Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Spanish forum for Yi students

I understand from Luis Andrade that the Spanish Forum E-Ching had just disappeared from the web recently without a trace. It is sad to see the demise of a good forum, where Yi fellows gather to discuss their studies and divination practices, and where the more experienced diviners share their insights and experiences with novices.

To cater for Spanish speaking Yi aficionados, Luis has just started a new forum called Foro Yijing. It is kind of him to host such a forum to further Yi studies.

Luis (sparhawk), Jesed and Regreso who post on the new forum are among those whom I deemed upright in their sharing of insights and experiences with Yi fellows. If Spanish readers like to discuss their Yi studies and divination practices with them and other likeminded fellows, I am sure you would be more than welcomed in that forum.

As of today, I have replaced the defunct Forum E-Ching with the Foro Yijing in the recommended links. It is just a click away. Have fun.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Prepare for a lifetime of study

The first time I laid my eyes on the Book of Changes was back in the 1970s. The book sat on a wooden trolley-bookshelf in my good friend’s study which doubled up as a guestroom for me during a week’s stay in his father’s hotel. The three-star hotel is situated just opposite the Brighton pier in Sussex, England. (The hotel was disposed of a few years later.)

With nothing to do, I had picked up the book – the Richard Wilhelm translation – to read in bed late into the night. The riddles and rhymes in the Judgments and lines tickled my funny bones. My giggles and uncontrolled mirth woke my friend up and he walked in to enquire if anything was wrong. Probably he thought Allan had suddenly gone mad under that summer’s heat! Since he found that I enjoyed the book so much, he gave it to me, as a present. Some may call the chance meeting, affinity; others may consider it destiny.

Since little did I realize then, probably like many fellow Yi aficionados; the learned and the wise, minor and great sages of China; that it will take a life time of study to come to know something of the Zhouyi. This ancient Classic is really that profound.

In a way it was a blessing in disguise that I was English educated. Otherwise it may prove too difficult to read and understand the four Confucian books and the remaining four Chinese classics in Classical Chinese. Even graduates from Chinese and Hong Kong Universities have indicated difficulties. To some, the ancient language used is just too deep to grasp what the ancients really meant. Like my parents and Chinese educated friends, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that I have been reading these ancient books and classics as a hobby.

Therefore if you happen to be a descendant of the Diaspora Chinese and educated in a language other than Chinese, do not despair, since it can provide you with a good opportunity to read the ancient Chinese books and classics in a translation you can well understand. From these studies, you can also learn much about ancient Chinese culture and civilization. It forms part of our education in humanity (benevolence - ren) and justice (righteousness - yi). Your parents could be proud, if you were studying these books and classics. They may not have had the chance or opportunity to do so. Of course, it will be better if you start to pick up Mandarin, brush up on your Chinese dialect(s), or learn pinyin.

Like any earnest and sincere student, try to remain hidden until you are ready to appear in the field, or the Kung Fu version to ‘descend the mountain’ (xia shan), so to speak, to enter into discourses with likeminded fellows. (Think of the first and second lines of Qian / The Creative) If our basics and foundations are not strong enough, we could be easily influenced by incorrect teachings of others in the World Wide Web or by some New Age translations.

However, quite a number out there in the web and forums may have a good if not better understanding of these ancient studies. Some of whom are included in the Resources and/or Recommended links. It may help further your studies if you venture into the Resources links. You could spend years reading the valuable resources provided therein.

Yi students could learn much from the ‘Yijing Dao’ website of Steve Marshall where he shares his valuable insights, and where the more experienced Yi aficionados can read the Chinese Yijing together with the pinyin. They could also have their views and understanding of the Yi corrected by what Steve had written.

For a better understanding of Confucian studies, you can access ‘The Useless Tree’ blog of Professor Sam Crane. If you wish to learn something about Etymology and Yi scholarly works, try ‘Harmen’ Mesker’s blog.

If you want to read a great and detailed English translation of the Book of Changes, I recommend ‘I Ching or book of changes’ translated by Richard Wilhelm / Cary Baynes.

If you want to read the four Confucian books – Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu), The Great Learning (Da Hsiao), Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung), Mencius (Mengzi) - and the remaining four classics – The Book of History (Shujing), The Book of Rites (Li Ki), The Book of Songs (Shijing), Spring and Autumn Annals (Chun Chiu), I recommend the translations by James Legge whose translations include the classical Chinese, if they are not already out of print. If you cannot get hold of the hard copies, you can visit the relevant Resources sites, but you would not have the benefit of the detailed explanatory notes of Legge.

It is worthwhile to remember that the five Classics have no leanings on religion, in case your religion disallows you to read material of other religions. To me, the four Books teach Confucian doctrine but others may deem Confucian studies as religious.

If you ever decide to read any of the four books and five classics (si shu wu jing), enjoy your studies, it could be a fascinating journey but do prepare for a lifetime of study.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Of students and masters (6)

With some time to spare during the festive season, I had gone to register myself in a Daoist forum to clarify some points on neidan practices to fellow members (8,000 plus) and to scold a particular group of unscrupulous people seemingly out to ‘lift’ Western students out of large sums of fees for teaching basic neidan meditation in China. Their main attraction was to use an Icon – a very high level neidan adept from Quanzhen in China. Now that is not on. While my Quanzhen friend indicated that I am wasting my time in the forum, he also helped me clarify to members there that Quanzhen do not charge their students for neidan lessons. However, Quanzhen only teach higher levels to students deemed virtuous.

Then there is a youthful Buddhist who appears to be knowledgeable about dual cultivation. From the West he had traveled and lived in China for a few years to learn more. However he had learned his Buddhist practice in the West from a Chinese Buddhist abbot who had migrated to the US, years ago. This abbot had indicated in a commentary to a Sutra translation that the Book of Changes is based on superstition or similar words to that effect. When the young Buddhist mentioned in a post on inner alchemy that he does not want anything to do with “Change” and yin yang, here was my rant:

“Only the ignorant or the very arrogant think that they know more than the great sages - Laozi, Confucius and Buddha - in their respective teachings of yin yang, the dark and the light, forms and formlessness, all of which constitute natural changes.

If change can be so easily understood or seen, the holy sages need not write down its patterns and images in the Book of Changes (Yijing, the Yi) for posterity. Neither would the great Chinese sages, the wise and the learned, need to devote much time in studying this ancient Chinese classic, if it was not other than profound.

Over the past few millennia, the sages, the wise, the Zhen Ren, the Neo Daoists and the Neo Confucians had diligently studied this foremost ancient classic in China. Yet, specious masters especially those who come out from China, chose to denigrate the Yijing, declaring it was meant for the superstitious.

Perhaps these masters thinking that they are somewhat enlightened, assumed that they understand the Tao Te Ching and the Yijing? Perhaps they also like to infer that the Daoist immortals and the Zhen Ren, who passed down their texts on neidan with references to various Hexagrams (like Kan and Li, Qian and Kun) in the Yi, were equally superstitious?

If only these arrogant masters and their students had properly investigated, probably they could trace links between neidan and the TTC right up to the Yi?

Not only have they misled students in the West for decades, they could also deprive their students from studying a real book of wisdom dealing with changes. And such natural changes can be seen during correct neidan (inner alchemy) meditation.

What a waste of talent. Do not get me wrong, I am not blaming their students. But like what you had correctly indicated, why not properly cultivate the cardinal virtue, wisdom?”

Ha, so much for wasting your reading time!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An interpretation of Kan / The Abysmal

The following interpretation is based on a scenario where the Zhouyi gave Hexagram 29 Kan / The Abysmal with a changing fourth line as the prognostication to a fellow Yi diviner who had asked about an investment in the stock market. Since investments involve money, one seldom relies on the consultations of others unless one is certain that the Yi spoke or regularly speaks to the particular diviner. On the assumption that the Yi did speak on this occasion, one would interpret the prognostication in this traditional way.

The Judgment says:
The Abysmal repeated. If you are sincere, you have success in your heart, and whatever you do succeeds.

Commentary - highlights:

The name of the hexagram, because the trigram is doubled, has the additional meaning of ‘repetition of danger’. Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, not a subjective attitude. For danger due to a subjective attitude means either foolhardiness or guile. Hence too a ravine is used to symbolize danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.

In danger all that counts is really carrying out all that has to be done – thoroughness – and going forward, in order not to perish through tarrying in the danger.

Six in the fourth place means:
A jug of wine, a bowl of rice with it; earthen vessels simply handed in through the window. There is certainly no blame in this.

In times of danger ceremonious forms are dropped. What matters most is sincerity. [W/B]

Since the fourth line of Kan moves the hexagram changes to Hexagram 47 K’un / Oppression.

Its Judgment says :
Oppression. Success. Perseverance. The great man brings about good fortune. No blame. When one has something to say, it is not believed.

Diviners need to pause and ponder on what the Yi is really trying to tell us with this prognostication.

The judgment says that if we are sincere, we have success in our hearts, and whatever we do succeed. But the commentary tells us that the doubling of the trigram warns of danger ahead, especially when we hold a subjective attitude. And we can only escape the danger if our behavior is correct.

Then the prognostication – the fourth line – depicts a simple ceremony of offering. And no blame is accorded because of the dangerous times. The end result lands us in oppression or exhaustion.

Additional thoughts :

If one were to receive this hexagram and/or the line as the prognostication, one would not invest in the stock concerned. Prior purchases of the particular stock will also be disposed of in haste. Others could handle the situation differently. In my books, Kan is an ominous or bad hexagram for investments. Yi aficionados may differ.

From experience, Kan forewarns of great danger that lies ahead. (Repetition of danger) It also signifies bottomless pits (abyss upon abyss). Aware of the particular stock in question, it could face a suspension after limits down, followed by a delisting.

Yi aficionados can argue that in accordance with the Judgment and the fourth line prognostication, as long as the diviner is sincere, he or she will succeed. However can anyone tell me, how deep our sincerity needs to be, before we can ‘move’ Heaven?

Furthermore, if we invest in stocks and shares, we cannot afford a subjective attitude (see above commentary) – that is why investors should not fall in love with a particular stock. No matter how deep the sincerity in our prayers or offerings, many an investor lost his shirt because of this subjective attitude. (Some call it stubbornness instead of foolhardiness.)

A good recent example is that of the Centro Properties Group stock, it has fallen 94% since its highs reached in May, with a market capitalization of Australian $ 8 billion wiped off. Woes betide those investors who had held onto the stock since last May. Perhaps it was a great company to own, then. Now its very survival hinges on the goodwill and indulgence of its loan creditors. Its business model worked during good times. However just like what global banks are currently facing, short term loans to finance long term assets invariably fails when a cycle changes – from boom to bust - think of the falling US property market, the imminent economic slowdown and the resultant credit crunch.

When a company faces deep trouble because its business model is failing or will fail because of external factors beyond its control, who can blame the small investor for disposing of his or her investments in the particular stock? Like the Centro Properties example, no amount of sincere prayers or offerings can help its investors get back the vanished Aussie $8 billion in times of danger.

If the Yi speaks, do not treat the forewarning(s) lightly. Sometimes by cutting losses early, we can preserve capital for another great battle, going forward.

Still it will be entirely up to the investor(s) what actions he or she wants to take with the investment concerned.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

A word of encouragement

Fellow students who read my articles on Tao and the Zhouyi should not feel discouraged if the discussed topics appear too deep at times. The articles are meant for sharing insights and experiences with like minded fellows. It is difficult to strike a fair balance since readers would differ in experiences. At the time of reading, some could be more enlightened than what you can understand or know while those more accomplished in the particular subjects may say ‘tell me something new’. But you can take note of what is written for your future reference. There may come a time when you realized what is written is true and really works.

Obviously those more accomplished and experienced would understand why certain ‘secrets’ have to be held back. However sufficient hints are usually given, either in a particular post or in others. It is just a matter of reading and discerning what had been actually indicated. To arrive at a deeper understanding of the specific topics discussed, - for example why certain hexagrams constitute omens or depict timing, or are used in neidan practices - readers will have to read further references (ancient or otherwise) provided. In this way, by examining ancient thoughts and investigating into relative unknowns, fellow Yi aficionados and Tao travelers can learn more. Just like any student, what we learn belong to ourselves. And the hard earned knowledge and experiences remain with us for a length of time.

While some of the articles have spawned discussions in Yi, Daoist, and Confucian forums where due credit is given, I have come across blogs and stock market articles written in a national newspaper that emulate my prescience and insights. One even copied and pasted a picture to his blog recently to discuss ancient thoughts on cultivation. Unashamedly the blogger used my insights on the topic with no credit given.

It is easy to copy my ideas and insights, but without the necessary knowledge and experience – the held back ‘secrets’ - behind the in-depth matters discussed, how much can these intellectual thieves know? Perhaps it explains why the ancients speak in metaphors and held back some secrets from undeserving students. Their teachings were meant only for the right persons.

While the few, the Xiao Ren, come to read with the intention to engage in thievery, most readers possess integrity.

One particular reader has learned something about Yi consultations from the blog. I am glad to inform Yi aficionados that with only a short six months of consultation experience, the Yi gave the blogger accurate prognostications on various stocks quoted on the KLSE and what could happen in the country. He uses the coin method for the divinations. After speaking to him, I can understand why he had not followed the Yi’s guidance accordingly.

When students are able to get the Yi to speak, we still need to know how to interpret the prognostications accurately, which will take time and much experience. But inaccurate interpretations can also teach something as long as we continue to learn from our mistakes.

If in his old age Confucius still required more time to study the Book of Changes to avoid great faults, is it not correct to say that Yi students need a prolonged time to learn the profound Yi? While many students have already spent thirty, forty, or even fifty years studying the Zhouyi, how many can really say that we know much about Heaven and Earth – the two primary hexagrams, out of the total sixty four?

These are some of the reasons why we continue to learn and discuss the Yi, why fellow students come to read the blog, and at times, why those in search of excellence do need a word of encouragement.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another troop ‘surge’

2008 look very uncertain and gloomy for investors. Global financial markets have plunged in January and the first week of February 2008. Analysts and experts continue to give divergent views on the stock markets and major economies of the world. It shows that confidence has been shattered. Most investors would agree that it is not a good start for the year. Does it mean that the bears have won? Yes and no.

The bears would have scored a resounding victory if they had shorted the stock markets at their record highs in October 2007 before the mountain started to implode in November. A short three months later they would have realized at the very least a 20% or more profits. But as I had hinted early, after markets had fallen enough, there will be rebounds. The only thing is the timing.

If my interpretation is correct, the Zhouyi says 2008 will be a good year for me. Better than 2007 and even that of 2006. How accurate my interpretation of the annual hexagram will turn out, by and large depends on the performance of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange and the low liners. To know the final outcome, we would have to wait until the start of the next lunar calendar year.

I had sent in further troops to the designated ‘war zone’ just before the start of this Chinese New Year, with confidence that history will repeat itself. These ‘surge’ troops joined the battle in the KLSE early this week, before the global stock markets rebounded. Whether the bears and the stale bulls will beat a hasty retreat or not, remains to be seen. Just like what the young Fengshui master had indicated on February 9, by mid February, the KLSE and the low liners will begin to turn higher.

If foreign funds start to switch some of their investments out from Hong Kong and other Chinese markets to the KLSE, be prepared for a big Bull Run. That is what I meant by history repeating itself. (In 2006, my expectations were met when they switched their funds from Thailand to Malaysia.) Since I do not want to further opportunists who mimicked my indications written in the blog and elsewhere, I may reveal this history later.

Right or wrong, I always ‘put money where my mouth is’.

Good luck to all!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Falling over themselves

Like the curious, I too would read what the more famous fortune tellers and the Fengshui masters predict for this Chinese New Year 2008.

Recently, fortune tellers and Fengshui masters have been falling over themselves predicting what will happen in 2008. The general public and the curious can get easily confused over what each ‘master’ had presented, in the newspapers and on TV, over the past few days – differing directions to receive the God of Prosperity (Cai Shen) and which animal sign conflicts with the Tai Sui (the dominant star) in 2008. Divergent views on how the stock market will perform during the year and what industries are best to invest in.

Therefore whom should we believe and whose predictions will turn out right?

Where Fengshui believers face a wrong direction, instead of receiving the God of Prosperity, they could receive the Five Ghosts (Wu Gui) or even the Termination of Life (Jue Ming). If those who belong to an animal sign which in actuality does not conflict with the Tai Sui, but were told that there is a clash, then they would have been done a disservice.

With divergent views proffered on how the KLSE will perform over the year, what are investors supposed to do? When should they buy and when should they sell? The million dollars question.

A couple of years ago, in an entry, one had chastised a young Fengshui master for writing that the duration of a Chinese dynasty depended on its burial sites and that some of the Ming emperors were ill advised to place their tombs where they were. In his subsequent articles on Fengshui, he had become a bit more circumspect.

Last year if you recall, one mentioned that the Yi does not give predictions like those predicted by a Yijing scholar from Penang, Malaysia. This year, while a bit more circumspect with his predictions, he chose to rely on a hexagram, Dispersion, to predict the Malaysian stock market and her economy for English calendar 2008. Yes, Hexagram 59 Huan / Dispersion is a reasonably good prognostication for the KLSE and the economy. But, as people grow older, it proves more difficult to change their mindset.

If both of these masters from Malaysia happened to read this entry, I am glad that you guys are improving your presentation to the general public. It will be good in terms of disseminating knowledge and could add to your merits.

The younger one particularly impressed me with his 2008 reading for the KLSE and the Malaysian property market, as if he had read my inner thoughts for the year and the next. By now, readers of The Star newspaper may have guessed who I am referring to. Take note of his predictions published in that newspaper on February 9, though it needs some fine-tuning, it can help investors in general.

Knowing little about Fengshui and fortune telling, I will not attempt to add to the confusion. Lucky you!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gong Xi Fai Cai

Wish everyone great health and wealth (which include knowledge) this 2008!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shun on divination

According to the Book of History (Shujing), Shun before passing the throne over to the Great Yu spoke thusly:

'(According to the rules for) the regulation of divination, one should first make up his mind, and afterwards refer (his judgment) to the great tortoise-shell. My mind (in this matter) was determined in the first place; I consulted and deliberated with all (my ministers and people), and they were of one accord with me. The spirits signified their assent, and the tortoise-shell and divining stalks concurred. Divination, when fortunate, should not be repeated.' [The counsels of the Great Yu - James Legge]

If this part of the record is correct and not because of accretion, Yi diviners can learn a thing or two on divination from the ancients. Yi scholars may learn something too. Go figure.