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(Even if) myriad things no longer active, I continue to observe return.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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

For a few dollars more

Greed is part of human nature. That is why Confucius warned the old not to be greedy.

If the old had not heeded it, their wealth could have been destroyed in 2008. It is sad to see many of the elderly who invested in the so called mini bonds which had paid a higher interest than their local banks and lost their entire fortune on the collapse of Lehman Brothers. If we happen to lose our wealth during old age, it could be difficult for us to make back the money.

I recall the 1985/ 86 recession in Malaysia where several credit & leasing and finance companies collapsed. Investors and depositors, attracted by the high interests that these companies were paying, paid the price of their greed. They just wanted a few dollars more for their money.

But investors have short memories. They are already investing in investments which promise to pay a higher interest than bank deposits. They are investing in the mini bonds again because of the prevailing low interest regime across the world led by the US. They are borrowing to chase equities and real property prices higher. Both China and Japan have recently warned against the created bubbles.

The astute have seen what the US is trying to do with the low interest regime – inflating assets value (think realty) and lowering the US dollar value (think exports). This policy did not work that well for Japan during the 1990s; I wonder if they will work for the United States of America.

Meanwhile risk takers are currently using the US dollars for their carry trades instead of the Yen. I call them risk takers because Japanese housewives made loads of money using the Yen for their carry trades but got burned now and then when exchange rates turned against them.

Retirees should not take on too much risk with their retirement funds. Neither should they be tempted by a few dollars more. There are still many safe and sound investments around even if they pay a low interest. Take heart that global interest rates will be raised eventually.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tao and the Yi (2)

The philosophical Daoists claim that they understand Tao well enough and do not need to study the four Confucian books. They may have a point there or perhaps not.

While ardent followers of Zhuangzi do not need to know about Confucian virtues; Daoists who follow the philosophy of Laozi cultivate those cardinal virtues as depicted in the Tao Te Ching, with the hopes of returning to Tao.

To those familiar with Tao and the Zhouyi, the cultivation of virtues is in line with Heaven and Earth. To be in line with or follow Heaven and Earth is to understand Tao.

Previously one had mentioned that Laozi and Confucius both knew what would happen if there is Tao or no Tao on Earth. Today one would add in another ancient sage.

Mencius said,

‘When right government prevails in the kingdom, princes of little virtue are submissive to those of great, and those of little worth to those of great.

When bad government prevails in the kingdom, princes of small power are submissive to those of the great, and the weak to the strong.

Both of these cases are the rule of Heaven. They who accord with Heaven are preserved, and they who rebel against Heaven perish.’

[Works of Mencius 4 .7 Legge]

[Note: Legge has chosen to translate the Chinese words – having Tao under Heaven – as right government prevails in the kingdom. And – no Tao under Heaven – as bad government prevails in the kingdom.]

Like the two great ancient sages before him, Mencius also knew well his Yi and cardinal virtues. Therefore he also knew much about Heaven and Earth.

Since the advent of the absence of Tao all under Heaven on September 15, 2008 as indicated by the Yi, quite a number of people have perished. The funny thing since then is that even divinities have withheld healing people on Earth, let alone sing.

That is a little bit more on Tao and the Yi.