32) Our journey into transcendence / A spiritual travelogue through the mountains of China and Tibet… Part 1.

I’ve seen too many places in my life and time for the story to have simply one entry / Continuing the I Ching – Images, Structure, Judgments and Commentaries.

It begins with becoming one with contentment and discernment. Identifying 321with our source as the common thread followed and traced throughout time and history to the present day.

For me… exemplified as a tour of sacred mountains in China. Teaching us to not just watch with our eyes, but to listen with our minds. Simply to learn detachment, enlightenment, and along the way inner peace. To be content – within what my writing – and to what our own highest endeavor tells us. As if looking beyond the clouds to far vistas, to what takes us there… as if we are above it all once again. To join and be with ancestors and forever friends once again as we get glimpses of our ultimate destiny.

As if getting to decide for ourselves where the journey begins again, or maybe continues… to self-discovery and to where it leads with the stars that eternally 322define us and light our way. It’s why we go there; we might even call it a travelogue tracing our own sense of immortality. It was here on the mountains of China where the famous elixirs and pills of immortality (and gunpowder) were said to have been formulated. With Lao Tzu’s furnace on Huashan Mountain producing the most famous pill we should take defining what was to become the ultimate in self-awareness, inner development, the Tao and eventually Taoism.

Mountains allow us a physically unimpeded bond, that for some acts as an umbilical cord, to and with the divinity from within, to who we are and have forever been. It’s as close to God as we can get while here on earth. To be seen as having been to the mountaintop and seeing the other side… often even above the clouds, is as if we have made the ultimate connection with our own divinity. The mountain becoming our ultimate sanctuary. 

As the follow-up to Theodore Roosevelt and Thich Nhat Hanh from the previous post, we continue with thoughts of actions in the arena of life we take that are consistent with our eternal source. Finding a benchmark, the proper segue from within. As if making a smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another as we move closer to the contentment that ultimately defines us. The advantage of focusing on China is that there is over five thousand years of uninterrupted history 323to draw conclusions and to see clearly from.

Traditions not only in China, but that described in the story of the burning bush as an object described in the Book of Exodus as being on Mount Horeb, and the story of Black Elk, a Sioux holy man who much later became a catechist (a person appointed to instruct others in the principles of religion as a preparation for Baptism). 324His fame was due to his conversing with his ancestors on what is now known as Black Elk Peak of the Black Hills of South Dakota and conveying what was to occur to his people. When our actions simply reflect our own transcendence to reconcile with who we have always been. To where tradition has always taken us.      

When we think about a starting point to find context as to why climbing mountains became so important in China, it comes first to what we are connecting too when we get there. First, if you’ve been following here is the importance of symbols. As if the stars and the constellations are to be seen as the guardians of Heaven. With nature’s response always to be seen as determining how everything comes together and remains universal. It is from mountains we can speak from our own divine 325nature without distractions and directly to them – to the stars above.

Our guides to the stars are the “Four Guardians.” They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise (also called “Black Warrior”) of the North.

Each of the creatures is most closely associated with a cardinal direction and a color, but also additionally represents other aspects, including a season of the year, a virtue, and one of the Chinese “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water)… as well as the I ChingEach has been given its own individual traits and origin story.

Understanding this basic premise is central to what each person looks for from the sky at night. Not only from mountains, but what we can see every night regardless of where we are. Bringing it all back down to earth as our own endeavors and destiny. Knowing that our own constellation, i.e., from the month and most importantly, the year you were born, will return each year in the sky as a beginning, or starting point again, again, 326and again. Thereby defining our own nature, and showing us that we are innately connected to something much bigger than ourselves.

As your tour guide, I have been to all the mountains described below. While the mountains generally have a Taoist bent, many described below are connected with Buddhism, or maybe to both.

First would be Lhasa, 100_6026Tibet. Lhasa, the holy city of Tibetan Buddhism, north of the Himalaya Mountains and second south of Chengdu with the Leshan Giant Buddha where there is a local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This is partially because Linyun Mountain in which the Leshan Giant Buddha depicting Maitreya is located, is thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when seen from the river, with the Leshan Giant Buddha as its heart.

According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on 328earth in the future.  According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha – Gautama Buddha (also known as Sakyamuni Buddha).

What caught my attention in addition to the Giant Buddha was the adjacent Taoist Cave depicting the eight characters of the I Ching, Lao Tzu with I Ching, and a dragon depicted 327in the stars shown here in the beginning.

For those who knew what they were seeing, you could confirm the synthesis of all three (Buddhism, Taoism, and the I Ching) at the top of Linyun Mountain.

Since ancient times communing with God in the stillness found above the clouds is said to have “been to the mountaintop and seeing the other side” from a spiritual context denotes being one with, or knowing the intent of Heaven. Holy men and women, spending time in solitude for eons of time have felt the presence, the spirit of eternity and returned. The other side referring to our own divinity and eternal divine nature.

For myself, the list of mountains below can easily be expanded depending on personal preference. Once I began outlining the mountains and their significance, I decided simply reviewing my time there and their significance would need more than one entry. It is the spiritual connection we see once there – that seems to enter our soul, as if a reminder, that pulls us back to our ultimate source. As if connecting to our innermost sense of well-being. It is through use of the I Ching as a tool, that we continue to outline here, i.e., coming forward to connect with our source through prayer and meditation we can become one with it all.

All of the mountains described here I have been up and down, and if we each want to define for ourselves the meaning of “what is sacred, spiritual, or revered”… for myself, it’s what takes us there. Albeit words, symbols, or in this case mountains – as in the I Ching commonly referred to below as “The Traveler”.  

                           The Death of the Chamois

Buckskins tanning in the bright sun light brown almost white from the ram captured on the mountain’s rim only for the delicacy of its tender loins and its superior skin.

No matter the benefits, it is not the capture of game pursued over a long distance 329that is important. But simply the ultimate pursuit itself.  As the hunter respects his prey by only taking what is necessary for his own survival, fulfillment comes with the understanding of one’s place in the universe. Not the lethal release of the arrow.

Pursuing the chamois on the sheer outcropping near the mountain’s top is as difficult as capturing the pheasant in the valley below. Both represent the ultimate challenge and losing against such an able foe is not losing, but gaining the respect found to be in nature’s way.  The ram only captured because its time has come.

3210The Challenge  Sichuan Museum

Having overcome the chamois there is a satisfaction in knowing the ram as an equal or better in his own territory. Fully aware of his stature in his environment and what it takes to survive on top of mountains. Always to be looking down at panoramas in every direction. An innate sense that each step on the craggy outcropping could be his last if improperly placed. However surefooted, he adeptly and safely bounds from rock to rock unconcerned and unafraid.

As a seasoned traveler coming across hunters coming down from higher elevations with their prize, you sense both elation and sadness accompanying the death of the chamois. All is well and as it should be.

An original composition and interpretation of the Chinese classic the I Ching (56 THE TRAVELER / Fire over Mountain). 3/22/1994

Seven Mountains stand out for myself as having great historical and spiritual 3211significance.  (The eighth would be Wudang Mountain mentioned earlier that I have not been to).

Because I want to go in some detail with each one, I will focus on three this time Laoshan, Taishan, and Huangshan in this entry and on the next entry will focus on Songshan, Huashan, and Qingcheng. Plus, possibly more on Lhasa in the Himalayas. Geographically, that’s basically going from east to west.

Sacred mountains of China – Part 1:

Mount Lao, or Laoshan is a mountain located near the East China Sea along the 3212southeastern coastline of the Shandong Peninsula China northeast of Qingdao. The mountain is culturally significant due to its long affiliation with Taoism and is often regarded as one of the “cradles of Taoism”. At the peak of Taoism, there were nine palaces, eight Taoist Temples, and 72 nunneries and housed nearly a thousand Taoist priests and nuns on the mountain. It is the place where the Complete Perfection School of Taoism developed. At present, the Taiqing Palace is the oldest among the preserved Taoist establishments. In ancient times, the emperors of the Qin and Han dynasties climbed the mountain seeking the wisdom of immortals.

Today the Shenshui (Immortal Water) Spring in the Taiqing Palace and the 3213Shengshuiyang (Ocean of Holy Water) Spring in the Shangqing Palace are said to be the source of Tsingtao Beer. The Tsingtao brewery is less than an hour to the south in Qingdao. I have been to Qingdao and the brewery many times over the years and had dozens of students from Qingdao while I was teaching 3214in Qufu.  I visited Laoshan Mountain in 2017. Highlights of the mountain trek were Taoist temples, the statute of Lao Tzu and unusual rock formations.

TaiShan Mountain in Shandong.  Mount TaiShan is the one I am most familiar with having been there many times. It is one of the most famous Taoist mountains in China because of its 3215being furthest to the east. It is where from its summit you can be the first to see the sunrise. According to historical records, Mount Tai became a sacred place visited by emperors to offer sacrifices and meditate in the Zhou dynasty before one thousand BC. A total of seventy-two emperors were recorded as visiting it. For over two thousand years, tradition required the emperor to make a pilgrimage to TaiShan on his return to Beijing after visiting Qufu and paying homage to Confucius to see the sunrise from the summit. Spending the night on top of the mountain is a must.

At the base of the mountain is the Daimiao Temple built in the Han dynasty (206-3216220). One of my favorite points of interest is the ‘Peitian Gate’. It is an excellent example of how Confucian and Taoist thought combined with nature have resided and complemented each other over the centuries.

The stele, or entryway had a saying with the theme, “The virtues match the heaven and earth”. It further is highlighted with the ‘Azure Dragon’ and ‘White Tiger’, two of the 3217principal symbols of the Chinese constellation that were enshrined in the hall to the right. Two of the constellations described here in the beginning.

Communing with nature, staying overnight watching the stars overhead on top of the mountain – up early to see the sunrise… you can sense the universal connection and know you are a part of something much bigger than yourself. Tradition says many Taoist poets would carve their own words on the mountain as a symbol tying themselves to the mountain’s history. Imagining emperors making a pilgrimage here after visiting Qufu and Confucius adds to the majesty of the mountain.

Next is Huangshan Mountain, originally known as Yishan (Mount Yi) in Anhui 3218Province also known as Yellow Mountain. The name was coined to honor Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor). I came here in October 2016 and became part of a tour group (Something I usually avoid). Busy taking pictures I got left behind. The tour guide was upset, but I was eventually found. The pictures I took here were awesome. I may not have complained that much had I remained lost.

Legend states that Huangshan was the location from which the Yellow Emperor ascended to Heaven. Another legend states that the Yellow Emperor “cultivated moral character and refined Pills of Immortality” in the mountains, and in so doing gave the mountains his name.

The first use of this name “Huangshan” is often attributed to Chinese poet Li Bai. I wanted to include Li Bai because writing was illustrative of man’s connection to nature, how he relates to it, and especially, how symbols (the essence of Chinese writing, i.e., words), and the I Ching, are symbolic of how we are to live and die. He was one of the most famous and well-respected poets of the era. Huangshan Mountain was fairly inaccessible in ancient times until 747 AD when many Taoist temples began being built.

Li Bai (701-762) was one of the greatest poets of the Tang dynasty and Chinese history. As a historian and writer myself, I am very appreciative of his talent and influence. The Tang era was a golden age of Chinese poetry, and Li Bai’s works made up a large part of this. I plan to include some of his poetry in the future. He was 3226known also for his drinking. Popular legend says that he drowned when, sitting drunk in a boat, he tried to seize the moon’s reflection in the water.

An ink painting depicting Huangshan by Shitao, 1670

To the right is Xiantao Feng Peak commonly referred to as “Fairy Peach Peak”, or 3219“Flying Rock”; also known as “Old Man watching the Sea” on Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, Anhui Province.

Much of the mountain’s reputation derives from its significance in Chinese arts and literature. In addition to inspiring poets such as Li Bai, Huangshan and its scenery has been the frequent subject of poetry and artwork, especially Chinese ink painting and, more recently, photography. From the Tang dynasty (618 to 907) to the end of the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911), more than twenty thousand poems were written about Huangshan Mountain.

Here in the Dazhuan, in the 5th and 6th Wingsit is assumed that they are not written in a vacuum and the earlier Wings, The Commentary of the Decision Wings 1 and 2, are AC7already known and understood, and as with the remaining Wings (3 through 10), the materials from which the hexagrams have been constructed are explained. It is essential that we don’t try to interpret the I Ching and change – only by what we think – by modern standards – with what we know today.

To be guided by nature and resulting cause and effect and the 3220spirit we seek within ourselves is an essential element to connecting to the stars above and who we are yet to become. As today will always simply pass us by. Knowing that our lives are but a flash of lightening in eternity.

Taken as a whole, this means we are describing change as it evolves through Confucius or others who wrote their own commentary of the Dazhuan later and conveyed its importance by attributing to him. Confucius, in his later years did spend his time trying to grasp the meaning of the I Ching to determine how it fit with his own vision and bringing it in keeping with his take on history transforming it from a manual for divination into a text about philosophy and morality. This was to become his greatest contribution and enduring legacy.

The works of Ji Dan, the fourth son of King Wen of Zhou, five hundred years 3221earlier were essential in making this connection to Chinese antiquity. All three, the Yellow Emperor, Ji Dan, and Confucius hailed from the city of Lu, or Qufu. Others would later use this as a pathway for their own “interpretation” of the I Ching, Lao Tzu, and Confucius who had ties to all the loose endings of history that preceded him… myself included.

In the end, it is the hexagrams that give meaning to the underlying line statements that follow all the actions under heaven. The lines are the imitations of heaven as movements on earth. It is that simple. In the case of the Book of Changes, the I Ching – the lines are the equivalent to the judgments appended to them.

In this way both good and bad auspices appear as judgments and apply themselves to the lines that move. They can then reflect the changes within the individual situation. This basic understanding must be made and accounted for before proceeding further. If you don’t know or understand the underlying precepts then it is impossible to obtain an accurate reading.

Remember, this is only the third of a total of twelve entries to be discussed here in the 6th Wing. Context is everything to knowledge, wisdom and understanding that follows us throughout our lives.

Unfortunately, with popular culture over the centuries, people became enamored with the reading of the lines more as simple “fortune-telling”. Not taking into account the seriousness of the underlying premise of the true essence or meaning of the I Ching. It is the changes that reflect an individual situation in which either good or auspices things occur, or bad, i.e., misfortune arise, along with remorse and humiliation, or trouble and distress appears. It is our own movement, illustrated by our actions, that reveal the direction that events are taking and with that warnings or confirmations are added.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 3 

Images, Structure, Judgments and Commentaries

What the shaman discovered over the millennia was that the natural order of things followed images and a certain structure that foretold future events. That when man could attune himself to this, what would one day be referred to as the Tao, then all would be right in the world. Conversely, when man’s actions did not follow the natural order of things, disaster occurs. This basic premise was underlying everything from not only man himself, but every aspect he could observe in his environment as well.

3222It was the Yijing, Book of Changes, i.e., the trigrams, and then much later the hexagrams, that reflects and consists of images that are reproductions of conditions in heaven and on earth and that when they are applied productively they have enormous creative power in the realm of those who know how to use them. Fuxi, Shennong, and the Yellow Emperor knew this and they had done their best to impart this wisdom to those who would follow them for the benefit of all things under heaven as previously described.

The paradox had always been from the earliest clan gatherings of Fuxi and even hundreds of years earlier, was how to use the hexagrams and their essential eternal teachings to unleash the creative power in the realm of ideas within each individual. Over the centuries leading up to the Shang dynasty when written history could be recorded and followed, (a period from Fuxi 2900 BC to 1700 BC), this excess of personal aggrandizement would come to the forefront with the Shang. It would be when the pendulum swung back the other way with King Wen in 1100 BC and the following Zhou dynasty that the true meaning of the lines, now referred to as statements, could begin to go forward.

Again, it is worth repeating, it is in the knowing of how to use the statements within the hexagrams properly that unleashes our creative power to influence events yet to come that becomes essential. With this knowledge, it is as though we become like the 3223wind passing through time.

The challenge of the shaman had always been imparting this eternal wisdom to people who did not understand the true meaning of the lines and how to read and use them. This tempering of the personal ego led to the focus on cultivating stillness within oneself and was enhanced even further with the arrival of the Buddhist influence from SW China and India in 300-400 AD. This was to serve to cement the eternal connection between man 3224and the universe so our focus would remain empowering our internal energies with the outer world we find ourselves.

Going forward we either further our good or don’t. We decide this solely by our actions and it is by following the I Ching we can know what comes in advance, when to proceed and when not to with answers usually a simple yes or no.

Over the times and centuries of judgments and commentaries however, it became clear and evident that when one compares the Judgments with the Images, different “readings” can be determined that serve to justify what direction this powerful oracle, or tool, was to take. At one point, Confucius became the fulcrum, or pivot, as to how this was to occur. In almost every instance it was not Confucius himself, but others who used his name to solidify through “commentary” what the real interpretation should be. For now, leave it to say that it should be the original intent of the shaman and Taoist sage who have the final say not the political whim of 3225the moment.

Thanks to Wang Bi and other Confucians during the Han dynasty who were bent on the “Confucian interpretation” of the I Chinghis version became required study for the rigorous examination system after the Later Han in roughly 200AD. The Confucian ideal became a permanent fixture in China for almost two thousand years until the fall of the last emperor in 1912. This paradox of the real intent of the Book of Changes will always be in contention due to man’s attempts to control events that leads to a “politically correct manageable outcome” verses the Taoist understanding of letting nature decide for itself.

This is the third entry (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues 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. 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

31) From Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech to Thich Nhat Hanh inspiring us to base our actions on compassion and abundance… The I Ching / Fuxi and Nuwa, Shennong, and the Yellow Emperor.

What always comes back to us is the question “from where are we doing it – as 3101if needing to find a starting point, or even a continuation, needing to be reminded of who we have always been”. As if the sage is eternally waiting for the “circle of Life, i.e., others” who are trying to catch up. Maybe only here to help others find their way. In assisting others, he can’t help but find himself as well. 

From the I Ching and our Sage Mind we are guided to move beyond both symbols and words to the shaman and sage of ancient China – to rediscover where is it that divine ideas and virtue originate? In doing so we must become the light they are teaching us to be. To find joy in the stillness, to find and know the joy and comfort in knowing we will always be enough.

From the East it’s the consensus choice of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu (for me it was also Chuang Tzu  and his quest for the Perfected Man and Manjusri, the 3103bodhisattva of wisdom), and the West, I look back to ancient Greece and several philosophers, to Jesus and the New Testament of the Bible, and more recently to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many more. Their words and actions serve to take us there too. Even the singer/poet Bob Dillon and our asking “what and who inspired them”. Conversely, what inspires us to find within ourselves what I also think of “activism”, as to how we put our essence in motion to reflect our innate selves and our actions that reflect our own transcendence. To reflect the essence of who we have always been and follow what we truly believe we are yet to become.

While every man is the hero of his own songs… or in this case words – I am often asked who and what inspires me? In my writing, I often look for parallels between past and present and who inspires others in a traditional sense of what may be called virtue and what it is that took them there. It has always been the uncertainty of what comes next, where our own next step should lead into our own arena. And importantly, what takes us there. It opens us to the most essential truth of our lives: the truth of impermanence, alternation and change, the causes of suffering, and the illusion of separateness. We have choices to make and it will be by that our own virtue will be defined.

One of the keys to understanding the I Ching is our first impression of the title the author gives to each of the sixty-four entries. Many authors come up with various titles. Four examples would be:

The I Ching by Kerson and Rosemary Huang… Number 55 entitled – Abundance

The Classic of Changes, A new translation of the I Ching as interpreted by Wang Bi (Pi) and translated by Richard John Lynn… Number 55 – Abundance

Total I Ching by Stephen Karcher… Number 55 – Abounding/Receiving the Mandate

Rediscovering the I Ching by Gregory Whincup… Number 55 entitled Abundance

Below is Number 55 from my own version, An American journey through the I Ching and Beyond that was published in China in 2004.

                                   Finding Mirror Images

The weight of wealth and possessions can be as light as a goose down pillow. If things are given freely and shared with others one is allowed to sleep at night.

However, if one is driven by the need for more than what is required to lead a simple unassuming life the pillow can in turn be suffocating. Ultimately leading to one’s demise.

Trappings become necessities for those who have no sense of purpose and sense of self. Knowing and keeping to one’s inner voice and chi gives a sense of space and distance between oneself and things of material value which in truth have no real value to the journey at all.

Accumulating wealth and worldly possessions only serves to mask the inner self, 3104reflecting in the mirror the distance still to be traveled. Strive to find the proper balance and harmony that mirrors the peace within oneself. Practicing perspective with the ever present I Ching.

Yellow Dragons    Sichuan Museum

Keeping to the mirror image of one’s own reality is the key to learning true value. Discard yesterday’s things and find today’s. Learn that value is in finding the nothingness needed to understand tomorrow. There is strength to be found in character, sense of purpose and knowing the ultimate value of the balance to be found in all things.

Find this and be rewarded forever. Coming down to earth you recognize those who represent power and authority and the shadows in which they travel. Stay close and lead by example as you are counted on to lead the way. (3/21/1994)

With the two described at the beginning here, Theodore Roosevelt and Thich 3102Nhat Hanh, we look to thoughts of remaining in the arena and doing so with compassion and discernment. Leading us to seeing a transcendent universe within our own innate nature, as we look upwards beyond the clouds to all we encounter.

That there is a symbiotic, interdependent relationship, or reciprocal connection between all things found in nature. Its who we have always been.

For ancient China though, what and who was it that inspired them to reflect on their beginnings and give account to this going forward that served as the benchmark that would serve to define them and much later us? Ultimately, it becomes moving beyond words and symbols that matter and who and what we look to for directions. For the sage however, it is often felt we are born into a world where we don’t fit in – but it is because we are here to create a new one.

Gaining an understanding of relationships and how everything comes back to recognizing a single universal source (either expressed as God, the Tao, or another source as our divine nature), we see as transcendental, and how we find ourselves going forward. As if the wisdom and virtue we simply are here to build on becomes the key to our growth and longevity.

From a purely historical perspective a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt 3108has always served as inspiration. What always comes back to me is the question “where are we doing it from”. Where is it that divine ideas originate? And what should our own contribution be?

To the left is the historical house of the former University of Paris-Sorbonne and main university building of the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter in Paris. I stayed nearby in one of my visits to Paris in 2009.

Citizenship in a Republic is the title of a speech given by the former President of the United States, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. One notable passage on page seven of the 35-page speech is referred to as “The Man in the Arena” as follows:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great 3109devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Someone who is heavily involved in a situation that requires courage, skill, or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), is sometimes referred to as “the man in the arena”.

Ten years ago, in 2009, I made three trips to Paris and walked past the Sorbonne many times. I was intrigued by its history and most of all thoughts of what Roosevelt may have been thinking when he wrote the above. Where was he doing it from? What was it he aspired to that serves to inspire the rest of us with thoughts of being in the arena and what that really means?

3105My own thoughts always returned Lao Tzu, Confucius, and to virtue.  From where does the man begin as the starting point and where does it lead? What becomes of the content of his character and context of his actions and for whom they are meant? What becomes of the ultimate benefactor.

Finding Character Chengdu Wuhan Museum

Up to this point I had been going to China for almost twelve years (our first trip to China was in 1997 to adopt our daughter Katie), and been published with thoughts of my own as to what it meant to lay the foundation of “being in the arena” as a writer, historian, and storyteller. Where are we doing “it” from and what is it we leave behind when we’re gone? How is it we are to be remembered if at all? How do we transcend our limitations to become the person that reflects our highest endeavor? To become as my own mentor Chuang Tzu would call “the Perfected Man”. The answer lies in asking ourselves if our words and actions are worthy of remembering by others once we are gone.

So much depends on understanding the motivation of our heart and mind; how 3106they work, how attachment and desire arise and fall, how ignorance arises, and knowing where our emotions come from.

Far horizons   Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province

And how our innate wisdom and nature can bring us joy and happiness, as Roosevelt conveys we should be the one “who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement – and daring greatly” by always bringing our endeavors back to the center through our consciousness, compassion, and  actions, for ourselves and others. In other words, where are we doing it from? Or as some 3112would say… living in our joy and finding contentment.

I saw this so often in China with the simple act of drinking tea among friends. It was a must that tea be presented first. As if all that followed in conversation was a symbol, or even common ritual, to the appreciation of nature and our own. As if setting the tone for what may follow.

Like many others, I follow the teachings and words of – Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, who stated the following relating to compassion:

“Compassion is knowing that we All hold the same emotional propensities, to some degree. ‘There but for the Grace of God go I.'” He continues:

“Practice until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child 3113starving, in the political prisoner. Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Even something I wrote back in a high school journalism class… “Sorrowful feelings mean nothing if there’s no compassion felt”.

For me, its life expressed as not only what we do, but who we are… It’s developing what we have acknowledged and learned through knowing our own Sage Mind. 3111What is it that inspires us to see beyond what might be seen as simply ourselves to what may be seen as our becoming universal and assisting others to do the same? Ultimately, it has always been the one who tells the story that history knows as truth in the long run, provides context, or perhaps immortalizing for the rest of us. It is having a sense of history that counts. It is said history cannot be written for at least fifty years after events have occurred. Outcomes related sooner may be clouded by ego and personal intent of participants at the time and may not reflect natures response. That truth lies somewhere in the middle for us to find.

It would be best illustrated in the I Ching, and specifically, the 5th and 6th Wings of the Dazhuan, I have been covering here over the last few months. We have completed the 5th Wing… and with this entry begin to move on to the 6th Wing of the Dazhuan where we learn who inspired the great sage and shaman of the day. As we move beyond symbols and words to what can possibly define us and our purpose through our actions today. To an active participation defining our own arena to create the world they and we would want to live and leave behind. Nothing could be truer than the saying “Home is where the heart is”. Returning home, in effect to our own source – our destination and be able to say I did my best.

We begin with history and seeing how things began and progressed over time. As if asking the age-old question “Does man create the times… or do the times create the man”. And who picks up the torch from the fading embers of institutional memory, i.e., past wisdom to carry forward to light the way?

Part II         The Dazhuan

The 5th and 6th Wings originally entitled Hsi Tz’u (the Dazhuan) appears in the 3107ancient book of Chinese history, the Ssuma Ch’ien, and were said to be judgments written by King Wen and Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou who appended them to the hexagrams and their lines. They were the lines of the present text that were modified as commentaries by Confucius and explained as “appended judgments”.  Part II is the attempts by later “Confucians” to re-define the I Ching (Yijing) to fit into their vision as to how the I Ching should be interpreted that fit their own vision of the scheme of things. The 5th Wing has been completed in the narrative preceding this entry. The twelve segments described up to this point have tried to detail beginnings of the I Ching with universal context relating to people and events to demonstrate how we are all connected. How do we move from both symbols and words to universal activism… putting our feet to what some what would call our actions? To find ourselves through the spontaneity of our everyday presence. We begin by looking to our mentors who we want to emulate and remember. It’s why the I Ching has stood for thousands of years of finding the way forward, by looking first to our past.

The 6th Wing of the Dazhuan    Part II Number 1       

Cosmic Beginnings

The eight trigrams are arranged in such a way that the lines, and oracle, may become 3115complete and tell the story of things to come. It is when the lines are doubled that the hexagrams emerge and become transformed. It is here, given a place to reside, that the sage begins to emerge as he moves within the flow of nature furthering the cause of the Tao.

What was to become known as the I Ching but his instrument foretelling his own claim to immortality and furthering the knowledge of what is known and can never be known except by one who speaks for the universe. As the alternation of whole and broken lines emerge what is firm and yielding moves constantly in ebb and flow displacing each other as change occurs and is recorded with explanations soon to follow. What the sage learned over eons of time was that movement gives way to judgment and judgments give their counsel through the oracle, or vessel, conveying either good or bad that was surely to follow.

The shaman and later sage learned that knowing the way of the Tao, of both heaven and earth, would bear the fruit of divination, i.e., the practice of foretelling future 3114events or to discover hidden knowledge by prophecy, perception by intuition; or instinctive foresight found in the Yijing. It was through the perseverance of those that would later read the lines and put them into the context of the current situation that the sense of the oracle and divination was to gain true meaning. This perseverance became the byword for following the natural laws that sustains and gives support to everything in the cosmos.

The shaman knew that in order to be transformative, the lines would need definition and names. Therefore, opposites that served to complement each other had to be defined. Hundreds, even thousands of years, would be needed to refine through trial and error man’s efforts to follow the natural course of events and how man was to mirror this universal truth. Staying in the middle – avoiding extremes as the beginning of finding our ultimate nature. As if the ridgepole holding everything together, but generally hidden from view. The paradox of the eternal sage…

It DSCI0056would be the complementary aspect of the opposites that would define the essence of the true understanding of the Yijing (I Ching) and the one who could interpret that meaning would be the one who got to tell the story. The straight line would be known as yang, or ch’ien, and considered as creative, full of spontaneity and able to show what was easy. Complementing yang, its opposite would be yin, or Kun. Kun is receptive in nature, yielding, and thrives in simplicity. Doing what becomes simple. It would be through these lines and their symbols that the way ahead could be determined as either open or closed.

As the lines and symbols move accomplishments and tasks subsequently appear as alternations, or acts or processes of alternating, or moving by succession or repeated rotation. It was to be the shaman, the conveyor or precursor of the one who could foretell events through his innate intuition who could convey the great power and virtue of heaven and earth. It is in this way the sage learned to gain standing among men. It is through our own transformation and regeneration that this virtue of heaven and earth bestows life and it is within the power of the sage to stand and receive it. As we move to become the convener for others.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 2.1

 From Shaman to Sage

It was the holy man of the clan, the shaman whose task it was from the beginning to try to make sense of it all that connected heaven and earth. By observing nature and seeing how everything is connected – the sun, moon, the constellations, heaven, the earth, thunder, wind, fire and water… everything – one and the same to later be referred to as the ten thousand things. Every occurrence a result of cause and A Nu Kuaeffect and patterns that could be followed from their beginning to end that along the way tell a foreseeable future.

It would be Fuxi, who discovered the bagua or “eight trigrams” in about 2800 BC that became the symbolic basis for medical, philosophical, and astrological thinking, who after hundreds of years of oral tradition “prehistory” would be the one credited for putting it all together.

Looking upward in contemplation he wondered how one could change himself from one who saw things in a philosophical light as the shaman all depended on, to practical discovery of the movement of the sun, moon and stars and his own origin and to be able to tell the story as lines on a rock and later a tortoise shell.

The images of “everything under the sun” could now be depicted by the trigrams, three lines, he had devised along with an innate power to communicate with others and the spirit world. 

Fuxi was more than a great shaman; he was an innovator and championed the tasks and fate of other men and women who followed him. He connected the spirit world with the eight trigrams and categorized the myriad things. He is said to have twined cords into nets that helped with fishing and hunting and to have partnered with Nüwa a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology who best known for creating mankind and repairing the pillar of heaven.

Fuxi, also known as Paoxi, is a culture hero in Chinese legend and mythology, 100_3085credited along with his sister Nüwa with creating humanity and the invention of hunting, fishing, domestication, and cooking as well as the system of writing Chinese characters.

Depiction of dragon/horse found at the Confucius Temple in Qufu.

He is a culture hero in Chinese legend and mythology, It is said that the I Ching was revealed to him in the markings on the back of a mythical dragon horse (sometimes said to be a tortoise) that emerged from the Luo River.

Next was Shennong, considered the founder of Chinese medicine, who was known as the Divine Husbandman. He was also known as the “Red Emperor” because his 3116patron element was fire; the first King to be called as Yan Di, meaning the “Emperor of Fire.”

Depiction of Shennong found at the Confucius College of Qufu

Shennong came forward shaping wood to make plowshares and plow handles teaching the benefit of plowing and tilling. He brought people together as a community in markets and assembled commodities to be bartered thereby making exchange become easy. Shennong the man, according to Chinese mythology, was the second of the ancient legendary Chinese emperors. Said to have been born in the 28th century BC, his mother a princess and his father a heavenly dragon. His name literally means “Divine Farmer”.

In Chinese mythology and culture, Shennong was the second of the legendary three emperors referred to as the “Three Sovereigns” namely: Fuxi, Shennong, and Hungdi, also known as The Yellow Emperor who then was followed by Yao and Shun. 

The Yellow Emperor, also known by his Chinese name Huangdi, is a deity in 3016Chinese religion, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns and culture heroes included among the mytho-historical Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors and cosmological Five Forms of the Highest Deity.

Over the centuries of early China, they developed a simple continuity as to how people should live. They illustrated the power of the divine spirit that resides in each of us. The myths of their living are what made them immortal. These ancients served to illustrate the power of the spirit creating positive change. When change was affected there was alternation, alternation gave development which led to lasting progress. The connection between heaven and earth permeated throughout the ancient culture of China and came explicitly from Ch’ien and Kun.

The Yellow Emperor, Yao and Shun wore draped upper and nether garments and all under heaven was well ordered. It is said in wearing these clothes this way that these three sat quietly without stirring and as a result of their inaction things automatically righted themselves.  A sense of blessing grew out of this and this quiet meditation led to the axiom of cultivating stillness.

The Dazhuan   6th Wing        Part II   Number 2.2

The first Practical application of the wisdom of the I Ching and Tao.

It is in the silence that the ancients found was to become meditation called cultivating stillness that was to lead to associating the hexagrams of the I Ching to specific actions.

By emulating and following the symbols representing the trigrams, what was considered either as myth or actual occurrences or actions, led 100_5319people to carry out actual reforms. This would be a re-occurring theme throughout Chinese history – what came be called innate pragmatism, or as the Taoists would later refer to as cause and effect.

Re-making the past to fit the aspirations of the current generation would become an art form. To the right is the giant urn at the entrance of Wangcheng Park in Luoyang. Where the parks lies was the center of government for over a thousand years, the beginning of the Silk Road, and ten dynasties of ancient China. Not far away in the city is the DSCI0084Duke of Zhou Temple that commemorates the author of The Rites of Zhou, a book of bureaucratic theory outlining atrocities the previous five hundred years of the Shang dynasty, and more importantly how we as people should treat others and respect the natural world around us.

To the left is The Duke of Zhou, Ji Dan at the Temple of the Duke of Zhou in Qufu.

The Rites of Zhou became the basis for one the The Five Classics updated by Confucius five hundred years later. The thread of his ideas can be traced through Chinese history to the present day. He was considered China’a first sage. His name was Dan…

Much later in the Han dynasty, modifying the intent of the I Ching was done with great effect. But in the period of pre-history when written records were not prevalent, following the shaman was essential. It would be the reforms they instituted that had the most lasting effect of Chinese civilization. They could begin to see beyond mere subsistence using the natural world around them to weave together what would combine innate wisdom with practical application of the world they lived in.

Always looking to the earth and sky for symbols to guide them through the seasons and to the shaman and sage, the superior person to show the way, but it would be the underlying Tao and intervening I Ching  that was to give the appropriate answer and show the way.

They learned to:

  • Hollow out tree trunks to make boats and shaved wood to make oars. The rivers next to where they lived provided transportation and enabled them to travel to distant places so they could communicate with others. The trigram wood over water would illustrate or show this.
  • Tame the ox and yoke the horse so that heavy loads could be transported over long distances. An indication of the value in movement behind a superior force as the horse and ox could move ahead as they now could travel to distant places both by water on boats and on land as well.
  • Protecting themselves using outer walls and double gates of their settlements that was seen as necessary in protection against robbers. The use of symbols and the trigrams is illustrative here with the trigram Chen, movement above and k’un, the earth below. The trigrams are K’an meaning danger and Ken meaning mountain. K’un symbolizes the closed door; hence the double gates. K’an means thief. Beyond the gates, movement with wood (Ch’en) in the hand (Ken), serves as the preparation against the thief. It would be the oral tradition of interpreting the lines that gave root to establishing a common written language.
  • Next came splitting wood and making a pestle, a tool for pounding and grinding and a bowl shaped hole in the ground for a mortar. With this they could grind grain for baking bread. The mortar was a primitive mill that advanced the growing of grain in their diet.
  • They strung a piece of wood for a bow and hardened pieces of wood in the fire and cut stone for arrows. This enhanced their power and awe in the opponents and added greatly to their hunting abilities.
  • As more people lived longer lives they moved out of caves and into houses with a ridgepole for eaves to ward off wind and rain. It was the shaman and sage who now guided people to safety of communities and collective living arrangements.
  • Dealing with death and the spirit world, i.e., the unknown, was always the realm of the shaman or holy man. In earliest time burial was performed by covering the corpse with brush with neither mound or grave with no set time for mourning. The shaman changed this to reflect the sense of the eternal spirit through the institution of rituals and ancestor worship which carries on even today in modern China. This connection to the eternal was essential the continuity of all things under heaven that manifested here on earth.
  • Finally comes the knotting of cords to try to bring a sense of order to give a sense of what was right as a means of governing. In much later generations, once writing was more fully introduced, written documents would serve to regulate officials and supervising the people. Writing in the earliest of times was scratched on tablets of smoothed bamboo when the ability to govern the larger community became essential.

All of the above has been laid out continuously in various commentaries over the intervening centuries and can be identified as the period of history leading up to the beginning of the Shang dynasty and a written language in approximately 1600 BC and describes this early period.  It was the Sage Mind that provided the even keel to furthering through trial and error that which gave structure to human life. Along with the power and virtue of heaven and earth that provided the essential principles of the natural world following what was to become essential philosophical Taoism.

This is the first two entries (for a total of twelve) of the Sixth Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues 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. 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

30) Unity in China, Shandong Province and Qufu. / Presentation for Unity of Springfield 10/27/2019

I first went to Qufu in October 1999 and helped to establish the sister city 301relationship between Boynton Beach, Florida and Qufu. Over the years there were many cultural exchanges and delegations traveling between the two cities. Below is a story I have never fully told until now.

Pictured to the right is our first visit to Qufu. From the left in picture is my mother, Ben, Marie, Katie who was three and myself. We were on our way to Urumqi to adopt our second daughter Emily.

Pictured to the left is the Reverend Kong and Dan (Kongdan). Kong is the 302Confucius family name… over half of the residents of Qufu claim Kong as their own family name as well. Picture was taken March 20, 2002. We became good friends. His counsel, advise, and support on how to proceed with Unity in western Shandong was critical. He became a champion of our efforts and loved reading about Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and Unity principles that he felt was a good match with Confucius for benevolence and compassion towards others. He thought I was very brave to do something “spiritual” as he called it in Qufu with such overwhelming devotion to Confucius in Confucius’ hometown. He thought the Chinese name Kongdan for me was very fitting.

One of the activities when the Chinese delegations came to Florida was a visit to Unity of Delray Beach where I was a member. Pictured to the right is a delegation from Qufu with me and family in Boynton Beach in 2003. Two important figures here are Glenn Mosley on the far left and Ben on the far right. Ben is Sally’s father. 301Sally later planned to come to Unity Village to perhaps become a Unity minister. Glenn was to send Sally correspondence course…

It was these visits from Qufu and reciprocal visits to their city over the years, that led to publishing of the monthly Christian magazine “Daily Word” for two years through my foundation known as The Kongdan Foundation for the Christian Church Association of western Shandong Province, followed later with my teaching in Qufu, and as a consultant to and member of the I Ching/Confucius Society of China that continues to evolve today.

As a member of Unity of Delray Beach, I led a delegation to Qufu in 2004 that included Reverend Nancy Norman of Unity of Delray Beach and her daughter Cathy Norman, who was then a Unity minister in California. A few months earlier Glenn Mosley from Unity Worldwide Ministries had met in Beijing with 310members of the Christian Church from Qufu – Reverend Kong, Ben and Pei (Sally’s parents), and others in Beijing. We all felt that Unity and the Fillmore spirit would resonate in China and were looking for a way to expand Unity’s efforts there. Having Glenn, Nancy, and Cathy there demonstrated a presence that could be built upon. It was decided that we would follow two tracts. First, we took numerous books and pamphlets describing Unity’s role and Unity Village to Qufu that led to publishing the Daily Word. Converting from English to Chinese proved difficult especially for older members of the church in Qufu. We began a translation service for the residents who wanted to know more about Unity. I was fortunate to find a high school English teacher (Jenny), who would do the translation of the Daily Word into Chinese and work with Unity Village to make it happen. In those early years, there was even discussions of building a Unity Church in Qufu. Financial limitations unfortunately made this dream not become reality.

My foundation, in concert with the Christian Church Association of Western 照片 070Shandong Province, with guidance and assistance from Unity Village, began publishing 5,000 copies a month in January 2006 of the Daily Word that was distributed throughout western Shandong Province. Very few copies were actually distributed in Qufu itself. Over the years, I had been on local television a lot in Qufu for our sister city activities. I later learned while I was living next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple when I was teaching at the university and Qufu Normal School the name Kongdan was well known enough to get the security bureau’s interest…

Most copies of the China Daily Word went to villages and other cities where they were distributed to churches, hotels, and other locations and was printed monthly for two years (2006 and 2007) with five thousand copies a month totaling a hundred and twenty thousand copies. Earlier, in 2002-03, I was told by Reverend Kong who was the leader of the church, that there was about 35,000 members of the Christian 304Family Churches in western Shandong Province.

The small building to the left is what’s left of the Christian Church that was in Qufu prior to World War II. The Qufu Christian Family Church has a new location now.

The building on the right is over one hundred years old and is the Christian Church in the city of Jining about an hour away. Christian and Catholic Churches had a history of more than three 305hundred years prior to the 1949 revolution that formed the People’s Republic of China. Traditional religions in China (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucius) had accommodated the Christian faith. Unity’s acceptance as another spiritual path is what made our efforts to publish the China Daily Word… non-threatening to the status quo.

When I finished teaching at Jining University in Qufu in 2013 there were over 800,000 members and was reminded that even though Sally (who I’ll discuss in a little bit didn’t make it to Unity Village), I/Kongdan had made a lasting impression. The Unity/Fillmore message was greatly appreciated. Although, the Security Bureau (the police) responsible for monitoring my activities could never understand my continuing to return to Qufu over the years. They were concerned about my “influence”, especially after becoming an English teacher at the university and traveling to visit my students around the province…

Many times, when I would travel to various cities and stay at different hotels, when people learned my name was “Kongdan” and asked if I was responsible for the China Daily Word… they would thank me. On one occasion, when the proprietor learned who I was she pulled out a copy from 2007 (this was five years later in 2012) and put it next to her heart.

306The next morning before I left there were six people in the lobby with copies who wanted me to sign.

2006-07 copies my China Daily Word

Later when I was teaching at Jining University in Qufu… several of my students came up and asked if I was the same “Kongdan” who did the Daily Word. One student in particular from a neighboring city… her mother was a Christian minister who had her own small church and used the China Daily Word in her ministry. This was in 2012 and her mother knew about me and my efforts over the past several years and wanted to meet me. That I was now teaching at the university and her daughter was one of my students was a little overwhelming. She invited me to come for a visit to her church and dinner which I did. What a great lady she was… I was most impressed with the very large Bible she had in her church that was in both Chinese and English she seemed to know chapter and verse.

Sitting with her in her small church she told me – Kongdan you have no idea the DSCI0347amount of positive influence you have had. Everyone already thought you were great – but when you began teaching our kids English at the university it gave us hope for the future.

She knew all about Sally and Sally’s mother being denied a VISA (which I will get to in a little bit). Many people in what is now referred to as the Family Christian Church who had followed my activities for many years who might be afraid to speak up wanted me to know how appreciated I was. She had been on the provincial Board of Directors of the Shandong Christian Church Association for many years and told me I was always in their prayers.

For many of my college students, reading the Daily Word in high school helped them 307to learn English. Of the more than 400 students I had teaching English… almost all girls – more than ninety percent planned to become English teachers. Several other students invited me to visit their cities and villages where they lived and people were aware of Kongdan (me) and the China Daily Word.

Most everywhere I went turned into a celebration. Not only DSCI0020for a foreign teacher to visit, but I learned that some cities and villages had a library where copies of the China Daily Word could be checked out. I was told that if not returned someone would come looking for it. Several villages showed me where they kept copies of the Daily Word and asked me to sign copies for them. When I completed teaching in Qufu in June 2013… a minister in the Christian Family Church told me they estimated at that time more the 2.5 million people had seen the China Daily Word. Today, I’m certain that number would exceed three million.

The second avenue the Shandong Christian Association and the foundation were to follow – was trying to establish the first Unity minister in China. I had been to Unity Village several times leading up to this and we had the perfect young lady who was to come for training. Her English name was Sally. Her father was a tour guide and had led two sister city delegations to Boynton Beach and while there both the delegations were visitors to Unity of Delray Beach. Her mother had been the Christian Church secretary in Qufu for more than ten years and was the glue that 308kept their church together. Their daughter Sally was the perfect choice to come to Unity Village to become a Unity minister… or at a minimum learn the principles of Unity and return to share them with the church association in Qufu.

Picture to the left is of Sally, her mother Pei, and father Zhu Bensheng (Ben)

Sally began a correspondence course guided by Glenn Mosley sent to me and Sally for her to begin studying Unity principles and the history of Unity. I was in China at the time (this would have been (2011-2012) and I would sit with Sally and review the course material. Sally’s English was still so – so and several words she would read needed explanation. I learned more about Unity teachings with Sally at this time than really before or sense.

One of the strengths of Unity, Unity ministers have reminded me, is that Unity ministers are free to carve out their own path this would have been especially true for China. For Sally, learning the principles of Unity, then returning to China with the groundwork we had laid over the preceding years would be a good beginning after going to Unity Village. Glenn was to help with expenses and we thought all was set as Sally continued studying the correspondence course material. Best laid plans…

So, we scheduled the VISA Hearing in Beijing for Sally and Jenny (Jenny was/is a high 100_2026school English teacher) and had interpreted the China Daily Word into Chinese.

This is one of my favorite pictures. It is of me, Kevin (Jenny’s husband), and Jenny in my apartment in Qufu sorting through Young Artist entries prior to forwarding to Boynton Beach for the Sister City Young Artist competition. Jenny is holding my dog Milo.

Sally’s mother decided she wanted to come as well with Jenny and Sally, but when they appeared in Beijing Jenny and Sally’s VISA were approved, but Sally’s mother’s VISA was denied. This changed everything. Even though her VISA was approved, the fact her mother’s VISA was denied… Sally decided not to go to Unity Village after all. With this it all came to a stop. Sally later moved to Beijing and became a 100_4892kindergarten teacher. Conversely, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Sally would have gone to Unity Village

Five years after we did the China Daily Word in 2012, with her own VISA being approved, Jenny did go to Unity Village with me and my family on a visit to USA.

It is the essence of Confucius teachings – every person is given an opportunity to change the world through benevolence and virtue.

These activities, plus many others, in addition to teaching and living in Qufu have allowed me to get to know many people in Qufu and the surrounding communities very well and to establish many lasting, warm friendships. What we called “forever friends”.

Buses in Qufu that ran between train station and airport have printed on the 309side “Qufu – the religious center of China for over a thousand years”, it could have easily said two thousand… 

It was my role as the liaison for many of the activities above, that I have been able to observe and be the recipient of the Confucian tradition of “welcoming friends from afar”. Unity and the China Daily Word would always now play a small role as a unifying source for good. I feel I did all that I could. I remember and think about Reverend Kong in those early days in Qufu often and his saying “Do what you are here to do and know that will be enough”. 

People sometimes ask me why I’m not there now.  I say Qufu will always be in my heart and home. Perhaps it is as the financial support given me by Unity of Delray Beach in that the purpose of doing the Daily Word in the hometown of Confucius was to plant a seed and give a gift of love in the tradition of benevolence as expressed  by Confucius himself.

照片 378

I am standing at the corner of what is known as “Confucius Hill” in Qufu. It is where Confucius would give lectures to his followers.

Well, I can honestly say the seed sprouted and given voices to many and served to take the word of God and Unity and transcendence to places they may not have otherwise gone.

My old friends in Qufu would laugh and say You’ve written many books, why not write a book about Confucius? You’ve been to Qufu now dozens of times over the years.”

I would say to them “some history remains to be lived before it is ready to be told or written about as the spirit of Kongdan has always been universal and lived in Qufu… and that there is much more to the story to tell.” My forever friends would then say “don’t forget us” and I would laugh and tell them “With unity all our stories are told. Just as over the centuries yours have always been.”

 

By 1dandecarlo

29)  Living from within the symbolism found in the I Ching and the virtue that defines us. Ideals focusing on our highest endeavor of wu wei – simplicity and harmonious living conducive to the cultivation of health and longevity.

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 2901nourishes all things.”

The sage symbolizing the goodness inherent in all sentient beings. The origin of the ancient sage is difficult to fathom. He is he 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 2902eleven 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 2903of 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.

2904One 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 2905everything 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 2906as 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, 2907and 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 2908used 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 the sixty-four combinations of the eight trigrams, or elements, shown here. 

2909With 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, see beyond himself, 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 2910wisdom 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 100_5699represented 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 complimentary 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. Understanding this paradigm is key to asking a question going forward. Are you asking through a sense of virtue or simply what may be seen as ego or self-interest. 

 There are no greater representations, transformations, or the way showing this continuation than the four seasons – we see them as the four symbols:

29121) 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 encompass 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 than through use of the oracle (the I Ching).

It was the sage who took advantage of them, imitated transformation, reproduced them and helped us to understand them. Change has four kinds of 2913symbols 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 along 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 than 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. This shift in emphasis attempted to pull the intent of change to coincide with authority.

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 2914times 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 2915disrupt 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 2916as 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 2917for 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 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 2918set 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 2919upstream, 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 100_4558change 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 105_2888way.

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. DSCI0288When 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 DSCI0287can 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. 

By 1dandecarlo

28) The I Ching / It’s all a matter of interpretation. First getting lost in translation… then finding the proper venue that expresses our own divine nature.

It is reported that the Bible and Tao Te Ching are the most read and followed 2806books in all of history. So, whose version are we reading and what was their authors personal intent? Two examples would be the continual never-ending circle of life in Buddhism and symbols identified with the Christ and Christianity and other religions.

Symbols providing universal understanding, while words can confuse us with personal intent used to sway their meaning. 2807This is why over eons of time symbols became something more important than words because they represented and created universal context and intent everyone could see as one. This was illustrated over the centuries in China through painting landscapes of mountains depicting serenity and tranquility as symbols that denoted the artist “had it”. Gaining an appreciation for this art form became an important way to show one’s own affinity for “the Way of Virtue, i.e., the Tao”. This is illustrated below.

Thoughts on becoming a Sage – The Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life

Verse 21 – Forever Replenishing our Virtue

What is this thing called virtue and value placed on emptiness and how can they be 2801so inter-related?

Remaining Hidden from View  Confucius Temple in Qufu

 That virtue cannot be found unless we are willing to remain empty, that the Tao remains hidden from view except as virtue found through emptiness. Following the Tao, we are continually subject to change and are redefined as our virtue waxes and wanes.

As if guided by the phases of the moon I find structure through tending my garden just as Shen-ming, the divine husbandman, who discovered agriculture along with the healing properties of plants and a calendar to be followed by the sages of long ago. Could it be that virtue is the manifestation of the Tao, or Way, that should guide us? That the Way is what virtue contains and without it could have no meaning or 2802power. That without virtue, the Way would have no appearance or ability to come forward.

Replenishing our Virtue    Confucius Temple in Qufu

Taking no form, the Tao takes expression only when it changes into virtue.  It is when the sage truly mirrors the Tao that virtue can be given an opportunity to manifest and grow and the natural course, or scheme of things, becomes apparent for all to see.

The Tao by itself neither existing or not existing. As if coming and going as the essence of one’s heart and soul – simply by maintaining its presence as… virtue. Everything in the universe held accountable to the Tao. Continually changing – with our identity the first to go.  What was once true becomes false and what was once false slips into becoming true.  It is only our essence expressed as virtue that is kept and continually replenished by the Tao. (May 2000)

第21节          修练大德,永无止境

大德是什么?虚空是什么?他们之间的关系又如何?如果我们不愿意保持虚空,大德就无从谈起。来自虚空的大德是可见的,除此之外所有的大德都不可见。大德时多时少,我们必须不断修练和完善。

2803Longevity and Virtue Completed – Confucius Mansion in Qufu

仿佛受到月的盈亏的指点,我象神农那样,通过耕耘我的花园发现了万物的结构。神农是一个伟大的农夫,他很久以前就发现了农业耕作,植物的治病作用和圣人们用来记事的日历。它是道通过大德的显示吗?可以用来指导我们吗?道为大德所拥有。没有大德,道就毫无意义和力量,没有大德,道就无法表现或缺乏动力。道无形,道惟有隐于德时才会显示出来,自然规律或万物法则才变得清晰明了。

道亦有亦无,随着心灵意念来来去去。有德则有道,万物皆有道。我们要不断变革,从改变自身开始。原来的真实现在变成了虚假,原来的虚假现在变成了真实。保留的只有充满道的大德。

We often define ourselves by who we think we are and are free to choose rather 2804we follow our highest endeavor and destiny. But we are not free of the consequences of our actions when we don’t. How we fit what we see that comes before us to interpret how we live is key to living in harmony and love, become transcendent, and truly finding our way. As if we are re-living history and adapting as our own from an historical perspective to what takes us to our inner self that guides our outer actions.

In practical terms, when we practice mindfulness, meditation, and prayer, we are making an attempt to go there first. It is always our universal connection that helps to take us there and defines where are we doing it from. This has always been the I Ching’s emphasis as the way forward… showing us the way of universal spirit.

When someone asks me “What is the I Ching?” This is always my answer. “It is simply a tool that guides our spirit to where it belongs and shows us the way in getting there”. What becomes important is how we use symbols and words that take us 2805there.

Ultimately it becomes the great leap of faith we each must take as the circle of life. What we are given to learn with only our virtue intact. With this our divinity and bliss become one with the only nature we have ever known.

The benefit of history and the path others have taken allows us to see and follow in their footsteps and not re-invent something that benefits us so we don’t have to start from scratch, as they say…or re-invent again. We are never alone unless we have chosen to be. The divine presence within each of us is simply waiting to show us the way by understanding the purpose found in following the lead of our natural surroundings.

I think every great storyteller, teacher, and writer through the ages, starts from the point of getting us to question what we think we know as a “given”. With their knowledge we can incorporate this as understanding – that lifts us into wisdom in what can be seen or viewed as their ultimate purpose. In effect, adding context to what is both real and imagined. There are so many examples of how words of those we admire we think we know, may not actually be what was originally said or written by them, but are taken as truth. But someone else’s version of what they intended or meant to say. Over hundreds even thousands of years, it becomes what we want attributed to them that gives meaning to both symbols and words we choose to follow.

The Council of Nicaea was the first council in the history of the Christian 2821church that was intended to address the entire body of believers. It was convened by the emperor Constantine to resolve the controversy of Arianism, a doctrine that held that Christ was not divine but was a created being. Over time, others have tried to interpret the real meaning that they wanted to convey as “what was said and what was really meant”. How many versions of the Bible are there for example?

We use myth, symbols, and words to define our way forward in deciding who we are and more importantly deciding how we proceed. The one doing the interpreting putting what they think is being said through the context of their own understanding of what the original meaning might have been and interpreting this for themselves and others.

Another example, would be that there are probably well over one hundred books translating the Tao Te Ching attributed to Lao Tzu that people have published in English where a straight translation from Chinese to English makes little sense to them as to what was meant. Especially if you don’t read or understand the Chinese 2809language. So, the translator incorporates his own meaning from the attempts at understanding the straight translation into their own writing as to the meaning. So that whatever Lao Tzu may have said may become lost in translation. It took me seven years of study (1993 -2000), from my introduction to Taoism and the Tao Te Ching before being comfortable in writing my own version. It’s like life – getting it right internally before expressing yourself externally. It’s what every teacher will tell you… you must thoroughly know your subject, prior to teaching it to others.

For myself, this seeming paradox, is what led to my attempts to follow my innate endeavor as the storyteller. Becoming one with what lies beyond the words, going to China almost fifty times now, and waiting more than twenty years to write what I am writing now about the I Ching. My own need for maturity on the subject and the universe relaying I wasn’t ready yet. As if moving beyond pretext to capture meaning through a better-defined lens.

That everything is context, must return to where it began, and finding, i.e., learning, what can be behind both symbols and words. Moving forward A119grounded in the auspices of both Heaven and Earth. Symbols serving to remind us of our origins and helping to take us there. It is the intent and power of the I Ching that moves us beyond words with an understanding of how the lines we will learn about here, match the will of both Heaven and Earth, that serve as a guide in returning to our divine self. With such a knowable beginning a reachable ending can be achieved.

As if directed by virtue and resulting relationships, we then give each other permission to do the right thing by all based on what we perceive as our own eternal best interests. This idea of “giving ourselves permission to go there” is important in relinquishing thoughts and actions tied to only self-interest, opening our consciousness to transcendence and becoming truly universal. It is when we get lost in what we think it all means tied to a specific outcome or what may become lost in translation that we lose our way and follow someone else’s path different from our own.

So many examples of how our words and symbols get lost in translation. Looking to and for the divine expression from within and resulting action as if asking ourselves… “who are we, but our virtue we depart with and what we leave behind?” As if we live in a constant seeming struggle to live up to who we think we should be, but can’t 100_5921measure up to expectations of who we innately know we are, based solely on limitations that don’t measure up to  our highest endeavor.

Eventually settling for the status quo life brings to our doorstep, we seem to welcome and decide to stay. Once here, it becomes more difficult to leave with our virtue intact and for us to change… and to see beyond what we think we know. What all great writers and artists know – it has always been that the status quo can never reflect who we are or want to be. It’s what calligraphy and landscape painting has been for thousands of years in China as a means to take us there. Its like taking a class in college in Art Appreciation or Literature, or going to a museum simply so we can see ourselves in what the artist or writer is saying… going there and saying yes – me too! Enabling us to find a way to connect with our inner most self – and to express it as demonstrated below.

All the prelude, or foreplay here if you like, is for those reading this to see a different way of seeing themselves play out to the end and to view the I Ching as only a guide, or simply as an extension of discovering who they have always been.

I am reminded of the book, play, and movie “A Streetcar named Desire”.  A book 2810by Tennessee Williams we all had to read back in high school. What stood out to me was a line by Stanley… played by Marlon Brando in the movie where in frustration he said, “A hour isn’t an hour, it’s just a piece of eternity” and depiction of hope portrayed by Blanche and Stella discussing Sister Rita, the Patron Saint of Impossible Dreams and where it all might lead. Trying to do the best they could with what they had and knew at the time, but never getting there from where they were at the moment.

Great writing that encourages you to look within to see what may be missing. Reminding us we may be looking for the wrong thing. Where is it that great artists and writers get their inspiration and where do our own “personal translations” originate and come from? Whose words do we try to emulate or model our lives after and make our own – who is it that becomes our role model, if anyone? What words and symbols symbolizing ourselves do we find comfort from within and become enmeshed? What defines us as we attempt to find our own patron saint of impossible dreams… but ultimately only our virtue.

Understanding, requires us to clear away or try to translate intent by pre-determined thoughts we or others, may come into it with. Having a clear mindset and imagination is key with everything as context to what is made current for the times. As you learn to follow your own divinity and nature you already possess – you live and act accordingly as we go there in silence to what we have always known,

The Dazhuan is composed of the 5th and 6th Wings of what is known as the Ten 2812Essential Commentaries with each having twelve entries that total twenty-four altogether. Below are numbers nine and ten of the 5th Wing. 

All told, they convey the history of the I Ching and how each of us should live our lives in such a way that conveys our own innate virtue and are considered the benchmark to all essential wisdom. I wrote my own version of the Dazhuan in 2014. Below are segments I wrote that appear here on my website. This all sounds complicated. But it’s really like learning to drive. It’s simply knowing the rules of the road, staying on course (our life), and following them. It’s like the universe asking you not to be anyone but who you are already are, building on, and going there.

The Dazhuan   5th Wing   Part 1 Number 9

Wand counting (Yarrow Sticks) and Symbolism

The initial question is what and how did the ancient shaman and later sage teach in imparting or conveying wisdom in regards to powers that remain unseen in the 2813universe? How do we relate to this universe, the stars, sun, moon and nature and what is the purpose of divination except to reach out to the spirit world to learn how to relate with and sometimes try to control this power? What is the process of studying change and how do we incorporate change into who we are now and who we are yet to become?

How do we live a life of harmony with one another and the cosmos other than through our innate commonality and virtue and where did this come from? And most importantly who gets to decide this once we know and how is this knowledge and wisdom to be related to others?

All of these questions occurred in pre-history before written or common language existed as well.  But it was the shaman, the holy man of antiquity, whose responsibility it was to make these connections to work with the unknown, with what was to become known as the Tao. To sort these things out and explain to everyone what this all meant. Before there were lines, there was numbers that were seen to correlate with what could be seen and known and what could not.

That everything has its opposite and relates to either Heaven (ch’ien) or Earth (kun). Heaven could be seen as odd numbers (1,3,5,7 and 9) and earth as even numbers (2,4,6,8 and 10).

Each has five numbers and is interlocked together as divine order. Each number in one series has its partner in the other. The sum of heaven’s number is 25 and the sum of earth’s numbers is 30, the total sum of the numbers of heaven and earth in 55.  It is the process in which these numbers come together that stimulates alternation and transformation that animates or energizes the spirit world. Dividing into two parts as even and odd creates the yin/yang phenomena representing the duality of the universe.

It was in the counting of the yarrow sticks that a method could be devised to obtain the appropriate calculation for a particular situation. This process is not done halfheartedly, or in some cavalier fashion. Popular culture, or those trying to lessen its true meaning, may try to portray this as having no real meaning as if simply fortune-telling. But the method used here has been refined over thousands of years and is meant to relay what lies in one’s heart as if in mediation or prayer, bringing forth your highest endeavor that matches your fate or destiny as a method in doing so. There is no specific religious context here, only seeing yourself as transcendental, as you match your actions with what is best for both you, others, and all you find in nature and your surroundings. Where most difficulties lie is when the true meaning of the I Ching gets lost in translation… Just as with many things when we try to define or make something into something it never was intended to be.

The wands (yarrow sticks) counted out for heaven or ch’ien number 216 and the wands counted out for kun number 144. Together they total 360, or the number of days in the lunar New Year. When the yarrow sticks are counted out for both parts, they total the ten thousand entities or things under heaven. Nothing is left out. In this way the four-fold operation fulfills change, or the I 2814Ching. This in essence is how the process of change is to manifest and work.

In determining what action a person should take without yarrow sticks one uses three coins in the tradition known as throwing the three and the five which means throwing three coins five times to get a reading of heads or tails which equate to either even or odd.

With this process comes a transformation and we model our desires and actions on them.  Just as the shaman before him, the sage learned how to create change through the divination process by shaping his desires through the mirror of change. It was through the sixty-four diagrams that any situation could be understood and where you fit in with it and identify and acquire this “helping spirit”.  Elaborate rituals were designed in antiquity to speak to the spirits in which tortoise shells and then animal bones became the common medium where symbols could be written and interpreted.

Later a language of lines developed to speak with what was to be known as divine communication, otherwise known as the oracle. This spirit helper or medium was known as wu. Fu Shi was the greatest of these early shamans and a teacher, a transmitter, the first oracle of the unknown. Much later others would attempt to transpose their own image onto who Fu Shi was – claiming themselves as heir apparent and to convey or translate what he “really” meant that was to become the I Ching.

Reading and understanding the oracle was a method that took hundreds of years to perfect and thousands of years to fully appreciate. It’s here that one can begin to understand the meaning of change, the spirit world and man’s connection with 2815cosmology and the universe.

It began with tortoise shells, yarrow sticks, and eventually three coins that would create the images and symbols connecting with numbers and development of a method to consult their meaning. You then ask a question; initially this was simply a response that only required a yes or no answer. What followed was to become a common teaching. It’s not simply a matter of understanding; for the shaman and then people in general, it is the act of becoming innately connected with what defines what is being proposed and said and done according to “the will of Heaven”. It is taking the next step beyond you as the key to transformation and self-realization. First as simply symbols represented as lines and then later words that were meant to define what the lines meant.

Aligning oneself with the intent of the spirit world you become the essence of change. Aligning change with the Tao is what keeps the world in divine order. It is by aligning ourselves with this through cultivating stillness that our spirit is set free to roam the universe once more as our virtue comes forward to know itself and immortality once again.   

The Dazhuan, the Great Treatise we are following here, goes into great detail using yarrow sticks to illustrate the connections between numbers that correspond to the four kinds of lines that make up a diagram seen as either transforming or 2816stable yin and yang lines. What is  produced is called a bagua, or diagram that gives you access to the words and symbols.

With this you form two of the eight diagrams that have three lines; by doubling them you create one of the sixty-four diagrams. By carrying out and extending the process of extrapolation (instance of inferring an unknown from something that is known), the ten thousand things and every matter under heaven can be covered, Tao made manifest, and spirit powers activated. This process brings the power and spirit of the Way, or Tao to light within you.  You can then serve that spirit by being in harmony with your inner virtue through your activities. When you understand this, you can begin to know how the spirit moves and what the shaman and what would come to be known as Sage Mind understood as well. While it was the shaman who stayed within the confines of religious Taoism, it would be in following the philosophical aspects of the Tao that the sage would play his vital role and where Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and others would define Taoism in the realm of history.

It was the beginning of how to use this process that the Chou used to defeat the Shang dynasty in roughly 1100 BC. The Shang had come to know some of the basic tenets of change described above, but used them for their own self-interest to the detriment of the world around them. It was this misuse of the wisdom and DSCI0084knowledge of what it meant to follow divine order that Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou used to write the basics of the “Book of Rites”, one of the major classics edited by Confucius five hundred years later. 

Depiction of Ji Dan at the Temple of Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou in Qufu. He is known in China at the first true sage.

It would be his father King Wen of the Chou clan who had been imprisoned by the Shang that wrote the initial lines that would be associated with the symbols of change, the I Ching.  They had seen how with the Shang dynasty that by not following what was seen as remaining within the will of nature and mandate of heaven what the consequences could be. They had learned that to know the Tao of alternation and transformation is to know how spirits act and that man should act accordingly.

The Dazhuan    5th Wing Part 1 Number 10

The four-fold Way of the I Ching, Tao, and Sage Mind

Knowing through change focuses on the Sage Mind with the intent of connecting with the divine energy of the universe.

Change exemplifies the four-fold way of the Sage Mind. The sage spoke in the light of its statements; he acts in the light of its figures, and used divination in the light of its omens. He honors its speech through his words so that you can model your thoughts on them and honors its movements through transformation so that you can model your actions on them.

Change reflects its creative power through symbols so that you can model your imagination on them. Then uses its insight into living through these divine signs found in nature so that you can shape your desires through them. It is through this Sage Mind that the sage comes into being. As you shape your own insight gained from the I Ching you learn to live through the signs that have followed you through eternity as you shape your desires through the mirror of change. As all your actions simply come through this image of your true identity, or self, you gain the vision to see the outcome of coming events so that you can model your behavior accordingly. It is for this reason living in the moment in total virtue that Cultivating Stillness becomes as important as it is through Sage Mind that a person becomes transformed or re-born.

As an actualized person, you do not study change – you use it by understanding the I Ching and its connection to the Tao.

You become affixed to its universal meaning and experience it through the context of your own life. We then shape our desires and our lives through the words that speak to transformation. Self-expression through one’s art and in particular what became known as the “three perfections” became the norm. I especially like the landscape painters in the Song dynasty (960–1279), landscape painters such as Fan Kuan (范寬), Guo Xi (郭熙) and Li Tang (李唐) created new manners based on 2817previous traditions.

Travelers among Mountains and Streams, a large hanging scroll, is Fan Kuan’s best known work and a seminal painting of the Northern Song school. It establishes an ideal in monumental landscape painting to which later painters were to return time and again for inspiration. The classic Chinese perspective of three planes is evident – near, middle (represented by water and mist), and far.

Guided by the taste of the emperors, especially Zhao Ji  (趙佶), painters at the court academy focused on observing nature combined with “poetic sentiment” to reinforce the 2818expression of both subject and artist.

Guo Xi developed a strategy of depicting multiple perspectives called “the angle of totality.” Because a painting is not a window, there is no need to imitate the mechanics of vision and view a scene from only one spot.  

The focus on poetic sentiment led to the combination of painting, poetry, and calligraphy. Scholars earlier in the Northern Song (960–1126) thought that painting as an art had to go beyond just the “appearance of forms” in order to express the ideas 2819and cultivation of the artist. This became the foundation of the movement known as literati or scholarly painting.

Li Tang was among the most influential of the early Southern Song landscape artists and had many followers. He developed and perfected the technique of the so-called “ax-cut” brushstrokes, which gave rocks and mountains a particularly fine quality.

Another painter, Zhu Da, also known as Bada Shanren (1626–1705), used the symbols, lines, and yin and yang philosophy, i.e., the I Ching in such a way that demonstrated how the Sage Mind could penetrate the depth of all intentions, showing what is hidden and profound so that the sage can understand the  infinitely subtle beginnings (ji) of change. His perception of the first signs of development is as with your own association with the diagrams that produces your connection to a web of images you relate to in the world as 2820all your actions merely come through it. When the Master says, “The I Ching holds the four-fold Tao of the sages”; this is what he meant.

Ravens and Rocks, Pair, Ink on Silk, Bada Shanren, Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri USA

Carrying a step further that supports and augments the Great Treatise, the influence of two Chinese scholars, Lu Xianshan (1139-1192) and Mencius (372- 289 BC) contributed greatly to this philosophy of the mind, in particular the Sage Mind.

In Unity of the Mind and the Way, Lu says, “The universe is my mind and my mind is the universe.” Lu brought forward the concept of the heart/mind as the ultimate one or source that encompasses everything in the universe and the principle of the Tao.

What this meant was that the mind of humanity and the mind of the Way, or Tao, are the same things. Together these define that we call divine order. He emphasized that everything is connected and originated from the heart/mind. This along with Mencius concept of original mind that was further developed by Lu means that all human beings are born with innate moral knowledge and virtue. This original mind is fourfold as Mencius called them “four roots of the heart”, they are:

  1. Compassion – The root of humaneness (ren)
  2. Shame – The root of righteousness (yi)
  3. Respect – The root of propriety and ritual observation (li)
  4. Knowledge of right and wrong – The root of wisdom (zhi).

These four correlate together like real roots in nature and must be nurtured first before branches are formed and flowers can bloom. This concept is very DSCI0001similar to that found in Cultivating Stillness.

These four roots are said to be tendencies of the mind and require proper nurturing to grow strong and healthy to manifest their true nature, which is virtue. It is felt this original mind is shared by all human beings, both the sage and common people and that its truths are ageless and eternal.

Acquiring this helping spirit helps us to settle into a routine of living in the moment, of being able to arrive at our destination without really trying. We simply arrive by doing nothing as our spirit finds its equilibrium just where it is. It is as the ancients say… we are living in the middle of things, as if in balance, in what is known as wu wei.

Change is universal and without conscious intention seems still and unmoving. As if inert and motionless, but when activated it penetrates every cause under Heaven and the mysteries of everything in the universe.

(This is the fifth of twelve entries, each containing two of the 5th and 6th Wings outlining the origins and purpose of the I Ching, the Dazhuan. Please stay tuned as there is more to the story).

 

 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

27) American Indian traditions and the I Ching – as we continue the next step of our walk with only our innate virtue intact.

That it is as Lao Tzu says, “When I let go of what I am – I become what I might be”.

Maintaining Ancient Virtue

Showing the way can be likened to being the world’s maid.  A job on the surface 271seeming too menial too even consider that success may follow.

Stepping into Virtue     Nanjing Museum

Once you’ve recognized your task, the way becomes even more difficult.  But it is only by experiencing the tediousness can you begin to advance and rule the day.

Advance as if you have the heart of a child without fear, without knowledge that the task is too big. Thereby always keeping your ancient virtue intact.  Simply recognizing that which lies without you while holding onto the oneness within you.  Acknowledging what is at its beginning always becomes something else at its end.

That once was hard must become soft. That if we are constantly referring to what appears to be black or white, we are in reality seeing them as dark or light and if we see things as pure verses defiled, we are acknowledging it as either noble or humble.

Recognizing the above, the task of the sage becomes easy. By adhering to what is soft, 272humble and dark the essence of the Tao is always close at hand.

The Heart of a Child    Shaanxi Museum   Xian

Advance as if you were an uncarved piece of wood waiting to be molded into what is needed with no pre-conceived outcome of what may occur. Always guided by what comes forth without limits, with the Tao always in charge.

While acting as a master tailor, sewing without seams, the job of the maid suddenly comes forth with ease and grace. The job becoming second nature as you have mastered it fully with your virtue leading the way.

  • 保持古朴的美德

为众人引路如同做世界公仆。这工作低微繁琐,但未必能够做好。一旦明白你的职责,道路273就越加显得崎岖曲折。但是,只有经历了沉闷乏味之后,你才能够取得进步,把握住每一天。

With only our virtue leading the Way     Wuhan Museum

前进吧,就装做有一颗无所畏惧的童心,不晓得任务之艰巨,永远保持古朴的美德。保持内在合一的同时,认识与你无关的事物。事物总是不断变化,坚硬终成柔软。我们经常议论黑白,实际上我们看到的是深浅。如果我们把事物分成纯洁与肮脏,就等于承认高贵和低微。

一旦承认以上事实,圣人的职责就变得容易。只要能够坚守柔弱,谦逊和无光,那么你就掌握了道的精华。

前进吧,你是一块未被雕刻的木头等待塑造,预先没有计划,自然也不知道结局如何。在道的负责下,接受万物的指导。

充当主裁缝,制作无缝天衣,公仆的工作一下子变得轻松优雅。在大德的指导下,工作就会变得轻驾就熟,得心应手. (from Thoughts on becoming a Sage, the Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life written in May 2000 and published in China 2006).  

It is as if we follow the American Indian rituals, symbols, and traditions when we live and die… as we each do our part to protect the divine nature of Heaven found here on Earth.

Although every culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, something called animism is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of Indigenous peoples’ spiritual perspective. Ultimately, it has always been about our relationship to the universe and stars above, our reflection of them through nature… our presence, and our perception of Heaven and Earth. Rituals bind us to our origins, or beginnings, and who we have always been that with structure and 274discipline takes us there. Resembling the shaman of every ancient culture, not just what is highlighted here in Chinese history, as referred to earlier as our totem, but in everything.

Something that might be called animism from Latin that means “breath, spirit, or life” and reflects the spirit, a religious belief, or philosophy of life, that manifests as objects, places and creatures with all possessing a distinct spiritual essence. 

What Tolstoy spoke so passionately about in the previous entry as we get closer and in line with the eternal spirit. Potentially, animism perceives all things – animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words – 275as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many Indigenous, or native peoples, especially in contrast to what can be seen as religion sometimes used as fear of knowledge and wisdom that opens us to who we are. Opposite guided solely by our innate nature and spirit, illustrated over eons of time as the power of yin/yang, understanding that it is complementary opposites that attract and complete each other as the I Ching, and demonstrated by native cultures described briefly here.

Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have some agency or merit and that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world. That soul, spirit, or sentience, exists not only in humans, but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment i.e., in effect 276what we find in Taoism, i.e., the ten thousand things in Chinese history. Animism also attributes a life force to abstract concepts such as symbols, words, and names we give that denote a divine presence that all things possess. An existential pragmatism the universe only asks us to latch onto and expand.

As if encompassing universal transcendence and the true meaning of becoming transcendental. Transcendentalism is not only something newly discovered identified today in the West as “New Thought”. It is simply reverting back to our beginnings to our divine innate nature. To who we have always been and awakening to what we have always known, but forgotten… to what is found through the I Ching and the Tao.

Everywhere in history, this has been known, taught, and brought forward by the earliest shaman. This connection has mostly been relayed as metaphor – something used to mean or represent something else. Typically, through storytelling, mythology become something beyond description that cannot be seen, known, or fully understood except through the use of imagination and symbols. Conveying basic unexplainable, yet undeniable universal truths, that can be regularly performed, stories told, songs sung, and ceremonies conducted that provides context and a path to understanding. Most importantly, providing a mechanism for a person to see himself or herself as a part of something much greater than themselves in such a way that they can say – yes, me too! As we too can begin to look back, see ourselves sitting around the fire mesmerized by the great shaman of the day. It 277becomes easy to see how the universal presence begins within us. It was the role of the shaman to ensure everyone understood and could capture this presence within themselves.

This animistic perspective is widely held and inherent to most Indigenous peoples in that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to animism, an overriding philosophy, or even what would become considered religion.

This parallels beginnings found and described here to the Tao and I Ching, and is often known, or referred to as an anthropological construct, or how ancient people think and how they perceive and categorize the world, their rules for behavior, what has meaning for them, and how they imagine and explain things. Over time and history, we expand our illumination and vibrations, something we call mindfulness – as we attempt to relate to or with the present. As we each continue the next stage of our own walk – in earnest.

Many adherents to traditional American Indian ways characteristically deny that their people ever engaged in any religion at all. Insisting their whole culture and social structure was and still is infused with a spirituality that cannot be separated from nature, their natural surroundings, and relationship with the rest of the community’s life at any point.  Living in the ultimate sway of nature and virtue, as if saying there can be no go between an individual and the spirit world.

Attributes found in the Green Corn Ceremony, the Snake Dance, kachinas, the Sun Dance,  sweat-lodge ceremonies, and the sacred pipe are not specifically religious constructs of various tribes, but rather represent specific ceremonial aspects of a world that includes countless ceremonies in any given tribal context, ceremonies performed by whole communities, clans, families, or 278individuals on a daily, periodic, seasonal, or occasional basis. It’s what takes us there, whose purpose is to connect with the spirit world that is already present.

Painting by George Catlin

The Green Corn Ceremony is an annual ceremony practiced among various Native American peoples associated with the beginning of the yearly corn harvest serving to connect all to nature and the spirit world. Busk is a term given to the ceremony by white traders, the word being a corruption of the Creek word puskita for “a fast”. Giving thanks in advance for the planting and harvest yet to come. These ceremonies have been documented throughout the Eastern and Southeastern tribes of North America.  Historically, it involved a first fruits rite in which the community would sacrifice the first of the green corn to ensure the rest of the crop would be successful. This mirrors the same rituals and symbolism held for thousands of years in China that denote the harbinger of Spring and a new year.

An example used as a spiritual symbol, would the ceremonial smoking pipe, used by a number of Native American cultures in their sacred ceremonies. Traditionally they are used to offer prayers in a religious ceremony, to make a ceremonial 99-12-10/53100.5 T3005.2commitment, or to seal a covenant or treaty.  The pipe ceremony may be a component of a larger ceremony, or held as a sacred ceremony in and of itself.

A pipe stem from the upper Missouri River area, without the pipe bowl, from the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. 

As relayed above, Indigenous peoples of the Americas who use ceremonial pipes have names for them in each culture’s language. Not all cultures have pipe traditions, and there is no single word for all ceremonial pipes across the hundreds of diverse Native American languages. While others may identify a single ritual as the “religion” of a particular people, the people themselves will likely see that ceremony as merely an extension of their day-to-day existence. All parts of which are experienced within ceremonial parameters and should be seen as more spiritual than religious. Not so much of what they do, but extensions of who they innately are as divinely guided beings. What would be referred to today as simply having a presence that connects to an innate sense of transcendence and shared universal vibrations.

For instance, among the Osage Indians, native to Southwest Missouri, what 2711anthropologists dealing with the scientific description of individual cultures would classify as “religion” pervades even the habitual acts of sleeping and putting on shoes. All the ceremonies and prayers of the Osage reflect the principle of the simultaneous duality and unity of all existence. A famous Osage Indian saying was/is that “We do not believe that our ancestors were really animals, birds, etc., as told by myth and tradition. These things are only symbols of connection to something greater” … this is said as one points to the sky.

Osage prayers commonly begin with an address to the Wakonda Above and the Wakonda Below (manifested in Sky and Earth, respectively), the two great enabling forces of the universe. This principle is mirrored in the architectural structure of Osage towns and in the marriage customs of the people. The same Chien and Kun – Heaven and Earth discussed here as the I Ching.

The Dazhuan is composed of the 5th and 6th Wings of what is known as the Ten Essential Commentaries with each having twelve entries that total twenty-four altogether. Below are numbers seven and eight of the 5th Wing. All told, they convey the history of the I Ching and how each of us should live our lives in such a way that conveys our own innate virtue and are considered the benchmark to all 2712essential wisdom. I wrote my own version of the Dazhuan in 2014. Below are segments I wrote that appear here on my website. This all sounds complicated. But it’s really like learning to drive. It’s simply knowing the rules of the road, staying on course (our life), and following them. It’s like the universe asking you not to be anyone but who you are already are, building on, and going there.

Complimentary opposites coming together to find common ground. As if two drops of water at the crest of a ridge pole or middle setting a passageway for eternity to follow their lead. Setting the tone in harmony with each other. It’s finding this within ourselves that makes the I Ching and finding our inner comfort from within appealing.

As stated earlier, it is in matching words and symbols with our intent and actions that becomes our life. We use them to express the meaning of spirit. Others can often use our words to define their own as well. Re-defining what fits their own senses, as they re-interpret what was meant and to be following what we know as universal truth that are tied to nature and the Tao.

The Dazhuan   5th Wing        Part I   Number 7

Opening the Gates – the I Ching becomes Supreme

Is it not as if Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu along with Ji Dan and King Wen are in 2713fact here whispering in my ear what must be said again as one considers their transformation as the essence of virtue, tranquility and change?

It is as if it is their voices reaching across the centuries conveying the true meaning of cultivating stillness and the gifts of the Way that are to be followed. As if we are putting feet on Lao Tzu’s work in a practical way by eliminating the mystery so that others can see their own future in the Tao and the cosmos.  First, is the recognition that coming into virtue cannot be a haphazard affair, that true study of the Tao and change is superior to other methods of spiritual transformation.

From the earliest shaman and sage, they used this power and virtue on behalf of Heaven, Earth, and everything in between. It is in effect connecting the intuition of Heaven which lifts us to our highest good with the thought of Earth that connects us with others. With these two grounded internally within, it is as if nothing else can enter and we are henceforth protected as if gates have been erected to determine what may enter. As if Heaven has now told you your 2714mission.  Once this is done your nature becomes complete and you can find your true place in the world.

The eternal ritual urn used to connect with the universal spirit

We must give these two fundamental powers – the intuition of Heaven and thought which connects us with others and Earth – as fixed places within ourselves. It is by and through this inner discipline that we open ourselves to change. It is when we open or erect the gates that the process of transformation can begin. It is by this we go through the process of “fixing our heart”. Not running after each emotion. Not that you repress your feelings, but that you dis-identify with them. This is an underlying and fundamental aspect or teaching of change that sustains us and helps us to endure. By realizing and fixing the poles within us, we find tranquility and can set about completing our own nature and fate.

In meditation we learn to listen to our inner voice and to our teachers. Those we 2715have always known and thought of once as dragons… or perhaps angels or bodhisattva as might be more easily defined by some, as the ultimate image and mirror of our divinity, enlightenment, or the true sage. In quiet stillness, we listen and hear Lao Tzu and other mentors we have known through eternity and only come to ask the same question we have always repeated. “Is not change above all other things?”

By observing nature and the cosmos, the sage has always used change to exalt their power and virtue to include what they gained as spirit, through Heaven. Just as they were able to broaden their field of understanding to include the expanse of Earth. It is these two connecting with the intuition of Heaven that raises us up so that we can identify with our own divinity as the connection to the universe that connects us to all other things that humbles us. What it is that further gives us humility to become who we are to be as our virtue while we are here.

The shaman taught that by exalting what we follow in Heaven, we can connect what we find on Earth. We do this by giving both Heaven and Earth fixed 2716places or established poles within ourselves. What we allow comes and goes and is called “fixing or erecting the gates” and ultimately serves to define us.

Entering Heaven’s Gate    Huashan Mountain in China

We begin to proceed with this transformation through the Taoist canon referred to as Cultivating Stillness. By following this ancient text, you can complete your nature, as it sustains you through life and gives you the perseverance to endure. This becomes the gateway to the Tao. It fixes your heart leaving little doubt as to the path you must follow and frees you from compulsion. Your thoughts and actions become but a mirror of which you see yourself as becoming. If that means that you spend your time identifying and finding ways to return to your source, then be the first to open the gates to understanding the wisdom and virtue you have 2717always known that has been ever-present and at your beck and call.

As the ancients explored the universe, i.e., the mysteries of the Tao, they could see what was both beautiful and radical as exemplified in nature and to demonstrate the power of the I Ching by showing our connection with and to the ten thousand things and between the symbols and words we choose to represent them over time.

The building to the left is what is referred to as the “Peitian Gate” whose name 2718is derived from the Confucian saying “The virtues match the heaven and earth” – two of the four symbols “Azure Dragon and White Tiger” representing the four constellations enshrined at the main hall at the base of Taishan Mountain in Shandong Province. The centerpiece of the Dia Temple is the Palace of Heavenly Blessings (Tian Kuang), built in 1008 AD. 

It is what can be seen as light (yang) and dark (yin) and an on-going balance between the two that shows nothing in the universe exists alone by itself. For everything to exist it must have its opposite and that both are in continual interplay: life and death, joy and sorrow, man and women, love and hate, expansion and contraction.  Everything existing in a state of flux with these qualities constantly moving, first one and then the other with one dark and one light, where we lose our way is when we try to hold onto one when the other comes into full play. This interchanging is critical to understanding what will follow with how the I Ching works, as we move into further discussion in this series of entries here on the website.

It is when we understand that the opposites are meant to complement each other that our own reality comes into focus. That when we can totally identify our thinking with this process, never trying to hold onto one over the other, that you can begin to fully know the Tao and to find the way of virtue (te). If you want to call it benevolent, call it benevolence. It is the gift of life. It is concealed in all that you do. Most importantly, it does not share the Confucian philosopher’s anxiety about imperfection. Understand the spontaneity of 2719Chuang Tzu and you can see the Tao as perfect and its power and virtue as complete. Its greatness possesses all things including us.   

It was here that the “one light and one dark” is the Way of the Tao began to transform what was to become the ridgepole that would define Chinese philosophy. This became the essence to understanding and when the terms yin and yang were first used and appeared as a pair. The key to wisdom and understanding is to never see or hold the opposites separately; they are to be held together. By holding them together you have found the key element, i.e., what is essential. By using this, an individual can become who they are really meant to be.

It is the Tao that is seen by embracing the two in the one, as the ultimate te, cementing power and virtue together. Just as it is change that gives life or birth to 2720everything that has a beginning, it is the power that moves the symbols and what unfolds them into life.

The Eight Immortals of Chinese Taoist history

So, it is in using the I Ching that shows us how the symbols are unfolding to create our fate. Its greatness possesses all things and it is through its great possessions we know true prosperity. What moves and completes the symbols is called Ch’ien (Heaven) and what unfolds them into patterns is called K’un (Earth). In using the symbols found in change (the I Ching), we learn our fate through our connection with the divine and become transformed in tune with vibrations with who we have always been.

It is when we penetrate our own transformation by cultivating 2721stillness through what Lao Tzu teaches us, that we can begin to understand the light and the dark and the spirit (shen), or window, within ourselves. It is then as we do the work, our eternal spirit arrives as if conveying that it’s time to awaken to our true selves, look back at our beginnings, and prepare to take the next step.

This has always the question of the shaman and sage. As he begins looking within to his inner virtue for guidance and remembering his innate connection first to nature and the world around him, to what he can see, touch, feel, and then convey to others. What his senses connect him to. And then secondly, how is it that his inner virtue connects to the cosmos. It is for this reason a solid foundation is sought that answers to his source.

Over the millennia it has been in stillness that the universe comes calling, and it is how we respond to the inevitable spirits that know us by name that determine our 2722fate who know us by who we have always been.

Everything here, the updating of the 5th and 6th Wings, the Dazhuan; the intoning of the Taoist canon Cultivating Stillness; the references to specific locations of I Ching and Taoist historic sites important to Chinese philosophical and religious history, are to ignite, or re-ignite our eternal connection to our innermost origins, to what defines us and who we really are. Not for necessarily the scholar, but for Lieh Tzu’s everyday man, the common man who seeks his own fate in both the light and dark and change.

The Dazhuan   5th Wing        Part I   Number 8

The Sage Mind and Superior Man, the Symbols, and the Lines

It is our ability to go deep within to Sage Mind, to our capacity of 2723enlightenment and wisdom and its relations with and to the figures and symbols that connect us to the universe. It is the calling of the lines that ignite the interest of the sage, especially with recollections of Fu Hsi and Nuwa, the Yellow Emperor or Huangdi, Ji Dan the Duke of Chou, Confucius and so many others.

Rather real, myth, or simply imagined, it was the acts of the shaman and sage that determined the future of China. And in reality, all native Indigenous peoples around the world. Best depicted by the activities described by the American Indians described above.

Others then took their symbols, words and writing translating, or representing what they “truly meant to say”, in order to fit the times they intended to create. But it was the sage and Sage Mind that set the stage for all that followed.

Just as it was then and continues to be Sage Mind that expresses the thoughts of Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu and the Tao. Sage Mind expresses the essence of the Tao from its beginning with an understanding beyond every day events, Sage Mind recognizes change as formative and the way there is by cultivating stillness. Others things have had their influence along the way; however, the Tao and change are what remains eternal along with our own eternal essence.

It was a desire to understand the meaning of the knowledge and wisdom with a uniform structure that led to the lines representing everything through the cosmos to yin and yang and reasoning beyond simply every day events. Sage Mind created the I Ching to tell us if the way ahead was open or closed for a particular or certain situation as everyone coalesces around what the lines, change, and oracle means to them.

By using change (the symbols and lines) the Sage Mind speaks to us. If we listen it can move both our thoughts and actions. He calculates and then speaks. He considers and then acts. If we use them, we are spontaneously transformed.

The divine use of the I Ching is an important part of spiritual discipline. Different 2725people can receive different or unique divine portraits of a certain circumstance as all are spontaneous. The sage does not analyze the lines; he brings them inside himself to find the right fit within his heart and mind. It is as if his innate divine sense of how to respond to a symbol or how this particular event will play out in keeping with the laws of nature and the Tao are to remain open or closed. It was through understanding the enormous power of symbolic reality and the power it possesses that the Sage Mind could shape events while having no technical analysis to define it. Much later Confucian schools of analysis tried to find some systematic analysis of the numbers, line position or yin-yang relation to their advantage. It was the sage who knew that the spirit moves spontaneously through the universe as it acts on its ability to respond to a symbol, to register, understand, and convey an answer to a problem in symbolic terms.

As if the Sage Mind is only acting as the conduit or ultimate connection to the 2726cosmos as the symbols are transmitted into words of virtue by and through us.

It is by and through cultivating stillness our tranquility and virtue become exposed that we become able to think and act intuitively through our own Sage Mind.  

 The Master said, “If a Superior Man stays indoors and utters good words, they are accepted a thousand leagues, or miles, away, and if they are bad words, they are rejected just the same. Words one used may influence people, deeds start from where one is and are seen from afar. Words and deeds are a Superior Man’s hinge and trigger. How he uses them decides glory or shame as his words and deeds move Heaven and Earth. How could he not be cautious?”

The Master continues, “To speak of his own merit belittles a man. If one’s own ability grows greater, one’s behavior shows respect, this is modesty and that in perfecting respect for others that we preserve our own standing”.

The Dazhuan   5th Wing        Part I   Number 8.1

The Goal of Change and discovering our Helping Spirit  

It is change that makes the way visible. It shows spirit in action and helps you to accumulate power and virtue. Those who use change receive aid from the universe as they acquire a helping spirit similar to those who in ancient times were protected by the transcendence of universal spirit, and have often taken 2727on the metaphor of being a dragon in Chinese history.

Chinese dragon depicted on water urn from British Museum that was originally from the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in China. I visited the museum in April 2012 while at the book fair I attended with a Chinese literary delegation.

The dragon becoming the closest resemblance man could obtain in immortality to his innate highest self, i.e., the true and eternal sage. The question before the inquiring mind as they have continually focused on cultivating their most inner nature and spirit has been –

“If you know the way of Change (The I Ching) and virtue and the transformations that can occur, won’t you then know how the spirit acts?” This has always been the underlying precept, or quest for gaining the knowledge and wisdom of the Tao.

What Lao Tzu teaches is focusing on cultivating stillness and finding the appropriate teachers with attributes needed in making this discipline come into play. It is the process of acquiring this “helping spirit” (shen) just as in the past, like the ancient shaman and sage that one re-discovers their source.

It is through using change that you learn the Way of the Tao. It helps you to 2729accumulate the power and virtue (te) to become an accomplished person and begin to return to what is universal, where you fit in the cosmos and eternal scheme of things. 

It’s like preparing for a trip home and only taking what you have learned while you are here. It is this that makes one truly immortal; that if you know the way of change and transformation, the ways of the ancient sage and shaman are open to you as well. Who are these “helping spirits” we call shen, how do we perfect or transform these traits within ourselves and how does the Great Treatise and change, the I Ching, expand on this process?

What is important is that every living thing possesses an innate knowing of the Way by and through its own innate nature, and just as important that there is a universal presence that has known of us as well. That this “protective spirit” has always been present as if on stand-by, as if our own thoughts, words, and challenges that we encounter in the present are here to illustrate our connection with change and responsibility to and for the universe expressed as us only as our virtue.

It’s our efforts in seeking a “helping spirit” beyond ourselves in the here and now… in the present, that always seems elusive.

As if our “spirit guides” have always been here from the beginning, simply 2730waiting. The shaman knew and felt a connection with the unknown that shows or signifies that we are in reality both different and the same as those around us depending how we define, or know of, our own divinity that is determined only by the role we are here to grow into and play. That once we can see beyond ourselves, that our goals and more importantly our attributes, i.e., what becomes of our bliss, begins to reside on a higher plane and that we possess a vision of what can be. 

As if the voice of the sage from a different indefinable place has our attention, and us him/her. The gender of the sage (male/female) plays an equal role – it must for the yin/yang to complete itself.  The historical shaman and sage can also appear as either as well. That clearing your mind is central to the endeavor and change itself is as if waiting until we become fully engaged and committed to what is to become our highest and best good… and what the 2731words and most importantly the symbols of the I Ching teach us. To a place of no ego and little or no attachments. Not only for ourselves, but proceeding as if we are here to help or show others the Way of the Tao, a universal God or spirit if you like, as well. Again… what the Buddhist would refer to as following the Bodhisattva vow.

Key understanding is that yin/yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. This makes keeping away from extremes and to the middle, allows you to go in either direction depending on the spontaneity of the circumstances or situation at hand.   

Two terms from the Hsi Tz’u Chuan (a treatise forming part of the Ten Wings) are important here. First, is hsiang, often appearing as symbols that speak to the subconscious mind of the inquirer that evokes an imaginative process AM7which completes the ceaseless energy, or activity of Heaven. This is epitomized by the person known as the chun tzu, the ideal user of the I Ching who immerses himself in the figures obtained through divination while taking the words into his heart, as if in prayer, he allows them to symbolize his situation making it symbolic. In this way he brings forth spirit or ‘shen’ as he acts in accordance with the spontaneous changes of the universe as his own origins.

(This is the fourth of twelve entries, each containing two of the 5th and 6th Wings outlining the origins and purpose of the I Ching, the Dazhuan. Please stay tuned as there is more to the story).

 

 

 

 

By 1dandecarlo