The ancient sage says, “The Tao has no form. It gives life to heaven and earth. The Tao is void of emotions. It moves the sun and moon, is nameless and nourishes all things.” The sage symbolizing the goodness inherent in all sentient beings. The origin of the ancient sage is difficult to fathom. He is the manifestation of the Tao and can appear in many forms. Needing a symbol, the sage became known as the eternal dragon.
Teaching that values without virtue have no real meaning as we are only as strong as our most vulnerable among us. Values without virtue lead to self-interest and ego ruling the day pitting one person against another and definitions of right and wrong guiding what should occur. The sage leads by letting his inner light shine as an example for others by showing them their innate talents. As he lets his own virtue lead the way – as a living practice. Cultivation of the Tao becoming his foremost endeavor. The Tao being the way of heaven and his, and our own original nature.
This is the final entry of Part I of the 5th Wing of the Dazhuan with Numbers eleven and twelve below. While previous entries have included more of an international universal flavor you might say, this one focuses on virtue and our obstacles in releasing desires that keep us from taking the next step. Oftentimes it is in dissolving desires by helping others that we begin “taming our mind” and begin to reach out for the transformation we seek.
Meditation, internal alchemy (a lifestyle that is conducive to the cultivation of health and longevity), and prayer that speaks to our innermost core, serves our virtue. What the Chinese call wu wei – what leads to simplicity and harmonious living.
From here, we go to Part II, the twelve entries of the 6th Wing of the Dazhuan. The question for the Sage Mind, the transcendental that grasps some sense of the universal nature of all things is… why the singular sense by some that there can be only one path that can be correct in identifying and becoming one with the indefinable nature of God, the Tao, or divine source of all things?
If the Tao, or God, remains forever indefinable, isn’t our own path getting there indefinable as well? With all things being equal, how can the universe show favorites? If love is eternal and virtue what ultimately defines us, then what separates human nature from our source when we are all divine, simply one of the “ten thousand things” under heaven?
Within every Indigenous culture this has always been the quest and why structure and discipline tied to universal law made the I Ching so relevant to understanding nature. Both our own and what we find outside of us that defines and supports how we are to live and die. There are times that what we see and do seem innocuous, indifferent, or we seem not interested in the way of our eternal path. But it is from where we are living our lives that matters, as well as by dissolving desire through helping others, that we begin to tame our mind as if in training for something greater than ourselves.
One of the most important aspects of change is releasing fear, and trying on new ways of seeing ourselves. Seeing what fits with no ties to the outcome, except through some sense of cause and effect that shows us the way.
One of the first things we learned was that it’s important, in referring to the I Ching, is to take a question inside, as if to our heart in prayer if you like, and let the answer come from within that speaks to the middle. That the answer rests in Divine or Sage Mind.
As if continuing on the Great Enterprise referred to in the beginning. How do we do that? What the earliest shaman knew was we need structure, discipline, and a path that shows the way of inner transformation. Over the centuries this is what became of the Tao. Much of what you find here would be considered as “inner teachings and point to methods of internal transformation through meditation as if returning to the Tao through our actions that becomes central to who we are and yet to become”.
For the Taoist it is often referred to as “lower or later Heaven and earlier or upper Heaven”. Something often discussed in the reference to the book Cultivating Stillness. I like to think of it as if what we do in the present as our endeavors as lower Heaven, and what leads to our ultimate destiny as upper Heaven, and that everything found in between in nature is divine.
Lower Heaven describes the state of existence which is not so perfect or harmonious. While upper Heaven describes an ideal state of existence, when everything is in harmony and connected to the Tao.
It is our own transformation from lower to upper Heaven that is central to the teachings of Taoism and ultimately the I Ching.
It’s not that simple, but this will be thoroughly discussed in context here as we go along in our review of the I Ching and Taoism. There is no hell except that which we create for ourselves and others when we disregard our virtue with which we are here to work on as our self-awareness grows and manifests.
The following is the Introduction from Chapter Six – Endeavor and Destiny of “My travels with Lieh Tzu” that I wrote in May 1995 that helps to convey the story we each are here to tell.
Shaping events along the Way
Keeping to the refrain of doing nothing. While letting the spontaneity of each situation come forward as the ultimate invitation to remain at peace and as one with nature. Life’s events either streaming forward of themselves spontaneously or as the end results of one’s efforts or endeavors. Who can say which will lead the way? Where is the dividing line between what can be considered as heaven’s intent and where a man’s actions will begin and end?
The Confucians tell us that whether our actions are right or wrong depend wholly upon ourselves. But whether they lead to wealth, poverty, a long life or early death is only for heaven to say. While the Mohists claim that wealth and long life also depend on ourselves since they are heavens reward for righteous and moral conduct. Both having their own designs on what should become of our destiny’s moral endeavors.
However, should you not remain free of questions of destiny knowing all efforts of endeavor are useless in determining one’s fate? What can benefit and harm, right and wrong come to if all have the same results in the long run. The sage knows to take the road to spontaneity. That the Tao teaches to act instinctively. To know without knowing. To see without the need to see. To hear without needing to hear. To touch without needing to touch. To know what needs to be said, but remaining silent. Simply to be. Remaining lost to space and time.
Be the first to respond without conceiving alternatives. With your actions natural to the events swirling around you. Commit to your own essence of an unpremeditated oneness through simple acts of kindness. What can then come forth, but your own predictability? Training yourself so as to allow your actions to be so of themselves as to happen without conscious thought. Conscious choice and endeavor becoming one so that any destiny is assured. So that there becomes no choice only our natural response. 5/30/1995
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 11.1
The creative power of the I Ching and Tao
It is when you fully and completely understand the power and virtue of change and the I Ching and how Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu and the Tao instructs your understanding and wisdom and use it fully – that your innate divine nature will manifest in the world.
You must stay focused on change and staying in the middle of things not swayed by extremes. With this you become clear as to the path you must take. Using change, and the I Ching you can purify your heart and know again where the mysteries begin and where they lead you in transforming your mind and body.
What is it the sage teaches that embraces the Tao, penetrates all intentions and defines all tasks thereby resolving all problems under heaven? It is through the hexagrams and I Ching that nature opens and closes and brings the ten thousand things to completion that is inevitable. It is by cultivating stillness that the divine spirit within enfolds you as well. Keeping to the middle and staying in the moment as if in the present, acting spontaneously – becomes a quality of mind, a state of being, and a divine technique that leads one to a still and tranquil lifestyle.
It shows you how your activities in Lower Heaven (how things exist and how you fulfill your endeavors correctly through living in the everyday world) and how this relates to who you ultimately are to become when you return to your origin and destiny in Upper Heaven.
This involves discernment and understanding our fate and purpose. Both the shaman and sage who lived before written history used change in this way. They used it to penetrate all the purpose and causes of action in the world and thereby settle all doubts that would lead to argument and conflict. Setting an example for others to remain above what living brings each day.
The hexagrams of the I Ching open and close and reveal how things exist. It shows how to fulfill desires correctly and do what you must do. The power and virtue of the yarrow sticks are round and invite the spirit. The power and virtue of the diagrams is square and tell you the meaning of the six lines as they fit a particular situation and what can be known. The solid lines in the trigrams symbolize yang while broken lines symbolize yin.
With this the sage cleanses his mind preferring to follow Lieh Tzu’s example of the sage living a simple and secluded lifestyle at one with nature and spending his time with his old friends roaming the stars. As if he is present but not really here. They convey where the mysteries begin and what is coming on the river of time. Knowing this you can begin to learn to remember what has gone by and what will come again. That change and the Sage Mind are one. Working together they reveal the Way of Heaven.
A person must engage a spirit medium, or helper, to assist in purifying his heart and mind and learn to fast to raise his power and virtue into the light for the spirit to see. He then can devise and bring forth spirit tools, and come to be known as an oracle. Using these tools, the sage could discipline himself to refine his connection and powers with the spirit world and anticipate what the people need.
The sage begins to feel the friendship of the spirit and live connected to the Way of Heaven. He can then begin to open the gate that is called Ch’ien and close the gate called K’un at will. By coming and going through these gates he is then transformed and can communicate with all things as all things are now revealed to him and it is by and through embodying this knowledge and wisdom he develops traits in becoming the sage as well.
From the beginning the shaman has taught that the key to unlocking the wisdom of the I Ching within oneself is in learning how to close and open the gates internally that is called alternation. That endless toing and froing is called development. What is then perceived is called a figure; given shape it is called an object; putting it to use is called a method. Using this coming and going to advantage for everyone’s sake is called spirit power. It is in bringing forth the knowledge and wisdom from antiquity through eons of time that comes into play for the benefit of the ten thousand things. How this knowledge is transmitted and retained over thousands of years become the greatest challenge of the sage and heaven. Who is to convey this knowledge and how is the story to be told? What you can now see through meditation, cultivating stillness and in your imagination is the symbol that becomes and transforms the lines and later the words of the oracle.
When we apply our virtue to what we touch we become the vessel. What we use to regulate our actions with others is call the patterns found in Heaven, on Earth, and what is in keeping with the Tao. What helps us as we come and go is called the spirit.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 11.2
The Spirit Things
The early shaman and sage brought forth the Great Axis, or line __________ that represented the rotation of the earth around the sun. They had studied the planets, constellations, and stars from what seemed like eternity. This cosmology was what fixed their place in the universe. Following the earth’s rotation around the sun and the moon around the earth, they could define naturally occurring phenomena that they could then live by.
They saw this as divided into two parts; Earth as what they could see, anticipate, and come to know, and Heaven that which would always be mysterious and indefinable, but in control.
Day and night, dark and light, what is known and unknown, and most importantly that everything had its opposite. This brought forth the two great powers that could be represented as either a straight line __________ they would refer to as yang, and a broken line ____ ____ that was to be called yin.
What Fu Shi and shaman that followed up to and including the Yellow Emperor in roughly 2700 BC knew, was how to finesse this to represent symbols that now defined their imagination and how they would relate with the two, the spirit world and nature around them. Their lives and Earth being tied to four seasons, they saw this connection to Heaven and foretelling future events as four symbols:
__________ __________ ____ ____ _____ _____
__________ ____ ____ __________ _____ _____
Old or Young or Young or Old or transforming continuing continuing transforming yang energy yin energy yang energy yin energy
It would be the four symbols that would generate the Eight Diagrams, and the interaction of the Eight Diagrams that into the figures, or lines, determines whether the way is open or closed, knowing this one can move towards the Great Enterprise of transformation.
There are no greater representations, transformations, or the way showing this continuation than the four seasons – we see them as the four symbols:
1) There are no brighter, light-giving symbols hanging from Heaven than the sun and moon. We can see them manifest in the dark and light lines.
2) There is no more honored social position that the person of rank and wealth.
3) There is no greater maker of the tools and vessels that help us in the world we live in than the sage.
4) There is no greater way to compass and understand the myriad things, to explore hidden beginnings, to penetrate what is deep, or to reach what is distant, to know if the way is closed or open in our world, or create will or resolution that through the oracle.
It was the sage who took advantage of them, imitated transformation, reproduced them and helped us to understand them. Change has four kinds of symbols that act as omens – opening, closing, the seasons, and time. It is the words that are attached to the symbols and lines that tell you whether the way is open or closed, then you are able to make a decision in keeping with your innate virtue in keeping with the wisdom of the Tao.
What changes the I Ching from the point of the Han dynasty in roughly 200 AD onward was the inclusion by the Confucians, especially Wang Pi, the number two above, that there is no more honored social position that the person of rank and wealth. It moved change away from words and symbols that can have many meanings, to diagrams and lines thereby fixing patterns so that meaning could fit hierarchically with their own prescription of Chinese history. Once the emperor deified Fu Shi into the image the Confucians wanted portrayed, history was thusly written afterwards. The Han made the myth of Fu Shi an actual person who could represent history in the image they wanted it to become.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 12.1
The Symbols of Change and the Great Enterprise
To be and to remain above the fray of what living brings each day. To recall earlier times and Heaven knowing what was and will be again. To become nothing more than the face of Tao – an inner knowing with time spent here but an instant conveying essential knowledge. While here did I impart the wisdom of the ages and symbols of change, contributing to the Great Enterprise until I am asked to return again?
For the sage, when he appears, the status quo always fears change because what may have occurred up to this moment are always the workings of Later, or Lower Heaven as best described in Cultivating Stillness. When Earlier or Upper Heaven appears on the scene, human nature and ego always becomes unsettled. You are and always have been the light of the world, a beacon of energy, of light having a tendency to disrupt the status quo, to what is universally good and virtuous.
Peeling away the worn layers of your own humanity and of those around you, you can begin to recognize and accept for the first time who you really are and begin to see others in a similar vein, or light. It is only when you and others act outside your inner nature as your ego that you fail to change. You and others are here in the present in order to further this virtue and simply move beyond earthly endeavor. To become yourself again… who you have always been – just you and that is all. For the sage, living in gratitude for the innate talents waiting for you to come forward to claim as if the universe, the Tao, and dragons keep calling. The ultimate secret of the I Ching is to take us back to our beginnings so that we can connect with our eternal essence again and again.
Heaven has always been our shield just as the way of the Tao has always been open as we proceed on this Great Enterprise. Just as we know that nothing that appears will not be advantageous, the Tao becomes closed when we find ourselves in situations not of our own making. But with wholehearted trust of the experience, we simply wait for it to open once again. Heaven protects the flow of our life as the Tao reveals our innermost spirit. We move effortlessly and reverently within this loving spirit and grace. As we are the Tao and the Tao is us. Always present simply waiting for us to be open to our journey with our purpose to clarify the thoughts of the ancient shaman and sage who would one day appear as dragons.
Assimilating the Sage Mind of all I have followed over the centuries. Not so much for accolades found in the present, but to return and report back to the ancients who decided to send me on this journey. Many others could have come, but the two-fold reason for your choosing was so you could ascend to heights your spirit has never gone before, to your own furthering along the eternal way and to relay from another perspective the Tao for today. It is for this reason, the guiding light of change and being somewhat different from others, has always been upon you.
Rather others come to see you in your present light is not important. It is what you return with we hope to see again. Unknowingly, you have always been a symbol of change yet to come. Just as symbols you have seen have guided you to your present circumstances that allow you to speak and write words of transformation for others as well. As the spirits were with the earliest shaman – they embody you as well.
The eternal spirit found in the Tao and change has always been humanities guiding light. Sage Mind set out the symbols that describe their own mind; they set out the diagrams to illustrate your true circumstances, and established the lines in order to more fully relay what they have to say. The Sage Mind made both the transforming and continuing lines to show how to take advantage of the situation at hand. They used these methods to bring down the spirit world so they could converse with them. Just as we can through embodying change.
From the earliest times of antiquity indescribable change has been recognized as the way of the sacred, or of the Sage Mind creating meaning. Finding ways to induce the Sage Mind, my intuitive mind has always been my guiding light and key as the spirit of change, and the dragons, who have always enfolded me as one of their own.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 12.2
Trusting change, we become the Master Weaver
It is in following the ways of Ch’ien (Heaven) and K’un (Earth), Ch’ien our earlier self and K’un what we find here on earth, that we strive to find and stay in the middle, or present. With both acting as the looms of time, always weaving and interconnecting all that has ever existed in our past, present, and future as the elements of change move between them. What lies ahead, or upstream, is the Way. It is our own reflection mirroring Heaven.
What lies downstream, or where we have been, is the vessel or tool of the moment – shaping and transforming everything that we have met along the way. This reflects the K’un. It is through their transformation, interaction and change that give each of us an awareness that we are here to use. It is the patterns we choose to follow that keep us on our sacred path, our Great Enterprise.
It is in this vein, I complete the final chapter of Wing number 5 of The Dazhuan, a segment of the Commentary of the Appended Judgments as the sage using symbols to determine forms and appearances and connect all things. Following movements and patterns to trace what endures and attaching words to see what calls out to us and if the way ahead is open or closed. It was in this way the earliest shaman learned to follow and trust his intuition and instincts.
Just as with them, everything we ever can see, feel, think, say or touch coming to us as symbols representing a reflection or mirror of space and time. We voice these symbols through the lines and words we use to express them and when we are in sync with the universe, the light of the spirit come forth to light our way. With every encounter different than the one before or that will follow based on our ability to change events or how they change us as they pass us by. As change silently completes an unbroken trust, we strive for the power and virtue to become who we are meant to be following the Way of Virtue, the Tao and Heaven.
In ancient times both the shaman and sage saw and understood the spirit forces of the world. They could do this because they were a part of this world as well, just as they are here among us to this day. As has been said many times here, they could see then as well as now, that symbols could determine forms and appearances and how through words everything was connected.
The sage both then and now is trained to see the symbols to recognize the spirit (chien) in the world in which he lives. To aggressively find and seek, and once discovered – know how to use this spirit found in the natural world in a positive way.
By doing this the sage could see and group them together, understand how things meet and stimulate humanity and know what endures. They attached words to associate with the Tao and learned that the words called out to you. They learned that underlying mysteries and unexplained situations ran through all things and are presented as symbols that they then put into words. This creates a parallel reality – a world of symbols and one of spirit.
The Perfected Man, “Probing the mysteries under Heaven belongs to the hexagrams, while stimulating all activities under Heaven belongs to the oracle. Transforming and shaping belongs to alternation while stimulating and moving belong to development as understanding spirits belong to man himself. When you can succeed to silence and communicate the above without speech you are empowered with the use of these powers.”
The Ten Wings, of which we are following the 5th and 6th Wings here, are the same that Confucians in the Han dynasty attached words and their own commentary to filter the meaning through their own lens of history, just as we can continue to do the same today to fit the times.
This entry concludes the 5th Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues next as Wing Number 6, 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.