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.
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?