Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Did the Yi speak? (2)

Book II of the Richard Wilhelm’s translation contains the technical aspects of Yi studies. Since it discussed the Ten Wings, Cosmos, Fate, Yin Yang and Tao amongst other technical knowledge, one only began to study Book II ‘The Material’ after a decade or more of studying the Yi. Of course one could be a slow learner, but I wholeheartedly agree with Steve Marshall who has advised Yi students in his Yijing Dao site that they should only read Book II after ten years of studies. Students who are not similarly prepared and had jumped into these technical aspects early may get ‘drown’ in the deep end of the pool.

The deep thoughts and commentary of the wise and the ancients including Confucius, made up the Ten Wings. If we study the material too early, we could be deluged with too much information. If we do not study their thoughts and commentary, we may not be able to deepen our studies. Therefore it would be wise to take things one step at a time, progress at a leisure pace, since the Yi and Tao are there forever waiting for the right persons.

‘If you love self knowledge and/or wisdom, the Yi is the right book. To one person its spirit appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night.’ [Carl Jung] According to Richard Wilhelm, if you want to speak to the Book of Changes, you need to be fit to consult the oracle. 'It requires a clear and tranquil mind, receptive to the cosmic influences hidden in the humble divining stalks', he added.
[W/B translation]

To those who disagree with these two renowned Western fellows of the Yi and to those who believe that the Book of Changes speaks to anyone who questions and/or cast the tools – yarrow, coins, or whatever – perhaps the following paragraph can throw some light to the understanding of the two respected gentlemen, ancients, and the wise down the ages.

The transformation of things and the fitting together of them depend upon the changes. Stimulation of them and setting them in motion depend upon continuity. The spirituality and clarity depend upon the right man. Silent fulfillment, confidence that needs no words, depend upon virtuous conduct.
[Da Zhuan / The Great Treatise. Pg 324 W/B]

If we seek an oracle from the Book of Changes, it will depend upon the prognostications and expected changes. The diviner stimulates the changes via casting and sets them in motion by acting on the oracles. This ensures continuity. The higher spiritual levels and the understanding of deeper meanings – omens and/or heaven’s secrets - depend upon the right person. (Also refer to the Chung Yung – Doctrine of the Mean and the Hui Ming Ching.) (Did you notice the subtle difference between oracles from the Yi and those of the Meihua Yi Shu?)

Only those who cultivate proper conduct and virtues would achieve clarity, and sincerity in the Yi. Therefore the silent fulfillment, confidence that needs no words – cheerfully waiting for the expected outcome.

Even if we accord a better rendition of what the ancients and wise said, how many Yi aficionados can sincerely follow the changes? ‘Actions speak louder than words’, could be what the Yi looks for in a sincere student. After all, which teacher really likes his students, who came to seek help in the first place, to ignore his teachings and guidance, time and time again?
If you keep teasing and testing the Yi’s patience, you could be lucky to get a whack on the head. Unlucky, if the Yi no longer speaks.

If the Yi does not speak to you, close the Book put it back on the top shelf and put up a sign at the front door, ‘No consultations!’ Do whatever you please for say six months. Reread the Yi after that. When you feel that you are ready, try asking the Yi again. Your fallow mind could be more receptive to what the Yi says if it speaks. And do not forget the follow up actions, this time.

These are the times when my relatives and friends including the Daoist will ask, ‘Why don’t you charge a fee for these deep thoughts?’

Yes, there are people who do that in the web – pay USD 20 before you can open a PDF file to access one of their writings on Tao and/or neidan practice. While I was really needy when they made the well meaning suggestion, who would want to pay to hear a jack of all trades speak? If one can do something for the Yi and Tao, does one really need rewards for such actions?



Regreso said...

Hi Allan

Just in e-ching's forum I was talking about Wilhelm's Book II. In particular, about it's defense of the Wings; and (me) against the simplification process to avoid long years of study and practice of the Virtues.

But here, we are talking deeper, I think.

Does the Yi talks?... I would put it in the other side of the coin... does anyone who ask is a Noble One?.. at least a sincere disciple searching to become a Noble One?

Because the Yi is a tool from Heaven to the Noble, so he/she can help Humanity (and not to win the lotto). In ancient times, the Yi was reserved to Nobles... now "you can be your own fortune teller only for $20"

Everyone should follow his/her Own Way; so common people would follow common aproaches to Yi and find some uses (historical, mathematical, lingustic.. etc).

Yet, the 24 Sages of the Near Heaven would teach only to sincere disciples of Wisdom, so they can become Nobles.

(Hopefully, some day we could be free of great faults)

This post you started is a deep and needed reflection.

Luis Andrade said...

Hi Allan and Rodrigo,

A great post and a nice continuation to the other one, Allan.

Just a short comment on something Rodrigo wrote above: I hardly think that a sage like Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi) had the intention of simplifying or diminishing the meaning of the Yi, and least of all, of attacking the contents of the Ten Wings, when he published a system for interpreting multiple moving lines...

All the best to both,


regreso said...

Hi my friend Luis

I didn't say he did....

I did wrote that Wilhelm made a defense on the Wings in his Book II, and then I wrote against the simplification of the Yi.

For more details, the simplification I was talking about in e-ching's forum was the process AFTER Zhu Xi (Yi Lin, Ling Chi Ching and so on)

But, as I said, here is a deeper issue than the issue in e-ching's forum. If the Yi speaks to the Noble in a diferent way than a "commoner", does anybody asking the Yi is a Noble?

Luis Andrade said...

But, as I said, here is a deeper issue than the issue in e-ching's forum. If the Yi speaks to the Noble in a diferent way than a "commoner", does anybody asking the Yi is a Noble?

Allan, I hope you don't mind this exchange we are having with Rodrigo here... We span the world and at least two different languages when we exchange points of view on the Yi... lol! Since you know me for a while longer, Allan, I must say that Rodrigo is a true and very sincere student of the Yi.

Rodrigo, as Fernán points in the E-Ching forum, the Jiao Shi Yi Lin is a Han Dynasty work, over a millennium older than Zhu Xi...

As for anybody being Noble enough or not to consult the Yijing, I know for a fact I would never claim such a title or adjective for myself. Such are given, not taken or claimed.

My best,


Allan said...

Regresso, you are correct. In the ancient past, the Book of Changes was reserved for the Royal Court and historiographers were appointed to divine for royalties – emperors, kings and dukes for example. Probably with the waning of the Zhou Court power around 700 BC over the Zhuhou (nobles), more scholars were given access to the Yi by the vassal states.

The Junzi is someone who shows greatness of character (thus of noble character). However not all nobles – illustrious by rank, title or birth – or sons of nobles is considered a Junzi. (See Analects and entry on ‘Three types of man’.) It depends on each person’s intent and actions.

The way to possess great character for anyone is to cultivate virtues and self. The Yi provides guidance on the proper conduct of a Junzi. However not all Yi and Daoist students would want to learn that. Yi students cast the yarrow or coins or whatever and expect the Yi to speak to them. It really is a chicken and egg situation. Perhaps when they draw enough ‘blanks’, they could be more willing to listen and learn.

Meanwhile, gentlemen, the Yi seems to want to have the last say on the matters you are discussing.

Luis, you could be surprised that the Yi spoke just before your comments – estimated time difference. See my entry on ‘Did the Yi speak?’(3). What the Yi said could be relevant to the three of us and/or other Yi aficionados.



Luis Andrade said...

Luis, you could be surprised that the Yi spoke just before your comments – estimated time difference. See my entry on ‘Did the Yi speak?’(3). What the Yi said could be relevant to the three of us and/or other Yi aficionados.

Allan, my friend, nothing coming from the Yi surprises me anymore. I'm happy and grateful you are sharing so much here.

My best,