In the beginning it was the medicine man/woman, the healer or shaman who were our connection to realms few understood that others looked to when people were sick or hurt and needed healing. The healer looked to the universe, the world few understood and told people to have faith that a cure could be found to the illness or troubles at hand. Along with healing came faith that when symptoms were determined just as in nature – that a way would be found for the proper direction or cure. It would be the healer’s intellect and wisdom gained over generations and time that he learned that having faith in the right outcome was often what saved his patient. It was faith in the finality of the universe and the stars above that gave him guidance to know and show the way. As if coming from his own silent center that rested within his own divinity, or divine nature guided only by spirit. Moving all from survival to security to success, then finally to significance.
In view of my last entry regarding the I Ching, I am reminded that there is nothing in the world that is not subject to change or transformation, least of all humans. As with all things found in nature, we learn to adapt to our environment and change as the times we live dictate. Ultimately, it is as Gandhi said that “We each must be the change we want to see in the world.” That with one’s mind and our actions we change both our world and that of others.
Gandhi in a mission of peace in 1942 visited Nanjing and Soong Mei-ling, wife of Chiang Kai-shek who was President of the Republic of China at the time. In a pairing of great political significance, Chiang was Sun Yat-sen’s brother-in-law: he had married Soong Mei-ling, the younger sister of Soong Ching-ling Sun’s widow, on 1 December 1927. Sun Yat-sen was considered the founder of the Republic of China in 1912. Sun’s widow, Soong Ching-ling sided with the Communists during the Chinese Civil War and served from 1949 to 1981 as Vice-President (or Vice-Chairwoman) of the People’s Republic of China and as Honorary President shortly before her death in 1981.
What is the basis, the root cause, of faith knowing that to live one has to connect his inner world with his outer environment as if we live from within our own cosmos while knowing the reverse is true as well? How could we be separated from what nourishes us and keeps us alive? What the I Ching taught was that success depended on finding the middle and that complimentary opposites found in nature, as well as, our own innate nature is what would nurture and save us. That extremes and ego that we may initially follow do not lead to longevity. It was this desire for longevity and direction that looking to the sun, moon, and stars, and the seasons that would show the way. While history has shown that politics and religion serve to separate us from others. That once things are viewed as finite and not infinite, man has wanted to see his own interests first above others. This is contrary to the laws of nature as universal intelligence has always made available enough for all when all are treated equally as nature runs its own course.
It was always to be the reciprocal relationship between faith and healing that would serve to guide us. Jesus was first a healer. Everywhere faith has always been our ability to receive and assimilate the power of spirit. It’s the ultimate meaning in becoming universal or transcendental that depends on our ability to communicate from our inner experience that which comes from the stillness of a devoted heart and mind, i.e., our own divinity as we become the conduit… both as the transmitter and receiver. Healing and faith are like opposite sides signifying yin and yang showing the way. Once acknowledged they can take us there too.
Nei-yeh — Inward Training
For all to practice this Way – you must coil, you must contract, you must uncoil, you must expand, you must be firm, you must be regular in this practice.
Hold fast to this excellent practice; do not let go of it. Chase away the excessive; abandon the trivial and when you reach its ultimate limit you will return to the Way and the inner power.
When there is a mind that is unimpaired within you, it cannot be hidden.
It will be known in your countenance, and seen in your skin color.
If with this good flow of vital energy, you encounter others, they will be kinder to you than your own brethren. But if with a bad flow of vital energy, you encounter others, they will harm you with their weapons.
This is because the wordless pronouncement is more rapid than the drumming of thunder. The perceptible form of the mind’s vital energy is brighter than the sun and moon, and more apparent than the concern of parents.
Rewards are not sufficient to encourage the good; punishments are not sufficient to discourage the bad. Yet once this flow of vital energy is achieved, all under heaven will submit. And once the mind is made stable, all under heaven will listen.
The above translation of the Nei-yeh is by Harold Roth, and excerpted from his book, Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism.
By way of introduction to the text, Mr. Roth writes:
“Nei-yeh (Inward Training) is a collection of poetic verses on the nature of the Way (Tao) and a method of self-discipline that I call “inner cultivation” — a mystical practice whose goal is a direct apprehension of this all-pervading cosmic force. It contains some of the most beautiful lyrical descriptions of this mysterious cosmic power in early Chinese literature and in both literary form and philosophical content is quite similar to the much more renowned Lao Tzu (also called the Tao Te Ching).
The Nei-yeh is a Taoist scripture, believed to have been written in the 4th century BC, making it — alongside the 6th century BC Lao Tzu Te Tao Ching and the 4th century BC Chuang Tzu — one of the earliest articulations of Taoist mysticism. The Nei-yeh has been translated into English variously as: Inner Cultivation, Inward Training, Inner Enterprise or Inner Development. Though less known than the Te Tao Ching and Chuang Tzu, it is increasingly being recognized and honored as a foundational text of early Taoism. Though belonging primarily to the Taoist Canon, the Nei-yeh resonates strongly with other non-dual spiritual traditions, Chan / Zen Buddhism in particular.
What is it about this substance, this flow of vital energy we each possess and what will be our own legacy? What is it you leave behind and what do you want to be known for when you are gone? Over the centuries of early China there were many publications that had tremendous influence on popular culture. Two would be the interpretation of what was the essence or true meaning of the I Ching, and something called Cultivating Stillness that I’ll discuss another time that further defined the practical application of Taoist thought, and how it influenced how people were to live in society.
With the prevailing hierarchy of Confucian ideology that pre-supposed the divine right of the Emperor, how to merge these four principles (faith, healing, religion, and politics) became paramount. How to interpret the I Ching became central to finding the path to do this. Whose “commentaries” on the I Ching would determine the fate of the Chinese people as a whole? The Ten Wings became the flash point as to how they would to interpreted and communicated what was to become the real meaning of the I Ching. My own version of the 5th and 6th Wings that details it’s meaning is found here on my website and continues below.
Why study the past, but to acknowledge where we have been and attempts to find a better way going forward? Or better said, to explore the path we are here to follow that takes us further down the road of our own fulfillment… as if possessing the ultimate keys of our soul’s enfoldment, or enlightenment. It is as if following knowable outcomes can lead to finding patterns that convey the best way to proceed. As described above in Inward Training, it has always been the direction, or “the flow of our vital energy” sometimes called qi or chi, that determines, or matches, our success with where we find ourselves that takes us there. But then how does one measure success and failure when ultimately, we must be judged universally, not simply with or by self-interest, or by what suites us or our ego at the moment? One of the things I love most about Chinese history, philosophy, and culture is that there is over five thousand years of uninterrupted history to gauge what can be seen as trial and error, adherence to nature, and beliefs tied to the universe (sun, moon and stars and earth via nature), versus the frailties of man when left to his own self-aggrandizement and how he sees himself in the outer world. Opposite the blending of what could be seen as a universal community and how man interacts with nature and others in his surroundings can benefit through and by his actions. It has always been that faith and healing preceded religion and politics, or discontent would follow as we look for omens, or signs that would show the way. Nature would teach that everything under the sun should have an opportunity for growth and change. With a universal truth being that everything (including man), must be open to change or die.
Even in Western thinking and Charles Darwin, who established a theory of evolution by natural selection as an explanation for adaptation and speciation. He defined natural selection as the “principle by which each slight variation of a trait, if useful, is preserved”. That adhering simply to old ways without adapting to one’s environment is not the answer, except to learn from your surroundings and mold them into something new. It wasn’t to do something from scratch, but to build on your strengths by acknowledging and eliminating your weaknesses that kept you from success. Interestingly, the Taoist would argue that it is what is seen as your “intrinsic weaknesses” once acknowledged, that would ultimately come forth to be your greatest strength (that which resides from inside you). As if just waiting for our enthusiasm to catch hold of our soul, our eternal spirit or core, and enabling it to resemble our actions… Like asking – is there common knowledge and wisdom that can take everyone and everything along for the ride that some may see as bowing to weakness, that in reality, or effect, gains a far greater truth that there is no separation between us and others, and in this we find our greatest strength. It is here that our ego, our sense of self-importance, sometimes gets in the way.
This idea finding one’s center was the essence of thousands of years of what I like to refer to as “transitional thinking” that permeated Eastern thought and the I Ching that molded what would be seen as healing, faith in a universal presence, politics and religion. Time always tells the story. Similar to what today we might call pragmatism. Especially, how are we to judge another’s place and their growth without giving of ourselves to help show the way. An example would be the Buddhist call to end suffering and what I referred earlier as the bodhisattva vow… and our recognizing that we are here to change the lives of those closest to us by bringing others into the realm of enlightenment.
Continuing from my last entry, the Ten Wings were composed during the Warring States and Early Han Periods of China in about 500 to 200 BC. They were “commentaries” attempting to convey the “true meaning” of the I Ching that were to direct the way we lived our lives. The Fifth and Sixth Wings were of great interest to me and you can find my version of them here on my website at the tab The Dazhuan – The Meaning of the I Ching.
Part 1 of the Dazhuan 1.2 The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part 1 Number 2
Following the Omens and One’s Fate
The shaman and sages created the hexagrams having observed the nuances found in nature then added statements to indicate good and ill omens as man followed the natural course of events. That what usually came into a situation usually determined the outcome.
An omen is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change one learned through observation. People in ancient times believed that omens appear or come with a divine message from their gods who they saw as residing with the stars they could see at night and the coming of the sun and moon everyday as fixtures they could see that made them a part of something bigger than themselves. For early China this meant the shaman, who was considered to have a direct link with Heaven and what was to later be known as the I Ching, possessed the means and was the method to communicate what these omens meant. The key the shaman discovered was an understanding that the whole and broken lines of the hexagram once formed replace one another and that a person could alter his fate by staying connected to his or her source. Thus, omens both auspicious and disastrous became figures of failure and success, and that troubles and distress are figures of worry and anxiety that leads to alternation and transformation… and change. And that it is how we connect through our imagination back to our beginning, or source, that we can see and determine our future.
The key to understanding myths and legends in China is that they point to a door to further understanding over five thousand years of continuous history and culture. They point to the place where ancient stories were born, retold and modified to fit current events over and over again. This has always been the niche of the storyteller. The one telling the story in such a way that myth and reality merge into one story that fits or suits the times. Making connections, showing how through the stories from the ancients that there was a way of becoming universal ourselves. We thereby become a part of the story through our lives and by living and telling our own version of events as we too come in harmony with change. Opening the door to who we have always been and will be again, as if our purpose here is to first re-discover our source. It’s not a one and done thing – we are a continuation of spirit and will always be.
As if connecting with a time that truly defines us before history began and the deep wisdom that existed when people mirrored the reality they expressed. Over time it was just a matter of furthering a common story that everyone could identify with and then become a part of the story as well. It is a commonality everyone shares regardless of their origin. The key to transformation acknowledged by the shaman was that symbols were more lasting than words where meaning could be interpreted in many ways. It was the lines of the diagrams and words conveying certain meanings that created the language called change. Through the sage, who represented the spirits, they learned the method of advancing and withdrawing energy, the alternation of light and dark, and the three powers or pivots – Heaven, Earth, and Humanity.
The role of the sage has always been to help us to take our place in history and finding tranquility, the place our hearts truly reside and the peace of mind to stay there. But it is the connection to the Tao, I Ching, and Cultivating Stillness illustrated here that begins with the movement of the six lines of the hexagram illustrating the Tao of the Great Triad. It is these Three Pure Ones that are the Taoist Trinity, the three highest Gods in the Taoist pantheon. They are regarded as pure manifestation of the Tao and the origin of all sentient beings. From the Taoist classic Tao Te Ching, it was held that “The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things.” This key to the process of divination and understanding the role of the oracle is as if fine-tuning of prayer.
As in meditation, expressing a problem, a difficulty, or emotion, you pose the question to change (to the I Ching) in words. Then you must take the words of the answer into your heart. The answer or symbol will arise as if a spirit has been evoked and the right answer will appear.
It acts as the soul and changes the way one thinks setting foot on the Way of the Tao becoming what Chuang Tzu would call the Perfected Man and furthered by the Eight Immortals and Queen Mother of the West in Chinese history. The superior man finds his place in life resting content in the succession of change; he finds satisfaction taking delight in the words; when he acts, he observes the alternations and takes delight in the omens as if knowing the future that lies before him. Thereby becoming the person he is meant to be. The grace of Heaven and eternal dragons always coming to his aid as the way of the Tao becomes auspicious and open to him as his highest endeavor and destiny is now fulfilled. (2013-14)
What is it that becomes our greatest challenge? Why the need for Inward Training? Questions continue, but for now this from my manuscript… “My travels with Lieh Tzu” found here on my website.
Maintaining universal Appeal
Is it not the way we discover within ourselves to succeed or fail that controls our ultimate fate as we travel throughout the universe?
That there is something inside everyone that is destined to be defeated better known as our weaknesses. Just as there is something within us destined never to be defeated. That which is known as our strengths.
So that it must be as the ancients beyond time have always told us, that the strong surpass the weak, while the weak surpass those stronger than themselves. The man who surpasses weaker men than himself is in danger when he meets someone as strong as himself. However, the man who surpasses men stronger than himself will never find danger.
Learning to control your own will and making it responsible to and for your inner chi and the Tao is the ultimate test and challenge. Are not they telling us that you cannot conquer or control others, but must simply learn to control yourself?
Yu Hsiung tells us: “If your aim is to be hard, you must guard it by being soft. If your aim is to be strong, you must maintain it by being weak. What begins soft and accumulates must become strong. Watch them accumulate, and you will know where blessings and disaster come from. The strong conquer those weaker than themselves, and when they meet an equal have no advantage. When the weak conquer those stronger than themselves, their force is immeasurable.”
Lieh Tzu says that Lao Tzu has even more to say on the matter. Lao tells us that if a weapon is strong it will perish. If a tree is strong it will snap. Softness and weakness belong to life, hardness and strength belong to death.
Understand the two parallels of what hangs in the balance of yin and yang. Knowing the paradox that exists in coming to know all things and finding indifference to the ever‑changing events swirling around you. The sage knows that defeating another through strength defeats one’s own as he follows the traditions of the ages and remains forever in tune with the Tao and forever in style. 1/25/1995