Friday, December 25, 2009

Not duped

The wisdoms contained in the Book of Changes are aplenty and can be a way of life for Yi students like that of Tao. If we look around us and reflect upon the wisdoms in the Yi, we may find that they provide good guides and wise counsel. And at times, good or bad luck are created by self through our thoughts and actions.

Take for instance the entry on ‘Sincerity at stake’ written on September 27, 2009 where one questioned the sincerity of the sons of the recent deceased neighbor in their request of monthly contributions towards the employment of security guards for the neighborhood. They had already employed the guards to keep a 24-hour watch over their house after a recent robbery. Apparently about half the entire neighborhood was convinced and agreed to the scheme commencing last October.

The other half either remained unconvinced or consists of retirees who could not afford the additional cost of living nor had anything of value at home to be robbed of.

Now it has come to pass that this deceased neighbor’s sons had duped the neighborhood in contributing towards the cost of their own safety. (Instead their father had been generous to some of the elderly neighbors.)

This week, after disposing of their family home they have moved away to a row of new houses constructed on a piece of land previously bought by their late father. (It takes on average twelve to eighteen months to construct a new double storey house in Malaysia.)

I am sure they did not reveal their plans to those who had contributed and now left in a lurch. Thinking that there will be continued security, some contributors have splashed out on new luxury cars and parked them outside their homes. The contributors have less than a week to decide if they want to continue the employment of security guards. And the management of the guards has been knocking on their doors the past few days for answers.

If only they have questioned in their minds the sincerity of the late neighbor’s sons, then they may not be duped into this ‘short term’ scheme and taken advantaged of.

If only they have read the Yi.

To readers who were not duped by Madoff or their neighbor’s sons, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Impartiality (Gongzheng)

Impartiality (Gongzheng) or in simpler terms, fairness, is important to the progress of human beings down the ages. It forms part of human nature.

Public anger will be aroused if any person or a people is treated or deemed to be treated unfairly. There are many instances of such cases occurring during modern times not unlike happenings in ancient China. Take for instance that of Hurricane Katrina and the floods of the Yellow River. (The only difference is there were no executions of culprits in modern times.)

If rulers or their laws are not impartial not only will the people suffer needlessly, the unfairness will also make them angry. Therefore the ancient sages exhort rulers to cultivate cardinal virtues in order that public laws and taxes of the land can be fair to the multitude.

The holy sages through the Yi (Book of Changes) teach the Junzi how to cultivate these virtues, so did Confucius and Laozi in the Analects and the Tao Te Ching respectively.

According to Laozi in TTC 16, acceptance of the principle of returning to destiny leads to impartiality which in turn leads to completeness. Impartiality also relates to Centered Harmony. (To know more about centered harmony, refer to the Doctrine of the Mean).

Fellow students of the Tao and the Yi can also learn more about public sentiment on impartiality, and the cardinal virtues, by watching the Taiwanese series of the trials of Justice Bao Zheng better known as Baogong of the Song Dynasty. (Readers in Malaysia can currently follow the series, dubbed in Cantonese, shown on the Astro network on weekdays.) Any fair or impartial trial has to be based on the grounds of confirmed facts and verified evidence, and not based on mere assumptions or false beliefs.

Mere assumptions and false beliefs can lead to bypaths and not the Way.

If we do not know how to sit and forget, we cannot be empty like Heaven. If we do not cultivate virtues, we cannot be still like Earth. When we do not know how to become empty and still, can we venture to talk about the ancient Way? But people still do!

If someone is partial to Heaven and talks nothing about Earth, it would be perfectly alright to ignore his teachings, even if he happens to be an ancient sage.

Since the three great sages – Laozi, Confucius, and Buddha – taught about Heaven and Earth and so did the holy sages in the Yi. That is being impartial, and a bit more on TTC 16, if you catch the drift.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Returning to destiny (2)

In the first entry of the topic, a reader came up with a few good questions about what came before Tao; immortals and deities; dual cultivation; and whether by consulting the Yi, we are in fact approaching Tao.

Since my answers could be relevant to fellow travelers of the Way and students of the Yi, and/or other readers still trying to figure out what chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching really means, I include them in this second entry. Here goes.

According to Laozi, Tao the mother of Heaven and Earth existed before all things including that of god(s). (Refer to TTC chapters 4, 21 and 25 etc) If Tao is the mother of Heaven and Earth, what existed before it?

According to ancient Chinese history, Heaven and Earth were in existence before humans became immortals and deities.

There is a subtle difference between Daoist immortals and deities, in case readers have not noticed in previous Yi entries related to divinities. Daoist immortals like Buddhas are learned and cultivated, while some deities may face difficulty in discussing the Yi.

Consulting the Yi can be a way to approach Tao, if we follow what the Junzi do. Like fellow travelers of the Way, the Junzi also cultivate.

And what do they cultivate?

The ancients said that they cultivate Tao and Te (refer TTC chapters 23 and 54). To make it simpler for the multitude, the Neo Daoists wrote down for posterity, the dual cultivation of essence and of bodily life.

If we do not even know about this dual cultivation, it would prove difficult to understand what Laozi indicated in TTC 16. Since we need to cultivate Tao and Te to achieve utmost emptiness and guard assured stillness. Only from there can fellows of the Way proceed further to returning to destiny.

At the end of this magical far journey, we may come to realize that Tao last forever, without body, no death.

‘Immortality!’ exclaimed my learned Daoist friend when I reached the final verse of the simple translation of TTC 16. And he is right, in case you had not seen it that way. My recent verse-by-verse discussion with him included references to Confucian thoughts and the Yi.

With this further explanation, perhaps fellow Tao cultivators and Yi students can come to the same conclusions?