Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sincerity at stake

The elderly neighbor, a trader, living across the road had recently passed away probably left behind a small fortune for his wife and adult children.

Within weeks of his departure, his family traded in his few-years-old Volvo for a brand new Mercedes and also bought a new Japanese make car. (Reserve my comments on their not following the wisdom of the Yi, and about luck)

It would have been alright, if the neighborhood is wealthy. But it is ostentatious having a brand new Mercedes parked in the driveway in a middle class one, especially when public security in the country has already ‘gone to the dogs’. (Think of Italy in the 1970s and 80s.)

Within a week of the purchases, robbers entered their house before dawn and robbed the family of their brand new cars and some cash as well. Shocked and frightened, they immediately employed private security guards around the clock to look after their house.

Hearing it from a next door neighbor, my wife told me about the robbery and about the security guards. I had told her it would be quite costly to maintain the 24 hours security for months. And I wondered how long they could keep it up.

Sure enough, the sons of that family soon started to call for meetings of the neighbors to talk about poor security in the neighborhood. When few attended, they decided to meet each neighbor outside his or her house trying to drum up support for their scheme of a 24 hours patrol by security guards at each end of the road. Side roads were temporary ignored!

Of late, I have heard the sons’ complains that they have spent so much time and effort for the neighbors and yet feel unappreciated. (Those who had agreed to the security patrol scheme would have to cough up their share of the costs starting next month.)

The question one needs to ask is whether their efforts – words and actions - were sincere or not? And if their words and actions were insincere, doubt they could move heaven!

Perhaps Yi aficionados will understand why I sometimes balked at answers where prognostications mention that sincerity is at stake.

For sincerity is the way of heaven.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three years mourning for parents

The Chinese would know or have heard about the three years of mourning for parents. Many would say it is traditional. Those who know a bit more from their Chinese studies will say it is based on the Classics. And they are right.

However, most may not know the real reason for the three years of mourning.

The Book of Rites (Li Ki) elaborated about the required periods of mourning with three years being the longest. The Book of Filial Piety (Hsiao Ching) contained what the Master said about the three years mourning being the fulfillment of duty by the bereaved children (Chapter 18).

The Book of Rites says:

Thus it is that in the mourning of three years the highest forms that vary and adorn the ways of men are displayed. Yes, this is what is called the richest exhibition (of human feelings).
[Book 35. 13 Legge]

Perhaps the simplest and easiest clarification can be obtained from the Analects of Confucius. Just like what people of old would want to know – the above paragraph in the Li Ki was to explain why – one of his students questioned Confucius about it:

Tsai Wo asked about the three years’ mourning for parents, saying that one year was long enough.

‘If the superior man,’ said he, ‘abstains for three years from the observances of propriety, those observances will be quite lost. If for three years he abstains from music, music will be ruined.’

‘Within a year the old grain is exhausted, and the new grain has sprung up, and, in procuring fire by friction, we go through all the changes of wood for that purpose. After a complete year, the mourning may stop.’

The Master said, ‘If you were, after a year, to eat good rice, and wear embroidered clothes, would you feel at ease?’ ‘I should,’ replied Wo.

The Master said, ‘If you can feel at ease, do it. But a superior man, during the whole period of mourning, does not enjoy pleasant food which he may eat, nor derive pleasure from music which he may hear. He also does not feel at ease, if he is comfortably lodged. Therefore he does not do what you propose. But now you feel at ease and may do it.’

Tsai Wo then went out, and the Master said,

‘This shows Yu’s want of virtue (* Bu Ren). It is not till a child is three years old that it is allowed to leave the arms of its parents. And the three years’ mourning is universally observed throughout the empire. Did Yu enjoy the three years’ love of his parents?

[Analects 17. 21 Legge]

Now you come to know the real reason behind the three years’ mourning.

You can see that to be a Confucian is difficult; to be filial is even more difficult being duty bound.

The most difficult is perhaps being a Junzi or the right person for Tao.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Another one of those Septembers

Probably many across the world still remember or mourn the September 11, 2001 massacre of a few thousand innocent victims in the United States of America by terrorists deliberately crashing hijacked airplanes into buildings and open space.

Few (including Divinities) would know or remember the September 15, 2008 where Heaven and Earth closed with the able gone into hiding since there is no tao all under heaven. Investors all over the world may instead remember the sensational collapse of Lehman Brothers and the official announcement of its bankruptcy on that very day.

Both major events wreaked havoc to the global financial markets. And both were foretold by the Yi to this student to help protect him from financial ruin.

Is this fateful month of 2009 going to be another one of those Septembers? Well, I can’t say for sure. (There is no prize given even if I say, it is for sure!)

The events foretold by the Yi for this autumn and coming winter have already been blogged in advance. (You are still reading future news today, since the omens or heaven’s secrets have yet to unfold.)

If readers cum investors do not take heed of the advice(s) of the two Da Ren (Great Men) – Warren Buffet and Li Ka Shing - as suggested in the entry last July, nothing can be done. Fate is at work.

All I know is that investors may not have much time left to ‘unwind’ (pun intended).

Therefore as usual, take care.