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.

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