Sunday, November 29, 2009

Returning to destiny

When we want to learn a profound subject, we always want to study with the best.

Tao and the Yi are among the most profound subjects available in the world. To learn more about these two subjects, we have to read the Yi and the Tao Te Ching written by ancient holy sages and Laozi respectively for posterity.

The many truths that lay hidden within these two ancient classics are available for the right persons to find. And down the millennia of their availability, many brilliant minds cum cultivators found the hidden truths.

If we do not cultivate what the ancient sages have taught, even with brilliant minds, we may be unable to penetrate the mysteries of Tao and the Yi because the subjects are so deep and profound. Like what Laozi said and what undergraduates know to be true, obtaining a third class degree is always easier than a second class one, and the first class degree is only awarded to those with brilliant minds who are invariably diligent.

If we only know the theories and not the practices, we could be reading dead books. If we only know the practices and not the theories we will be deemed technicians.

A true professional (read right person / cultivator) understands both and knows how to apply them to the best of his or her abilities. In knowing how to apply the theories to practice, the cultivator can penetrate the many mysteries of Tao and the Yi.

Meanwhile this is my simple translation of Tao Te Ching chapter 16 for fellow students of the Tao and the Yi. (Note the subtle differences with the more popular translations.)

Understanding the principle well can facilitate our return to destiny. Those who diligently practise neidan the ancient way can spot the metaphors and the requisite actions for the return. Confucians who cultivate to reach the center can perhaps see something familiar. Serious and earnest Yi students should try to relate what Laozi said in this chapter to the Yi.

If you are able with clarity discern what Laozi taught, you are one step closer to penetrating the mysteries of Tao and the Yi.

Tao Te Ching chapter 16

Achieve utmost emptiness, guard assured stillness.

(Even if) myriad things no longer active, I continue to observe return.

Man and things flourish, each will return to its root.

To return to the root require stillness, stillness brings return to destiny.

Returning to destiny is the principle; knowledge of this principle means understanding.

Not knowing this principle, delusions and disasters arise.

Know and accept the principle, upon acceptance one can be impartial, impartiality accords with completeness. Completion accords with Heaven. Heaven accords with Dao.

Dao last forever, without body, no death.

[Allan Lian]


Zac said...

Hi Allan,

I'm glad to have found your site! Your serious reflection on the Yi is rare and much appreciated.

I am approaching the Yi, the TTC and the Zhuangzi from a Christian perspective. I hope to hear your thoughts on these matters.

Firstly, I have seen references in both the TTC and Zhuangzi to something that existed before the Tao. It is sometimes referred to as the 'uncreated', and is (I suspect) recognised as the source of the Tao.
Are you familiar with this concept? It intrigues me because I suspect that Laozi and Zhuangzi were identifying the same reality that was later described by Christian theologians in terms of the Trinity.

I also wonder about your references to Daoist immortals or 'deities', and your question about whether heaven knows the Yi. It is my understanding that the Yi reflects or 'maps' the Tao. That is, the 'power' of the Yi is really the power of the Tao, and by consulting the Yi we are in fact approaching the Tao. Is this correct? And would that explain the immortals' hesitation in speaking about the Yi, if it is really only a reflection of the Tao?

Finally, I was very pleased to read your definition of 'dual cultivation', which I had read about but not previously understood. My understanding is that the Tao gives us our nature, and that by adhering to our nature in the Tao, we obtain virtue. Is dual cultivation implicit in this? Ie. if we follow the Tao, then we needn't worry about anything else?

Sorry to bombard you with unusual questions. I hope they are not unwelcome!



Allan said...

Welcome Zac!

My answers to your various good questions have been included in the second entry on this topic.