Explaining how life is about conjunctions and vibrations, or how it all began to make sense…
My ultimate wish is to return to my hometown to discuss the Analects of Confucius and debate with my dear friends Chuang, Lieh, and Lao Tzu… What a happy life indeed! Adding to the discussion, Chuang Tzu would remind us, “He who takes Heaven as his ancestor, virtue as his home, the Tao as his door and escapes change is a sage.” Ah what bliss… to live a life escaping change and to be with old friends once again. To know you can be anyone. That you can do anything. It’s only a matter of going. And that you can always do it again. Thereby becoming the living manifestation of your own destiny.
Rather being in Springfield, Missouri and just writing about Qufu and China here on my blog at thekongdanfoundation.com or living it in Qufu and China. It is the above venue of living to express the virtues found in the past that fills my days. There may always be experiences found daily that fill my spare time, but time spent with my friends from the past is where I am most satisfied. It reminds me of Chuang Tzu’s admonition that we should not fear death, as we are simply returning again to experience what we have always known but may have forgotten.
Rain and Thunder, Stay Inside
Be careful the dragons are not watching. Mother Earth is busy being cleansed by rain and thunder.
Protect yourself with strong defenses water over thunder means a time of retrenchment. Stay inside. Go slow it is not time to advance. Get sound advice from friends and neighbors. Stay inside.
There are times when the right impression is critical and go betweens are required. Be prepared and wait until the time is right. Stay inside.
Prepare carefully and know when to act. Find clarity and reality in the Tao and know thyself. Keep your vision of the Tao and be protected. Do not rush to judgement. Wait until you know what is not real and what is. Be careful, the dragons are not watching. Stay inside.
An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (3 RETRENCHMENT / Water over Thunder). 2/6/94 The above is found on the website at The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon.
What is it that we fundamentally connect to that our consciousness is attracted to by the vibrations we ultimately follow, if and when we become awakened, and are we all looking for the same thing? It is when we come into alignment with this superior force and synchronize with it, that we can begin to know our way. It was this that the earliest shaman learned by following the sun, moon and stars and observing his natural environment and how things in nature reacted to them.
They learned that things happen as a direct response to an alternative action. That when acting in unison as complementary opposite’s things can naturally occur by themselves. This was the essence of Taoism. What was universal was the idea that there are not favorites. It was how to connect with this vibration that a name was needed. The Tao and the ten thousand things (everything imaginable) and God (the undefinable) were universal and that God would be the entity that determines the ultimate outcome.
The ancient Chinese answer to this phenomenon was yin/yang, the I Ching. The I Ching was/has been developed and modified over a period of five thousand years and was a direct connection to the movement of the stars, the sun, moon and planets, i.e., the universe and how an individual’s own personal vibrations interacted with them. Patterns emerged that verified cause and effect. What goes into something has a direct correlation to what comes out. The power of observation became and is still the key. This is the essence of astrology and following the cosmos or stars for direction. The early Chinese were very serious about this and developed the first observatory to monitor the planets, sun, moon and stars. They could predict eclipses of sun and moon and the Emperor depended on these observations to give direction for sacred rites, planting in spring and harvesting in the fall, etc… If the Emperor was wrong he could/would lose the throne to someone else, or those making erroneous prediction could lose their heads.
How did the I Ching begin and how could you measure what it meant as to how things were/are connected, and how do our own internal vibrations interact with it? For thousands of years the shaman had the answers. In about 200 AD the Emperor said every city must have temple and shrine to Confucius. The old shrines honoring the shaman were removed. The new world would continue to be about connections and vibrations, but modified to fit the norm, generally set by Confucius, now in place. Things set in place by time and tradition always set the stage. The power of observation was always the key to understanding events that were to come.
But, how was it all to begin? Looking to what we would call the universe to nature and how everything is connected we learn by observing the stars.
Can our own consciousness be, or remain singular, from our environment? Or do we enable cause and effect though our thoughts that originate in nothing. Can we empower the universe through our thoughts? The shaman knew that it was through our thoughts that begin as nothing, that something appears. But what could be the basis of this observation found in nature that could guide us? Understanding this premise allowed what could have been seen as nothing, but synthesized through the human mind could become something in what we now call consciousness.
Ancient traditions carried from generations over eons of time would serve to tell the story. It begins here:
The Hetu, Luoshu and Nine Palaces
The Hetu “Yellow River Chart” and the Luoshu “Inscription of the River Luo” are two cosmological diagrams used in ancient China. This means they followed the stars, i.e., sun, moon, and planets. They knew something was moving through time. That the same constellations they saw today would re-appear a year later. This movement of the stars became known as the Great Unity of the Nine Palaces and were to be employed by both Taoists and Confucians and serve to explain the correlation of the hexagrams of the (I Ching) Yijing “Book of Changes” with the universe and human life. They are also used in geomancy (fengshui). The two diagrams shown here, are first mentioned in the chapter Guming of the Confucian Classic Shangshu “Book of Documents”, described earlier, where it is said that the three precious jades and the hetu are stored in the Eastern Chamber. It can thus be assumed that the Hetu was a kind of jade stone the texture of which were interpreted as the eight trigrams (bagua of the (I Ching) Yijing. It is here that it all begins with patterns that could be easily followed.
During the Han period (206 BC-220 AD) commentator Kong Anguo is the first who mention the Shangshu, one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. It is a collection of rhetorical prose attributed to figures of ancient China and served as the foundation of Chinese political philosophy for over 2,000 years. This, along with the legend of a dragon horse (longma) that emerged from the Yellow River and whose back was patterned with the shape of the eight trigrams. The longma was a fabled winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology. Seeing a longma was an omen of a legendary sage-ruler.
The diagram seen on the back of the horse was the so-called “Yellow River Chart” that was written down by the shaman Fu Xi and preserved as the eight trigrams. As an auspicious omen, the horse regularly appeared during the reigns of the virtuous rulers, (Yao, Shun, and Yu).
Confucius would later complain that during his lifetime, the horse did not appear again, which was a bad portent of unlucky times. The Inscription of the River Luo is first mentioned in the book Guanzi, where it is said that a dragon turtle (longgui) left the waters of the River Luo, so that an inscription was seen on its back, actually also a pattern of the shell, that could be interpreted as the eight trigrams in a constellation different to that on the Hetu.
Similarly, to the dragon horse, the turtle appeared during lucky times when virtuous rulers reigned the empire and ceased to be seen when bad and selfish men governed the world. You can see depictions today in Confucius Temples throughout China. The one to the left resides in the Confucius Temple in Qufu.
Both inscriptions are mentioned in the Xici commentary of the Yijing. The sage rulers read and interpreted the River Chart and the Luo Inscription and modelled their reign according to the evidence provided in the two diagrams. Yet the same text also says that Fu Xi invented the arrangement of the trigrams after observing the starry sky and all things on earth, without referring to the River Chart.
The story of the two diagrams as representative of a golden age is repeated in the Baihu tongyi of the Han period, and the scholar Liu Xin said that the “Inscription of the Luo” was found by Yu the Great when he tamed the floods. He interpreted this inscription and came to the conclusions made in the correlative cosmology described in the chapter Hongfan of the Shangshu. While the Hetu is connected with the eight trigrams, the Luoshu is related to the Five Processes.
Archeological findings from the Yangshao and Dawenkou cultures the Dawenkou were found in Shandong Province along the Yellow River and is an area I am very familiar with today have shown that the patterns to be found in the two charts and in the hexagrams date from the Neolithic age, dating from 10,000 to 3,000 BC – up to the Shang dynasty.
The distribution of the numbers is also identical to that found in the numbers in the chart on the prognostication dish of the Great Unity of the Nine Palaces (taiyi jiugong zhanpan) from the Warring States period (5th century-221 BC) found in Fuyang, Anhui.
As an explanation of the Great Unity of the Nine Palaces, this served as the original connection to the cosmos and universe. It often took on the personality of the shaman and how well he was able to communicate these “universal truths”. This created different resonances in divination, meditation, and medical context in what would later become Taoist traditions.
The Nine Palaces were the groupings of stars that were identified that traversed the heavens. After giving a name to these groupings (the Great Bear, also known as Ursa Major and the Milky Way for example), one could follow the movement of these stars over time and a “Great Unity” (the stars moving in unison) could be established. In turn, these “groupings” became a useful metaphor for other sacred spaces. As referred to above, the Hetu “Yellow River Chart” and the Luoshu “Inscription of the River Luo” are two cosmological diagrams used in ancient China. These were diagrams of the movement of the stars through the Nine Palaces described above.
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 46 and 47 appear below. Verses 1 through 45 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 my website. Ultimately, it is what the sage has learned and then in turn taught others 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 46 – Prevailing Contentment
How can we live within what the Tao teaches us, if we are never content with what the world brings to our doorstep and why should it matter? If we are busy cultivating things instead of ourselves, how can we find our true place in the ten thousand things? What can the seeds of contentment bring unless controlling our desires comes to the forefront and contentment decides to stay? If we do not remain still, how will we know when the way comes to find us?
Cultivating the Tao through meditation, thought, appearance, action and deed is the key to the sage’s security. By not seeking things outside himself, he becomes an extension of the Tao. He is internally guided by the knowledge that no crime is worse than yielding to our desire, no wrong is greater than discontent and no curse greater than getting what you want when you are unprepared for the consequences.
Before showing the way, the sage must truly know contentment and remain confident with what the Tao teaches and exude that confidence by showing the contentment of being content. When he can do this, others can see the folly of what external desires bring and can begin to find contentment for themselves.
Finding that the Tao has come full circle and begun to prevail in the world, the sage can be on his way.
The three above landscapes are from the Chongqing Museum. If I become published in the future, appropriate credits will be given. If only for my enjoyment just acknowledging where all photographs originate is enough.
Wang Pi says, “When the Tao prevails, contentment reigns. People don’t seek external things but cultivate themselves instead. Courier horses are sent home to manure fields. When people don’t control their desires, when they don’t cultivate themselves but seek external things instead, cavalry horses are bred on the borders.
Li His-Chai says, “When the ruler possesses the Tao, soldiers become farmers. When the ruler does not possess the Tao, farmers become soldiers. Someone who understands the Tao turns form into emptiness. Someone who does not understand the Tao turns emptiness into form. To yield to desire means to want. Not to know contentment leads to gasp. To get what you want means to possess. Want gives forth to grasping, and grasping gives forth to possessing, and there is no end to possessing. But once we know that we do not need to grasp anything outside ourselves, we know contentment. And once we know contentment, there is nothing with which we are not content.”
Lu His-Sheng says, “When the mind sets something desirable and wants it, even though it does not accord with reason, there is no worse crime. When want knows no limit, and brings harm to others, there is no greater wrong. When every desire has to be satisfied, and the mind never stops burning, there is no crueler curse. We all have enough. When we are content with enough, we are content wherever we are.”
Lu Tung-Pin says, “To know contentment means the Tao prevails. Not to know contentment means the Tao fails. What we know comes from our mind, which Lao Tzu represents as a horse. When we know contentment, our horse stays home. When we don’t know contentment, it guars the border. When the Tao prevails, we put the whip away.”
Hsuan-Tsung says, “Material contentment is not contentment. Spiritual contentment is true contentment.”
Verse 47 – Becoming endowed by the Way
When you are ready to come forth with a vision fully endowed by the way, you become the way. When you are ready to accept the mantle conferred by dragons by accepting Heaven as your ancestor, when virtue becomes your home and the Tao your door, only then can you begin to see beyond the limitations life brings each day as Chuang Tzu has taught you.
“Enthusiasm Garden” or “Zhan Garden” of the first ruler of the Ming Dynasty, Hongwu
When you can remain above change, becoming a sage becomes clear.
When you can understand others by knowing yourself and understand other families by knowing your own, nothing more in the world is needed to be known. The sage does not need to ascend to the sky or descend into the depths to understand the way of heaven and earth.
When you can know the world without leaving your doorstep and are able to succeed without trying by relying only on your true nature, your vision moves beyond the distant horizon. Seeing what is coming allows you to stay behind. Staying behind allows you to remain as one with the ten thousand things. Remaining as one with the ten thousand things you become empty once again. Becoming empty, the sage remains unmoved by the events that may swirl around him. xx
Ho-Shang Kung says, “The sage understands others by understanding himself. He understands other families by understanding his own family. Thus, he understands to whole world. Man, and Heaven are linked to each other. If the ruler is content, the breath of Heaven will be calm. If the ruler is greedy, Heaven’s breath will be unstable. The sage does not have to ascend into the sky or descend into the depths to understand Heaven and Earth.”
Wang Pi says, “Events have a beginning. Things have a leader. Though roads diverge, they lead back together. Though thoughts multiply they all share one thing. The Way has one constant. Reason has one principle. Holding onto the ancient Way, we are able to master the present. Though we live today we can understand the distant past. We can understand without going outside. In we don’t understand, going further only leads us further away.”
Su Ch’e says, “The reason the sages of the past understood everything without going anywhere was simply because they kept their natures whole. People let themselves be misled by things and allow their natures to be split into ears and eyes, body and mind. Their vision becomes limited to sights, and their hearing becomes limited to sounds.”
Li Hsi-Chai says, “Those who look for Heaven and Earth outside look for forms. But Heaven and Earth cannot be fathomed through form, only through reason. Once we realize reason is right here, it doesn’t matter if we close our door. For the sage, knowledge is not limited to form. Hence, he doesn’t have to go anywhere. Name is not limited to matter. Hence, he doesn’t have to look anywhere. Success is not limited to action. Hence, he doesn’t have to do anything.”