimes when a man with a wicker crate passed the door and said, “Poor fellow, playing the chimes! He is self-willed but he does not know himself. It is useless to talk with him.”

Confucius practiced playing the lute for ten days without attempting anything new. Shih Hsiang, his tutor, said, “You can go ahead now.”

“I have learned the tune but not the technique,” said Confucius.

After some time Shih Hsiang said, “You have mastered the measure now, you can go on.”

But Confucius replied, “I have not yet caught the spirit.”

Sometime later the other said, “Now you have caught the spirit, you can go on.”
“I cannot yet visualize the man behind it,” answered Confucius. Later he observed, “This is the work of a man who thought deeply and seriously, one who saw far ahead and had a calm, lofty outlook.” He continued, “I see him now. He is dark and tall, with far-seeing eyes that seem to command all the kingdoms around. No one but King Wen could have composed this music.”

Shih Hsiang rose from his seat and bowed as he rejoined, “Yes, this is the Lute-song of King Wen.”’ [Records of the Historian – HY Yang and Gladys Yang]

If this was how an ancient sage learned his lute playing, one wonders how many cultivators can emulate him. Amongst the many wise students of Confucius, perhaps only his favorite student, Yen Hui could have reached this level if he had not passed away early. And for posterity, Confucius compiled his following thoughts in ‘The Great Learning’:

“Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, the ancients first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. [The Text of Confucius 4 & 5 –Legge]

With his profound knowledge and sincerity, Confucius had emulated the ancients and became a sage. Since one cannot be as learned as his students or their students, it would be easier for me to try to emulate Heaven and Earth instead and perhaps reach the Center, that way?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Predictions on timing

While the Book of Changes can be considerably older, most scholars would agree that the Zhouyi (the Zhou book of changes) had existed for more than three thousand years. Throughout these three millennia, sages and the wise have had devised various methods or systems to predict the timing of future events.

Of these methods, the more popular and better known ones used to foretell the future or fate with certain accuracy are the Four Pillars of Destiny (Bazi), Wen Wang Bagua (Najia), the Purple Star Astrology (Ziwei Doshu) and the Plum Blossom Yi Numerology (Meihua Yishu). Many of these methods utilize a combination of the ancient system of Celestial stems and horary branches (devised by the Shang for their calendar) and the trigrams and hexagrams of the Zhouyi. In the hands of their founders (namely Chen Tuan and Shao Yong) and the real masters, predictions by these methods were amazingly accurate if not magical.

However Yi aficionados tend to use these derivative methods to predict the timing in Yi prognostications. If these systems work for them, well and good, if not then they could improve their own Yi studies if they just concentrate on what the ancients had indicated on how to read time, in the Ten Wings (the ancient commentaries to the Yi) instead of delving into various types of fortune telling. (It is not advisable for those who have less than ten years of Yi studies to read too deeply into the ten wings. They can easily get confused by the deep ancient thoughts and the cosmology contained therein.)

The Yi remains a book of wisdom and is to be used for divination purposes whenever required, but the Yi is never meant for fortune telling. Therefore it is incorrect for Yi students to mix up their Yi studies with fortune telling systems.

If one understands the ancients and the Ten Wings correctly, the timing in the Yi prognostications is provided in the trigrams and the twelve sovereign hexagrams and not from these much later derivative methods for time calculations. Steve Marshall has kindly provided a comprehensive depiction and explanations of the twelve sovereign hexagrams in his Yijing Dao website for Yi, Confucian and Dao students for their further studies. Perhaps readers can learn something about timing by reading his commentary on these hexagrams.

And if you ever come to realize why Shao Yong had numbered the eight trigrams the way that he did in his ‘Plum Blossom Yi Numerology’, perhaps like him, you have already read the ten wings thoroughly and understand something on how to read time into Yi prognostications. If not, then together, we still have lots to learn from the Yi and on the timing?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The good horse has returned

The horse that flew like a Pegasus early July has finally returned home. While one expected it to return sometime in August together with the wild horses, it came back on its own a few days ago. Well, a good horse would not keep its owner waiting and worried too long, I suppose. The horse looks lean and tough after the good run it had with the wild horses.

The horse, representing the GT shares, became a Pegasus when the shares doubled in price within a month. The momentum in the mad rush for the shares pushed its price way beyond my fivefold target of 50. It shot through 70 which was actually my next target for the shares. Thereafter the shares range bounded and hovered between the 50s and 60s for the past few weeks, while other shares (the wild horses) were falling like ten pins.

Even my friends and relatives were concerned, the past couple of weeks, that the horse had not yet returned. They had also sold all their GT shares in July and were eagerly waiting for its ‘expected’ fall in prices. My reply to them then when asked was: ‘If you are concerned about missing the boat, then you can always buyback some shares. One is not a ShenXian, one would not know when or if the GT share price will come down.’

Well, as indicated by the Yi a few months ago, it did. Without any plausible reasons, the share price suddenly fell to the 30s this week. That is why the good horse has returned. It came back to the prices one bought the shares at in June before it bolted and flew. (Refer to entries on Do not chase after the horse (7) & (8) July 05 and 09 2006 respectively.)

Talk about timing and trade. No matter how rich or poor we are, capital is always limited. If we get the timing right and know how to trade then we can make money. My friends and relatives who had follow my advice and actions closely have their wealth increased. If they had ventured and bought some other shares notwithstanding my indication that the low liners will fall 50% to 60% after the sale in early July, it is not my concern. They have to learn to stand on their own two feet and not try to be a ShenXian to their friends and relatives. (One has good reasons to say that.) It is not my responsibility to make them into ShenXian.

Now whether it is time to buyback the GT shares or not at all, how would I know?

A word of advice: If we have something to do, attend to it quickly. If we have nothing to do, then go up the mountains.

Meanwhile the horse tired after the long run retires to the stables. It is a good horse, mark my words. That is why the Yi have indicated Wei Ji / Before Completion.

Hopefully Yi diviners and students have also been increased by reading and following the ongoing live case study of the prognostication – Hexagram 38 Kui / Opposition with the first line moving and the resultant Hexagram 64 Wei Ji / Before Completion – in nine entries (including this concluding entry). And if after reading the case study, some still insist that the Yi cannot foretell the future, so be it. Perhaps they have already reached their utmost level of divination, interpretation and understanding. (Murphy's Law) And no longer need to learn.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Up the mountains

It would have been nice to have taken my wife and children for a trip to Hong Kong to visit the HK Disneyland last month. However my son will miss the trip, since he had to play two international Counter Strike competitions in Singapore over the two weekends that straddle that one week school holidays. Therefore my teenage daughter suggested that we visit Genting Highlands instead.

Genting Highlands is a casino cum holiday resort situated 6,000 feet above sea level and about an hour’s drive from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. The weather there is cool all year round – in the 60s - because of its height. The kids and teenagers love going there to play in the indoor and outdoor theme parks. Adults go up the mountains to try their luck in the casino or watch the international shows hosted.

The air was relatively fresh and light when we reach the mountains and one took an instant liking to the cool weather. It has been years since our last visit. While my wife and my daughter went to catch the 9 pm international magic show that night, I visited the casino. The thrills of a flutter no longer arise, one realized after a few hours at the tables. One decided to retire early to the hotel room situated above the casino.

The sofa in the room was not suitable for my meditation pose therefore one had to sit in a simple sitting position. Ha, one did not realize that the immortals came up the mountains too until they started singing their string less tunes.

The next day, my daughter suggested that we ride the Skyway cable cars that cross the slopes of the mountains. So we bought tickets for a round trip. It took eleven minutes to travel the 3.88 km one way trip. While the scenic view is nice, and the ride can be exciting, it may not suit the faint hearted. The cable cars, hung a few hundred feet above the rugged mountain slopes, tend to momentarily suspend and sway in the air whenever they reach one of the many pylons that straddle the distance.

One wonders if the ancients and Neo Daoists ever face a fear of heights whenever they climbed the Huashan, Kun Lun Shan or other mountains to find a quiet retreat for their meditation practice and cultivation. Perhaps by climbing up and down the mountains, they had time to contemplate.

In case readers have not come across it before, contemplation forms part of cultivation.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Confucian budget

Unlike many developed countries in the West, Asia still has a long way to go to provide adequate social welfare for the needy, disabled, and the poor. Mencius could have got it right (if he were given a position to do so in government) by advising rulers to first enrich the people and then provide them with means of education. The developed countries in the world were the first to have implemented that. (This does not say or imply that these countries followed Confucian thoughts, perhaps Japan did, but the simple doctrine works to good effect.)

Many Asian countries have been trying to enrich their people since the late 1950’s and thereafter to educate them; the more successful ones being Japan, South Korea and Singapore, while China is playing catch up after the demise of Chairman Mao.

Just like her Asian counterparts, Malaysia has made much progress in enriching the people and educating them. On September 01, her prime minister who happens to hold the finance portfolio has announced the 2007 budget which may be deemed Confucian in nature.

In the Budget provisions, corporate tax would be reduced from the current 28% to 26 % over two years, a bonus of two months for civil servants, and the provision of housing for the police, army, firemen and other government employees. Children from poor families will get increased monthly allowances for their education needs; monthly allowances for disabled children has also been increased; examination fees from primary schools to Form Six (A Levels) have been abolished; Scholarships for further studies will be given to needy students who have 10 1As (distinctions) in SPM (O Levels) and other outstanding students. Purchases of books and computers (with an increased amount) are available for tax relief. More universities, polytechnics and colleges will be built or refurbished for the students. 21% of the entire budget has been allocated for education and training. The government will also spur the economy along by increased spending on infrastructures, transportation and housing.

The budgeted spending will be financed by public taxes, and dividends from the national oil company, Petronas which had made super profits from the recent hikes in world oil prices. Well, balancing the needs of the people with the country’s resources and taxes, enriching and educating them shows that a ruler is both humane and righteous. This provides an example of a Confucian budget in the East.

On the other hand, over taxing the people, keeping them in ignorance or in the dark, and increasing the national debt by a quantum leap with overspending for unworthy causes such as financing unjust conflicts or fighting protracted wars with ever increasing foreign borrowings go contrary to Confucian and Daoist doctrines, and Sunzi’s Art of War. Unfortunately, since ancient times, these types of rulers never learn. They still think they are great even while their ‘popular’ rule crumble into dust. Yes, current rulers in the West are chosen by the people, of the people but rulers may not necessarily rule for the people and heck, that is democracy and the rule of law for you. Not Confucian or Daoist doctrines.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hexagram 51 Zhen / The Arousing

Zhen formed the middle given name of my late father and Zhen represent his position as the eldest son in the family. His younger brother’s middle name is Tian (Heaven). Perhaps my grandfather knew something about the Yi, but he died of illness when my father was just a kid. While we still keep his portrait photo, not much was known about him. He was a silversmith in China and had migrated to Malaya where he met and married my grandmother. (Think of Marriages made in Heaven.)

Zhen means the arousing; shock and the trigram attributes represent thunder, the eldest son, and wood among other things. While this was discussed a few years ago in the I Ching Community forum, if we obtain the hexagram through divination, depending on the diviner, it can also indicate forthcoming earthquakes. And to me, it provides a credible and discernable test on whether the Yi really talks to a diviner or not.

After the Yi had answered my previous question on an investment (refer recent entry on 54 Gui Mei), I had asked about another share investment. The prognostication given this time was an unchanging hexagram 51 Zhen. Yes, perhaps right. A shock can bring success to the lethargic share market where the low liners have drifted lower since one sold all my share investments in Mid July. Some had fallen by more than 60%. And based on experience, Zhen is a better hexagram than Gui Mei for an investment in shares.

The Judgment:
Shock brings success. Shock comes—oh,oh! Laughing words—ha,ha! The shock terrifies for a hundred miles, and he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice.

The shock that comes from the manifestation of God within the depths of the earth makes a man afraid, but this fear of God is good, for joy and merriment can follow upon it. When a man has learned within his heart what fear and trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside influences. [W/B]

In case you may have missed it, the commentary makes reference to earthquakes – the manifestation of God within the depths of earth makes a man afraid.

A few days after the prognostication: there were several thunderstorms in my area; an earthquake the size of Richter scale 6+ hit Taiwan without causing much damage. A powerful earthquake with a magnitude 6.77 struck under the Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea on September 01. In such times, earthquake prone countries should closely monitor earth movements, to safeguard their people and assets. Readers who live near earthquake prone areas, like say California, Japan and Indonesia, could also take some extra precautions by keeping in touch with up to date news and the meteorological forecasts.

Meanwhile the shares one had started to invest in fell heavily all of a sudden (which provided a shock) because of a minor infringement of the listing requirements. The share price has fallen by 50% from its high in mid July. And I had bought more of the shares at current depressed prices. Let us see whether the Yi is right about the success part, if you cannot foresee the outcome already.

Once again, I wait cheerfully for the expected results arising from this investment.

Friday, September 01, 2006

When there is Tao

While millions of people have heard of and/or like to learn about Tao, not many can discern the duality concept of things. Through their readings, studies, and discussions, perhaps they could understand the duality concept between light and dark, heaven and earth, yin yang, female and male. But, they tend to miss what has been taught by the ancients. The ‘moon’ is not the duality, neither is the so called ‘arm’ that points to the moon.

In reality, duality exists. So does life and death. (That is also a duality.) If students or scholars insist in closing their eyes and ears to further learning and think they know all about duality. Good. There is nothing much for them to know in this entry.

After all, this discussion is meant for the esoteric – be they Buddhists, Confucians or Daoists – and those who practice breath control meditation and/or cultivate Tao.

In the past, ancients have taught about the center and the Tao. Within the center there is a duality (TTC). Upon reaching the center, one could attain Tao through emptiness. But in between the far journey, one could also encounter the opposite to Tao. And what is that, if you do not know it already?

In their texts, classics and sutras, the ancients had given warnings to cultivators, so did the Daoist immortals. More recently, various immortals have reiterated their warnings in planchette messages. In their paraphrased message, they say: ‘When there is Tao, there is Mo, be wary of this.’

Mo is the Chinese word for Demon(s). In this context, we are not looking at the duality of ‘Kuei Shen’ but something more sinister and powerful. Just like Kuei (ghosts, dark spirits), Mo (Demons) roam this earth. They take every opportunity to harm or injure human beings especially those who cultivate.

In the Leng Yen, Buddha had warned cultivators who meditate of the need to be circumspect and modest, lest they succumbed to demons’ influences at various stages of cultivation. Lu Dongbin in the Secret of the Golden Flower had also mentioned this: Furthermore, one must not fall victim to the ensnaring world. The ensnaring world is where the five kinds of dark demons disport themselves… Nor must a man be led astray by the ten thousand ensnarements …and enter the world of illusory desires.

This provides a valid reason why cultivators need the light and warmth during meditation to ward off the evil. And perhaps the need to learn under a real neidan master or a Daoist immortal who could discern if the student has succumbed to the influences of demons.

Hopefully, after reading through this entry, more students and cultivators can see the Light in things?