Thursday, January 31, 2008

‘A blind corner’

The first day of Chinese New Year for 2008 falls on February 7th and in line with tradition, celebrations will last for fifteen days – from the new moon to the full moon.

The past couple of weeks have been a particular busy time of year for fortune tellers, fengshui and Yi masters who make personal readings for their clients, and/or those who disseminate predictions through their annual Chinese horoscope books (animal signs), seminars, and newspaper articles, on what 2008 will bring.

Good and bad fortune can certainly be foretold depending on the prediction skills of each master.

In times of global uncertainty and financial markets turmoil like those witnessed in the last quarter of 2007 and the first few weeks of 2008, more people can be expected to turn to fortune tellers and fengshui masters for help.

While these masters were busy making their professional calculations to come up with predictions for the year 2008 to sell their services, books and/or seminars, this student has yet to consult the Book of Changes for the annual hexagram.

Their reasoning for their hard work is simple. Many Chinese would want to know their fortune before the Chinese New Year starts. Therefore fortune readings for the oncoming year are usually in great demand some time before the old year ends, so are the seminars and the horoscope books. Strike while the metal is hot, perhaps?

My reasoning for not consulting the Yi is also simple*. At this time of year, and according to tradition, the Daoist deities and heavenly immortals (the ShenXian) are said to be returning to heaven to make yearend reports of what transpired on earth. Furthermore from experience, personal annual hexagrams consulted before a Chinese New Year begins are neither here nor there. Therefore this student only consults the Zhouyi on or after the first day of CNY for his annual hexagram and not before.

To me, the current period of time can be called, ‘a blind corner’, since few would really know what is around the corner. Under the circumstances, one cannot offer anything special about the stock markets until the CNY begins. Not long to wait though.


*After I had written out and decided to blog a more comprehensive entry on this topic in the wee hours of this morning (local time), when I clicked onto the internet explorer to post the entry in, my ISP link to international sites suddenly went dead while the links to local sites remained stable. Also by coincidence, a heavy thunderstorm started.

Perhaps Heaven was trying to provide hints that too much is being revealed. Therefore certain information which relate to the ways of Heaven to support my simple reasoning has been omitted.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dilemma in teaching ancient Chinese thoughts

I read with interest how three Western Professors who teach Confucian studies to their respective students in universities handle a situation where two scholars who translated the ‘Original Analects’ recently indicated that most of Confucius’s thoughts or sayings contained in the book were by accretion long after him. One Professor appeared particularly shaken and is now filled with doubts with the authenticity of the Analects, wondering if he had wrongly relied on the text to teach his students authentic Confucian thoughts. Another professor thought whether Confucius really existed or not since he mentioned that the ancient was ‘semi-mythical’.

What Laozi described about the three different types of scholars in the Tao Te Ching may be applicable and I quote:

Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice.

Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.

Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit to be the Tao.

[TTC 41 Legge]

Before I venture into what class these three Professors and the two translators belong to, let me give my observations from my own point of view about how a number of Western scholars (include translators, Sinologists, experts) tend to think about the Chinese ancients.

Firstly most of these scholars doubt the existence of some if not all of the ancients. Yet they continue to propound the theories or practice of the ancients for example Tao, Yijing and Confucian studies. Then they demand documentary evidence of what the ancients actually did or say. When some historical documents are dug up from burial grounds, they spend an enormous amount of time to study them trying to discount or authenticate the received texts – most copies, as we were told, were extracted from the palaces of the Ching dynasty. Of course it would be great that the scholars can find some documentary evidence to substantiate the existence or non existence of the ancients and the validity of the received texts or otherwise. However have they ever considered their arrogance?

Is it not arrogant of these particular Western scholars to think that the Chinese ancients for example Yao, Shun, Da Yu, King Wen, Laozi, and Confucius were myths? Is it not preposterous of these scholars to think that some of the ancients’ life histories were concocted and that most of their well known teachings were by accretions? Do they really think that the Han literati (mostly Confucians and Daoists) in the courts and their emperors could not separate between fact and fiction? That they did not know what had transpired a few hundred years earlier. And that the wise, the learned Chinese down the two thousand over years had no clue over the authenticity of what they were reading? You must be really joking.

In the West time and time again, students and/or teachers will find that scholars who want to win some fame or to sell their books would make fresh claims, substantiated or otherwise, that they found something new about the Chinese ancients. If your way of life or belief is shattered easily because of such claims, either you are a novice, an ‘old fool’, or you have muddled through your studies as a second class scholar, sometimes grasping it, sometimes not.

The first class scholar would not face this dilemma in teaching ancient Chinese thoughts. Because he or she would earnestly carry (on) what is right into practice. And it is not for nothing, that I called Professor Sam Crane, a top class Confucian scholar. (He is one of the three professors discussing about the claims of accretion in the Analects. Refer to ‘The Useless Tree’ blog for further links, if interested, to what each of the professors had to say.)

If we have read what James Legge had mentioned in his translation of the Analects, the teachings and thoughts of Confucius were mainly recorded by his students. That is the reason for the often quoted – ‘The Master says’. If readers still insist that these are accretions long after him, then what more can I say?

If we refer to the comments of Confucius recorded in the Zhouyi we can discern and distinct the deep thoughts and clarity of his thinking which shows his sagacity. For Western professors who teach ancient Chinese philosophy, it could be a waste of talent if they have not read the four Confucian books and the five Chinese classics.

Finally the third class scholars, the Xiao Ren, are those who for the want of fame and pecuniary gain, try to mislead others by making unsubstantiated claims, or by not doing proper homework. They can laugh all the way to the bank!

But banks can sometimes make huge losses, downsize, retrench staff, or lose all the depositors’ money. Perhaps, Laozi is trying to tell these third class scholars that, that is Tao. (Obviously readers can discern that the bank part is accretion long after him!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Missing the return (2)

During the turmoil in the global stock markets witnessed the past two days, there were reports of trillions of dollars being wiped out and that thirty eight bourses across the world have technically entered into bear markets – a drop of 20% from their recent highs. The New York Stock Exchange was closed on Monday with the Dow futures down 650 points in electronic trading – promising a temporary halt in trading upon its Tuesday opening if no drastic action was taken by the US Fed.

To avoid the carnage of the Asian and European stock markets, the US Fed decided to cut its base lending rate to banks by three quarters of a percentage point. After a brief battle between the bulls and the bears during the day, the Dow closed a percentage point lower. The European markets rebounded after the Fed announcement and so did the Asian markets today.

If stock investors continue to rely on government authorities to help make money or to recover losses, perhaps they do not really know what they are doing. When the US Fed has to take such a course of drastic action each time the global financial markets swoon, what will happen if this central bank has no more wriggle room to lower the interest rates?

The British Prime Minister has called for the IMF to take a lead in the international financial crisis. If the IMF and the Central Banks were so good at it, there will not be an Asian Financial meltdown in the 1997 / 98 nor a US mortgage crisis and a credit crunch in 2007 / 08 caused by excessive lending binges.

If stock investors tie their fate to what governments will do or not do, prepare to ‘miss the return’ since officials are known to or can always change their 'fickle' minds. For example, the so called ‘through train’ investment from investors in China to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced by the Chinese government in August 2007. That has been delayed again and again.

Since January 1, 2008 to January 22, the Hang Seng Index has fallen 21.8%. During the same period of time, the Australian Ordinary Index fell 18.7%, the Singapore Stock Exchange fell 17.7%, and the KOSPI fell 15.2%, while the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the KLSE corrected more than 6%. (Refer to Yahoo worldwide stock indices for published figures)

These are practical and modern examples of what the Yi meant by ‘missing the return’. Refer to entry on January 1 together with a prior warning to readers cum stock investors about ‘missing the return’. Also read the December 14 entry, 'Looks to heaven' which carried a similar warning that the early January plunge looks ‘exceptionally horrible’? And according to a Japanese fund manager quoted on Tuesday, the market plunges were horrible. He thought the Japanese stock market had died!

Probably billionaire investor, George Soros missed the return too, otherwise he would not have lamented that ‘the situation is much more serious than any financial crisis since World War II’. If he had cashed out or shorted the markets, he would not have mentioned this.

Of course, my advanced and the ‘surged’ troops were also hurt. But since most of the stocks were bought at their 52 weeks low, how much more can they fall? Like any experienced investor out there, there is still a big cushion of cash reserves for the expected turbulence in 2008. Meanwhile I am staying invested in the KLSE waiting for the Chinese New Year rally. And my troops are staging at the borders, waiting for a return to Light as it must.

When markets reached their heights, they will fall. After the fall, prices will rebound. Changes are not difficult to read, but the proverbial timing is. Therefore is it not timely in times of uncertainty to go read and/or consult your Zhouyi?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Review of predictions in 2007

In the Shou Gua of the Zhouyi, the ancients taught us to look at the past to predict the future (October 18 entry).

By using the Yi charts, gleaning from past events, and Yi prognostications, one can predict how stock markets will perform with certain accuracy. Perhaps readers may think that my prediction on the global stock markets plunge in early January 2008 was pure coincidence? Before the expected onslaught, one mentioned it will look particularly horrible.

Probably they also think the same of my earlier 'notable' predictions in 2007:

The KLSE Bull Run in 2007 ( February 11);

The expected plunge in late February/early March (February 24 /March 2);

China stock markets will continue to rise notwithstanding the May warnings of the ‘bubble bursting’ by world renowned personalities – Alan Greenspan, Li Ka Shing and Lee Shau Kee (May 27);

To prepare for the worst case scenario in August (July/August);

Natural disasters, chaos and unemployment in September (September);

‘Cash is king’ from September onwards (September 16);

Not to stand in the middle of the mountain in October coupled with a warning not to invest in the Chinese stock markets including Hong Kong (October 2 and 13);

and in the November 24th entry on 'wishful thinking', my predictions that the Chinese stock markets including Hong Kong will soon enter bear markets, and that the overall loss provisions of CDOs and subprime mortgages predicted by the US Federal Reserve, the OECD, and others may not be prudent enough. (Also read ‘Another sleight of hand’ entry on October 10 about the actions of bankers if interested.)

The review:

Most of the predictions have come true. Of course certain predicted events like the expected enormous write downs of mortgages, CDOs and SIVs, and the possible collapse of banks will take time to unfold.

The KLSE indeed had a bull run in 2007, although not a super bull as predicted because of the fizzling out of investors’ confidence by August.

The plunge in late February/ early March cost KLSE traders dearly. Quite a number lost the money they made in 2006 and the very unlucky or the greedy lost their capital too.

China stock markets rose by almost another hundred percent after the May warnings proffered by the prominent personalities.

The August global stock market plunge was caused by Bear Stearns blaming the worst credit crunch ever faced for their hedge funds failure instead of trying to pacify investors at their conference. In the 2007 annual hexagram given by the Yi, during the year a wanderer would come to steal my cow. Bear Stearns turned out to be the main culprit.

The Yi gave an omen through Hexagram 3 Tun which depicted ‘Chaos and Unemployment’ coupled with a prior warning of natural disasters in September. Indonesia and several countries were affected by earthquakes and typhoons. China, Vietnam and the northeastern states of peninsular Malaysia suffered heavy flooding and damages to housing. With an unchanging hexagram, the timing on the ‘big earthquake’ was definitely out. It proved too difficult for this Yi student to accurately predict its timing.

Those who followed my suggestions to dispose of stocks in September and to keep cash like me may realize they did not have to suffer further stock losses in the last quarter of the year. In times of chaos and unemployment, cash is king.

While the KLSE and Chinese stock markets reached its record highs in October, thereafter they started to drift lower with mini plunges. The mountain had imploded and those standing in the middle of it suffered the consequences by losing loads of their money.

The Shanghai stock market entered into a bear market by mid December after its index went below 4,899 points. Many second and third liners in the KLSE reached its 52 weeks low that month.

The Hong Kong stock market entered into a bear market this week when the Hang Seng Index breached 25,566 points, 20% below its high reached end October 2007. The expected chaos and unemployment is still unfolding in the US and Europe. The loss provisions by global and investment banks, and other financial institutions in the US have already surpassed the US Fed chairman’s prediction of a ballpark figure of $ 100 billion, and counting.

Of course critics or skeptics will still argue that all the predictions which came true were mere coincidences or that I was just lucky. Was it really? Many a Yi aficionado with divination practice may differ with them.

In sharing my insights and experiences with Yi fellows, I suggested on various occasions that there is no necessity to use Yi derivatives to predict the timing of future events and/or omens. Perhaps they can see why since no derivatives were used. Regular readers over the past few years may realized it was not due to luck that most of the Yi related predictions turned out to be correct. However, since I am not a ShenXian and unlike 2006, cannot make the general public rich, last year’s predictions can at times help to minimize your losses and help investors preserve capital to enable them to fight for another day. All this to me is Fellowship with Men – the resultant hexagram of Innocence, my annual hexagram for 2007.

Therefore knowing 'one or two' about the Yi can result in something like this.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Death Ground (Si Di)

While going through The Romance of the Three Kingdoms to gather material to write about ‘Man plans, Heaven ordains’, one came across this short prose:

A man of Wei blindly quotes Han Hsin, in a minister of Shu who would recognize another Chang Liang?

For readers unfamiliar with Han Dynasty history, the minister of Shu undoubtedly referred to Chuko Liang aka Kungming whom the Chinese considered a very wise strategist who lived during the end of that dynasty. Chang Liang or Zhang Liang was the famous and wise strategist of Liu Pang, the first Han emperor. While Han Hsin was his chief marshal, who helped the King of Han defeat the Overlord, Hsiang Yu of Chu, and who had demonstrated his thorough understanding of the ‘death ground’ (si di) strategy of Sunzi.

Before we explore into what Han Hsin did, let’s see how the man of Wei blindly quoted Han Hsin’s usage of the strategy:

“When Cao Cao of Wei tried to capture the Han Waters from Shu, he sent out his general, Hsu Huang to lead the van and open battle. Wang Ping who said he knew the country, offered to go as well, and he was sent as second in command. When the advance guard reached the bank of River Han, Hsu Huang gave orders to cross to the other side.

“To cross the river is well,” said his second, “but what if you have to retreat?”

“When Han Hsin made his array with a river in his rear; he said that out of the place of death one could return to life.”

“You are mistaken now. The cases are not the same, for then Han Hsin knew his opponents were unskillful. Have you reckoned upon the skills of our opponents, Chao Yun and Huang Chung?”

In spite of the most earnest dissuasion, Hsu Huang crossed the river and camped. To cut the story short, his army was defeated, and his fleeing soldiers were forced to the Han Waters, where many were drowned. But their leader escaped, and when he got back to camp he blamed his colleague Wang Ping for not having come to his aid.

“Had I done so, the camps would have been left unguarded,” said Wang Ping. “I tried to dissuade you from going, but you would not hear me, and you brought about this reverse yourself.”

Hsu Huang in his wrath tried to slay Wang, but he escaped to his own camp. Later that night, Wang Ping crossed the river and surrendered to Chao Yun, who led him to Liu Bei.”
[Romance of the Three Kingdoms]

According to the Records of the Historian, Hsiang Yu who became the overlord of China also understood Sunzi’s death ground strategy. He led his entire force across the river. They sank all their boats, smashed their cooking vessels, burned their huts, and carried only three days’ rations with them, to show their determination to fight to the death and never to turn back. They besieged Wang Li’s troops, fought nine battles with the Chin army, cut its supply route and defeated it utterly. By now the army of Chu outmatched all others. As overlord, Hsiang Yu held the power to appoint kings to various states.

Later, Han Hsin and Chang Erh with a few tens of thousands of men planned to march east by way of Chinghsing against Chao. When the king of Chao and Chen Yu, lord of Chengan, heard of their approach, they sent an army, said to be two hundred thousand strong, to the Chinghsing Defile.

With a few strategies and because the lord of Chengan was a Confucian scholar who believed that soldiers fighting in a just cause should resort to neither stratagems nor deceit, and therefore had no wish to listen to his wise adviser; Han Hsin won the battle. The lord of Chengan was put to death beside the River Chih and the king of Chao was taken prisoner.

The officers presented their captives and the heads of the slain and congratulated Han Hsin on the victory.

“According to the Art of War,” they said, “an army should keep hills to its rear or right, and a river in front or to the left. When you ordered us to form ranks before the river and promised us a feast after Chao’s defeat, we could hardly believe our ears. Yet we won after all. What strategy was this?”

“This is in the Art of War too, if you only knew it,” answered Han Hsin. “Does it not say, ‘Put them in a death trap [death ground] and they will come out alive; send them to destruction and they will survive’? Besides, I had no well-trained officers and men but only street rabble rounded up to fight. Circumstances compelled me to put them in a death trap and force them to fight for their lives. Had I left them in a safe place, they would all have run away. What use would that have been to me?”

“Quite right!” agreed the officers. “This was beyond us.”

With the few examples quoted, students who study the Art of War can do some research to find out why Hsiang Yu and Han Hsin got the death ground strategy right, and why Hsu Huang blindly quoted Han Hsin. Some of the answers can be found in this entry. After the necessary homework, unlike the officers of Han, perhaps we can say that we know ‘one or two’ of the death ground strategy of Sunzi?


According to Sunzi in the Art of War, there are nine varieties of ground in respect to the employment of troops. One of these nine, ground in which the army survives only if it fights with the courage of desperation is called ‘death’.

He went on to say that: “In death ground I could make it evident that there is no chance of survival. For it is the nature of soldiers to resist when surrounded; to fight to the death when there is no alternative, and when desperate to follow commands implicitly.”

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Troops ‘surge’

In an entry early December, I had blogged that upon consultation with the Yi, an advance force was sent into battle in the KLSE. In the next few entries after that, I had mentioned: my main troops are waiting for the right timing; the foreign funds and the bulls may come into the stock market in time for the Chinese New Year rally; the KLSE and the Chinese stock markets may plunge in the early trading days of January 2008. In the recent past, I had also suggested some trading strategies – ‘simple arithmetic’ and ‘follow the money’.

From recent feedbacks, apparently some regular readers have ignored whatever mentioned in this blog. They played their own strategies, hoping they could strike it rich. If money can be made from the markets or investments so easily, no one needs to work. While those who had struck it rich through property investments always write about or mention “location, location and location”, they also made huge losses because of wrong timing. There are many good examples of that, I am sure, in your part of the world and especially now in the US.

As a consolation for some readers cum stock market investors, I understand that retail players in the Chinese stock markets had also lost much money during the falls over the past two months. Remember that the KLSE and the Chinese stock markets including Hong Kong had a Bull Run in 2007. From experience, people can still lose money in a Bull Run because of bad timing.

One of the main reasons why I choose to follow the Yi is because I am told the timing of the ups and downs of the stock market(s) and other investments. These timings are blogged before the occurrences of such events.

There is no harm if readers want to try out their own strategies, but try not to lose that shirt by being too presumptuous or unduly confident when markets go against us. No one can be bigger than a market, not even Government(s) or Central Banks, let alone small fry like us. (Think of property, commodities, and global financial – stock and currency – markets crises.)

As expected, the global stock markets did plunge during the early trading days of 2008. The KLSE was affected to a certain extent but it broke new records high from January 7 onwards with buying from foreign funds and bulls. If investors in the KLSE have not noticed, the average daily money inflows to the stock market have tripled in the past week compared to those in December. On Friday, January 11, the value traded exceeded 4 billion ringgit.

In line with the ‘follow the money’ strategy, my troops have ‘surged’ to join the vanguard in the battle with the hopes that there will be a Chinese New Year rally. The Yi chart for 2008 indicates that there will be one.

One of the stocks bought back during December has gone up by thirty percent – almost to the price where I cut loss in September 2007 to hold cash (refer to the ‘simple arithmetic’ entry if interested).

Since ‘man plans, heaven ordains’, I have followed the Yi in buying another two selected stocks with the troops ‘surge’. Adequate food and ammunition will be provided by the ‘enemy’ (the bears and stale bulls) in their territory, each time they give up further ground or retreat from the stock market.

Therefore if the prevailing trade momentum in the KLSE continues unabated, expect further reports of troop surges.

The stocks analysts who had been calling for caution or for sells in the KLSE last month have suddenly turned bullish. After being wrong footed for the past few months, these professionals better be right, this time round. That is if they still value their reputation or their jobs!

Note: I wonder if Yi diviners can see the subtle difference(s) between the troops surge in Iraq and what was written in this entry. If some still cannot – think of Yi timing, and the Art of War (Sunzi).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

To be blessed by heaven (3)

The headline in Reuters on January 9 2008 reads:
Pollsters flummoxed by New Hampshire primary.

The online article went on to say:

“Ahead of Tuesday’s vote in NH, pollsters had widely predicted that senator Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the Democrats’ contest with many foreseeing a double-digit margin. In the event, the New York senator and former first lady beat Obama, edging him out by under 3 percent.”

While the various pollsters try to figure out how and where their polls had gone wrong, perhaps it is timely to refer back to the Yi prognostication given to Professor Sam Crane in January 2007 on Hillary Clinton’s chance to become the next US President. (Sam blogged the prognostication on January 23 2007 in his ‘The Useless Tree’ blog. My entry which relied on his accurate oracles and with additional interpretation was made a week later.)

To become a democratic elected ruler of the most powerful nation on earth is never easy. Many equally good and well qualified individuals will contest in the elections. The ancient Chinese believe rulers have the mandate from heaven to rule over the people. The modern Chinese may use many different prediction methods to try to determine the outcome, in this case, of the current US presidential contest. Just like the pollsters, they may scratch their heads if the predicted candidate drops out midway or fails to win.

In the prognostication by way of Hexagram 14 Da Yu / Possession in Great Measure which changed to Hexagram 32 Heng / Duration, the Yi did not say outright that Hillary Clinton will win the US Presidency elections; the outcome depends on whether or not she will follow the way of Heaven. If she does, she will be blessed by Heaven and win the Democrat contest. Later she will have to face her selected opponent, a minister, from the Republican party. If she has improved upon her cultivation, again she will be blessed by Heaven.

For sincerity (in serving the people and truth) is also the way of Heaven. While the pollsters still scratch their heads, Hillary Clinton should know it by now after the Iowa loss and the New Hampshire win. The Yi has spoken. The voters from New Hampshire may have recognized the 'change' when Clinton spoke from her heart, and approved.

To understand the profound Yi proves difficult, more so if an accurate prognostication relates to the will of Heaven?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Man plans, Heaven ordains

A regular reader has requested for an explanation of the phrase – Man plans, Heaven ordains. I would not want to call it an adage since not many Chinese would understand its meaning or believe in it. I first heard of the phrase about three decades ago from my father, since deceased, and now have to admit that I cannot remember what we discussed when he mentioned it.

It could have been on some investment plans, or during our reminiscence of a battle depicted in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or while we listened to his favorite Cantonese songs - on a long playing record - about how Fan Li of Yue trained and sent Xishi (one of the famous four beauties of China) to King Fuchai to help weaken his Wu state during the Spring and Autumn period, where usage of the phrase, ‘Man plans, Heaven ordains’, is equally apt. (Obviously, Fan Li was very reluctant to send the young beauty to Wu to face a certain death.)

For man can plan anything substantial – like an overthrow of a powerful state (Wu), revolt against an empire (Shang and Chin dynasties), the elimination of strong foes during the Three Kingdoms, or even to become very rich.

The multitude would understand those who eventually succeeded had a lot of luck, or it was their fate, their destiny. (Think King Wu of Zhou and Liu Pang of Han) The foolish may relate the successes to good Fengshui. Few would recognize that it was Heaven’s will which governs fate and destiny.

Whether we agree or not that Chuko Liang alias Kungming was the most brilliant strategist during the Three Kingdom period, his deep understanding of Heaven and Tao exceed many others. During one of his many battles against Wei, he had planned to use fire to burn his wise adversary, Sima Yi, to death. He had entrapped Sima Yi and his two sons in a valley (Shangfang Valley) before ordering the Shu soldiers to light the previously planted incendiaries at both ends of the valley. The father and sons huddled together facing eminent death from the roaring fires, before Heaven acted. A heavy thunderstorm appeared all of a sudden to extinguish the fires which upset the carefully prepared plans of Kungming. With the fires extinguished, his victims were able to get away.

After being told of their escape, with a sigh, Kungming said, ‘Man plans, Heaven ordains’*.

He was correct. History told us that Sima Yen, the grandson of Sima Yi, went on to become the first Jin emperor of China. The Jin dynasty ruled China or parts of it for 155 years.

* In his translation of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, CH Brewitt Taylor translated this phrase as, “Man proposes; God disposes” for his readers in the West. Nothing wrong with that since Heaven could be more abstract for non Chinese to understand than God. He could not have presumed upon his Western readers to have studied the Yi and/or other ancient Chinese classics, or know much about Chinese culture, back in 1925.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Arrogant dragon has cause to repent

Often when people have met some success in their endeavors in business, stock trading or even war, they tend to think they can be the next Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Sunzi of their respective country. They presumed that making money in businesses or investments will always remain easy without taking into account of time cycles – changes.

Only the more experienced and the wise would understand and can handle unexpected changes in cyclical up-markets or downturns, since they would not be unduly confident about the markets (and war zones), notwithstanding the wildly conflicting scenarios painted by those with vested interests – politicians and rulers, analysts and experts. The more experienced and the wise would always put their heads down and continue to slog through the good and bad times. Most have seen it before.

Perhaps without the necessary experience and wisdom, Yi students when they are ready can often learn the age old wisdoms contained in the Zhou Book of Changes, many of which remain applicable not only till today but for centuries (dare I say thousands of years) to come. On the assumption that the Master referred to in the Wen Yen (Seventh Wing) of the Zhouyi was Confucius, his comments made 2,500 years ago still carry relevance to the troubles of mankind because human nature has not changed. Take for example his relevant comments on the top line of Qian / The Creative Heaven.

Nine at the top means:

Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent.

The Master said: He who is noble and has no corresponding position, he who stands high and has no following, he who has able people under him who do not have his support, that man will have cause for regret at every turn.

Arrogance means that one knows how to press forward but not how to draw back, that one knows existence but not annihilation, knows something about winning but nothing about losing.

It is only the holy man who understands how to press forward and how to draw back, who knows existence and annihilation as well, without losing his true nature. The holy man alone can do this.

[W/B Book III]

If you ever find yourself facing such cyclical changes, do not presume you know how markets or situations in war zones will swing. No one knows except the divinities (ShenXian and the Yi). Man can plan but Heaven ‘ordains’.

Instead of being modest about their various successes, many of the ‘arrogant dragons’ presumed that they have become ‘masters of the universe’ have fallen by the wayside. (Think of rulers, failed high flyers and business tycoons of your country down the ages.) No wonder, the ancient holy sages devoted a Hexagram in the Yi to the virtue of Q’ian / Modesty and various other hexagrams to help guide the Chinese through the millennia.

But still, many of the ‘dragons’ presumed that they know more about changes and Tao than the ancient Book of Changes. After all to many, it is just a book of oracles, and not that of wisdom? If only they truly know. Then perhaps they may not become an arrogant dragon and has cause to repent.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Missing the return

The top line of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return means:

Missing the return. Misfortune.
Misfortune from within and without.
If armies are set marching in this way, one will in the end suffer a great defeat,
Disastrous for the ruler of the country.
For ten years it will not be possible to attack again.

During ancient times in China, rulers often consult the Book of Changes before they set their armies moving to war. On the assumption, upon consultation, the Yi gave the above ominous line as the prognostication, I am sure the court historiographers would have advised their ruler not to send forth the army; otherwise it will bring disaster upon him and the state, if the troops are massacred. To build up an army again from the remnants will take ten years about half a generation.

Fast forward a few thousand years and if you are an investor in either the Chinese stock markets or the KLSE who happens to know a bit about Yi timing, what would you have done if you had foreseen the time of ‘missing the return’? Wait cheerfully or panic!

Keep quiet and let regular readers come to harm or blog to forewarn them of misfortune from within and without? (Think of inflation, moping up of surplus money supply, street demonstrations from within; subprime mortgages mess and credit crunch from without.)

From my past two or three entries on the KLSE, you may know what I had chosen to do. In the next few trading days, you could be forced to make a choice, if you still have one. If the plunge really happens, choose wisely. It can make a world of difference. Otherwise for ten years it will not be possible to attack again. And we do not want that, do we?

Happy New Year!