What we choose to believe can become the birth or death of reason… I wonder.
Sailing with the wind with others in tow and alongside is difficult at best when their staying open to change falls by the wayside. Where does one begin and end with sincere values and virtue aimed at social justice for all? What example do we set, and where in our past do we look for answers that tell the way? It is as Bobby Kennedy once said “I don’t think any of us can be satisfied with suffering of our friends, our families, and our neighbors.”
With shouts of “we want justice” resonating today reminding us of times in our past when similar echoes told stories of inequality. He added “When each man strikes out against racial injustice, he sends out a tiny ripple of hope.” It’s a matter of connecting with different people and seeing all men and women as equal under the laws of a just society. This is what Bobby did. It was giving people hope that things could be changed for the better.
Sometimes I wonder why people are so afraid of equality and fear of giving others the opportunity to live a free and better life. I wonder. Just where can our beliefs fail us? It is as the line “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” that was first written by Alexander Pope in his 1711 poem An Essay on Critisism. The phrase alludes to inexperienced or rash people attempting things that more experienced people avoid. It has since entered the general English lexicon as an idiom. Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, his translation of Homer and for his use of the heroic couplet. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare. Just as the saying… “he who gets there first doesn’t necessarily win”. History knows better and is never told less than fifty years after events have occurred. With eventual outcomes not in keeping with our own choosing, except as we ourselves have written in the stars…
This was always the dilemma of the ancient shaman. How can you teach someone else to become transcendent and universal? How does someone get to that vision seen at the mountaintop and know what it means and more importantly, that it is something they too should follow and to perhaps tell to others as well?
Or that seen in the American Indian ritual of the vision quest, as a required rite of passage. Seeing beyond who you think you are, to have a sense or come to know why you’re here and how you fit into the scheme of things in the present. And more important, what you should do about it. That still small voice coming from within that transcends any human frailty that Bobby Kennedy, and so many others, have emulated and not only said… yes. But please come join us. Something I like to call “the plea of dragons”.
Perhaps this is in keeping with my own final call in becoming the storyteller. To make decisions without concern with who may benefit, or what may have been right or wrong, or to choose certain outcomes, as you live every moment within the Tao. Thusly, having no decisions left to make.
To see and know events that foretell the future, as you have seen and done it all before. As if simply on call to be ready when there is a story worthy of being told. Just as clouds over the distant horizon tell of the coming rain. Not quite sure though of nature’s intent, and where the rain will fall. As we sow the seeds of commonality that stresses how nature plays no favorites. Observation and the Tao teaching the role all must play and that outcomes affect everyone equally over time. Or to as the Mongols, and Genghis Khan would say simply “to live under the laws of the blue sky.” To be truly transparent seeing through to the source of all. Knowing that when floods come everyone must find higher ground. And why the teaching of filial piety and benevolence taught by Confucius became the essence of Chinese culture and society. It begins with respect of ourselves, our family, our community, and of nations. Just as nature knows no boundaries or borders in emulating the Tao neither can we.
There’s a great story about a singer/songwriter named Sixto Rodriguez from Detroit, who was never that popular in USA whose music was from the 1960’s. A tape of his music made its way to South Africa where a radio station played it and he became an overnight sensation while Nelson Mandela was still in prison and apartheid was still in full effect. His music resonated there, while he stayed in relative obscurity here in USA.
One of his songs was entitled… I Wonder, and a line that goes I wonder when this hatred ever ends. I wonder. Another song… You can’t get away from it. Then another song… I’ll Slip Away. Mending all my shattered dreams and not choosing to be like them. A movie was made about Rodriquez that I saw on a movie channel while I was teaching in China. He went to South Africa and played before three sold out concerts. I love his albums and play them often. Amazing story and great music. It reminds us that we never know where our accolades may come from, or thoughts of others that might serve to try to diminish us. One of the first things I wrote seen below carried the theme that there can be no rush. I’ve often wondered what I meant by this… Or in the words of John Lennon, Instant Karma’s going to get you. “Well we all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun. Well we all shine on” continuing “Instant Karma’s gonna get you. Gonna knock you off your feet. Better recognize your brothers. Everyone you meet. Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear. Why on earth are you there? When you’re everywhere. Come and get your share. For Lennon, the idea of “not choosing to be like them”, resonated and living within his own skin was paramount. Just as with any artist or writer of any age. Just who can be the non-conformist in our midst and their ultimate purpose. I wonder.
There can be no Rush
Trying to see dragons while looking over mountains and water into the sun can cause temporary blindness. You must see beyond ignorance. Beware of those who are not trustworthy. Pay attention they can lead you astray.
There can be no rush to judgment. Only the path to learning leaving childhood innocence behind.
Find a mentor and come to know peace and harmony. Learn to listen to your inner voice and know the Tao. All that there is to know is already here. In front, beside and behind. Beneath you instilled in the earth and above you in the sky.
There can be no rush to knowledge. Only preparation to see and know what is important when it arrives and letting your inner virtue define you.
Find and nurture patience and you can begin to look over mountains and over the sea. There can be no rush to find the symmetry to be found in the Tao. With vision you will become immortal and come to know dragons flying in the sky.
An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese Classic the I Ching (4 BLINDNESS / Mountains over Water). 2/6/94 The above is found on this website at The I Ching / Voices of the Dragon.
Becoming a thread that serves the Master Weaver
(Note: This is continuation of the thread I began with my last post dated May 13, 2018). Because of their enigmatic character, both charts were used by the apocryphal, or questioned, interpretation of the Confucian Classics that flourished during the Han period.
The imperial bibliography Suishu jingji zhi of the official dynastic history says that there were nine chapters of text about the Hetu and 6 chapters about the Luoshu. It lists a book Hetu with a length of 20 (including the Luoshu 24) Juan, written during the Liang period (502-557) and already lost during the early Tang period (618-907), as well as the books Hetu wei and Luoshu wei with a total length of together 45 chapters.
Other books parts of which have survived until today are the Hetu longwen, Hetu kuodi xiang, Hetu xiyao gou, Hetu kaoling yao or Luoshu lingzhun ting. Today, fragments of 120 Hetu books are preserved, and those of about 20 writings to the Luoshu. Although the compilers of the Suishu purported that these books were compiled during the ages of the mythical rulers of the past, it is certain that they date from the Han period or somewhat later.
Tang period scholars were not very interested in the two charts, and they only gained prominence again during the Song period (960-1279). The Taoist scholar Chen Tuan is said to have received a dragon chart (longtu) from the Taoist Master Mayi and transmitted it to his own followers. Another branch of disciples were Mu Xiu, Li Zhicai and the mathematician Shao Yong who was one of the early Song Neo-Confucians. The great Southern Song Period Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi took over Shao Yong’s transmitted shape of the two charts and used them for his interpretation of the I Ching (Yijing), known as the Zhouyi benyi. Interestingly enough, Liu Mu’s two charts just had the opposite configuration of the trigrams as that of Shao Yong, so that Shao Yong’s Hetu corresponded to Liu Mu’s Luoshu and vice versa. Apart from Shao Yong’s and Zhu Xi’s version, there is the Yinyang yutu “Fish chart of Yin and Yang”, a very popular version of the constellation of the eight trigrams, with the trigrams forming the outer frame and a black (Yin) and white (Yang) field the center. The two fields are shaped in curves and creeping into each other to express the permanent fluctuation between Yin and Yang during the seasons. It is the much more famous of the trigram charts and is widely used in Taoist circles, where it became the symbol of Taoism. Zhu Xi’s version of the two charts can be seen in the illustrations above.
Numerological speculation was very common among the Neo-Confucians. Zhu Zhen’s book Zhouyi guatu says that the white circles in the Hetu chart sum up to an odd number (25), the black circles to an even number (20), with a total sum of 45.
The white circles in the Luoshu chart are 25, black circles 30, with a total sum of 55. While the Hetu symbolized the theory and substance (ti) behind all things, the congenital and innate (xiantian) nature of things, the Luoshu symbolized that practical aspect (yang) and the state of things how they are and live (houtian).
The main number of the Hetu is 10; 1 and 6 express the ancestral (zong, Celestial) nature, 2 and 7 the Way (tao), 3 and 8 friendships (peng), 4 and 9 mutual support (you), and 5 and 10 protection and safety (shou). The main number of the Luoshu in 9; head is 9, feet is 1, left is 3, right is 7, 2 and 4 are the shoulders, 6 and 8 the legs, and 5 is the number of the physical center. The Hetu also expresses geographical directions, each of the nine regions of the empire represented by one symbol of the chart. The number 9 also stands for the Nine Palaces (jiugong) of the earth, while the number 5 represented in the center of the Luoshu symbolized the Five Processes.
During the Qing period (1644-1911) Confucians like Huang Zongxi or Hu Wei contradicted the cosmological interpretation of the Neo-Confucians. In his inscription Wan Gongze muzhi ming, Huang Zongxi assumed that the Hetu and Luoshu were very crude geographical maps of ancient times.
Yet it is more probable that the charts served as a theoretical illustration of the universe for the purpose of prognostication, or to symbolize the elements of which the cosmos or the body were believed to consist. Why all of the above is important, is because it establishes the benchmark for how we got to the here and now. Using the system and numbers above correlate directly with a person’s place in the universe at any given moment. “Reading a person’s chart” meant understanding from where one came, ie, his beginnings, could have a direct correlation with where their journey would finish…. hence the I Ching was born. In practical terms, it means you can find the Tao through the pragmatism followed in understanding you life’s role. In popular culture we describe this as horoscopes, but in reality it is the measurement of where we are in our ultimate journey as we become in tune with the Tao.
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 48 and 49 appear below. Verses 1 through 47 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 48 – Becoming the Master Weaver
In weaving the fabric of your surroundings together, seek only the Tao without the use of ears or eyes. It will only be by looking within yourself and following your inner nature that the answer (which incidentally you have always known), comes forth to greet you.
Be guided by the answer given by the sage when he is asked “do you think I learn in order to increase my knowledge”. The sage simply replies “no, I seek only that which brings everything together”.
As you liken yourself as the master weaver, you find yourself remaining as a clean slate with neither right nor wrong guiding your actions.
As you have become the natural extension of the universe – all things become possible. Opportunities otherwise overlooked or unknown come forth that have been waiting on cue to make their appearance. External knowledge becomes less important as the sage weaves all the pieces presented him into what becomes the natural extension of his own spirit.
Cultivating his body and spirit in the proper way the sage appears to have nothing to do. Having nothing to do leads to nothing not getting done. Having nothing better to do, the world simply finds itself coming along for the ride.
Confucius asked Tzu Kung, “Do you think I learn in order to increase my knowledge?” Tzu Kung answered, “Well don’t you?” Confucius said, “No I only seek things that bring everything together.” (Lunyu 15.2)
Sung Ch’ang says, “Those who seek the Tao don’t use their ears or eyes. They look within not without. They obey their natures, not their desires. They don’t value knowledge. They consider gaining as losing and losing as gaining.
Wang Pi says, “Those who seek learning seek to improve their ability or to increase their mastery, while those who seek the Tao seek to return to emptiness and nothingness. When something is done, something is left out. When nothing is done, nothing is not done.”
Te-Ch’ing says, “He who seeks the Tao begins by using wisdom to eliminate desires. Thus, he loses. Once his desires are gone he eliminates wisdom. Thus, he loses again. And he goes on like this until the mind and the world are both forgotten, until selfish desires are completely eliminated and he reaches the state of doing nothing. And while he does nothing, the people transform themselves. Thus, by doing nothing, the sage can do great thing things. Hence those who would rule the world should know the value of not being busy.”
Verse 49 – Remaining True to Form
Retreat into the emptiness brought forth by the ten thousand things as if you have no mind of your own.
Taking on the mind of all those around you and treating them as the same you become immersed in nothing.
Mindless, you convey the hopes, dreams and fears of all around you and embrace neither side of any argument.
To the good the sage is good and to the bad as well. He supports the bad like he is good until they see the bad for what it has brought them and become good. He illuminates like the sun and transforms the spirit. To what is true he is true and to what is false he is true until they too become true to the Tao.
It is by seeing the real in the false and the false in the real the sage’s wisdom is different from others. By remaining empty, the sage’s mind can merge with the mind of others. Because his mind is still, he can respond accordingly. While he may appear withdrawn from the world, he moves all in the direction they should take.
Always humble, he remains transparent while letting others seemingly find their own way. xx
Su Ch’e says, “Emptiness has no form. It takes on the form of the ten thousand things.
If emptiness had its own form it could not form anything else. Thus, the sage has no mind of his own. He takes on the minds of the people and treats everyone the same.
Yen Tsun says, “A mindless mind is the chief of all minds. The sage, therefore, has no mind of his own but embraces the mind of the people. Free of love and hate, he is not the enemy of evil or the friend of good. He is not the protector of truth or the attacker of falsehood. He supports like the earth and covers the sky. He illuminates like the sun and transforms like the spirit.”
Confucius says, “In his dealings with the world, the great man is neither for or against anyone. He follows whatever is right.” (Lunyu: 4-10) Hsuan-Tsung says,” The sage covers up the tracks of his mind by blending in with others.” Ch’eng Hsuan-Ying says, “Stop the eyes and the ears, and the other senses follow.”