Emulating the five jades as our own aspirations and behavior
In ancient China the role of the importance of jade became very valuable. Like gold, its role in society became the real thing. As if possessing fine jade could extend its value through the virtue it’s holder had as well. Radiating that inner quiet, or quality, which is often associated with spiritual attainment. Gaining a feeling that there is a gaze, a watchful eye, watching over you.
The gaze seemingly open, calm, benign, without judgment of any kind, and yet, when we are confronted with it, it acts like a mirror and we can see what remains hollow in ourselves, all that is greedy, angry, and unwise. The jade reminding us that there is much more to ourselves than simply appearances.
As if having what was to be called the inner qualities of the “five jades”, you received praise and encouragement from your peers. This was clearly something the emperor and early kings tried to emulate and demonstrate and was a subject taught in “the art of becoming”. This also fit into the embodiment of Confucian ideals of benevolence as one attempted to modify his behavior to fit the norm. Exemplified by what became known as filial piety in Confucian philosophy, as a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders, and ancestors.
It was the key to maturity in every level we might attain in our family, our life, and society. Cultured gentlemen always wore jade… In its highest estimation it would be as if you were ease-dropping on our soul’s place in the universe. As if the phoenix rising again, moving from where you find yourself to where you need to be. Becoming free of negativity and associating with our sense of connecting to vibrations beyond the here and now.
What could, or what is to become of, our eternal essence. To get to the point of “what shows up is who we are in relationship to our greatest endeavor and destiny”.
A great author whose writing I follow is Abraham Hicks. Several of his basic premises are that you (we) are a physical extension of that which is non-physical. Next, is that you are here in the body because you choose to be here, and third, that the basis of your life is freedom and the purpose of your life is joy. I spoke extensively about this idea of freedom in my previous blog here on my website. My sense of his ideas center around the notion that our emotions are what guides us and aligning with our desires sets in place our destination. That we are here to align with our greater truth. Finding and associating with these vibrations we allow this energy to flow through us. That when we connect to joy, and what we love, we discover the purpose of our lives. To even as Joseph Campbell would say, to discover or find our bliss. This equates even to kung fu, as I have written before, that with this we find our expansion.
That we cannot act in generalities, but find our own specific purpose. What the ancient shaman found and learned by following nature and what was to become of the I Ching, that the truth you know is the same truth you use in guiding your thoughts and actions. Once ingrained, this truth makes you unavailable to anything else.
Hicks basic premise of the “law of attraction” … is that choice is our greatest level of consciousness and fits well into what Wang Pi from the early Han Dynasty said when he updated both Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and the I Ching, the Taoist ideals of Chuang Tzu’s perfected man and “cause and effect”. With their help we learn to live the Tao catching glimpses of ourselves, as we simply continue on our way.
It’s what the Buddhist conveys when he says that every day is new and that ultimately nothing takes us far from our path. That when we stray, we ultimately find the freedom to return to our path to find why we are here and where we need to be. Our challenge as Chuang Tzu above was always conveying, is that it is as we learn to pivot and come back into alignment to who and what we are that counts. That it is as if our source keeps trying to reroute us… that we are never lost and that we should lean on from where we came. It is as if we are reminded that we are co-creators with the universe. It was this consciousness of choice that jade in ancient China became an emblem of life assisting us in creating our highest endeavors.
Accepting and wearing jade signified that you acknowledged your place in society. As if you had found kung fu and a life in wu wei, or your highest endeavor, assured of your ultimate destiny… As if you were somewhat sage-like yourself, yet bound to a humble and simple lifestyle.
As if you were the master of knowing your place in the universe, earth, people, and perhaps even heaven itself, and were living it. Jade could symbolize you had made it. Versus those who were afraid of not measuring up, who collected possessions and gold instead. Jade although was very rare, and those seen as the rightful owners were the very fortunate, the kings and emperor. While possessing the five jades represented the highest virtues one could obtain. They were as follows:
- That mildness shows morality.
- Graciousness shows righteousness.
- Modesty shows etiquette.
- Solidness shows wisdom.
- Lucidness means loyalty.
Xu Shen, from the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 221 AD), details the five virtues describing the makeup of jade in his work Shuowen Jiezi:
Benevolence for its lustre and brilliance. Honesty for its translucent texture.
Wisdom for its tranquil and far-reaching tone.
Integrity and Bravery for it may be broken but cannot be twisted.
Cover of a modern reprint of a Song Dynasty edition the Shuowen Jiezi an early 2nd-century Chinese dictionary from the Han Dynasty. (Wikipedia)
In Chinese mythology there is a character known as Bixia Yuanjun, also known as the “Heavenly Immortal Lady of Jade” or the “Lady of Mount Tai”. According to some mythological accounts, she is the daughter or the consort of the Great Deity of Mount Tai. Statues of Bixia Yuanjun often depict her holding a tablet with the Big Dipper as a symbol of her authority.
Jade Emperor Peak on Mount Tai is the holiest of Taoist pilgrimage destinations in China. For over three thousand years Taoist pilgrims have journeyed up to this peak. Thousands visit Jade Emperor Peak daily, making Tai Shan one of the most climbed mountain in the world.
There are 7,200 stairs that lead to the eastern summit, and there are many ancient temples to visit on this route. Mount Tai is a world heritage site and is the holiest of Taoism’s Five Sacred Mountains. I have been here many times. Usually walking up to the peak, then riding the tram back down.
Over thousands of years through the teachings of both sage and shaman alike these traits proved, or showed, how one’s life fit into the true meaning of longevity and a life well-lived. It meant the rise and fall of kings, emperors, and dynasties were tied to basic principles. That values mean nothing if not intrinsically tied to virtue and today’s pragmatism.
In China these virtues were illustrated by adhering to the principles expanded on by Lao Tzu and Confucius. Interestingly, it would be how Confucian philosophy was modified through commentaries that enabled those in power to convey what he really meant to say. By example, under a tab on my website is something called “The Dazhuan – The Meaning of the I Ching”. In history, it is considered to be a segment of the Ten Wings that conveyed how one should emulate the true path of one wishing to have influence in popular culture.
As if a road map to understanding how to “fit in” with the I Ching as the ultimate guide. But it was to be Confucius, and those who followed him, that were to show the ultimate way. In the early Han Dynasty, the Han emperor, required every city in China to have what was to be called “a Temple honoring Confucius”. While trying to provide structure and “rites” that tied the present back to the past going forward. In reality, it was this philosophical glue or melding together, that tied the rights of the Emperor and his followers to the past that gave him authority to serve and act on the people’s behalf. Confucian doctrine held it all together.
Sage from Three Kingdoms Culture (AD 184/220–280) was the tripartite division of China between the states of Wei, Shu, and Wu, following the Han dynasty Jade statute from Chengdu.
Another source is my own experiences in China and Qufu found here on the website under the tab “Qufu and Confucius”. In my travels to Qufu since October 1999, I have observed many people in the birthplace of Confucius who have become close friends, as well as, traveled to many cities, towns, and villages of my students in Shandong Province. While the focus here is on Lao Tzu, most historians feel Confucius at heart was a Taoist. To the reader, some sense of Confucianism is important as we tell the story. There is a famous stone carving of Confucius meeting Lao Tzu in Jining dating from the Warring States Period (475–221 BC) although, most feel that they probably did not meet. It is said that Lao Tzu told Confucius that… “He should not be so full of himself”. I was given an etching of the stone tablet from the Han dynasty that depicted this meeting. I gave it to the Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College in Florida where I was an adjunct professor a few years ago.
Confucianism’s primary principles are:
- Jen – the golden rule
- Chun-tai – the gentlemanly man of virtue
- Cheng-ming – the proper playing of society’s roles
- Te – the power of virtue
- Li – ideal standards of conduct
- Wen – the peaceful arts (music, poetry, etc.)
As I continue to go through my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching that I wrote in May/June 2000 and my book, Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life, I am asked to tell… just who was this Lao Tzu and why is he so important?
I know I spoke of this last time, but some may have missed so it bears repeating. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was the culmination of thousands of years of philosophical thought of what was to become Taoism thanks in part to copies found in tombs of those who were buried with copies of it in China. There are eighty-one verses in the Tao Te Ching. Verses 32 and 33 appear below. Verses 1 through 31 were seen here on my most recent posts. The balance will be seen here over the coming months. A partial preview can be seen on the Lao Tzu and Taoism tab here on this website.
Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught along the way that guides us. The commentaries below are meant to be read as a discussion between Lao Tzu and those interested who have thought deeply about the text itself. The quotes below and references to their authors are from Red Pine’s, Lao Tzu’s Taoteching.
Thoughts on becoming a Sage
Verse 32 – The River of Tao runs through Me
Going through each chapter of the Tao Te Ching is as if a river is running through me. Cleansing my heart, clearing my head and satisfying my soul.
As if I have become nameless and my body non-existent as I become one with the Tao. Living the life as the true sage as the Tao becomes me.
I am forever transformed.
The Way becoming simple and clear as the natural extension of your every action. Focusing on what remains small and beyond command by others except for appearance sake. When you expand, however, it is as if you are everywhere. You become both heaven and earth combining as one.
Embracing the simple and working without effort, my true nature remains unburdened as material things and desires run through me and dissolve as if they were never really there. Showing the way, but leaving others to discover the Tao for themselves.
You appear as if dew leaving no trace. Given a name you become distinct. Showing restraint and finding no trouble your true purpose has run its course. ##
Ho-Shang Kung says, “The Tao can be yin or yang, it can wax or wane, it can exist or not exist. Hence it has no fixed name.”
Chiao Hung says, “We call it ‘simple’ because it has not been cut or polished. We call it ‘small’ because it is faint and infinitesimal. Those who can see the small and hold onto it are rare indeed.
Wang Pi, “If someone embraces the simple and works without effort and doesn’t burden their true nature with material goods or injure their spirit with desires, all things will come to them on their own and they will discover the Tao by themselves. To discover the Tao, nothing is better than embracing simplicity.”
Jen Fa-Jung says, “In terms of practice, if someone can be serene and natural, free himself of desire, and put his mind at rest, his yin and yang breaths will come together on their own and penetrate every artery and organ. Inside his mouth, the saliva of sweet dew will appear spontaneously and nourish his whole body.
Verse 33 – Living Beyond Attachments
Proceeding unconsciously, as if you are only following the whims of the Tao and playing the role that you are here to play. Knowing your place is secure and you destiny to one day return to live with dragons is assured.
What then can occur in the here and now but to live fully enmeshed in the Tao and to be sure you complete the role you are here to play. As if to live beyond attachments while continuing to pursue your final destiny The sage becomes wise by knowing himself and remaining perceptive of others by only being concerned about conquering himself and not others.
By striving to succeed at his endeavors and knowing contentment as his definition of being wealthy. Not losing his place thereby living forever. ##
Su Ch’e says, “Perception means to distinguish. Wisdom means to remove obstruction. As long as our distinguishing mind is present, we can only know others, but not ourselves.
Confucius says, “Those who govern with Virtue are like the North Star, which remains in its place, while the myriad stars revolve around it.”
Li His-Chan says, “Perception is external knowledge. Wisdom is internal knowledge. Force is external control. Strength is internal control. Perception and force mislead us. Wisdom and strength are true. They are the doors to the Tao.”
Sung Ch’ang-Hsing, “The strength of those who conquer themselves is of ten kinds: the strength of faith, the strength of charity, the strength of morality, the strength of devotion, the strength of mediation, the strength of concentration, the strength of illumination, the strength of wisdom, the strength of the Way, and the strength of Virtue.”
Lu Nung-Shih says, “Before we distinguish them, life and death share the same form, the ten thousand things dwell in the same house. Our body is like the shell of a cicada or the skin of a snake: a temporary lodging. The shell perishes but not the cicada. The skin decays but not the snake. We all have something that survives death.”
Ts’ao Tao-Ch’ung says, “Though the Great Way might be far off, if we persevere without pause, we advance. We get closer and closer, until suddenly we become one with the Way. Whoever has a role can do anything. Outside, be content with your lot. Inside, focus on the Way. And you cannot help but live long with devotion.”
Wang Pi says, “Those who strive with devotion reach their goal. Those who examine themselves and work within their capacity don’t lose their place and are able to endure. Although we die, the Tao that gave us life does not perish. Our body disappears, but the Tao remains. If our body survived, would the Tao not end?”
Wang P’ang say, “The natural endowment of all things is complete in itself. Poverty does not reduce it. Wealth does not enlarge it. But fools abandon this treasure to chase trash. Those who know contentment pay the world no heed. This is true wealth. Mencius said, “The ten thousand things are all with us (7A.4). How could we not be healthy?”