Friday, January 30, 2009

A touch of patience

The Chinese consider patience (nai xin) or endurance (ren) as a virtue. In this chaotic and most difficult time in a lifetime caused by the greed and irresponsibility of man, we need patience more than ever in working out the major obstacles that may lay ahead.

This would apply even to those who have minimal financial commitments and hold plenty of cash in reserves.

If major financial decisions are made in haste without due diligence and professional duty of care, fund managers and investors may have cause for regret later. Take a leaf from the huge losses suffered by Sovereign Wealth Funds which last year rushed in to invest in the established financial institutions of the US and Europe, thinking that such investments was a lifetime opportunity. However it does not mean that there would be no good opportunities to invest in this year. Just do not be too greedy trying to buy at the lowest or sell at the highest and you could do well with the investment(s).

Like recent Chinese New Years, the fortune tellers turned fengshui masters fall over themselves in trying to predict how the global stock markets and economies would fare in 2009. Also in a way they have become like economists. Their contradicting predictions confuse readers as ever. Some fortune tellers predict that the first half of the year will be good, with the second half bad, while others predict just the complete opposite.

Well, this year I am not siding with any, and therefore cannot recommend to Malaysian readers whom to follow. Those who had closely followed the 2008 predictions of the young Fengshui master whose predictions I recommended early last year will find on hindsight that they turned out to be accurate.

The I Ching scholar’s predictions for 2008 stumbled again since his followers and readers would be badly burnt if they had followed his recommendations to buy stocks in September and October 2008. A propitious two months to buy shares, he had predicted earlier that year. Little did he know that Heaven and Earth would close on September 15, 2008 and investors in stocks and shares were massacred in September, October, and for the most part of November?

If regular readers had not noticed, I had blogged an entry in early November 2008 titled: ‘A touch of tao’ even with the knowledge that there is no Tao on earth upon the closure of Heaven and Earth. By coincidence, a couple of weeks later, there was a huge rebound in the global stock markets from the earlier decimation of wealth. There, with some patience, you may have saved your billion!

But if you have asked for the timing of the rise and fall of the stock markets, my answer would still be, ‘How would I know?’

If you have not yet returned to the light, there is still some time left to do so. Confucius says of the light line in Hexagram 24 Fu / Return:

Yen Hui is one who will surely attain it. If he has a fault, he never fails to recognize it; having recognized it, he never commits the error a second time. In the Book of Changes it is said: ‘Return from a short distance. No need for remorse. Great good fortune.’ [W/B]

With a bit of patience and nurturing, almost everyone, especially the children, can turn good. However ‘old fools’ may take longer. If you return to the Light in time, whether rich or poor there is no need to throw your life away or lose all your lifetime savings. Recognizing and disposing of a bad investment while there is still some positive value left could be timely unless investors prefer to lose it all.

Forget about the bankers and central bankers, they are lost causes; they never learn. They just want pecuniary gains and demand their sky-high bonuses even if their banks had failed. They are the Xiao Ren who had caused the Asian financial crisis and the current ongoing crises by their reckless lending, highly leveraged takeovers, and derivative investments. And they are the same culprits who will take away ‘your umbrella when it pours’ just when you need the credit most.

This loosely translated couplet on patience or endurance when we need to cultivate the virtue could be timely:

‘A moment of endurance brings on a light breeze and calm waves. (Instead of ‘stormy weather’)

A step backwards the sea is wide and the sky empty.’ (Instead of blind fury)

Remember, a touch of patience or endurance is required in facing the expected dire times ahead.

However, there is some hope yet what with the new US ruler trying his level best to care for his people and right the wrongs of the previous admin. Let us all hope with a touch of patience that he would truly practise the ancient wisdoms of benevolence (Ren) and justice (Yi), and help bring back peace and prosperity for the people of the US and the world.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Return to the Light

According to the Ninth Wing on the sequence of the Hexagrams, it is said that,

‘Things cannot be destroyed once and for all. When what is above is completely split apart, it returns below. Hence there follows the hexagram of Return / Fu.’

If Yi students go by what was explained in the Ninth Wing, we come to understand sequential change.

Following the above highlighted explanation it is quite obvious why Hexagram 24 is called Fu, Return. But the explanation does not do much justice to the Hexagram. It contains more subtlety than meets the eye.

In Book III of his translation, Wilhelm provided a comprehensive explanation on why this hexagram is related to character formation and cultivation. Perhaps not many Yi students and/or cultivators of Tao understand the importance of this hexagram to their related studies.

Fu is the only hexagram where the Judgment mentioned Tao (the Way): 'To and fro goes the way.'

Fu can be a simple and easy hexagram to understand, since all six lines speak about return. But the line at the beginning represented by the sole Light line of the entire hexagram counts as the most important. That is why it is the ruler. The remaining five lines are all dark lines.

The hexagram begins the far journey of a return to Tao. (It is not that obvious to the eye, is it?)

How? By the cultivation of essence and life – the dual cultivation indicated by the three great sages followed later by the Zhen Ren and/or Daoist heavenly immortals of Quanzhen.

In a previous entry, one had already discussed this hexagram relating to the Circulation of the Light and neidan meditation. In this entry, one will briefly touch on the cultivation of life. It is up to fellow earnest and sincere students to read up the hexagram and go from there.

In the hexagram, the first five lines return to the Light.

The line at the beginning, return from a short distance. (According to Confucius, Yen Hui is one who will surely attain it - Refer Book III W/B).

Next comes, quiet return. Then, repeated return. The line at the fourth place walks in the midst of others, returns alone. The line in the fifth place far from the first made a noble-hearted return.

All these five lines know what is right, by returning to the Light.

But the line at the top, perhaps deluding self into thinking he is already a sage, missed 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.

With the warning of misfortune from within and without, perhaps neidan practitioners understand the importance of why Buddha told high level meditators not to think that they have reached the stage of a sage while in meditation. (Refer to the Shurangama Sutra)

Whether or not, you want to return to the Light is up to you; since sometimes we get to hear that, fate is in our hands!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Principles of self cultivation

The ancients, the gods (include Daoist heavenly immortals and Buddhas), and the Zhen Ren (realized persons) invariably exhort students to self cultivate (siu hang) and to progress from there. The Zhouyi as a Book of Wisdom also provides many facets for the student to cultivate and become a good or a superior person (Junzi).

If you are still uncertain on how to self cultivate to become a good or a superior person, perhaps the great sage, Confucius can teach you something for a start:

The Master said,

‘If the scholar (Junzi) is not grave, he will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid.

Hold faithfulness and sincerity as his first principles.

Have no friends not equal to yourself.

When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.’

[Analects 1.8 Legge]

Since this is the first few days of 2009, whether or not you want to make these principles of self cultivation as a New Year’s resolution is up to you.

Though I could count as an earnest and sincere student of the Zhouyi, after a few decades of self cultivation, there are still lots to learn.

Happy New Year to all readers!