Friday, September 23, 2011

What is he smoking?

Investors would be aware that since August till yesterday the global financial markets were in turmoil. According to Bloomberg reports about 10 trillion of dollars have been wiped out from the stock markets over this short period of time.

Volatility in the financial markets has yet to subside. No one knows when it will subside. Those who have sold off their stocks in early July or those already swimming in liquidity (the fishes) could be the lucky ones.

For all we know, the pigs and those who had been averaging down their stocks could be facing more difficult times up ahead. Perhaps like the Book of Changes say during that time – within the turmoil – “They bear shame”.

The farmers who rear the pigs are the ones who bear shame. The holes dug by the greedy animals are way too deep for the farmers to fill in, try as they may. And whence have greedy pigs felt shame?

Yesterday on Bloomberg TV, a reporter asked a fund manager on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange what he thinks investors should do since the global stock markets were falling like ten pins. The Nasdaq, Dow, and the S&P 500 were down around 4% each, at the time of the interview. The fund manager remained unflustered and kept on saying it was the right time to buy stocks until the anchor woman interjected and pass on to him some email messages from viewers.

What is he smoking?” The viewers had asked.

And I chuckled after hearing this.

The fund manager countered that he has been asking his clients to do the same. The anchor woman added, “You have been optimistic since the beginning of the year.

No wonder the savvy US investors have been withdrawing many billions of dollars from the investment funds since the second quarter of 2011. Perhaps they had also wondered what their fund managers have been smoking after September 2008!

Monday, March 21, 2011


If we want to deal with or write about something sensitive to others (regular readers, public, government authorities) we need to apply a softly-softly approach to the matter at hand. If it happens to be a matter of life or death then we may have to be more direct and to the point. Otherwise subtle hints will do if we want to be circumspect or discreet.

Revealing and/or blogging on omens, given by the Book of Changes, over the many years have taught me that.

If an unlucky omen has nothing to do with someone, and unless they ask, it would be pointless to let them know.

If publishing the omen in the blog can help readers prepare themselves on anything untoward that may occur in their country or to them, before it happens, then it could be worthwhile to do so. But if there are only infrequent readers or none at all from the country concerned to read your blog then your every effort to publish the omen go to waste, since it helps no one.

Furthermore, certain countries apply strict restrictions over what can be posted in public blogs by their citizens. If the government authorities deem what are published in the blog to be sensitive issues, the blogger living in that country could be arrested and charged in court. Thus the softly-softly approach applies to an entry even if it deals with omens which relates to the particular country.

Regular readers may be surprised why there was no discussion on the recent big earthquake and tsunami in Japan in this blog. Should there be one? There is already an ongoing and extensive coverage by the world media to show the devastation, the suffering, and the pain, and the burning of nuclear reactors at a crippled plant.

I just wonder why the seismic experts did not spot this big one coming to forewarn Japan. They have been spending much time and efforts trying to predict it over the decades.

In case some readers wonder if I foreknow anything, read the entries published in the months of February and May 2010 on the mention of earthquakes.

In February 2010, a distant relative – a New Zealander - came and stayed over for Chinese New Year. Since he had just retired, I suggested that he read the Yi. After explaining to him what students can learn from this ancient classic, he asked if earthquakes can strike his country, New Zealand just like the January one that struck Haiti. And I said yes.

But the big ones, I further told him, could strike China and Japan, followed by tsunamis.

There were so many earthquakes and related deaths in the world last year and to date that I have already lost count.

By the way, the New Zealander and my kin live in the North Island while Christchurch where the earthquakes struck is located in the South Island of New Zealand. And they are safe.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breakthrough leads to Revolution (2)

In the study of the Book of Changes, how we question, divine, and interpret the prognostication depict our level of understanding of this ancient Chinese classic.

The question can be simple and direct, the divination method can be through the use of yarrow stalks or three coins, and the interpretation by relying on the text and/or images of the Yijing. It goes without saying that the more important the divination question is to us, the more pondering on the prognostication is required, before we can really say that the answer is clear as day. Otherwise the guidance provided by the Yijing is lost.

Take for example the recent entry on the prognostication given by the Yi of Breakthrough which leads to Revolution.

In that entry, I have mentioned that the arrogant dragon in the top (unbroken) line of Hexagram 1 Qian / The Creative Heaven has changed to become the Xiao Ren in the top (broken) line of Hexagram 43 Guai / Breakthrough. And that for all intents and purposes this Xiao Ren has to be truthfully announced and be pushed or thrown out citing examples of the public protests and the ‘successful’ revolution in both Tunisia and Egypt (because the oppressor in both cases was pushed out).

There was no mention of Libya in the previous entry, because the uprising shows a different scenario from that given in the Judgment of Breakthrough which says:

Breakthrough. One must resolutely make the matter known at the court of the king. It must be announced truthfully. Danger. It is necessary to notify one’s own city. It does not further to resort to arms. It furthers one to undertake something. [W/B]

The differences between the successful overthrow of the oppressors in Tunisia and Egypt, and the current ‘civil war’ in Libya is because of the resort to arms. The resorting to arms gives rise to the dilemma of the Western world and the UN on how to deal with the legit uprising in Libya.

If the protesters had not resorted to arms then it can be said to be a crime against humanity if they were shot and killed by those in power. Therefore the Yi is correct when the Judgment advises that it does not further to resort to arms.

Perhaps the anonymous commentator in the previous entry did not take this slight but yet important difference into account. Furthermore, it proves nigh impossible for a Xiao Ren to change back to a Da Ren since the harm is done especially where innocents have been killed - a crime against humanity, so to speak.

According to the Nine in the second line of Hexagram Guai, preparedness is of utmost importance to a Junzi, Da Ren, and/or rulers of nations.

If rulers have had led with humanity and justice instead of oppression, injustice, and corruption, would the people revolt against their rule?

If a nation has prepared for natural disasters like earthquakes and floods for example, would she and her people fear a ‘Super Moon’ this coming March 19?

If the Junzi or Da Ren has prepared against the eventuality that things (such as security, personal safeguards, provisions, etc) are insufficient or that plans (including investments, businesses, etc) will fail would they constantly have to live in fear?

The multitude could be caught by surprise if natural disasters, worldwide epidemics, global financial crisis occurred, but those who are prepared would not suffer too much. Among the prepared would be the Junzi and the Da Ren, for they can foreknow.

This is why the prognostication says:

A cry of alarm. Arms at evening and at night. Fear nothing.

Therefore, even if there is going to be a revolution in their country, there is nothing to fear.

(Note: The change in the Nine in the second line of Hexagram 43 Breakthrough leads to Hexagram 49 Ge / Revolution.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Breakthrough leads to Revolution

Hexagram 43 Guai / Breakthrough is made up of a broken (dark) line at the top with five non broken (light) lines below. It signifies that one weak line is sitting on top of five strong lines.

If in a prognostication, only the top line of Hexagram 1 Qian changes, the changed hexagram is Hexagram 43 Guai. It also means that the arrogant dragon in the top line of Hexagram 1 Qian becomes a weak line or inferior man sitting on top of the changed hexagram oppressing the five superior men below.

Remember my entries on the three types of men where a Junzi (superior man) or even a Da Ren (great man) can turn into a Xiao Ren (inferior man)? The arrogant dragon was once a Junzi or a Da Ren until he forgotten about the Way of Man.

The Judgment of Hexagram Guai says:

Breakthrough. One must resolutely make the matter known at the court of the king. It must be announced truthfully. Danger. It is necessary to notify one’s own city. It does not further to resort to arms. It furthers one to undertake something.

Readers may ask how this judgment leads to revolution. It seems not. But read on.

The announcement is of an inferior man occupying a ruling position and oppressing superior men. There is danger in this truthful announcement but it is the right thing to do at this time.

Pause and think of how the revolution started in Tunisia and in Egypt.

The people have had enough of their oppressor (s) after so long. And they made a truthful announcement. Whether citizens of other states will revolt or not, or will be successful or not depends on many other factors. But resoluteness is key here (another meaning of this Hexagram).

The five superior men representing the people have to be resolute to push out the inferior man oppressing them. If the pushed out oppressor happens to be a ruler of the state, then there will be a change of government as a result of a revolution.

If only the rulers of nations understand and follow what the Holy sages and the ancients taught about the Tao of Man, then they would not have to face such dire consequences now or in the foreseeable future. As always in the Book of Changes, there are depicted ways out but it is too late to do anything. The tension build up and accumulated through the decades has to be released.

In case the discerning still does not agree that Breakthrough leads to Revolution, read this recent prognostication given by the Yi (by coincidence as usual over the years):

Nine in the second place means:

A cry of alarm. Arms at evening and at night. Fear nothing.

With this one line change, Hexagram 43 Guai / Breakthrough changed to Hexagram 49 Ge / Revolution.

The Judgment of Hexagram Ge says:

Revolution. On your own day you are believed. Supreme success, furthering through perseverance. Remorse disappears.

Good luck to the revolutionaries and the peoples oppressed by ruler(s) of their nation(s).

Meanwhile the Junzi and the able have to be watchful at all times. Since the great light has only just returned to Earth (refer earlier entry on ‘The returning great light’).


Monday, February 14, 2011

Second wind

It is noted in the Wikipedia that long distance or marathon runners would love to get a second wind where possible when they run out of breath during the distance running. The second wind, if any, would allow out-of- breath athletes “to continue the run at top performance with less exertion”.

Such athletes would probably be in their prime and have trained very hard for this second wind phenomenon.

Neidan practitioners practising the ancient Chinese meditation may find, without initially realizing it, that they also possess second wind. Only when they test it would they realize this phenomenon.

A year or two, after practising the neidan (inner alchemy) meditation, my son who was attending primary school then wanted to race me up two flights of stairs at a public park. Fearing he would fall, I quickly chased after him as he ran up the forty over steps of stairs while my wife holding my few years old daughter watched. After climbing the stairs in haste, instead of panting as usual, I found a second wind as if the lungs were filled with a sudden burst of fresh air, it felt good, and my breathing reverted to normal.

Since the classics and Daoist texts do not deal with this second wind phenomenon, and lest I forget, I record it down with this blog entry.

When neidan practitioners learn how to breathe like a baby through their abdomen and via the backward flow, the Light circulates together with the Qi (breath) up to the mind and down again, there are many health benefits (some unrecorded) for them and through them, possibly for mankind.


Friday, February 04, 2011

The returning great light

The holy sages and the ancient sages (Laozi, Confucius, and Mencius) advise the able to go into hiding whenever there is no Tao on earth. Those who did not hide or were too late to do so suffered the consequences. And history keeps repeating itself down the millennia.

The great wealth destruction from September 2008 onwards brought financial ruin to many across the world. Natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, and wind borne diseases which turned into worldwide epidemics killed many people.

That was why in early 2008 the Book of Changes warned this student, there was going to be no Tao on earth.

Of late, the I Ching has told me times are changing.

For Heaven is sending down the light for the sake of the people.

The returning great light and the accompanying wind will penetrate and disperse the darkness which had hurt so many people on earth over the past few years.

During this change, it is advisable for the able to remain cautious since it is a transition from disorder to order and such change takes time. Just do not miss this return of the great light, or they may have to wait for ten years.

With this heaven sent great light, it is time to cross the great waters, and achieve supreme success. What should I do? Practise charioting! Or write a book?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keep it simple and easy

The first time when I saw how a neidan student relate yin yang to his practice and the Book of Changes but fumbled, I had wanted to comment but I said nothing. Later the same student perhaps after checking with his teacher from a lineage in China tried to tie up the relationship between yin yang, earth and heaven but still could not convinced the audience (some discerning or skeptical Tao Bums) why a neidan practitioner cultivates towards yang instead of yin.

A few months after that, I see Yi aficionados discussing yin yang in relation to interpretations of prognostications in an I Ching Forum.

Nothing wrong with that too, except that it could complicate our studies and our explanations to self and others, if we try to be sophisticated instead of keeping it simple and easy.

The holy sages who made the Book of Changes also made it simple and easy. That is why they determined the Tao of Heaven to be the dark and the light. And they determined the Tao of Earth to be yielding and firm.

We can easily substitute yin yang for the dark and the light, yielding and firm, earth and heaven respectively. But is that what the ancients taught? And can we or others see yin yang or understand the concept with ease?

If the particular neidan student or his teacher had given it a deeper thought, it could have made understanding for both the transmitter and the receiver(s) a bit easier.

Is it not easier for the audience to understand that a neidan practitioner cultivates Tao to become a light being (an immortal, a divinity), instead of a yang being (even though the term light is often substituted by the term yang by Daoist adepts)?

If we learn to keep our Yi and/or neidan studies and practices simple and easy, we may one day emulate earth and heaven. But how would I know?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Too deep for many

What the two great sages, Laozi and Confucius, know about the Book of Changes can be too deep for many Yi students. Therefore their thoughts on this ancient Chinese classic are often missed even by those who considered themselves scholars of ancient Chinese philosophy.

Over the years, Yi students have tried linking up the Tao Te Ching to the Book of Changes without much success. It will be difficult if we do not know both the profound classics well. Another drawback would be the lack of neidan knowledge and practice.

If we are discerning enough, we may find several chapters in the Tao Te Ching relating to neidan and the Zhouyi. This means that the Book of Changes also contains layers on neidan practice which Laozi and some renowned Neo Daoists know about. But many down the ages do not.

If we look clearly at Confucius’ commentaries on certain lines of hexagrams, we may understand how deep his knowledge on the Book of Changes was. But then if we are not earnest in our Yi studies, we may not know why he interpreted those lines as he did.

As to whether he consulted the Book of Changes on occasions is another story altogether. So far I have not come across any evidence of his Yi consultation(s) in the four Confucian books.

Yet I read of a modern scholar, a fellow Malaysian, claiming that Confucius do not use the nuclear trigrams and the changed hexagram for interpretations. And that those who used them, do not or did not know their Yi studies well.

While I verily agree with the scholar that Confucius’s interpretations of the lines are based on the trigrams, we cannot conclusively determine that nuclear trigrams and changed hexagrams cannot be used for interpretations of Yi consultations, unless we have examples of consultations performed by the great sage, Confucius and his interpretation of them to form such an opinion.

Though my knowledge of the Yi is minimal compared to the two great sages, I do use the nuclear trigrams on occasions to provide more clarity to the prognostications or omens. And I use the changed hexagrams more often than not.

But does this mean that the particular modern scholar know the Yi better than me? Nope. Since down the ages, the Yi has been too deep for many.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


For thousands of years, people have searched for immortality.

The best recorded example of such a search was that of Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. According to Sima Qian, the Grand Historian of the Han Dynasty, this emperor sent large groups of young girls and young boys to accompany the Daoists on two separate occasions in search for the mythical Peng Lai Island where immortals are rumored to live, and to bring back the elixir (of immortality or life) for him to drink.

For many including the Chinese, immortality means long life and not getting old, for others, immortality means having their (good) names etched into history or legacy.

Immortality conveys a deeper meaning to those who cultivate Tao and/or practise neidan (inner alchemy). It is not only about having a long life and not getting old, it is also about living on forever.

To live on forever is a difficult concept for people to understand and accept. Since everyone will eventually die, how can anyone live on forever, they wonder or ask?

To have a better understanding of this living forever, we turn to a definition of immortality and how one can achieve it by the great sage, Laozi in Chapter 16 of his Tao Te Ching and my simple translation follows:

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]

In case, some readers still do not get it, Laozi defined celestial immortality in the final verse of Chapter 16.