Thursday, December 20, 2012

The 21December 2012 apocalypse

Those expecting the New Age prediction of the December 21, 2012 apocalypse to happen tomorrow would come away disappointed since it would be a non event. For the gods – Daoist deities, immortals and buddhas – and the Book of Changes have not indicated any major untoward incident happening on the particular day. That is how I know.

Therefore readers who were afraid that they and their families could be affected by the apocalypse should put aside their fears and go on their own way to prepare for Christmas celebrations with kin and friends as usual.

Those conned by the cults - one such cult already reported to be under investigation in China - which sprang up as a result of this New Age prediction to prey on the weak and the fearful would probably have little or no recourse to their assets and/or life time savings donated to these predators.

Whether or not readers have readily access to the gods, the best thing to do is to study the ancient Chinese classic – the Book of Changes - if they want to learn how to foresee the future.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brief commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower

The Secret of the Golden Flower was written through the planchette by Lu DongBin, a Quanzhen Patriarch and one of the renowned Eight Daoist Immortals, according to stories accompanying the text told to Richard Wilhelm – a translator of the text. Another translation of the text is by Thomas Cleary.

Both translations of this Daoist text appear to enjoy great popularity in the West over the decades, since many of its readers who are Daoists, Confucians, or Buddhists can find some resonance with the teachings therein depending on which translation they use. However its popularity also brought out the usual miscreants to cheat and/or to mislead students. Therefore it is unsurprising to read on the World Wide Web the advertisements of self proclaimed ‘teachers or masters’ who have mastered the Secret of the Golden Flower. Real neidan adepts would not make such claims.

Also many have gone onto the TaoBums forum to claim great achievements from practising what is taught in the Secret of the Golden Flower. They are not among the first and certainly will not be the last to claim that. And it gets tiring to put each of such claims to rest, after awhile.

Therefore I will make it as simple and easy as possible for readers to understand what is taught and not taught in this Daoist text. (Similar to what was written today for Taobums members but with more details for readers of the blog)

People asked, ‘How is the Light circulated?’

The Light circulates together with the Qi.

‘How is Qi circulated?’

The Qi is circulated through meditation.

‘Why is the Light not seen during meditation?’

There are many reasons for the inability to see the Light:

Ancestor Lu DongBin, the author of the Secret of the Golden Flower text, had assumed that Chinese readers already know how to still their heart (Daoists directly taught by Daoist Celestial Immortals initially practise that). Meditation using the backward flow method is required to empty the mind. Both Laozi and the Buddha had taught that. (Refer to the TTC and the Sutras)

Thomas Cleary, I have been told, has made the claim on several occasions in his translation, that the text is not on meditation per se. Such claims were probably made because of his Buddhist training. Therefore the Buddhists and Confucians would find some resonance with his translation.

While contemplation practised by Confucians and by Chan Buddhists, as indicated by Lu DongBin, is required to crystallize or ‘fix’ the Light, it is not the main teaching in this Daoist text. Only with the backward flow meditation and a still heart, the practitioner will be able to see the Light; and if he or she is still unable to, start to contemplate to crystallize the Light.

Therefore to claim that the Secret of the Golden Flower is not a meditation text is misleading, to say the least.

Besides that, just reading and practising what is written in the text is insufficient to take anyone no matter how brilliant or diligent to reach good aptitude in neidan practice. The confirmations of good aptitude are indicated in the text – which are important signposts of the Way.

Probably only the Book of Changes and the Tao Te Ching contain the complete teachings of neidan practice, but these ancient classics will prove too profound for any student or even whiz kids.

So therefore two of the Quanzhen Patriarchs - Lu Dongbin and Wang Chongyang –, and their friend, Chen Tuan, who went on to become Daoist Celestial Immortals, advised that students read and understand the Daoist, Confucian, and Buddhist doctrines and to practise the teachings therein to make the Return.

When the neidan practitioner can empty the mind and still the heart, he or she is practising the Return as indicated by Laozi in his Tao Te Ching written for Guan Yinshi – who was the first to mention ‘The Circulation of the Light’. As long as they are making this Return, it does not really matter what it is called – return to the Light, return to Heaven, return to Destiny, return to Tao, or return to the Origin.

But if you do not know how to really empty the mind and still the heart please refrain from making false claims of great achievements on the Web so that students will not be misled. For the esoteric, such false claims would do more harm than good to both yourself and the misled; since Lu Dongbin appears to know whenever people talk extensively on his Secret of the Golden Flower on the Web!

But how would I know?


Friday, December 07, 2012

Final update on the Kan / The Abysmal prognostication interpretation

In February 2008, a fellow Malaysian Yijing aficionado wanted to know if Transmile Group Berhad listed on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now known as Bursa) is a good investment. The particular listed (or quoted) company’s stock price had plunged 80% from its 2007 record high of RM 15.20 and he had bought in some shares priced at around RM 3.36 with the hope that the new major shareholder and richest Malaysian, Tan Sri Robert Kouk would pump fresh funds to put the company in a firm financial footing. And that consequently its shares price would likely soar again.

The Yijing aficionado had thereafter consulted the Book of Changes and published the prognostication – Hexagram 18 Gu / Work on what has been spoiled – on his blog. After recognizing that the Yijing has indeed spoken and that he did not seemed to understand the implications of the prognostication, for he only had six months divination experience at the time, I hinted to him that the Transmile shares price could fall to RM 2.20 or lower and told him the reasons why.

When the particular shares price did fall to RM 2.20, I suggested that he ask the Yijing again since he had intended to hold on to the investment. This time the Book of Changes provided a far more severe warning in the form of Hexagram 29 Kan / The Abysmal. And I decided to give a comprehensive interpretation of the prognostication in this blog on February 19, 2008 to share it with him and readers. The article is titled, ‘An interpretation of Kan / The Abysmal’ for those interested.

The main gist of my interpretation was that the particular shares price would plunge by limits down before the eventual suspension and delisting of Transmile Group Berhad from the KLSE (Bursa).

There was a further update on December 27, 2008 titled, ‘Few can alter Yi prognostications’ after the shares price of Transmile had dived to a year low of RM 0. 48 – Equivalent to four limits down from the RM 2. 20.

This article is the final update on the Yijing prognostication since Transmile Group Berhad has been suspended from trading in early 2011 and had been delisted from the Official List of Bursa Securities on May 24, 2011. This means that the interpretation was dead right since the oracle had unfolded accordingly to a T. Therefore there is nothing more to add or to subtract, which brings the prognostication to a closure.

Since the interpretation was specifically done for a Yijing aficionado who had minimal experience of divination, it could prove to be the easiest and simplest among the hundreds of blogged articles on the Book of Changes for readers to understand.

Instead of expecting the proverbial fish, try listing out as many aspects of the art of divination and the science of interpretation as can be determined from these three articles - on just one particular prognostication - in order to deepen your own Yijing studies.

To provide some hints and help you appreciate what has been discussed in these three articles, consider if my words and actions uphold the following two phrases embedded in the Great Treatise (Da Zhuan):

Therefore the superior person, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes, and he does so in words. It takes up his communications like an echo; neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future. If this book were not the most spiritual thing on earth, how could it do this?
[Part 1 X 2 W/B]

First take up the words,
Ponder their meaning,
Then the fixed rules reveal themselves.
But if you are not the right man,
The meaning will not manifest itself to you.

[Part 2 VIII 4 W/B]


Sunday, December 02, 2012


Greed or avarice is a human desire. And greed knows no bounds. The more investors or speculators profit, the greedier they become.

By definition, greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth or power. (

Laozi and Confucius knowing human nature well taught people in their respective Tao Te Ching and the Analects to guard against greed, especially during old age; since it would prove more difficult for the old to recover from a financial disaster. The young and middle age would more likely have the necessary time span, the energy, and the courage to make a complete recovery from such disasters.

But it has always been tempting when there seems to be easy money to be made together with readily available credit and everyone else is doing it. Think of bull runs in the stock and commodity markets, property bubbles, and gold rushes.

If we look back at the Asian Financial Crisis 1997/98, the Global Financial Crisis 2008/ 09, and the ongoing PIGS* Credit Crisis we can see history repeating itself time and time again. Almost everyone trying to make easy money from the stock markets and/or from real property with free flowing credit from the financial institutions, and did not stop in time, got burnt. Many titan financial institutions also required rescues from their respective governments. (The Book of Changes has had forewarned with omens on the time to get out of the markets to avoid the crises. Refer to the then yet-to-unfold respective Yijing omens blogged in 2008 and 2009.)

Yet do we really think that most of these burnt investors, speculators, or institutions can ever learn from their mistakes?

If investors or speculators keep repeating the same mistakes on financial or property investments and perchance bankrupt themselves, they may tend to blame it on fate or even Heaven. The bankruptcy would not have happened if they have learned from their past mistakes and/or have not gambled beyond their financial means. They should not have tempted fate in the first place and then blame any mishap on it.

But in this day and age, where even previous rulers of nations responsible for emptying the state coffers because of protracted wars and they together with captains of industry and regulators have had played a major part in causing the Financial and Credit Crises and these culprits are let off scot free without paying any restitution – an anomaly of the times – who wants to accept the buck or the blame and be sued for their huge mistakes? Certainly those who had failed in their investments or job scopes would likewise not accept the responsibility for their own failures. Therefore it was much easier to whitewash the mistakes or failures and start on a clean slate again.

If only rulers, captains of industry, regulators, the investors and speculators had learned from history and the ancients; then they would not have repeated the same huge mistakes down the ages caused by human greed.

Such mistakes have caused suicides and intense sufferings including the innocents especially children across the world. Greed for material wealth and power has been the main cause for the hundreds of millions in the US, in Europe and in the Middle East still suffering today.

Investing or speculating with credit (borrowings) - and playing with someone else’ monies - beyond our very means to repay the debt is something that the Book of Changes advises against – if we know our Yijing studies well and if we can interpret prognostications accurately. This advice from the ancient classic upholds my contention that the Book of Changes can be used both as a Book of Wisdom and a Book of Oracles.

To avoid greed and as part of self cultivation, Laozi in his Tao Te Ching chapter 46 exhorts people to be contented with their means. The Buddha by giving up his princedom and lived as a hermit is an exceptional exemplary example of this.

If we have been contented and lived within our means, we would have been more prudent and not borrowed to make speculative gains and live to regret any disastrous financial mistakes. If we are not greedy, we will also not be easily conned (or ‘Madoffed’) for a ‘few dollars’ more.

In line with the advice from the Book of Changes and the three named great ancient sages, contentment with our means, especially when we are old, is good for our self cultivation.

*PIGS - Coined acronyms by the global finance industry for Portugal, Ireland or Italy, Greece, Spain; and certainly an apt name for their imprudent financial institutions, inept regulators and/or greedy speculators.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hongmen heroes and/or Yijing dragons

Heroes or dragons are exceptional leaders in their fields of study and of action. Down the ages, heroes come from all walks of life and sizes. They invariably displayed benevolence (Ren) and righteousness (Yi) - the Way of Man. And they had leavened their admirers or followers to bring out the good in human nature (Xing).

The original heroes of Hongmen (Red Gate) including Xiang Yu, Liu Bang, Zhang Liang, Fan Zeng and Fan Kuai were from various classes and had very little means. Yet they had banded together to fight as rebels for the common good against the enormous and well trained army of the tyrant Shih Huangdi, more than two thousand years ago, eventually overthrowing the mighty but short lived Qin Dynasty. Their exemplary legacy – which accorded with Mencius’ thoughts - inspired many later generations of Chinese to revolt against inhumane and unjust rulers who had had treated the people worse than animals.

If readers had done their homework on Hexagram 1 Qian they would know which one of the six lines in the hexagram depicts heroes and sages. As to whether or not heroes can ascend to the ranks of sages would by and large depend on their continuity of cultivation and actions (practices) in accord with established order, and their destiny – since the chances of such ascendancy are forever so slim.

Sages Jiang Ziya (Taigong), King Wen, Duke Tan of Zhou (Zhougong), Laozi, Confucius, and Mencius count among the ancient dragons whose related respective works on the Book of Changes (Yijing) have had influenced millions of the learned and wise Yijing aficionados down the millennia. Heroes Wei Boyang, Zhang Boduan (Ziyang), Chen Tuan, Shao Yong, Zhou Dunyi, and Zhu Xi are among the better known dragons who were versed with the Yijing with some becoming Daoist celestial immortals because of their further cultivation as taught in the Book of Changes, in Jiang Taigong’ Yin Fu Ching, and in Laozi’ Tao Te Ching.

Hexagram 1 Qian / The Creative Heaven and Hexagram 2 Kun / The Receptive Earth in the Book of Changes defines the subtle differences between real and false dragons respectively. False dragons or charlatans abound on the Web. These fakes who claim several decades of divination experience - and upon scrutiny - often provide incorrect and/or incomplete interpretations of published Yijing prognostications. Yet they unabashedly proceed to teach students or set New Age rules for ancient divination and/or write books on the Yijing.

Compared to the false dragons, real dragons have professional integrity and can be relied upon by students and their followers. They practise the Way of Man by bringing to light - or exposing - the fakes and publicly shaming them in their reviews and/or commentaries on the Web. Their honesty and in-depth knowledge show through in their books, reviews, translations, and/or articles on the Book of Changes, on ancient Chinese philosophy, and on Chinese culture. They would provide references and source citations for further study and research. Like the ancients, almost all of these are done for free and probably for the love of the Book of Changes. To students who have affinity with them, these dragons may reveal a profound thing or two.

And because of their display of integrity on the World Wide Web, I would like to recommend them to students of the Book of Changes and/or of ancient Chinese philosophy.

Among the heroes or dragons I have the honor to communicate with over the years is Steve J Marshall. What he has written and embedded in his YijingDao website will augment many a student’s Book of Changes studies. Students reading his reviews on Yijing related books and translations will not only increase their knowledge, it will save them from wasting time and money on the wrong books. Those interested in knowing something more on the historical Yijing-related events that had occurred before King Wu’s conquest of the Shang and in things Chinese should read his well researched book, ‘The Mandate of Heaven’.

Another hero or dragon I have the honor to communicate with although recently is Steve Moore also of the U.K. Steve Moore is the author of ‘The Trigrams of Han’. Thanks to his translation of the Ma Qian Ke, I have come to know that the ‘Sleeping Dragon’ Zhuge Liang is also a Wu (Magician / Yijing diviner) and not just only a Shi (Daoist priest / neidan adept); a Daoist celestial immortal, and a sage. Steve Moore’s in-depth knowledge of the Book of Changes shows through with his Yijing or divination related books reviews. Read his recent review on the Shen Su, also made available on the YijingDao website, for a good example on how the false is brought to light and shamed – depicting the practice of righteousness (Yi).

My recommendations would be incomplete if they do not include some heroes or dragons from China. Of those who have written and published articles on the Center for Zhouyi website, I have discerned two whom I consider dragons.

The first of the two dragons is Professor Liu Dajun, the departmental head of Ancient Chinese Philosophy in the Shandong University, China. His in-depth knowledge of things ancient and his humility shines through in his well written articles and commentaries; qualities of which students are well advised to emulate. Professor Liu is acknowledged by his global peers as a leader in his field of study and action.

The second dragon in China may not appear so to experts and scholars of Ancient Chinese Philosophy unless they are discerning and thorough enough. He is none other than Professor Tang YiJie of Shandong and Beijing Universities. In his one and only published article (code 330) on ‘Yi is what the Dao of heaven and that of human’ on the Center for Zhouyi website, he displayed his thoroughness and in-depth knowledge of ancient Chinese philosophy. Since he has had articulated his understanding of the four Confucian books and five ancient classics – which include the Book of Changes; the Buddhist scriptures; and the cardinal virtues (including the hidden one) so much better than me to uphold his contention that Zhuangzi knows Heaven but not that of Earth (and of Human), it would be remiss of me not to recommend this dragon to students. In reading his article, students will appreciate the importance of thoroughness in their studies of the Yijing and of ancient Chinese philosophy.

Among those of note who are aspiring dragons would be Professor Fabrizio Predagio of Stanford University USA whom I also have the honor to discuss with on the subject of Chinese inner alchemy. With his scholarly knowledge acquired through several years of dedication on the profound subject, his recent translations on Daoist inner alchemy texts can be relied upon.

Harmen Mesker of the Netherlands is also an aspiring dragon. He has written two Yijing related books in Dutch - one at an early age - and has quite a following in his home country. His etymology knowledge of the Book of Changes has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years and his articles are worth reading. Since his fact findings and discovery of the meaning behind a classical Chinese word usage in the Book of Changes sometimes even astound Yijing experts and scholars. Also read his reviews on Chinese divination-related books and learn to differentiate between correct and wrong practices.

If Yijing aficionados diligently study the Book of Changes and put in the proverbial extra mile we may one day become heroes or dragons like the aforementioned ancient sages, Neo Daoists, and Neo Confucians. The sincerity and integrity displayed in their Yijing related texts or writings have had withstood close scrutiny through the passage of time. If we do not practise the art of Yi divination and the science of interpretation, we can never become a Yijing hero because our studies would not be complete and thorough enough.

Since we have the affinity to ‘barge into Hongmen’ to read the Yijing with the hope of becoming heroes, can we also not put in the extra efforts to cultivate our human nature (Xing) to bring out the good therein in order to master our own fate (Ming)? Is this not another one of the purposes of reading the Yijing? Therefore do not miss the woods for the trees again, and again!


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Heroes of Hongmen

Whether or not we know the significance when we first started to read the Book of Changes after all these years let me tell Yijing aficionados an inspiring story they may like to keep in their bosoms for the rest of their lives. Good.

After almost twenty years of studying the Book of Changes I have had an affinity with and the opportunity to ask a Quanzhen celestial immortal in 1993 to teach me how to read the Yijing. His first remark in Chinese (and translated into pinyin), ‘Qiang Qing Hongmen Kan Yijing’, still astounded me until recently. The divinity continued his teaching with six cryptic messages which have already been blogged and discussed six years ago.

His remark ‘Qiang Qing Hongmen Kan Yijing’ could literally be translated into English as ‘Barging into Red Gate to read the Book of Changes’. Whether or not this remark equally applies to all Yijing aficionados by and large will depend on their own studies and actions. Therefore do not jump into conclusions.

Why would I be barging into Hongmen (Red Gate) - a city in China - to read the Yijing? I did not know the actual reasons for it until twenty years later (1993 to 2012)! That’s why I am a slow learner who often falls behind in Yijing and in ancient Chinese philosophy studies.

The ‘Red Gate Feast’ or ‘Hongmen Yan’ in pinyin relates to heroes for the discerning. The young, middle age and old all look up to heroes; the more popular and exemplary the heroes the better. Hero Guan Gong (the God of War) is best known for his righteousness (Yi) while hero Zhuge Liang is admired for his foreknowledge and profound strategies. Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa of Calcutta are best known for their caring attitude and kindness (Ren) to all. And therefore are heroes to nurses. Yijing aficionados with sincerity and integrity can also be heroes, if they have never known or thought about it until reading up on this article.

While the Triads and Chinese masonry prefer and invariably copy the later and more romantic version of the Hongmen Yan - the swearing of brotherhood, of serving the state and saving people, and of following the Way of Man (Ren Yi) by the three famous heroes: Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei in the Peach Garden - and the naming of senior triad leaders after the five tiger generals of Shu Han; the original and actual Hongmen Yan is a real historical event.

To know what the Hongmen Yan is all about, let us go back two thousand two hundred years to its history as recorded in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), shall we?

During the popular uprising against the Qin Dynasty (c 207 BC) and after Liu Bang had captured the Qin capital Xianyang for the rebels, Xiang Yu invited him to a feast at Hongmen (Red Gate) on the pretense of celebrating the historic capture. Instead Xiang Yu had planned to kill Liu Bang during the feast; as advised by his brilliant strategist, Fan Zeng who had foreseen Liu Bang’s ascendancy, and based on received information from a traitor that Liu Bang had intended to name himself, King of Guanzhong – a title so promised by Xiang Yu for the first rebel chief to capture Xianyang. Unknown to Xiang Yu, his uncle Xiang Bo who knew about the vile scheme and fearing for the safety of his friend, Zhang Liang – the renowned strategist of Liu Bang – he decided to warn Zhang not to attend the Hongmen Feast (Yan). Zhang Liang then prepared counter strategies for Liu Bang before attending the feast at Hongmen. At the feast, Liu Bang managed to convince Xiang Yu that he had no intention to mutiny but Fan Zeng on his own account still proceeded with the murderous plan. His plan to kill Liu Bang via a sword dance fell through due to the intervention of Xiang Bo, Fan Kuai (a general of Liu Bang), and Zhang Liang. Liu Bang finally managed to escape back to his own camp. Thereafter the traitor in Liu Bang’s camp was executed.

After a few years of contention, Xiang Yu worsted by Liu Bang with the help of his best general, Han Hsin and the strategies of Zhang Liang, took his own life. Liu Bang went on to establish the Han Dynasty.

Those who had attended the feast at Hongmen were heroes. To the populace, both Xiang Yu and Liu Bang were great heroes since they had had ended the tyrannical rule of Qin. The people of China had suffered immensely under the rule of Qin Shih Huangdi (the first emperor of Qin - and not the first emperor of China as many overwhelmed history teachers in the world would tend to believe), so much so that even Zhang Liang has had impoverished his own family by selling assets and using the money to hire assassins hoping to kill the tyrant. By ending the sufferings of the people and by giving them hope, these heroes had followed the Way of Man (benevolence and righteousness – Ren Yi). Perhaps, for this reason many elder Chinese today still refer to themselves as Han people.

If you are a sincere Yijing aficionado who has integrity, you can also be a hero and/or a dragon. Sincerity is required because it is a Way of Heaven and integrity is a must in order not to mislead admirers, followers, and/or students. By following the Way of Man, you would be kind and righteous like the heroes of Hongmen. There are many ways to display kindness and justice – refer to the examples of Guan Gong, Zhuge Liang, Florence Nightingale, and Mother Teresa - more of which will be discussed in my follow up article on dragons and current heroes of the Yijing and/or ancient Chinese philosophy on the Web.

Meanwhile you can do yourself a favor by reading up on Hexagram 1 Qian / The Creative Heaven – using the Wilhelm / Baynes translation - to learn more about dragons and heroes. And to deepen your Yijing studies.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting to know Heaven

This is not the original article that I had set out to write. The article in final draft forms and titled, “How to get Heaven on our side” had to be deleted after receiving a warning from Heaven (Tian) probably for revealing its secrets (Ke). Just as I was finishing that particular draft, a sudden thunderstorm appeared with loud thunder very close by. By instinct I had quickly deleted the entire draft, emptied the recycle bin in the computer, and the thunder immediately stopped. Within minutes the thunderstorm passed. Regular readers will not find anything strange about this phenomenon since they have read it before in my articles on the then yet-to-unfold global omens, and the yet-to-unfold twelfth prophecy of Zhuge Liang on China, from the Yijing.

After all, the phenomenon serves as a fair warning from Heaven to those who want to over reveal its secrets. Not too much different from the fair warning given by the two divinities to Guan Lo of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms fame. Therefore I am now writing this article instead. And you know what; there is no thunderstorm, so far so good!

Yijing aficionados and students of Tao should learn to know Heaven if they wished to or have already dedicated a lifetime to their respective studies. They may be able to get Heaven on their side if they cultivate both Human nature (Xing) and Fate (Ming) as taught by the Holy Sages who wrote the Book of Changes. And do good deeds as indicated in Daoist texts. Sincere and serious students of Tao and the Yijing should take note of this. Human lives are precious to Heaven, if you can save an innocent life (or lives); do so without hesitation.

Perchance, if they already know heaven, they can still learn something deeper from the Book of Changes or from the three great ancient sages, Laozi, Confucius, and the Buddha. For these three sages knew Heaven well. Read on.

Confucius told his students, when they were facing danger of being robbed and killed, that since the passing of King Wen, Heaven has chosen him to be the standard bearer of culture; the men of Guang (the pillagers) can do nothing to him. [Records of the Grand Historian - Shiji]

In the Analects, Confucius has had made several statements which depicted his deep and profound knowledge of Heaven but I will only use one which have much relevance in this discourse and found to be true from actual experiences and observations over the past two decades:

“He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray”. [III, xiii Legge]

Confucius had used this statement to provide a fair warning to the officer who had wanted to usurp his position.

Although ancient, what Confucius had stated two thousand five hundred years ago is still applicable till today. Truths always withstand the passage of time. Those on the receiving end of Heaven’s wrath, with or without fair warning, may still quite not understand what they have done wrong. Perhaps by reading this article, they can learn from their past mistakes.

Pedant scholars the likes of the late Professor Homer Dubs will hardly believe a word of what I say since there is dearth of literature to substantiate the phenomena of Heaven’s actions on behalf of the good, unless they are deep and thorough enough to comprehend the sayings of the three great sages. When even Xunzi, a top ancient philosopher of his time and an accredited Confucian, did not quite understand these two statements of Confucius, what more can be expected of both ancient and modern pedant scholars?

Instead of being a Confucian Junzi (superior person) who stands in awe of sages, Xunzi proffered a contrary view on Heaven which opposes the identical thoughts of the three great ancient sages, and his contemporary, Mencius.

For only those who have experienced it can appreciate the phenomena of Heaven’s moral will. They may further get to know the Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming) around the age of fifty, give or take a few years.

In the modern context and with great contributions from science, readers should pay more particular attention to what they say or do in Daoist or Yijing forums and in this lowly blog. If they happen to come across a dull and seemingly ignorant person with no oratorical skills at all and yet ventured to talk in simple English about Tao and/or Yijing omens, stay well clear if you do not believe a word of what he says!

Never call him names, nor disparage his practices or his works, unless you really know more than this particular frog-in-the-well that had been sent-down-the-mountain by the Yijing for fellowship with men. He could already have Heaven on his side. And/or assisting the gods as indicated in the Great Treatise (Da Zhuan).

By calling him names; by disparaging his practices and his works; by injuring him with words or thievery; by reneging on agreements or promises made to him; culprits had offended Heaven and had been punished. Therefore this also goes to show that Heaven has moral will.

To remain blameless, he has always hinted to (previous and present) forum members and to readers not to cast aspersions on what he does or says unless they try to correct his mistakes, if any. And according to Confucius and the Buddha, the culprits had brought Heaven’s wrath down upon themselves.

To settle doubts, please also listen carefully to what the Buddha and Laozi had respectively said:

The Buddha asked the man who came to denounce his Way and his practice that if he offers a gift to his neighbor and his neighbor accept it not; would not the gift be returned to him? And the man replied, ‘It will’. The Buddha then said: “You denounce me now, but as I accept it not, you must take the wrong deed back on your own person.”

The Buddha said, “Evil doers who denounce the wise resemble a person who spits against the sky; the spittle will never reach the sky; but comes down on himself.” [Both quotations Google from: The sayings of Buddha in forty-two sections]

Laozi in Chapter 79 of his Tao Te Ching said:

The Way of Heaven is impartial; it is on the side of the good”.

By providing a reference on Heaven’s moral will in Chapter 79, and by providing many other references on Heaven and Earth in his Tao Te Ching for future generations, Laozi depicted his profound knowledge of Heaven.

What the Buddha and Confucius had respectively taught, ‘evil deed(s) will redound on the culprits’ and ‘those who offends Heaven will be punished and has no one to pray to,’ is but one of the ways how Heaven protects the good.

The observant and those who are directly taught by Daoist celestial immortals or Buddhas would know more ways than this. These ways form part and parcel of Heaven’s secrets. Disclosures of which can be subjected to fair warnings from Heaven!

The mysterious workings of Heaven and Tao are certainly not easy to comprehend until experienced. We should know our own limitations and be circumspect of what we say or do in public regarding ancient Yijing and Tao practices, lest we inadvertently offend Heaven.

Good deeds seemed unrewarded and evil deeds seemed unpunished yet Heaven’s and/or divinities’ rewards and punishments often manifest for those who in the know. Those who know this phenomenon down the ages based on what they have taught include Laozi, Confucius, the Buddha, and Mencius.

Perhaps after reading this article, readers got to know the ways of Heaven a bit better?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romance of ‘Friends come without blame’ in the Book of Changes

In the Judgment of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return it is said (extracts):

Going out and coming in without error. Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the Way. On the seventh day comes return.

And the nine in the fifth place of Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction says:

In the midst of the greatest obstructions, Friends come.

While the image of the six in the second place says that because the king’s servant is beset by obstruction upon obstruction, in the end, there is no blame.

In his tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke, with the accompanying Hexagram Jian / Obstruction, the great Zhuge Liang or Kongming has had established that the Chinese phrase for ‘Friends come without blame’ or ‘Peng Lai Wu Jiu’ in pinyin can also be read as ‘Friends come, no blame’.

Now whether or not the friends (Peng) that have been referred to in both Hexagrams represents the same phenomenon is the subject of this romance. But as usual whenever this student writes about things related to Tao and Heaven, there would be no damage to your health and well being if you take it in with a bit of salt!

Friends come without blame, to and fro goes the Way
Signifies the Return (Fu)
Friends come no blame, in the midst of obstructions upon obstructions
Signifies Obstruction (Jian)

The Holy Sages allowed the least knowledgeable to reveal the truths
So that more can be taught, a phenomenon of Wu Wei
From the Tao Te Ching, Analects, down to the Daoist texts
The least knowledgeable among those with profound knowledge had taught the most

Therefore do not be surprised if you cannot learn anything profound here
Since the author knows only a touch of the ancients and Zhouyi
However, while we may have the same teacher, our experiences vary
And the romance may contain a hint or two to help expand your deep knowledge

Heaven and Earth had closed since 15 September 2008
Signifying no Tao all under Heaven
Friends cannot come because of the obstructions upon obstructions
Therefore no blame can be accorded

Laozi, Confucius, and Mencius knowing this phenomenon
Had warned the able to hide until Heaven and Earth (re)open
Those who had refused to listen, suffered along with the hundreds of millions
Causes were known, retribution was duly paid where people had revolted

To foreknow when Heaven and Earth will reopen is easy and simple
Heaven first send down the Great Light to help the correct, central, and blessed
Then ‘Friends come without blame’
Both phenomena presage the phenomenon of ‘To and fro goes the Way’.

In case you have doubts, I can help you count
It has been forty nine months since there was no Tao on Earth.
Those who practised neidan meditation during this period knows not when to stop
Conversely, they too would not know when to start

The adept(s) had to forego the embryo within
Since it cannot survive without Tao on Earth
A time when Guan Yin had indicated that Buddhas give no blessings
Friends had tried to come amidst the greatest obstructions, and accorded no blame

If you want to experience ‘Friends come without blame’
Empty your mind and still your heart to wait for the Return.
It is not necessary to sit but just be quiet.
Friends come when you are ready and whenever there is Tao all under Heaven.

An overheard conversation:

Welcome back, my friends!
It has been a long time.
Forty nine (49) months to be exact.
An eternity some say.
Yet there is no blame.

For Heaven and Earth had closed.
And there was no Tao all under Heaven.
With so much obstructions placed upon travels
Even Buddhas give no blessings
As told by Guan Yin

Yes, I know that you came a few times earlier.
But, your calls at the gate were mumbles.
Anomalies still happen whenever there is no Tao on Earth.
Though a few culprits have been overthrown
Most roam freely while the innocents still suffer

The forgoing of the embryo again is not a great loss.
Compared to the sufferings of the hundreds of millions people on Earth.
Heaven by sending down the Great Light last year indicates that the correct, central, and blessed are not completely forgotten.
Except for the able who else could appreciate that they have to hide?
Meanwhile they wait for the reopening of Heaven and Earth and the ensuing abundance of Tao once again.

My palms have suddenly grown hot.
As if we shook hands.
Pray tell your shy female companions, their first ever visit is much appreciated.
And that they sing the melodic song in harmony with you.
Send my regards to our Buddhist friends; I do miss their chiming in now and then.

Your long visit today may presage that of Tao moving to and fro freely again.
Do not worry too much, even if this conversation is overhead and published.
Any listener would stretch their Tao and Yijing knowledge to the limits before appreciating any of what has been said.
Otherwise they will dismiss it as a self-talk by a cranky old man.
And whichever way they choose, they are correct. Since how would he know?

Allan Lian

All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Review of Homer H Dubs’ article on ‘Did Confucius study the Book of Changes?’

Over the past eight decades, anyone after reading the late US Professor Homer Dubs’ 1928 influential article published in the Tongbao, the first international journal in sinology established in 1890, would be confounded as to whether or not Confucius had actually studied the Book of Changes. The article in simple English is very persuasive and well supported by several quotations from the Analects, and one each from the Book of History and from the Records of the Grand Historian. (Homer H Dubs’ article on ‘Did Confucius study the Book of Changes?’, is kindly made available by Steve Marshall for those interested at )

Professor Homer Dubs (1892 to 1969) was a Yale graduate in philosophy, a Columbia University masters, and after having earned a PhD from the University of Chicago with a dissertation on the Chinese philosopher, Xunzi that he would publish in two volumes, taught at several US Universities before taking up the Chair of Chinese at Oxford that had been held by James Legge. In addition, Dubs grew up in China as a child of missionary parents and returned there as a missionary after obtaining his masters and his Bachelor of Divinity. The professor, an American sinologist and polymath, is best known for his translation of sections of Ban Gu’s Book of Han. (The life, credentials, works, and later eccentricities of Homer Dubs can be further read at Wikipedia:

Anyone not having studied ancient Chinese philosophy as deep as Homer Dubs, a professor at the University of Minnesota when he published the well debated article, could be influenced or swayed by his persuasive and substantiated arguments to believe likewise that Confucius would have nothing to do with the Book of Changes anymore than about spirits. With his impressive array of scholarly credentials and works, his immense knowledge of ancient Chinese philosophy, and stature, it would seem nigh impossible to provide a substantive review of the article. To challenge such a scholarly article supported by various historical citations appears daunting even to those who continue to believe that Confucius did study the Book of Changes; unless they happened to be equally or more steeped in ancient Chinese philosophy than him. Of his contemporary sinologists, Richard Wilhelm would have been the ideal candidate and/or Yijing aficionado to review Dub’s 1928 article even though his eminent Chinese mentor has had passed away by then. However, Wilhelm was probably too ill when the article was published, and had passed away two years later.

Apparently, this influential 1928 article has yet to be reviewed. Therefore under the circumstances, this student who knows only a touch of the ancients and the Zhouyi, with no particular talent or virtue to speak of, takes up the challenge to review Homer Dubs’ article readied to be shamed if he falters. In the review, reasons would be submitted on why the article has had blindsided both Dubs’ admirers and dissenters for more than eighty years.

Dubs had probably started out the article to provide a contrary view to that of Professor Hu Shih’, which according to him was the best and most critical scholar of the day. And I would tend to agree with Dubs’ poor assessment of Hu Shih, if the eminent Chinese Professor had not provided any further evidence that Confucius actually used the Book beyond his famous saying that ‘if some years were added to his life, he would give fifty to the study of the Book of Changes and then might come to be free from great faults’ (VII, xvi) and/or that of Sima Qian’ Records of the Grand Historian on the life events and works of the great sage. (Pages 82 and 83 Tongpao XXV 1928)

Now to write a scholarly article to uphold or to refute the age old Chinese belief that Confucius has had studied the Book of Changes, it could do great injustice to the ancient sage for not having discussed the ancient classic, the ten wings, and the four Confucian books as a whole.

If Professor Hu Shih only knew what his peers would know, it reflects a run-of-the-mill mentality, and no special in-depth knowledge of both the four Confucian books and the Book of Changes that we can learn from. However, neither did Professor Dubs know much about the Book of Changes of Zhou or the Ten Wings, if at all, since he rarely touched on them in his article, if his admirers and/or dissenters have not noticed.

The following analyses and findings of Dubs would depict his level of knowledge, if any, of the Zhouyi and the Ten Wings:

According to Dubs, Sima Qian in his monumental Historical Record states that Confucius wrote various appendixes to the Book of Changes. Relying on Legge’ correct assessment that the attribution of the entire Ten Wings to Confucius is wrong and that we cannot be sure that any of it is from the pen of Confucius himself. He reasoned that: ‘They (The Ten Wings) were too trivial and unworthy to a great man. So we cannot conclude from the Book of Changes itself that Confucius had any connection with it, rather the contrary. Likewise Sima Qian’ evidence must be ruled out as secondary and based on insufficient evidence’. (pages 83 and 84)

The fact that Confucius did write various appendixes to the Book of Changes of Zhou as indicated by Sima Qian had been likely confirmed by James Legge (and Richard Wilhelm in his W/B translation) seemed to be lost on Dubs probably in his over eagerness to refute the age old belief. The whitewashing of the Records of the Grand Historian, which he himself ascribed as monumental, was to be repeated in the article when Dubs tried to cover up (Xunzi’ student) Li Si’ infamous acts. If Dubs had been a student of the Book of Changes, he would not have so lightly dismissed the involvement of Confucius in the writing of the Ten Wings by just relying on the thoughts and the feelings of Legge.

Dubs has had cleverly blindsided Yijing aficionados and scholars by quoting sources from the Analects which supported his prejudices against Chinese ancestor worship, prayers, and divination. Such prejudices could have arisen because of his previous missionary background together with his adoration for Xunzi (who hated the evil princes who did not follow the Way but gave their attention to magic and prayers and believed in omens and luck – Shiji). He provided an unclear quotation - and considered it without basis as ancestor worship - on Confucius teaching Chi Lu that he must be able to serve men before learning how to serve the dead, to support his contention that the sage has nothing to do with divination (and spirits). (In his translation, James Legge had mentioned the distinction by way of notes between ghosts (Gui) and spirits (Shen); and that Confucius had used ghosts (Gui) in the quotation. And the differing views offered by past eminent scholars on this particular quotation.) (XI, xi) (84)

Dubs further displayed a lack of deep understanding of ancient Chinese philosophy when he contended that Confucius holds prayers useless by offering two inappropriate supporting quotations from the Analects, ‘He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.’ (III, xiii) And – “where the sage had indicated there was no necessity for his student to offer prayers on his behalf for his illness, because his praying has been for a long time.” (VII, xxxiii) (84) By applying the first quotation, he like his idol, Xunzi, clearly did not understand that Heaven has a moral will. Also did he not understand what Confucius has said about his own prayers in the latter quotation? Therefore the presented argument of Dubs that since Confucius holds prayers useless, divination is useless too, holds no water.

By quoting the statement ‘divination, when fortunate, should not be repeated’ from the Book of History to support his contention that indeed divination is superstition, he laid bare his ineptness, if he had any knowledge at all, of the Book of Changes. (84) Only the ignorant would be foolish enough to again ask the Book of Changes after obtaining a fortunate prognostication, or a happy omen. Furthermore there was no cause whatsoever for Dubs to cast aspersions on the exemplary Emperor Shun and the Great Yu, as superstitious, just to sway readers to his preferred way of thought or belief. (The historical statement on divination was made by Shun to Yu, in the Great Counsels of Yu.)

To answer his questions as to why there were no records of Confucius teaching or of his recommending the Book of Changes to his students, I can only submit my opinion that if the great sage knew that he has not fully comprehended a profound subject like the Book of Changes, he would not have proceeded to teach the subject to his students. And since Confucius was versed with the Odes, the Rites, and the Music, and found them easier to learn, he recommended his students to study them instead. (85)

This usual opinion of mine is probably now supported by the missing and recently found chapter Yao of the Analects wherein Confucius indicated that his divination accuracy is 70% and about the same as one of his students. (But it would be rather unfair to the late Professor Dubs to use the Yao Chapter to counter his well articulated points on why Confucius did not study the Book of Changes.)

Dubs then tried to hoodwink less knowledgeable readers in ancient Chinese philosophy by making the statement that, ‘Should Confucius have honored and admired it, we should expect that his disciples and followers would have likewise studied and spoken of it. On the contrary they maintain a complete silence for centuries after his death.’ And immediately after that he launched into a vile attack on the author of the Doctrine of the Mean as superstitious, because the author believes in spirits and in divination. (85)

Surely, the learned Professor of ancient Chinese philosophy like James Legge knew that it was Confucius’ beloved grandson (and student), Zisi who wrote the Doctrine of the Mean! Therefore was there or was there not evidence that Confucius’ disciples did study and speak about the Book of Changes? Or did Dubs again try to whitewash important ancient writings that supported the age old belief by casting aspersions on the texts and/or personages? Furthermore, would this renowned grandson of Confucius who is the accredited teacher of Mencius, turn against his own grandfather’s teachings by writing something deemed unbecoming? It is left to readers of this review to decide.

In addition, Dubs indicated that Mencius was quiet on the matter and so was Xunzi. Without knowing much about the Book of Changes and the Ten Wings, Dubs certainly would be clueless as to the profound Yijing knowledge of Mencius; even though he has had read his Book. From brief accounts of Xunzi in the Wikipedia, it is quite possible that this particular philosopher did not study the Book of Changes since unlike Mencius he disbelieved that Heaven has moral will. Therefore, Xunzi may not even know what the Mandate of Heaven was. Similar to some pedant scholars, Dubs argued that it was not until Zuo Zhuan that the Book of Changes was mentioned, totally disregarding the existence of the Doctrine of the Mean which is traditionally honored as one of the four Confucian books.

One can discern that Dubs then at the age of 36 adored Xunzi as his hero, probably influenced by his teachings while writing the thesis on the ancient Chinese philosopher for his PhD. Since in the article, he had made several attempts to raise the stature of both Xunzi, and his rouge student, Li Si who as the prime minister of Qin buried Confucians alive, and burned many categories of books. However, in the eyes of the learned and the wise, Xunzi would never be equally great as Mencius as Dubs has had wished. (85) And Li Si is still rouge because of his despicable acts against humanity and learning. Since Xunzi the teacher did not understand much about Heaven, neither would his student or followers! And to the Chinese, the acts of a student reflect upon the teacher. Mencius is honored as a Confucian sage while Xunzi will remain as an eminent philosopher because his theory on human nature directly contradicts that of Mencius’ Man is born good.

On Li Si’s infamous acts of ‘Burning of books and burying of scholars’, an event recorded by Sima Qian, the Grand Historian of Han, Dubs again tried to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Records of the Grand Historian. (88) While Dubs will certainly know the fact that Sima Qian on the pain of death dared to record the dastardly acts of the first Han Emperor’s wife, Empress Lu after Liu Bang’s death, the professor because of his vested interests still tried to mislead readers; admirers and dissenters alike. That Li Si was subjected to the Five Tortures by the second Qin emperor and later put to death by the prime minister of the day was no more than what he had deserved.

Even though he did not quite make out a convincing case to those in the know for condemning the Book of Changes as superstition; Dubs deviously praised the wisdom of Confucius for not having anything to do with superstitious things. This would confound both the Yijing aficionados and those who hold on to the age old belief.

Without an in-depth Yijing knowledge, how could one appreciate the age old connection between the commentaries by Confucius and/or his students, and Mencius contained in the Ten Wings and the Zhouyi?

Using selective irrelevant citations coupled with flawed analyses which led to incorrect findings, Professor Dubs still unabashedly conclude that Confucius did not concern himself with the Book of Changes anymore than about spirits. Yet his flawed findings and misleading conclusion that Confucius did not study the Book of Changes had stood unchallenged for more than eight decades!

Surely, the late Professor Dubs would not mind it a bit, if my review can finally put his misleading arguments to rest, once and for all. If the influential and yet misleading article is not brought to light and shamed, it would continue to be a disservice to the Book of Changes, Confucius, the current and future generations of Yijing aficionados. Although it is never too late or too old to study the Book of Changes, the ‘lost’ generations (the misled) in between the eighty odd years cannot be brought back to the Light.

In case readers think that the review is nothing but hype, and that this student only know the famous quote used by generations of scholars - including the late eminent Chinese Professor Hu Shih - to support the belief and/or contention that ‘Confucius did study the Book of Changes’, I append below just a few assorted quotations from the Analects for your reading pleasure. Please put on your thinking cap before reading the quotations since they have proven too deep even for generations of eminent Chinese scholars of ancient Chinese philosophy, and without any exception, readers should also know their Yijing studies well otherwise the quotations’ trails to the ancient classic will remain hidden:

I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.’

[Analects 7.19]

The Fang bird does not come; the river sends forth no map; - it is all over for me!’
[Analects 9. 8]

When Tao pervades all under heaven, be prominent. When Tao recesses, go into hiding.’ [Translated by AL]
[Book 8 Chapter 13 of the Analects]

The Master said,
The people of the south have a saying – ‘A man without constancy cannot be either a wizard or a doctor.’ Good!

Inconstant in his virtue, he will be visited with disgrace.’

The Master said,
This arises simply from not attending to the prognostication.’

[Analects 8. 22 Legge]

Allan Lian

All rights reserved.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Of students and masters (12)

Integrity is of importance to teachers of the Book of Changes and/or the ancient Way, and those who possess it will gain the respect of their peers. Since students rely on teachers, their teachings of Yijing studies and/or neidan (inner alchemy) practice should accord with established order set down by the ancients (Holy sages, Laozi, Confucius, and the Buddha). Such teachings should not be based on the teacher’s idiosyncrasy on how the Book of Changes and/or the Way is to be taught. In a way, that is why a teacher from a proper lineage is sought after, since his or her teaching would conform to its tradition and regulations. This of course does not mean that lineage teachers do not make the same mistake, but if their teachings or practices are found to be deviant, they can be subjected to severe punishment.

However in the West, those who teach in public more often than not - partly because of misinterpretations and indolence, but mainly out of ignorance - tend to misrepresent the ancient teachings thus misleading their students. And the Yijing students are no wiser until they standstill in their studies, while those practising neidan may come under delusions and illusions in more serious cases. However, it does not mean that all such teachers in the West have no integrity.

The Book of Changes teaches the Junzi (superior persons) among myriad things how to return to the Light. Yet a so-called Yijing expert and scholar, because he has translated the Book of Changes and has written some books on Yijing studies, tends to teach about the Dark. While to the ancients, Heaven and Earth are of paramount importance, he chooses to talk or write more on the morbid, the dark side, and hell as part of Yijing studies. (This idiosyncrasy is still endurable since it is up to individuals including students how they want to lead their lives.) Yijing omens can only be obtained by the sincere and are very difficult to interpret, yet he recently demonstrated to his students how to beckon the phenomenon to appear and be interpreted by waving their arms towards the heart/mind? This of course is downright misleading, but na├»ve students will possibly be much impressed. After briefly watching his demonstration on You-Tube, I switched it off and as of now no longer hold any more respect for this Yijing ‘expert’ and ‘scholar’. If we do not know how to obtain or interpret omens from the Book of Changes, it is only correct not to teach it. Never conjure something up like he did.

A couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I had watched on You-Tube an acknowledged Zen Master in the West teaching his students how to meditate. Meditation is very important to both Chan and Zen Buddhism according to what is written in Wikipedia. The Zen Master proceeded to teach the proper way of sitting meditation until he told his students that they have to focus their eyes a foot or two ahead of them. The Buddha did not teach this way of eye focus for meditation. According to Lu Dongbin in his Secret of the Golden Flower, the Buddha taught to look at the tip of the nose during meditation, the same way as Laozi had done.

A senior female Chinese student of a renowned neidan master in China wrote in the Taobums the benefits of learning the Circulation of the Light meditation from him. To substantiate the claim, she exclaimed that a group of Westerners who has recently learned this meditation from her master in China had experienced the same signpost as that of the neidan students of Richard Wilhelm. Until she published the sketches drawn up by this group of Western ‘students’ during the short course of meditation taught by the neidan master, I did not know what she was on about. The sketches were similar to the mandalas depicted at the back pages (in between pages 136 and 137) of the Secret of the Golden Flower translation of Wilhelm. Not to embarrass her, I did not tell her that these mandalas were in fact not drawn by neidan students of Wilhelm, if he had any at all. These mandalas are also not a signpost as claimed but were drawn up by various patients of the great Carl Jung and indicated as such by him. And you know what that means? Probably this group of Westerners after practising the meditation fell under delusions or illusions similar to the mentally ill. Whether or not they were taught the right Circulation of the Light meditation and/or they had practised it incorrectly, the neidan master is responsible for his ‘students’ including the antics of that senior female Chinese student. If we do not know what the right method is, do not teach it. Only teach those right methods that we are versed with.

Of the incorrect teachings discussed, students of the Zen Master will come to less harm, if any. The mistake in focusing the eyes during meditation can be easily corrected and has been, if readers have not noticed. The knowledge of the students of the so-called Yijing expert and scholar will probably come to a complete standstill after several more years of studies, I have observed. However, some may fall under the grand delusion thinking that they already know much about the Book of Changes. Alas, another lost generation. The most serious case is what had happened to the group of Westerners who had shown signs of delusions. As to whether or not the neidan master who is from a renowned and reputable lineage in China will be punished for his transgression of the established order, if any, we will have to leave it to his ancestor masters (Daoist celestial immortals) to do the right thing. It is of no concern to outsiders.

What more can I say about those who misrepresent the ancient teachings? For a little more fame and/or fortune, they decide to throw integrity out of the window.

Please, real dragons do no such things; especially those who happened to know why Heaven has no favorites and yet is on the side of the good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

‘Friends come without blame’ in the Yijing

Yijing aficionados who have been studying the Book of Changes for decades would know that the phrase, ‘Friends come without blame’ and ‘Peng lai wu jiu’ in pinyin forms part of the Judgment in Hexagram 24 Fu / Return. And that the Judgment also contains the unique term, Tao (the Way). An age old and yet globally recognizable term used by Laozi in his Tao Te Ching to explain the phenomena of the ancient Way.

While the more experienced Yijing aficionados may not quite understand the relationship between Tao and the friends who come without blame in the Judgment, those who also practise neidan (inner alchemy) and are fortunate enough to be taught by Daoist celestial immortals would come to realize its profound meaning, one day. But I will leave it to the Zhen Ren (realized persons) to reveal this age old secret, if at all. For friends come without blame in the Yijing is a significant signpost of the Way.

This signifies the importance for neidan students to also study the Book of Changes since many more Tao signposts are also embedded in this ancient classic. By studying the Book of Changes every Yi student can also become learned and wise just like the ancients and those renowned for their Yijing studies down the ages.

And one of these worthies happened to be the renowned Zhuge Liang also known as Kongming of Shu Han (c 250). Some readers may think that I was presumptuous in assuming that the fourteen Yijing-related prophecies contained in the Ma Qian Ke were actually written down for posterity by Zhuge Liang since there is a dearth of documentary proof to uphold the presumption.

If Yijing aficionados, including those who have studied the Yijing for a few decades, lack the requisite knowledge to interpret omens and prophecies obtainable from the Yijing, they would not be able to understand why I am so sure that the fourteen Yijing related prophecies were predicted by Zhuge Liang. They may also not be aware of the fact that, at times, the Yijing gives omens in sequences (one immediately after another); as in the Ma Qian Ke. (The Yijing had forewarned me with three consecutive Hexagrams 29 Kan / The Abysmal of the then impending Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.)

However it is a fallacy to believe that the Book of Changes speaks to every diviner. And if the Yijing do not speak, there would be no actual prognostications let alone omens and/or prophecies. Beware of those who claim otherwise.

Therefore I have had subjected a few Yijing-related prophecies in the Ma Qian Ke to the usual test and found that the Yijing indeed spoke to the diviner, whoever he was. By coincidence, the particular diviner has had interpreted his prophecies the same way that I do or did for Yijing-related omens. Even the fortune indications (good, average, and bad) for each hexagram were similar and apt (except for two out of the fourteen which appeared corrupted). Furthermore in the first prophecy, by way of Hexagram 27 Yi / Providing nourishment, the Yijing told Zhuge Liang (the accredited diviner) about his destiny and fate, as well as what would happened in his era – that is to provide nourishment for future Chinese generations; his illnesses leading to his impending death and the difficulty in returning to Heaven; and the Wei Dynasty. (Refer to my commentary of July 2, 2012 on the first prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke if interested to read more about it.)

Since each of the subsequent thirteen prophecies foretold of successive eras in China, it therefore can be soundly concluded that all the prophecies were obtained from the Yijing by none other than Zhuge Liang or Kongming himself. If readers still have doubts, test your own Yijing interpretive skills to decipher his twelfth prophecy which could be extremely difficult, since it goes beyond the usual traditional methods of Yijing interpretation.

If omens are very difficult to obtain, what would be the requisite higher skill level for a Yijing diviner to obtain consecutive prophecies that cover a period of about two thousand years like those in the Ma Qian Ke? Surely, this is the work of a sage. Therefore Confucius is correct to say that the Junzi stand in awe of sages, and Zhuge Liang is sage-like because of his fourteen prophecies. While the immortality status of Zhuge Liang is confirmed by the several Daoist temples in China dedicated to him.

And unless you happened to be a Zhou Yu or his diehard fan, Zhuge Liang also known as Kongming would definitely be a special friend whose company we would like to keep whether or not we follow the teachings of Confucius in the Analects.

Coming back to the phrase, ‘Friends come without blame’. It so happened that in the tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke derived from the accompanying Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction, the same phrase in Chinese was used as the fourth verse for the prediction. (Refer to my commentary on this prophecy on July 28, 2012) Probably many readers, including the much more experienced Yi aficionados, are still foggy to say the least as to why Zhuge Liang used the phrase in this prophecy that rightfully belongs in the Judgment of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return.

However if we read the Yijing and get fixated with convention we may not quite learn the deeper layers in this ancient classic. (But this again has nothing to do with New Age methods bandied around in the Web.)

In this tenth prophecy, Zhuge Liang ‘taught’ how to overcome that fixation, if students are ready, and are willing to learn. And I have had provided a subtle hint when commenting on that particular verse. Yet I find no improvement in readers’ understanding. Surely there is an obstruction to their higher learning capabilities! (Pun intended)

And in the midst of obstructions, I come as a friend to help readers to contemplate and think through enabling them to raise their skill levels, a notch or two. The statement relates to Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction, in case readers cannot follow the train of thoughts.

For that, we have to re-examine the phrase, ‘Friends come without blame’. The Chinese in pinyin for the phrase is ‘Peng lai wu jiu’. ‘Peng lai’ means ‘Friends come’ while ‘wu jiu’ means ‘without blame’ or even ‘no blame’; since ‘wu’ can also be translated as ‘no’ to get to the correct meaning of what was actually said. (See the subtlety in translating Chinese words in ancient classics or texts into English?)

Friends come’ (Peng lai) appears in the fifth line judgment of Jian. But where does the second half of the phrase ‘without blame’ comes from? My subtle hint then was that no blame can be accorded to the friends and the Chinese (if you care to reread my commentary on the tenth prophecy).

The hint pointed to the second line of Jian since the Chinese are the King’s servants, not his friends, and where the line image accorded ‘no blame’ to the servant who tried his very best to overcome the obstructions upon obstructions faced.

Therefore did Zhuge Liang make a mistake in his usage of the phrase, ‘Peng lai wu jiu’ that rightfully belongs to Hexagram 24 Fu / Return? No. The phrase is certainly apt to foretell what will come to pass and which later had occurred.

Since in this instance, the fourth verse in Chinese should be translated into English or to be read as, ‘Friends come, no blame’. For additional clarity, Zhuge Liang has had already indicated in the third verse of the prophecy that ‘Five two reversed’ pointing to the reversal of positions in the fifth and second lines of Hexagram Jian. What more can be said?

The great image of Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction is certainly apt for the Wu (Yijing diviners) and the Shi (Daoist priests or neidan practitioners) who have to contemplate within to raise their skill levels, a notch or two. So that ‘Peng lai wu jiu’ in the midst of great obstructions, and/or for the Return! And perhaps we have learned a thing or two from Kongming and from this discussion.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sign of the Valley Spirit(s) (Gu Shen)

This short article is written for the esoteric and those who have not read ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’. In the previous article, I have had mentioned that pedant scholars and whiz kids who do not practise would never get to know the real meaning of Valley Spirit(s), and here is the reason why:

‘Now there are three confirmatory experiences which can be tested. The first is that, when one has entered the state of meditation, the gods are in the valley. Men are heard talking as though at a distance of several hundred paces, each one quite clear. But the sounds are all like an echo in a valley. One can always hear them, but never oneself. This is called the presence of the gods in the valley.’
[The Secret of the Golden Flower by Lu Dongbin as translated by Richard Wilhelm]

Although there are additional written signs on the Valley Spirit phenomenon, this clear explanation of the Valley Spirit(s) by Lu Dongbin should suffice for neidan practitioners who have yet to obtain good aptitude.

Take note not to mix up your understanding with that of the Valley Spirit and the Mysterious Female phenomena of Chapter Six (6) of the Tao Te Ching since the combination depicts a much higher level of attainment, that of reaching the Center (Zhong). And as Laozi indicated therein, the Center seems to continuously exist. Therefore similar to the Valley Spirit, the Mysterious Female will also not die.

I append below my simple translation of Chapter Six of the Tao Te Ching for your easy reference to this brief discussion:

The Valley Spirit(s) die not, likewise the Mysterious Female.

The door of the mysterious female is the root of Heaven and Earth.

Continuously it seems to exist, use it without exertion.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Valley Spirits (Gu Shen)

There is an ongoing interesting discussion in the Daoist section of the Tao Bums forum on the subject of Valley Spirit (Gu Shen in pinyin).

The debate started on whether Chapter Six of the original Tao Te Ching contains the term, ‘Valley Spirit’ or ‘Valley-water Spirit’. The current widely accepted text uses Valley Spirit while the MaWangDui (Early Han) silk text contains the term, Valley-water Spirit instead. It could be just a matter of semantics. Since what is the difference between a valley and a valley with water? After all when it rains, water will still flow down the mountain to the valley below. Researching the semantics by pedant scholars will not provide any further clarity. Probably of more importance is the real meaning of Valley Spirit(s).

There are various technical terms in the Tao Te Ching, meant only for cultivators of Tao and/or neidan practitioners, of which brilliant minds or whiz kids (Wang Bi for example) will not be able to penetrate unless they also cultivate or practise. And one of those terms is that of ‘Valley Spirit(s)’.

No matter how intelligent and diligent we are, theories will remain just that until what Laozi taught in the Tao Te Ching is put into practice. Both the Daoist and Chinese Buddhist term for the basic practice is called self cultivation (siu hang). Without self cultivation, there is no cultivation of Tao and/or neidan practice. Without this higher level of cultivation or practice, valley spirits will forever remain unknowns!

Since Valley Spirit is a phenomenon or a Tao signpost that can be witnessed and experienced by a neidan practitioner who has good aptitude according to Lu Dongbin in the Secret of the Golden Flower. Probably this would explain why Laozi in Chapter Six (6) of his Tao Te Ching indicated that ‘The Valley Spirit (s) never dies’. For how could the Valley Spirit die if the phenomenon can be witnessed or experienced by neidan adepts down the millennia?

In case of doubt, Valley Spirits are also inferred to by Lu Dongbin in his ‘Hundred Character Steele’; and by an unknown Daoist adept in ‘A directory for the day’; as well as by the Buddha in the Shurangama Sutra. Whether Zhuangzi has had inferred to the term or not in one of the writings is debatable since his description of the phenomenon differs. But how would I know?

The good thing about deep and profound studies – that of the Tao and of the Yijing - is that those who do not know cannot hoodwink or ‘madoff’ the learned and the wise!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Hexagram 2 Kun / The Receptive, Earth

Hoarfrost underfoot in autumn
What could be the ultimatum?
Solid ice is not far off
Foreboding ills and not a line at which to scoff!

Straight, square, great
Without purpose, mysterious gates
A touch of Heaven in Earth
Cultivating human nature and fate; being gives birth

Hidden lines, abilities remain concealed
If working for a king, fame should not appeal
Completing works like mother
But venture no farther

A tied-up sack
Due to the rulers’ or adepts’ own lack
Heaven and Earth close
Consequently no Tao all under Heaven and the able hide to be unexposed

A yellow lower garment brings supreme good fortune
Beauty within which expresses itself is opportune
If from the depths of Kun emerges the Light
The Golden Flower can be within sight

Dragons fight in the meadow
Their blood is black and yellow
Not knowing the origins of the Creative and the Receptive
A mare futilely attempts to overturn Qian and Kun in perspective

Lasting perseverance furthers
To prevent any foreseeable murders
Without Yijing guidance, if the Junzi try to lead they will go astray
For yielding, devotion, central, firmness, and sincerity constitute the earthly Way

Allan Lian

Monday, August 13, 2012

Feedback on readership

Firstly, a warm welcome to all readers with thanks for your continued support.

Since changing the statistics counter to Google, I can provide a better feedback on the readership of the blog.

People from the United States of America form the largest group of readers; probably because they tend to read more than others, which is a good thing. While most of the blogged articles can be considered technical, the Americans also have diverse interests and therefore their continued support of the blog is much appreciated.

Malaysian readers form the second largest group of readers; probably they want to support a fellow Malaysian, and to know the timing on the local share market. The younger readers tend to read the articles on the best teams of Counter Strike 1.6 in Malaysia. Something for the young and old!

The third largest group of readers comes from the United Kingdom; probably because they tend to read up on technical aspects on the Book of Changes and want to know something more about immortals and the Chinese ancients.

Next in line are the Australians, the Canadians followed by Singaporeans, Europeans, Indonesians, Indians, and many other citizens of the world.

Lately the Chinese from mainland China are making a comeback to read the blog; probably attracted by the articles on the Ma Qian Ke ascribed to Zhuge Liang, and also not to miss out on the recent talk on Omens!

But surprisingly for the past one month or so, many Russians are coming to read the articles on neidan and Tao cultivation, with some requiring Google English-to-Russian translations. They form the third largest group of readers for the month, after those from the US and Malaysia respectively, outnumbering British readers.

Since May 2012, Singaporeans have been thoroughly enjoying themselves reading up on the articles on ‘An accurate Guan Yin Oracle’ while some readers are probably making money in their Singapore Stock Exchange – the best market performer in Asia since May according to online global business media. Singaporean devotees who regularly pray in Guan Yin temples in their country can learn something on interpretation of the oracle (qin) from these articles.

The perennial favorite article in the blog is ‘Thoughts on Hexagram 62 Xiao Guo / Preponderance of the Small’ written on August 17, 2005. The few days spent on writing it - because of sensitivities involved - did not go wasted. The popularity could be because of my differing view with that of Stephen Karcher – an American author of several books on the I Ching – and his ‘student’ on the hexagram. Readers can also learn something about omens from the article, if interested.

The second most read article is ‘Hua Hu Ching’ written on April 27, 2005. A fictitious book claimed to be written by Laozi and which contained several disputable facts. The dark side is usually alluring, therefore its popularity!

Fast gaining popularity is the article, ‘Basic breath control’, dated April 3, 2006. The health conscious and those intending to take up neidan practice could find it useful.

Two of the most popular articles based on recent month page-views are ‘An accurate Guan Yin Oracle (2)’ dated May 7, 2012 and ‘The concept of duality’ dated December 11, 2007.

Enjoy your reading.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Hexagram No: 1 Qian / The Creative, Heaven

Dragon has to hide
Since time is not on his side
Ready this worthy will not lag
When it’s time to act

Dragon appearing in the field
While acting with zeal
The Junzi will thrive
Onlookers enlivened with life

Seriousness of purpose even in leisure
People influenced by his nature
Creative during day and concern at night, he paces
Leaving integrity and reliability traces

Wavering in flight
Over the depths; what’s with this light?
Wither a hero or a holy sage
Decision time for the mage

Flying in the heavens
World peace this dragon leavens
Clouds choose to follow him
Onlookers blessed on seeing this celestial limb

Arrogant dragon plunges during flight
For overreaching via the light
Perchance he escapes intact with his life
Humiliation and misfortune filled with strife

Celestial dragons have no head
Cause sages and immortals know which Way to tread
For millennia the divine leaven
While mounting the six steps or dragons to heaven

Allan Lian

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The sage in Hexagram 28 Da Gou / Preponderance of the Great

The twelfth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke had indicated the appearance of a sage. If Yijing aficionados cannot perceive the sage in Hexagram 28 Dao Gou which accompanied the prophecy, do not get too upset since it could be way over your heads. When even past top eminent scholars of ancient Chinese philosophy – the Chinese mentors of both James Legge and Richard Wilhelm - have had failed to discern the sage in the Hexagram, this phenomenon – like the closure of Heaven and Earth - will certainly prove too deep and profound for many Yijing scholars and experts. Therefore there is no necessity to worry too much about your own capability in the study of the Yijing. Just plod on with sincerity since only the entire sincere can achieve the ability to divine like a spirit (Shen) down the ages. For sincerity is the Way of Heaven.

Also how many would be able to discern the profound knowledge of Laozi, Confucius, and Mencius of the Book of Changes where these ancient sages indicated that there is No Tao all under Heaven whenever heaven and earth close? Few will really comprehend what this phenomenon actually means, even though the modern world has been experiencing the absence of Tao since 15th September 2008 – the collapse of Lehman. This is also way above the heads of Yijing scholars and the experts, and the neidan adepts too. (Refer to various blogged articles on this particular phenomenon over the past three years, if interested.)

Thus far, Zhuge Liang has had seen the sage in Hexagram 28 Da Gou as depicted in the twelfth prophecy of his Ma Qian Ke. My perceiving of this sage is only circumstantial because of my interpretation and commentary of Zhuge Liang’s accredited 12th prophecy, therefore following his guidance.

However, more than two and the half millennia ago, the great ancient sage, Confucius has already known that the Junzi depicted in Hexagram 28 Dao Gou represents a sage? How?

In the Doctrine of the Mean, the Master said: ‘The superior man accords with the course of the Mean. Though he may be all unknown, un-regarded by the world, he feels no regret.It is only the sage who is able for this.’ [Chapter XI paragraph 3 James Legge]

In Book II of his Yijing translation, Richard Wilhelm mentioned that ‘the whole range of ideas contained in the commentary on the Great Images places it on proximity to the Great Learning and hence in very close proximity to Confucius as well.’ How right were his mentor and him when he wrote that down?

Yi aficionados would note that the Great Image in Hexagram 28 Dao Gou as translated by Wilhelm / Baynes while implying the same meaning is worded differently from James Legge’s translations of the Doctrine of the Mean and of the Book of Changes.

In the W/B translation it reads: Thus the superior man, when he stands alone, is unconcerned, and if he has to renounce the world, he is undaunted.

If we compare that to Legge’s translation it reads: The superior man, in accordance to this, stands up alone and has no fear, and keeps retired from the world without regret. [Refer to Xiang Zhuan of Hexagram 28 Da Gou at]

If those interested check the Chinese in both the Doctrine of the Mean and the Great Image, they will find therein the repetition of almost the exact words. This means that Richard Wilhelm and his mentor, Lao Nai-hsuan, were correct with the comment on the close proximity of the Great Images, known as the Third Wing, to Confucius. It also means that Confucius knew about the sage in Hexagram 28 Da Gou / Preponderance of the Great. Although the sage phenomenon escaped the grasps of the personage who embedded the words of Confucius in the Great Image of this Hexagram and also the eminent mentors of both renowned translators. Otherwise we could have learnt more about it from the ancient sage himself. The personage and the eminent mentors of the translators are without blame since this phenomenon also goes beyond their own comprehension.

This is why the self-taught like Confucius before us need talent and virtue to know the Yijing. Since sometimes we may need to provide ‘national service’ for Yijing aficionados across the world!

Hence my detailed cryptic commentary on the yet-to-unfold 12th prophecy in the Ma Qian Ke ascribed to Zhuge Liang would probably unfold exactly as indicated, especially on this verse:
The sage arises from Xun to bring salvation.’


Allan Lian

All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Commentary on the tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke

[No. 10: Republican Period, 1911-1949]

Prediction No. 10----------------010100----------------middle lower
The assessment is ‘moderately bad’.

Shi hou niu qian----------------A pig behind, a cow in front

Qian ren yi ge-------------------A thousand men with one voice

Wu er dao zhi-------------------Five two reversed

Peng lai wu jiu------------------Friends come without blame

The tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke preliminary translated by Steve Moore is accompanied by Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction.


As promised in my critical review of the commentaries on this tenth prophecy on July 25th, I present my commentary in this follow-up article to enable readers to obtain both a clearer picture and a distinct view of ancient Yijing practice in the interpretation of prophecies and/or omens. Just like in the learning of Tao, the Yijing is not difficult to understand and to practise, yet many prefer bypaths thus missing the woods for the trees.

The detractors who used bypaths tend to mislead students. Therefore, with my critical review of their published commentaries on this prophecy, and following the ancient practice of the Shi (priests) and the Wu (magicians), I bring to light their several misleading statements to brand and shame these detractors in public.

The first cryptic message says: ‘A pig behind, an ox in front’ what does it signify?

Those versed with the interpretation of Yijing omens - an ancient Yijing practice - can perceive from this received Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction that the pig is clearly behind while the ox is obviously in front.

As mentioned in the critical review, these two animals infer to people and not to specific dates, and in this commentary, I would elaborate further.

Down the ages, the pig is known for its laziness and greed while the ox works hard and a proven reliable friend to farmers. Therefore the verse infers to people who were the then Nationalists (the officers, the well educated and the rich) and the then Communists (the peasants and farmers); and an anomaly of the times. The verse could infer to rulers and the ruled – the emperor, and later the President, and the multitude, but read my comments on the third verse for a fuller explanation.

Why is the pig behind and the ox in front?

The peasants and farmers (the Ox) were recruited, at times forcefully, to be sent to the frontlines, while the corrupt officials and officers, the rich and their kin (the Pig) remained behind to ‘guard’ the cities during the Republic era; an anomaly of the times. Army officers were supposed to lead their soldiers (in this instance, many of them were raw recruits) to the frontlines in ancient or modern warfare, rather than remaining behind to ‘guard’ cities and the rich. The rich were allowed to pay ransoms by corrupt officials to redeem their sons and relatives from such military service with the excuse to remain behind to ‘guard’ the cities.

But how would I know?

The second cryptic message says: ‘A thousand men with one voice’

The metaphoric ‘thousand men with one voice’ can be seen as well which makes it simple to interpret.

The verse means: Independence and democracy, and taken together they signify a Republic (instead of a dynasty).

The third cryptic message says: ‘Five two reversed

‘Five two reversed’ literally means that the ruler - the nine in the 5th place - reverses his position with that of his servant - the six in the 2nd place of Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction.

Therefore, ‘Five two reversed’ metaphorically inferred to the events that took place in China where the rulers became the ruled and vice versa. That is the last Qing Emperor was replaced by a commoner, Sun Yat-Sen who in 1911 became the provisional President of China and a few months later, the emperor had abdicated to become a servant - not a common practice during olden times. The Chinese Presidency was abolished by yet another commoner, Mao ZeDong in 1949 who went on to become the Chairman of China. That signified the end of the Republic era in China.

The fourth and final cryptic message says: ‘Friends come without blame

The friends referred to were the Americans, the British, the Russians, and other foreigners who came to the aid of China during the uprising against the Manchu; during the Second World War against the Japanese; and during the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists.

Each time the friends had come in the midst of Obstructions! Therefore, no blame can be accorded to these friends, and to the Chinese.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Critical review of the commentaries on the Ma Qian Ke’s 10th prophecy

The tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke preliminary translated by Steve Moore is accompanied by Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction with the following four cryptic verses:

Shi hou niu qian----------------A pig behind, a cow in front

Qian ren yi ge-------------------A thousand men with one voice

Wu er dao zhi-------------------Five two reversed

Peng lai wu jiu------------------Friends come without blame

Instead of presenting a full commentary on the unfolded tenth prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke, this time I will first provide a critical review of the existing commentaries to address their several misleading statements arising from the use of derivative methods – generously applied by fortune tellers and fengshui practitioners – from the Book of Changes and their misinterpretations.

The diverse commentaries by various commentators showed that it is not always easy to interpret prophecies and omens even after a predicted event had unfolded, although the majority have had eventually got it right – the Republic era from 1911 to 1949. It also shows that when misleading statements are issued just like the repetition of lies, they sometimes appear as truth and can even sway scholars over to their wrong way of thinking. This review also serves as a reminder to Yi aficionados and upholds my contention that the practice of derivative methods from the Yijing should not be used. It will also provide various hints on how to determine and/or interpret prophecies and omens. My simple interpretation of the 10th prophecy will appear in a subsequent article so as not to clutter this critical review.

Firstly, I wish to thank Steve Moore for his scholarly analysis on the various commentaries available on the web and in book form, without which I cannot make this review. Secondly, the review would also attempt to answer some of his analytical thoughts on this tenth prophecy. Thirdly, real neidan practitioners and adepts may learn a thing or two from Daoist immortal Zhuge Liang on how to ‘overthrow water’ since the image of this hexagram has been inferred as ‘Shan Dou Shui’ or ‘Hill pours water’. (Refer to relevant articles on ‘Shan Dou Shui’.)

The first cryptic verse of the 10th prophecy says: ‘A pig behind, a cow in front’, what does it signify?

The majority of commentaries explained that 1911 corresponded to the year of the Pig while 1949 corresponded to the year of the Ox. And that these years span the Republic era after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. Therefore, Steve Moore was swayed to note that this prophecy differs from the others by this provision of specific dates.

Another commentary proved even more speculative. It implied that the verse can relate to a span of 86 years (from 1911 to 1997). Since its commentator contended that the verse indicated 1996 the year of the Rat – the animal sign that comes in-between the years of the Pig and the Ox, in line with this first verse. This again is utter nonsense, since the 11th prophecy, the subsequent one after this 10th prophecy, has had already come and gone before 1997, without anyone else noticing that the predicted events had unfolded accordingly. (I may provide a commentary on the 11th prophecy and the unfolded events at a later date.)

From extended divination experience with omens, I reiterate that ‘A pig behind, an ox in front’ can be seen in Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction. These animals have nothing to do with specific dates such as 1911 and 1949 which are derivative methods used by fortune tellers and fengshui practitioners, and not that of ancient Yijing studies. Furthermore, their interpretations apart from the latter commentary meant that the Pig has somehow gone in front instead of remaining behind, since the year 1911 comes before 1949 – the year of the Ox.

Down the ages, the pig is known for its laziness and greed while the ox works hard and a proven reliable friend to farmers. Therefore the verse infers to people and not to specific dates or years as indicated by all these commentators.

The second cryptic verse says: ‘A thousand men with one voice’.

Two commentaries have indicated that the Chinese words of this verse add up to a word for the Japanese. While the other continues to speculate that the Chinese words add up to a word for Hong meaning Hong Kong. Steve Moore provided a closer clue by saying that the verse may be read as ‘everyone is unanimous’.

Again, the verse can be seen in Hexagram 39 Jian / Obstruction, and all their aforesaid interpretations are mere speculation and entirely miss the mark.

The third cryptic verse says: ‘Five two reversed’.

A commentary indicated that this verse meant ‘Double five’ and rambled on about the 25th year of the Republic when the Japanese invaded China. Another commentary missed the mark altogether. While the most speculative of them all wrote that the ‘five two reversed’ implied the 5th of the 2nd month where the first presidential election of Taiwan was held and a year later Hong Kong was returned to China.

Again, their commentaries were mere guesses at best with the provision of specific dates and have nothing to do with ancient Yijing studies.

The ‘Five two reversed’ infers to historical events that had happened inside China and not as speculated by these commentators.

Neidan practitioners and adepts could learn something here from Zhuge Liang on how to ‘overthrow the water’. Something very simple, as simple as ‘Five two reversed’.

The fourth and final cryptic verse says: ‘Friends come without blame’.

While one or two commentaries have nothing to offer, the other two commentaries have got this verse – the simplest of the four verses – right.

‘Friends come without blame’ has nothing to do with the mythical island of the immortals and Taiwan. Friends infer to foreigners who came to the aid of China and her people.

Instead of trying to be all knowing, I will leave readers to ponder for themselves why this final verse also contain the term, ‘without blame’. It would not appear strange at all; if we understand and follow the method used by Zhuge Liang to interpret this particular prophecy.

Further thoughts:

1) The Ma Qian Ke is worthy of study by Yi aficionados if they want to improve upon their own art and science of Yijing divination. It may also provide them a chance, no matter how slim, to know the Mandate of Heaven on or before the target age of 50 set by Confucius.

2) Of no talent and virtue, and a slow learner, I had been able to interpret three unfolded and one yet-to-unfold prophecies of the Ma Qian Ke within a spate of a month of my reading it. Therefore the highly talented and virtuous Junzi among us should be able to understand and interpret all the fourteen prophecies within a month or two. So rise to the challenge!

3) However, as indicated in previous articles on the Ma Qian Ke, interpreters even with an in-depth knowledge of Yijing studies would face a difficult time trying to interpret the unfolded and/or yet-to-unfold fourteen prophecies contained therein. This critical review serves to prove that and brings to light the misleading statements (made available online at one time) of the incompetents and the indolent. Shame on them.

4) Instead of forming an accord with established order – a lofty ideal adhered to by the worthies, down the ages - Yijing aficionados using derivative methods will debase Yijing studies and which can provide additional fuel to skeptics to condemn the Book of Changes as mere superstition.

5) I will leave these final thoughts for readers and Yijing scholars to ponder on: What if the Book of Changes really provided the fourteen prophecies collated in the Ma Qian Ke to Zhuge Liang? What if this collation was passed on before his death to his trusted subordinates, Chiang Wei and/or Chiang Wan, for posterity, and was not called the Ma Qian Ke then? Would it make more sense, now?