05/31/2022

We close out the month of May with Chuang Tz telling us how he feels about reincarnation…

“A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang – how much more are they to a man than father or mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death. When a skilled smith is casting metal, if the metal should leap up and say, ‘I insist upon being made into a Moye!’ he would surely regard it as very inauspicious metal indeed. Now, having had the audacity to take on human form once, if I should say, ‘I don’t want to be anything but a man! Nothing but a man!’, the Creator would surely regard me as a most inauspicious sort of person. So now I think of heaven and earth as a great furnace, and the Creator as a skilled smith. Where could he send me that would not be all right? I will go off to sleep peacefully, and then with a start I will wake up.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Where do you think you will wake up? Forget about it and just enjoy your practice.

05/30/2022

“He who steals a belt buckle pays with his life; he who steals a state gets to be a feudal lord. ― Zhuangzi

Very true, just look at our elections. The man who tried to steal the Presidency has become the defacto leader of the Republican Party.
In any case, keep breathing, keep relaxing and stretching and by all means keep practicing. Have a respectful Memorial Day, everyone.

05/28/2022

Another beauty from Chuang Tzu to close out the week and nearly the month and, as always, to test our understanding:

“Men all pay homage to what understanding understands, but no one understands enough to rely upon what understanding does not understand and thereby come to understand.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

If nothing else, I hope one thing is understood: have a great Memorial Day weekend and enjoy your practice.

On this Memorial Day let us pay homage to the our fallen and as well to the brave people of Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom against overwhelming odds.

05/27/2022

Today we have a “Go Figure” from the Sage’s Sage, Chuang Tzu…

“It comes out from no source, it goes back in through no aperture. It has reality yet no place where it resides; it has duration yet no beginning or end. Something emerges, though through no aperture – this refers to the fact that it has reality. It has reality yet there is no place where it resides – this refers to the dimension of space. It has duration but no beginning or end – this refers to the dimension of time. There is life, there is death, there is a coming out, there is a going back in – yet in the coming out and going back its form is never seen. This is called the Heavenly Gate. The Heavenly Gate is nonbeing. The ten thousand things come forth from nonbeing. Being cannot create being out of being; inevitably it must come forth from nonbeing. Nonbeing is absolute nonbeing, and it is here that the sage hides himself.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

As Chuang Tzu is saying, let your Cultivation evolve, come forth from the emptiness within. Don’t force it. Just enjoy whatever the Tao brings each day, whether you think it’s progressive or not. Accept it and gratefully use it.

05/26/2022

Today we get Chuang Tzu’s take on Lao Tzu’s Tao de Ching, Chapter 55…

“Can you be a little baby? The baby howls all day, yet its throat never gets hoarse – harmony at its height! The baby makes fists all day, yet its fingers never get cramped – virtue is all it holds to. The baby stares all day without blinking its eyes – it has no preferences in the world of externals.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Enjoy your practice as though you are a newborn, fascinated by every movement. BTW, the Ukrainian forces are finally giving way to the Russians. The outcome doesn’t look very positive.

05/25/2022

Today we have another profound quote from Chuang Tzu to help us continue our Cultivation is everyday life.

“In the world everyone knows enough to pursue what he does not know, but no one knows enough to pursue what he already knows. Everyone knows enough to condemn what he takes to be no good, but no one knows enough to condemn what he has already taken to be good.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

I hope you know enough to enjoy practice, everyone. Get to it.

05/24/2022

Positively great advice farom Chuang Tzu today. But not just for today. It’s a quote for all days. A quote for all times.

“When I speak of good hearing, I do not mean listening to others; I mean simply listening to yourself. When I speak of good eyesight, I do not mean looking at others; I mean simply looking at yourself. He who does not look at himself but looks at others, who does not get hold of himself but gets hold of others, is getting what other men have got and failing to get what he himself has got. He finds joy in what brings joy to other men, but finds no joy in what would bring joy to himself.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Bring more joy to yourself. Practice with the joy of Self.

05/23/2022

Does the uniform or the Gi make the man, or does the man make the uniform or Gi? What does Chuang Tzu have to say about that?

“But a gentleman may embrace a doctrine without necessarily wearing the garb that goes with it, and he may wear the garb without necessarily comprehending the doctrine.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

I don’t personally care what you are wearing; just make sure you comprehend what you are practicing. Have a good one, people.

https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/bucharest-school-ukrainian-refugee-children/39951

05/21/2022

Today’s quote is very typical of Chuang Tzu and shows how his Sage mind reasons and flows.

“You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable. You forget your waist when the belt is comfortable. Understanding forgets right and wrong when the mind is comfortable. There is no change in what is inside, no following what is outside, when the adjustment to events is comfortable. You begin with what is comfortable and never experience what is uncomfortable when you know the comfort of forgetting what is comfortable.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

This coming week, make it a point to get comfortable in your practice. And have a comfortable weekend. Also, remember that true comfort is a long way off for the people of Ukraine and their disrupted lives.

05/20/2022

“Things joined by profit, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cast each other aside.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Straight and to the point, Chuang Tzu wants us to have deeper connections than purely financial or economic ones. Living from the heart rather than the self-absorbed, obsessive acquired mind will bring those deeper ones into our lives. How about connecting with Save the Children?

05/19/2022

To be Still or not Still, how do Sages do it? That is the question, and today we have Chuang Tzu’s answer…

“The sage is still not because he takes stillness to be good and therefore is still. The ten thousand things are insufficient to distract his mind – that is the reason he is still.”― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

So forget all those distractions, still your mind and just enjoy practicing, folks.

05/18/2022

Today Chung Tzu describes the True Man of ancient times…

“The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death. He emerged without delight; he went back in without a fuss. He came briskly, he went briskly, and that was all. He didn’t forget where he began; he didn’t try to find out where he would end. He received something and took pleasure in it; he forgot about it and handed it back again.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

A very short description, but a lot there to practice. Get to it, folks, and take pleasure in what you are practicing. Then pass it on.

05/17/2022

Today Alan Watts corrects what some maintain to be attainable in Taoism

“To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.” ― Alan Watts

Have a great practice, folks.

05/16/2022

This week we will be weaving in and out of Zhuanzi. Hope you enjoy the tapestry.

“The Perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror – going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding but not storing.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Can you use your mind like a mirror? It’s important to add “not storing” to your practice. What harm does storing do? It leads to very stubborn Clinging. Good luck with your practice. And let’s not forget the courageous people of Ukraine and their equally courageous racoons.

05/14/2022

Today we have the second part of the Wilhelm/Baynes commentary. Since yesterday’s commentary pertained to Hexagram #24, Return, which begins the firing process, this next quote is from the commentary on Hexagram #1, Heaven, the end point of that process as the Taoist adept returns home to pure Yang.

“The holy man, who understands the mysteries of creation inherent in end and beginning, becomes superior to the limitations of the transitory. For him, the meaning of time is that in it, the stages of growth can unfold in a clear sequence. He is mindful at every moment and uses the six stages of growth as if they were six dragons (the image attributed to the individual lines) on which he mounts to heaven.” — The I Ching p 371, Wilhelm/Baynes edition, Commentary on hexagram #1, the Creative

Let us return as well to our continued practice, friends, and be mindful at every stage as we progress. And, of course, be mindful of the children and other victims of Russia’s War on Ukraine.

05/13/2022

As Liu Yiming pointed out earlier, the I Ching is not about Divination but rather the firing process, the inner psychological movement of returning to pure yang which is Hexagram #1 Qian, Heaven, composed of six Yang lines. He explained that this process begins with Hexagram #24, Return with one Yang line at the base and five Yin lines above it. Today we look at a different translation of the I Ching, the Wilhelm/Baynes translation and the commentary on Hexagram #24 Return.

“The light principle returns; thus the hexagram counsels turning away from the confusion of external things, turning back to one’s inner light. There, in the depths of the soul, one sees the Divine, the One.” — I Ching, Wilhelm/Baynes edition, Commentary on Hexagram #24 Return

How do Internal Arts practitioners turn away from the confusion of external things? By soaking the mind throughout the entire body while standing in Wuji or seated in calm abiding meditation. So, work on it and enjoy your practice, people.

05/12/2022

Today’s quote is Liu Yiming’s final comment on the firing process subtly revealed within the I Ching…

The mystic pearl is the pearl of complete yang, something round and bright and unclouded; it is a different name for the Gold Elixir. When the firing process reaches its time, the pearl will naturally be formed.
— Liu Yiming (Awakening the Tao)

As you can see by now, there is much more to the I Ching than divination. Have a great practice, people. And keep the victims of the War in Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers.

05/11/2022

Speaking of the I Ching as a guide to the firing process, Liu Yiming tells us the importance of Hexagra #19.

“This is really a guide to the firing process as one watches over the furnace; if students study and find out the facts in the hexagram Overseeing, then they can grasp most of the process of firing the gold pill (elixir).” — Liu Yiming (the Taoist I Ching, hexagram # 19 Overseeing)

Of Overseeing #19, Liu Yiming explains the two trigrams: “Above is Earth following and below is Lake, joyful, joyfully following truth, acting in accord with that joy, it is therefore called Overseeing. It is interesting to note the Overseeing follows #18 Degeneration, Deterioration.

So, don’t let your practice deteriorate. Instead, follow your joy, your truth, and have a great practice. As life in Ukraine deteriorates, don’t forget the children.

05/10/2022

Two quotes today. One from Zhang Boduan, 11th C. Taoist master on immortals and the firing process. The other from Liu Yiming commenting on Zhang Boduan’s quote.

“Treatises, classics and songs expound ultimate reality, but do not commit the Firing Times to writing. If you want to know the oral instructions and comprehend the mysterious points you must discuss them in detail with a divine immortal.” — Zhang Boduan, 11th C. Taoist master (Understanding Reality)

“It is not that the immortals and real people haven’t spoken of the firing process, but what they say is not organized. If you do not meet an illumined teacher, who will indicate the order for you, you will not be able to know it.” — Liu Yiming (Commentary on Understanding Reality)

Have a great practice, everyone, and don’t forget the children of Ukraine and their plight.

05/09/2022

We start the week off with Liu Yiming discussing setting up the crucible in the firing process to burn away false yin so one can reach a state of pure yang…

“Stabilize the will with firmness; do the work with flexibility.
Making the will firm and strong is setting up the crucible;
Gradually progressing in the work is setting up the furnace.
Firmness and flexibility are both used, without imbalance;
Having prepared, work the fire and the convergence according to the time.”– Liu Yiming, The Inner Teachings of Taoism

Here he is telling us that setting up the furnace requires a balance of yin and yang, which refers to firmness and flexibility respectively. In Daoist teachings, pure yang refers to the conscious awareness of the Original Spirit while false yin, refers to the mechanical awareness of the human mind.

With in mind, have a great practice to start off the week.

05/07/2022

“The method of action in spiritual alchemy is to burn away all the pollution of acquired conditioning.” — Liu Yiming (Taoist I Ching, Hexagram #7 ,The Army)

Have a great practice, everyone. Use those energies to increase your willful dissolution of your obsession with the pollution of acquired conditioning. Just what is the pollution of acquired conditioning? Self-indulgence, incessant self-interest. Have a pleasant weekend, folks.

05/06/2022

Today Liu Yiming continues to explain the “firing process” and how it comes about.

“Fire is a symbol of illumination; operating the fire means employing illumination. Illumination is the quality of awareness and perceptivity. If one can be aware, then one has the mind of Tao, and the spirit is knowing. If one can be perceptive, then there is no human mentality, and the mind is clear.” — Liu Yiming (The Taoist I Ching, Hexagram 55 Richness)

Illuminate your practice today by being perceptive of why you are not perceiving. And give some thought to the suffering victims in Ukraine. If you haven’t done anything for them yet, then maybe today is the day.

 

05/05/2022

Today Liu Yiming further explains what the “firing process” is in Daoist Alchemy…

“The firing process is the sixty-four hexagrams, indicating modification of simple and ready knowledge and capacity to restore them to their innate goodness. The alchemical classics and writings of the adepts, amounting to thousands of volumes, do not go beyond the principles of the I Ching.” — Liu Yiming (Taoist I Ching, Mixed Hexagrams #43 Parting and #44 Meeting)

I suggest you look up and study both of those hexagram and have a great practice. And take a look at the IRC’s work in Ukraine.

 

05/04/2022

Just what is the “firing process” in Daoist Alchemy? Liu Yiming gives us a clue…

“The firing process spoken of in the alchemical classics and writings of the masters is a metaphor for the order of practical spiritual work.” — Liu Yiming (The Inner Teachings of Taoism)

More on this process from Liu Yiming tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your practices, everyone, and let’s Save the Children of Ukraine.

 

05/03/2022

Today we look at the I Ching’s Hexagram #24 Return through the eyes of Liu Yiming.

“Return means coming back. In the body of the hexagram one yang moves below a group of yins ䷗; this hexagram represents the return of yang. The way to do it involves working in sequence, restoring it gradually; one cannot restore it immediately, or even if one does restore it immediately it cannot be stabilized. This path is not difficult to know, but it is difficult to practice….. going from a single yang ䷗, until six yangs ䷀ are pure and complete.” — Liu Yiming, The Taoist I Ching, hexagram #24 Return.

As you practice, remember that our methods of self-cultivation are not difficult to know but difficult to practice. Therefore, don’t be in rush. You need to take in and stabilize each step to return to your original nature. That can take years for most practitioners. Speaking of Returning, let’s hope the refugees of Ukraine and their children in Poland, Romania and dozens of other countries c an return to their homeland soon.

 

05/02/2022

We begin May by asking the etermal question: What is the I Ching and what does it have to do with anything? Liu Yi Ming gives us his answer…

“After meeting genuine teachers all my doubts disappeared, so that for the first time I realized that the Tao of spiritual alchemy is none other than the Tao of I Ching, the Tao of sages is none other than the Tao of immortals, and that the I Ching is not a book of divination, but rather a study of investigation, of principles, fulfillment of nature, and arrival at the meaning of life.” — Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist adept).

Enjoy your practice this week and don’t forget the children of Ukraine.

 

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