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.

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