37) Helen Keller and The Razor’s Edge – Illumination and insight. Discovering the mountaintop and our return.  Unity of Springfield –World Religions/New Thought Class January 19 and February 2, 2020.

Helen Keller – The meaning of symbols, words and finding the light of intelligence from within or as 3701Somerset Maugham wrote in The Razor’s Edge, that we are to think out our thoughts to the very end without hindrance, seeing things in a new way and to go there.

Also continuing thoughts of cultivating stillness / The Seeds of Character that lead to Greatness begins with understanding underlying contradictions and the I Ching.

I am reminded of Helen Keller’s breakthrough in communication came with 3702what I have referred to in many entries… both symbols and words. She realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm if her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of “water”. Keller’s mountaintop experience went no further than the pump in her front yard where she connected what she would later call “the living word that awakened her soul”.

Writing in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, Keller recalled the moment:

“I stood still; my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten — a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, set it free!” 

3703Keller then nearly exhausted Sullivan, demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world.

Greek icon of Second Coming, c. 1700

 Her spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and then in 1994 extensively revised and re-issued under the title Light in My Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Christian theologian and mystic who gave a spiritual interpretation of the teachings of the Bible and who claimed that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ had already taken place.

Helen Keller who was both deaf and blind said – “My darkness had been filled with the light of intelligence, and behold the outer day-lit world was stumbling 3704and groping in social blindness”. Anne Sullivan: “Giving up is my idea of the original sin” (from The Miracle Worker – film about deaf/blind Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan). Annie reads from the Perkins report regarding this blind, deaf, mute woman –  ‘Can nothing be done to disinter this human soul? The whole neighborhood would rush to save this woman if she were buried alive by the caving in of a pit, and labor with zeal until she was dug out. Now if there were one who had as much patience as zeal, he might awaken her to a consciousness of her immortal self.’

‘It was in coming from the darkness to the light that she might awaken to a consciousness of her immortal nature. The chance is small indeed; but with a smaller chance they would have dug desperately or her in the pit; and is the life of the soul of less import than that of the body?’ (excerpts from the play “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson.)

Could there be anything worse the adjusting our sights to the status quo? To live within the confines of how others see the world bent to their own illusions. What every philosopher of every age has told us that we must find and do for ourselves. 

Upon experiencing her “ah ha” moment, Helen Keller was able to make the transition from the darkness of being both deaf and blind and was able to make the connection with her immortal self, thereby teaching others that her perceived weaknesses served to accentuate her inner resolve and strengths. Connecting her 3705thoughts with words with the ability to express her own transcendent nature. Afterwards she spent her life conveying that each of us can come out of the darkness we find in the present to overcome what her teacher Anne Sullivan called “Our giving up as the Original Sin”Once Helen Keller left the sanctuary of the darkness she knew – she was able to illuminate the world teaching and showing us the light we each possess and that we should learn to express for ourselves. That in our own way, we each must become a sage by not giving up. Living a life of virtue that expresses who we are yet to become.

When I think about Helen Keller, and what I should include from my writing that typifies what this means, the below expresses it well as Helen Keller exemplifies the sage. It is from Thoughts on becoming a Sage (my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching) published in China in 2006:

Verse 63 of the Tao Te Ching – Becoming a Sanctuary to all you meet

The sage acknowledges and understands that there is nothing that is not in keeping 3706with the Tao.

The Offering    TianHou Palace Temple    Qingdao

Especially true is that the Tao resides in each of us. Thus, in showing the way the sage is good at saving and directing those around him, while abandoning no one. Since the sage in essence is simply the embodiment of the Tao, abandoning or leaving behind another person could or would never enter his mind.

The sage’s surroundings are illustrative of how he sees his place in the ten thousand things. As though he is seen creating a sanctuary that reflects his innermost sense of who he is yet to become. Kind and reflective, still yet expansive, he competes with no one and no one competes with him. His strengths and weaknesses have become razor sharp as he uses them to cut through what is perceived to be truth and falsehood. While he remains on the edge pushing others to places, they would not otherwise go, he leaves no foothold for those who would follow except by accepting and following the Tao.

When he himself becomes the sanctuary for others to take refuge and follow, finding the comfort only found in the expression of the Tao, he is reminded that he who searches will find it and those who don’t only escape to wait until another day. May/June 2000

  • 做众人的庇护处

 圣人承认并且明白,世间万物无不与道保持一致,特别是道与我们每一个人同在。因此,圣人讲

3707道,善于拯救和指导他身边的人,而不会抛弃任何一个人。因为圣人是道的化身,他从来就没有想过抛弃或丢下一个人。

The Sanctuary within Oneself       TianHou Palace Temple      Qingdao

圣人所处的环境反映了他如何看待他在万物中的地位。圣人营造了一个反映他未知的内心世界的庇护处。他友善,多思和豪爽,与世无争,也无人与他竞争。他的优缺点已变成一把锋利的刀,可以用来识别真假。他急于把人们推向他们从来没有去过的地方。除了接受和跟随道之外,众人别无选择。

当圣人成为别人躲避和追随的庇护处时,人们在这里找到只有从道中才能找到的安慰。寻道的人将会得道,不寻道的人只好逃出去等候另一天的到来。

Discovering the mountaintop and the illumination from within.

Just what does the mountaintop experience we all want look like? When we move from the sharp razor to cut through both truth and falsehood, we inevitably come to the razor’s edge to what ultimately defines us and what doesn’t. It is here we go for help in finding the answer. What is it that comes of 3708the ruling passions of our life?

The book entitled The Razor’s Edge, written by W. Somerset Maugham, first published in 1944 and the movie that followed tells the story. Many felt Maugham’s book was a forerunner of the beat generation of the 1960’s. It was said he wrote the whole book (and he agreed) so he could write about a short chapter about Eastern mysticism and the mountaintop experience towards the end.

Maugham visited Sri Ramana Ashram, (an Ashram is considered to be 3709spiritual monastery in India), where he had a direct interaction with Ramana Maharshi in Tamil Nadu, India in 1938.

In the movie The Razor’s Edge, the main character, Larry, is seen as loafing through life. It is that for each of us at first, it’s difficult to say what is our purpose.  

It’s as if thinking that if we ever acquire wisdom maybe we’ll know what to do with it as if having an affinity for universal spirit we are yet to appreciate or 3710understand.

His best friend had died in the war for what he saw as no good reason. He has a passion for learning and not simply work, so as to make money as other people do. His friends wanting to follow a normal course and keep things as they are – content to stay within the status quo, first in Chicago and then Paris. While he finds himself wanting to give something that is at first indefinable, ethereal, asking – is the quest for God real? Defined 3711only as universal wisdom others would like to take that he could share. As if having a “sixth sense”… that the satisfactions of the world are both timeless and transitory, and that only the Infinite can give enduring happiness.

Years later, after his visit to India, he was seen as having a very singular detachment, as natural, and with a sincerity that 3712was obvious. Something in him, an awareness, a sensibility, almost a force. But it becomes not simply this wisdom Larry would share, but what comes from your heart expressed as mercy, forgiveness and love. We soon find it is not someone or something else we are running away from – it is from acknowledging our eternal spirit or nature. Our own divinity and transcendence, and God, or the highest power in the universe which is latent as our potential and always present, but as yet unaccounted for, that speaks directly to and through us.

Experiencing our own “ah ha” moment we may have been deaf and blind to – as Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan taught us. The original sin that Larry so keenly 3713understood and searched for and overcame. The mountaintop we are afraid to climb and experience and find for ourselves. It’s like pursuing an ideal that is hidden in the cloud of unknowing – like looking for a star in the sky and not seeing it. But having confidence in the authenticity in the vision of your mind’s eye… and being guided to go there anyway. To be free to live the life of spirit and exhilaration, and in turn illuminating all you see, feel, and touch. While knowing we can only take the world as it comes. It’s like following a dream where many are called but few are chosen.

That we are here to learn about ourselves from within – searching for something difficult to put into words. For this we seek a teacher and guidance. Learning how to express the universal virtue we have always possessed – the eternal spirit, our soul or essence, the Tao, the Buddha, or God from within. Taking the pill of immortality outlined in the last entry here. For myself, to my friends and those who know me I’m always the outlier or an anomaly – happy to remain outside what is expected. For the character in the movie, he felt that to those he cared about, he  couldn’t even give an answer. Seen as someone 3714uncomfortable with the status quo, even a loafer afraid of responsibilities.

The book differs from the movie in that the book delves more into Hinduism as he travels to India and begins to learn about Hinduism with ideas of the conception that the universe has no beginning and no end. But passes everlasting from growth to equilibrium, from equilibrium to decline, from decline to dissolution, from dissolution to growth again, and so on to all eternity. To the transmigration of the soul (the passage of a soul into another body), and the idea that without reincarnation life would have no real meaning. To believe this implicitly as though in your blood and bones. That this is an endless re-occurrence and the nature and expression of the Absolute and its perfection. The purpose of creation is to serve as a stage for the punishment or reward of the deeds of the soul’s earlier existence.

For us it means transcending permanence and change. Unrelated to time, it is 3715truth and freedom. Beyond thoughts of religion or philosophy for comfort and encouragement in our own soul. Worship only serving as the remembrance of who we have always been and will always be.

Rumi says, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean.”

For myself, it is perhaps that we are as a drop of water in the ocean. We then are drawn up into and embark in a cloud buffeted by the wind as a raindrop from Heaven to an as yet unknown destination to where we are needed most. Perhaps here onto the mountains of the high Himalayas depending on how far or high we have traveled. Then falling as rain from Heaven giving life as we travel down pathways, rivers, and streams back to what was our source, the ocean from where we came. As if we are both absolute and infinite with no identity separate from the universe and other 3716droplets we are forever attached or connected to. Its not enough to return to your source, once you do so you become the source again, again, and again.

Perhaps as we learn in Buddhism, Mañjuśrī, who  is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the padma (lotus) held in his left hand is a Prajñāpāramitā sūtra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom and that we are each here to do so for ourselves.            

You are reminded that you are here not by chance, but by choice. That “liberation from birth” ascribed as the ultimate goal of enlightenment you’ve already attained. There is no reason not to be content in your own contentment and finding inner peace and comfort. There’s no place to go because you’ve already been there unless it’s to see what has changed since your last visit as if you have transcended impermanence. That our passion should be to know the reality that lies within ourselves. If God resides within us, who better to worship than ourselves.

Our character in The Razor’s Edge finds a holy man, or Yogi named Shri Ganesha (he used Ramana Maharshi as the model for the holy man), who he finds sitting in meditation as if aspiring only to serenity that seems to irradiate and illuminate both intellectually and spiritually goodness, peace, and selflessness.

What he taught was very simple. The holy man tells him “that you have come 3717this far through you travels proves you’re courageous, not afraid of responsibilities. It’s how to express this and share with others that is the answer. Not in the terms of what the world calls success as long as man sets his ideals on the wrong object instead of learning that a wise man lives from within and through himself. Through his own heart and the ways of calmness, compassion, forbearance and everlasting peace. With a steadfastness of mind and quest for freedom. That ultimately it is not our fear of death, but a fear of life we face and that work done with no selfish interest purifies the mind. To achieve illumination, or at least break free of ignorance and know with certainty that you and the Absolute, God, the Tao, are one.”

The holy man continues:

The path to salvation, commonly known as letting go through faith, is as 3717difficult to travel or pass through, as the sharp edge of a razor (hence the razor’s edge). It’s blazing a trail through the unknown. Identifying and becoming that spark that resides within each of us of infinite goodness much larger than ourselves that we ultimately re-unite with as if we are simply a raindrop falling from heaven. For some it is believed that there are three roads to transcendence and to God. The first is the path of faith and worship, second the works we perform, and third that we can attain reality by increasing our knowledge that gives us the ability to reason. In the end you learn that they are but one path and that wisdom is the means to freedom.

Continuing from The Razor’s Edge – It is from the mountaintop when you must 3718remove yourself from everything including the inclination to stay. Nothing above you but the sky and God. What’s really there depends on you. Your teacher tells you that you were right, something strange happens. It was just at that moment when night ends and day begins. When the whole world seems to tremble in the balance. Gradually the light begins to flicker through the darkness.

Mysterious figures appeared through the trees… then the first rays sun came 3719up. The mist is caught in the tree tops. As if you have never experienced anything before like it. Having a feeling of exaltation and such a transcendent joy. That no words could explain the ecstasy of bliss of the illumination you had been seeking. The innate knowing of acknowledging that you have arrived at your destination. Now so enlightened and free of what held you back you can return and through your actions, bring such wisdom to the world.

Larry, the character in the movie continues – I felt I had been released from my body and suspended in midair. So, light of heart that it seemed to me that I hardly touched the ground. All those things that had perplexed and confused me before – suddenly became clear to me. I had a sense of knowledge more 3720than human. I felt that I was free and if it lasted more than another minute I would die. And yet I was willing to die if I could just hold onto it.

For that one moment I had the feeling of the Infinite. No words could explain the ecstasy of my bliss. I’m sure I could stay here forever (on the Mountain) and never tire…  An understanding, an overwhelming sense of reality that you have experienced something only done by mystics and the shaman over the centuries. As if, perhaps only for a moment, becoming one with the Absolute.

The holy man told him no, you must go back. You are now ready to go back. It’s not necessary to leave where you were found. Your role is not to leave the world – but to live in the world and to love the objects of the world and to live with your own people. Not for themselves alone, but for the Infinite, what’s in 3721them and the love they are yet to know and become. The vision within you makes you one of the fortunate ones while renouncing what is viewed as the separate self and becoming by example one with the universe. You have been given the infinite beauty of the world… the true meaning of transcendence that is meant to pass along.

As if the character in the story having been to the mountaintop and returning with an innate knowing to show the way for others. Once seen, that vision that nothing could touch him remaining with him forever as a compass guiding his way. Of course, he could stay on the mountaintop concerned only with his own enlightenment, or return to help others in finding their own path as well. For myself, it is as the storyteller as you learn to be always present and content, with an even calmness – seemingly aloof envisioning having been to the mountaintop and deciding to return.

What is it about the Himalayas of India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mount Everest, Tibet and Lhasa that becomes so appealing? Perhaps it’s to find comfort in the 3722unknown and wanting to go there. You can’t get much closer to God and an idea of universal presence and still be here… and go there. For those attempting to climb, it becomes the ultimate test of exhilaration, faith and endurance. Once going there, you sense an awareness that was absent in your thinking, or mindset.

I am reminded of the phrase I love so much in a book entitled “The Way of the 3723White Clouds”, by Lama Anagarika Govinda that stresses the unity of man and nature and just letting consciousness rest in itself integrated into its own awareness. Not holding on to anything or concentrating on anything, the mind is completely free from object awareness, or from the interference of will-power and intellectual activity. But rather to be mentally and spiritually unified. How is it that we are to live except with calmness, forbearance, compassion, selflessness, and continence? That in the end, it is the self-perfection as described by Chuang Tzu earlier that lies the answer.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wings, it is assumed that they are not written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings especially The Commentary of the Decision, Wings 1 and 2, are already known and understood, and as 3724with the remaining Wings (3 through 12), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained. Throughout, it seems we are trying to find the middle between the claims of the body and the claims of the spirit.

Continuing the story is the 7th Wing, Numbers 8 through 12 that will follow with later entries describe in greater detail the central meaning of the I Ching in keeping with cultivating stillness, our chi, feng shui, and much more.  

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 7  

The Seeds of Character that lead to Greatness begins with understanding underlying contradictions and the I Ching

The origins of the I Ching can be found in antiquity. From Fuxi onward the shaman furthered the eternal connection between man, heaven, and earth with the aim of finding and fulfilling man’s character and virtue for the benefit of those present. It was the imprisonment of King Wen and the outrageousness of the Shang that proved DSCI0085to be the final straw. The seeds of the proper way to treat others were first written on oracle bones by the shaman during the Shang dynasty.

This became “An annotated version of the Book of Rites”, dated before 907 BC, first written by Ji Dan, the Duke of Zhou, then codified by Confucius another five hundred years later to become a permanent fixture in Chinese culture. The two traits that best defined this effort were virtue and character with change as both our weakness and our strength. It seems we go down a lot of blind alleys without experienced teachers if we have no one to lead us. However, what may appear at first to be a blind alley is where our purpose lies.

There has always been suffering and sorrow and the need to make the right decisions that would benefit everyone and for man to see beyond his own personal 3726benefit, a constant struggle that continues even today. A struggle that always comes that can be defined as character. Something the shaman always stressed to leaders who saw in themselves the way forward. It would be King Wen, the person who added the lines to the I Ching, giving the hexagrams real meaning and Ji Dan who showed through exemplary personal character the way to proceed. He saw the value of what would later be referred to as the Book of Changes and the statements that showed the way. He knew the value of the hexagrams as a way of bringing forward a commonality among all people.

It was the structure of the hexagrams focusing on development of character later emphasized in the Dazhuan and elaborated on below that would show the way.

From the sixty-four hexagrams, eight best defines this as follows:

  • Hexagram 10 TREADING Lu shows the basis of character and powers. Lu is the basis of powers. 3727It is harmonious and effective and harmonizes conduct to outward behavior.
  • Hexagram 15 MODESTY Ch’ien is the handling of powers, to be seen as honorable and renowned and to regulate manners. To know modesty honors others and thereby obtains honors for oneself. To show the attitude that is necessary before character formation and to have the attitude of mind.
  • Hexagram 24 RETURN Fu is the root of powers. To start small with distinguishing subtleties. To know yourself and be able to prevail in its own unique character against any temptations of your surroundings. To have the 3728self-examination and self-knowledge to institute lasting reforms after acknowledging your errors along the way.
  • Hexagon 32 DURATION Heng represents the cohesion of powers. To be varied and not worrisome. To have firmness of character in the correct frame of time. To observe numerous movements and experiences from which fixed rules are derived so that a unified character result.
  • Hexagon 41 DECREASE Sun. The cultivation of powers is at first difficult but later easy and fend off harm. To depend less on lower faculties and untamed instincts, in favor of the higher life of the mind. When the instincts are tamed the essence of character training can begin and harm can be kept at a distance.
  • Hexagrams 42 INCREASE I or Yi. 3729This represents the maturity of powers, a maturity without artifice or expediency that furthers one’s advantage representing needed fullness to character, mere asceticism (a person who can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, abstinence or austerity) is not enough to make good character – greatness is also needed. To show an on-going growth of personality that is not artificial and focuses on things that are useful to others, i.e., refining one’s virtue.
  • Hexagram 47 OPPRESSION Kun. To appreciate and understand the discernment of one’s powers, sometimes perplexing yet penetrating while 3730lessening resentment of others. To be able to develop the character needed to prove himself in the field where one must prove oneself. Obstacles arrive that must be overcome. He is confronted with boundaries that cannot be overcome except by recognizing them for what they are. In recognized the fate of things you cease to have adversity. By not fighting fate, resentment fades and character is purified allowing one to advance in the inner workings of the Tao.
  • Hexagram 48 THE WELL Jing or Ching. The field of powers is simply defining where you are, it is stationary yet moving upward and discerns righteousness. With this you have become the wellspring, though fixed to one spot dispensing blessing far and wide with far reaching influence. It is here where one’s character takes effect. Others can now perceive the profound influence emanating from such a personality. While the person keeps or stays in the background. Through showing what is right, the sage makes it possible for the right to take effect.
  • Hexagram 57 THE GENTLE, THE PENETRATING Xun or Sun. This represents the control of powers, premeditated yet hidden but always acting appropriately. To remain flexible in character, not rigid that holds fast to established principles that is in reality pedantry, slavish attention to the rules, but instead mobility. Thereby one weighs things and penetrates to the needs of the times without exposing oneself to attack, learning instead to take circumstances into account preserving a strong unity of character with intelligent versatility.

This is the seventh entry (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues as our journey in cultivating stillness. Knowing and using this induces a spiritual transformation. The lines of the I Ching, the Book of Changes becomes shorthand for transforming change that attracts the lights and energy of Heaven thereby creating a chance, an unspoken trust, to build on who we are meant to become. 

 

By 1dandecarlo

36) Our Journey into Transcendence / Traveling the Silk Road with Marco Polo – A spiritual travelogue through the mountains of China and Tibet… Part 3.

Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man and Chengdu / Continuing the I Ching – To know the way of Ch’ien (light or Heaven) while holding onto Kun (dark or Earth)

The superior, or perfected man knows the subtle, knows the sheer, knows the cloudy and knows the clear. He ten thousand will revere. He knows what is evident and hidden as well. With foreknowledge misfortune will never prevail. (Wilhelm) He lives as if a sage to further a spirit he has always known and returns to again and again – to his world of eternal contentment. Kongdan

                          As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man

As Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man begins by abandoning the ways of the world, you begin 3601by simply letting go of that which is not significant to the Tao. As you are now seen traveling with old friends who guide you along an unknowable path or way.

Just as the dragons would have it, they are pleased.

Eternal sacrifice made to capture the moment knowing everything rests on your finding and staying on the road yet to be traveled.

Searching for immortality and freedom to go where few have gone before.  Just as a sage would find the true reality of all things.

Always leading the way. Knowing that the Tao is everywhere to be found by simply looking and understanding what is and finding one’s own standard within the oneness of virtue.

Eternity existing forever both before, now and yet to come. As you continually search 3602for your place in the overall scheme of things. With a comfort known as something done repetitively over and over again. A great sense of satisfaction that all becomes and is second nature.

Remain simply within the oneness of everything and pursue nothing ethereal as the reclusive sage.  Complete with the knowledge of the Tao and understanding what it means.

Remember from where you have come. As we are here to remind you of where you will return with us. Everything is here within yourself to rediscover and relearn. Keep to the open road as the Perfected Man and know immortality can only follow.  4/12/1994.

 From the book I wrote “An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond” published in China in 2004. It appears on this website as “The I Ching – Voices of the Dragon”.

Part 3 – The sacred mountains of China (Tibet will follow in Part 4)

Chengdu… I love Chengdu. It’s easy to see how the fabled city of Shangri La high 3603in the Himalayas can’t be too far away.  Why Marco Polo fell in love with this place and the beautiful women here. The pull for me here seems eternal. I’ve been here on four or five trips to China now and any trip in the future must also include Chengdu. It’s where it all comes together for me at least. I don’t have to go now physically though… because in my heart and mind I’m already there. To continually find ourselves in what Alan Watts says in what can be defined only as the Eternal Now – as we become what we are. And that Tibet and the Himalayas will need to wait for another day… to a Part 4 of the story.

Travelling above the clouds in meditation I often return to visit with old friends 3604at the Heming teahouse at Renmin Park looking out over the lake reminiscing over old times and critiquing stories we’ve yet to tell. It’s not the mountaintop, but as the spirit flies, Qingcheng Taoist Mountain is only a short distance away… and Qingyang Temple with another teahouse to share stories with old friends just a few blocks away. Its as if a part of me is always here conversing with both old and new friends. Chengdu but a terminal, or gathering point, for wisdom through the ages.

When I come to Chengdu, I marvel at what would have been here then…  in the year 1287, when the Italian Marco Polo visited Chengdu with his father and how 3605it is now. As if I am only curious as to what might have changed over the more than seven hundred years since he returned to Italy. How our consciousness moves us from generation to generation redefining both our presence and role once we’ve arrived at places we’ve been and seen before. What is it that connects us to our past and what do we do when we seem to stumble upon it if sometimes seemingly only by accident?

What is it that pulls us there when we have opened up ourselves to the divine presence from within leaving us with the only option to go there? I often 3606wonder where does the three to four hundred thousand words, mostly autobiographical, that I have written come from along with a catalog now of thousands of pictures I’ve taken in almost fifty trips to China that show and tell the story that I keep returning to?

Certainly not only from anything I have learned or experienced in the present tense, except maybe to update and remind me of what I’ve always known and maybe forgotten. With a purpose to jog my memories as the storyteller for others that serves as my own pill to/of immortality. And why does this passion for ancient China seem to end with Marco Polo’s return to Italy with his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo in 1295?

The Sumela Monastery discussed last time near Trabzond in Turkey, is located close to the historical Silk Road and was visited by Marco Polo on his way back 3607to Italy. Trabzond became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Persia in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants all paid visits to Trebizond. One of the most famous persons to have visited the city, Marco Polo, ended his overland return journey to China at the port of Trebizond. He sailed to his hometown Venice in Italy on a 3609ship from here; passing by Constantinople (Istanbul) on the way. Much later it was Marco Polo’s book of his travels in China that convinced Columbus he could get there by traveling west instead of east… 

Chengdu is much like Qufu, in that my presence here is to give an account of myself to sources needing an updating of what has always been known and simply added to. But what now seems mostly forgotten in what can only be described as reliving history and my ultimate purpose. Oh… the stories we all could tell if we could only remember them. Maybe as an anthropologist, who has a sense of trying to bring an explanation forward, not of the chards of pottery, but of their thoughts and what made them transcendent that made others, and us want to follow them as well.

For the tour now, two sites get my attention; the Qingyang Taoist Temple in 3608Chengdu and Qingcheng Mountain about an hour to the north. Then after Chengdu it’s on to Lhasa, Tibet, I promise. Did I say how much I love this place? As if this is as close to my source I can get and still be here. Like Keys to the Kingdom… all of the places described here in China simply re-opening the door simply awaiting my re-entry. Writing the walk to eternal bliss I have always known and will return to again and again. Showing the way so that others may find their own. From the places where I continue the never-ending 3610story.

What I like most about going to historic sites and museums is like conjuring up old memories. It’s like revisiting old friends and our history together. What was there in the beginning and simply built upon in the interim. How have events in human history impacted 3612nature and our divine spirit? Museums often tell the story.

The British Museum in London reminded me of this during a visit years ago. A tour is not simply a “walk-through” 3611then saying “okay I’ve seen and been there… done that”. It should be as if “what has occurred and what have I learned since what I just saw depicting history” and if you are the storyteller – the conveyor, then “what if anything needs to be said that furthers the story that needs to be told.”  As if retelling history from new, or perhaps more telling historical perspective.

Explaining why I like Chengdu so much; it is as if it is from here that I gain my 3613true voice.

Marco Polo wrote about the Anshun Bridge as it crosses the Jin River in Chengdu (an earlier version of it). (Dan took this picture himself in June 2016)

Perhaps the true essence of the meaning of finding the mythical “Shangri La” in seeing sites that both Lao Tzu and Marco Polo saw was simply the prompt, or sign – as if a referral that I am where I am to do it from. If there is something called “our source”, I think I’ve found it. It is as if after more than twenty years of traveling in China, that Chengdu, along with Qufu, best tells my own story. Knowing that if I couldn’t find my way home it 3614just wouldn’t be fair, as if living as my own tapestry of history that leads up to the present with stories just waiting to be told. As if recalling events and seeing landmarks that serve to say yes, of course, you were here and visited before.  

Wenshu Yuan Buddhist Monastery in Chengdu

Just as Trabzond on the Silk Road was transcendent (almost home) for Marco Polo, Chengdu does the same for me. Just as at some point on the “sacred journey” – some distance must appear for contentment and perspective to unite to finish one journey before moving on to self-discovery and beginning the next. As if re-discovering and finding both familiar and new mountains again and again to climb. To ascend to heights previously unaccounted for that are simply waiting for the proper images and storyteller to arrive.

A view of the Hagia Sophia (today a museum) with its bell tower and the Black Sea 3615coast in the background as Marco Polo would have seen. Formerly a Greek Orthodox church which was converted into a mosque in 1584, and located in Trabzon, in the north-eastern part of Turkey.

Chengdu today is the thriving center of southwest China with a population of more than 12 million people best known for its climate, tea houses and hot pot. The shopping, subways, and Starbucks, tell of a modern world class city. But a second look, tells you about a city thousands of years old. Its temperate weather makes it perfect for the large population of seniors who enjoy the local environment. This inducement is what has attracted people to come here for generations.

Many feel the commonality and the peacefulness found here are the influences of 2914Taoism and Buddhism that seem to permeate both the air and me here. (Just in the act of breathing you can feel it.) Its location near the headwaters of the Himalayas that become the great Yangtze River heading east to Shanghai begins to tell the story. But the narrative lies in its Buddhist, Taoist, and later Confucian roots, that together blends together to create a common feeling that tells you’ve arrived someplace special – as if Shangri La can’t be too far away in the distance. But then by closing your eyes you know you’ve already arrived. Perhaps even another doorway to Heaven. To what Lao Tzu saw and wrote about all those years ago. Something to emulate or mirror. You should stop by the Heming teahouse in the park sometime and look me up. I’ll gladly buy you a cup…

Qingcheng Mountain in Sichuan Province north of Chengdu. In ancient Chinese history, the Mount Qingcheng area was famous for being for “The most secluded 3617place in China”. I came to Qingcheng in June 2015 and I am anxious the return. It is famous as a Taoist retreat over the centuries and has some of the greatest vistas of mountains anywhere. It is easy to see why the theme of getting back to nature and how closeness to the Tao and God are transposed into one’s persona as once having been there makes it difficult to leave. Mount Qingcheng is considered as one of the places where Taoism originated. The mountain was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000, and featured in the Kung Fu Panda movies of 2011 and 2016.

Shangqinggong Temple is one of the most famous Taoist temples in China, and it 3618sits near the top of Mount Qingcheng. A structure was first built during the Jin Dynasty (265–420), while the existing temple was completed during the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor (1856–75) of the Qing Dynasty. The main buildings are the gate, the main temple where Taishanglaojun is enshrined, a side hall, and the Yuhuang building. The main temple houses an image of Taishanglaojun, and treasured wood boards are carved with the full texts of the Taoist classic of The Virtue of the Tao and Huangdi. Behind Shanqinggong Temple are steps that go up 100 meters to the top of Mount 3621Qingcheng, where a covered observation platform allows visitors to see the sunrise and the clouds. I still had to go to the Dujiangyan Waterworks and back to Chengdu on an hour-long train ride and then to my hotel. I stopped only a few meters from the platform and began my return to Chengdu. A good reason to return on my next trip to China.

The Qingyang Taoist Temple in Chengdu, includes several of my favorite 3622symbols illustrating the connection to Taoism and the I Ching that people historically share in Chinese history. One would be the Eight Trigrams Pavilion. The pavilion is an octagonal structure built on a square base and topped with a dome.  Its structure follows an ancient Chinese idea of how the “Sky is round and earth is square”. The dome is glazed with colorful tiles and supported by eight pillars which are decorated with dragon images. Finally, the ceiling of the pavilion is decorated with several Taoist symbols. I have been here many times.

Three things stand out for me. First, the I Ching symbol with animals of the Chinese 3624zodiac here at the front of A215the Eight Trigrams Pavilion along with the eight golden dragon pillars.  Second, the twenty-four carvings showing the connection to individuals to dragons, the stars and the constellations, and third… the bronze goat you honor by stroking DSCI0283its beard as you seek compassion for others, contentment for yourself, and of course good luck.

Tradition says Lao Tzu came here to the Qingyang Taoist Temple to complete the writing of the Tao Te Ching after giving it to 3625Kuan-yin when he stayed in Hangu Pass. However, he left before the whole Tao Te Ching was explained. He asked Kuan-yin to meet him in Qingyang a thousand days later. Finally, after both arrived the text was completed. From then on, Qingyang Palace (Temple) was regarded as a gathering place of the Taoist sage and immortals.

The Chengdu tea houses with their “corner table” now replacing Lao Tzu’s fabled inn at the mountain pass. From my book here on my website “My travels with Lieh Tzu”, I have written an account as to what Lao Tzu left with Kuan-yin. It follows similar discussions I have with old friends at the Heming teahouse described earlier: (just close your eyes and just image… you could be here too.)

                                     The Corner Table

Wanting to continue the dialog with Kuan-yin, others come forward with the need to ATEN12get involved in the discussion. To get in their own two cents worth. As many have come this way over the centuries and left with Kuan-yin bits and pieces of their knowledge and wisdom. The inn at the mountain pass the gateway to places where many have departed never to be seen as the person they were before. Many traveling this way. Not only the Taoists, but many who speak of the current thoughts of the hour. One’s entry only the desire to question authority and anything accepted by the standards or rules of the day.

Attention drawn to the table in the corner where many are speaking. Each taking his turn to add to the commentary at hand. Taoists, Confucians, Buddhists, Mohist, all. DSCI0071Each not questioning the legitimacy of the other, only adding to the discussion that which reaches the highest accord. Differences put aside for a while. Central themes the only point of discussion. As the plum wine flows and spirits reach higher and higher.

The discussion centering on the sage and his concern for knowledge, truth and falsehood, sincerity and where it all should lead. All agreeing on the principle that the sage knows what will go in by seeing what came out, knows what is coming by observing what has passed. This is the principle by which he knows in advance.

Concurring that when this knowledge is passed on to the world that those who cannot DSCI0043see beyond themselves cannot come forward to know the Way. That we judge by our own experience, verify by the experience of others. The Mohists present adding that if a man loves me, I am sure to love him; if he hates me, I am sure to hate him. They all agreed that Teng and Wu became Emperors because they loved the Empire. While Chieh and Chou were ruined because they hated the Empire. With everyone nodding around the table shaking his head with this knowledge their own verification.

Kuan-yin then adding that Lao Tzu had told him that when judgment and verification are both plain, refusing to act on them is like refusing to go by the door when you leave or follow the path when you walk. If you do this, will it not be difficult to get the benefit you seek?

Nods of agreement going around the table, all present in awe still that Kuan-yin had DSCI0116had such a privilege to have been the one to have taken down the words of Lao Tzu and could even now recite them so well. In the good-natured banter that followed, they all knew the above to be true as the red faced Kuan-yin tries to step back out of the limelight. As knowing glances around the table convey a togetherness, they just for this moment all share and cherish.

Several then chiming in together that they had observed this in the virtue of Shennong and Yu‑yen, verified it in the books of Shun and the Hsia, Shang and Chou dynasties. That they had reached their own conclusions by the exemplary scholars and worthy men they had each met. That they had never found a case where survival or ruin, rise 100_5729and decline did not derive from this principle. With this, all those remaining could do was to thank the innkeeper for such great hospitality as each of those present paid their tally, went upstairs to sleep or outside to catch the wind and wonder.   7/30/1995

Other highlights I have visited over the years in Chengdu are the Wuhou Temple/Museum of the Three Kingdoms Period, the Wenshu Yuan Buddhist Monastery, the Sichuan Museum, Du Fu Thatched Cottage, Kuanzhai Ancient Street, Renmin Park, and many 3626others places including the Leshan Giant Buddha to the south and the panda preserve to the north. Many of my students from my teaching days are from Chengdu and the surrounding area. As I have said before, I like Chengdu very much.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wings, it is assumed that they are not written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings, especially The Commentary of the Decision, Wings 1 and 2, are already known and understood, and as with the remaining Wings (3 through 362710), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained.

Continuing the story is the 6th Wing Number 6. 7 through 12 that will follow with later entries describes in greater detail the central meaning of the I Ching as cultivating stillness, our chi, feng shui, and much more. Everything here serves as a prelude, as if acknowledging “where are we doing ‘it’ from”. It’s that everything we’ve ever seen and done is what takes us there.  

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 6  

To know the way of Ch’ien (light or Heaven) while holding onto Kun (dark or Earth)

Maintaining the connection with the divine forces of light, sometimes referred to metaphorically as the dragon, of constant energy in motion – as if the pill discussed in an earlier entry – is the key to our longevity. Understanding the two primal forces, the creative Qian, or Ch’ien, and the receptive Kun is the beginning. These two polar opposites and their movement and interaction determine all under heaven and the eternal aspects of each of us, as well as, all things found in nature.

The Master (Confucius) said, Qian and Kun are they not the double door of the I 3628Ching with Qian the entity of yang and Kun the entity of yin. When yin and yang unite their powers, whole and broken lines are formed as the hexagrams that encompass the elements of both Heaven and Earth thereby bringing forth the power to communicate with the spirits. It was this power that transformed both the shaman and later the sage who would embody the image of the dragon as one who would exemplify the true intent of what was to later become known as 3629the Tao.

The names of the sixty-four hexagrams are varied, but serve to remind us of the intent of our beginnings. Circumstances are described and actual situations expressed that bring to life the eternal meaning of the I Ching. While the I Ching has remained eternally constant, eras of decline and reconstruction come and go with our virtue the only thing that remains intact and eternal. It has remained the sage who has been responsible for reminding people of their origins and bringing them back to it.

Just as it has always been the Book of Changes, the I Ching, that has illuminated the past while looking to the future so that minute indications can be detected and obscurities made clear. The I Ching discloses that which is hidden and opens that which is dark. Given a name and decisive judgments everything is 3630clear and becomes complete.

In illuminating the past, the applications of the I Ching become broad, it’s meaning far-reaching and judgments shown to be well ordered and make their point. Matters are plainly set out though the sense is profound with words that connect to the spirit.

When a choice is to be made the I Ching guides peoples conduct making clear whether a plan will succeed or fail. It reshapes our thoughts as we follow them. The secret is in finding one’s middle and not straying too far in either direction. Knowing rather the way ahead is open or closed ahead – and rather retribution for our past actions or rewards awaits us. Hidden things are revealed in time and space, first as names and relationships, then explicitly through the judgments; the ultimate being able to know the light while holding onto the dark.

As the I Ching became one and was fused over several millennia with the Tao, 3631the language of cause and effect was used to describe it was as similar to the Tao

Thus, the Dazhuan combines the two with the following words:

“The Book of Changes is vast and great. When one speaks of what is far, it knows no limits. When one speaks of what is near, it is still and straight. When one speaks of the space between heaven and earth, it embraces everything. Since the I Ching is seen as being in complete harmony with the Tao, it is able to provide representational images of the patterns of the cosmos so that people can associate their immediate life condition and change their lives to bring it into harmony with the Tao as harmonizing oneself with the Tao is the key to both life and death”.

This is the sixth entry (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues as our journey in cultivating stillness. Knowing and using this induces a spiritual transformation. The lines of the I Ching, the Book of Changes becomes shorthand for transforming change that attracts the lights and energy of Heaven thereby creating a chance, an unspoken trust, to build on who we are meant to become. 

 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

35) Cultivating stillness – The transforming energy pill that flows through the I Ching (yin/yang), Taoism, and our nature enabling abundance in both mind and body.

Taking the Pill of eternal life that leads to a covenant of eternal presence, mindfulness, grace, and gratitude.

Living in awareness of our never-ending continuous consciousness, as if you 351can literally take an imaginary, or philosophical “pill”, that will connect your mind and body to your immoral self. It was this “pill” that the Taoist philosopher/sage/shaman developed that through 352understanding, we could reach our highest endeavor and destiny above the clouds. Not as an elixir of potions that, more often than not, would bring about our end. But, internal change that would bring about our enlightenment and ultimate destiny.

This is not only a Taoist endeavor that serves as a reminder of our eternal 353connection with one’s source and to our divinity. The Buddhist prayer beads and Catholic rosary serve the same purpose. The Indigenous totem pole and the holy cross of Christianity 354often worn as a pendent around one’s neck. Symbols we use to celebrate our own divinity and connection with the eternal that helps to take us and others there as well.

 In Taoism, taking the internal pill establishing and remaining one with our eternal presence assists to take us there. It becomes the ultimate cause and effect. The idea of “cultivating stillness”, is not only a Taoist religious or philosophical thing. Going within to connect with the eternal… our own divinity is a universal concept. It begins with our chi (Qi), commonly referred to as our breath, and for the Taoist and the concept of cultivating stillness as the process, or how to with: 1) wu chi, 2) tai chi, 3) Upper Heaven, 4) Lower Heaven, and 5) the bagua. Knowing that as truth emerges… the Seeds of Character that lead to change begins and continues with the I Ching.

As I have stated many times, it is sometimes important that we “suspend disbelief” (a semi-conscious decision to put aside what we think is rational thinking and assume a premise as fact ) in trying to see how others can come to different conclusions than our own. When knowledge is based on what we think of being either right or wrong. Almost unlearning what we thought we knew, as wisdom comes along to show us the way. While the shaman and sage learned and taught thousands of years ago that nature is best served by observing complimentary opposites, and that right and wrong are universal and show no favorites.

Finding and knowing our purpose, 355oftentimes it is as if our task is to serve as a window, a conveyor of universal intent – then to act as if its regenerative flow speaks through us. As if we too are  procreators of both this intent and eternal wisdom. In doing so we become transcendent as our bliss becomes us.

Confucius taught that a man of virtue, embodying benevolence, is able to preside over others. Bringing together everything good, he is able to conform with the rites (laws reflecting collective wisdom), the teachings of the I Ching, Lao Tzu, and the Tao. Bringing benefits to all, he is able to conform with compassion and righteousness. Being steadfast and firm, he is able to manage affairs. A man of virtue acts in accordance with these four virtues, and hence it is said:  Qian heng ti zhen

 Qian is yuan (primal) and heng (prosperous), li (beneficial) and zhen (steadfast). 

 From the I Ching, Yuan symbolizes the beginning of all things, heng their growth, li their further development, and zhen their maturity. (from Cheng Yi’s Commentary on The Book of Changes)

“Cultivating Stillness” and the first steps to awareness

Cultivating Stillness is a text of the Taoist canon (the body of rules, principles, 356or standards accepted as axiomatic (self-evident or obvious) and universally binding in a field of study), whose author is attributed as Lao Tzu, but not the historical Lao Tzu. The authors wanted to show that internal alchemy could be traced to the spiritual origins of his philosophy. The definitive translation discussed here was done by Eva Wong. It is strongly recommended that you look to her book and beyond for further study. The flow of historic consciousness from generation to generation where some sense of what immortality means is obvious in studying the path of not only the shaman and sage, but also by others who knew that external elixirs and immortality pills would never be the answer. That it would be to the place similar to where the symbols above were meant to take us. 

That it is the eternal pill taken from inside ourselves bringing forth what’s already present, yet unaccounted for, that provides the answer. How does this play out in practical terms? It becomes the process we use to plan our way through life. It seems success in any endeavor requires discipline, patience, and structure. Cultivating Stillness is no different. Bringing forward concepts thousands of years old to today’s understanding so that others can grasp their eternal meaning is not for the faint of heart… I think. Not always to necessarily follow and adopt for ourselves, but to appreciate, respect, and understand the path of others. Wisdom gained by our own path, often begins with knowledge another may take as their own… that if we are lucky may help or serve to define 357ours as well.

Trying to put this in context for those who are interested, have some knowledge, or just want to know more, in summary the five areas I want to review are: 1) wu chi, 2) tai chi, 3) Upper Heaven, 4) Lower Heaven, and 5) the pa-kua, i.e., the bagua. Plus, a brief review of four of the twenty-four chapters to give a taste of this “pill to enlightenment and immortality”.

For many, Taoism became the evolution of wisdom. Ultimately, it would be the historic relevance of the I Ching that defines our way and this is seen through the use of the bagua and feng shui – the way we live within the sixty-four trigrams that define all under Heaven and Earth and how we relate to the ten 358thousand things – of which we are simply one.

Practicing the art of tai chi became a way to live in the spirit of the Tao incorporating movements in sync with the Way.

For myself, this leads to an interpretation of Taoism that focuses on ideas of wu wei…  simplicity, peacefulness, and harmonious living. Over the centuries, commentaries on Cultivating Stillness served to connect Taoism with Buddhism and Confucianism that attempts to synthesize the three into a common thread.

The wu chi diagram to the right, describes the Taoist theory of the universe as 35111well as the process of cultivating the internal pill. The internal pill is the culmination of gathering, purifying, and storage of internal energy in the body. In my tour of mountains in China that is currently underway here on my website, in every instance there is the “mountaintop” experience where this elixir is searched for… both philosophical telling us how to live, and for the emperor (and those in charge) who wanted to literally live forever.

The diagram can be read from the top down or the bottom up. Read from the top down, the diagram describes the origin of the universe and life. Read from the bottom up it describes the process of transformation through internal alchemy, or returning to the Tao.

In reality, the pill is the seed of one’s divine spirit and the essence of health and longevity. The concept of wu chi is uniquely Taoist. Both Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu are said to make reference to wu chi as the Taoist conception of the origin of all things.

While the concept of tai chi comes from Confucianism. Tai chi is first mentioned in the I Ching as – “from tai chi comes the two opposites (yin and 3510yang), and the conception of all things.” It is believed that from wu chi comes tai chi. When tai chi moves it creates yang. When movement reaches its extreme, stillness emerges. In stillness yin is born. Thus, movement and stillness follow each other. Yin and yang, stillness and movement form the essence of creation. From yang and yin, the elements water, fire, wood, metal, and earth are created. From the Way of Heaven (chien) man is born and from the Way of Earth (Kun) female is born. From the union of the two, the ten thousand things emerge with their origin the wu chi.  A complete understanding of the wu chi diagram would require further reading and if you are coming from a different “school of thought” simply first abandon ideas tied to a certain outcome and use your imagination to go there.

100_5727From wu chi (or wu ji) and tai chi (tai yi) we go to Earlier and Later Heaven. It is from the sixty-four trigrams and the internal flow of the I Ching that form the symbols and central ideas of Taoist internal alchemy. The pa-kua (the bagua) of Earlier Heaven describes an ideal state of existence, where everything is in harmony and connected to the Tao. The Later Heaven pa-kua (the bagua) describes the state of existence not so perfect or harmonious.

Ultimately it is through taking this “pill” described in Cultivating Stillness that there is a transformation of what is called the Later Heaven pa-kua into Earlier Heaven. Both the Earlier and Later Heaven pa-kuas – baguas, are discussed in later entries here of the 6th Wing of the commentaries.

There is so much to the book “Cultivating Stillness” that deserves our attention that reflect the basic premise of the Tao and how we should take the pill leading to our sense of the meaning of tranquility and longevity. Plus, much more written on the subject since Eva Wong’s book was published in 1992.

For now, I want to focus intuitively on four chapters, although all are exceptional guides that define the Taoist concept of Cultivating Stillness. Following the path of stillness and tranquility one can begin to sense how internal change can lead to inner peace. 

Excerpts of how to proceed follows:

Chapter 12 – Stillness and Original Nature / Original nature can intuit all 3511happenings. In original nature is the essence of goodness. Be natural in your actions and you will always be pure and still.

The sages say: The book Cultivating Stillness is about naturalness and intuitively understanding the true way.  When you receive the golden pill, you will become immortal and exist in bliss.

In original nature there is no disturbance and no thoughts (similar to “clearing your mind and mindfulness”). When the spirit is 3512not contaminated this is true nature. To be natural is to act appropriately. When events arrive, react to them naturally. When they are gone, return to stillness. Those who practice the Way of the Tao cultivate the pill every day and rid the heart of forms and appearances. They abandon insincerity and hold onto truthfulness.

 A key image of one’s internal body as depicted in Taoism is shown on the right showing what is known as the tan-t’iens, the waterwheels, and the fires. When the fires are stoked, the golden pill is born.

The image shown here was from the Taoist Temple in Qingdao I visited in 2016.

The waterwheel is considered as the Wheel of Life and is sometimes called the Microcosmic Orbit. Within this orbit is the flow of the creation and nourishment of both spiritual and generative vital energy.

Chapter 15 – The Sacred Path / Help all sentient beings. This is attaining the Tao. Those who understand may transmit the teachings of the true way.

 The sages say: Know the way you come and know the way to return. Do nothing and abide in inaction. The Origin lies deep and mysterious, whether 3513you will be a mortal or a sage depends on it. If you can, spread the teachings of the Sacred Path and lead the way of compassion.

Help sentient beings to transcend the suffering of the mortal world. Those who understand the teachings live the principles of the Tao by their example, tirelessly teach others, and work hard to accumulate good deeds externally and internally. These people can become teachers who will transmit the principles of the true way. When you have accumulated enough good deeds, the Guardians of the Tao (often referred to as dragons in Chinese history) will allow you to transmit the teachings.

Immortal Lu says: “A mortal must transcend the realm of mortality and a dragon must penetrate through the mud (the experiences of one’s life). Before you receive the permission of Heaven, you cannot transmit the teachings of the Tao.”

The Confucians say: “Heed the way of Heaven, heed the great beings, heed the words of the sage.” What is the sacred path? It concerns your coming into the world by way of the underpinnings of the I Ching.

Chapter 17 – Virtues / Those who possess high virtues do not need virtue. Those that possess mundane virtues force themselves to be virtuous. Those that argue about virtues do not know virtue.

The sages say: The virtues of Earlier Heaven are of pure yang (as in the I Ching). If you are willing to cultivate them, they will be strong. The three philosophies/religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism) all come from the same origin, or source. You who are stubborn and hold your heads high, do not wait until you are in the realm of the dead to regret, for then it will be too late.

High virtue comes from Earlier Heaven. In Earlier Heaven all five virtues are 3514complete. As such, Confucianism teaches uprightness, sacrifice, propriety, intelligence, and trust as virtue and regards dedication and forgiveness as moral actions.

Buddhism views abstinence from killing, robbery, sexual perversity, madness, and drunkenness as virtues and regards kindness and compassion as moral action.

In Taoism, virtue is the cultivation of the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth) and moral action in intuitive understanding. Those who possess mundane virtues need to make an effort to be virtuous, know what is wrong and make an effort to correct it through conscious effort. Those who argue about virtue do not know what is true virtue. They argue about everything and understand nothing. They do not know what uprightness, selflessness, propriety, intelligence, and trust mean when speaking of the Tao.   

Chapter 24 – Transcendence / If you can see intuitively, you will live the true and natural way. If you understand the Tao intuitively, you will always be pure and still.

The Tao is wu-chi (refer back to the earlier diagram). The natural way is the 3515Great Way of Heaven. The True Way fosters a virtuous and upright mind. The false ways lead to hidden and secretive actions.

Those who intuitively understand the Tao are those that understand the principles of life and original nature. They visit enlightened teachers who guides them in the ways of culminating life and original mind. They are ready to receive the Tao and return to the Origin. You must identify and believe your eternal essence, your soul, is never ending and you are here in this place and time to take the next step. 

Ultimately, having the presence of “taking the pill to understand the Tao” becomes a commitment to our eternal chi, to our own longevity, and for some true immortality.

Not really defined as a religion, but for myself the philosophical benchmark that define our everyday actions that fit who we want to become. Getting there and the steps we take become our passion.  So, what does this all mean and how do we “go there” if we chose to do so? For those reading the above, it hard to capture the meaning – the essence of it all – in one or two sittings. However, the general idea is here. Reading Eva Wong’s translation, plus exploring the more than dozen books she has written sense Cultivating Stillness, is worth your 3516time.

That if our innate selves are governed internally as our breath (our chi) and actions, then a mechanism to monitor as internal alchemy (the transformation of body and mind toward health and longevity) becomes apparent as our presence. This “pill” is dedicated to our longevity, sense of awareness, and our highest endeavor and ultimate destiny.   

Traditionally, it is said delving into a serious study of this requires the teaching DSCI0018of a Taoist Master. It is said a real Master creates other Masters… Just as a great Teacher creates other great Teachers. (I especially like this idea). 

Although serious study today becomes difficult and finding a master or teacher is a challenge, depending on where you live. It’s as if all serious study must be self-directed and universally driven. Although, having a guide is best.

Remember the book “Cultivating Stillness” is attributed to Lao Tzu thought, but 100_5734not actually written by him as a Taoist Manual for Transforming Body and Mind.

The book “Cultivating Stillness” would merit its own series, just as I am doing here on the 5th and 6th Wings describing the I Ching. Illustrating the connections to it all is the important thing as a segue to the I Ching – for now. We should be reminded that Cultivating Stillness is a Taoist text that for centuries has been used as an introductory curriculum in Taoist temples for initiates and for those serious about pursuing Taoism. Most of the beginnings of the text date back to 200AD in the Han dynasty and attributed to Lao Tzu who lived hundreds of years earlier.

The above is a brief (very brief) summary… It is felt that the first step in “cultivating stillness of one’s mind” is in tempering desire by helping others. A 100_5279common thread is through meditation (the mind) and tai chi (the body).

There seems to be two schools of thought. The first is in cultivating your body before cultivating your mind, and the second is the opposite – focusing of cultivating your mind first then cultivating your body. As in any meditative practice, what is important is becoming a complete participant in the unfolding of our intuitive wisdom, and flow of internal events within ourselves as both body and mind – digesting “the pill” – that leads to our greater understanding of our role and the Tao. Becoming one with this sequence is the key to “knowing ourselves”.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wings, it is assumed that they are not 3517written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings especially The Commentary of the Decision, Wings 1 and 2, are already known and understood, and as with the remaining Wings (3 through 10), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained.

Continuing the story is the 6th Wing Number 5… 6 through 12 that will follow with later entries describes in greater detail the central meaning of the I Ching as cultivating stillness, our chi, feng shui, and much more.  

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 5 

On the Commentaries – Associating the I Ching with how to live a good Life

The Dazhuan, and the Ten Wings, purpose has over the centuries served in helping to explain how the symbols, lines, hexagrams and resulting oracle affect our daily lives and the results of what can come as cause and effect. References to the Master refer to Confucius.

  1. The I Ching says when a man is agitated or distraught and his thoughts and mind go 3518hither and thither, only those friends on whom he fixes his conscious thought will follow. It is in assigning meaning to the hexagrams that they become relevant to everyday life. The Master says under heaven why are there thoughts and cares? In heaven all things return to their common source, to a starting point though in different ways along different paths. One resolution for a hundred cares. Under heaven what need has nature of thoughts and cares?
  2. When the sun goes, the moon comes; and when the moon goes, the sun comes. When the sun and moon alternate heat comes and goes with the moon. Cold 3519and heat alternate and change places as the year completes itself. The past contracts and the future will expand, contraction and expansion act upon each other looking for advantage and that which furthers.
  3. A caterpillar contracts in order to extend and dragons and snakes hibernate in order to preserve their life and wake again. This rule extends to the spirit of life and demonstrates that the penetration of the germinal or original thought into mind promotes personal security and lead to the ennoblement of human powers.
  4. The Master continues – Over and beyond this nothing can be known and transcends all knowledge. When a man comprehends the divine and 3520understands the transformation, he begins to see beyond the conscious world that has limited him as it is brought about through intention. Nature has no intention as if an underlying unity seems to lead to a goal as if perfectly planned down to the last detail. It is when this working furthers and brings peace to life that it elevates man’s nature to the divine.
  5. The I Ching says a man allows himself to be opposed by stone, as if held back by thorns and thistles. So, consumed that he enters his house and does not see his wife as such only disaster can follow. The Master responds by saying that being oppressed by something that is not oppressive will surely bring shame to one’s name. Leaning on or clutching in disgrace that which he should not will mean his life will surely be in danger. With his mind full of the calamity, how can he not miss his wife? (hexagram 47, K’un, Oppression – Wilhelm)
  6. A duke shoots a hawk from a city wall. He kills it and all seems favorable. Following this, the Master says the hawk is a bird. The bow and arrow are 3519instruments at hand and the Duke who shoots it is a man. The superior man keeps his means to success to his own person. He bides his time and then acts and is free to go after his quarry. He proceeds by having the proper instrument and means ready for action. (hexagram 40, Hsieh, Deliverance – Wilhelm)
  7. A small man is not ashamed at not being benevolent or shrinking from injustice. If he sees no advantage to be gained and no threat, he makes no effort. If he is corrected in small matters and careful in large ones this will make a small man happy. The I Ching says he is soon to be shackled with leg fetters so that his small toes soon disappear – no matter. (hexagram 21, Shih Ho, Biting Through – Wilhelm)
  8. If goodness does not mount up or accumulate it will not be enough to earn a 3522good name. If evil does not mount up it will not be strong enough to destroy a man. Therefore, a small man sees no advantage in doing good so he does not cultivate it and sees small evils as harmless and does not give them up. So that his evils cannot be hidden as his crimes increase and cannot be absolved. The I Ching says shouldering a long wooden collar worn by common criminals as a punishment often called a cangue thereby mutilating his ears becomes disastrous and very fitting. (hexagram 21, Shih Ho, Biting Through – Wilhelm)
  9. A man in danger looks to his safety, in ruin looks to his life and in a disturbance look to control. Therefore, a superior man when in safety does not forget danger, when life is good does not forget ruin, and when in control does not forget disturbance. Thereby, he can protect both the state and his household. The Master adds, danger arises when man feels secure in his position. Destruction threatens when a man seeks to protect his worldly or earthly estate, and confusion reigns once a man thinks he has put everything in 3519order. The I Ching says, will it flee? Will it flee? Tie it to a mulberry tree. (hexagram 12, P’i, Standstill – Wilhelm)
  10. The Master says that when abilities are small and office high, wisdom small and plans large, strength small and burdens heavy then trouble is seldom avoidable. The I Ching says the legs of the cauldron are broken and the prince’s meal is spilled. This is one not capable of his duties. Penalty of death is due. (hexagram 50, Ting, The Cauldron – Wilhelm)
  11. The Master said that to know the seeds that is divine indeed. Discerning the 3524first signs of a process is not that not the work of spirit? A superior man does not seek to flatter those above him and is not overbearing with those below him. Is this not awareness? Along with the first sign of movement comes the first trace of good or bad fortune. The superior man perceives the seeds and immediately takes action. (hexagram 16, Yu, Enthusiasm – Wilhelm)
  12. The Master said, the scion of the Yan clan, did he attain to discernment of first signs? If he had a fault, he never failed to recognize it and never commits the error a second time, thereby learning from experience. The I Ching says returning home from a short distance, he has no need for remorse. (hexagram 24, Fu, Return – Wilhelm)
  13. The Master said 3521heaven and earth come together as the myriad things are transformed and activated, male and female blend their essence and all creatures take shape and are born. The I Ching says when three travel together and one is lost, the one who travels alone finds a friend or companion. This means the outcome is the same either way.  (hexagram 41, Sun, Decrease – Wilhelm)
  14. The Master says the superior man sees to his safety before he acts, composes his mind before he speaks, and confirms his relationships before making a 3525request. The superior man gives attention to these three things and therefore is safe. If he acts riskily people will not support him. If he speaks without confidence people will not respond. If he makes demands without first confirming relationships, people will not stand behind him. If no one stands behind him, ill-wishers will draw near. If a man is brusque in his movement’s others will not cooperate. If he is agitated in his words, they awaken no echo in others. If he asks for something without first established relations, it will not be given to him. If no one is with him, those who would harm him draw near. The I Ching says if one is not seen as enriching himself or others, misfortune will surely follow. (hexagram 42, Yu, Increase – Wilhelm).

 

By 1dandecarlo

34) Our journey into transcendence continues / A spiritual travelogue through the mountains of China and Tibet. Part 2.

The I Ching – On the Nature of the Trigrams (tortoise shells, yarrow sticks, and 3426coins)

Sometimes it seems knowledge and wisdom are in your blood giving you a sense of purpose, just as your consciousness is reflective of all you have ever seen and done. Often equated to one’s eternal chi (your breath) that connects you to the eternal. More on chi on a future entry. Understanding our role is sometimes as if our lives are only a chapter in a book. With our mind or soul having no beginning or end and we find ourselves somewhere in the middle. What will we 341write this time that will ultimately help to define our final entry? Why worry? If we don’t do it now – maybe next time. If we get too far afield, or are at too great a distance from our beginnings, we can often mistake ignorance for perspective.

In a later entry I want to talk about the mystic, the power of myth, and the reclusive sage and holy man, who lived in the caves that dot the mountains of China. Where they found that it is in the silence that our divinity is most revealed. In Plato’s Platonic dialogues and The Republic, every time Socrates discusses a myth, the parable of the cave emerges that tells us that we have arrived at something we can see as universal. As central to our core being. The challenge for the sage throughout history has been the paradox of remaining hidden from view verses exposed to the vagaries, the unpredictable of the world. Looking to the contentment and peace we all seek, but few of us ever find. Just as in life, there is much to read here. You don’t have to do all at once… 342only to be pointed in the right direction. Comforted in knowing that you can return as many times as you like.

With our only task to perceive our true identity and to experience what we find as mystical.  Perhaps even as Carl Sagan in his book, Intelligent Life in the Universe said, ‘Man is the matter of the universe contemplating itself.’

I would add – why not do so with a similar sense of discovery and yearning from the mountaintop looking beyond what we think we know. With vibrations and ultimately mindfulness reflecting us as a mirror with the stars above? It becomes learning to innately proceed with the discernment that I spoke earlier and about staying above our human frailties that seems to take us there. Finding our niche, exemplified by the ever-prevailing love that is to consume us. In doing so, we become a magnet for divine ideas and wisdom defined only as our highest endeavor. What the earliest shaman always was the first to know and convey to others. Why else could we be here?

It was always the intent of the I Ching to reveal to us how to use these ideas to 343our best advantage. When we can see our origins in the stars, divine creation becomes us. When this presence that resides within us becomes manifest through our actions, we make universal life-affirming choices for all we do, see, and touch. We become simply an extension of the divine we define as our consciousness as our next step.

Forever looking for contentment that can only be found by looking within and identifying with what takes us there.

After my last entry, one of my readers from Greece, brought to my attention the 344historic Panagia Soumela Monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary and located in Trabzon on the Black sea that re-opened its doors to the public in May after three years of restoration. Literally carved into the side of a mountain in the Pontic mountain range near the Black Sea, the monastery is not only an important cultural and religious landmark, but also a tourist destination as well because of its natural beauty.

I plan to return to the mountains of China, Tibet and the I Ching, but this was a reminder that our divinity is shared by those who seek the closeness we contribute with all in nature and the divine presence, as if our mutual debt to the cosmos and transcendence – but first…

The great significance of the Sumela Monastery – also referred to as “Panagia 345Sumala” by Greeks – lies in the seventeen-hundred-year-old icon of the Virgin Mary, which according to the Orthodox Church was the handwork of the 346Apostle Luke, the Evangelist.

Ultimately, our challenge is taking care of ourselves with compassionate “self-care” that sometimes seems so vague to us and allusive. We do this by spending time with people and images of what takes us there. Thereby creating situations, even maybe remembrances, that propel us to bring out the best from within us and all we encounter.

The pinnacle for myself is Wudang Mountain – as if on the road yet to be traveled. One of the mountains I still have to climb lies in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. It is home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries and renowned for the practice of tai chi and 347Taoism as the counterpart to the Shaolin monastery, that is affiliated with Chinese Chan Buddhism.

The Purple Cloud monastery at Wudang Mountain

There seems always in our lives another mountain, another pinnacle to climb that defines us that brings clarity and purpose. In practical terms, the question becomes… what are people looking at or for 348when they arise above the clouds to associate with deities?

To the right is the Sanhuang Basilica on Songshan Shaoshi Mountain. It was constructed in honor of the three sovereigns Fu Xi(伏羲), Shennong (神農), and the Yellow Emperor (黃帝).

Think of the ancient shaman and storyteller who could connect people to their origins – to the stars and their own divinity – rather seen as connected to one God or many and seeing ourselves in and even as the stars above.

The key has always been every person is tied intrinsically to the constellation (astrological sign) in which they are born so you can see yourself in the stars. By climbing mountains, you could connect much better with Heaven and nature that you are (as one of the ten thousand things) already connected with or to from within. In effect, viewing the world as a complete and complex 349“organism”.

What the I Ching did/and does is to provide the method for finding a beginning point within ourselves that connects our heart as in prayer or meditation with our essence, our soul, with our mind and the metaphysical world to what forms the basis of mysticism. The shaman was the first mystic. As we too become mystical when we attach ourselves with the light of the world. When I think of Emerson and his essays on Nature, it is easy to see him as transcendental – moving us beyond what we think we know to becoming transcendental 3410ourselves – this is not a New Thought… except maybe for ourselves.

“om mani padme hūṃ”, mani stone carved in Tibetan script outside the Potala Palace in Llasa in the Himalaya Mountains

The Sacred Mountains of China are associated with the supreme God of Heaven and the five main cosmic deities of Chinese traditional religion. The group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the Sacred Mountains of Buddhism and those associated with Taoism are referred to as the Sacred Mountains of Taoism. Although those making the list seems to depend on the author. It is the 3411closeness to the eternal spirit one finds on heights of mountains that people find a spiritual connection. For many, myself included, it becomes finding jewels like the Longman Grottoes near Luoyang carved in a hillside depicting the love of something unseen, but understood.

Books have been written for each of the mountains described here. What is given here is only a snapshot – or picture – describing the spiritual significance of each. All telling a story to show the connection over the centuries to our ultimate beginning, why we are here, and to convey that there is nothing to fear in taking the next step in our eternal journey above the clouds. Even said, there’s too much to talk about in this brief tour. It seems setting the stage transcends going forward and is never-ending… so I’ve decided to go to a third entry (Part 3) discussing the mountains of China and Tibet that will follow. Below are Songshan, Huashan, and the Longman Grottoes, others will follow next time.

Sacred mountains of China – Part 2:

Songshan Mountain – Mount Song is a mountain in central China’s Henan Province, along the southern bank of the Yellow River. It is known as the central mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China. This mountain has so much important history as to the development of both Buddhism and Taoism (tradition 3412says Lao Tzu stayed here – as well as the next mountain HuaShan – sometimes I think every mountain in China seems to have been visited by the spirit of Lao Tzu…).

It is here, south of Luoyang, where Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucian ideologies came together. Symbols of this tradition are the Buddhist Shaolin Temple and Songyang Temple that has honored both Taoism 3413and Confucius over the centuries. Another example of how we have climbed mountains to get closer to our divine selves over the centuries as we look both within and outside to become one with the nature around us.

Between the two – Songshan and Huashan Mountains to the south of Luoyang lies the Longman Grottoes I visited in September 2018.

As I looked at the side of the mountain and thought of those who might have carved out of stone these caves and statutes south of Luoyang all those centuries ago, quite possibly after a long trek covering several months or even 3414years to get here over the Silk Road or from the southwest and Chengdu where the tour continues next time.

I can only marvel at their work and their religious veracity. And what was in all likelihood their mantra – repeated over and over again with every strike of the hammer and chisel as they did their life’s work as over one hundred thousand images of the Buddha were carved here.  As they repeated those four magic words over and over again with every strike of the hammer.

   OM  MANI  PODME  HUM

3415These words can be translated and have a universal meaning:

OM – The Jewel in the Heart of the LOTUS! The deep resonate OM is all sound and silence throughout time, the roar of eternity and also the great stillness of pure being; when intoned with the prescribed vibrations, it evokes the ALL that is otherwise inexpressible.

The MANI is the “adamantine diamond” of the Void – the primordial, pure and indestructible essence of existence beyond all matter or even antimatter, 3416all change, and all becoming.

PADME – In the lotus (the lotus is a symbol signifying purity due to its ability to emerge unstained from the mud) and spiritual fruition (and thus, awakening) in the world of phenomena, samsara, unfolding with spiritual progress to reveal beneath the leaves of delusion the mani-jewel of nirvana, that lies not apart from daily life but at its heart.

HUM has no literal meaning, and is variously interpreted perhaps simply as 3417a rhythmic exhortation, completing the mantra inspiring the chanter as a declaration of being (like the stone carvers here at Longman Grottoes), symbolizing the Buddha’s gesture of touching the earth at a moment of enlightenment.

As if saying all that is or was or will ever be is right here in this moment.

For myself, I am especially attracted to the mythical embodiment of the Buddha, called a Bodhisattva known as Avalokita Ishuara – who is seen as “The Lord that looked down in compassion”. He represents “the divine within” sought by mystics and has been called “The Lord that is seen within”. Maybe this is the answer as to why the Buddha is always seen smiling. Could it be as though reaching the ultimate state of heart and mind within ourselves? Perhaps living within one’s own “true nature”, the Avalokita and the Presence within each of us.

Further to the west of Luoyang is Huashan Mountain and its major peaks, that are capped with ancient temples that have been the site of prayer and sacrifice since at least the period of emperor Qin Shi Huang in 200 B.C.  Famous because Lao Tzu 3419was supposed to have resided there for a while. The top of this mountain is amazing. It’s like a plateau with five peaks. I went last year (2018) and spent two nights on top of the mountain to see the sunrise from East Peak, also called Morning Sun Peak.  So much more to experience I am anxious to return.

Once called the West Mountain in ancient times it is noted for very steep and narrow trails. West Peak (also called the Lotus Flower Peak), because of the large flower 3420shaped rock which stands in front of Cuiyun Temple; the central Peak (also called the Jade Lady Peak).

Dan at West Peak of Huashan Mountain

Legend has it that the daughter of the King Mu lived here; South Peak (also called the Wild Goose-resting Peak), towers over all other peaks on the mountains and is covered by pines and cypresses; and North Peak (also called the Cloudy Terrace Peak). From a distance, these five peaks look like a lotus flower among the mountains, hence the name of Huashan. Three highlights here for 3421me were the Immortals (Lao Tzu in particular) Pill Furnace made famous from the Monkey King story, the shrine referred to as Heaven’s Gate (to the right), and the Zhenyue Taoist Palace. This historic location between Xian and Luoyang played a substantial role in the popularity of the mountain. There are over 3422seventy caves dedicated to those who came to live in seclusion over the centuries and twenty Taoist Temples here.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wings, it is assumed that they are not written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings especially The Commentary of the Decision, Wings 1 and 2, are already known and understood, and as with the 3423remaining Wings (3 through 10), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained.

Continuing the story is the 6th Wing Number 4… 5 through 12 that will follow with later entries describes in greater detail the central meaning of the I Ching as cultivating stillness, our chi, feng shui, and much more.  

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 4

On the Nature of the Trigrams (tortoise shells, yarrow sticks, and coins)

It is here that we go from narrative to numbers. The numbers are what make the I 3425Ching work.  Using tradition would say that you cannot get a reading without tortoise shells, yarrow sticks or coins and the only way to do it is to go 3424through the process. However, common practice today is using three quarters…

In looking where this chapter of the Dazhuan fits with its companion in the book, Cultivating Stillness, this is a good place to cite references to all three divination techniques, tortoise shell, yarrow sticks, and coins.

Cultivating Stillness, written by Eva Wong, will be described in my next entry here so that we can pull together the Taoist concepts and I Ching that are centuries old that guide and help to take us there.

There is not space here in Number 4 of the 6th Wing, nor the intent to focus yet on 3426the numbers. To do so would pull away from the philosophical updating of the Great Treatise. However, some descriptions to understand intent, are needed and references in other entries of the Ten Wings can do this much better. My interest has always been to return to the ways of the shaman. To see things in the light as they might have. It’s hard to image the use of how the I Ching could have been formulated all those eons ago using what we might call “today’s thinking”. They could only look to the stars and nature and how we connected to it all.

We tend to see things with what we know and understand today that may have been “beyond reasoning” of the times all those centuries ago. Wisdom has always been gained by trial and error, the times we live, cause and effect, and how man uses pragmatism to find the middle. 

Since ancient times the approach has always been twofold. First, the process of 3427connecting to the spirit world (through our heart), and second understanding man’s relationship with universal law (through our mind). What we know now through quantum physics, is that science tells us what the shaman always knew. Always guided by what we call prayer… as positive thinking and that we can change the direction of our lives as if midstream.

That energy can be two places at the same time, (how yin and yang interact, more importantly alternate, and create change) from within us. That we have one specific task – that we are to connect with and let the divine flow through us as us. Then the ability to predict what steps are to be taken so that a certain understanding occurs as to how to live and to know how to connect with and anticipate the outcome of future events. What could be defined and can be illustrated as an inner structure, image, motivation and essence that defines us.

A brief overview would be that it was the trigrams that provided the path, or way, to 342do this. From the earliest time of antiquity, it was the lines and how they reflected change and what was obvious if you were paying attention. They could associate change with light and dark. The sun came up and daylight came and at night it went down and it became dark. They then decided light trigrams have three sons, Ch’en, K’an, and Ken, each of which consists of two dark lines and one light line. The dark trigrams are the three daughters, Sun, Li, and Tui each of which consists of two light lines and one dark line. A yang trigram contains more yin lines while a yin trigram contains more yang lines. The difference is that a yang trigram has an odd number of strokes and a yin trigram has an even number of strokes. Why is this? How did the shaman come to this way of thinking of current events? It may sound confusing, but taken a little at a time, once seen as universal you can fit the pieces together and it makes sense. (Much more detail to follow in later entries here on the website).

It was with the tortoise shell when the wisdom of the shaman first came to 3425light to his clan. The tortoise shell oracle is the earliest record of foretelling events and just as importantly why they occur. Also guided by nature and the sense of complimentary opposites – looking to the middle being essential as to why things happen and contradictions that lead to knowable conclusions.

With the tortoise shell the shaman would apply heat to a point on the outer shell and interpret the resulting cracks. Needing a record of the cracks, a written language soon took hold and characters representing certain fixtures found in nature soon appeared. The resulting structure could be seen and understood and an “institutional memory” of events was created and could be followed. Cause and effect were always the greatest precursor that showed the way forward. The resulting road map became what was to become the I Ching.  

Later in the Shang dynasty the shell would be cut into strips after heating in the fire and symbols and common inscriptions would be added. The shaman would then interpret the will of heaven and their natural environment. The cracks in the tortoise shell would soon be seen as the intent of heaven itself. I have always wondered if the shaman (the person doing the reading) was giving advise based on institutional memory of the circumstances that would be the best decision for all involved… the cracks in the tortoise shell notwithstanding – simply the cover for doing or saying so. Even on the battlefield, decisions to go forward or retreat were often made by interpreting a reading of the tortoise shell. Readings from yarrow sticks and later coins could be much more definitive and not so open to question.

Divination techniques in early China took thousands of years of trial and error. It was a serious endeavor. Getting positive or negative readings by the diviner could lead to good or bad decisions and the deaths of thousands if the wrong reading of the tortoise shell was given. Later in the Zhou dynasty it was not uncommon for both the tortoise shell and the yarrow stalks to be used in consulting the oracle and a book kept of readings and interpretations for future reference.

When tortoise shells and the tortoise itself became endangered another more 3424plentiful source of divination and calling the oracle was needed to read the intent of the trigrams. It was discovered that the hexagrams may be manipulated through the use of yarrow stalks. The following directions may be found in the Ten Wings. (Remember that this ancient way is over two thousand years old). Through trial and error, the method has been perfected over the centuries. Numbers don’t lie and are more difficult to dispute.

One takes fifty yarrow stalks, of which only forth nine are used. These forty-3443nine are then divided into two heaps (at random), and then a stalk from the right-hand heap is inserted between the ring finger and the little finger of the left hand. The left heap is counted through by fours, and the remainder (four or less) is inserted between the ring finger and the middle finger. This constitutes one change.  Now one is holding in one’s hand either five or nine stalks in all. The two remaining heaps are put together, and the same process is repeated twice. These second and third times, one obtains either four or eight stalks. The five stalks of the first counting and the four of each of the succeeding counting are regarded as a unit having the numerical value three; the nine stalks of the first counting and the eight of the succeeding counting’s have the numerical value two.  When three successive produce the sum 3+3+3=9, this makes the old yang, i.e., a firm line that moves. The sum 2+2+2=6 makes old yin, a yielding line that moves. Seven is the young yang, and eight is the young yin; they are not taken into account as individual lines.

Note that only the remainders after counting through fours are kept and laid upon the single stalk that was removed at the start. The piles of four are re-used for each change. The numbers of piles of four is not used in calculation; it’s the remainders that are used. The removing of all the fours is a way of calculating the remainder; those four are then re-used for the next change, so that the total number of stalks in use remains high, to keep all remainders equally probable. In terms of chances out of sixteen, the three-coin method yields 2,2,6,6 instead of 1,3,5,7 for old-yin, old yang, young-yang, young yin respectively. That is,

Traditional Probability Three Coin Probability Yin/Yang  Signification  Number    Symbol

p=1/16      p=2/16        old yin             changing into yang         6        __x__

p=/16        p=2/16        old yang          yang changing into yin   9       __o__

p=5/16      p=6/16        young yang     yang unchanging            7        ____

p=7/16      p=6/16        young yin         yin unchanging              8       __  __

It was not uncommon for experienced practitioners to ignore the text, building the oracle from the pictures created by the lines, trigrams, and final hexagram. Each line of a hexagram determined with these methods is either stable (young) or changing (old); thus, there are four possibilities for each line, corresponding to the cycle of change from yin to yang and back again. Once a hexagram is determined, each line has been determined as either changing (old) or unchanging (young). Old yin is seen as more powerful than young yin, and old yang is more powerful than young yang. Any line in a hexagram that is old (changing) adds additional meaning to that hexagram. Taoist philosophy holds that powerful yin will eventually turn to yang (and vice versa), so a new hexagram is formed by transposing each changing yin line with a yang line, and vice versa. Thus, 3426further insight into the process of change is gained by reading the text of this new hexagram and studying it as the result of the current change.

How the coins are tossed… First, use three coins with distinct “heads” or “tails” sides. For each of the six lines of the hexagram, beginning with the first (bottom) line and ending with the sixth (top) line. Then toss all three coins and write down the resulting line. Once six lines have been determined, the hexagram is formed.

How to determine the line from the coin toss…  Following the numerical method, you assign the value three to each “heads” result, and two to each “tails” result. Odd numbered totals are represented by a solid line (yang), while even numbered totals are designated by a broken line (yin). Next total all the coin values (they will be six, seven, eight or nine). Finally determine the current line of the hexagram of the hexagram from this number: 6 = old yin, 7 = young yang, 8 = young yin and 9 = old yang.

The above helped to identify both the light and the dark. What is their nature or what defines their power and actions? The light trigrams have one ruler, or prince and two subjects or commoners. They show the way of the Tao, or superior man. The dark trigrams, or yin, have two rulers or princes, and one subject or commoner. This 100_2996is the Tao, or way, of the inferior man. It was this dichotomy, or difference that over hundreds of years after Confucius, the powers that be used the State, especially in the Later Han to fuse the moral superiority of the Confucian standards into everyday life in China.

Thusly, a “superior man” followed a destiny in keeping with what was good for the “powers that be” and fitting in would be to his benefit. Although for the sage “fitting in” would never be adequate in expressing his direct connection with the universe. He was often at odds with the status quo, finding contentment with what could be as what was best for all and not simply the few.

Taoism and Chuang Tzu’s ideal of the Perfected Man would be molded DSCI0173 in the Han dynasty to mean the superior man who followed the Mandate of Heaven, the emperor and the strict moral code of the Confucians. If one did not adhere to this strict moral code then he was in turn an inferior man and could be not in turn follow his “true nature” i.e., the Tao. This meant for the pure of heart retreating to the peace and quiet of mountains would reign instead. To the place where “cultivating stillness and the pill of immortality” could be made secure.

Also, important here was the Imperial Examination System that determined how high one could achieve merit in the Chinese bureaucracy. Chuang Tzu made fun of Confucian thought. He was famous partially for saying this idea of imperial authority… the status quo was not in keeping with the Tao or the wishes of the Perfected Man. Confucianism was the opposite. Ultimately, it would be who wrote the commentaries that would have the final say… or so they thought.

This is the fourth entry (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues as our journey in cultivating stillness. Knowing and using this induces a spiritual transformation. The lines of the I Ching, the Book of Changes becomes shorthand for transforming change that attracts the lights and energy of Heaven thereby creating a chance, an unspoken trust, to build on who we are meant to become. 

 

By 1dandecarlo

33) Leo Tolstoy and the transcendence to New Thought, early Christianity and his legacy. Unity of Springfield – Nov 24 World Religions Class  

Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one’s 331neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance. His belief in nonresistance when faced by conflict is another distinct attribute of his philosophy based on Christ’s teachings. By directly influencing Mahatma Gandhi with this idea through his work The Kingdom of God Is Within You, Count Tolstoy’s profound influence on the nonviolent resistance movement reverberates to this day. He believed that the aristocracy (today’s 1%) were a burden on the poor, and that the only solution to how we live together is through anarchism, or a doctrine urging the abolition of government or governmental 340restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty – freedom… to what today might be called a true democracy.

A great writer I have always admired is Leo Tolstoy. His influence at the time and ever since has been immeasurable in history. Finding the vehicle of getting closer to God became Tolstoy’s passion as a writer, religious philosopher and metaphysician. His works became something to emulate and model as others took the next step following in his footsteps to greater understanding themselves and the world. Most of us know him through the great literary classics he wrote known as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. But his contribution was so much more than that.

For me… his anthem was we each have the Christ presence within us that has always been present and that we should have the freedom to find this for ourselves. Most of his writing was deemed as heretical by the Church. Tolstoy felt that historical consciousness each of us have – is in fact the flow of universal thought and wisdom that moves from generation to generation that DSCI0040adds to our own eternal growth. That this flow of universal consciousness is found in all things in nature. As we now better understand quantum physics to say that there is no separation in thought (our minds) and that each of us are here to connect and contribute.

That our purpose is to add to this continuing flow of consciousness. With this we all become metaphysicians. It grows into our relationships and flows naturally without trying to fight for acceptance or resistance of others, coming in tune with our own self-awareness, and new thought – new ways of thinking. Having the freedom to allow these relationships to shift into new shapes that we find comfortable and then mirror.

Tolstoy’s contribution to the underpinning of theological understanding was in questioning (the status quo would say undermining) Christian teachings at the time. As much of what he had seen written was incoherent, poorly translated from ancient biblical texts, and didn’t contribute as they should have the love of God that he felt we all should share.  

He felt God continually spoke to mankind over time and in every country, and that Christ, while being the most profound of teachers, was not the only one. 338He looked for common themes in all religious thought for rational assessments and looked to a philosophy on human beings’ purpose in life.

Most importantly, for myself, he wrote themes after thorough investigation that could follow similar approaches found in Eastern thought (Buddhism and Taoism) which he too had studied, where a structure and method to get one with the universe and finding our place in it is essential and incorporated this into his writing. Attributed to Tolstoy is something called: “Leo Tolstoy and the Oriental Religious Heritage – Influences and Parallels” that describes both Buddhism and Taoism… as an analysis of their influences to help to clarify the cultural conundrum that he hoped to solve and with which contemporary society still struggled: how to integrate Western ethical and religious beliefs with those of the East in an age of increasing global information and communication. Tolstoy, was considered a famous sinophile. (A Sinophile is a person who demonstrates a strong interest and love for Chinese culture and its people. It is also commonly used to describe those knowledgeable of Chinese history and culture, and people perceived as having a strong interest in any of the above.) He also studied the works of Confucius.

 He felt God’s plan was rational and man’s ability to reason was given to him AE12to understand that it must be accessible to everyone… to human understanding. Understanding that all things are eternally connected and flow through time as demonstrated and shown over thousands of years of human interaction with nature and history. History does repeat itself. The influence of Eastern thought further convinced him that nature, and its repetitiveness becomes the teacher as we learn from cause and effect. (His reading of 2503Emerson also helped to take him there). As different things take turns, or alternate with each other, we can foretell and shape what is in the future (his understanding of the I Ching). It is in this knowing we can in turn respond accordingly when we are led from our innate virtue we already possess.

I think this is the understanding that Tolstoy came to appreciate – and if asked in conversation today would agree. With this its easy to see his influence on Gandhi and what was to become the transcendental movement – New Thought – the Fillmore’s and eventually us – in Unity. As if only pearls on the string of eternity.

When we ask for our prayers to be answered, the universe is responding as if a reverberation with “all things considered”, not simply our own desires. Nature 339tells us to wait until we can see how events unfold so that our virtue can come forward to know what fits or matches what is best for all involved, as with complementary opposites attracting each other.

Emerson’s eye on Nature

The universal divine presence (what unfolds from our own heart space) is all-inclusive and operates under the premise of “one size fits all” with nature responding as an echo to what it hears. When we ask what defines virtue – this is a good place to start.

Tolstoy concluded that the soul was immortal. He thought the purpose of life is to expand on our capacity to love God and our fellow beings – humans, animals, even plants. Tolstoy in many ways was a Taoist at heart. There could be no separation from God and the universe in which we lived. As we love God by loving nature, we attune with what enhances everything found in our natural environment. It’s easy to see his influence on those who followed him including us.    

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, 323was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910.

Scene in  Red Square, Moscow, 1801. Oil on canvas by Feder Yakovlevich Alekseev. 

Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, Tolstoy is best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). I remember back in college reading Tolstoy’s novella (short story) The Death of Ivan Liayich portraying the savage winter and cold of living in Siberia. In the 1870’s, Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. He felt we should through non-violence lead, motivate, and have influence from the middle and raise all from the lowest to the top. That this idea was the profound teaching of Jesus and other spiritual leaders through the ages.

Tolstoy’s ideas on non-violent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894), were to have a profound impact on such 332pivotal 20th-century figures as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many, many others.

Gandhi and other residents of Tolstoy Farm, South Africa, 1910

The Kingdom of God Is Within You was a non-fiction book written by Leo Tolstoy. A philosophical treatise, the book was first published in Germany in 1894 after being banned in his home country of Russia. It is the culmination of thirty years of Tolstoy’s thinking, and lays out a new organization for society based on an interpretation of Christianity focusing on universal love. The title of the book originates from Luke 17:21. In the book Tolstoy speaks of the principle of nonviolent resistance when confronted by violence, as taught by Jesus Christ.

When Christ says to turn the other cheek, Tolstoy asserts that Christ means to abolish violence, even the defensive kind, and to give up revenge. Tolstoy rejects the interpretation of Roman and medieval scholars who attempted to limit its scope. “How can you kill people, when it is written in God’s commandment: ‘Thou shalt not murder’?”

Tolstoy took the viewpoint that all governments who waged war are an affront to Christian principles. As the Russian Orthodox Church was at the time, an 336organization merged with the Russian state and fully supporting state’s policy, Tolstoy sought to separate its teachings from what he believed to be the true gospel of Christ, specifically the Sermon on the Mount.

He advocated nonviolence as a solution to nationalist woes and as a means for seeing the hypocrisy of the church. In reading Jesus’ words in the Gospels, Tolstoy notes that the modern church is a heretical creation: “Nowhere nor in anything, except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.” Tolstoy presented excerpts from magazines and newspapers relating various personal experiences, and gave keen insight into the history of non-resistance from the very foundation of Christianity, as being professed by a minority of believers. In particular, he confronts those who seek to maintain status quo:

“That this social order with its pauperism, famines, prisons, gallows, armies, and wars is necessary to society; that still greater disaster would ensue if this organization were destroyed; all this is said only by those who profit by this organization, while those who suffer from it – and they are ten times as numerous – think and say quite the contrary.”

In 1894 Constance Garnett, who translated the work into English, wrote the following in her translator’s preface: “One cannot of course anticipate that English people, slow as they are to be influenced by ideas, and instinctively distrustful of all that is logical, will take a leap in the dark and attempt to put Tolstoy’s theory of life into practice. But one may at least be sure that his destructive criticism of the present social and political regime will become a powerful force in the work of disintegration and social reconstruction which is going on around us.”

I have a little personal experience. My mother had a dear friend whose family were members of the aristocracy that was very close to the Czar and his family. As I was growing up in Joplin, Missouri where she then lived (both my mother and she have since passed), my mother had become her care-giver as she grew older and visited her regularly. The stories the lady told were confirmed by the memorabilia and antiques she had brought with her from Russia that were still in her possession. I met her once and she had great stories to tell of her childhood she seemed to vividly recall. Stories of her youth had always defined her. She had been in Saint Petersburg, Russia as a little girl and said she knew the Romanov girls quite well. One of my regrets is not returning to hear them because few if any were ever written down for history. It is our memories, that given the opportunity tell us of and take us to our past. It is our remembering that takes us there that tell a greater story and the collective consciousness that along the way defines who we are yet to become.  I do seem to have a recollection of asking her about the writer Tolstoy, and she recalled that everyone loved his writing because it returned them to the place they had always known and been. As though reliving their own history. Count Leo Tolstoy had been a respected member of the Russian aristocracy as well.

On another personal note, in high school I listened to shortwave radio as a hobby to stations all over the world. One of them was Radio Moscow. In 1967, they had a 337contest celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution in which I entered an essay about the revolution. I was sixteen at the time. The connection to Tolstoy was that the powers that be of the revolution felt that regardless of his fame, thoughts and writing, it didn’t matter. As Count Tolstoy and his family had been major landowners, his influence needed to be diminished. Although in his later years and writing he expressed great regret about the historical benefits of the aristocracy of whom his own family had been members. His connection with Russia’s past contributed greatly to his writings not getting the attention they deserved over time.

It seems we are all simply like the strand of pearls – as if strung together looking for harmony… that universal historical consciousness I spoke of earlier. But yet, our own and others resistance overtakes us. After I no longer listened to shortwave when I began going to college, I continued getting mail for years at home from all over the world. The mailman would ask, “Who is this guy getting all this stuff”. My mom would laugh and say, “oh, that’s just my son”.

 

By 1dandecarlo

32) Our journey into transcendence / A spiritual travelogue through the mountains of China and Tibet. Part 1.

I’ve seen too many places in my life and time for the story to have simply one entry / Continuing the I Ching – Images, Structure, Judgments and Commentaries.

It begins with becoming one with contentment and discernment. Identifying 321with our source as the common thread followed and traced throughout time and history to the present day.

For me… exemplified as a tour of sacred mountains in China. Teaching us to not just watch with our eyes, but to listen with our minds. Simply to learn detachment, enlightenment, and along the way inner peace. To be content – within what my writing – and to what our own highest endeavor tells us. As if looking beyond the clouds to far vistas, to what takes us there… as if we are above it all once again. To join and be with ancestors and forever friends once again as we get glimpses of our ultimate destiny.

As if getting to decide for ourselves where the journey begins again, or maybe continues… to self-discovery and to where it leads with the stars that eternally 322define us and light our way. It’s why we go there; we might even call it a travelogue tracing our own sense of immortality. It was here on the mountains of China where the famous elixirs and pills of immortality (and gunpowder) were said to have been formulated. With Lao Tzu’s furnace on Huashan Mountain producing the most famous pill we should take defining what was to become the ultimate in self-awareness, inner development, the Tao and eventually Taoism.

Mountains allow us a physically unimpeded bond, that for some acts as an umbilical cord, to and with the divinity from within, to who we are and have forever been. It’s as close to God as we can get while here on earth. To be seen as having been to the mountaintop and seeing the other side… often even above the clouds, is as if we have made the ultimate connection with our own divinity. The mountain becoming our ultimate sanctuary. 

As the follow-up to Theodore Roosevelt and Thich Nhat Hanh from the previous post, we continue with thoughts of actions in the arena of life we take that are consistent with our eternal source. Finding a benchmark, the proper segue from within. As if making a smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another as we move closer to the contentment that ultimately defines us. The advantage of focusing on China is that there is over five thousand years of uninterrupted history 323to draw conclusions and to see clearly from.

Traditions not only in China, but that described in the story of the burning bush as an object described in the Book of Exodus as being on Mount Horeb, and the story of Black Elk, a Sioux holy man who much later became a catechist (a person appointed to instruct others in the principles of religion as a preparation for Baptism). 324His fame was due to his conversing with his ancestors on what is now known as Black Elk Peak of the Black Hills of South Dakota and conveying what was to occur to his people. When our actions simply reflect our own transcendence to reconcile with who we have always been. To where tradition has always taken us.      

When we think about a starting point to find context as to why climbing mountains became so important in China, it comes first to what we are connecting too when we get there. First, if you’ve been following here is the importance of symbols. As if the stars and the constellations are to be seen as the guardians of Heaven. With nature’s response always to be seen as determining how everything comes together and remains universal. It is from mountains we can speak from our own divine 325nature without distractions and directly to them – to the stars above.

Our guides to the stars are the “Four Guardians.” They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise (also called “Black Warrior”) of the North.

Each of the creatures is most closely associated with a cardinal direction and a color, but also additionally represents other aspects, including a season of the year, a virtue, and one of the Chinese “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water)… as well as the I ChingEach has been given its own individual traits and origin story.

Understanding this basic premise is central to what each person looks for from the sky at night. Not only from mountains, but what we can see every night regardless of where we are. Bringing it all back down to earth as our own endeavors and destiny. Knowing that our own constellation, i.e., from the month and most importantly, the year you were born, will return each year in the sky as a beginning, or starting point again, again, 326and again. Thereby defining our own nature, and showing us that we are innately connected to something much bigger than ourselves.

As your tour guide, I have been to all the mountains described below. While the mountains generally have a Taoist bent, many described below are connected with Buddhism, or maybe to both.

First would be Lhasa, 100_6026Tibet. Lhasa, the holy city of Tibetan Buddhism, north of the Himalaya Mountains and second south of Chengdu with the Leshan Giant Buddha where there is a local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This is partially because Linyun Mountain in which the Leshan Giant Buddha depicting Maitreya is located, is thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when seen from the river, with the Leshan Giant Buddha as its heart.

According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on 328earth in the future.  According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha – Gautama Buddha (also known as Sakyamuni Buddha).

What caught my attention in addition to the Giant Buddha was the adjacent Taoist Cave depicting the eight characters of the I Ching, Lao Tzu with I Ching, and a dragon depicted 327in the stars shown here in the beginning.

For those who knew what they were seeing, you could confirm the synthesis of all three (Buddhism, Taoism, and the I Ching) at the top of Linyun Mountain.

Since ancient times communing with God in the stillness found above the clouds is said to have “been to the mountaintop and seeing the other side” from a spiritual context denotes being one with, or knowing the intent of Heaven. Holy men and women, spending time in solitude for eons of time have felt the presence, the spirit of eternity and returned. The other side referring to our own divinity and eternal divine nature.

For myself, the list of mountains below can easily be expanded depending on personal preference. Once I began outlining the mountains and their significance, I decided simply reviewing my time there and their significance would need more than one entry. It is the spiritual connection we see once there – that seems to enter our soul, as if a reminder, that pulls us back to our ultimate source. As if connecting to our innermost sense of well-being. It is through use of the I Ching as a tool, that we continue to outline here, i.e., coming forward to connect with our source through prayer and meditation we can become one with it all again.

All of the mountains described here I have been up and down, and if we each want to define for ourselves the meaning of “what is sacred, spiritual, or revered”… for myself, it’s what takes us there. Albeit words, symbols, or in this case mountains – as in the I Ching commonly referred to below as “The Traveler”.  

                           The Death of the Chamois

Buckskins tanning in the bright sun light brown almost white from the ram captured on the mountain’s rim only for the delicacy of its tender loins and its superior skin.

No matter the benefits, it is not the capture of game pursued over a long distance 329that is important. But simply the ultimate pursuit itself.  As the hunter respects his prey by only taking what is necessary for his own survival, fulfillment comes with the understanding of one’s place in the universe. Not the lethal release of the arrow.

Pursuing the chamois on the sheer outcropping near the mountain’s top is as difficult as capturing the pheasant in the valley below. Both represent the ultimate challenge and losing against such an able foe is not losing, but gaining the respect found to be in nature’s way.  The ram only captured because its time has come.

3210The Challenge  Sichuan Museum

Having overcome the chamois there is a satisfaction in knowing the ram as an equal or better in his own territory. Fully aware of his stature in his environment and what it takes to survive on top of mountains. Always to be looking down at panoramas in every direction. An innate sense that each step on the craggy outcropping could be his last if improperly placed. However surefooted, he adeptly and safely bounds from rock to rock unconcerned and unafraid.

As a seasoned traveler coming across hunters coming down from higher elevations with their prize, you sense both elation and sadness accompanying the death of the chamois. All is well and as it should be.

An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese classic the I Ching (56 THE TRAVELER / Fire over Mountain). 3/22/1994

Seven Mountains stand out for myself as having great historical and spiritual 3211significance.  (The eighth would be Wudang Mountain mentioned earlier that I have not been to).

Because I want to go in some detail with each one, I will focus on three this time Laoshan, Taishan, and Huangshan in this entry and on the next entry will focus on Songshan, Huashan, and Qingcheng. Plus, possibly more on Lhasa in the Himalayas. Geographically, that’s basically going from east to west.

Sacred mountains of China – Part 1:

Mount Lao, or Laoshan is a mountain located near the East China Sea along the 3212southeastern coastline of the Shandong Peninsula China northeast of Qingdao. The mountain is culturally significant due to its long affiliation with Taoism and is often regarded as one of the “cradles of Taoism”. At the peak of Taoism, there were nine palaces, eight Taoist Temples, and 72 nunneries and housed nearly a thousand Taoist priests and nuns on the mountain. It is the place where the Complete Perfection School of Taoism developed. At present, the Taiqing Palace is the oldest among the preserved Taoist establishments. In ancient times, the emperors of the Qin and Han dynasties climbed the mountain seeking the wisdom of immortals.

Today the Shenshui (Immortal Water) Spring in the Taiqing Palace and the 3213Shengshuiyang (Ocean of Holy Water) Spring in the Shangqing Palace are said to be the source of Tsingtao Beer. The Tsingtao brewery is less than an hour to the south in Qingdao. I have been to Qingdao and the brewery many times over the years and had dozens of students from Qingdao while I was teaching 3214in Qufu.  I visited Laoshan Mountain in 2017. Highlights of the mountain trek were Taoist temples, the statute of Lao Tzu and unusual rock formations.

TaiShan Mountain in Shandong.  Mount TaiShan is the one I am most familiar with having been there many times. It is one of the most famous Taoist mountains in China because of its 3215being furthest to the east. It is where from its summit you can be the first to see the sunrise. According to historical records, Mount Tai became a sacred place visited by emperors to offer sacrifices and meditate in the Zhou dynasty before one thousand BC. A total of seventy-two emperors were recorded as visiting it. For over two thousand years, tradition required the emperor to make a pilgrimage to TaiShan on his return to Beijing after visiting Qufu and paying homage to Confucius to see the sunrise from the summit. Spending the night on top of the mountain is a must.

At the base of the mountain is the Daimiao Temple built in the Han dynasty (206-3217220). One of my favorite points of interest is the ‘Peitian Gate’. It is an excellent example of how Confucian and Taoist thought combined with nature have resided and complemented each other over the centuries.

The stele, or entryway had a saying with the theme, “The virtues match the heaven and earth”. It further is highlighted with the ‘Azure Dragon’ and ‘White Tiger’, 3216two of the principal symbols of the Chinese constellation that were enshrined in the hall to the left. Two of the constellations described here in the beginning.

Communing with nature, staying overnight watching the stars overhead on top of the mountain – up early to see the sunrise… you can sense the universal connection and know you are a part of something much bigger than yourself. Tradition says many Taoist poets would carve their own words on the mountain as a symbol tying themselves to the mountain’s history. Imagining emperors making a pilgrimage here after visiting Qufu and Confucius adds to the majesty of the mountain.

Next is Huangshan Mountain, originally known as Yishan (Mount Yi) in Anhui 3218Province also known as Yellow Mountain. The name was coined to honor Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor). I came here in October 2016 and became part of a tour group (Something I usually avoid). Busy taking pictures I got left behind. The tour guide was upset, but I was eventually found. The pictures I took here were awesome. I may not have complained that much had I remained lost.

Legend states that Huangshan was the location from which the Yellow Emperor ascended to Heaven. Another legend states that the Yellow Emperor “cultivated moral character and refined Pills of Immortality” in the mountains, and in so doing gave the mountains his name.

The first use of this name “Huangshan” is often attributed to Chinese poet Li Bai. I wanted to include Li Bai because writing was illustrative of man’s connection to nature, how he relates to it, and especially, how symbols (the essence of Chinese writing, i.e., words), and the I Ching, are symbolic of how we are to live and die. He was one of the most famous and well-respected poets of the era. Huangshan Mountain was fairly inaccessible in ancient times until 747 AD when many Taoist temples began being built.

Li Bai (701-762) was one of the greatest poets of the Tang dynasty and Chinese history. As a historian and writer myself, I am very appreciative of his talent and influence. The Tang era was a golden age of Chinese poetry, and Li Bai’s works made up a large part of this. I plan to include some of his poetry in the future. He was 3226known also for his drinking. Popular legend says that he drowned when, sitting drunk in a boat, he tried to seize the moon’s reflection in the water.

An ink painting depicting Huangshan by Shitao, 1670

Reminding us that  legends are meant to convey meaning, not factual accuracy. Li Bai’s contributions to history and poetry have stood the test of time, regardless of his love for plum wine.

To the right is Xiantao Feng Peak commonly referred to as “Fairy Peach Peak”, or 3219“Flying Rock”; also known as “Old Man watching the Sea” on Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, Anhui Province.

Much of the mountain’s reputation derives from its significance in Chinese arts and literature. In addition to inspiring poets such as Li Bai, Huangshan and its scenery has been the frequent subject of poetry and artwork, especially Chinese ink painting and, more recently, photography. From the Tang dynasty (618 to 907) to the end of the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911), more than twenty thousand poems were written about Huangshan Mountain.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wingsit is assumed that they are not written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings, The Commentary of the Decision Wings 1 and 2, are AC7already known and understood, and as with the remaining Wings (3 through 10), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained. It is essential that we don’t try to interpret the I Ching and change – only by what we think – by modern standards – with what we know today.

To be guided by nature and resulting cause and effect and the 3220spirit we seek within ourselves is an essential element to connecting to the stars above and who we are yet to become. As today will always simply pass us by. Knowing that our lives are but a flash of lightening in eternity.

Taken as a whole, this means we are describing change as it evolves through Confucius or others who wrote their own commentary of the Dazhuan later and conveyed its importance by attributing to him. Confucius, in his later years did spend his time trying to grasp the meaning of the I Ching to determine how it fit with his own vision and bringing it in keeping with his take on history transforming it from a manual for divination into a text about philosophy and morality. This was to become his greatest contribution and enduring legacy.

The works of Ji Dan, the fourth son of King Wen of Zhou, five hundred years 3221earlier were essential in making this connection to Chinese antiquity. All three, the Yellow Emperor, Ji Dan, and Confucius hailed from the city of Lu, or Qufu. Others would later use this as a pathway for their own “interpretation” of the I Ching, Lao Tzu, and Confucius who had ties to all the loose endings of history that preceded him… myself included.

In the end, it is the hexagrams that give meaning to the underlying line statements that follow all the actions under heaven. The lines are the imitations of heaven as movements on earth. It is that simple. In the case of the Book of Changes, the I Ching – the lines are the equivalent to the judgments appended to them.

In this way both good and bad auspices appear as judgments and apply themselves to the lines that move. They can then reflect the changes within the individual situation. This basic understanding must be made and accounted for before proceeding further. If you don’t know or understand the underlying precepts then it is impossible to obtain an accurate reading.

Remember, this is only the third of a total of twelve entries to be discussed here in the 6th Wing. Context is everything to knowledge, wisdom and understanding that follows us throughout our lives.

Unfortunately, with popular culture over the centuries, people became enamored with the reading of the lines more as simple “fortune-telling”. Not taking into account the seriousness of the underlying premise of the true essence or meaning of the I Ching. It is the changes that reflect an individual situation in which either good or auspices things occur, or bad, i.e., misfortune arise, along with remorse and humiliation, or trouble and distress appears. It is our own movement, illustrated by our actions, that reveal the direction that events are taking and with that warnings or confirmations are added.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 3 

Images, Structure, Judgments and Commentaries

What the shaman discovered over the millennia was that the natural order of things followed images and a certain structure that foretold future events. That when man could attune himself to this, what would one day be referred to as the Tao, then all would be right in the world. Conversely, when man’s actions did not follow the natural order of things, disaster occurs. This basic premise was underlying everything from not only man himself, but every aspect he could observe in his environment as well.

3222It was the Yijing, Book of Changes, i.e., the trigrams, and then much later the hexagrams, that reflects and consists of images that are reproductions of conditions in heaven and on earth and that when they are applied productively they have enormous creative power in the realm of those who know how to use them. Fuxi, Shennong, and the Yellow Emperor knew this and they had done their best to impart this wisdom to those who would follow them for the benefit of all things under heaven as previously described.

The paradox had always been from the earliest clan gatherings of Fuxi and even hundreds of years earlier, was how to use what was later to become the hexagrams (the three lines of the eight trigrams when doubled) and their essential eternal teachings to unleash the creative power in the realm of ideas within each individual. Over the centuries leading up to the Shang dynasty when written history could be recorded and followed, (a period from Fuxi 2900 BC to 1700 BC), this excess of personal aggrandizement would come to the forefront with the Shang. It would be when the pendulum swung back the other way with King Wen in 1100 BC and the following Zhou dynasty that the true meaning of the lines, now referred to as statements, could begin to go forward.

Again, it is worth repeating, it is in the knowing of how to use the statements within the hexagrams properly that unleashes our creative power to influence events yet to come that becomes essential. With this knowledge, it is as though we become like the 3223wind passing through time.

The challenge of the shaman had always been imparting this eternal wisdom to people who did not understand the true meaning of the lines and how to read and use them. This tempering of the personal ego led to the focus on cultivating stillness within oneself and was enhanced even further with the arrival of the Buddhist influence from SW China and India in 300-400 AD. This was to serve to cement the eternal connection between man 3224and the universe so our focus would remain empowering our internal energies with the outer world we find ourselves.

Going forward we either further our good or don’t. We decide this solely by our actions and it is by following the I Ching we can know what comes in advance, when to proceed and when not to with answers usually a simple yes or no.

Over the times and centuries of judgments and commentaries however, it became clear and evident that when one compares the Judgments with the Images, different “readings” can be determined that serve to justify what direction this powerful oracle, or tool, was to take. At one point, Confucius became the fulcrum, or pivot, as to how this was to occur. In almost every instance it was not Confucius himself, but others who used his name to solidify through “commentary” what the real interpretation should be. For now, leave it to say that it should be the original intent of the shaman and Taoist sage who have the final say not the political whim of 3225the moment.

Thanks to Wang Bi and other Confucians during the Han dynasty who were bent on the “Confucian interpretation” of the I Chinghis version became required study for the rigorous examination system after the Later Han in roughly 200AD. The Confucian ideal became a permanent fixture in China for almost two thousand years until the fall of the last emperor in 1912. This paradox of the real intent of the Book of Changes will always be in contention due to man’s attempts to control events that leads to a “politically correct manageable outcome” verses the Taoist understanding of letting nature decide for itself.

This is the third entry (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues as our journey in cultivating stillness. Knowing and using this induces a spiritual transformation. The lines of the I Ching, the Book of Changes becomes shorthand for transforming change that attracts the lights and energy of heaven, i.e., getting their attention thereby creating a chance, an unspoken trust, to become again who we are meant to be. 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo