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.

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.

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.

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. 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

31) From Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech to Thich Nhat Hanh inspiring us to base our actions on compassion and abundance… The I Ching / Fuxi and Nuwa, Shennong, and the Yellow Emperor.

What always comes back to us is the question “from where are we doing it – as 3101if needing to find a starting point, or even a continuation, needing to be reminded of who we have always been”. As if the sage is eternally waiting for the “circle of Life, i.e., others” who are trying to catch up. Maybe only here to help others find their way. In assisting others, he can’t help but find himself as well. 

From the I Ching and our Sage Mind we are guided to move beyond both symbols and words to the shaman and sage of ancient China – to rediscover where is it that divine ideas and virtue originate? In doing so we must become the light they are teaching us to be. To find joy in the stillness, to find and know the joy and comfort in knowing we will always be enough.

From the East it’s the consensus choice of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu (for me it was also Chuang Tzu  and his quest for the Perfected Man and Manjusri, the 3103bodhisattva of wisdom), and the West, I look back to ancient Greece and several philosophers, to Jesus and the New Testament of the Bible, and more recently to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many more. Their words and actions serve to take us there too. Even the singer/poet Bob Dillon and our asking “what and who inspired them”. Conversely, what inspires us to find within ourselves what I also think of “activism”, as to how we put our essence in motion to reflect our innate selves and our actions that reflect our own transcendence. To reflect the essence of who we have always been and follow what we truly believe we are yet to become.

While every man is the hero of his own songs… or in this case words – I am often asked who and what inspires me? In my writing, I often look for parallels between past and present and who inspires others in a traditional sense of what may be called virtue and what it is that took them there. It has always been the uncertainty of what comes next, where our own next step should lead into our own arena. And importantly, what takes us there. It opens us to the most essential truth of our lives: the truth of impermanence, alternation and change, the causes of suffering, and the illusion of separateness. We have choices to make and it will be by that our own virtue will be defined.

One of the keys to understanding the I Ching is our first impression of the title the author gives to each of the sixty-four entries. Many authors come up with various titles. Four examples would be:

The I Ching by Kerson and Rosemary Huang… Number 55 entitled – Abundance

The Classic of Changes, A new translation of the I Ching as interpreted by Wang Bi (Pi) and translated by Richard John Lynn… Number 55 – Abundance

Total I Ching by Stephen Karcher… Number 55 – Abounding/Receiving the Mandate

Rediscovering the I Ching by Gregory Whincup… Number 55 entitled Abundance

Below is Number 55 from my own version, An American journey through the I Ching and Beyond that was published in China in 2004.

                                   Finding Mirror Images

The weight of wealth and possessions can be as light as a goose down pillow. If things are given freely and shared with others one is allowed to sleep at night.

However, if one is driven by the need for more than what is required to lead a simple unassuming life the pillow can in turn be suffocating. Ultimately leading to one’s demise.

Trappings become necessities for those who have no sense of purpose and sense of self. Knowing and keeping to one’s inner voice and chi gives a sense of space and distance between oneself and things of material value which in truth have no real value to the journey at all.

Accumulating wealth and worldly possessions only serves to mask the inner self, 3104reflecting in the mirror the distance still to be traveled. Strive to find the proper balance and harmony that mirrors the peace within oneself. Practicing perspective with the ever present I Ching.

Yellow Dragons    Sichuan Museum

Keeping to the mirror image of one’s own reality is the key to learning true value. Discard yesterday’s things and find today’s. Learn that value is in finding the nothingness needed to understand tomorrow. There is strength to be found in character, sense of purpose and knowing the ultimate value of the balance to be found in all things.

Find this and be rewarded forever. Coming down to earth you recognize those who represent power and authority and the shadows in which they travel. Stay close and lead by example as you are counted on to lead the way. (3/21/1994)

With the two described at the beginning here, Theodore Roosevelt and Thich 3102Nhat Hanh, we look to thoughts of remaining in the arena and doing so with compassion and discernment. Leading us to seeing a transcendent universe within our own innate nature, as we look upwards beyond the clouds to all we encounter.

That there is a symbiotic, interdependent relationship, or reciprocal connection between all things found in nature. Its who we have always been.

For ancient China though, what and who was it that inspired them to reflect on their beginnings and give account to this going forward that served as the benchmark that would serve to define them and much later us? Ultimately, it becomes moving beyond words and symbols that matter and who and what we look to for directions. For the sage however, it is often felt we are born into a world where we don’t fit in – but it is because we are here to create a new one.

Gaining an understanding of relationships and how everything comes back to recognizing a single universal source (either expressed as God, the Tao, or another source as our divine nature), we see as transcendental, and how we find ourselves going forward. As if the wisdom and virtue we simply are here to build on becomes the key to our growth and longevity.

From a purely historical perspective a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt 3108has always served as inspiration. What always comes back to me is the question “where are we doing it from”. Where is it that divine ideas originate? And what should our own contribution be?

To the left is the historical house of the former University of Paris-Sorbonne and main university building of the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter in Paris. I stayed nearby in one of my visits to Paris in 2009.

Citizenship in a Republic is the title of a speech given by the former President of the United States, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. One notable passage on page seven of the 35-page speech is referred to as “The Man in the Arena” as follows:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great 3109devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Someone who is heavily involved in a situation that requires courage, skill, or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), is sometimes referred to as “the man in the arena”.

Ten years ago, in 2009, I made three trips to Paris and walked past the Sorbonne many times. I was intrigued by its history and most of all thoughts of what Roosevelt may have been thinking when he wrote the above. Where was he doing it from? What was it he aspired to that serves to inspire the rest of us with thoughts of being in the arena and what that really means?

3105My own thoughts always returned Lao Tzu, Confucius, and to virtue.  From where does the man begin as the starting point and where does it lead? What becomes of the content of his character and context of his actions and for whom they are meant? What becomes of the ultimate benefactor.

Finding Character Chengdu Wuhan Museum

Up to this point I had been going to China for almost twelve years (our first trip to China was in 1997 to adopt our daughter Katie), and been published with thoughts of my own as to what it meant to lay the foundation of “being in the arena” as a writer, historian, and storyteller. Where are we doing “it” from and what is it we leave behind when we’re gone? How is it we are to be remembered if at all? How do we transcend our limitations to become the person that reflects our highest endeavor? To become as my own mentor Chuang Tzu would call “the Perfected Man”. The answer lies in asking ourselves if our words and actions are worthy of remembering by others once we are gone.

So much depends on understanding the motivation of our heart and mind; how 3106they work, how attachment and desire arise and fall, how ignorance arises, and knowing where our emotions come from.

Far horizons   Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province

And how our innate wisdom and nature can bring us joy and happiness, as Roosevelt conveys we should be the one “who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement – and daring greatly” by always bringing our endeavors back to the center through our consciousness, compassion, and  actions, for ourselves and others. In other words, where are we doing it from? Or as some 3112would say… living in our joy and finding contentment.

I saw this so often in China with the simple act of drinking tea among friends. It was a must that tea be presented first. As if all that followed in conversation was a symbol, or even common ritual, to the appreciation of nature and our own. As if setting the tone for what may follow.

Like many others, I follow the teachings and words of – Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, who stated the following relating to compassion:

“Compassion is knowing that we All hold the same emotional propensities, to some degree. ‘There but for the Grace of God go I.'” He continues:

“Practice until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child 3113starving, in the political prisoner. Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Even something I wrote back in a high school journalism class… “Sorrowful feelings mean nothing if there’s no compassion felt”.

For me, its life expressed as not only what we do, but who we are… It’s developing what we have acknowledged and learned through knowing our own Sage Mind. 3111What is it that inspires us to see beyond what might be seen as simply ourselves to what may be seen as our becoming universal and assisting others to do the same? Ultimately, it has always been the one who tells the story that history knows as truth in the long run, provides context, or perhaps immortalizing for the rest of us. It is having a sense of history that counts. It is said history cannot be written for at least fifty years after events have occurred. Outcomes related sooner may be clouded by ego and personal intent of participants at the time and may not reflect natures response. That truth lies somewhere in the middle for us to find.

It would be best illustrated in the I Ching, and specifically, the 5th and 6th Wings of the Dazhuan, I have been covering here over the last few months. We have completed the 5th Wing… and with this entry begin to move on to the 6th Wing of the Dazhuan where we learn who inspired the great sage and shaman of the day. As we move beyond symbols and words to what can possibly define us and our purpose through our actions today. To an active participation defining our own arena to create the world they and we would want to live and leave behind. Nothing could be truer than the saying “Home is where the heart is”. Returning home, in effect to our own source – our destination and be able to say I did my best.

We begin with history and seeing how things began and progressed over time. As if asking the age-old question “Does man create the times… or do the times create the man”. And who picks up the torch from the fading embers of institutional memory, i.e., past wisdom to carry forward to light the way?

Part II         The Dazhuan

The 5th and 6th Wings originally entitled Hsi Tz’u (the Dazhuan) appears in the 3107ancient book of Chinese history, the Ssuma Ch’ien, and were said to be judgments written by King Wen and Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou who appended them to the hexagrams and their lines. They were the lines of the present text that were modified as commentaries by Confucius and explained as “appended judgments”.  Part II is the attempts by later “Confucians” to re-define the I Ching (Yijing) to fit into their vision as to how the I Ching should be interpreted that fit their own vision of the scheme of things. The 5th Wing has been completed in the narrative preceding this entry. The twelve segments described up to this point have tried to detail beginnings of the I Ching with universal context relating to people and events to demonstrate how we are all connected. How do we move from both symbols and words to universal activism… putting our feet to what some what would call our actions? To find ourselves through the spontaneity of our everyday presence. We begin by looking to our mentors who we want to emulate and remember. It’s why the I Ching has stood for thousands of years of finding the way forward, by looking first to our past.

The 6th Wing of the Dazhuan    Part II Number 1       

Cosmic Beginnings

The eight trigrams are arranged in such a way that the lines, and oracle, may become 3115complete and tell the story of things to come. It is when the lines are doubled that the hexagrams emerge and become transformed. It is here, given a place to reside, that the sage begins to emerge as he moves within the flow of nature furthering the cause of the Tao.

What was to become known as the I Ching but his instrument foretelling his own claim to immortality and furthering the knowledge of what is known and can never be known except by one who speaks for the universe. As the alternation of whole and broken lines emerge what is firm and yielding moves constantly in ebb and flow displacing each other as change occurs and is recorded with explanations soon to follow. What the sage learned over eons of time was that movement gives way to judgment and judgments give their counsel through the oracle, or vessel, conveying either good or bad that was surely to follow.

The shaman and later sage learned that knowing the way of the Tao, of both heaven and earth, would bear the fruit of divination, i.e., the practice of foretelling future 3114events or to discover hidden knowledge by prophecy, perception by intuition; or instinctive foresight found in the Yijing. It was through the perseverance of those that would later read the lines and put them into the context of the current situation that the sense of the oracle and divination was to gain true meaning. This perseverance became the byword for following the natural laws that sustains and gives support to everything in the cosmos.

The shaman knew that in order to be transformative, the lines would need definition and names. Therefore, opposites that served to complement each other had to be defined. Hundreds, even thousands of years, would be needed to refine through trial and error man’s efforts to follow the natural course of events and how man was to mirror this universal truth. Staying in the middle – avoiding extremes as the beginning of finding our ultimate nature. As if the ridgepole holding everything together, but generally hidden from view. The paradox of the eternal sage…

It DSCI0056would be the complementary aspect of the opposites that would define the essence of the true understanding of the Yijing (I Ching) and the one who could interpret that meaning would be the one who got to tell the story. The straight line would be known as yang, or ch’ien, and considered as creative, full of spontaneity and able to show what was easy. Complementing yang, its opposite would be yin, or Kun. Kun is receptive in nature, yielding, and thrives in simplicity. Doing what becomes simple. It would be through these lines and their symbols that the way ahead could be determined as either open or closed.

As the lines and symbols move accomplishments and tasks subsequently appear as alternations, or acts or processes of alternating, or moving by succession or repeated rotation. It was to be the shaman, the conveyor or precursor of the one who could foretell events through his innate intuition who could convey the great power and virtue of heaven and earth. It is in this way the sage learned to gain standing among men. It is through our own transformation and regeneration that this virtue of heaven and earth bestows life and it is within the power of the sage to stand and receive it. As we move to become the convener for others.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 2.1

 From Shaman to Sage

It was the holy man of the clan, the shaman whose task it was from the beginning to try to make sense of it all that connected heaven and earth. By observing nature and seeing how everything is connected – the sun, moon, the constellations, heaven, the earth, thunder, wind, fire and water… everything – one and the same to later be referred to as the ten thousand things. Every occurrence a result of cause and A Nu Kuaeffect and patterns that could be followed from their beginning to end that along the way tell a foreseeable future.

It would be Fuxi, who discovered the bagua or “eight trigrams” in about 2800 BC that became the symbolic basis for medical, philosophical, and astrological thinking, who after hundreds of years of oral tradition “prehistory” would be the one credited for putting it all together.

Looking upward in contemplation he wondered how one could change himself from one who saw things in a philosophical light as the shaman all depended on, to practical discovery of the movement of the sun, moon and stars and his own origin and to be able to tell the story as lines on a rock and later a tortoise shell.

The images of “everything under the sun” could now be depicted by the trigrams, three lines, he had devised along with an innate power to communicate with others and the spirit world. 

Fuxi was more than a great shaman; he was an innovator and championed the tasks and fate of other men and women who followed him. He connected the spirit world with the eight trigrams and categorized the myriad things. He is said to have twined cords into nets that helped with fishing and hunting and to have partnered with Nüwa a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology who best known for creating mankind and repairing the pillar of heaven.

Fuxi, also known as Paoxi, is a culture hero in Chinese legend and mythology, 100_3085credited along with his sister Nüwa with creating humanity and the invention of hunting, fishing, domestication, and cooking as well as the system of writing Chinese characters.

Depiction of dragon/horse found at the Confucius Temple in Qufu.

He is a culture hero in Chinese legend and mythology, It is said that the I Ching was revealed to him in the markings on the back of a mythical dragon horse (sometimes said to be a tortoise) that emerged from the Luo River.

Next was Shennong, considered the founder of Chinese medicine, who was known as the Divine Husbandman. He was also known as the “Red Emperor” because his 3116patron element was fire; the first King to be called as Yan Di, meaning the “Emperor of Fire.”

Depiction of Shennong found at the Confucius College of Qufu

Shennong came forward shaping wood to make plowshares and plow handles teaching the benefit of plowing and tilling. He brought people together as a community in markets and assembled commodities to be bartered thereby making exchange become easy. Shennong the man, according to Chinese mythology, was the second of the ancient legendary Chinese emperors. Said to have been born in the 28th century BC, his mother a princess and his father a heavenly dragon. His name literally means “Divine Farmer”.

In Chinese mythology and culture, Shennong was the second of the legendary three emperors referred to as the “Three Sovereigns” namely: Fuxi, Shennong, and Hungdi, also known as The Yellow Emperor who then was followed by Yao and Shun. 

The Yellow Emperor, also known by his Chinese name Huangdi, is a deity in 3016Chinese religion, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns and culture heroes included among the mytho-historical Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors and cosmological Five Forms of the Highest Deity.

Over the centuries of early China, they developed a simple continuity as to how people should live. They illustrated the power of the divine spirit that resides in each of us. The myths of their living are what made them immortal. These ancients served to illustrate the power of the spirit creating positive change. When change was affected there was alternation, alternation gave development which led to lasting progress. The connection between heaven and earth permeated throughout the ancient culture of China and came explicitly from Ch’ien and Kun.

The Yellow Emperor, Yao and Shun wore draped upper and nether garments and all under heaven was well ordered. It is said in wearing these clothes this way that these three sat quietly without stirring and as a result of their inaction things automatically righted themselves.  A sense of blessing grew out of this and this quiet meditation led to the axiom of cultivating stillness.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 2.2

The first Practical application of the wisdom of the I Ching and Tao.

It is in the silence that the ancients found was to become meditation called cultivating stillness that was to lead to associating the hexagrams of the I Ching to specific actions.

By emulating and following the symbols representing the trigrams, what was considered either as myth or actual occurrences or actions, led 100_5319people to carry out actual reforms. This would be a re-occurring theme throughout Chinese history – what came be called innate pragmatism, or as the Taoists would later refer to as cause and effect.

Re-making the past to fit the aspirations of the current generation would become an art form. To the right is the giant urn at the entrance of Wangcheng Park in Luoyang. Where the parks lies was the center of government for over a thousand years, the beginning of the Silk Road, and ten dynasties of ancient China. Not far away in the city is the DSCI0084Duke of Zhou Temple that commemorates the author of The Rites of Zhou, a book of bureaucratic theory outlining atrocities the previous five hundred years of the Shang dynasty, and more importantly how we as people should treat others and respect the natural world around us.

To the left is The Duke of Zhou, Ji Dan at the Temple of the Duke of Zhou in Qufu.

The Rites of Zhou became the basis for one the The Five Classics updated by Confucius five hundred years later. The thread of his ideas can be traced through Chinese history to the present day. He was considered China’a first sage. His name was Dan…

Much later in the Han dynasty, modifying the intent of the I Ching was done with great effect. But in the period of pre-history when written records were not prevalent, following the shaman was essential. It would be the reforms they instituted that had the most lasting effect of Chinese civilization. They could begin to see beyond mere subsistence using the natural world around them to weave together what would combine innate wisdom with practical application of the world they lived in.

Always looking to the earth and sky for symbols to guide them through the seasons and to the shaman and sage, the superior person to show the way, but it would be the underlying Tao and intervening I Ching  that was to give the appropriate answer and show the way.

They learned to:

  • Hollow out tree trunks to make boats and shaved wood to make oars. The rivers next to where they lived provided transportation and enabled them to travel to distant places so they could communicate with others. The trigram wood over water would illustrate or show this.
  • Tame the ox and yoke the horse so that heavy loads could be transported over long distances. An indication of the value in movement behind a superior force as the horse and ox could move ahead as they now could travel to distant places both by water on boats and on land as well.
  • Protecting themselves using outer walls and double gates of their settlements that was seen as necessary in protection against robbers. The use of symbols and the trigrams is illustrative here with the trigram Chen, movement above and k’un, the earth below. The trigrams are K’an meaning danger and Ken meaning mountain. K’un symbolizes the closed door; hence the double gates. K’an means thief. Beyond the gates, movement with wood (Ch’en) in the hand (Ken), serves as the preparation against the thief. It would be the oral tradition of interpreting the lines that gave root to establishing a common written language.
  • Next came splitting wood and making a pestle, a tool for pounding and grinding and a bowl shaped hole in the ground for a mortar. With this they could grind grain for baking bread. The mortar was a primitive mill that advanced the growing of grain in their diet.
  • They strung a piece of wood for a bow and hardened pieces of wood in the fire and cut stone for arrows. This enhanced their power and awe in the opponents and added greatly to their hunting abilities.
  • As more people lived longer lives they moved out of caves and into houses with a ridgepole for eaves to ward off wind and rain. It was the shaman and sage who now guided people to safety of communities and collective living arrangements.
  • Dealing with death and the spirit world, i.e., the unknown, was always the realm of the shaman or holy man. In earliest time burial was performed by covering the corpse with brush with neither mound or grave with no set time for mourning. The shaman changed this to reflect the sense of the eternal spirit through the institution of rituals and ancestor worship which carries on even today in modern China. This connection to the eternal was essential the continuity of all things under heaven that manifested here on earth.
  • Finally comes the knotting of cords to try to bring a sense of order to give a sense of what was right as a means of governing. In much later generations, once writing was more fully introduced, written documents would serve to regulate officials and supervising the people. Writing in the earliest of times was scratched on tablets of smoothed bamboo when the ability to govern the larger community became essential.

All of the above has been laid out continuously in various commentaries over the intervening centuries and can be identified as the period of history leading up to the beginning of the Shang dynasty and a written language in approximately 1600 BC and describes this early period.  It was the Sage Mind that provided the even keel to furthering through trial and error that which gave structure to human life. Along with the power and virtue of heaven and earth that provided the essential principles of the natural world following what was to become essential philosophical Taoism.

This is the first two entries (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

30) Unity in China, Shandong Province and Qufu. / Presentation for Unity of Springfield 10/27/2019

I first went to Qufu in October 1999 and helped to establish the sister city 301relationship between Boynton Beach, Florida and Qufu. Over the years there were many cultural exchanges and delegations traveling between the two cities. Below is a story I have never fully told until now.

Pictured to the right is our first visit to Qufu. From the left in picture is my mother, Ben, Marie, Katie who was three and myself. We were on our way to Urumqi to adopt our second daughter Emily.

Pictured to the left is the Reverend Kong and Dan (Kongdan). Kong is the 302Confucius family name… over half of the residents of Qufu claim Kong as their own family name as well. Picture was taken March 20, 2002. We became good friends. His counsel, advise, and support on how to proceed with Unity in western Shandong was critical. He became a champion of our efforts and loved reading about Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and Unity principles that he felt was a good match with Confucius for benevolence and compassion towards others. He thought I was very brave to do something “spiritual” as he called it in Qufu with such overwhelming devotion to Confucius in Confucius’ hometown. He thought the Chinese name Kongdan for me was very fitting.

One of the activities when the Chinese delegations came to Florida was a visit to Unity of Delray Beach where I was a member. Pictured to the right is a delegation from Qufu with me and family in Boynton Beach in 2003. Two important figures here are Glenn Mosley on the far left and Ben on the far right. Ben is Sally’s father. 301Sally later planned to come to Unity Village to perhaps become a Unity minister. Glenn was to send Sally correspondence course…

It was these visits from Qufu and reciprocal visits to their city over the years, that led to publishing of the monthly Christian magazine “Daily Word” for two years through my foundation known as The Kongdan Foundation for the Christian Church Association of western Shandong Province, followed later with my teaching in Qufu, and as a consultant to and member of the I Ching/Confucius Society of China that continues to evolve today.

As a member of Unity of Delray Beach, I led a delegation to Qufu in 2004 that included Reverend Nancy Norman of Unity of Delray Beach and her daughter Cathy Norman, who was then a Unity minister in California. A few months earlier Glenn Mosley from Unity Worldwide Ministries had met in Beijing with 310members of the Christian Church from Qufu – Reverend Kong, Ben and Pei (Sally’s parents), and others in Beijing. We all felt that Unity and the Fillmore spirit would resonate in China and were looking for a way to expand Unity’s efforts there. Having Glenn, Nancy, and Cathy there demonstrated a presence that could be built upon. It was decided that we would follow two tracts. First, we took numerous books and pamphlets describing Unity’s role and Unity Village to Qufu that led to publishing the Daily Word. Converting from English to Chinese proved difficult especially for older members of the church in Qufu. We began a translation service for the residents who wanted to know more about Unity. I was fortunate to find a high school English teacher (Jenny), who would do the translation of the Daily Word into Chinese and work with Unity Village to make it happen. In those early years, there was even discussions of building a Unity Church in Qufu. Financial limitations unfortunately made this dream not become reality.

My foundation, in concert with the Christian Church Association of Western 照片 070Shandong Province, with guidance and assistance from Unity Village, began publishing 5,000 copies a month in January 2006 of the Daily Word that was distributed throughout western Shandong Province. Very few copies were actually distributed in Qufu itself. Over the years, I had been on local television a lot in Qufu for our sister city activities. I later learned while I was living next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple when I was teaching at the university and Qufu Normal School the name Kongdan was well known enough to get the security bureau’s interest…

Most copies of the China Daily Word went to villages and other cities where they were distributed to churches, hotels, and other locations and was printed monthly for two years (2006 and 2007) with five thousand copies a month totaling a hundred and twenty thousand copies. Earlier, in 2002-03, I was told by Reverend Kong who was the leader of the church, that there was about 35,000 members of the Christian 304Family Churches in western Shandong Province.

The small building to the left is what’s left of the Christian Church that was in Qufu prior to World War II. The Qufu Christian Family Church has a new location now.

The building on the right is over one hundred years old and is the Christian Church in the city of Jining about an hour away. Christian and Catholic Churches had a history of more than three 305hundred years prior to the 1949 revolution that formed the People’s Republic of China. Traditional religions in China (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucius) had accommodated the Christian faith. Unity’s acceptance as another spiritual path is what made our efforts to publish the China Daily Word… non-threatening to the status quo.

When I finished teaching at Jining University in Qufu in 2013 there were over 800,000 members and was reminded that even though Sally (who I’ll discuss in a little bit didn’t make it to Unity Village), I/Kongdan had made a lasting impression. The Unity/Fillmore message was greatly appreciated. Although, the Security Bureau (the police) responsible for monitoring my activities could never understand my continuing to return to Qufu over the years. They were concerned about my “influence”, especially after becoming an English teacher at the university and traveling to visit my students around the province…

Many times, when I would travel to various cities and stay at different hotels, when people learned my name was “Kongdan” and asked if I was responsible for the China Daily Word… they would thank me. On one occasion, when the proprietor learned who I was she pulled out a copy from 2007 (this was five years later in 2012) and put it next to her heart.

306The next morning before I left there were six people in the lobby with copies who wanted me to sign.

2006-07 copies my China Daily Word

Later when I was teaching at Jining University in Qufu… several of my students came up and asked if I was the same “Kongdan” who did the Daily Word. One student in particular from a neighboring city… her mother was a Christian minister who had her own small church and used the China Daily Word in her ministry. This was in 2012 and her mother knew about me and my efforts over the past several years and wanted to meet me. That I was now teaching at the university and her daughter was one of my students was a little overwhelming. She invited me to come for a visit to her church and dinner which I did. What a great lady she was… I was most impressed with the very large Bible she had in her church that was in both Chinese and English she seemed to know chapter and verse.

Sitting with her in her small church she told me – Kongdan you have no idea the DSCI0347amount of positive influence you have had. Everyone already thought you were great – but when you began teaching our kids English at the university it gave us hope for the future.

She knew all about Sally and Sally’s mother being denied a VISA (which I will get to in a little bit). Many people in what is now referred to as the Family Christian Church who had followed my activities for many years who might be afraid to speak up wanted me to know how appreciated I was. She had been on the provincial Board of Directors of the Shandong Christian Church Association for many years and told me I was always in their prayers.

For many of my college students, reading the Daily Word in high school helped them 307to learn English. Of the more than 400 students I had teaching English… almost all girls – more than ninety percent planned to become English teachers. Several other students invited me to visit their cities and villages where they lived and people were aware of Kongdan (me) and the China Daily Word.

Most everywhere I went turned into a celebration. Not only DSCI0020for a foreign teacher to visit, but I learned that some cities and villages had a library where copies of the China Daily Word could be checked out. I was told that if not returned someone would come looking for it. Several villages showed me where they kept copies of the Daily Word and asked me to sign copies for them. When I completed teaching in Qufu in June 2013… a minister in the Christian Family Church told me they estimated at that time more the 2.5 million people had seen the China Daily Word. Today, I’m certain that number would exceed three million.

The second avenue the Shandong Christian Association and the foundation were to follow – was trying to establish the first Unity minister in China. I had been to Unity Village several times leading up to this and we had the perfect young lady who was to come for training. Her English name was Sally. Her father was a tour guide and had led two sister city delegations to Boynton Beach and while there both the delegations were visitors to Unity of Delray Beach. Her mother had been the Christian Church secretary in Qufu for more than ten years and was the glue that 308kept their church together. Their daughter Sally was the perfect choice to come to Unity Village to become a Unity minister… or at a minimum learn the principles of Unity and return to share them with the church association in Qufu.

Picture to the left is of Sally, her mother Pei, and father Zhu Bensheng (Ben)

Sally began a correspondence course guided by Glenn Mosley sent to me and Sally for her to begin studying Unity principles and the history of Unity. I was in China at the time (this would have been (2011-2012) and I would sit with Sally and review the course material. Sally’s English was still so – so and several words she would read needed explanation. I learned more about Unity teachings with Sally at this time than really before or sense.

One of the strengths of Unity, Unity ministers have reminded me, is that Unity ministers are free to carve out their own path this would have been especially true for China. For Sally, learning the principles of Unity, then returning to China with the groundwork we had laid over the preceding years would be a good beginning after going to Unity Village. Glenn was to help with expenses and we thought all was set as Sally continued studying the correspondence course material. Best laid plans…

So, we scheduled the VISA Hearing in Beijing for Sally and Jenny (Jenny was/is a high 100_2026school English teacher) and had interpreted the China Daily Word into Chinese.

This is one of my favorite pictures. It is of me, Kevin (Jenny’s husband), and Jenny in my apartment in Qufu sorting through Young Artist entries prior to forwarding to Boynton Beach for the Sister City Young Artist competition. Jenny is holding my dog Milo.

Sally’s mother decided she wanted to come as well with Jenny and Sally, but when they appeared in Beijing Jenny and Sally’s VISA were approved, but Sally’s mother’s VISA was denied. This changed everything. Even though her VISA was approved, the fact her mother’s VISA was denied… Sally decided not to go to Unity Village after all. With this it all came to a stop. Sally later moved to Beijing and became a 100_4892kindergarten teacher. Conversely, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Sally would have gone to Unity Village

Five years after we did the China Daily Word in 2012, with her own VISA being approved, Jenny did go to Unity Village with me and my family on a visit to USA.

It is the essence of Confucius teachings – every person is given an opportunity to change the world through benevolence and virtue.

These activities, plus many others, in addition to teaching and living in Qufu have allowed me to get to know many people in Qufu and the surrounding communities very well and to establish many lasting, warm friendships. What we called “forever friends”.

Buses in Qufu that ran between train station and airport have printed on the 309side “Qufu – the religious center of China for over a thousand years”, it could have easily said two thousand… 

It was my role as the liaison for many of the activities above, that I have been able to observe and be the recipient of the Confucian tradition of “welcoming friends from afar”. Unity and the China Daily Word would always now play a small role as a unifying source for good. I feel I did all that I could. I remember and think about Reverend Kong in those early days in Qufu often and his saying “Do what you are here to do and know that will be enough”. 

People sometimes ask me why I’m not there now.  I say Qufu will always be in my heart and home. Perhaps it is as the financial support given me by Unity of Delray Beach in that the purpose of doing the Daily Word in the hometown of Confucius was to plant a seed and give a gift of love in the tradition of benevolence as expressed  by Confucius himself.

照片 378

I am standing at the corner of what is known as “Confucius Hill” in Qufu. It is where Confucius would give lectures to his followers.

Well, I can honestly say the seed sprouted and given voices to many and served to take the word of God and Unity and transcendence to places they may not have otherwise gone.

My old friends in Qufu would laugh and say You’ve written many books, why not write a book about Confucius? You’ve been to Qufu now dozens of times over the years.”

I would say to them “some history remains to be lived before it is ready to be told or written about as the spirit of Kongdan has always been universal and lived in Qufu… and that there is much more to the story to tell.” My forever friends would then say “don’t forget us” and I would laugh and tell them “With unity all our stories are told. Just as over the centuries yours have always been.”

 

By 1dandecarlo