Friday, April 02, 2010

A scholar of the Book of Changes

One definition of a scholar is that of a learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines.

Scholarly method or scholarship -- is the body of principles and practices used by scholars to make their claims about the world as valid and trustworthy as possible, and to make them known to the scholarly public.

The reason I Google for a definition of scholar is because many people have claimed or tend to think that they are scholars of the Book of Changes (I Ching / Yijing / The Yi). The related definition of scholarly method or scholarship is also noteworthy for this entry.

If we consider the number of students in the world who have spent decades in the study of the Book of Changes, there would be many scholars of the Yi.

But are they considered learned? Have they gained mastery of the Yi? We ask.

A scholar of the Book of Changes would make claims about the Yi and/or its related studies as valid and trustworthy as possible, and to make them known to the scholarly public (in line with the definition of scholarship provided at wikipedia).

How many of the so called (or so claimed) I Ching scholars have publicly come out with claims about the Yi and/or its related studies as valid and trustworthy as possible?

Too few, in my books, therefore aspirant scholars should be encouraged and not eagerly condemned especially if they are considered friends , with the arrogant – those too full - left well alone. As taught in the Yi, heaven and humans raise the modest and level the full.

In my books, a scholar of this ancient classic known as the Book of Changes knows ancient Chinese history well, has studied the four Confucian books and the remaining four Chinese classics, is versed with Yi divinatory practices of old, and have published their original thoughts – valid and trustworthy as possible (thereby showing integrity) - either in books, blogs, or websites available for public consumption or for the dispute of their ideas.

Of the renowned Western scholars, James Legge and Richard Wilhelm fall under my category of Yi scholars. They and/or their mentors know the Yi well. Question them on ancient Chinese history or the four Confucian books and the five classics and they could very well have pointed out something that we have missed in our studies. However since they are no longer around, we can only learn from their commentary or well researched footnotes in the translations.

But it does not mean that these renowned scholars have spotted everything related to the Yi studies, which leave a lot of work to do for later scholars. The research into Hexagram 55 Feng / Abundance and an overlooked solar eclipse just before the Zhou invasion of Shang, leading to a book publication of ‘The Mandate of Heaven’ by Steve Marshall provides an example.

Another example could be that of the relationship between Tao and the Yi, which even the Chinese or Taiwanese professors of ancient Chinese philosophy recently try to tie in. That area of study is deep and profound probably beyond many including these professors, since top class Chinese scholars like the mentors of Wilhelm and Legge seemed to have missed them in the Yi. For examples: the space between Heaven and Earth, and the absence of Tao all under heaven – already discussed in this blog since 2008. And I am still waiting for any scholar or the learned including my Quanzhen friend to dispute my claims.

As blogged before, if people want to discuss the eternal Tao, we must first have some experiences of what Laozi, Buddha, the Daoist celestial immortals, and the Zhen Ren have had indicated. Otherwise it is just never ending rhetoric. Does this help to clear up some doubt on what Laozi meant in his Tao Te Ching chapter one?

Notwithstanding what fellow students may like to think, the reading of numerous Yi translations do not make one a scholar, we are just perusing the thoughts of the translators. Neither can a translator of the Yi in any form, whimsical or otherwise, be considered one. If you are only good at reading fortunes or at fengshui, try calling yourself a fortune teller or fengshui master. Like the circumspect fortune tellers and fengshui masters on the web, never claim the title of a scholar of the Book of Changes; unless you know deep in your heart you are versed with the Yi and its ancient usages – divinatory practices and others. Since sincerity is the way of heaven.

At the end of the day, whether or not you can make the ranks of a scholar of the Book of Changes depend on acceptance by your peers.

The difference between reputable Yi scholars and the not so good ones by and large depends on their own studies, research, and talent.

If several of your claims on the Yi or its related studies happen to appear invalid and untrustworthy, consider going back up the mountain where you can enjoy the peace and quiet!

Laying your mind fallow for awhile helps even if you are not a scholar of the Book of Changes. But that is not a claim on related Yi studies, just a mere observation!

No comments: