Saturday, December 29, 2007

Yi divining with the ShenXian

This entry is written especially for Yi fellows who believe in the existence of Daoist deities and immortals (ShenXian), particularly those readers from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan where Daoist temples are easily accessible. Yi diviners who keep an open mind and those who like to improve upon their already good divination skills but do not have such readily access to the ShenXian in their respective countries can take note of this entry for their future reference.

No, I am not trying to convert any Yi fellows to Daoism nor am I asking them to pray to the ShenXian for blessings or help. I am just sharing my experience on a way to further improve upon our Yi divination and interpretation skills. What best than to test our self acquired divination skills with divinities – with or without their knowledge and/or approval. After all, according to the Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung), it is possible that a Yi diviner can divine like a Shen (spirit).

After I had returned from London, England for good, my mum surprised me with a divination slip (qian), obtained by way of shaking divination sticks (jiu qian) out of a bamboo or metal container, from a Guan Yin temple depicting my fortune for that year, 1980. She had been praying for her children and family and obtaining these divination slips for decades. The yearly predictions from this particular temple are known to be accurate and the cost for one divination was less than 20 US cents then.

For a few years after that I did not take too much notice of the predictions until I started to consult the Zhouyi for my annual hexagrams. One day, out of curiosity I compared my annual hexagram with the divination slip for the particular year from the Guan Yin temple. While what was foretold by the Guan Yin divination slip appeared simpler, the story of the ancient referred to in the slip almost matched with the Yi prognostication. (Take note that each divination slip contains a popular storyline reference to a particular 'ancient' to provide for a more accurate interpretation of the fortune reading.)

Over the next five years, the same matches occurred – which meant that the predictions from this particular Guan Yin temple were indeed accurate or that this student’s Yi divination and interpretation skills had improved. That was my first test.

The second test with predictions from divinities came during the 1993 Bull Run in the KLSE. In early 1993, the Yi had already indicated through various prognostications that the stock market was going to be very good. The Book of Changes would tell me through the hexagrams when to buy and when to sell stocks. My friends and ex-colleagues who consulted with Daoist deities and heavenly immortals to trade on the stock market would often share the predictions given by these ShenXian. Together with the Yi prognostications nothing could go wrong. We were all making good money from the stock market – until the music stopped in the first week of January 1994. My friends were still trading in the KLSE because the divinities never told them to get out of the market.

Perhaps they really thought that I was an easily scared ‘rabbit’ when I sold all my stocks by the third week of December 1993 and went to Australia to celebrate Christmas and New Year. I had indicated to them that the Yi had warned of impending falls and they should sell most of their stock investments by end December and hold cash. Instead they bought more after some initial profit taking because the stock market remained hot.

By early 1994 until the end of 1995, the predictions of the Daoist deities and heavenly immortals had become corrupted. That was the third test.

Over the years, there were more such tests which provided some of the reasons why I have diligently followed the Yi instead of the ShenXian. (Some of these later tests and comparisons had been blogged, years ago.)

It is fun to be able to divine with the Yi and compare notes with accurate predictions from the Daoist deities and heavenly immortals. Such predictions through divination slips or mediums can be obtained directly or indirectly (through a relative or close friend) from Daoist temples. The comparisons and tests can also provide Yi students with a deeper understanding of the Yi and raise our levels in interpretation of the prognostications.

Yi diviners do not have to believe me; you can try it out sometime given the opportunity. Hopefully it helps in your progress in Yi divinations until you can divine like a spirit. By then nothing on earth and in heaven remains hidden, since all you need is to consult the Yi.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The vastness of Tao

We often hear of Daoists saying that Tao is vast. But how vast Tao is, no human can say for sure.

If we look up at the sky, we may say to ourselves, wow, heaven is so vast, and we are so minute. Heaven contains the planets, the stars and everything as far as the eyes can see. Therefore how can anything be greater than heaven?

With the advance of science and the advent of space telescopes, we now know there are many more galaxies like ours in space. According to accompanying explanations, to the pictures taken in space, by the experts – the scientists and the astronomers - these galaxies contain many colorful stars of various shapes and sizes never seen before by humans.

What if I tell you that the space telescopes have yet to reach places where Daoist heavenly immortals reside? Most readers would not believe me even if it is Christmas time? Therefore that story will be reserved for the esoteric.

To get a measure of how vast Tao really is, perhaps we can turn to Lu Dongbin, one of the famous eight immortals (Ba Xian) for help.

Master Lu-tsu said: In comparison with heaven and earth, man is like a mayfly. But compared to the great Way (Tao), heaven and earth, too, are like a bubble and a shadow.
[Secret of the Golden Flower –W/B]

Readers would certainly agree that heaven is vast and earth broad. Compared to their size, man can be considered minute. In the same breath, Lu Dongbin indicated that compared to Tao, heaven and earth is also very small, ‘a bubble and a shadow’.

To intellectuals, Lu could be using the comparisons as figurative ways of speech to impress upon students of the vastness of Tao. To this student and I suggest, he could be telling us the truth seen with his eyes from where he resides.

Have we ever explored from the angle that ancestor Lu is telling us just like it is? Remember he is a Daoist heavenly immortal, and he still teaches his disciples in Daoist temples from time to time. Coupled with the proven scientific fact that there are galaxies beyond ours, does it not infer that there are no boundaries and limits to Tao.

When Chen Tuan drew the Wuji Tu (Diagram of the Infinite) at the beginning of the Song Dynasty, did he not realize something most humans between his times - more than a thousand years ago - and now, would not know? How could students understand the vastness of Tao and the explanations given by Laozi in the Tao Te Ching without actually seeing space? How is it possible that Laozi, Chen Tuan and the Zhen Ren could see something that others don’t? The answer no doubt lies with meditation just like what Laozi and Buddha had taught.

While thinking through whether Lu Dongbin is telling us the truth or not, if interested, readers can also try to figure out where the Daoist deities and heavenly immortals (ShenXian) reside. It can be a fruitful exercise or it can come to nothing. I do not hold the answers, and I hope some readers, especially those from the Far East, can enlighten me with one. It beats telling a good ghost story anytime.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 Bull Run not too kind to retail investors

While the KLSE composite index has risen by about 30% for 2007, I understand that quite a number of retail investors have lost money or are holding huge paper losses in this Bull Run. It is not surprising if we survey the number of low liner stocks across the board that are hovering around or had closed at 52 weeks lows, last Friday, December 21.

I counted about 116 of them which include index linked stocks. A majority of losers were from the Mesdaq board. If we include stocks across the boards that have fallen by fifty percent or more from their 52 weeks high, the number would increased to about 250 counters, representing roughly 25% of stocks quoted in the KLSE.

Retail investors who had insisted to ‘stand in the middle of the mountain’ in October by averaging down low liners or hold onto stocks, have probably found themselves free falling into the chasm of Kun / Earth after the mountain imploded. Whether the fall (of their stocks) has hit finally rock bottom or not into the depths of Earth is quite impossible to tell. (Refer my entry on ‘Stand not in the middle of the mountain’, October 13) And there could be more losses around the corner.

However when the low and second liner stocks hit rock bottom, there could be a rebound. There is always such hope.

Take for example, the Australian quoted company – Centro Properties Group – which bought 700 US shopping malls in 2005 and 2006 for US$ 9 billion. The Company lost 86 percent of its market value within two days this week as it struggles to renegotiate debt. Its market value had fallen from A$ 4.8 billion to A$ 680 million during the rout. A day or two later, its shares rose 63% after the company announced plans to sell down properties. (Source –

Weaker investors who had bought the stock just before the plunge could have suffered a heart attack. So could someone who had sold the stock when it hit rock bottom. Does this Centro example not remind us of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 where multimillionaires literally turned into paupers overnight?

An investment analyst from an established bank had the cheek to revise down the Centro stock to A$ 1+ from his earlier recommended target price of A$ 7+. So much for professionalism, don’t you think? This is a good example of a Xiao Ren (inferior man) in my books and someone to avoid at all costs. Since those who bought the particular stock based on his earlier recommendation of A$ 7 would have lost a ‘bomb’.

For those retail investors or traders who had weathered the major upheavals in the KLSE in 2007, expect more turbulence next year.

Meanwhile I am searching for stock investments for 2008 that could double or more in value by bottom picking. How? By doing the necessary homework and consulting the Yi, of course. It would not prove difficult if the bulls and foreign fund managers decide to storm back to the KLSE in time for the Chinese New Year rally.

Obviously it would be nigh impossible to find a twenty fold increase in share price again, for example the GT stock, unless they have gone dirt cheap. By then many a retail investor would have been busted.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Companions of the Way

While Laozi said that his Tao was easy to learn, he had also mentioned that many people, down the ages or during his time, love the bypaths. In his Tao Te Ching, he had indicated many signposts to reach the Way. Few seemed to understand his profound classic, let alone see the various signposts.

And students trying to grasp the meaning of Tao are often bewildered by the many claims of modern ‘Daoist masters’ on the net and in books that they found or know the Way. If Tao was that easy to attain, there will be countless sages, immortals, and Buddhas down the millennia.

Therefore students learning Tao should try to find some good companions (fellow travelers) of the Way. Good companions or guides – the living or divinities - are those who see or have seen the signposts indicated by the great sages and who know more about Tao than us. Seeing and feeling the various signposts of the Way served as important confirmations that our meditation practice is indeed correct, and not one of the bypaths.

If students are unable to find a living fellow traveler in their part of the world, and only have hazy notions of what Laozi and Buddha had indicated in their respective classics, we can perhaps spend some time reading what Daoist immortals and/or Zhen Ren had written on the cultivation of Tao, since they too have left behind some important signposts of the Way, unless we verily doubt their sincerity or disbelieve in their existence. If students doubt their sincerity and disbelieved that Daoist immortals ever exist, the real question to ask ourselves will be how much do we know about Tao and why do we want to learn the Way.

While you faced that question, since it will soon be Christmas, I quote some quotations of signposts and confirmations from some of my ‘companions’ of the Way as ‘gifts’ to fellow travelers:

That which exists through itself is called the Way (Tao). Tao has neither name nor shape. It is the one essence, the one primal spirit. Essence and life cannot be seen. They are contained in the light of heaven. The light of heaven cannot be seen. It is contained in the two eyes. Today I will be your guide and will first reveal to you the secret of the Golden flower of the great One, and starting from that, I will explain the rest in detail.

In comparison with heaven and earth, man is like a mayfly. But compared to the great Way, heaven and earth, too, are like a bubble and a shadow. Only the primal spirit and the true nature overcome time and space.

There are many kinds of confirmatory experiences [signposts]. One must not be trivial and irresponsible in heart, but must strive to make deeds prove one’s words. Now there are three confirmatory experiences which can be tested.

[Lu Dongbin – The Secret of the Golden Flower – W/B]

The subtlest secret of the Tao is human nature and life (hsing ming). There is no better way of cultivating human nature and life than to bring both back to unity. The holy men of ancient times, and the great sages, set forth their thoughts about the unification of human nature and life by means of images from the external world; they were reluctant to speak of it openly without allegories. Therefore the secret of how to cultivate both simultaneously was lost on earth.
[Liu Huayang – Hui Ming Ching – W/B]

Can I have a photocopy of your newspaper cuttings of the stars and distant galaxies for my records? I have also seen the same during meditation.
[A Quanzhen friend]

Friday, December 14, 2007

‘Looks to Heaven’

My Daoist friend and I were having a chat over the phone about a stock I had been accumulating over the past few days, when his wife who overheard the conversation asked what business the particular company was in.

‘Tell her, the company's business is “looks to Heaven”,’ I had said with a chuckle. Actually the company has a small information technology business. However, it has been waiting for government approval of several big projects for the past couple of years, the reason for the quip. Furthermore, I explained, the Yi has given Kun / The Receptive Earth as the prognostication for the investment, therefore the adage, ‘looks to Heaven’ is appropriate. Kun looks to Qian / The Creative Heaven for leads!

After the recent bouts of falls in the Asian stock markets over the past couple of months, inexperienced fund managers in China are getting the jitters and worried about their investments. Who would not? As indicated in the previous entry on stocks, it is easy to make money in a Bull Run but when markets start to plunge, not many know how to preserve capital - by taking profits or cutting losses – instead of freezing up until it is too late to do anything. (Think of US banks and mortgage financiers’ recent attempts to raise fresh capital in the region of billions of dollars. And the ‘early birds get the worms’.)

When we read of comments from captains of industry and industries experts that ‘they had not seen it before’ of their country’s mortgage meltdown and the credit crunch, it means that things are in dire straits in the US. It reminded me of my own ‘I have not seen it before’ remark during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 even after the Yi gave me three forewarnings using Hexagram 29 Kan / The Abysmal (Abyss upon abyss, or bottomless pits).

Retail investors who are holding stocks in the KLSE with heavy paper losses (say 30 to 50% or more) may not know what to do now. (Sometimes it is worthwhile to listen carefully to what I blogged, it could have saved you a lot of money and anguish if you have listened.) The analysts who had been bullish in September and October are turning bearish on the stock market with a majority recommending sells or caution. Perhaps the ‘trapped’ investors should ‘look to Heaven’, or literally ask the ShenXian, for help.

It had been almost eight months since I last consulted the Yi on stock investments. In this bearish market conditions and amidst dwindling trades, the Zhouyi gave me the go ahead to buy my selected stocks. It does not mean that things are really on the mend, but there is a ray of hope for retail investors in the KLSE next year, if the Yi prognostications turn out to be correct.

While the South Korean Stock Exchange has stopped its free fall, according to my annual Yi chart early January 2008 looks exceptionally horrible.

That is why I am only using the money held with the stockbrokers since September to accumulate the shares for now, in case Malaysian investors want to know my current strategy. The rest, ‘the main army’, sits in the banks waiting for a major call up to join the war.

So far so good for me, lucky, I guess.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The concept of duality

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, dualism or duality is the theory recognizing two independent principles, and it provides examples of duality: mind and matter; good and evil in the universe. The brief definition of duality by the dictionary is clear enough, yet when it comes to the duality concept of yin and yang, Daoist students are quite often stumped.

We are often told by the great sages that metaphysics (the philosophy of mind) cannot be grasped using just the intellect; practice or cultivation is required to complement the understanding of their concepts. Yet Western Daoists tend to think that they first have to understand the duality concept of yin and yang fully before they can put it into practice. Believing in that, a number of them still struggle after spending decades studying Daoist texts trying to figure out this duality concept. And why yin changes to yang and yang into yin upon reaching their extreme states.

Duality in Daoist studies can be quite simple and easy if we do not overanalyze the concept or flogged it to ‘death’.

Perhaps, an easier way to comprehend the duality concept of yin yang is to refer to the basic underlying principles in the two primary hexagrams that of Qian / Heaven and Kun / Earth in the Zhouyi with reference to the Tao Te Ching. Since the holy sages have a deeper understanding of seen and/or unseen phenomena.

The oldest duality concept of nature is that of light and dark represented by unbroken and broken lines respectively that form a trigram and/or a hexagram in the Book of Changes. This ancient classic also differentiates between what is good and what is evil (another duality). The holy sages take the Junzi (superior man) and the Da Ren (great man) as examples of the good while the Xiao Ren (inferior man) represents the evil – which has nothing to do with religion; unless you want to hear what the Daoist heavenly immortals say about good and evil in the universe.

By the time of the Warring States in China, yang was inferred to represent light while yin represents dark. Because yang is light it can represent hot while yin being dark represent cold. Since the Great Treatise discussed light and dark spirits, later Daoists use metaphors to describe humans as ‘yang ren’ and ghosts as ‘yin kuei’ to differentiate between the living and the dead. By now the duality concept of yin yang has become so popular with the Chinese that they extend it to myriad things. Yet can we not see the duality of the dark and the light better than yin and yang?

The Heaven hexagram comprise of six unbroken or light lines while the Earth hexagram is made up of six broken or dark lines. Nature has it that Heaven provides light to brighten up dark Earth. Together, this means that Heaven represents pure yang (light) while Earth represents pure yin (dark), with humans (men and women – also a duality in later day usage) in between, just like Qi (breath or energy) that pervades the universe. In addition, ‘emptiness’ represents the imagery of Heaven (xu) and ‘stillness’ represents the image of Earth (jing). (See later.)

According to Daoist tradition, after the fall from Tao, by cultivating essence (meditation) and bodily life (virtues) humans can return to the Center (Zhong), the place where Heaven and Earth, and the ten thousand (myriad) things metaphorically resides.

With continual cultivation, humans can then progress from the Center to return to Heaven and Tao. Upon reaching Heaven and attaining Tao, man becomes an immortal with eternal life just like what Laozi indicated in his TTC chapter 16 using ‘empty’ and ‘still’. The metaphors, ‘empty’ (xu) and ‘still’ (jing) in chapter 16 infer to the practice of meditation. Read together with TTC chapter 42, the meditation involves breath (Qi) control. If we venture and read TTC chapter 14 on forms and formless, we may then understand what Laozi had seen during meditation. But if we ignore TTC chapter 18 on the cultivation of virtues after the fall from Tao, we could miss the return to Tao, like Zhuangzi of old even though this ancient sage had highly valued meditation in his writings.

In case students still do not understand the simple concept of duality in Daoist studies, cultivators use breath control meditation to merge or harmonize the duality of yin yang into one. No, this ‘one’ does not represent the Tao. More like the Center (Zhong). Unless you insist that the comment in the Great Treatise (Da Zhuang) that ‘One yin, one yang is Tao', is correct? Then perhaps you may have misunderstood the duality concept or that of the Supreme Ultimate (Taiji tu or Bagua).

However you can obtain a better understanding of the duality concept if you can stumble upon forms and the formless (or emptiness) during breath control meditation as indicated by the great ancient sages – Laozi and Buddha – in their teachings.

But how would you know, if you do not cultivate or practise meditation?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Simple arithmetic

In a stock market bull run it is very easy to make money since prices of stocks seem to go up almost every trading day. However when the market plunges because of external shocks, many retail investors instead of reducing their stock holdings tend to hold onto them or even buy more stocks at cheaper prices to average down their costs of investment. This strategy works well if the overall market rebounds shortly after each heavy fall in prices and if investors have deep pockets and do not trade with margin financing. For example the quick rebounds after the heavy falls in the KLSE on February 27th and on March 5th 2007 caused by the plunge in the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

It also worked for retail investors after the August 17th Asian Stock Markets panic caused by the US mortgage crisis and credit crunch. The rebound started the following Monday as a result of the US Federal Reserve cutting the discount rate the previous Friday.

However in the months of October and November, the Asian stock markets drifted southwards and retail investors in the KLSE who still held onto their stocks or had averaged down during the intermittent falls were not so lucky, this time round; as quite a number of low liner stocks have fallen by 30% percent or more since September with no encouraging signs of activity just yet. Therefore if you had a good hunch or a tip from the Zhouyi that the stock market will fall heavily it would have been better to have cut your losses and run.

Not being sophisticated, I usually do some simple mental arithmetic before deciding to sell down my investments even at a loss during times of uncertainty, or when the Zhouyi gives prior warning of impending crises. (Remember Hexagram 3 Tun / Difficulty in the Beginning?) Somehow, it helps to make the cut loss decisions less painful.

For example, I had bought back a particular stock at 111 sen after it has fallen 20% from its year high. With the Yi’s prior warning, I had sold all the shares at an average price of 100 sen which meant that I have lost 11 sen (111 -100) or 10% per share. And the particular stock in line with the overall market sentiment subsequently fell 30% to 70 sen. (Quite a number of low liners had already fallen more than 50% from their year highs. Pity those who hanged onto those stocks with high margin financing.)

At this point in time, if I buy back the same amount of stock at 70 sen, I would have saved 30 sen per share (100 – 70). The savings of 30 sen can be put into good use – money in the bank, or to buy more of the same stock. If I had sold and bought back say 1,000,000 shares this way, I would have saved 300,000 ringgit (1,000,000 x 30 sen). Nothing to sneeze at, if you are a trader since capital is limited.

On the assumption that I bought back the same amount of stock which was sold earlier and if the share price ever rebounds back to 111 sen, the original cost of investment, I would have made 30 sen per share (111 – 70 = 41 – 11 (the earlier loss) = 30) instead of making nothing, if I have held onto the stock for the past few months.

To me it is simple arithmetic but most traders including the experienced ones cannot do these sums correctly since they are worried that if they cut their losses or take profits, their stocks may go up instead of falling.

Therefore it pays for Yi aficionados cum traders to understand changes and to learn about timing in Yi studies. Without which it could be difficult to work out such simplicity.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Summary of the Ten Wings

In writing notes and comments on the Zhouyi, the author would have to make an assumption that those Yi aficionados reading the blog would have acquired a minimum of ten years reading the Book of Changes and also own a copy of the Richard Wilhelm translation. However not all readers would fall under the categories of a minimal ten years of study and/or owning a W/B translation, therefore one has to summarize the Ten Wings for fellow students who would like to know more about the technical aspects of Yi studies, and/or about the Ten Wings.

"In the Wilhelm/ Baynes English translation, Richard Wilhelm explained in Book II – The Material – that The Book of Changes is a work that represents thousands of years of slow prolonged reflection and meditation. The material presented in the second portion of their translation consists chiefly of what has come to be known as the Ten Wings. These ten wings, or expositions, contain in substance the oldest commentary literature relating to the Book of Changes.

The first of the commentaries – the First and Second Wings – is called Tuan Zhuan. The Tuan Zhuan or Commentary on the Decision gives exact interpretations of King Wen’s decisions (judgments), on the basis of the structure and the other elements of the hexagrams. This commentary (made available under individual hexagrams in Book III) is an extremely thorough and valuable piece of work and throws much light upon the inner organization of the hexagrams of the I Ching. The Chinese ascribed it to Confucius.

The Third and Fourth Wings are formed by the so-called Xiang Zhuan, Commentary on the Images. In its present form it consists of the so-called Great Images (Da Xiang), which refer to the images associated with the two trigrams in each hexagram; from these the commentary in each case deduces the meaning of the hexagram as a whole, and from this contemplation in turn draws conclusions applicable to the life of man. Besides the Great Images, this commentary contains also the Small Images. These are very brief references to the Duke of Zhou’s comments on the individual lines of the hexagrams.

The Fifth and Six Wings constitute a treatise that presents many difficulties. It is entitled Hsi Tzu, or Da Zhuan, and likewise has two parts. The title Da Zhuan means Great Commentary, or Great Treatise.

The Seventh Wing, named Wen Yen (Commentary on the Words of the Text), is a very important section. It is the remnant of a commentary on the Book of Changes – or rather of a whole series of such commentaries – and contains very valuable material deriving from the Confucian school. Unfortunately it does not go beyond the second hexagram, Kun.

The Eighth Wing, Shuo Kua, Discussion of the Trigrams, contains material of great antiquity in explanation of the eight primary trigrams.

The Ninth Wing, Hsu Kua, the Sequence – or Order – of the Hexagrams, offers a rather unconvincing explanation of the present sequence of the hexagrams. It is interesting only because the names of the hexagrams are sometimes given peculiar interpretations that are undoubtedly based on ancient tradition.

The last (Tenth) wing, Tsa Kua, Miscellaneous Notes on the Hexagrams, is made up of definitions of the hexagrams in mnemonics verses, for the most part contrasting them in pairs. "

Still, I would suggest that students should only delve deeper into the Ten Wings (mainly made available in Books II and III of the W/B translation) after a minimum ten years of Yi studies otherwise they could be confused.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Clear as day

Two weeks ago before my Daoist friend left for another overseas mission, he asked about the stock market. According to the Yi chart, I had told him, share prices will fall further that week before a rebound the following week – the last week of November. I also suggested that his ancestor master, the Quanzhen heavenly immortal is sending them out of the country at the right time for another extended mission. If the South Korean stock market tumbles, second board counters in the KLSE will go limits down just like in 1997. He asked how could second board counters go limits down when their prices are so low. He raised a valid question, but sometimes unseen phenomena such as timing and changes in Yi studies cannot be easily understood by the rational mind.

While the KLCI rebounded and recovered this last week of November with the re-listing of Sime Darby Bhd as an enlarged merged entity, most low liners fell. Three low liners including a second board counter had gone limit down (30% lower) on Wednesday. The particular second board counter hit limit down again the next day and on Friday. Whether more will follow or not, I cannot tell you since I am not a ShenXian and do not want to be punished for revealing one too many secrets of Heaven. Just be extra careful this coming week.

Over the past couple of months, prices of stocks that I had sold in September had fallen by 30%. So did a number of other low liners. By the week ending Friday, November 30th, some government linked stocks had fallen below their lows during the panics of August 17th and of end February 2007.

Many retail players still cling onto false hopes and beliefs in the vested-interest rumors that the general election would be called shortly. Even when many low liners have fallen by 50% or more from their highs in 2007?

Quite a number of retail players in the Malaysian stock market have been burnt recently by dabbling in numerous available call warrants on Chinese and Hong Kong stocks including the Hang Seng Index. I understand that some have lost ‘new cars or houses’ (or cash equivalent), hope they do not lose the shirts on their backs or start ‘knocking off’ their remisiers (stockbrokers’ assistants) for wrong calls or advices. We still need remisiers for our trades. Stockbrokers could be carrying heavy contra losses since they have started to sue retail players for small debts, in the region of a few thousands ringgit. It was frightening to hear or read about retail players committing suicide during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

If readers have started to consult the Yi for their investments after doing the necessary homework, try to follow the advice given in the prognostications otherwise what is the point of asking for one. Might as well invest ‘blindly’ and hope for the best, even when the divine teacher says in not so many words, ‘Get out of the market, or get rid of that particular stock!’

If the Yi prognostications given to you and published are inaccurate, one would not mention the inaccuracy, but if they are clear as day and you have interpreted them correctly, what more can I add?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of students and masters (5)

Probably not many readers know about the works of Liu I Ming, a Quanzhen Daoist in China, who was considered a master of the three doctrines – Taoism, Confucian and Buddhism - and the Zhouyi during his time about two centuries ago. His deep understanding of Tao and of the Zhouyi differs much from what is written in online Daoist or Yijing forums and blogs.

Take for example, his understanding of the Lo Shu (Lo Writing) which is associated with the time of Da Yu (The Great Yu):

Nature has the quality of love for life, so it used an uncanny turtle to divulge the Tao of restoration and return, to guide people to return home and recognize their origin, to set their feet on the fundamental basis of essence and life.

And his understanding of the fall of humankind or fall from Tao:

The real gets buried and the false runs wild. People have all sorts of emotions, feelings, and desires, developing complex and involuted psychologies. A hundred worries disturb their minds, then the thousand things tax their bodies. They think what is miserable is enjoyable, they think what is false is real. They have entirely lost the original state.

The remedy for this is said to be in the center, which represents will, attention, sincerity, or truthfulness. According to Liu, the set in the center of the Lo Shu signifies that kindness, justice, courtesy, and wisdom are all rooted in truthfulness, while the surrounding sets represent using truthfulness to operate kindness, justice, courtesy, and wisdom.”

[I Ching Mandalas – Thomas Cleary]

It may take some time for students and masters to absorb or accept what Liu I Ming had indicated, especially those who doubt that Chinese Daoists cultivate the same virtues as the Confucians.

If Western students intend to improve on their Yi studies, perhaps they should no longer hold onto prejudices on what is considered Confucian in the Zhouyi by others – the so called Western Yi experts and scholars. A better course could be to follow the examples of Steve Marshall, Harmen and Professor Sam Crane who can be considered knowledgeable in the Yi in their own right. They read the Confucian books and Daoist classics too, to understand more about Chinese civilization, humanity and Tao.

Of course it really depends on how earnest and sincere we students want to be in the studies and practice in our search for excellence.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wishful thinking

The analysts are still at it. Some recommend buying shares since the stock markets have fallen so much and seemed cheap while others argue it is time to sell to preserve capital from further deterioration. We cannot begrudge analysts because it is their job, their profession, to recommend the buying or selling of investments. They have to make a living too. It is always up to investors to follow their recommendations or not.

However if investors do not do their own homework before investing or divesting, it amounts to wishful thinking especially in times of a financial crisis. It tantamount to holding onto false hopes if investors continue to ignore the current implosion of stock markets, the continual freefall of the US dollar, and various warnings by established institutions of further turmoil up ahead.

According to Bloomberg this week, Japan was the first major stock market to turn into a bear market in 2007. Her Topix Index has fallen by more than 20% from its high this year.

The Chinese stock markets (Shanghai and Hong Kong) could be next as they have plunged and are hovering just above the 20% drop level where they will technically turn into bear markets if crossed. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Index hit a record high of 6,124.04 points on October 16th while the Hang Seng Index reached its highest ever 31,958.41 points on October 30th. If the SSEI and the HSI fall below 4,899 and 25,566 points respectively, these Chinese stock markets will be called 'bear markets'.

Meanwhile the Dow Jones Index has fallen below the 12,845.78 points reached on August 16 when the credit crunch hit before the US Federal Reserve reduced both the discount and bank lending rates twice. According to those who subscribed to the Dow Theory, if the DJI close below that figure again, it signals a bear market. On Wednesday November 21 the DJI ended at 12,799.04, its lowest close since April.

In Malaysia if investors have not noticed, many low liners are hovering just above and some had gone below the prices reached on August 17th, the day of the huge panic in the KLSE and the Asian stock markets. It is wishful thinking if investors believe that the KLSE will not be affected by the prevailing havoc in global financial markets. Like a good mare, the KLSE follow leading stock markets, especially in plunges. Look at the money traded, just over RM 1 billion on Friday.

Also like good mares following the lead of Deutsche Bank, analysts have been emboldened to estimate the huge losses that global banks (commercial and investment) may write off going forward. The DB analysts opened the floodgates with estimated losses of USD 250 to 500 billion, quickly followed by others (including the US Fed Chairman) who predicted losses ranging from USD 100 billion to 200 billion. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this week, losses from US subprime mortgage foreclosures, coupled with slowing economic growth and falling house prices could reach as much as USD 300 billion. OECD estimated a fifth of subprime mortgages are at risk.

Frankly speaking, all these estimates including those figures provided by the OECD sound rather optimistic.

Global banks that overtraded by financing long term loans with short term money are floundering. If you ask any insolvency expert, they will tell you the main cause for bankruptcy of once profitable businesses is overtrading. The banks knew that it was wrong to overtrade, but bankers too have their own frailties. Who do not want to make more money?

My prudent estimate of losses arising from CDOs and mortgage defaults amount to USD 900 billion or more. (According to the US mortgage association, outstanding housing mortgages total USD 10.9 trillion. CDOs and related derivatives amount to USD 6 trillion. Source: Bloomberg)

If this worst case scenario ever happens, expect some global banks (commercial and investment) to go under next year or the year after. What then would happen to global financial markets is anyone’s guess.

If regular readers who invest in Asian stock markets did not heed my recent advices to hold more cash rather than shares since early October and preferred to stand in the middle of the mountain at the end of October, hope they are well prepared for the freefalls down the chasm of Kun / The Receptive Earth since the mountain has imploded this November just like in 1997.

If some readers think that one knows more than the ShenXian, one was just following the ancients by reading the past to foreknow the future. In truth, the final quarter of my Yi chart for 1997 depicts what would and is currently happening to Asian stock markets. The reason for my forewarnings on the Chinese stock markets which include Hong Kong and lately the South Korean stock market. (Foreign funds were net sellers of Korean stocks for the entire week ending November 23rd.)

Hopefully, investors will stop listening to the Xiao Ren, whose influences have waned; wishful thinking, perhaps? Since fate and luck continue to play a part in determining with whom, when, or where the buck and music will finally stop.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Notes on Sun and Yi

My Daoist friend reviewed my translation of TTC Chapter 48 on Wu Wei, last week. While he understood and agree with the translation, he had considered my commentary too deep. Therefore I made the necessary explanations on Hexagram 41 Sun / Decrease and Hexagram 42 Yi / Increase where it relates to cultivation of essence and bodily life to him, and gave two examples of how Wu Wei can arise.

On a similar note, little nuggets appear in Book III of the Wilhelm translation of the Zhouyi when a student is ready to understand them. (Yi students would require ten years of studies of Book I before they venture into Books II and III, otherwise they could struggle at the deep end of the pool.) Some of the nuggets are listed below for sharing:

Appended Judgments:

“Decrease shows the cultivation of character. It shows first what is difficult and then what is easy. Thus it keeps harm away.

Increase shows fullness of character. Increase shows the growth of fullness without artifices. Thus increase furthers what is useful."

“Hexagram 11 Tai / Peace and Hexagram 12 Pi / Standstill have an inner connection with Decrease and Increase, because through the transference of a strong line from the lower to the upper trigram, Decrease develops from Peace, and through the transference of a strong line from the upper to the lower trigram, Increase develops from Standstill. Thus when in Pi / Standstill, the lowest line of the upper trigram (representing Heaven) is transferred to the bottom; the resultant new hexagram is Yi, Increase.

The fact that continuous decrease finally leads to a change into its opposite, increase, lies in the course of nature, as can be perceived in the waning and waxing of the moon and in all of the regularly recurring process of nature.” [W/B]

In previous entries, one has written thoughts on some of the twelve sovereign hexagrams which follow the waning and waxing of the moon phases that relate to neidan studies. Peace and Standstill form two of these sovereign hexagrams. In his commentary, Wilhelm provided a connection between these two hexagrams with Sun and Yi. It would have made life much easier if he and his teacher, Lao Nai-hsuan had also provided the link of Sun and Yi to Chapter 48 of the Tao Te Ching.

Now students like me have to make their own examination into the Zhouyi to connect with what Laozi said in TTC 48:

Studying daily increases (Yi), acting on Tao daily decreases (Sun).

Decrease to further decrease to arrive at non action (Wu Wei).

If Daoist students think that Laozi advised against studying in the first sentence of TTC 48, since studies increases while acting on Tao decreases – using the intellect versus meditation arguments – they have misunderstood how Wu Wei comes about.

If students want a good example of Wu Wei in action and the thoughts behind it, I suggest they watch the Chinese movie where Jet Li acting as the young leader of Ming Jiao learns Taijiquan from his legendary grandmaster, Daoist Zhang San Feng. Reference may have been made to the first sentence of TTC 48 when ‘Zhang’ told Jet Li’s character to learn the Taijiquan moves (increase) and then to forget all about them (decrease); to let spontaneous action take over. Wu Wei or non action during meditation is almost similar to this.

In case an arrogant Daoist student thinks he or she can rule all under heaven by cultivating Tao and upon reaching the state of Wu Wei, Laozi advised it is not their business neither do they possess the ability to rule all under heaven? Similarly, Buddha had warned meditators in the Shurangama Sutra (Leng Yen Jing) against thinking they have become sages when they reached various states of meditation.

To master the Zhouyi is so difficult, let alone Tao, since Tao can be so vast or minute. Perhaps those who claimed to be Tao masters or sages have forgotten what Laozi said in Chapter 48 and/or what Buddha said in the Shurangama Sutra. By not listening to the advice of these two great sages, the self appointed Tao masters or sages can come to harm one day, for example Osho, since they seemed not to understand the real workings of Tao and Heaven. This also provides a hint as to what constitutes ‘Studying daily increases (Yi)’.

Decrease (Sun) relating to cultivation could be more difficult to grasp if readers do not practise meditation, and I will leave it at that. However Hexagram 41 Sun / Decrease (the Wilhelm translation) will provide the relevant answer to your question or doubt if you are earnest enough. All is required is to find that out for yourself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Update on the KLSE and others

By the middle of September, I have cleared the balance of my stock investments. Nothing much has changed then, except I buy on dips and sell into the rallies to make some much needed pocket money.

Inflation has started to burn a hole in my pockets in Malaysia, you see, but there is minimal price rises in the US, if people want to believe in government statistics.

Reviewing online financial information of past investments, I was pleasantly surprised to see my name featured in the top thirty shareholders list of a few public quoted companies. Nothing to shout about really, since these companies are in the penny stocks categories. Ten years ago you have to be a multimillionaire to own the same amount of stocks to get into their top thirty shareholders lists. How times changed. From inflation to deflation, share price rises once again, hopefully.

Dabblers in the stock market are currently quite happy with their twenty to thirty percent gains, a far cry from earlier in the year when they would not sell for anything less than double their investment costs. Times have changed, and they are being realistic. Hopefully they will not be caught in a huge plunge in the KLSE, since the low liners have been drifting lower. If they have not noticed the KLCI prices had been shored up by last minute buying for the past two weeks. And there is not much money in the market.

Goldman Sachs has recently called for a sell in emerging markets which include Malaysia to take profits. Do not expect anyone to shore up the index if foreign fund managers start selling down their huge holdings. They need whatever profits or money in foreign currencies to fill up the big hole existing in their balance sheets. Yes, I know, they used to call it redemptions.

But nowadays the global and investment banks need the cash more than their clients, since they have started and are in the business of laying bets. Casinos or houses never lay bets but global banks broke that golden rule by gambling with their own and clients’ money.

Remember the European Central Banks' constant whispers on moral hazards?

In October, the KLSE Index finally broke the 1,400 point mark and reached an intraday record high of 1,423.81 on November 1st, only to tumble almost 40 points the next day caused by an overnight fall of 362 points in the Dow Jones index. There was not much joy for retail players since the low liners drifted. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Index shot up to its new record high of 6124.04 points on Oct 16 and has fallen about 18% since then till November 12.

Those who traded in the Chinese call warrants and derivatives in the KLSE may have made some money during the early part of October. They probably lost a fortune thereafter, when the plunges took place, what with the 30 to 50 percentage falls on some trading days during the second half of October and the past fortnight.

Malaysian readers who have heeded my warning not to bet on the Chinese stock markets, with ‘That October month again’ entry on October 2nd, may count their lucky stars, today?

If you are sitting on a cash pile and your hands feel itchy, after abstaining from investments for the past two months, make a small bet in the KLSE on one of your favorite stocks. I do not want readers, especially those of Chinese origin, to suffer from ‘withdrawal symptoms’ for not making any bets in the stock market!

Get ready to sell the investment, if the Korean stock market freefalls. You can always buy the shares back later, for cheaper or dearer!


Monday, November 12, 2007

TTC Chapter 48 - Wu Wei

Laozi discussed Wu Wei (non action) in Chapter 48 of his Tao Te Ching which included how to achieve that state. Let this student attempt to translate what the great sage had said, with some commentary, and see if readers can make more sense of it:

Studying daily increases, acting on Tao daily decreases.

Decrease to further decrease to arrive at non action.

Non action means no need for action.

To rule all under heaven is not your business.

Reaching that possess business insufficient to obtain all under heaven.


With study our good thoughts and knowledge daily increases. With daily meditation amidst the stillness; thoughts and anger decreases. (Meditation is part of cultivating or acting on Tao.)

When there is out and out decrease in thoughts and anger, a cultivator arrives at non action (Wu Wei). When the cultivator arrives at non action, it leads to spontaneous action without action. The spirit manifests and magic sets in.

Upon reaching such a state, it is not the cultivator’s business neither does he have sufficient knowledge, to rule all under heaven.

If cultivators examine the Yi / Increase and Sun / Decrease hexagrams in the Zhouyi carefully, they can come to a better understanding of the requisite dual cultivation of essence and bodily life as espoused by Laozi in the Tao Te Ching including Chapter 48. And do not forget to take this translation with a pinch of salt, as usual.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Comparison of Zhou and Chin Dynasties

Wu Pei was a general of Liu An, Prince of Huainan during the Han Dynasty. Liu An consulted him for advice to overthrow the emperor. Wu Pei gave this brief comparison between the Zhou and Chin dynasties to Liu An to persuade the prince not to plan revolt:

“Let me offer your Highness some advice.

I have heard that a man with good ears can hear what has not yet made a sound, a man with good eyes can see what has not yet taken form. That is why a sage succeeds in all he does. King Wen of old made but one move, yet he has been honoured for a thousand generations as the founder of one of the three great dynasties. For he carried out the will of Heaven and all men followed him of their own accord.

This is a case from a thousand years ago, whereas the Chin Dynasty of a hundred years ago and Wu and Chu in recent times are examples of how kingdoms fall. I am not afraid to share the fate of Wu Tzu-hsu, but I hope your Highness will not listen to wrong advice like the king of Wu.

Chin abandoned the ways of the former kings, killed scholars, burnt the ancient songs and documents, gave up ceremony and justice, advocated treachery and force, relied on punishments and shipped grain from the coast to Hsiho. In those days, although men wore themselves out in the fields, they had not even enough chaff or husks to eat. Although women wove and spun, they had not clothes enough to cover themselves.

The emperor sent Meng Tien to build the Great Wall extending thousands of li from east to west. He kept hundreds of thousands of troops deployed in the field, and the dead were past counting. Corpses lay strewn for a thousand li, hundreds of mou flowed with blood, and the people were so exhausted that five households out of ten longed to revolt.

Then Hsu Fu was sent out to sea in search of supernatural beings (ShenXian), and on his return he lied to the emperor, saying, ‘I have seen the great god of the ocean, who asked whether I was the envoy from the Emperor of the West. When I signified that I was, he asked me my business. I told him I was looking for an elixir to prolong life. He replied that since the king of Chin’s gifts were so poor, I could see what I wished but might take nothing away. Then he let me go southeast to Mount Penglai, where I saw palaces built of sacred fungus. There was a god the colour of bronze and shaped like a dragon, whose light blazed up to illuminate the sky. I bowed and asked what presents I should bring, and the god replied that the elixir could be had by anyone who brought young boys and girls and crafts of every kind.’

The First Emperor of Chin (Chin Shi Huangdi) in high delight sent him back with three thousand boys and girls, the five types of grain and a hundred different craftsmen. But when Hsu Fu reached a plain with a broad expanse of water, he set himself up as king there and never returned. Then the people grieved over their bitter loss, and six households out of ten longed to revolt.

Then the emperor dispatched Chao To south across the mountains to attack the Yueh tribes. Knowing that the people were at the end of their tether, Chao To set himself up as king there and did not go back but sent to ask for thirty thousand unmarried women to mend his troops’ uniforms and the emperor sent him fifteen thousand women. That was when the people became further demoralized and seven households out of ten wanted to revolt.

In time past the emperor of Chin defied what was right, oppressing and injuring the people. He had a retinue of ten thousand carriages, built Apang Palace, took away over half his subjects’ income in taxes, and conscripted those who should have been exempt from service. Fathers were unable to support their sons, elder brothers to help their younger brothers. Harsh administration and cruel punishments made the whole country groan in distress. The people craned their necks to look for salvation and inclined their ears to listen, crying out to Heaven and beating their breasts in hatred of the emperor. That is why the whole empire responded to Chen Sheh’s call.

Now our emperor rules over a united empire, his love extends to all, his virtue and liberality are manifest. His lips do not move, yet his voice travels with the speed of a thunderbolt. He issues no order, yet his influence spreads like magic. When he wishes for something, his might is felt ten thousand li away and his subjects respond like a shadow or an echo. Furthermore, Grand Marshal Wei Ching is abler than either Chang Han or Yang Hsiung. And so I think your Highness is mistaken to compare yourself with Chen Sheh and Wu Kuang.”

[Records of the Historian – HY and Gladys Yang]

Many lessons can be learned from this brief by Wu Pei.

The most basic of all is not to believe historians who still think that Chin Shi Huangdi was a great emperor. Either these historians did not do enough homework (research) to teach ancient Chinese history or are biased. Since some of them read the Records of the Historian – Shiji - too.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Top line of Po / Splitting Apart

The Judgment in Hexagram 23, Po says:
Splitting Apart. It does not further one to go anywhere.

Due to the time, it is not favorable for the superior man to undertake anything. Therefore he waits for a more favorable time.

Nine at the top means:
There is a large fruit still uneaten. The superior man receives a carriage. The house of the inferior man is split apart.


Here the splitting apart reaches its end. When misfortune has spent itself, better times return. The seed of the good remains, and it is just when the fruit falls to the ground that good sprouts anew from its seed.

The superior man again attains influence and effectiveness. He is supported by public opinion as if in a carriage. But the inferior man’s wickedness is visited upon himself. His house is split apart.

A law of nature is at work here. Evil is not destructive to the good alone but inevitably destroys itself as well.


If we look at the recent upheavals in the high street and investment banks in the US, perhaps Yi students can understand the wisdoms contained in the Judgment, the Great Image and the six lines of Po.

The Junzi at the top line has ensured his or her position by giving generously to those below. Therefore the public gives their support carrying him, going forward.

The Xiao Ren who wielded influence by sharing pecuniary gains with others through possible collusion and hoodwinking ‘less intelligent’ investors (the old fools) are now forced upon to retire and held accountable for their failures. Many innocent bystanders (the investors) have suffered more than them in monetary terms in the recent turmoil and credit crunch in the global financial markets, a consequence of previous wrongful actions by these inferior men.

Payback time has come and the inferior men’s houses are beginning to split apart. If regulators are allowed to properly discharge their duties, the real culprits have nowhere to hide. (Think of recent investigations into global ratings agencies and a back-to-back arrangement to dispose of CDOs ‘with recourse’ to the seller)

It seems that Citibank has quickly forgotten its dilemma back in the early 1990s where it had to source the world for an investor to take up 25% of new share capital for about 900 millions of dollars. According to recent reports, there is a much bigger hole to fill in, this time round. The worst thing is that no one knows the collateral damage.

The total expected fallout from the CDOs and other derivatives can be frightening if readers know the published figures since the amount of US home loans is so huge, more than doubled the current size of the US Government debt securities. (Read Bloomberg online for more information, if interested.)

Therefore if you decide to wade into the stock market after a huge plunge, be careful.

Meanwhile try not to stand in the middle of the mountain.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Bin Bu Dong

Of the numerous war strategies used by the ancient Chinese, perhaps the strategy of ‘On Bin Bu Dong’ or ‘Pacify the soldiers, not move’ is the least understood by the multitude.

The strategy, ‘On Bin Bu Dong’, was nonetheless put to good use by Li Mu of old, until the time was ripe for conquest:

“Li Mu was an able general on Chao’s northern frontier, who remained in Yenmen in the land of Tai to guard against the Huns. He appointed officers as he saw fit and had all the market taxes sent to his headquarters to meet army expenses. He slaughtered several oxen daily for his troops, trained his men in mounted archery, kept the beacons in readiness, made full use of spies and treated his soldiers handsomely. He enjoined on his men, ‘When the Huns make a raid, withdraw quickly to the ramparts. Whoever dares engage the enemy will lose his head.’

So whenever they were raided by the Huns, they lit the beacon fires and withdrew without fighting. This went on for several years, with no losses incurred. The Huns, of course, considered Li Mu a coward, while even his frontier troops thought him faint-hearted. But when the king of Chao reprimanded him, he carried on as before. Then the king angrily recalled Li Mu, sending someone else to take over the command.

For over a year the Chao troops gave battle every time the Huns raided, and were always defeated with heavy losses. The men of Chao could no longer farm or breed cattle on the frontier. But when asked to go back, Li Mu shut himself behind closed doors, pleading illness, till the king ordered him to get up and take command.

‘Very well, if your Majesty insists,’ he said. ‘But only if I can carry on as before.’

The king agreed to this. And Li Mu on his return used his old tactics.

For several years the Huns could get no advantage, yet still they thought him a coward. And the frontier troops, daily rewarded yet kept out of action, were spoiling for a fight. Then Li Mu chose thirteen hundred chariots, thirteen thousand horseman, fifty thousand brave fighters, and a hundred thousand archers. Having trained them well, he let cattle and men wander all over the plain. When the Huns made a small raid, he pretended to be defeated and abandoned several thousand men to the enemy.

The khan of the Huns, hearing this, attacked in full force. Then Li Mu, resorting to unconventional stratagems, deployed both wings of his army in attacks from right and left and routed and killed more than a hundred thousand of the Hun horsemen. He wiped out the tribes of Tanlan, defeated those of Tunghu, and subjugated those of Linhu. The khan fled and for ten years and more dared not approach the frontier again.”

[Records of the Historian – HY and Gladys Yang]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Father of business management

“Pai Kuei, a native of Zhou, enjoyed looking out for seasonal changes. What others spurned he took, what others sought he supplied. At harvest time he bought in grain and sold silk and lacquer, when cocoons came on the market he bought in raw silk and sold grain.

When he wanted more money, Pai Kuei bought inferior grain; when he wanted to increase his stock, he bought good seeds. He spent little on food and drink, curbing his appetite and sharing the hardships and pleasures of his slaves, but seizing on any chance of gain as fiercely as some wild beast or bird of prey.

He said, ‘I do business in the same way that Yi Yin and Lu Shang planned their policies, Sunzi and Wu Chi made war, and Lord Shang applied the law. If men lack the intelligence to change with the times, the courage to make quick decisions, the magnanimity to give things away and the strength to hold what they have, though they want to learn my art I will not teach them.’

So all the world knows Pai Kuei as the father of business management. He set a standard for those who wanted to learn from him, and accepted only those who came up to this standard. He did not teach everyone.”
[Records of the Historian – HY and Gladys Yang]

Some trading tips from an ancient. Study them well, if you want to win. If we understand the underlying principles, they are no different from what real successful traders have done over the past two centuries on whom books have been written.

Though one has a head start of many years, I still fail to grasp the basics. After reading the trading strategies of Pai Kuei, the father of business management during ancient times, readers will have an equal opportunity to search for excellence in trades.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Watching the signs

1) Global banks are trying to fix their problems in unsold Special Investment Vehicles (SIVs) with new repackaging of damage goods. Total outstanding of the so called ‘toxic’ loans amount to approximately USD 320 billion give or take tens of billions since no one really know the figure. Three top US banks – Citibank, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase - upon the urging of the US Treasury, will set up a USD 80 billion fund to prevent the forced sale of hard-to-value securities. The funding will be by way of new commercial paper issued by the banks to buy better quality assets from some existing SIVs.

Comment: It is not a government bailout. But the sum is not enough to save the entire market, therefore there will still be a few hundred billions worth of distressed sale of SIVs out there, somewhere. Already a British fund holding a few billions worth of SIVs is in receivership and the receivers have informed the market that the fund will default in its repayments. A valid question remains whether the new commercial paper will be well received or not – since many fixed income investors are skeptical. After all, it is a mere shuffling of papers, with ‘monopoly money’.

2) The recent credit crunch is also hurting the British. UK Reuters reported that many thousands of youths are paying their rent or mortgages with credit cards. Real pain will be felt if credit card holders have to continue to roll their card balances. Card interest rates and cash withdrawal charges are exorbitant, to say the least. If there is no way out, it could be better to default rather than vomit blood or kill yourself. And according to recent news media, more and more people in the US are defaulting on their auto (car) loans and credit cards payments.

Comment: It is a worrying trend. When the public consumer has no savings and no excess money to spend, who will continue to buy products and pay for services? (Think of previous recessions in Malaysia.)

3) With a continual rise in interest rates and the numerous measures taken by the Chinese Government to prevent excessive assets speculation and to dampen inflation, Shenzhen property agents are finding it difficult to sell expensive properties since August. The agents now have to resort to waving cardboard signs at passing motorists trying to entice them to stop to view luxurious apartments costing up to a million dollars. The same housing units had previously sold like hot cakes. Now thirty to forty percent of units remain unsold.

Comment: Property prices have been rising for several years in many countries because of easy credit and hot money. Will property prices around the world see an end to the uptrend, remain stagnant or start falling with the US property market taking the lead?

4) Warren Buffet has recently sold all his investments in a Chinese company for a few fold profits, raising at least three billion dollars of cash for his investment company.

Comment: People do not call him sage of Omaha for nothing. He has foresight. Also remember that the global investment funds are collectively sitting on their trillion of cash.

5) The global and investment banks have yet to come clean. Maybe they do not know what the damage is, what with investments marked-to-model and marked-to-make believe, or are apparently in denial.

Comment: If the banks hold onto these difficult to sell investments too long and have not made sufficient loss provisions, their auditors may qualify the financial statements and quantify the losses. A double whammy, perhaps.

6) Investors in US stock market feeling jittery sold down their stockholdings and shifted money to the short term two year US Bonds on Friday the 19th, the 20th anniversary of the 1987 October crash. The unrelenting sell down was stopped by the closing bell. The Dow Jones index fell 367 points or 2.6%.

Comment: Asian investors will also be jittery when their stock markets reopen on Monday October 22, 2007. Will there be a rebound at the close of trade? It is anyone’s guess. It could be safer to wade into the waters on Tuesday after watching Dow Jones Monday’s performance, unless investors decide to punt.

Meanwhile the big obstacles still remain for the Chinese ninth month.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

How ancients interpret time?

In Chapter II of the Shuo Gua / Discussion of the Trigrams, it is said:

Heaven and earth determine the direction. The forces of mountain and lake are united. Thunder and wind arouse each other. Water and fire do not combat each other. Thus are the eight trigrams intermingled.

Counting that which is going into the past depends on the forward movement. Knowing that which is to come depends on the backward movement. This is why the Book of Changes has backward-moving numbers.

Commentary (extracts):
Here, in what is probably a very ancient saying, the eight primary trigrams are named in a sequence of pairs that, according to tradition, goes back to Fu Xi – that is to say, it was already in existence at the time of the compilation of the Book of Changes under the Zhou dynasty. It is called the Sequence of Earlier Heaven (Xian Tian), or the Primal Arrangement.

When the trigrams intermingle, that is, when they are in motion, a double movement is observable: first, the usual clockwise movement, cumulative and expanding as time goes on, and determining the events that are passing; second, an opposite, backward movement, folding up and contracting as time goes on, through which the seeds of the future take form. To know this movement is to know the future. In figurative terms, if we understand how a tree is contracted into a seed, we understand the future unfolding of the seed into a tree.

The Great Learning (Da Hsiao) exhorts students to investigate things to enable knowledge to be complete. In the course of an extended Yi studies, we would have come across the above saying in the Shou Gua. Either students do not understand what it meant or we had better things to do at the time. Yet, the saying could be on how the ancients interpret the timing of future events and that of Yi oracles. Interested?

The ancient Chinese probably understood the wisdom depicted in the Shou Gua well enough from extended experience to invent the calendar to determine the dates and months of a year for the common good.

If we wish to predict the timing of future events, we need to be familiar with timing in the past, which explain the advent of tables, charts, and records to determine patterns, going forward. (Think of my annual Yi charts and hexagram table; and the Tung Shu.)

If we understand the real meanings and attributes of each trigram, there are only eight trigrams, perhaps our chances of determining time in Yi oracles can be greatly enhanced.

Therefore one has always said that the timing in Yi prognostications is determined in the lines, trigrams, and hexagrams through awareness (obtained through extended divination experience) with no derivative methods required. Only earnestness and sincerity is required in our studies. I am sure Yi aficionados can afford that.

For a start, perhaps it is time for those who have ten years or more of Yi studies to really dig deep into the Ten Wings. Where there are more wisdoms and methods on Yi oracle interpretations to be uncovered than many may realize. Just leave behind your ‘misinformed’ bias, if any, when you investigate into things.

The Great Learning urges the student –
“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.”

Therefore you still have to do your own homework, if you want to improve your own understanding of timing in Yi studies, and to become cultivated, just like the sages and the wise that happened to read the Book of Changes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stand not in the middle of the mountain

This entry could be of interest to a variety of students be they Daoist, Buddhist or Confucian. Yi aficionados may learn something of use and investors in the KLSE should seriously consider the various hints given.

We have to start somewhere to learn something of value; otherwise elementary Yi students may think that the Book of Changes is only good for divinations and could continue to do so unabated in the East as well as in the West – which often lead to dropouts denouncing the Yi as ‘hocus pocus’ like the recent example of a Korean Yi student in public. Without proper guidance and deep thinking, many students probably cannot comprehend the great wisdoms or truths hidden in the Zhouyi.

One will spend more time on the aspect of wisdom than that of Yi divination today.

Fourteen years ago, in reading my fortune and in teaching how to improve upon my study of the Book of Changes, a Quanzhen heavenly immortal advised me ‘not to stand in the middle of the mountain (or hill)’. He gave other cryptic messages as well but what has this particular message got to do with wisdom, my fortune, and help to improve my Yi studies? Read on.

It took me six months to figure out the cryptic message – ‘not to stand in the middle of the mountain’. In case, regular readers cannot recall the relevant October 2005 post of a similar title, it refers to Hexagram 23 Po / Splitting Apart where the mountain rests on the earth. The hexagram comprise of five lower broken lines with a sole unbroken line resting at the top.

This is one of the rare occasions where I do not quite agree with the commentary to the great image of Po in the Wilhelm translation which says: “When it (the mountain) is steep and narrow, lacking a broad base, it must topple over.”

To this student, the mountain implodes instead of toppling over. Since there is only one unbroken light line resting at the top of the entire hexagram which is undermined by inferior people (Xiao Ren) – the other five broken dark lines - until it splits apart.

If the mountain splits apart, a person who stands in the middle of the sole unbroken line plunges straight down the chasm into the very depths of earth. You can either visualize the gaps between the five broken lines below the top straight line. Or think of a sudden appearance of a great sink hole, or the solid earth below opening up during a violent earthquake.

If the mountain topples over as suggested in the commentary, one could still be saved by shrubbery or trees along the slopes but if the top unbroken line of Po splits apart or opens up, the person standing in the middle of it plunges straight down to certain death.

Therefore the Judgment warns:
Splitting Apart. It does not further one to go anywhere.

When inferior people has influence and is pushing upwards to undermine the remaining strong line, it is not favorable for a Junzi to undertake anything. But if diviners or people insist on standing in the middle of the mountain after obtaining Po as the prognostication, what can the Yi do?

The way to escape an expected or unforeseen disaster, if any, as depicted by Po has been given much earlier this year in another entry. Let me reiterate the advice by using the Great Image of Po:
The mountain rests on the earth: The image of Splitting Apart.
Thus those above can ensure their position only by giving generously to those below.

It took me six months to figure out what the Daoist heavenly immortal indicated, and several more years to understand the meaning of this great image. If readers count backs the years, this cryptic message amongst others was given in 1993 – the year of a major bull run in the KLSE. Therefore for the past fourteen years, in line with the divinity's advice, one avoids the ninth month for shares trading which ties in with my fortune. As the saying goes, ‘it is better to be safe than be sorry’.

In my opinion, Yi aficionados who tend to stick to their beliefs that there are no auspicious or inauspicious hexagrams in Zhouyi divination may have their work cut out to truly understand divining, let alone the wisdoms inherent in the Book of Changes. If there are no proper distinctions between good and bad hexagrams, and the 384 lines, how could the Yi ever give forewarnings or inform diviners of forthcoming auspicious events?

In Po, the warning is given in the Judgment, and the way out of danger – the wisdom - is depicted in the great image. Down the ages, perhaps many Chinese have stumbled upon or have been taught this truth or wisdom by their elders, teachers, or even by divinities of ‘giving generously to those below’. Yet many may not actually know, if they have not study it, that the wisdom originated from this hexagram in the Zhouyi.

I doubt elementary Yi students are aware of such hidden wisdoms in the Yi. Therefore it is time for them to reread the Zhouyi in earnest and in all sincerity, to allow the wisdoms to slowly sink in. Only then can we learn a thing or two about the Yi.

However do not attempt to convince a stingy boss to apply this wisdom for a pay rise. The end result could be a literal ‘splitting apart’ of your job with the company, for trying to be funny! The concept is rather different, if you truly understand the wisdom contained in the great image of Po.

If you put on your thinking cap, you may find the wisdom workable or understand a truth that existed for more than three thousand years.

To make it easier for some readers and to give credit where due: the kind and the sincere every where on earth still practises it today, so do a majority of Americans, especially the great persons (Da Ren) in the US.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another sleight of hand

It is interesting to glean the global financial news daily from various sources on the web and how the media present the numbers to their target audience on satellite TV.

The concerned central bankers of UK and Europe fire off warnings about the risk of inflation, huge budget deficits of the US and the great trade surplus of China, the turmoil created by the US subprime mortgage crisis and related derivatives (collateralized debt obligations), the subsequent credit crunch which are still simmering to date, while being pressurized by their respective governments and the US Fed recent easing of its monetary policy to reduce their respective banks’ lending interest rates. So far the professionalism shown by the UK, the European and the Japanese Central Banks is still holding. For how long more is anyone’s guess.

Gleaning from the financial news reports over the past few weeks, one found the desired information. The US mortgage market amounts to 16 trillion US dollars.

The recent write offs by the high street banks and the investment banks amounted to USD 20 Billion – big losses, but they only represent a miniscule 0.125% of the US mortgage market. The write offs include losses arising from mortgage loan defaults, related CDOs and financing leveraged buyouts. What remained hidden were these banks’ exposure and how the provisions or write offs were made – meaning the adequacy of the write offs or the provisions. Since we read daily of the fall in the US house prices, house repossessions, and the high defaults in subprime loans.

What may interest readers could be how the global banks and investment banks provide for the write offs. According to a news article on the web this is what they do:

‘Banks this year classified securities on their balance sheets into three groups.

Level 1 the most liquid, or mark-to-market level.

Level 2 or mark-to-model, the next level, includes collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other securities that trade rarely and require computer models to value.

Level 3 – the most illiquid of the group, includes investments in private equity, mortgage servicing rights and other assets that have no apparent market value. Because it is difficult to value and understand, they have been dubbed “mark-to-make believe”.’

Since the advent of the defaults in subprime loans and the consequent fear of high risk bets, the previous huge appetite for CDOs, other derivatives and junk bonds including the financing of leveraged buyouts have quickly dried up. Therefore their trade is almost non existent, which explains the recent credit crunch.

Provisions for Level 1 debts would be adequate as they are marked-to-market. But provisions for the other two levels – the ‘mark-to-model’ and the ‘mark-to-make believe’ is suspect. Why?

When it is marked-to-model, we do not need a financial or computer whiz to tell that any twitching to a model can yield better numbers. Since the Level 3 debts are marked-to-make believe, only those who want to be willingly misled will buy these debts. The global banks probably know it too well to fall for these two levels of debts which probably explained why they desist from inter-bank lending.

With a 16 trillion dollars US mortgage market, it would be made believed that a total write off of USD 20 billion by high street and investment banks is near sufficient or prudent.

It paints a rosy picture that the subprime loans and related CDOs have been mostly hived off to the ‘old fools’ banks in Europe and elsewhere – remember the recent USD 20 billion bailout of a German state bank? I have my doubts because of the huge amount of outstanding subprime mortgages and their doubling or threefold value in CDOs repackaging.

The Asian moms and pops – mainly from South Korea and Japan – are probably punting the US stock markets and the Yen Carry trades like there is no tomorrow. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why when these banks announced losses or much lower profits warnings, their share prices go up, while the value of the Yen keeps falling. Probably the punters have long forgotten about the Information Technology bubble of seven years ago where many Korean day traders, via their fast broadband networks, were burnt when the IT bubble burst. So did a few big hedge funds. Hard core gamblers seldom learn or listen.

All this while, according to news reports, the large institutional investors are particularly risk adverse and have been staying on the sidelines guarding their trillions of dollars. Perhaps these investors and the European central banks know something that small fries like us do not?

Meanwhile the ‘sleight of hand’ goes up another notch. Gloss.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Confucius on spiritual beings (Kuei Shen)

According to a very recent article on the new ‘Poltergeist’ movie to be shown again in the United States, more than half of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts. And most people learned about ghosts in movies.

Spiritual beings (Kuei Shen) cannot be easily seen or heard unless they manifest. They seldom do because it would unnecessarily frighten people – family members, disciples, or the general public.

One often comes across discussions in the web which mentioned that the ancient Chinese sages seem not to know or discuss much about spiritual beings. Perhaps influenced by an obscure late Han dynasty philosopher, Wang Ch'ung, some of these modern thinkers or scholars tend to believe like him that there are no spiritual beings in Heaven or on Earth. Some even go to the extent to point out that only the religious believe in the existence of ghosts (Kuei) and divinities (Shen) which then inadvertently spawn endless debate(s) extant in the West of what is considered Daoist philosophy and religion.

There is never any point in discussing with those who think they know more than the ancients, the Zhen Ren, the Daoist immortals, and Buddhas put together about Kuei Shen and about Dao. Otherwise they may brand you religious, dogmatic, rude, or Confucian.

A number of modern Yi scholars tend to pick and choose what they want to learn from the ten wings of the Zhouyi – often ignoring the thoughts of sages and the wise therein about Kuei Shen – while claiming that the ten wings which include the Great Image were written by Confucians, yet somehow they conclude that none were written by Confucius. Since they verily believe that there was no evidence Confucius ever read the Zhouyi – ignoring historical facts that the great sage discussed a hexagram and wished for more years to read the Zhouyi, as recorded in the Analects? And that Sima Qian recorded down for posterity in his Records of the Historian (Shiji) that Confucius loved the Yi. Perhaps they also conveniently ignore the fact that the Doctrine of the Mean informs Yi aficionados how to obtain omens using the tortoise and the milfoil (yarrow stalks).

Meanwhile for the earnest and sincere Daoists and Yi aficionados, let us read what Confucius has to say about spiritual beings (Kuei Shen):

The Master said,
‘How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to them! We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not hear them; yet they enter into all things, and there is nothing without them. They cause all the people in the kingdom to fast and purify themselves, and array themselves in their richest dresses, in order to attend at their sacrifices.

Then, like overflowing water, they seem to be over the heads, and on the right and left of their worshippers.

It is said in the Book of Poetry, “The approaches of the spirits, you cannot surmise; - and can you treat them with indifference?”

‘Such is the manifestness of what is minute! Such is the impossibility of repressing the outgoings of sincerity!’

[Chung Yung – Doctrine of the Mean 16 .1 to .5]

Like Confucius and the ancients before him, does this not mean that modern people can still believe in the existence of Kuei Shen (dark and light spirits in the ten wings, or ghosts and divinities in the minds of the multitude) without being overly superstitious, religious, rude, or Confucian?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

That October month again

Every year when it comes to the month of October, equity investors noticeably turn uneasy. Especially for those investors who had witnessed or read about the US stock market crashes of Octobers 1929 and 1987. (For that matter, even a US TV presenter showed her concern about the performance of the Dow Jones Index this October.) By coincidence, the ‘October plunges’ had also occurred in 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1997 according to

Last year, one suggested that there were no October effect because the Yi did not say anything. This year is anybody’s guess – there are quite a number already in the web. The article titled “October a ‘misunderstood’ month” at predicts that there will be no October plunge in 2007. By their analysis, the authors could be right.

The good news is that the global stock markets have rebounded, some reaching new highs, after the twitching of discount rates followed by a reduction in bank lending rates by the US Federal Reserve. With a simple wave of the magic wand, it seems that the global financial nightmares created by the subprime mortgage defaults, losses in CDOs and un-disgorged LBO loans, the Yen carry trades, and the subsequent credit crunch have disappeared the next morning.

The bad news is that the value of US dollars keeps getting cheaper; with foreclosures and a glut, US house prices are falling fast; oil, gold, and commodities prices have started to climb because of the falling dollar, therefore inflation may slowly rear its ugly head in the US and elsewhere.

China already concerned about the effects of galloping inflation caused by a huge rise in food prices has increased interest rates several times this year to dampen assets speculation. Instead of printing more money like the US and Europe is or will be doing, China has been draining surplus money out of her financial system and capital markets. Soon she will send money out of the country what with the set up of a USD 200 billion sovereign investment fund. Probably a much better idea than investing the sum in US Government bonds because of the falling dollar.

The original high street banks (not talking about US stock brokers and building societies in UK) are slowly but surely revealing their losses from subprime loans, CDOs and leveraged buyout loans hoping for a quick reprieve with interest reductions from the central banks. Of late, some of the high street banks had been rescuing their own hedge funds which deal with subprime loans and putting them back into their balance sheets. Now I understand better how some hedge funds get up to hundred-fold leverages. Banks have become high rollers of risky bets. No wonder the British public no longer trusts banks with their hard earned money.

In tandem with global stock markets, The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange has also rebounded near to its record highs. But the low liners have not followed suit. Therefore not much joy for retailers and punters. If only the KLSE had followed the Shanghai stock market which performed in line with the Yi chart for 2007, many Malaysian retailers would be quite rich by now.

In case readers still want to know how the Shanghai stock market will perform in October. Stay out. Preserve your capital or take profits.

From my records, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange plunges led another round of freefalls in the Asian stock markets on 23rd October 1997 after the Thai Baht link to the USD collapsed in August.

According to the Yi chart, there will be a few big obstacles in the month of October. I wonder if the Shanghai stock market can cross those hurdles since the Chinese Government would continue to raise interest rates and drain money from the financial system. Therefore do not be surprised if the Shanghai stock market ‘decides’ to crash sometime in October. The stock market had really enjoyed a stupendous run up till now (up 170% plus from the previous year) despite warnings from several prominent personages in mid June.

All said, the higher stock markets rise, the bigger will be the falls – in terms of points for the US and percentages for others. Remember Yi’s recent warning to me in the form of Hexagram Tun / Difficulty at the Beginning which leads to chaos and unemployment?

Take care.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sima Qian on Confucius

China commemorated the 2558th birthday of Confucius (b 551 BC) on 28th September. (Refer to related entry in The Useless Tree blog)

To commemorate the great sage, this blogger shares the following comments from Sima Qian as recorded in the Records of the Historian (Shiji) more than two thousand years ago:

One of the songs says, “The great mountain, I look up to it! The great road, I travel it!”

Although I cannot reach him, my heart goes out to him. When I read the works of Confucius, I try to see the man himself. In Lu I visited his temple and saw his carriage, clothes and sacrificial vessels. Scholars go regularly to study ceremony there, and I found it hard to tear myself away.

The world has known innumerable princes and worthies who enjoyed fame and honour in their day but were forgotten after death, while Confucius, a commoner, has been looked up to by scholars for ten generations and more.

From the emperor, princes and barons downwards, all in China who study the Six Arts take the master as their final authority. Well is he called the Supreme Sage!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Crimes against humanity

The ancients have always advocated for a ruler to be benevolent since only when he loves his people can they enjoy peace and prosperity in the state. But when a ruler only thinks of profits or wants to manifest his power to oppress a powerless people of his own state or others, we see examples of a crime against humanity. In the days of old, we read of such crimes committed against the multitude in China by Chou Hsin of Shang and Shih Huangdi, the first emperor of Chin.

A few thousand years later, with much human development and education, we still witness crimes against humanity with the world looking on usually helpless.

If we think of the Second World War, the Middle East, Bosnia, several African states, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Myanmar (Burma), we see powerful images of crimes against humanity. The whole world is outraged and yet remains helpless. Besides protesting against the ruler(s) for the whole world to see, with cries for help what can an overtly oppressed people do against guns and the might of a superior army? The unarmed and the peaceful cannot alone fight against oppression and a well armed army. It would be like throwing eggs at a rock, trying to split it?

How many more people need to die or get displaced before the world body, the United Nations steps in? What has the United Nations done except split hairs and listen to the rhetoric of powerful nations, their biggest paymasters? Where is the world statesman when he or she is needed? The answer, my friend, is ‘Blowing in the Wind’.

The world sorely needs a statesperson – a Da Ren - who commands global respect because the great person (the Da Ren) is both humane and just to people on earth. And who has the actual means and sincerity to back up the rhetoric. Perhaps then there will be respite from crimes committed against humanity in the world.

In the Book of Poetry, it is said,

‘Before the sovereigns of the Yin dynasty had lost the hearts of the people, they could appear before God. Take warning from the house of Yin. The great decree is not easily preserved.’

This shows that, by gaining the people, the kingdom is gained, and, by losing the people, the kingdom is lost.

[Da Hsiao – The Great Learning 10 .5]

Surely the ruling generals of Myanmar have ignored the advice in the above poem or quotation in the Great Learning for the past forty five years.

For the sake of profits and power, these heartless rulers oppressed their own people. The Burmese Buddhist monks are right in denying the generals and the army access to pay respects to Buddha. By committing crimes against humanity, can the generals and their soldiers really appear before Buddha?

No, says the ancients in the Book of Poetry and the Great Learning. And I wholeheartedly agree.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where friendship ends

Whether we like it or not, the rich and powerful certainly have an advantage to the selection of friends and relatives. They undoubtedly have more friends and relatives than others. But once they fall from power or become poor, their friends and relatives will thin. Readers may be surprised to learn that this phenomenon is nothing new and already existed more than two thousand years ago.

Take the cases of worthy Chi An and Cheng Tang-shih who had friends by the score when they were in power during the Han dynasty and none when they fell from power. How must it be with ordinary men!

Lord Chai of Hsiakuei said that when he was chief justice guests thronged his gate, when he was dismissed you could have trapped birds at his door, but when he became chief justice again, his old protégés hoped to come back. Then he wrote in large characters on his gate:

When a lifelong friend is dead,
Friendship has fled;
When a rich man becomes poor,
Friendship is no more;
When a noble is brought low.
Friendship must go.

Chi An and Cheng Tang-shih might have said the same, alas!”

[Comments from the Grand Historian – Sima Qian]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fifty years of Yi study?

The Master said, “If some years were added to my life, I would give fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come to be without great faults.”

"The above statement was the value which Confucius set upon the study of the Yi."

"Zhu Xi supposes that this was spoken when Confucius was about seventy, as he was in his sixty-eighth year when he ceased his wanderings, and settled in Lu to the adjustment and compilation of the Yi and the other Classics."

"Ho Yen interprets the chapter quite differently. Referring to the saying, “At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven”, he supposes this to have been spoken when Confucius was forty seven, and explains – “In a few years more I will be fifty, and have finished the Yi, when I may be without great faults.”"

One thing remains upon both views: - Confucius never claimed, what his followers do for him, to be a perfect man."
[Appended notes to Analects 7 .16 Legge]

Personally, I would be quite satisfied if I can study the Yi for a total of fifty years. What about other Yi aficionados?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Complete omen on natural disaster(s) in 2007

The omen recently given by the Zhouyi (Zhou Book of Changes) via Hexagram 3 Tun / Difficulty at the Beginning portends natural disaster(s) caused by a combination of typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia.

If the omen unfolds according to my interpretation, there will be a massive loss of lives and of realty. Those who live in high rise housing units or work in multi-storey office blocks will be particularly vulnerable this time round to the expected earth shattering quakes. Many roads will be flooded or broken up into sections.

Since the first blog entry on the omen in early September 2007, as forewarnings from heaven and nature, Central America has been hit by thunderstorms which turned in hurricanes, Indonesia has suffered several earthquakes and a small tsunami, Japan had a typhoon, Northern states in peninsular Malaysia suffered flash floods, Taiwan and China were grazed or hit by a super typhoon with many roads flooded and thousands of homes destroyed in Shanghai.

While many may consider these events good enough signs that the omen has indeed unfolded, this Yi student, like the seismic experts who spent decades predicting the big one that will hit after a series of small earthquakes, still waits for the actual unfolding of the oracle. Credit has to be given to these seismic experts for predicting a big one, if it happens. But prevailing scientific monitors and science severely limit their prediction capabilities to a general area without the ability to determine when and actually where (read time and space) the massive earthquake will likely hit.

If this recent Yi omen unfolds according to my interpretation, skeptics and detractors may realize how profound the Zhouyi is and why the ancients, the Chinese sages and the wise had relied on the Book of Changes to foretell events especially on those that concerned important matters of state.

Since it is timely to do so, let me post the complete omen comprising of both time and space for interested readers:


The Asian countries that would likely be affected by heavy thunderstorms and typhoons would be Malaysia (Kelantan, Terengganu, parts of Kedah and Pahang) and Hong Kong.

Earthquakes followed by tsunamis arising from the bottom of the South China Sea would likely hit Japan, Taiwan, and/or Korea. Coastal areas of neighboring countries like China and Vietnam could also be affected to an extent.


From experience, the timing of omens and heaven secrets given by the Yi to me are based on Malaysian time, therefore readers from different time zones or those who could be affected would have to adjust the time differential accordingly – otherwise dates may slightly differ because of huge timing differences.

Some of the heavy thunderstorms, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis will likely strike at dawn and can happen any day between September 20th and the end of September. The likely dates to watch out for the huge earthquakes (the big ones) and the tsunamis, if any, are between September 22nd and the 26th.

Heaven and nature have recently given out forewarnings to most of the indicated countries of what to prepare for. As indicated in an earlier entry, heaven and earth are fair to humans, if they have learned how to read the signs of heaven and nature.

It is good to see that the specialists – the meteorologists and geologists – are on their toes and performing their jobs well in the recent ‘test or trail’ runs. So did the respective governments including that of Indonesia which was recently hit by earthquakes, numerous aftershocks and a small tsunami. While China took the drastic step to order 2 million of her people living in the coastal and unprotected areas to move into typhoon shelters to avoid an oncoming super typhoon.

These specialists and the respective governments will be able to save more lives if they are particularly vigilant and pass on vital information to the people in a timely manner. However people should also take steps to protect themselves and their kin. It would be foolhardy of them to ignore governmental warnings of oncoming typhoons and tsunamis even if some of the expected typhoons and tsunamis eventually fizzled out before reaching shore.

In sharing experiences with Yi aficionados on what to watch out for in the heavenly signs of the times and the three updates, they may now note that one big earthquake hit Indonesia at dawn. Forewarnings (or relevant information) usually accompany Yi omens before they unfold and confirm their likelihood of occurrence as the time of the portend events encroaches.

Warning :

No matter how I have presented this omen in this entry and in others, there is always a likelihood that it may fail to occur. If the omen does not happen as foretold, blame it on this Yi student’s inaptness in wrongly interpreting what the profound teacher, the Zhouyi actually wanted to say.

Well, chaos and unemployment – the main theme of Hexagram 3 Tun - for me, I suppose – perhaps rather like the hedge funds managers who lost their jobs after making wrong calls on the subprime loans debacle. At least they were well rewarded before their swift dismissals, while I got nothing.

Therefore, readers and those who heard about this omen must take note, in case they missed the relevant qualifications (with ifs) in each entry, that I can be incorrect in the prognostication. Instead of relying on my blog entries, they should always check with their investment advisers and rely on relevant specialist advice for their own investment decisions and other actions, including those of non actions.

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