We are the change the world is looking for as we become true to ourselves again. Learning to become who we are as the Christ presence from within, as the Tao and I Ching can serve and teach us to become one with the universal wisdom we have always known.
There is a path to follow – some call it the Bodhisattva vow. Others simply calling it God or other names by faith. There is only one power and presence in the universe – our role is to go there in unity with all others. It is by and through learning from the I Ching our path or way can become clear.
The below was written almost twenty years ago as my own version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching from “Thoughts on becoming a Sage – The Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life”. (We are all becoming the sage when we follow our bliss in pursuit of our highest endeavor and ultimate destiny).
Thoughts on becoming a Sage – The Guidebook to leading a virtuous Life
Verse 3 – Preparing the Way
The sage must begin again by daily ritual and purification. You must prepare an area for optimum meditation and reflection. You must set aside all other activities and thoughts so as to be quiet, still, able to listen and be prepared to learn.
You must instill determination, release all desires, and come to find discipline. When you are ready all will flow unimpeded through you.
You are to become the vessel when and if you remain worthy of the mantle placed upon you. All is within you – everything you need is already here. We have been waiting for you to be fully prepared for the journey.
Clear your mind, cleanse your heart and open your mind and be prepared for the great and auspicious journey to come. Use every moment to seek clarity. Paying attention to detail brings focus necessary for true learning. Come forward to know thyself and all will become clear.
Now go. But remain vigilant and dedicated to who you are to become. Your endeavors will bring forth your ultimate destiny…
Becoming the Vessel Wuhan Museum
Understanding change, as told in the Dazhuan, The Great Treatiseis the process of identifying and encompassing the I Ching within oneself – how to combine the Tao and change, identify within yourself a sense of spiritual cultivation and the transformation that follows. Just as Emmanuel Kant and Ralph Waldo Emerson taught us that in following our innate, inward nature, the Christ presence within us would emerge and we could become universal, find and know ourselves.
Connecting with the Way of the Tao. Ultimately, it is our own words joining, or linking, with the lines and oracle (as if a divine communication or revelation) and how they move us that matters. The Dazhuan tells us that the Book of Change, the I Ching creates the following as it serves to double all the processes that create the reality that we experience. Sometimes, it is as if knowledge and wisdom are gained by opening our hearts and minds to infinite possibilities to things we have not previously imagined or considered possible. Sending us off on what may be called the “Great Enterprise”. What is important is to acknowledge that this “Great Enterprise”described below encompasses all things not just man. China has historically described this as “the ten thousand things”. Everything found in nature is sacred. Divinity is all around us and we are all are sacred as something much bigger than ourselves. That there exists the “Christ presence” that is present in all things. Its what the American Indians knew instinctively about our connection to and with nature and the universe we live, they fought so hard to keep, and what Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce expressed so well when he said “It does not take many words to speak the Truth”. That no one owns the sun, moon and stars in which we find our place to thrive with all other things.
Approaching and writing about the Dazhuan cannot be a haphazard affair. Commentaries by the greatest thinkers and philosophers in Chinese history, of which, Chuang Tzu, Confucius and Wang Pi, were only three of the most famous who created the framework for all who have weighed in on the Great Commentaries.These Ten Wings, of which The Dazhuan was numbers five and six, formed the basis of most all serious thought in China that would follow.
Interpreting the meaning of the I Ching was to take from the shaman and sage what it all means building on thousands of years of observing the universe and stars above, nature, cause and effect, and man’s connection to it all. The creator was not outside of us – it was in and us as well. There could never be thoughts of separation because everything is ultimately connected to everything else. We are all one – we are the world. It’s what Emerson and Kant taught us in the West about following our divinity and the innate nature we already inherently possess, our existing Christ presence and consciousness that sustains us.
What came out of something including us and all things found in nature, was always in direct correlation to what went into it in the beginning – mostly simply waiting to be built on and exposed. Like going out the same door you came in after you have arrived. In China, Taoists generally felt one way and the Confucians quite another. This created in essence a parallel universe when “what it all meant” would shape Chinese history and philosophy for all time. As if the process needed to find that place where duality is reconciled. However, many feel Confucius was a Taoist at heart based on the benevolence and virtue he expressed. It was later when others could use his words to say… well this is what he really meant that he was venerated for various reasons.
A second book entitled Cultivating Stillness interpreted by Eva Wong stressed equanimity, good health, peace of mind, and long life as the goals of the ancient Taoist tradition known as “internal alchemy”, of which Cultivating Stillness is a key text. Written between the second and fifth centuries, the book is attributed however to Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching. A principal part of the Taoist canon for many centuries, it served as the basis along with these two Wings for all learning by Taoist precepts in monasteries in China for over two thousand years. They are still in use today.
The third “book” along with Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, that was a requirement was the “Book of Lieh Tzu”. It would serve as a conscious effort to show how all the pieces fit together. My own version of the “Book of Lieh Tzu” entitled “My travels with Lieh Tzu, Interpolations along the Way”, also appears here at this website I wrote in 1994-95 in what is still an unpublished manuscript. All three, the Commentaries (including the 5th and 6th Wings), Cultivating Stillness, and The Book of Lieh Tzu were considered to be “teaching manuals or textbooks”.
It’s not a matter of simply reading the words. It is becoming what you have written through meditation followed by mindfulness, and incorporating as the wisdom you live by. It is what great artists do through calligraphy, and the 8th-century Chinese calligrapher Yan Zhenqing, who is considered as the father of Chinese calligraphy said to have learned to hold his hand just right by watching geese in the pond next to his home. Or works by musicians Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Artists like Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, Monet, and van Gogh. The Beatles, and especially John, Paul, and George Harrison. Poets like Bob Dillon, Shakespeare, and Walt Whitman. Tolstoy, Aristotle and Plato.Today, movies, museums, and theaters depict similar themes we are innately attracted too. Its what churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples do to help to take us to our highest awareness of who we are… simply connecting us with ourselves. The architecture of Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Confucius Temple and Mansion in Qufu and Forbidden City in Beijing and the British Museum in London (I have been to all of them).
All of the above pushing us to find the love from within our own “Christ consciousness and presence”and use this as our own voice to the universe. Creating what some have been known to call “good vibrations”. Their purpose moving us to our own highest destiny. Because that’s who they were and why we are here. They were expressing themselves as our mutual highest endeavor, as our Christ presence and the Tao, or closer to our own divinity if you like. Along with so many more… who wrote, painted, and played music for the ages… for eternity and immortality and especially for us.
Or perhaps even the great metaphysicians and storytellers, who are here to help convey what it all means. It’s the presence that comes from within us. The words of Rumi and dancing as he takes us divinely above the clouds and the extension of the great Manjusri, the purveyor of wisdom exemplified by the Buddhist bodhisattva vow. Simply the vibrations we are all here to exemplify and become as well. It is the eternal essence of what the I Ching and Tao were to convey and teach us. Only after knowing who we are, can we begin to find our way to our source and move beyond where we are now. It is what eternity is about.
It is what the great Sioux medicine man Black Elk was told as a young boy in his vision by his spirit guides outlining the future of his People from atop the Black Hills of South Dakota.
What Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about before he died about “going to the mountaintop and seeing the other side”. He had no fear of what was to come because he anticipated in his heart and mind what might happen and was ready to go home. He had done what he was here to do this time. Just as all the great teachers had done before him. Ultimately, he was simply a man of the Tao, of God’s love for all of us and conveyed what the Christ within each of us really means.
All above here to guide us to the greatness within as to what is inevitably to come and how to make the most of our own story that writes itself. As we only fill in the details as yet unwritten. Even in my teaching at the university in China where I taught more than four-hundred students who planned to be English teachers themselves. I would tell them to find their niche and use their future role as teachers to discover who they were and to encourage students to contribute their own strengths and to help others find theirs as well. As if attempting to fulfill my own role, my own bodhisattva vow as a historian, storyteller and teacher. What I am guided to do here on my webpage.
The Dazhuan is composed of the 5th and 6th Wings of what is known as the Ten Essential Commentaries with each having twelve entries. Some written by Confucius, others by competing Confucians and Taoists prevalent at the time. Below are numbers one and two of the 5th Wing.
There are twelve parts to each Wing. (twelve in the 5th Wing and twelve in the 6th) All told, they convey the history of the I Ching with origins dating back thousands of years telling 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 that appear here on my website, the balance will follow in subsequent entries. This is going to be a lot of information. I don’t expect you to read and absorb in one sitting. Please keep for future reference. This entry represents only the first two of a total of twenty four that conveys the whole story. Like life, it continues as a work in progress. Telling the story is cathartic, i.e., corrective, invigorating, life-sustaining, restores us in re-claiming our essence of our innermost being. It teaches me how far I have yet to travel and prepare for the journey yet to come.
Part 1 of the Dazhuan
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 1
A cosmic analogy – How Heaven and Earth define Change
There is a symbolic reality of what lies between figures formed in Heavenand are shapes on Earth as high and low places are spread about as both movement and stillness. Just as with in the face of Heaven each person stands alone, there are limits to what is knowable. Just as there are gates in which things come and go always transforming into being something new.
The energies that are at work in Heaven and Earth also drive the symbols of change as we observe that events never happen alone and thatall changes and the transformation of Heaven and Earth reside in theYijing, or I Ching. The symbols of change found in the I Ching contain the formative power of both Heaven and Earth as whole and broken lines that distinguish that events are both different and the same and can be interpreted and understood.
These transformations can be seen in the movement found in the Eight Diagrams, the bagua. These three-line figures contain the energy of natural processes: as thunder and lightning stimulate, wind and rain fertilize, sun and moon move on their prescribed courses and after cold comes heat.
The fundamental symbols of change are chien and kun. They contain the power of Heaven and Earth and serve to connect us directly with change. Quan or Chien (Heaven) helps us to change spontaneously letting us know change in our hearts. Kun (Earth)makes and completes everything. This gives us the ability to act without complications or pride (ego) and lets us follow change in life with simplicity and spontaneity. When we open ourselves to the influence of change, we acquire the ability to gain both the deep affection of others and ability to lead our own life as an independent person.
The Great Treatise tells us, “What is readily recognized is accepted. What is readily followed brings success. What is accepted can endure and what brings success can grow great. Endurance is the wise man’s power; greatness is the wise man’s task. Being spontaneous and simple means grasping the principles of all under Heaven; grasping the principles of all under chien, or Heaven, means finding one’s place in the midst of kun, or earth”. This is called the “Great Enterprise”.
For myself, this exemplifies the true meaning of the universal “Christ consciousness and presence”, finding or place here on earth, returning to our source and becoming universal. he key to initiating a sense of understanding change is becoming aware of what is known as symbolic reality that teaches us to see the pattern of things. It is this symbolic reality that becomes our own reflection. Staying in the middle is a step towards freedom from compulsive emotion, the fear of anticipation, and sorrow over the unexpected. The I Chinggives you direct access to the symbolic world behind appearances and with practice follow structure and the ability to know our beginnings and what lies ahead.
Unfortunately, many in Western culture, and modern-day China as well, have attempted to portray the I Ching as nothing more than fortune-telling or like nothing more than reading their horoscope. Popular culture can demean what we don’t understand or may be seen to diminish our own limited beliefs.
Our horoscope is directly related to the cosmos and one of twelve constellations connected to the month and year we are born in. Our pull to this is similar to that of the pull of the tides of the ocean and the moon. Simply tendencies that are meant to keep us centered and on course. Even a tailwind pushing us forward, or a headwind if ignored. Something the earliest shaman knew as innately as the sun rising in the morning and setting at night. Its who we are.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 2
Following the Omens and One’s Fate
The shaman and sages created the hexagrams having observed the nuances found in nature then added statements to indicate good and ill omens as man followed the natural course of events. (A hexagram occurs by combining two of the eight elements pictured that show each having three lines with a total of sixty-four possibilities). That what came into a situation determined the outcome. An omen is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future (as simple as heavy clouds coming this way portending rain). Often signifying the advent of change one learned through observation (cause and effect) and what occurs afterwards. People in ancient times believed that omens appear or come with a divine message from God who they saw as residing with the stars they could see at night and the coming of the sun and moon everyday as fixtures they could identify with that made them a part of something more than themselves. For early China this meant the shaman was considered to have a direct link with Heaven and what was to later be known as the I Ching and by extension the Tao. He/she possessing the means and was the method to communicate what these omens meant.
The key the shaman discovered was an understanding that the whole and broken lines of the hexagram once formed replace one another and that a person could alter his fate by staying connected to his or her source.
Thus, omens both auspicious and disastrous became figures of failure and success, and that troubles and distress are figures of worry and anxiety that leads to alternation and transformation… and change. And that it is how we connect through our insight and imagination back to our beginning, or source, that we can see and determine our future. All this will be further explained in later entries here describing the 5th and 6th Wingsthat follow this entry.
The key to understanding myths and legends in China is that they point to a door to further understanding over five thousand years of continuous history and culture. They point to the place where ancient stories were born, retold and modified to fit current events over and over again. This has always been the niche of the storyteller. Tradition tells us that the storyteller reveals, and thus shares, him/her self through his/her telling and the listeners reveal and share themselves through their reception of the story. It is this ability outlined above by the artisans of the agesthat told their own story through their art, words, and music that gained universal appeal. Storytelling offers the security of explanation; how life and its many forms began and why things happen, as well as entertainment and enchantment. We are strengthened and maintained through stories that connected the present, the past and the future. As if getting this close to your dreams and being able to touch them. Its where the storyteller takes you with your imagination in tow. It’s what and where knowing what the meaning of the I Ching tells and teaches us.
Like coming together to sing “We are the World”. The one/or ones telling the story in such a way that myth and reality merge into one story that fits or suits the times. Making connections, showing how through the stories from the ancients and those who came before us, that there was a way of becoming universal ourselves. What we have called becoming transcendental. We thereby become a part of the story through our lives and by living and telling our own version of events as we too come in harmony with change. Opening the door to who we have always been as our benevolent and highest self and will be again. Our purpose here is to first re-discover our source, i.e., who we are and have always been, and to simply remember as something for us to build on.
As if connecting with what truly defines us before history began and the deep wisdom that resided at a time when few people doubted the reality they expressed. Over time, it was just a matter of furthering a common story that everyone could identify with and then become a part of the story as well. It is a commonality everyone shares regardless of their origin. The key to transformation acknowledged by the shaman was that symbols were more lasting than words where meaning could be interpreted in many ways. These symbols are re-enforced by the rituals we perform in our daily lives.
It was the lines of the diagrams of the I Chingand words conveying certain meanings that created the language called change. Through the sage, who also represented the spirits, they learned the method of advancing and withdrawing energy, the alternation of light and dark, and the three powers or pivots – Heaven, Earth, and Humanity.
The role of the sage has been to help us to take our place in history and finding tranquility, the place our hearts truly reside and the peace of mind to stay there. But it is the connection to the Tao, I Ching, and Cultivating Stillness to be illustrated here that begins with the movement of the six lines of the hexagram illustrating the Tao of the Great Triad. It is these Three Pure Ones that are the Taoist Trinity, the three highest Gods in the Taoist pantheon.They are regarded as pure manifestation of the Tao and the origin of all sentient beings. From the Taoist classic Tao Te Ching, it was held that “The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things.”Ultimately understanding that there is only the Tao, the Buddha, the Christ presence, one unknowable God, as we may define him/her. Only that we need help in getting there with many lesser deities whose role and by ritual help to take us there as with the Buddhist practice that stresses ritual, mindfulness and meditation, and focusing on our internal spirit guide – the Buddha within. It’s not only so much as who you are (we are all divine). It’s what you do with what you have always known, and what you can accomplish with this knowledge and awareness as our growth contributes to our inner selves and how that extends to the world around us.
This key to the process of divination and understanding the role of the oracle is as if fine-tuning of prayer. As in meditation, expressing a problem, a difficulty, or emotion, you pose the question to change (to the I Ching) in words. Then you must take the words of the answer into your heart. The answer or symbol will arise as if a spirit has been evoked and the right answer will appear. It acts as the soul and changes the way one thinks setting foot on the Way of the Tao becoming what Chuang Tzu would call the Perfected Man and furthered by the Eight Immortals and Queen Mother of the West in Chinese history.
ThePerfected, or sometimes referred to Superior Man, finds his place in life resting content in the succession of change; he finds satisfaction taking delight in his thoughts and words. When he acts, he observes the alternations and takes delight in the omens, as if knowing the future that lies before him. Thusly, becoming the person he is meant to be. The grace of Heaven and eternal dragons (or some may call angels), always coming to his aid as the way of the Tao becomes auspicious and open to him as his highest endeavor and destiny is now secure. This is often known as wu-wei in China. With this he has become the sage and returns home to rest again with his peers.
(This is the first 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).
What is it that comes of our purpose – as we begin to wonder, to question if our journey is consistent with the destination? Nature has always shown and taught us the value of both cause and effect and pragmatism, and more importantly not to be tied to whatever outcome that may appear as change is inevitable. That we are destined to become and embrace the change from within that must occur we each use in defining our path.
Staying behind to impart Immortality’s Wisdom
Coming home to visit with old friends, I am made whole again. Everything there is to see I have seen and everything there is to do I have done. I am home again to rest among old friends. Revisiting the thread that reveals my true identity, I rejoice in the oneness of the universe. I am at peace as one who has found the grace to see what I must do next in His name. Shedding my worn baggage, my friends are reminded of the light cast by my eternal coat as I sit beside them to honor our being together once again.
While most are happy to remain within the confines of enlightenment, others are a little jealous of my desire to return to the world. Where attachments hold one down and keep their owner from attaining their true identity. Just as you are reminded that your path leads back to a place where you can help others to perhaps come forth to seek their own ultimate destiny. As you leave, you catch glimpses that convey warmth and gratitude and knowledge of the ultimate paradox…
Upon my return I begin by weaving together the fabric of shreds of a vision that has yet to become reality. Knowing that neither my light nor my shadow will leave a lasting impression. While what is left behind for immortality’s wisdom will only be known once I have returned home once again. (May 2000 – Thoughts on becoming a Sage)
Some of what you see here initially is included in the previous post of my blog/webpage. Not everyone saw it, so to get everyone on the same page an explanation may be necessary.
Ultimately, I am trying to illustrate universal transcendence within each of us, how that effects our relationships, the power and influence of the I Ching and what it means. There is a universal connection to and with all things. It’s how we relate to the flow of events that matters.
It is as Confucius once said that seems to tie it all together with an age-old axiom (a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point). “You/we are not here to first create as everything is already here – that we are here not to create but to relate”. Ultimately, the question becomes where are we doing it from with benevolence and virtue and where our path leads.
For myself, it’s as others have done for thousands of years as if there is no beginning or end. Identifying with my source and going with what takes me there. It is in following our innate wisdom that opens the door to our imagination and insight. A portrayal of what we now call quantum physics.
An example many years ago was when I wrote my own version of the book known as “The Book of Lieh Tzu” I called “My travels with Lieh Tzu”. I would write as if in meditation rising a thousand feet in the air and riding the prevailing winds with my brothers and friends the dragons in tow, as they would manifest before me as metaphors to remind and teach me where I was to go next. As if I was home once again. This was almost twenty-five years ago. If you doubt this, please go to the tab on top of my website where it says Books, scroll down and see the book “My travels with Lieh Tzu”, with one hundred sixty entries that took a year to write. I barely knew who Lieh Tzu was in Chinese and Taoist history prior to this, or
Taoist philosophy. What’s interesting is that some scholars doubt Lieh Tzu actually existed. There needed to be a repository for the stories needed to be told that was to become “The Book of Lieh Tzu” and Lieh Tzu’s writings are considered to be a compilation of various writers of the time. No one is really sure. He became Chuang Tzu’sparadoxical, or corresponding opposite, considered as the “Everyday Man” opposite Chuang’s“Perfected Man”, so that more people could relate to their own journey they needed to make themselves and better see the way forward.
Incorporating the words as my own was not a matter of just writing my own version. I became the words with instructions with only my virtue intact as if only a reminder. It was as I had written earlier. “What you write is who you are to become”. It is as they say… All great writing is autobiographical. This has been my focus and my passion ever sense. Following this path, I was never to be the person I thought I was here to be. Fitting into the status quo life brings each day became as if irrelevant. My path was to lead me elsewhere. I found over time that when I was angry or disappointed in someone or some event, it was not stemming from something outside of myself. But my own inability to change into who I was or am ultimately here to become. I think this is the challenge we all face.
I firmly believe that our “brethren spirits”, in some cultures they are called our “spirit guides” come looking for us. We often see them as metaphors taking shape as reminders of what and those who we have always known. First, to find us to help guide us through life’s events, and second perhaps many years later – return or come back to further “wake us up”in order to re-direct us to who we have always been and are as yet to become when we are ready. (Some in a religious context refer to this as being “re-born”). As if once we awaken to our essential self, we acknowledge there is more here than meets the eye. Many times though it is our attachments, symbols, and words we cling to in the present that keeps us from the change we need to fulfill our destiny. We grow comfortable with what we don’t know about our true selves.
Change is not what we discover, or occurs outside of us we often find in the “status quo”, or the comfort found with how others think we should adapt ourselves to someone else’s vision of reality. Life becomes not just striving “to fit in with others present”, but the process of growing as our eternal innate selves. When we can do this our “outward actions” begin to match the benevolence of the expression of love the universe is calling us to return to and express in such a way that others can begin to see change within themselves that helps them to discover the virtue found in their own innate path.
“Our relationships with others” becoming for example the essence of more than twenty-five hundred years of the teachings of Confucius, as well as, the shaman and what would become Taoism thousands of years earlier. Chinese history is like a continuous stream of thought and Confucius’ teachings were symbolic of inner change each person demonstrated through benevolence and virtue through all their activities.
By tradition, he was said to have written the first two of the Ten Wings of the Essential Commentaries, of which the 5th and 6th Wings are the focus here. What’s important to acknowledge, is that what is attributed to him was a process covering hundreds of years of people saying… this is what he said and meant. It was their interpretation of his words and then giving them meaning by stature they gave him as a sage. He was also credited with updating the five classics of ancient China that historically have always been his claim to fame. Much more to follow on Confucius later.
There is a famous saying that “When you are ready the teacher will come”. It appeared that way in China. Confucius was to become the great teacher and is still seen as such today. Especially in Qufu and Shandong Province where I lived and taught for so many years. Where I was reminded that change is an inside job we are here to embrace from inside us.
Remember the story of Chuang Tzu’s meat cutter, he found his joy in his job of cutting the meat that matched his connection to the universe and the Tao. He loved his work as he loved himself regardless of his task because of his connection with something beyond the present. It becoming only the extension of virtue he embraced. People and positions they hold are always evolving. Our resistance and reluctance to change is what keeps us from doing so. A re-occurring theme that expresses what we do is not who we are unless connecting us to our beginning that contributes to our way or path, or as I like to say… finding and living our dreams. It’s all we are here for.
The Dazhuan – The Meaning of the I Ching
Understanding change, as told in the Dazhuan, The Great Treatise is the process of identifying and encompassing the I Ching within oneself – how to combine the Tao and change as self-cultivation, identify within yourself a sense of spiritual cultivation and the transformation that follows.
Connecting with the Way of the Tao.
Ultimately, it is our own words joining, or linking, with the lines and oracle (as if a divine communication or revelation) and how they move us that matters. The Dazhuan tells us that the Book of Change, the I Ching creates the following as it serves to double all the processes that create the reality that we experience.
Approaching and writing about the Dazhuan cannot be a haphazard affair. Commentaries by the greatest thinkers and philosophers in Chinese history, of which, Chuang Tzu, Confucius and Wang Pi, were only three of the most famous who created the framework for all who have weighed in on the Great Commentaries. These Ten Wings, of which The Dazhuan was numbers five and six formed the basis of most all serious thought in China that would follow.
Interpreting the meaning of theI Ching was to take from the shaman and sage what it all means building on thousands of years of observing nature and cause and effect. What came out of something was always in direct correlation to what went into it.
Taoists generally felt one way and the Confucians quite another. This created in essence a parallel universe when“what it all meant”would shape Chinese history and philosophy for all time. A second book entitled Cultivating Stillness recently interpreted by Eva Wong stressed equanimity, good health, peace of mind, and long life as the goals of the ancient Taoist tradition known as “internal alchemy”, of which Cultivating Stillnessis a key text. Written between the second and fifth centuries, the book is attributed to Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching. A principal part of the Taoist canon for many centuries, it served as the basis along with these two Wings for all learning by Taoist precepts in monasteries in China for over two thousand years. They are still in use today.
It is as Joseph Campbelltaught us that one of the biggest differences between East and West is a concept that the universal presence of a God figure in the West is some omnipotent entity outside of ourselves we must follow. Verses the Eastwhere this presence is reflected through us as us. It is our pre-existing innate nature. In purely philosophical terms, universal love comes from within us as the very essence of our being.
A major influence affected by naturally occurring events, including human nature and all-natural phenomenon that the I Ching re-enforces, is it teaches pragmatism. (A philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, value, and in the usage here… the eternal virtue that exists within us).
Too often we try to direct the outcome through what we do before it occurs that fits what should come naturally and universal. As if things are intended and be meant be transcendent. What is seen universally as – do unto others as you would have them do unto you and that what is good for me must be good for you as well. If you are coming from virtue, then what occurs can only be the extension of your innermost self. What is often seen as procrastination is only our waiting for events to match our vision that fits the step we next need to take. When there can be no rush to what may ultimately occur when cause and effect ares universally considered.
Enabling us to look at all sides of an issue, see pro and con, and reach conclusions that fit the very essence of our being and everything else as the same. There had to be a process where symbols and words could match who we are from within that would further explain who we are individually and how we fit in to the universe around us. With all things being equal there cannot be right verses wrong in the literal sense if everything comes out of their own inherent divine nature and going there to the beginning as the initial step to freedom. An end result where what occurs is universal with consideration of the divine right found by all in nature is lifted together. The I Ching is the practical application of practical consequences that fit who we have always been, are now, and will be in the future and can be a guide in getting there.
Rather myth, legend, or reality, a shaman who lived in 2700 BC named the Yellow Emperor, in Chinese history known as Huangdi, is said to have invented the lines of the eight diagrams of the I Ching (as well considered the father of Chinese medicine). Historically, he was considered to be from Qufu more than two thousand years beforeConfucius.
The obelisk at the birthplace of the Yellow Emperorin Qufu
During the Han dynasty in roughly 200 AD an Emperor came along and said… no the Yellow Emperor had been an actual person who had been a great shaman and yes, he had in fact invented the original eight hexagram lines of the I Ching and it was in fact the real thing. At the time, the Emperor had the moniker of being the “Son of Heaven”. In effect, saying myth and reality can merge into what should be taken as truth.
In practical terms, there had to be a process where symbols could match words that spoke individually to each of us reflecting who we are. Things always change and nothing stays the same over time, so how do we empower and enable ourselves to match this with our highest endeavor?
It’s like they found with the stars above. The same stars in the sky would re-appear at the same time once a year. Matching yourself with the stars you were born with you could tell how old you were and claim a totem the symbol of a protecting animal assigned to you as a protector here in the natural world that correlated with the stars above.
What is critical is that we do no harm to ourselves and others along the way. Our life experiences are here to teach us how to live within ourselves and reflect that in all our activities… love thy neighbor as thyself. We need structure to do this and ritual, symbols, and words become the process to take us there. Over eons of time, we have learned that it is love that keeps us centered and not being afraid to open our imagination, our hearts and minds to something new that changes us into something beyond what we think we know. And mostly importantly – love knows no bounds. In going there, we continue with the next step.
What we discussed back in Numbers 1 and 2 here in the 5th Wing about Heaven and Earth is connecting with the sky above as Heaven with the Earth where we are now. That people are like the four seasons as they themselves moved around the sun too. They/We are born, live, die, and would return again as something new. If we could be connected with the stars, then our eternal essence would always be secure giving us a sense of freedom. That there is nothing to fear in death if we have lived our lives in harmony with who we are here to become continually growing as our eternal selves as we connect with all other things.
Also this is only the second of a total of twelve of furthering how the I Ching works through us. We have far to go. If you are following this website and my entries here, please don’t jump to conclusions as to where this all is headed. Using your own innate wisdom and imagination go with the flow and just let it take you there. You have the freedom to do so, or not.
The following is from Chapter One – Heaven’s Gift of “My travels with Lieh Tzu” that I wrote in January 1995. We are all living history. What matters is what we come to find as our starting point and finding the benchmark of our words, actions, and deeds.
A Conversation with the Yellow Emperor or Forever Knowing the Outcome
Knowing no origins. Finding no difference between one thing and another.
Death not simply an ending, but the art of transforming from one thing to the next. Knowing neither birth nor death. Life but a shadow, sounds but an echo. Always coming and going as nothing made into something, only to be made into something once again.
Somehow taking shape in the end. Simply coming forward to know the way of virtue. Being born to be reborn. Having shape to be made shapeless. Endings never escaping their end just as whatever is born again can never escape its beginning. Living only as the eternal spirit always merely coming and going. The only possessions that exist belonging to Heaven and Earth. Each taking care of man’s spirit and remains. Whatever else could there be.
What is man, but what takes shape through infancy, old age and death. Each simply one’s spirit working out the details along the everlasting Way or Tao. Coming in with harmony and virtue intact. Later only to find turmoil as desires rise and fall. With challenges and lessons to be lived and learned. Each serving only as the knapsack of one’s destiny.
Knowing hunger and where morsels must be found. Keeping to one’s internal compass and staying on the course of events that must be followed. Finding comfort in one’s blanket to be kept warm by never contending with anything.
Coming to know old age and knowing that imperfections found since infancy have been simply built upon. Looking forward to death so that you may eagerly try again. 1/8/1995
The Dazhuan is composed of the 5th and 6th Wings of what is known as the Ten Essential Commentaries with each having twelve entries. Below are numbers three and four 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 Dazhuanin 2014.
Below are segments 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 and going there. It’s not simply opposites that attract each other… it’s 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 appealing.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 3
The Statements – What the Words Show
We first look to how great and small are related in theI Ching and in our lives as the images and symbols that connect us to the invisible world.Great and small are key words, the oldest terms foryin and yang.
Through them we know if we should be forceful and follow our own idea, or are flexible and yield to others. It is the hexagramsthat refer to figures while the line statements refer to alternations. Alternations are the act or process of alternating, or in what might be considered alternate succession or repeated rotation.
Understanding this concept is one of the key components of theI Ching and ‘complimentary opposites’ which represent the reality of yin/yang theory as the essence of the I Ching, and the role of facing “underlying contradictions” of our character that define us – both good and bad… much on this later.
In reading the lines auspicious and disaster means success and failure. Trouble and distress refer to minor mistakes; no misfortune means mistakes can be mended. Therefore, what is seen as noble or base depends on position, just as sorting out what is great or small depends on the hexagram while discerning rather something is auspicious or disastrous depends on the statement. Worrying at trouble and distress depends on the risk as quaking at no misfortune depends on distress. Thus, the hexagrams deal with great and small, the statements deal with danger and comfort and show the way things are going.
It would be those who could successfully read the symbols that made consulting the spirit world central to what could be known and what could not be known. Just as we ourselves are in constant transformation, our spirit always advancing and withdrawing as we look for and to a change of heart that defines us through the ability to know the Way, or Tao, is through the words we speak and write that define both ourselves and our relationships with what we encounter.
Anxiety occurs due to our innate desire to know what the Tao teaches – and staying within the limits of the Way, or Tao.With this the Superior Man or Women will know how to act as their own divine return signals at both danger and ease. This is how the talisman became important as it defined one’s eternal connection with nature and the universe. (A talisman is a stone, ring, or other object, engraved wit figures or characters supposed to possess power to connect one with the universe and worn as an amulet, bracelet, or charm. Its presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings and/or emotions human feelings and/or actions).
Remember that this process took thousands of years of understanding cause and effect and what occurs in nature, and how it is a reflection of our own universal presence. How each of us comes forward through our relationships and our response that occurs through our actions that comes into sync with this. It is tied intrinsically with and to who we have always been as “universal truth”. That we are here to further, and just as important, to do so under the auspicious of “divine order”. It is not a conjecture, or simply opinion. To always live in the presence of this love and have our energies guided thusly. Also you should not view this process in a religious context tied to a particular set of beliefs.
You can still follow the Christ presence within, the Bodhisattva vow, the Tao, or other path that takes you to your highest endeavor and destiny.It serves as the universe speaking directly to us – each individual – and the ten thousand things – everything and used as a tool, can help to take us there.What the I Ching provided over the centuries, and continues to do so, was the context giving structure to philosophy and religion that would give a commonality and purpose. Using the I Ching as it found way to the middle (that complimentary opposites attract each other) that reconciles our universal presence and transcendent universal nature.
Therefore, what is seen as noble or base depends on position, just as sorting out what is great or small depends on the hexagram while discerning rather something is auspicious or disastrous depends on the statement. Worrying at trouble and distress depends on the risk as quaking at no misfortune depends on distress. Thus,the hexagrams deal with great and small, the statements deal with danger and comfort and show the way things are going.
It would be those who could successfully read the symbols that made consulting the spirit world central to what could be known and what could not be known. Just as we ourselves are in constant transformation, our spirit always advancing and withdrawing as we look for and to a change of heart that defines us through the ability to know the Way, or Tao, is through the words we speak and write and our actions that follow. Anxiety occurs due to our innate desire to know what the Tao teaches – and staying within the limits of the Way, or Tao. With this the Superior Man or Women will know how to act as their own divine return signals at both danger and ease. This is how the talisman became important as it defined one’s eternal connection with nature and the universe. (A talisman is a stone, ring, or other object, engraved wit figures or characters supposed to possess power to connect one with the universe and worn as an amulet, bracelet, or charm. Its presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings and/or actions).
In Chinese history, Fulu is a term for Taoist practitioners in the past that could draw and write supernatural talismans calledFu which they believed functioned as summons or instructions to deities, spirits, or as tools of exorcism, as medical potions for ailments. Again, it is important to remember that the Yellow Emperormentioned above was consider both the founder of the symbols of the I Ching, and also theFather of Chinese medicine. If he did exist, he was the greatest shaman and teacher of his age/time.
A talisman depicting desire for wealth and success.
It is believed by Taoists that in the past the ability to write Shenfu (similar to an oracle) which they believed functioned as summons or instructions to deities, spirits, had been once decreed by their deities to authorized priests or daoshi. Lu (Chinese: 籙) is a register and compilation of the membership of the daoshi as well as the skills they were able to use. These practitioners are also called Fulu Pai (Chinese: 符籙派) or the Fulu Sect made up of daoshi from different schools or offshoots of Taojia. It is a symbol that connects us to the invisible world. It’s the vibrations, or light, we attract that puts us in tune with our inner self.What is the light? We/You are the light, with our ability to be conscious and mindful, and to act with wisdom and foresight. To serve the light means to show up which means simply to be present – for yourself, as your best and highest self, and to show up for others in your life as well.
For myself, trying to see this through “today’s eyes” can be difficult. But in context to what they knew at the time, and what they saw as “universal truths”. The use of the talisman is common in almost all ancient cultures and was universal throughout time and the world.
This was one of the major precept’s outlining the shaman’s influence connecting to the sky above (especially the Big Dipper) and what could be seen and observed in nature. This gave the shaman the ability to converse with nature. It was through symbols that the ancients found the doorway to Heaven. Examples of these symbols first illustrating the sun, moon, and stars, wereunearthed during the Han dynasty at Nanyang in Henan Province and depict the sixteen stars of theAzure, or Green Dragon constellation.
The Azure Dragon occupies the four constellations that define the horizon.From prehistory forward, the ancient Chinese felt a direct connection to the stars as if they were in reality the place of their ancestors. First on tortoise shell then later on the hip bone of a horse, bear, or elk, and even later yarrow sticks, came the desire and need to communicate with the spirit world and others and speak – to develop a vocabulary with words that spoke to the divine spirit within. It was this innate urging to connect with the universe that cultivating stillness through meditation was fine-tuned over the centuries.
It was this use of imagination and images that attached words to the divine connection of man and in stillness that man’s divine nature could manifest to the fullest. It was then thatthe paradigm shifted and the words could define the symbols and everything changed.
Then six lines became eight and the bagua came into being and in about 1100 BC. King Wen (1152 – 1056 BC) added words, i.e., statements with meaning to the lines. It was with the consultation process that the lines were considered as transforming. It is when a line “transforms” that it turns into its opposite. This is when the words attached to the lines take on great importance. It is here that the spirit is changing shape, so that we know how to act. Over the centuries many others would write their own commentaries as to the meaning of the lines to fit their philosophy to what they would say the I Ching and Tao really meant. Key among those would be Confucius and then later Wang Pi in the Han dynasty. The primary connection between the I Ching and the Tao is rather change is flowing or is blocked and it is the position of the strong and supple lines that help us to know whether our place in life is great or small. This speaks to our innate moral center or virtue and our desire to find and stay in tune with what is universal. It is in this way we return to the Tao and our eternal self.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 4
Embracing Tranquility as the Sage, the Spirits, and Change
The I Ching and change is always taking the measure of Heaven and Earth in every person, place and thing and is the source of all beginnings. It is the union of opposites containing the signs ofHeavenand knowledge of what is light and clear with what is dark and obscure – the patterns of Earth.
The ancient shaman and later the sage understood this and could go to the beginning of things and trace its impact and nature to the end. By observing nature, they could see how birth was a beginning and death an end that united heavenly spirit with earthly realizing power. That life is a never-ending continuum of one’s soul or spirit. It would be much later when Chuang Tzu would have this realization and express this best.
It was in early pre-history that spirit travel was said to be common for those who were adept at conversing with what could not be known. That by and through following the cosmos and movement of the stars, the shaman could fix their location with the stars and return.
My own source – the Libra constellation
It was this fixing of the stars, sun and moon that allowed the universe to speak and the sage to listen and then speak and communicate on its behalf in what was to becomethe traditional roll of the dragon in Chinese folklore and history.
The ultimate allegory – a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; a figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another depicting man’s connection to the universe and the Tao. Becoming one with the dragons one could reach his/her ultimate endeavor and destiny and understanding the underpinnings of the I Ching. It would be in this way universal truths could be shown and appear through you. The greatest shaman of old were storytellers who could tell and convey the symbols from which all began.
It was through this understanding that all things come about first as a symbol (hsiang) and that the symbol is a heavenly spirit that connects with body-energy (chi) by using the realizing power of Earth (K’un) in life.
In death the soul wanders, detaches itself and floats up. It is in this way a transformation occurs. Life is not simply the union and separation of the light and the dark with death, but a celebration of how one returns to his origin. It was with this knowledge the shaman could penetrate all mysteries. And it was the I Ching and what was later to become Taoism that drove the connection between Earth and Heaven by what the earliest shaman, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu, Confucius and so many others were to contribute to the spiritual and philosophical world. It is with this realization that they become your peers again and again and you become the peers of others.The Taoist teachings of Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu; Confucian ethics of Confucius and Mencius; universal love of Mo Tzu, and the individualism of Yang Chu, we find all of them in change and the I Ching.Using change, they brought security to those who depended on them. By following fate such an enlightened person can be free of care and sorrow. Fate defined as a person understanding the flow and vibrations of their life as it connects with all around them.
To stay in tune with this universal understanding you must use affection, dialogue and divination (one’s perception by intuition and/or instinctive foresight), not simply diligence and study.
Nothing can separate us from our eternal path or spirit except our own lack of focus and effort. We learn not to become anxious when it is time to speak, as our voice becomes a mirror or reflection of Heaven. You (we) have always had this power. It is our understanding, wisdom, and furthering coming forward that allows us to use our power and great vision of things to come. It is in unblocking the power that already resides within us that determines our fate. The key being the spirits(shen) not being confined to our thoughts and change not being confined to our body.
(This is the second of twelve entries, each containing two of the 5thand 6th Wings outlining the origins and purpose of the I Ching, the Dazhuan. Please stay tuned as there is more to the story).
It is in understanding that change comes and evolves from within ourselves and all other things, that the world manifests as something new again mirroring the universal divine presence of what we call Heaven and the Tao. As we look to transcendence through our own divine presence. Where does responsibility lie? It begins with each of us – while old ways of seeing and doing things must often be broken so that we can see more clearly the way ahead to change. We sometimes find ourselves living in fear and lack of what we see is here for us, when the opposite is true.
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. As we learn not trying to make things fit where they don’t.
Throughout history, as the stars above changed over the nightly horizon, people learned they must change as well. They could view change that had occurred when the stars returned in place the following year. (Needing a word for “the indescribable past encompassing all that would lead to the way ahead” the ancient shaman came up with the word “Tao”). With this people could begin to see beyond themselves and a guidepost, as such, put in place as a starting point with identifying how things fit together over time.
Pictured is the symbol of the dragon affixed to the stars at the Taoist Cave adjacent to the Leshan Giant Buddha south of Chengdu that’s over a thousand years old.
By remaining indescribable as to the opinion of the multitude or others, each person can attune to their own universal presence without prejudice as to what outcome may appear. As we acknowledge thatthere is nothing inside us that is not outside us and nothing outside us that is not inside us.With this, life becomes simply matching our words and deeds with our internal rhythm, eternal selves, and change.
Aspiring to nothing or simply emptiness, as related by Buddhist teachings, for myself, doesn’t mean that the mind is annihilated or made void. All that’s annihilated is clinging and attachment that clear away for our better understanding of our ultimate desire and universal presence. What we have to do is to see what emptiness is like as it actually appears as we discover our own meaning of “cultivating stillness”. With Taoism, latching onto nothing denotes freedom from ideas of what may have been considered as truth that do not fit our highest aspiration of ourselves.
I like to refer as a reference and connection with the mainstream of Unity teachings and the I Ching described below illustrated from theBible: Matthew 18:18 as follows – “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
In other words, as reflected in the Tao – Heaven is the state of consciousness we bound within us on Earth. With this, we manifest through our actions whatever we loose and/or let go of as our divine nature and become transcendent.
Trusting in that consciousness we gain mindfulness that provides the space we need. Our greatest gift is giving ourselves the freedom of trust in the universe that is already innately present. As if simply seeking to understand for ourselves how it all is reflected as universal transcendence and relates to us. We come to acknowledge that we are here with only our virtue intact, as if to re-discover within ourselves how we loose this virtue and nourish the nature around us. It is this that comes of our highest endeavor and ultimate destiny – whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven we set out to enhance and preserve now.
The quote above could just as easily apply to, or come from, the scriptures and teachings of Buddhism, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, theTao, Indigenous people, etc., not only the Bible. All simply pathways between Heaven and Earth we may choose to follow as we come and go that lead to a familiar end.That there is only one power and presence active in the universe, God the good omnipotent. As if to go from the spirit – to what may be seen as mystical – to what ultimately defines us. That it’s the not knowing that tells us what we are here to find that shows the way for ourselves. That our presence is eternal – just as with all things found in nature. We lose our way when we separate ourselves and others from who they and we have always been, fail to trust universal origins, and our own divine beginnings. True mindfulness is the comfort found with the freedom of being present to find the meaning of spirit and virtue and going there.
What Alan Watts referred to as our source. He was a great writer and transformative figure known especially in the 1950’s and 60’s. His influence on his (my) generation was in many ways immeasurable taking others where they could better identify with a universal presence beyond the physical world in which we live. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to both Eastern and Western religion, philosophy, and spirit. One of my favorites is The Way of Zen written in 1957. It was one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism.
When we begin to see beyond simple appearances of who we think we are, our task becomes only to find our way in going there. All simply vehicles we use in becoming universal in the spirit of God, the Tao, and love. That we are here as both transformative and transitional figures, with the purpose of illumination (bringing our own divine light into the world) and acting with intention as to what may become our highest endeavor that assists in transforming the world into what the universe, God if you like, is asking of us as well as others.
The I Ching was/is meant to assist us as a tool in clearing away those things that do not fit the journey – as we match our endeavors with our eternal, i.e., universal presence and act accordingly.
An Ancient Greek aphorism (an observation that contains a general truth) by the Greek writer Pausanias, is to “know thyself”. Its use was attributed to many, including both Plato and Socrates. I like what appeared in the Suda, a 10th-century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, that says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are”, and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude. In other words – it’s not enough to “know thyself”, we are here to be ourselves. To be as William Shakespeare is said to have written in Hamlet, “to thine own self be true”.
A great writer I have always admired isLeo Tolstoy. His influence at the time and ever since has been immeasurable in history. Finding the vehicle of getting closer to God became Tolstoy’s passion as a religious philosopher and metaphysician. His works became something to emulate and model as others took the next step following in his footsteps to greater understanding. Most of us know him through the great literary classics he wrote known as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. But his contribution was so much more than that. His addition to the underpinning of theological understanding was in questioning the status quo found in Christian teachings at the time. As much of what he had seen written was incoherent, poorly translated from ancient texts, and didn’t contribute as they should have the love of God, he felt we all should share.
He felt God continually spoke to mankind over time and in every country, and thatChrist, while being the most profound of teachers, was not the only one. He looked for common themes in all religious thought for rational assessments and looked to a philosophy on human beings’ purpose in life.
Most importantly, for myself, he wrote themes after thorough thought and investigation, that could follow similar approaches found in Eastern thought (Buddhism, Taoism and the I Ching) which he too had studied, where a structure and method to get one with the universe and finding our place in it is essential. He feltGod’s plan was rational and man’s ability to reason was given to him to understand that it must be accessible to everyone… to human understanding.
This commonality of purpose so mirrors the underpinning of basic teaching and thought of the shaman in history. Understanding that all things are eternally connected as demonstrated and shown over thousands of years of human interaction and history. History does repeat itself. Its repetitiveness becomes the teacher as we learn from cause and effect. As different things take turns, or alternate with each other, we can foretell what is in the future. It is in this knowing we can in turn respond accordingly when we are led from our innate virtue we already possess.
When we ask for our prayers to be answered, or a response corresponding with the I Ching, the universe is responding as if a reverberation with “all things considered”, not simply our own desires.
Heaven and Earth (yin and yang) looking for the middle to arrive to ensure harmony and virtue are present.
Nature tells us to wait until events unfold so that our virtue can come forward to know what fits or matches what is best for all involved, as with complementary opposites attracting each other. The universal divine presence (what unfolds from our own heart space) is all-inclusive and operates under the premise of “one size fits all” with nature responding as an echo to what it hears. When we ask what defines virtue – this is a good place to start.
Tolstoy concluded that the soul was immortal.He thought the purpose of life is to expand on our capacity to love God and our fellow beings – humans, animals, even plants. Tolstoy in many ways was a Taoist at heart. There could be no separation from God and the universe in which we lived. As we love God by loving nature, we attune with what enhances everything found in our natural environment. It’s easy to see his influence on those who followed him including us.
CountLev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, and his miss of the prize is a major Nobel prize controversy. Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he is best known for the novelsWar and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. I remember back in college reading Tolstoy’s novella (short story) The Death of Ivan Liayichportraying the savage winter and cold of living in Siberia.
In the 1870’s, Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. Tolstoy’s ideas on non-violent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God is Within You(1894), were to have a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others.
Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one’s neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance.
Gandhi and other residents of Tolstoy Farm, South Africa, 1910
His belief in non-resistance when faced by conflict is another distinct attribute of his philosophy based on Christ’s teachings. By directly influencing Mahatma Gandhi and others with this idea through his work The Kingdom of God is Within You, Tolstoy’s profound influence on the non-violent resistance movement reverberates still to this day.
I have a little personal experience. My mother had a dear friend whose family were members of the aristocracy that was very close to the Czar and his family. As I was growing up in Joplin, Missouri where she then lived (both my mother and she have since passed), my mother had become her care-giver as she grew older and visited her regularly.
My mother went to St. Petersburg, Russia in the mid 1980’s as a member of an International Civil Defense delegation and while there visited the Hermitage Museum. Her friend wanted her to go to take pictures to see what might have changed since she last was there herself.
The stories the lady told were confirmed by the memorabilia and antiques she had brought with her from Russia that were still in her possession. I met her once and she had stories to tell. Stories of her youth had always defined her. She had been in Saint Petersburg, Russia as a little girl and said she knew the Romanov girls quite well. One of my regrets is not returning to hear them because few if any were ever written down for history. It is our memories, that given the opportunity, tell us and take us to our past. It is our remembering that takes us there that tell a greater story that along the way defines who we are. I do seem to have a recollection of asking her about the writer Tolstoy, and she recalled that everyone loved his writing because it returned them to the place they had always known and been. As though reliving their own history. Count Leo Tolstoy had been a respected member of the Russian aristocracy as well.
On another personal note, in high school I listened to shortwave radio as a hobby to stations all over the world. One of them was Radio Moscow. In 1967, they had a contest celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution in which I entered an essay about the revolution. I was sixteen at the time. My essay was read over the air and they sent me some magazines and books thanking me. (I have no idea what I said). I guess I was destined to become a storyteller and writer even then. The connection to Tolstoy was that the powers that be at the time of the 1917 revolution felt that regardless of his fame, thoughts and writing, it didn’t matter. As Count Tolstoy and a major landowner, his influence needed to be diminished. This contributed greatly to his writings not getting the attention it deserved over time. It seems we are all simply like a strand of pearls strung together looking for harmony, but yet our own and others resistance overtakes us. After I no longer listened to shortwave when I began going to college, I continued getting mail for years at home from all over the world. The mailman would ask, “Who is this guy getting all this stuff”. My mom would laugh and say, “oh, that’s just my son”.
What the I Ching teaches demonstrates how everything is connected and comes together as one. Finding and then getting closer to not only who we have always been, but also are yet to become. But as a process of transformation in how“getting there” as described above so well by Alan Watts and Leo Tolstoy comes into play as we find our way back to our eternal source.
The key being fixtures found in Heaven and Earth we must adhere to that show and guide us the way. The Tao is the universal presence of all things. We manifest how we relate to this presence through awareness and our consciousness that brings us into alignment as a name we give by faith.
Often freeing our gift of imagination and minds to letting go of how we think things should be, or are, and being tied to an outcome tied to fear and resistance we base on who we think we are – that in reality, we are only here for our soul’s growth and to change. Almost as if asking ourselves, are we here to become more than we now see as ourselves, or are we here to play in what the world brings to our doorstep every day?
Finding and adhering to the complimentary opposites of all things is the true essence of the purpose of connecting to Heaven and Earth and the true meaning of yin and yang. They are here, as if spirit guides, to teach and show us the way forward as represented by and through the I Ching. Residing within the flow of our natural rhythm is what takes us there, to what the Tao would call “universal mind”, even what is also referred to as “divine order”.
It is here that our ultimate dreams reside. When we “follow our dreams” this becomes our destination. Moving beyond philosophy and thoughts of religion – to spirit. To what I call sage mind that can clear away what keeps us from becoming free to align with the universal presence that already resides within us as our true, essential selves. Everything you need – as you are simply here to continue fine-tuning your way through change – you already possess as virtue to be shared with others.
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 five and six 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.
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 discovering our inner comfort from within most appealing.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 5
Tao and Yin/Yang…What the Spirits Are
As the ancients explored the universe, i.e. the mysteries of the Tao, they could see what was both beautiful and radical. What can be seen as one light (yang)and one dark (yin) and an on-going balance between the two, showing that 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.
When you can totally identify your thinking with this process, never trying to hold onto one over the other, then 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 Chuang 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 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. Itis the Tao that is seen by embracing the two in the one, as the ultimatete, to what is considered as virtue, cementing power and virtue together.
Just as it is change that gives life or birth to everything that has a beginning, it is the power that moves the symbols that unfolds them into life. 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 divination. It is when we penetrate our own transformation by cultivating stillness through what Lao Tzu and others teach us, that we can begin to understand the light and the dark and the spirit (shen)within ourselves. It is then as we do the work the spirit arrives.
This is always the question of the sage. As he begins looking within to his own inner virtue for guidance and remembering his innate connection first to nature and the world around him, to what he can see, touch, and feel. What his senses connect him to. And then secondly, how his inner virtue connected to the cosmos. It is for this reason a solid foundation is sought that answers to our source. Over the millennia it has been in stillness, even as the nothing described in the beginning that the universe comes calling, and it is how we respond to the inevitable spirits that know us by name that determine our fate.
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 Confucian, Buddhist, 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. This is done as if it is King Wen and Ji Dan, the Duke of Chou are here doing the updating themselves. It is being done for us.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 6
Becoming the voice of Change as we embrace both Heaven and Earth
Change is equated with what is broad and what is great.These two energies are linked with the primary energies of Ch’ien (Heaven) and K’un (Earth). Through Ch’ien, it can speak to what is far or outside ourselves. Through K’un, change can speak to what is near, inside us, or what is in the soul.Change, via the I Ching, encompasses both Heaven and Earth and everything in-between and remains unmoved by personal desire.
It is through cultivating stillness we can gain an understanding of Ch’ien and K’un and how they influence our lives, the lives of others, and the world around us. By using both we rediscover the virtue hidden within ourselves. First, there is Ch’ien, it manifests as if it is expressing the wishes or greatness of the universe that it comes forward. As if divine energy, alone and concentrated making its presence felt and known. It can move as if in a straight line.
Ch’ien represents yang energy; it is visionary as if knowing the intent of Heaven. But in practical terms it needs its opposite to function properly, or yin energy to be present. K’un is more practical almost structural energy. While appearing to be weak, it is resting, as if intent on taking its turn to come forward, or furthering its desire to seek or find a common way before proceeding. It focuses on the stillness within, as it waits to match its energy with its opposite. This is the Tao in action as it moves nature and all things to their recognizable middle.
It moves and unfolds what works into the here and now, it’s broken lines representing the myriad things in flux waiting to be matched with their opposite yang energy.Change always present and waiting, as if anxious to play its eternal role, matching Heaven and Earth, the four seasons, and the sun and moon.
It is here that the central player keeps everything on an even keel and on the same page. It moves with the natural rhythm found in the sun, moon, and stars above that keeps all in check reminding us that we are a part of all other things and they us.The main aspect of change is virtue(te). Virtue is the most powerful element in the universe and is the Tao in action.When we speak of Lao Tzu’s Tao, we are speaking in no uncertain terms of its connection to Te – the Way of Virtue, becoming completed as the Tao Te Ching.
It has always been the task of harnessing this dual energy that can best be illustrated by Chuang Tzu’s Perfected Man and Confucian thought of holding the reigns together for the common good guiding the status quo represented by hierarchy and authority.
It is these two opposites that have permeating Chinese philosophy for thousands of years. It becomes who gets to ask the question and whose commentary or interpretation of the meaning of the lines of change gets heard.
Who gets to be the voice ofHeaven and how is that parlayed into some kind of practical application here on Earth? This has always been the question asked of the I Ching and change. Who can speak for or to the universe unhampered by desires or prejudices?
If our virtue is all that defines us and how we ultimately return in the end, then using change to see how Ch’ien, or Heaven, moves us it is how K’un, or Earth, unfolds into a pattern of life that becomes our ultimate endeavor. It was the sage as the ultimate teacher and way shower of the Tao, who learned that by cultivating stillness we can do this for ourselves.
Lastly, for now, what especially comes to mind is Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and my own Chapter 35 from Thoughts on Becoming a Sage – the Guidebook for leading a virtuous Life written in May/June 2000 and published in China in 2006 as follows:
Remaining humble yet inexhaustible
Holding onto the true image of myself with humility, comity and grace I remain humbled by what the Tao places before me. As I recommit my entire essence to only promoting that which comes forth as the greater image or vision that I am here to complete. All the while knowing that my highest aspiration can succeed only with the success of all around me.
As the world comes forth to greet me each day, I remain protected, as I have no form thereby beyond whatever harm may come my way. I remain safe, serene and as one with the Tao. Eventually everything coming before me as an equal, I walk guided by selflessness as all things come to me. As I remain one with all things. While forgetting myself in others, others forget themselves in me. Therefore, everyone finds his or her place and no one is not at one with me.
Keep only to the plain and simple drawing people closer as you entertain with images of the Tao. Remaining at the point of inquiry, with no one quite sure how to love or hate, with no shape, taste or sound with which to please others. Remaining enmeshed in the Tao and your role can never be exhausted.
(This is the third 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).
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 seeming 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, humble 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.
With only our virtue leading the Way Wuhan Museum
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 discipline 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 – as 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 what 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 becomes 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 individuals 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 commitment, 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 anthropologists 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 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.
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 fact 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 mission. 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 have 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 places 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 always 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 is 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 Chuang 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 everything 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 stillness 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 fate 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 enlightenment 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 people 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 cosmos 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 on 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 accumulate 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 waiting. 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 words 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 which 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).
It is reported that the Bible and Tao Te Ching are the most read and followed books 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. This 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 so 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 power. 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)
Longevity and Virtue Completed – Confucius Mansion in Qufu
We often define ourselves by who we think we are and are free to choose rather we 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. In practical terms 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 there.
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 church 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 language. 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 grounded 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 measure 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. 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 by 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 Essential 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 universe? 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 chien 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 Ching. 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 cosmology 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 stable 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 knowledge 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. 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 previous 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 expression 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 and 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 the yin and yang philosophy, the I Ching allowing the Sage Mind to 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 all 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. 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:
- Compassion – The root of humaneness (ren)
- Shame – The root of righteousness (yi)
- Respect – The root of propriety and ritual observation (li)
- 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 similar 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).
The ancient sage says, “The Tao has no form. It gives life to heaven and earth. The Tao is void of emotions. It moves the sun and moon, is nameless and nourishes all things.” The sage symbolizing the goodness inherent in all sentient beings. The origin of the ancient sage is difficult to fathom. He is the manifestation of the Tao and can appear in many forms. Needing a symbol, the sage became known as the eternal dragon.
Teaching that values without virtue have no real meaning as we are only as strong as our most vulnerable among us. Values without virtue lead to self-interest and ego ruling the day pitting one person against another and definitions of right and wrong guiding what should occur. The sage leads by letting his inner light shine as an example for others by showing them their innate talents. As he lets his own virtue lead the way – as a living practice. Cultivation of the Tao becoming his foremost endeavor. The Tao being the way of heaven and his, and our own original nature.
This is the final entry of Part I of the 5th Wing of the Dazhuan with Numbers eleven and twelve below. While previous entries have included more of an international universal flavor you might say, this one focuses on virtue and our obstacles in releasing desires that keep us from taking the next step. Oftentimes it is in dissolving desires by helping others that we begin “taming our mind” and begin to reach out for the transformation we seek.
Meditation, internal alchemy (a lifestyle that is conducive to the cultivation of health and longevity), and prayer that speaks to our innermost core, serves our virtue. What the Chinese call wu wei – what leads to simplicity and harmonious living.
From here, we go to Part II, the twelve entries of the 6th Wing of the Dazhuan. The question for the Sage Mind, the transcendental that grasps some sense of the universal nature of all things is… why the singular sense by some that there can be only one path that can be correct in identifying and becoming one with the indefinable nature of God, the Tao, or divine source of all things?
If the Tao, or God, remains forever indefinable, isn’t our own path getting there indefinable as well? With all things being equal, how can the universe show favorites? If love is eternal and virtue what ultimately defines us, then what separates human nature from our source when we are all divine, simply one of the “ten thousand things” under heaven?
Within every Indigenous culture this has always been the quest and why structure and discipline tied to universal law made the I Ching so relevant to understanding nature. Both our own and what we find outside of us that defines and supports how we are to live and die. There are times that what we see and do seem innocuous, indifferent, or we seem not interested in the way of our eternal path. But it is from where we are living our lives that matters, as well as by dissolving desire through helping others, that we begin to tame our mind as if in training for something greater than ourselves.
One of the most important aspects of change is releasing fear, and trying on new ways of seeing ourselves. Seeing what fits with no ties to the outcome, except through some sense of cause and effect that shows us the way.
One of the first things we learned was that it’s important, in referring to the I Ching, is to take a question inside, as if to our heart in prayer if you like, and let the answer come from within that speaks to the middle. That the answer rests in Divine or Sage Mind.
As if continuing on the Great Enterprise referred to in the beginning. How do we do that? What the earliest shaman knew was we need structure, discipline, and a path that shows the way of inner transformation. Over the centuries this is what became of the Tao. Much of what you find here would be considered as “inner teachings and point to methods of internal transformation through meditation as if returning to the Tao through our actions that becomes central to who we are and yet to become”.
For the Taoist it is often referred to as “lower or later Heaven and earlier or upper Heaven”. Something often discussed in the reference to the book Cultivating Stillness. I like to think of it as if what we do in the present as our endeavors as lower Heaven, and what leads to our ultimate destiny as upper Heaven, and that everything found in between in nature is divine.
Lower Heaven describes the state of existence which is not so perfect or harmonious. While upper Heaven describes an ideal state of existence, when everything is in harmony and connected to the Tao.
It is our own transformation from lower to upper Heaven that is central to the teachings of Taoism and ultimately the I Ching.
It’s not that simple, but this will be thoroughly discussed in context here as we go along in our review of the I Ching and Taoism. There is no hell except that which we create for ourselves and others when we disregard our virtue with which we are here to work on as our self-awareness grows and manifests.
The following is the Introduction from Chapter Six – Endeavor and Destiny of “My travels with Lieh Tzu” that I wrote in May 1995 that helps to convey the story we each are here to tell.
Shaping events along the Way
Keeping to the refrain of doing nothing. While letting the spontaneity of each situation come forward as the ultimate invitation to remain at peace and as one with nature. Life’s events either streaming forward of themselves spontaneously or as the end results of one’s efforts or endeavors. Who can say which will lead the way? Where is the dividing line between what can be considered as heaven’s intent and where a man’s actions will begin and end?
The Confucians tell us that whether our actions are right or wrong depend wholly upon ourselves. But whether they lead to wealth, poverty, a long life or early death is only for heaven to say. While the Mohists claim that wealth and long life also depend on ourselves since they are heavens reward for righteous and moral conduct. Both having their own designs on what should become of our destiny’s moral endeavors.
However, should you not remain free of questions of destiny knowing all efforts of endeavor are useless in determining one’s fate? What can benefit and harm, right and wrong come to if all have the same results in the long run. The sage knows to take the road to spontaneity. That the Tao teaches to act instinctively. To know without knowing. To see without the need to see. To hear without needing to hear. To touch without needing to touch. To know what needs to be said, but remaining silent. Simply to be. Remaining lost to space and time.
Be the first to respond without conceiving alternatives. With your actions natural to the events swirling around you. Commit to your own essence of an unpremeditated oneness through simple acts of kindness. What can then come forth, but your own predictability? Training yourself so as to allow your actions to be so of themselves as to happen without conscious thought. Conscious choice and endeavor becoming one so that any destiny is assured. So that there becomes no choice only our natural response. 5/30/1995
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 11.1
The creative power of the I Ching and Tao
It is when you fully and completely understand the power and virtue of change and the I Ching and how Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu and the Tao instructs your understanding and wisdom and use it fully – that your innate divine nature will manifest in the world.
You must stay focused on change and staying in the middle of things not swayed by extremes. With this you become clear as to the path you must take. Using change, and the I Ching you can purify your heart and know again where the mysteries begin and where they lead you in transforming your mind and body.
What is it the sage teaches that embraces the Tao, penetrates all intentions and defines all tasks thereby resolving all problems under heaven? It is through the hexagrams and I Ching that nature opens and closes and brings the ten thousand things to completion that is inevitable. It is by cultivating stillness that the divine spirit within enfolds you as well. Keeping to the middle and staying in the moment as if in the present, acting spontaneously – becomes a quality of mind, a state of being, and a divine technique that leads one to a still and tranquil lifestyle.
It shows you how your activities in Lower Heaven (how things exist and how you fulfill your endeavors correctly through living in the everyday world) and how this relates to who you ultimately are to become when you return to your origin and destiny in Upper Heaven.
This involves discernment and understanding our fate and purpose. Both the shaman and sage who lived before written history used change in this way. They used it to penetrate all the purpose and causes of action in the world and thereby settle all doubts that would lead to argument and conflict. Setting an example for others to remain above what living brings each day.
The hexagrams of the I Ching open and close and reveal how things exist. It shows how to fulfill desires correctly and do what you must do. The power and virtue of the yarrow sticks are round and invite the spirit. The power and virtue of the diagrams is square and tell you the meaning of the six lines as they fit a particular situation and what can be known. The solid lines in the trigrams symbolize yang while broken lines symbolize yin.
With this the sage cleanses his mind preferring to follow Lieh Tzu’s example of the sage living a simple and secluded lifestyle at one with nature and spending his time with his old friends roaming the stars. As if he is present but not really here. They convey where the mysteries begin and what is coming on the river of time. Knowing this you can begin to learn to remember what has gone by and what will come again. That change and the Sage Mind are one. Working together they reveal the Way of Heaven.
A person must engage a spirit medium, or helper, to assist in purifying his heart and mind and learn to fast to raise his power and virtue into the light for the spirit to see. He then can devise and bring forth spirit tools, and come to be known as an oracle. Using these tools, the sage could discipline himself to refine his connection and powers with the spirit world and anticipate what the people need.
The sage begins to feel the friendship of the spirit and live connected to the Way of Heaven. He can then begin to open the gate that is called Ch’ien and close the gate called K’un at will. By coming and going through these gates he is then transformed and can communicate with all things as all things are now revealed to him and it is by and through embodying this knowledge and wisdom he develops traits in becoming the sage as well.
From the beginning the shaman has taught that the key to unlocking the wisdom of the I Ching within oneself is in learning how to close and open the gates internally that is called alternation. That endless toing and froing is called development. What is then perceived is called a figure; given shape it is called an object; putting it to use is called a method. Using this coming and going to advantage for everyone’s sake is called spirit power. It is in bringing forth the knowledge and wisdom from antiquity through eons of time that comes into play for the benefit of the ten thousand things. How this knowledge is transmitted and retained over thousands of years become the greatest challenge of the sage and heaven. Who is to convey this knowledge and how is the story to be told? What you can now see through meditation, cultivating stillness and in your imagination is the symbol that becomes and transforms the lines and later the words of the oracle.
When we apply our virtue to what we touch we become the vessel. What we use to regulate our actions with others is call the patterns found in Heaven, on Earth, and what is in keeping with the Tao. What helps us as we come and go is called the spirit.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 11.2
The Spirit Things
The early shaman and sage brought forth the Great Axis, or line __________ that represented the rotation of the earth around the sun. They had studied the planets, constellations, and stars from what seemed like eternity. This cosmology was what fixed their place in the universe. Following the earth’s rotation around the sun and the moon around the earth, they could define naturally occurring phenomena that they could then live by.
They saw this as divided into two parts; Earth as what they could see, anticipate, and come to know, and Heaven that which would always be mysterious and indefinable, but in control.
Day and night, dark and light, what is known and unknown, and most importantly that everything had its opposite. This brought forth the two great powers that could be represented as either a straight line __________ they would refer to as yang, and a broken line ____ ____ that was to be called yin.
What Fu Shi and shaman that followed up to and including the Yellow Emperor in roughly 2700 BC knew, was how to finesse this to represent symbols that now defined their imagination and how they would relate with the two, the spirit world and nature around them. Their lives and Earth being tied to four seasons, they saw this connection to Heaven and foretelling future events as four symbols:
__________ __________ ____ ____ _____ _____
__________ ____ ____ __________ _____ _____
Old or Young or Young or Old or transforming continuing continuing transforming yang energy yin energy yang energy yin energy
It would be the four symbols that would generate the Eight Diagrams, and the interaction of the Eight Diagrams that into the figures, or lines, determines whether the way is open or closed, knowing this one can move towards the Great Enterprise of transformation.
There are no greater representations, transformations, or the way showing this continuation than the four seasons – we see them as the four symbols:
1) There are no brighter, light-giving symbols hanging from Heaven than the sun and moon. We can see them manifest in the dark and light lines.
2) There is no more honored social position that the person of rank and wealth.
3) There is no greater maker of the tools and vessels that help us in the world we live in than the sage.
4) There is no greater way to compass and understand the myriad things, to explore hidden beginnings, to penetrate what is deep, or to reach what is distant, to know if the way is closed or open in our world, or create will or resolution that through the oracle.
It was the sage who took advantage of them, imitated transformation, reproduced them and helped us to understand them. Change has four kinds of symbols that act as omens – opening, closing, the seasons, and time. It is the words that are attached to the symbols and lines that tell you whether the way is open or closed, then you are able to make a decision in keeping with your innate virtue in keeping with the wisdom of the Tao.
What changes the I Ching from the point of the Han dynasty in roughly 200 AD onward was the inclusion by the Confucians, especially Wang Pi, the number two above, that there is no more honored social position that the person of rank and wealth. It moved change away from words and symbols that can have many meanings, to diagrams and lines thereby fixing patterns so that meaning could fit hierarchically with their own prescription of Chinese history. Once the emperor deified Fu Shi into the image the Confucians wanted portrayed, history was thusly written afterwards. The Han made the myth of Fu Shi an actual person who could represent history in the image they wanted it to become.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 12.1
The Symbols of Change and the Great Enterprise
To be and to remain above the fray of what living brings each day. To recall earlier times and Heaven knowing what was and will be again. To become nothing more than the face of Tao – an inner knowing with time spent here but an instant conveying essential knowledge. While here did I impart the wisdom of the ages and symbols of change, contributing to the Great Enterprise until I am asked to return again?
For the sage, when he appears, the status quo always fears change because what may have occurred up to this moment are always the workings of Later, or Lower Heaven as best described in Cultivating Stillness. When Earlier or Upper Heaven appears on the scene, human nature and ego always becomes unsettled. You are and always have been the light of the world, a beacon of energy, of light having a tendency to disrupt the status quo, to what is universally good and virtuous.
Peeling away the worn layers of your own humanity and of those around you, you can begin to recognize and accept for the first time who you really are and begin to see others in a similar vein, or light. It is only when you and others act outside your inner nature as your ego that you fail to change. You and others are here in the present in order to further this virtue and simply move beyond earthly endeavor. To become yourself again… who you have always been – just you and that is all. For the sage, living in gratitude for the innate talents waiting for you to come forward to claim as if the universe, the Tao, and dragons keep calling. The ultimate secret of the I Ching is to take us back to our beginnings so that we can connect with our eternal essence again and again.
Heaven has always been our shield just as the way of the Tao has always been open as we proceed on this Great Enterprise. Just as we know that nothing that appears will not be advantageous, the Tao becomes closed when we find ourselves in situations not of our own making. But with wholehearted trust of the experience, we simply wait for it to open once again. Heaven protects the flow of our life as the Tao reveals our innermost spirit. We move effortlessly and reverently within this loving spirit and grace. As we are the Tao and the Tao is us. Always present simply waiting for us to be open to our journey with our purpose to clarify the thoughts of the ancient shaman and sage who would one day appear as dragons.
Assimilating the Sage Mind of all I have followed over the centuries. Not so much for accolades found in the present, but to return and report back to the ancients who decided to send me on this journey. Many others could have come, but the two-fold reason for your choosing was so you could ascend to heights your spirit has never gone before, to your own furthering along the eternal way and to relay from another perspective the Tao for today. It is for this reason, the guiding light of change and being somewhat different from others, has always been upon you.
Rather others come to see you in your present light is not important. It is what you return with we hope to see again. Unknowingly, you have always been a symbol of change yet to come. Just as symbols you have seen have guided you to your present circumstances that allow you to speak and write words of transformation for others as well. As the spirits were with the earliest shaman – they embody you as well.
The eternal spirit found in the Tao and change has always been humanities guiding light. Sage Mind set out the symbols that describe their own mind; they set out the diagrams to illustrate your true circumstances, and established the lines in order to more fully relay what they have to say. The Sage Mind made both the transforming and continuing lines to show how to take advantage of the situation at hand. They used these methods to bring down the spirit world so they could converse with them. Just as we can through embodying change.
From the earliest times of antiquity indescribable change has been recognized as the way of the sacred, or of the Sage Mind creating meaning. Finding ways to induce the Sage Mind, my intuitive mind has always been my guiding light and key as the spirit of change, and the dragons, who have always enfolded me as one of their own.
The Dazhuan 5th Wing Part I Number 12.2
Trusting change, we become the Master Weaver
It is in following the ways of Ch’ien (Heaven) and K’un (Earth), Ch’ien our earlier self and K’un what we find here on earth, that we strive to find and stay in the middle, or present. With both acting as the looms of time, always weaving and interconnecting all that has ever existed in our past, present, and future as the elements of change move between them. What lies ahead, or upstream, is the Way. It is our own reflection mirroring Heaven.
What lies downstream, or where we have been, is the vessel or tool of the moment – shaping and transforming everything that we have met along the way. This reflects the K’un. It is through their transformation, interaction and change that give each of us an awareness that we are here to use. It is the patterns we choose to follow that keep us on our sacred path, our Great Enterprise.
It is in this vein, I complete the final chapter of Wing number 5 of The Dazhuan, a segment of the Commentary of the Appended Judgments as the sage using symbols to determine forms and appearances and connect all things. Following movements and patterns to trace what endures and attaching words to see what calls out to us and if the way ahead is open or closed. It was in this way the earliest shaman learned to follow and trust his intuition and instincts.
Just as with them, everything we ever can see, feel, think, say or touch coming to us as symbols representing a reflection or mirror of space and time. We voice these symbols through the lines and words we use to express them and when we are in sync with the universe, the light of the spirit come forth to light our way. With every encounter different than the one before or that will follow based on our ability to change events or how they change us as they pass us by. As change silently completes an unbroken trust, we strive for the power and virtue to become who we are meant to be following the Way of Virtue, the Tao and Heaven.
In ancient times both the shaman and sage saw and understood the spirit forces of the world. They could do this because they were a part of this world as well, just as they are here among us to this day. As has been said many times here, they could see then as well as now, that symbols could determine forms and appearances and how through words everything was connected.
The sage both then and now is trained to see the symbols to recognize the spirit (chien) in the world in which he lives. To aggressively find and seek, and once discovered – know how to use this spirit found in the natural world in a positive way.
By doing this the sage could see and group them together, understand how things meet and stimulate humanity and know what endures. They attached words to associate with the Tao and learned that the words called out to you. They learned that underlying mysteries and unexplained situations ran through all things and are presented as symbols that they then put into words. This creates a parallel reality – a world of symbols and one of spirit.
The Perfected Man, “Probing the mysteries under Heaven belongs to the hexagrams, while stimulating all activities under Heaven belongs to the oracle. Transforming and shaping belongs to alternation while stimulating and moving belong to development as understanding spirits belong to man himself. When you can succeed to silence and communicate the above without speech you are empowered with the use of these powers.”
The Ten Wings, of which we are following the 5th and 6th Wings here, are the same that Confucians in the Han dynasty attached words and their own commentary to filter the meaning through their own lens of history, just as we can continue to do the same today to fit the times.
This entry concludes the 5th Wing of the Dazhuan. The story continues next as Wing Number 6, as our journey in cultivating stillness. Knowing and using this induces a spiritual transformation. The lines of the I Ching, the Book of Changes becomes shorthand for transforming change that attracts the lights and energy of heaven, i.e., getting their attention thereby creating a chance, an unspoken trust, to become again who we are meant to be.