ENLIGHTEN YOUR DAYS

a daily diary of notes on Daoist Internal Arts practices

If you are a cultivator whose one burning desire is attaining the highest goal humanly possible – Enlightenment – then I hope my daily thoughts on my Daoism-based internal arts practices may be of some help. As a cultivator, myself, I try to use the Internal Arts of Daoism – taijiquan, nei gong, and baguazhang – to condition my body and mind through readings, teachings, internal exercises and meditation with an internal environment that allows me to follow the Path of the Dao.

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THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

09/16/2021

Today’s Hexagram #56, Lu/The Wanderer, Hexagram #56, Lu/The Wanderer…
With LI, THE CLINGING, FIRE as the upper trigram and KEN, KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN, the lower trigram, the mountain, Kên, stands still; above it fire, Li, flames up and does not tarry. Therefore the two trigrams do not stay together. Strange lands and separation are the wanderer’s lot. When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should not give himself airs….A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his way unmolested.

In honor of Lu, The Wanderer, I present an inspiration my teacher, Damo Mitchell, just had as he contemplate Nature while wandering across America these past few weeks.

“Stabilise into the nature of form as a starting position. See through to the direct experience of phenomena which sits behind that form. There is a process involved in said phenomena that may be realised and this gives access to the point whereby mind creates experience.
This is known as ‘reversing the course to find the origin’ and takes place as a direct result of ‘reversing the light of illumination’.
Throughout this process, adherence to truth is the lamp that lights the way.”

09/15/2021

Today there is the problem of too much of a good thing that may bring sadness. Hexagram #55 Fêng/Abundance, Fullness has CHêN or ZHEN,THE AROUSING, THUNDER as its upper trigram and LI, THE CLINGING, FIRE beneath it.

Chên is movement; Li is flame, whose attribute is clarity. Clarity within and movement without produce greatness and abundance. The hexagram pictures a period of advanced civilization. However, the fact that development has reached a peak suggests that this extraordinary condition of abundance cannot be maintained permanently.

Such a time of abundance is usually brief. Therefore a sage might well feel sad in view of the decline that must follow. But such sadness does not befit him. Only those who are inwardly free of sorrow and care can lead in a time of abundance. They must be like the sun at midday, illuminating and gladdening everything under heaven.

So, what this hexagram is alluding to here is emotional neutrality – having neither sorrow nor care. Thus, nothing disturbs the Sage and that allows one to shine like the sun at midday, illuminating and gladdening everything that comes one’s way. If abundance is here today but gone tomorrow, the Sage carries on without any concern. Thus, our emotional neutrality is the trait to work on. Good practicing, people.

09/14/2021

Today, it’s back to the I Ching and #54, Kuei Mei/The Marrying Maiden with CHêN THE AROUSING, THUNDER, the upper trigram and TUI THE JOYOUS, LAKE, the lower trigram. This hexagram and the following one are based on the family hierarchy in ancient China, when a husband had his #1 wife, usually a family-arranged marriage, but he was allowed to bring in mistresses/concubines for propriety sake named as lower ranking wives. So, these arrangements certainly do not apply to our modern culture. Therefore, I am skipping over them and moving onto the Image of Kuei #54.

Thunder over the lake:
The image of THE MARRYING MAIDEN.
Thus the superior person
Understands the transitory
In the light of the eternity of the end.

Thunder stirs the water of the lake, which follows it in shimmering waves. This symbolizes the girl who follows the man of her choice. But every relationship between individuals bears within it the danger that wrong turns may be taken, leading to endless misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore it is necessary constantly to remain mindful of the end. If we permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again as the day may determine. If on the other hand a man fixes his mind on an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront the closer relationships of people. Good practicing, folks!

09/13/2021

Today I would like to try something different and get your comments. Inspired by the number of quality personality traits listed in the last two hexagrams – #53 Chien/Gradual Progress like a tree growing at the top of a mountain and #52 Ken, The Mountain, a double trigrams with the image of two mountains back-to-back – I wondered what is all this leading to. Whether you are doing Internal Arts practice, martial arts, or another Cultivation practice, where has all your training led you so far. Not in terms of the particular art itself but rather what aspects of your life and your sense of self has all the training changed in either positive or negative ways.

For example, I have had over 20 years of training in tai chi and chi gong as well as some xingyi and bagua, but I have started with a new teacher, Damo Mitchell, six months ago and I am half-way through my first year with him in tai chi and Nei Gong and some three months into Bagua. I have noticed that I am beginning to sleep better and becoming a little more attentive and mindful but I still have a long way to go. Neither my digestion nor my overall health have improved nor has my breathing, although I am getting less upper respiratory infections and very slight improvement in post-nasal drip and GERD. I have been a belly breather ever since I began martial arts, but the other aspects have only improved when I am concentrating on them. They have not as yet become consistent in every day life unless I stop whatever I am doing to focus on the breathe. So far all I feel in the dantian has been movement under the influence of lao gong, no heat or warmth, no pulsations. Calm abiding and mindfulness in seated work has not been consistent either. My non-reactivity is still far from where I would like it, but there has been a slight improvement. My connectivity with others is still more closed than it is open. But at least I am mindful of that, which I wasn’t before.

So, that’s about it for me. What about you, my internal arts brothers and sisters and other cultivators?  I’m interested in reading your comments.

09/12/2021

Hexagram #53, Chien or Jian/Development (Gradual Progress) is filled with several very useful character traits. the trigram SUN, THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD is sits above the trigram KêN, KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN. This gives us the image of a tree growing at the top of a mountain, which is a perfect analogy for our Cultivation practice.

A tree on a mountain develops slowly according to the law of its being and consequently stands firmly rooted. This gives the idea of a development that proceeds gradually, step by step. The attributes of the trigrams also point to this: within is tranquility, which guards against precipitate actions, and without is penetration, which makes development and progress possible.

This principle of gradual development is always applicable where it is a matter of correct relationships of co-operation, as for instance in the appointment of an official. The development must be allowed to take its proper course. Hasty action would not be wise. This is also true, finally, of any effort to exert influence on others, for here too the essential factor is a correct way of development through cultivation of one’s own personality. No influence such as that exerted by agitators has a lasting effect. Within the personality too, development must follow the same course if lasting results are to be achieved. Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm. The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing.

On the mountain, a tree:
The image of DEVELOPMENT.
Thus the superior person abides in dignity and virtue,
In order to improve the mores.

The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually. Thus also the work of influencing people can be only gradual. No sudden influence or awakening is of lasting effect. Progress must be quite gradual, and in order to obtain such progress in public opinion and in the mores of the people, it is necessary for the personality to acquire influence and weight. This comes about through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.

So, recapping, let’s look at the qualities that Richard Wilhelm’s commentary pointed out that will make our own personal Cultivation possible. First, tranquility and penetration. Tranquility within guards against precipitate actions, and penetration without makes development and progress possible. Next, “Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm.” Then “The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing.” So, gentleness that is adaptable and penetrating as well as perseverance. Finally, our personality must acquire influence and weight through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.

There you have it, folks. So, get busy on developing these qualities, and, as always, good practicing, everyone!

09/11/2021

Today’s hexagram is another double trigram, one of eight in the “I Ching.” It is also one of the more esoteric ones that imparts instructions to reach a higher ground rather than giving divination regarding your current situation.
Hexagram #52, Gen or Ken/Keeping Still, Mountain, comprised of two Ken trigrams below and above. The image of this hexagram is the mountain, or rather, two mountains situated back-to-back. The male principle is at the top because it strives upward by nature; the female principle is below, since the direction of its movement has come to its normal end. In its application, the hexagram turns upon the problem of achieving a quiet heart, a most difficult one for anyone who has tried to meditate. While Buddhism strives for rest through an ebbing away of all movement in nirvana, the Book of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that always posits movement as its complement. Possibly the words of the Judgment embody directions for this kind of practice.

THE JUDGMENT

KEEPING STILL. Keeping his back still
So that he (the Sage/Ruler) no longer feels his body.
He goes into his courtyard
And does not see his people.
No blame.

True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and movement are in agreement with the demands of the time and the flow of Tao.

The hexagram signifies the end and the beginning of all movement. It also suggest keeping the back still because the spine is where all the nerve fibers that mediate movement are located. In theory, if the movement of these spinal nerves is brought to a standstill, the ego’s influence, with all its restlessness, fades as it were. When the Sage has become calm and turns to the outside world, he no longer sees the struggle and tumult of individual beings. If the Sage has maintained his clarity and discernment upon reaching stillness, he sees the great laws of the Universe being acted out according to the flow of the Dao. Therefore he has reached true peace of mind.

THE IMAGE

Two Mountains standing back-to-back,
The image of KEEPING STILL.
Thus the superior person
Does not permit one’s thoughts
To go beyond one’s situation.

The heart-mind (Xin) thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements of the heart-that is, a person’s thoughts-should not be acted upon without clarity and discernment. See through your desires, which ones bring harm to yourself or others and which bring benefit. In this way, you stabilize yourself in the Way of Dao and become mindfully non-reactive. Great practicing, friends, have at it!

09/10/2021

Today we are in for a real shock with Hexagram #51, Chên or Zhen/The Arousing (Shock, Thunder). The doubling of the Chen trigram THE AROUSING, THUNDER both above and below represents the shock of continuing thunder that brings fear and trembling. Here, in both trigrams, a yang line develops below two yin lines and presses upward forcibly. This movement is so violent that it arouses terror. It is symbolized by thunder, which bursts forth from the earth.

The shock that comes from the manifestation of God within the depths of the earth makes man afraid, but this fear of God is good, for joy and success can follow. When one has learned within one’s heart what fear and trembling mean, one is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside influences. Let the thunder roll and spread terror a hundred miles around: The superior person remains so composed and reverent in spirit that the sacrificial rite is not interrupted. This is the spirit that must animate leaders and rulers of men-a profound inner seriousness from which all terrors glance off harmlessly.

The superior person is always filled with reverence at the manifestation of God; one sets one’s life in order and searches one’s heart, lest it harbor any secret opposition to the will of God. Thus reverence is the foundation of true culture.

That last sentence is the real shocker. How many of us in our Cultivation practice have thought to acquire reverence as a fundamental character trait? But more than any other trait at the very base of our being we need reverence – reverence for the Divine, reverence for Nature and reverence for a fellow man as well as ourselves as true manifestations of the Divine. So start there, and good practicing, people.

09/09/2021

Today we cook up a special opportunity with Hexagram #50 Ting or DING/The Caldron. With LI THE CLINGING, FIRE above and SUN THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD below, Ting gives the impression of the flames of a fire being stoked by wind and wood. Also, the six lines of this hexagram construct the image of THE CALDRON; at the bottom are the legs, over them the belly, then come the ears (handles), and at the top the carrying rings. At the same time, the image suggests the idea of both nourishment and sacrifice. The ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked viands in the temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The heads of the family served the food from the ting into the bowls of the guests. It also held the meat and plants being offered to the divine.

The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the fire burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a fate, one’s Ming, that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.

Here it is the wood (the Hun soul, related to the Liver organ) that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit, (the Shen, related to the Heart). All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order. Since the Ting serves in offering sacrifice to God, it must contain the highest earthly values. But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart from man. The supreme revelation of the Infinite Non-Being, the Absolute Eternal Oneness can only be realized when one has achieved the productive stillness that brings inner enlightenment and true understanding only if one has maintained the clarity and discernment of the Truth. This leads to the greatest fortune of all – a successful cultivation of one’s Nature. A worthy practice, folks. All the best!

09/08/2021

Most of us are aware that many animals molt or shed their fur according to changes in their environment. That’s the Image of Hexagram #49 Ko/Revolution (Molting). TUI THE JOYOUS, LAKE sits above LI, THE CLINGING, FIRE. The Chinese character for this hexagram means an animal’s pelt in its original sense, which is changed in the course of the year by molting. But commentators down through the ages have changed their application of the original meaning to apply to the “moltings” in political life or the shedding of one government for another through revolutions.

According to the Image of KO, fire below and the lake above combat and destroy each other. So too in the course of the year a combat takes place between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, eventuating in the revolution of the seasons.

However, like we did yesterday, I would like to forego political or seasonal changes and look at physical ones within our bodies. There is a constant fight between Fire and Water which are represented by the heart and kidneys respectively and between Yang qi, the electronic component of our qi, and the Yin qi, the magnetic component. The Yang qi is constantly trying to move upward away from the kidneys which generate it while the Yin qi keeps attempting to pull the Yang qi downward and gather it in. The problems arise when the Yang element is much stronger than the Yin. This imbalance creates an excess of heat as the Yang qi rises upward toward its two favorite spots – the brain and the upper chest cavity. When this happens we get conditions known as Qigong Deviations. “Long Bing” also known as Dragon Sickness and “Zou Huo Ru Mo” or “Entering the Fire to Invite Demons” are a couple of the more noted deviations that can affect Qigong and Neigong practitioners.

As the Yang qi rise into the head, it can cause all sorts of psychological and emotional conditions that can destabilize our lives. As it moves into the upper chest, it eventually heats up the heart and the arteries and we get various forms of cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, arrythmias, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Also as the Yang qi rises, more and more Yin energy is depleted as our body attempts to reel in the Yang energy. Eventually our Jing (essence) is needed to produce more and more Yin energy and thus, it eventually gets depleted as well.

Although this is an ongoing battle between these two forces, it is our primary goal in qigong and Neigong to balance the Yin and Yang and at the same time strengthen our awareness through clarity and discernment. This is why we practice, and this is why we maintain our perspective within. Good practicing, folks!

09/07/2021

Today we reach down into the well for a look at Hexagram #48, Ching or Jing/The Well. The trigram Sun, Wood, is below, and the trigram Kan, Water, is above it. Wood sucks water upward. Just as wood as an organism imitates the action of the well, which benefits all parts of the plant, the superior person or Sage organizes human society, so that, as in a plant organism, its parts co-operate for the benefit of the whole.

While Richard Wilhelm and most other commentators have a macrocosmic view of Ching and how it relates to society as a whole, I have a much different perspective. I look at Ching from a microcosmic, inner view. Like the plant organism, our bodies can be viewed in the same way, where Water represents the major liquid substance, namely, our blood.

So, how is blood formed within the Wells of our bodies?

Like the rope and bucket of an external well, our bodies use Qi and Jing (essence) to draw blood from our nutrition.
The nutrition from food and drink that consume are transformed in the digestive organs under the supervision of the Spleen to make Ku Qi (Qi of Food). The Spleen then sends the Ku Qi upwards to the Lungs where it is mingled with Ta Qi (the refined Qi of Air). This combination gives us Nutrient Qi that is then moved to the Heart, where Jing (Essence) from the Kidneys is added and Blood is formed. While it is true that the actual manufacturing of blood is done by bone marrow which is ruled by the Kidneys, which Provide Jing (Essence) and Yuan Qi, a catalyst that sparks all transformative processes in the body, according to Chinese Medicine theory. However, this function is done under the supervision of Heart which can only do so if it received adequate Nutrient Qi from the Lungs and the Spleen.

So, just as there is so much that needs to be transformed in society if it is to function properly, the same is true of our bodies, and all the organs must function properly in order to make these transformations possible. Thus, the lesson to be learned here is to realize how much work your body has to do, and it is our job to see that the body gets exactly what it needs: proper nutrition – good food and drink – plenty of exercise as well as adequate rest.
So, look after your own personal Well that holds the precious red elixir of a long life. And good practicing, folks!

09/06/2021

“It’s all there”
a commentary

Instead of my usual review of the hexagrams of the “I Ching” for those personal qualities that each one promotes, I decided to do a commentary instead, not on the hexagrams or the “I Ching” but on deepening our clarity and discernment. Although it is not about any hexagram in particular, it was inspired by yesterday’s review of Hexagram #47, Kun, meaning Oppression or Exhaustion. What happens when we feel we are oppressed? We could be oppressed by an employer or a manager, by authoritarian figures, polictical figures, law enforcement, by society in general, or by ourselves, in the case of workholics for example. If this opporession is kept up long enough, it is bound to turn to exhaustion, and this is not conducive to either our physical or mental health or our spiritual growth and cultivation.

As I noted in my review yesterday, some commentators have suggested cheerfulness as an antidote for opporessed exhaution. But can anyone be truly cheerful when oppressed or exhausted or in the face of adversity? I suggested riding things out or, at the very least, try not to be despondent. But neither of those are viable solutions when one is bordering on depression. So, as I completed my morning incantations and took my shower, I suddenly realized no matter how negative things can get, it’s all there. Wait a second, hold on! What’s all there, and what’s all where?

I’m glad you asked. The short answer is not a solution but a process – a process to go within. Not to still your mind, but to still your jing – that energy which is your very essence. Once it stops overworking to balance the energy you lose through worry, nerve-racking stress, brain fog and despondent thoughts, the jing can settle down and energize your spirit instead of your nerves. So, before you reach for that cigarette or that chocolate cream donut, sit down instead and allow your breath to slow down and deepen. Don’t “DO” anything, just observe your breath as it slows down and deepens on its own accord. Observe it as it deepens all the way into the pit of your stomach, about two-fingers width beneath your navel and a couple of inches inward on the center line of your body. Once you feel it reaching that spot, then allow your mind to join with the breath.

Again, don’t do anything but simply observe as your awareness sinks with your breath into that spot. Allow your breath and your mind to move deeply, easily and softly, and lengthen as there is no rush. Allow them to take as long as they want. Now you are in that very “THERE,” that space within where all potential lies. The solution(s) to your situation, your Fate, if you will, is among that very potentiality. ‘It is all there.’

With clarity and discernment, you can discover the real truth within your situation and, more importantly, within the very ego, the overly conditioned, acquired mind that has woven this particular fate for you from your own perceptions of each and every experience you have ever had. See the truth of those perceptions and falsehoods of your beliefs they have formed. Once you see that, then the clarity and discernment necessary to either improve your situation or to break free altogether will arise.

So, again, don’t get mad and don’t get sad. Just sit, settle down, and allow your breath and your awareness to deepen. Great practicing, everyone!

09/05/2021

Today we look at a somewhat inauspicious fate, that of Hexagram #47, Kun/Oppression or Exhaustion. TUI or DUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE is above, but below is KAN THE ABYSMAL PIT, WATER.

The lake is above, water below; signifying that the water has flowed out below, and thus the lake must dry up and become exhausted. That is its fate and symbolizes an adverse fate in human life. In such times there is nothing a one can do but acquiesce in his fate and remain true to himself. This concerns the deepest stratum of his being, for this alone is superior to all external fate.

While some commentators have suggested cheerfulness as an antidote to overcome this dire fate, let’s be real – there is no antidote except to ride it out. Also, when one is oppressed or exhausted by one’s current fate, it is difficult to be cheerful. However, I do recommend avoiding despondency. Simply go to that quiet place within, where one’s true strength lies, settle your thoughts, and hunker down. And go deeper and deeper into your practice every day.

09/04/2021

Today our spotlight is on Hexagram #46, SHENG/Ascending, Pushing Upward. KUN, THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH is the upper trigram with SUN, THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD below. As you can see, with wood below the earth, we have the Image and idea of a young sprout pushing upward, attempting to break through the earth and into daylight. This pushing upward is associated with effort, just as a plant needs energy for pushing upward through the earth. That is why this hexagram, although it is connected with success, is associated with the effort of willpower, ZHI, which, in turn, is associated with the kidneys. PUSHING UPWARD indicates a vertical ascent but not necessarily a direct one.

If one again thinks of a seed becoming the sprout of a sprawling tree, it doesn’t directly shoot upwards as there may be obstructions in its path. It doesn’t attempt to move them with a violent force, but like water, only moving upwards rather than downward, it adapts to its environment and acquiesces to that which is blocking it and bends around it until it finds a suitable path to continue its upward ascent.

Thus, our lesson to draw from that tree sprout is to temper our own progress not with violence or force but by adaptability and modesty. Although, as in the case of the sprout, this progress requires the effort of willpower, it also requires the modesty of taking the middle road, which means drawing back the intensity of that willpower and letting it suffice as perseverance rather than sheer strength of will. Happy practicing and cultivating, folks!

09/03/2021

Today we look at Hexagram #45, Cui or Tsui / Gathering Together, Amassing, Collecting, Bunching Together, A Crowd. the trigram TUI or DUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE is above with KUN, THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH below. Usually, one thinks of a gathering as a joyous occasion. There are weddings, birthday parties, family gatherings, sporting events and tailgating. We also have a familiar saying: “The more, the merrier.” But that’s not always the case.

If the water in the lake gathers until it rises above the earth, there is danger of a break-through. Precautions must be taken to prevent this. The Age of COVID has taught us to be wary of large gatherings, to keep a social distance, to wear a mask and to keep our gatherings small. But even prior to COVID, large gatherings often presented problems. There’s the drunk who wants to fondle every woman and fight every male. One can always find persons with a belligerent nature in large crowds who are ready for a fight at the drop of a hat.

So, the bottom line: where men gather together in great numbers, strife is likely to arise. Human woes usually come as a result of unexpected events against which we are not forewarned. If we are cautious, they can be prevented.
Happy practicing, folks!

09/02/2021

Today we have a rather controversial hexagram with many differing commentaries. Just when you thought your troubles were over, evil raises, not its ugly head, but its beautiful, innocent temptress facade. That’s Hexagram #44, Kou/Coming to Meet with CH’IEN or QIAN, THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN sits atop SUN, THE GENTLE, WIND. As mentioned, there is a good deal of controversy over its interpretation. Thus, I will present two views.

The first is the James Legge-Richard Wilhelm commentary: “This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from within and below. Of its own accord the female principle comes to meet the male. It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences.

“The rise of the inferior element is pictured here in the image of a bold girl who lightly surrenders herself and thus seizes power. This would not be possible if the strong and light-giving element had not in turn come halfway. The inferior thing seems so harmless and inviting that a man delights in it; it looks so small and weak that he imagines he may dally with it and come to no harm.

“The inferior man rises only because the superior man does not regard him as dangerous and so lends him power. If he were resisted from the first, he could never gain influence.”

The second commentary represents the feminine point of view from Kari Hohne at cafeausoul.com: “The powerful feminine energy of rebirth is at play because of the single yin line emerging at the bottom of many yang lines. Some see it as the emperor’s first wife’s child who becomes the heir.

“Gou can be important in creative readings as suggested by the hidden influence of the Creative. Others define it as a temptress who may lead a man astray. If we look deeper into the transformative power of the entire I Ching we find room for all images. As the Shadow or Anima in a man’s dream, the Trickster temptress is actually allowing a breakthrough of his feeling nature. For a woman, the Shadow shows how her own power may need to be resurrected after being forced underground because it was misunderstood or thought to be bad.

“The underlying cause of Return may have caused the present to be overlaid with unacknowledged images of the past. Return relates to what is going on inside and you may be judging a situation subjectively when you should really be looking at it objectively. Therefore, Gou can symbolize any type of encounter that leads to Shadow transformation and putting misunderstandings under the proper light. This may be why Kung fu tzu (Confucius) said: “when meeting contention in another it would be wise to examine oneself.”

So, there you have it. Take your pick as to which points in the two commentaries you choose to accept. Since I am a believer in the power of introspection, I go with Confucius’ contention. And Good Practicing to all!

09/01/2021

Today has been another “bad news” day. It seems as though evil doers in positions of power have beseiged those leaders who hope to serve in humanistic and humanitarian ways. It has reached the point where we could certainly use a break-through. And that’s the title of today’s Hexagram #43. Kuai/Break-through (Resoluteness).

In his commentary on Kuai, Richard Wilhelm has raised a few points that are in line with Daoist teachings and my own ethical values. Therefore, I will paraphrase his commentary to insure they are not misconstrued.

With TUI or DUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE above and CH’IEN or Qian, THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN below, Kuai signifies on the one hand a break-through after a long accumulation of tension, as a swollen river breaks through its dikes or in the manner of a cloudburst. On the other hand, applied to human conditions, it refers to the time when inferior people gradually begin to disappear. Their influence is on the wane, which is certainly not the case today. Their influence among their particular constituents remains as steady as ever.

Nevertheless, even if only one inferior person is occupying a ruling position in a city, he/she is able to oppress superior leaders. Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side. A resolute breakthrough is necessary if the good is to prevail. In a confrontation of good against evil, there are, however, definite rules that must not be disregarded. First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and compassion or empathy for the victims of the evil doers. Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; evil must under all circumstances be openly discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over. Finally and most importantly, the confrontation must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion. Therefore it is important to begin with ourselves, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded in others. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil becomes dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.

THE IMAGE of BREAK-THROUGH contends that the superior individual or sage dispenses riches downward and refrains from resting on his virtue. When the waters of a lake have risen up to heaven, there is reason to assume a cloudburst is imminent. Thus, if a person were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse, for all gathering is followed by dispersion. Therefore the superior individual begins to distribute while accumulating. In the same way, in developing his character he takes care not to become hardened in obstinacy but to remain receptive to impressions by help of strict and continuous self-examination.

The two most important traits here to add to your own character are first, we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. The best way to confront evil is to make energetic progress in the good. And the second trait, the superior individual begins to distribute while accumulating. In the same way, in developing his character he takes care not to become hardened in obstinacy but to remain receptive to impressions by help of strict and continuous self-examination. That, my friends, is the Daoist Way. Good practicing, people.

08/30-31/2021

As Autumn fast approaches, we are going to close out the month of August by moving from yesterday’s Decrease to today’s Increase as indicated by Hexagram #42, I or Yi. The strong lowest line of the upper trigram has sunk down and taken its place under the lower trigram. So now we have SUN/THE GENTLE, WIND above and ZHEN, THE AROUSING, THUNDER below.

Fundamental to both Daoism and the “I Ching” is the idea that to rule is to serve. Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the entire community or country. This exemplifies the type of generosity and giving of one’s self that pleases the spirit and alone has power to heal the world. Develop this compassionate trait of giving of yourself to help others, especially those less advantaged, and you will have made an ethical change that increases the overall dynamics of your personality and moves you a giant step forward in Self Cultivation…Good Practicing, People.

08/29/2021

Returning the “I Ching” and the personal qualities and character traits contained in specific hexagrams, today we focus on Hexagram # 41, Sun/Decrease. The upper trigram is KEN, KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN with TUI or DUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE below. Sun is marked by a decrease of the lower trigram in favor of the upper. However, not all decreases are detrimental and not all increases are positive as observed by none other than Laozi in his “Dao De Ching.” In Chapter 42, Laozi says, “Things may be diminished by being increased, increased by being diminished.” Then in Chapter 48, he discusses his view of knowledge:
“To learn,
One accumulates day by day.
To study Tao,
One reduces day by day.
Through reduction and further reduction
One reaches non-action,
And everything is acted upon.”

By the same token, regardless of scarcity or abundance, Laozi believes that a simple life rather than diminishing one’s strength actually increases one’s inner qualities, virtues and strength of conviction as stated in Chapter 48 of the “Dao De Ching.” .

“Therefore, the sage says:
I live a simple life,
and the people change themselves.
I love quiet,
and the people settle down in their regular jobs.
I look to effortlessness,
and the people grow rich.
I have no desires,
and the people return to Simplicity.”

In his commentary on the IMAGE of SUN, Richard Wilhelm explains how siplicity and decrease enrich our lives: “The lake at the foot of the mountain evaporates. In this way it decreases to the benefit of the mountain, which is enriched by its moisture. The mountain stands as the symbol of stubborn strength that can harden into anger. The lake is the symbol of unchecked gaiety that can develop into passionate drives at the expense of the life forces. Therefore decrease is necessary; anger must be decreased by keeping still, the instincts must be curbed by restriction. By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.”

That’s an inspiring dictum, one that deserves repeating: “By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.” Work these thoughts into your life and its cultivation. Good practicing, everyone.

08/28/2021

I thought I would give you a little something different today. Tomorrow I will continue with looking at the qualities exemplified in the various hexagrams of the “I Ching.” But for now, I came across an incredible “OM” chant and an even more incredible mountain image. If you are having trouble clearing your mind so you can fall asleep at night, this is the chant for you. Likewise, if you are having trouble in the morning waking up and starting your day, this is the chant that will clear your head and get you out of bed and stirring. And, most importantly, if you jnjeed something to calm your mind while you sit still and contemplate your sense of self, this is the chant that will lead to calm abiding. Wishing all of you good practices…

 

08/27/2021

Today is one my favorite hexagrams, not necessarily because of the outcome, although it is favorable, but for the actions of the Sage or superior person in the commentary on the image. This is Hexagaram #40 Jie or Hsieh/Deliverance. The upper trigram is ZHEN, THE AROUSING, THUNDER and the lower one K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER.

Here, we have averted the obstruction in Hexagram #39 Chien with movement that has gotten us out of the sphere of danger. Though deliverance is not yet complete, the difficulties are being resolved. The stressful pressures of the situation are starting to lessen. Thus it is important to return to our usual way of life as soon as possible and not linger.

And now for my favorite passage from Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on the Image

“Thunder and rain set in:
The image of DELIVERANCE.
Thus the superior man pardons mistakes
And forgives misdeeds.”

A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing the air; the superior person produces a similar effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men that induced the condition of tension from the previous two hexagrams. (And Here’s the important part.) Through clarity he brings deliverance. However, when failings come to light, he does not dwell on them; he simply passes over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions, just as thunder dies away. He forgives misdeeds, the intentional transgressions, just as water washes everything clean.

So, in your own lives, if you want to make your cultivation as strong as possible, CLEAR THE AIR, like a Spring thunderstorm. Do not dwell on your failings. Pass over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions and forgive misdeeds, those intentional transgressions, just as the rain washes everything clean. Good practicing, people!

08/26/2021

Today we move from bad to worse or so it seems…from Opposition #38 Kuei to Hexagram #39 Chien/Obstruction. The upper trigram K’AN THE ABYSMAL, THE ABYSS/WATER while KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN is below. So essential we are caught between a Rock and a Hard Place with a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. But, since the mountain has is still and, therefore, immobile, there is a possibility of extricate ourselves over time. Thus, in the present we retreat, fall back with the idea of finding a way to extricate ourselves throught introspection.

The solution, we discover, lies with the Image of this hexagram, water on the mountain. Difficulties and obstructions throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on other persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself, and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.

So, that is the key quality that one must develop in our to succeed in personal Cultivation, introspection or, in other words, contemplation of our innermost feelings with regard to this obstruction in our daily lives or practices.

08/25/2021

Today we have Hexagram #38, Kuei/Opposition with Li, the Flame or Fire over Tui, the Joyous Lake. Thus we have Fire ascending over Water which is descending. Therefore, they represent opposition as they are moving in different directions and pulling away from each other. Here, Opposition shows a situation where people are not seeing eye-to-eye but hold views are seriously opposed. This is the very situation that we see being played out daily in Washington with the Republicans versus the Democrats. We even see it within the Democratic caucus where like-minded people hold contrary views on certain measures.

However, this opposition cannot exist indefinitely because Nature never allows stagnation to endure. Eventually, there will be concessions made by one or both sides, usually small incremental changes until a reconciliation can occur.

To quote Kari Hohne from her “I Ching” commentary on Cafeausoul.com: “When we can accept that there are many expressions of the right way, polarity gives way to a condition where Clarity can illuminate Joy.”

08/24/2021

I am going to skip over the Judgment or Statement as it is known in some texts on the I Ching for Today’s Hexagram #37, Chia Jen, The Family or Clan. SUN THE GENTLE, WIND forms the upper trigram ove LI THE CLINGING, FIRE below. As you can no doubt surmise from the title of the hexagram, Chia Jen, The Family, based on a book created in the societal structure of ancient China will have very little relevance to a modern American family, in which both mates more than likely work and hold positions of equal or nearly equal stature and require outside help such as nursery school and preschool or babysitters (sometimes a retired relative) to look after the children, normally a duty of the wife and mother. Also, both will usually share housework and other duties both in and outside the home.

So, instead, I am going to use Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on the Image, which in today’s hexagram focuses on our words, the very source of our ability to think and communicate…

“Heat creates energy: this is signified by the wind stirred up by the fire and issuing forth from it. This represents influence working from within outward. The same thing is needed in the regulation of the family. Here too the influence on others must proceed form one’s own person. In order to be capable of producing such an influence, one’s words must have power, and this they can have only if they are based on something real, just as flame depends on its fuel Words have influence only when they are pertinent and clearly related to definite circumstances. General discourses and admonitions have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, the words must be supported by one’s entire conduct, just as the wind is made effective by am impression on others that they can adapt and conform to it. If words and conduct are not in accord and consistent, they will have no effect.”

I would suggest that you read that paragraph through several times to get the gist of how you can make your words more powerful. Without power, your words will lake any influence. If they sound anything less then true, then you are lying to yourself and everyone else. Your words must be consistent with your conduct, and your conduct must be consistent with what is true and just. Keep up the good practices, folks.

08/23/2021

Today’s hexagram marks a time of caution and reservation. Hexagram #36 Ming I/Darkening of the light with K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH above and LI THE CLINGING, FIRE below. Here the sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened. The name of the hexagram means literally “wounding of the bright”; hence the individual lines contain frequent references to wounding.

According to Richard Wilhelm: “One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities. In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail inspite of difficulties in his immediate environment. Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be discernible from without. Only thus is a man able to maintain his will in the face of difficulties…

“In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved. One should not needlessly awaken overwhelming enmity by inconsiderate behavior. In such times one ought not to fall in with the practices of others; neither should one drag them censoriously into the light. In social intercourse one should not try to be all-knowing. One should let many things pass, without being duped.”

Recapping the personal qualities necessary in a darkened and possibly hostile situation, one needs to be cautious and reserved, not falling in with this type of crowd. One should also persevere in maintaining your innermost light while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. Hopefully all of you and your practices are still in the light. If so, then carry on!

08/22/2021

A little break today from examining the character traits in the 64 hexagrams of the “I Ching.” Instead, here is a worthy item for you to contemplate, a Tang Dynasty poem entitled 32 Words the Essence and Doctrine of Tai Chi

No shape, no form, no likenesses
The body formless, empty, void
Naturally spontaneous
Like chimes that hang in Western Mountain

The tiger roars, the monkeys call
The spring is clear, the brook is still
The rivers roll, the oceans swell
Surrender “self” and life prevails

Created by Li Dao Zi
Tang Dynasty
English translated poem By
Master Ho Nan Jie
James Petersen
Vicki Tseng

08/21/2021

Today we encounter a familiar theme, clarity, in Hexagram #35, Chin or Jin/Progress, Flourishing. The upper trigram is LI THE CLINGING, FIRE and below is K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH. The hexagram represents the sun rising over the earth. It is therefore the symbol of rapid, easy progress, which at the same time means ever widening expansion and clarity.

The Image of the light of the sun rising over the earth is by nature clear. The higher the sun rises, the more it emerges from the dark mists, spreading the pristine purity of its rays over an ever widening area. The real nature of man is likewise originally good, but it becomes clouded by contact with earthly things and therefore needs purification before it can shine forth in its native clarity. This is very much the same kind of analogy often used in Daoism of allowing the mud or sediment to settle to clear a container or pool of water. Only with the sun rising, the direction is up and with the sediment sinking the direction is downward. Nevertheless, both achieve the same result – clarity. But how do we achieve clarity?

Ultimately through discernment. And how do we achieve discernment. Like the muddy water, we must let our minds settle by stilling them. But not that meditative Samadhi kind of stillness. We are not looking for the Great Void, just for clarity. So, it is only necessary to calm the mind by not being so reactive. We step back and allow situations and thoughts to arise but don’t react to them. Nor do we necessarily watch them come and go. That is awful vipassana advice. We are not traffic cops. Okay, that thought can go; now this one can come forth. No! What we do is FEEL! That’s right, do not react, do not watch the thought, but look inside and see how it makes you feel. What feeling does it evoke? And where did that feeling come from? What is its source? This will give you insight into a true sense of self. So, as you replace reacting with feeling, your inner nature with its natural clarity becomes like the Sun rising above the clouds of the acquired, conditioned mind. So, my good friends, allow your practice to gain some clarity.

08/20/2021

Hexagram #34, Da Zhuang, Invigorating Power, Great Strength indicated that the retreat has definitely ended and one’s power has returned. With Zhen, The Arousing, Thunder on top and Qian/Chien, The Creative, Heaven below, Da Zhuang is the image of Thunder -electrical energy – mounting upward with four strong yang lines moving up from the bottom of the hexagram. The direction of this movement is in harmony with the movement of heaven and therefore produces great power. However, in order to persevere it must also be in harmony with virtue, and one must not do anything that is unvirtuous or risk losing one’s power.

The way to deal with strength, drive and invigorating power is to focus one’s strength through a central creative task or function, such as Cultivation or Qi Building. But as any Taoist Sage would tell you, the best way to use your strength is to help others who are less fortunate. Focusing on helping others is definitely the best way to go.

08/19/2021

Yesterday Hexagram 32, Heng, Enduring, Persevering, marked the half-way point in the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. Today, we start the second half with a not-so auspicious Hexagram #33, Tun/Retreat, Withdrawal. Chien/Qian, The Creative, Heaven is above and Ken, Keeping Still, Mountain is below. So, the power of the dark yin lines at the base of Mountain are ascending, causing the power of the light yang lines above to retreat so as to not exhaust its forces as the darkness encroaches.

Now there are two kinds of Retreat, passive and active. Passive is outright flight, a mindless, not well-conceived or organized retreat. Whereas an active one is mindfully constructed to keep its forces intact and oftentimes to obstruct the approaching forces as much as possible by destroying bridges, setting fires, planting land mines, etc.

A passive retreat can be seen in the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Vietnam, after the sudden collapse of Saigon, leaving hundreds of thousands of their Vietnamese allies behind, and the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. If you have been watching TV news, you are seeing what appears to be an Active withdrawal as the U.S. military is negotiating safe passage for tens of thousands of Afghan allies following the sudden collapse of the Afghan government after its military had lost the will to fight any longer and surrendered.

But as Cultivators, we do not look at retreat in the same way. In fact, we don’t even use the term. We call it “stepping back,” which usually refers to our intent. As you can well imagine, this is not a physical retreat but a mental, emotional one. Some of us get so wound up trying to advance our Cultivation that we actually create stress around the very aspect we are trying to improve. For example, in building the dantien, instead of just letting the mind casually soak into the dantien area or anchoring the breath there as well, we put too much of our intention into it. So, instead of the process being wu-wei or non-governing or non-controlling, it is just the opposite, extremely intense. If we don’t “step back” our intent, we are bound to fail.

So, my friends, look at areas of your practice where you may need to step back and let the mind calmly abide.

08/18/2021

Today’s hexagram is the inverse of the previous one, Xian. In Hexagram #32, Heng, the upper trigram is Zhen, The Arousing/Thunder and the lower one is Sun, The Gentle, Wind. Persevering, Enduring, Durable are its key qualities. All are excellent qualities for Internal Arts Cultivators to acquire. But although they are often regarded as synonymous, Persevering and Enduring are actually quite different. How so?

Endurance is the more Yin of the two and is a form of acceptance no matter how great the pain, suffering or hardship. An enduring person is one who accepts that pain or hardship as a fact of life and is more inclined to tolerate it rather than fight against it, trying to change it. In other words, enduarence is the quality of acceptance combined with stillness.

Perseverance, on the other hand, is definitely the more Yang of the two. Whereas endurance embraces acceptance with a quality of stillness, perseverance, like the Wind below the Storm that moves the thunder and lightning across the sky, is the quality of acceptance combined with movement rather than stillness.

The Internal Arts Cultivator needs both. Endurance for those long periods where there is pain and hardship but no apparent progress internally or externally. Without the quality of endurance, most people are inclined to give up if they don’t experience significant progress after a couple months. Perseverance is the acceptance of greater pain and difficulty as one advances through the arts, expecting that the road will get tougher and steeper as one moves up the mountain. Nevertheless, one continues to move on. And so, my good people, I hope each of you can move up in your practice.

08/16/2021

Today we have another favorable hexagram with the strong being respectful to the weak rather than trying to dominate it, with the male being submissive as well as protective of the female, and thus, the way of Nature is fulfilled. This is Hexagram 31, Xian or Hsien/Influence (Wooing), Stimulation. Here The upper trigram is Tui, the Joyous; Lake, the lower is Kên, Keeping still, Mountain. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this stimulation cheerfully and joyously.

In Xian, the weak element, Tui, is above, the strong, Ken, is below; thus, their influences attract one another and enable them to unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent that joy from becoming overly excessive and turning to mania This is the meaning of the added admonition in the Judgment, “Perseverance furthers,” for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men’s hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.

A lake on top of a mountain is the ery image of influence. A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.

All important points today. We know that by calming the mind, we can experience joy without becoming manic. By setting aside any form of male dominance and being respectful of all others and listening to their views, we can forge not only a pleasing relationship but a stimulating one as well that with “Perseverence furthers” our Cultivation. Finally, as the Image of this hexagram tells us, we should keep our minds humble and free in order to remain receptive not only to fruitful advice but also to inspiration from without and beyond. All very good advice and very good qualities to add to your character. May each and everyone of you have a stimulating practice!

08/15/2021

Today, we have another hexagram with doubled trigrams. Hexagram #30, Li, the Clinging/Fire, although doubled up like #29 Kan, is nowhere near as dire. In fact, it portends a rather bright future. In this case, Richard Wilhelm’s commentary seems to be a nice fit.

Wilhem states: “The trigram Li means “to cling to something,” and also “brightness.” A dark line clings to two light lines, one above and one below–the image of an empty space between two strong lines, whereby the two strong lines are made bright…As an image, it is fire. Fire has no definite form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright. As water pours down from heaven, so fire flames up from the earth. While K’an (#29) means the soul shut within the body, Li (#30) stands for nature in its radiance.”

Wilhelm continues: “What is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine. Thus the sun and moon cling to heaven, and grain, grass, and trees cling to the earth. So too the twofold clarity of the dedicated man clings to what is right and thereby can shape the world. Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree, and when man recognizes this limitation and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he achieves success. The cow is the symbol of extreme docility. By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world.”

Wilhem’s commentary brings out several very important qualities absolutely necessary for cultivation. The first two are perseverance and clinging. But I thought we have been cautioned not to cling to anything. Almost anything. It is absolutely essential for Internal Arts Cultivators that we cling to the idea of Cultivation and persevere in clinging to our processes of Cultivation. Next, we need to “cultivate” an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence in order to acquire discernment and clarity as to who we are and what is our place in this world.

Wilhelm concludes his commentary on the Image of Li with this: “The great man continues the work of nature in the human world. Through the clarity of his nature he causes the light to spread farther and farther and to penetrate the nature of man ever more deeply.”

Good advice, no doubt. Hopefully we can assimilate it into our practice. Good cultivation, folks, onward and upward!

08/14/2021

In Hexagram #28, Da Guo, we discovered that Disaster lay directly ahead. Now in Hexagram #29, Kan, The Abyssmal, The Repeating Pit, we realize that the crisis is already here. Kan is one of eight trigrams throughout the “I Ching” that double up on their trigrams. Both top and bottom are the same trigram, in this case, water. It represent a plunging into the imminent danger that surrounds us. Here a yang line has plunged into two yin lines and is surrounded by them like water in a ravine. Also, since the trigrams are doubled up, the hexagram has the additional connotation of repeated danger.

Thus, whoever has cast this hexagram lives a life of constant danger, either consciously or unconsciously. They could have a profession that brings constant danger: a soldier, a police officer, a government operative, a spy. Or, unconsciously creating dangerous situations by lack of attentiveness and awareness. If they were more attentive in their everyday lives, they would have been able to see the danger that lay ahead and avert it or deal with it early on their own terms.

Unlike most of the commentators, who are advising readers to plunge right into the danger and face it since there is no way to avoid it, all I can say is simply plunging into danger time after time is not the way of Cultivators. So, if you are going to plunge into anything, let that be your practice, my friends, and this will keep you out of danger. Ciao!

08/13/2021

DANGER! Disaster lies directly ahead! That’s the message from today’s Hexagram #28, Da Guo, Great Traverses, Crisis, Great Transition. It is composed of Tui, the Joyous, Lake, above Sun, the Gentle, Wind, Tree. With the lake rising above the tree, it represents a great flood, a major catastrophe. While it does not indicate any character traits that one should acquire, it does indicate one that a person has failed to acquire, namely Laozi’s precept in Chapter 63 of the Dao De Jing, which I have mentioned before. That is to attend to problems while they are small, not when they have risen to flood-size proportions.

Hexagram 28 consists of four strong inside lines and two weak outside lines. The Image of this hexagram is that of a ridgepole buckling in the middle and collapsing due to weakness at each end. It is also the image of a great flood with water (Tui, the lake) rising above the trees (Sun, the Tree). Both images portend disaster. So, what is one to do?

There is one quality, if previously developed, that of contemplation. In times of crisis, one must not panic or act rashly. Instead, just the opposite is required. One must calm the mind and still the thoughts as much as possible. One’s ridgepole is warped and giving way. One’s life is about to collapse. But there is a creative force at work within even in the midst of this crisis. One needs to impose a direction and have a place to go. What does this mean?

The place to go is one’s deepest inner space (and preferably it should be in an external place where one can concentrate.). Once there, one must calm and still the mind and begin to contemplate a solution by looking inside the current crisis. This is how one imposes a direction on the current situation. By contemplating deeply oh all aspects of the crisis, one solution will stand out above all the others. Let that strong creative force gathering in the center penetrate and stimulate a plan of action.

However, the crisis may have grown to such proportions that one needs to reverse course entirely and get out of the house before it collapses. In other words, say good-bye to the community, group or organization with which one has been associated because their internals have worsened to the point of sheer corruption. We see this today with a major political party in America. Their internal politics have been so corrupted that long-time members who can see no way out have left the party and have joined other political groups to work against their former party.

Sorry to end on this political note but the situation is so representative of Hexagram 28 Da Guo.  May your practice be strong and meaningful, people.

08/12/2021

The two trigrams in today’s hexagram are inverses of one another. Hexagram #27 Yi/The Tiger’s Mouth, Nourishing and Being Nourished, with Ken, Keeping Still, Mountain above and Chen, The Arousing, Thunder below, they form the image of an open mouth. Above and Below are firm Yang lines that form the lips and in between are the broken Yin lines that show an open mouth, the symbol of nourishment. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense. Two excellent ideals for Internal Cultivators to aspire to attain.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. This is a great lessons for all Cultivators to learn. Nature nourishes all creatures. The Sage fosters and takes care of those who are established with extraordinary abilities that they, in turn, provide care for all. We can follow this model by setting aside part of our income to donate to worthy charities that provide nourishment and care for people around the world as a practice. The more well-rounded a total practice, the better. Keep your practices well-rounded, people.

08/11/2021

Today we will look at Hexagram #26 Ta Chu/The Taming Power of the Great, Accumuate, Concentrate, Nourish. The trigram Ken, Keeping Still or Mountain is above and Chien, the Creative, Heaven below. So, the Creative is tamed by Keeping Still. This produces great power.

The hexagram has a threefold meaning, expressing different aspects of the concept “Holding firm.” Heaven within the mountain gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding together; the trigram Kên which holds the trigram ch’ien still, gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding back; the third idea is that of holding firm in the sense of caring for and nourishing.

The trigram Ch’ein points to strong creative power; Kên indicates firmness and truth. Both point to light and clarity and to the daily renewal of character. Only through such daily self-renewal can a man continue at the height of his powers. Force of habit helps to keep order in quiet times; but in periods when there is a great storing up of energy, everything depends on the power of the personality.

As for the image, Heaven within the mountain points to hidden treasures. In the words and deeds of the past there lies hidden a treasure that men may use to strengthen and elevate their own characters. Thus, the noble one or Sage acquires much knowledge of things said and done in the past and so domesticates and garners his virtue. It is this capacity held in his bosom that allows the Sage to prevent virtue from becoming dispersed and lost.

So, in our practice we want to work on acquiring firmness and truth and discernment and clarity and renew them daily to strengthen our character. We should also look to the past and study the great deeds and the great persons from history whom we can emulate. Keep up your good habits and drop the negative ones.

08/09/2021

Continuing with Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, Becoming Spontaneous, Pure, Innocent, Free from Confusion, as I mentioned yesterday, although this is a womderful quality or character trait to acquire, it is nearly impossible to achieve in so many aspects of one’s life. Why is that?

For one thing, that which one is using, the acquired mind, to disentangle from the web of worldly influences is the very thing that is causing one’s life to become entangled in the first place. Attempting to use one’s conscious mind will only entangle one’s life all the more. Secondly, one cannot disentangle from one’s everyday world while living in that very world. There are too many distractions and way too many involvements. One needs to spend some time away from that world and retreat to a much quieter one. It’s the meaning of the Daoist term: “One foot in, and one foot out.”

Nevertheless, even though a quiet retreat may help one’s conscious mind to disentangle from worldly desires and influences, what about the subconcious mind and ultimately the tainted unconcious. Those perversions, insecurities and fears are still there. And so are the desires to consume as well as the fears that we won’t be able to consume enough. Consume, consume, consume, that’s what we humans do, whether we need what we consume or not.

Thus, to disentangle, you need to get away for awhile from those things that you are always consuming, whether it be money, food, sex, drugs, possessions. Just get away from it all and chill out. Calm your mind and calm your desires. Take a time-out from everyday living to just enjoy living without consuming. Good practice, everyone.

08/07/2021

Today we look at perhaps the most auspicious and beneficial trait an internal artists or cultivator can possibly have. Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, becoming spontaneous, pure, free from confusion. With Chien, Heaven above and Zhen the Arousing, Thunder below. we have the idea of being released from entanglements, perverse influences or worldly attachments. It enables you to act spontaneously and successfully deal with whatever comes your way and to attract and welcome the unexpected. Disentangling yourself from the influences of worldly gains and being sucked into various perversions is the best way to remain innocent and maintain that purity that is your inherent nature or Xing.

But there is one problem. Developing disentangling as a character trait is not easy to say the least. In fact, the way the world comes at us, it is next to impossible unless you are a total recluse. More on disentangling tomorrow. Good practice, everyone

08/06/2021

When all the light has been pushed out or split apart and filled by the dark as in yesterday’s hexagram #23 Po/Eliminating, Splitting Apart, then reversion or change is close to starting. That is the point of today’s hexagram,
#24, Fu, the Turning Point or Return.

With K’un, The Receptive, The Earth above and Zhen, The Arousing, Thunder below, Fu marks the return of the light, a Yang line in the first position while all five positions above it are filled with dark Yin lines. But this is not the Yang forcing its return. As with all situations in Nature and in our lives, this change is natural. After a time of decay whether a year, a decade, a century, or an eon, comes the turning point where what was eliminated or banished now returns. The old is discarded and the new is eventually established. It will remain in prominence until it too grows old, and the cycle of reversion completes another turn.

08/05/2021

With KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN above and THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH below, today’s Hexagram #23, Po/Splitting Apart, Stripping Away, Eliminating is not a favorable one. Why not?

The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it. The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually and imperceptibly, so that it finally collapses. The lines of the hexagram present the image of a house, the top line being the roof, and because the roof is being shattered the house collapses. The yin power pushes up ever more powerfully and is about to supplant the yang power altogether. This often happens within our psyche, our deep subconscious and, deeper still, our unconscious.

THE JUDGMENT or STATEMENT says: SPLITTING APART. IT does not further one to go anywhere.

This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior people. Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the Sage to undertake anything. The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes.0 The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion. The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness. This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. For it is a question not of man’s doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness. It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time. Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.

And taking one’s cue from the IMAGE:
The mountain rests on the earth:
The image of SPLITTING APART.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.

that may be good advice for those to whom securing a position is all important. But for the Sage and Internal Cultivators, stripping away or eliminating is a a better interpretation. Now is the time to work on yourself. Strip away and eliminate old habits and ideas that are keeping you stagnated and weighing you down. Strip away everything that is not an ideal character trait and replace them with traits that are.

08/04/2021

Today we take a look at Bi or Pi/Elegance, Grace, Beautify, Embellish, Reflect inner awareness. The top trigram is Ken, Mountain or Keeping still. The bottom one is Li, Clinging, the Fire. Here, Elegance means prevalence, but it is fitting only for small matters, should one set out to do something. The soft provides the hard with pattern, and this is the reason for prevalence. Rising to the top, the hard provides the small with pattern, and this is why it is fitting only for small matters.

Adorning or embellishing describes your situation in terms of outward appearance. By decorating, embellishing or beautifying the way things are presented, this increases intrinsic value. Let the way you present yourself address the changes in your life. Be flexible and adapt to what present itself to be done. In that way, you are in step with the flow of Dao and not acting out of preconceived motivations and self-interest. Contemplate the overall pattern and the pattern of the people involved. But, above all, contemplate the changes that are taking place within you. Good practice, folks!

08/03/2021

Today’s hexagram is nothing that a Daoist cultivator need be concerned about. It is Hexagram #21, Shih Ho/Biting Through, Gnawing, Tenacious, Determined, Punishment. If those nouns seems like something you would want to cultivate, go right ahead. Be my guest. But I’m not buying it. Why not?

The upper trigram is LI THE CLINGING, FIRE and below Zhen THE AROUSING, THUNDER. This hexagram represents an open mouth with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet. To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle.

The Judgment or Statement for Shih Ho suggests, when an obstacle to union arises, energetic biting through brings success. This is true in all situations. Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking the way. To prevent permanent injury, vigorous measures must be taken at once. Deliberate obstruction of this sort does not vanish of its own accord. Judgment and punishment are required to deter or obviate it.

First of all, we are humans not rats. We do not need to gnaw our way through anything. Nor do we need to take vigorous measures if we are truly Daoist cultivators who practice ‘wu wei’ and who study the Dao De Jing, especially Chapter 63, where Laozi states:
“Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.”
Notice, he did not say Judgment and punishmebnt are required to deter or obviate it. Further on in Chapter 63…
” Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal wit the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
Accomplishes greatness.”

So, forget the gnawing, forget punishing others and just be mindful. That way you can see or feel when a problem is about to arise and deal with it while it is still in the nascent stage. Continued cultivation within your practice, everyone.

08/02/2021

Today’s I Ching hexagram has a double meaning. Hexagram #20 Kuan or Guan/Conteplate, Viewing, Examine, Divining, the Tower. The Upper Trigram is SUN THE GENTLE, WIND while K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH is below. It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example. These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.

Richard Wilhelm goes on to comment that a tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country and at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around. He then applies these two qualities to a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses. So good so far. We want to develop the quality of contemplating the law of heaven or the Dao which is far above us. Also, we want to contemplate Nature in general as well as human nature. This will tell us a lot about ourselves and our fellow beings.

Then Wilhelm comments on the Image of Kuan, the Wind above the Earth. “When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power.” He considers both of these qualities as beneficial and states: “The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed. All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality.” While true contemplation of the Dao or Heaven is a much desired quality, to use that quality to gain power or change customs and interfere with the Way (Dao) and its natural processes is not only non-Daoist, it is corrupt. It is not one of our precepts of to, as Wilhelm states, “impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.”

The thing to remember here is the two main precepts of Daoism as stated by both Laozi and Zhuangzi are humility and being lowly like the flow of water. The two go hand-in-hand in Daoism. As my teacher says: “Liberation from ideas of becoming ‘special’ is the first step on the way to moving towards union with the Dao.” Being in the background rather than the limelight or towering over the world with a prominant personality should have prevalence in our lives. Again my teacher states: “Humility is an extremely Yin state of being. To be able to place yourself behind others is a difficult thing but important in Daoism.”

Therefore, don’t think of humility and being behind others or appearing lowly as detrimental but rather as something very special to attain, more so than prominence or fame.

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08/01/2021

We start the month of August with Hexagram #19, Lin/Approach, Nearing, New Arrival. It is composed of the upper trigram K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH and below TUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE

The Chinese word “Lin” has a several meanings. The ancient explanations in the Book of Changes give as its first meaning, “becoming great.” What becomes great are the two strong lines growing into the hexagram from the base of Tui, position 1 and 2; the light-giving power expands with them. The meaning is then further extended to include the concept of approach from below.

THE JUDGMENT then states that APPROACH has supreme success, and Perseverance furthers.
But When the eighth month comes, There will be misfortune.

The hexagram as a whole points to a time of joyous, hopeful progress. Spring is approaching. Joy and forbearance bring high and low nearer together. Success is certain. But we must work with determination and perseverance to make full use of the propitiousness of the time. But one thing more: spring does not last forever. In the eighth month the aspects are reversed. Then only two strong, light lines are left; these do not advance but are in retreat. We must take heed of this change in good time. If we meet evil before it becomes reality-before it has even begun to stir-we can master it.

THE IMAGE of the earth above the lake:
The image of APPROACH.
Thus the Sage/Ruler is inexhaustible in his will to teach,
And without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people.

The earth borders upon the lake from above. This symbolizes the approach and condescension of the Sage in a higher position to those beneath him. The two parts of the image indicate what his attitude toward these people will be as well as the qualities we should try to acquire: Just as the lake is inexhaustible in depth, so the sage is inexhaustible in his readiness to teach mankind, and just as the earth is boundlessly wide, sustaining and caring for all creatures on it, so the sage sustains and cares for all people and excludes no part of humanity. Thus, be inexhaustible in your readiness to teach those in your charge, and be boundlessly sustaining and caring for all living creatures, both human and otherwise, and exclude no part of humanity like we see today in governments around the world and even in many states here in America.

07/30/2021

Today is an unfortunate day should you ask the “I Ching’ about your present situation, and the ‘I Ching” answers with Hexagram #18, Ku or Gu, Decay, Perversion, Corruption, Pestilence. The upper trigram is Kên KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN and the lower one, Sun THE GENTLE, WIND

The Chinese character Ku or Gu represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. IT is come about because the gentle indifference in the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. So, definitely not a qualities any of us want to acquire. Also, since this implies guilt, the causes that brought about the condition of stagnation and decay, namely indifference and inertia, must be removed. Thus, the hexagram not only embodies what has been decayed, but demands that one “works on what has been decayed,” in other words “Self-Improvement.”

 

07/29/2021

Yesterday, we looked at Hexagram #16 Yu, Contentment or Enthusiasm. As the saying goes, where there is Enthusiasn, there is certain to be Following, which is today’s hexagram, #17, Sui, Following. While Following, per se, is not a virtue, it can require certain qualities that are virtuous like Yielding. Yield to that path that fate has set out before you. Be guided by the way things are moving. Realize that all these events that you are going through are not disjointed or incongruous but are firmly connected. Have the restraint not to fight it and the courage to go with it. In other words, Follow the path wherever it may lead. But what is it that is guiding you?

To that, we must look to the Image of Sui for the answer. Sui is complosed of Zhen, thunder at the base and Dui, the Lake or Joy above. Here it is the thunder in the middle of the lake that serves as the image–thunder in its winter rest, not thunder in motion. The idea of following in the sense of adaptation to the demands of the time grows out of this image. Thunder in the middle of the lake indicates times of darkness and rest. Similarly, a superior man, after being tirelessly active all day, allows himself rest and recuperation at night. No situation can become favorable until one is able to adapt to it and does not wear himself out with mistaken resistance.

Good advice, no doubt, for all of us. Good luck with your practice.

07/28/2021

As we saw earlier with Hexagram #10, Lu, Treading, where the soft treads on the hard but avoids retaliation due to an attituide of “cheerfulness,” and this cheerfulness led to Hexagram #11 T’ai, Peace. So, to yesterday’s Hexagram #15, Ch’ien or Qian, Modesty, brings about today’s hexagram, #16, Yu, Contentment.

With Zhen, Quake or Thunder, above, and K’un, the Receptive, Earth, below, Yu symbolizes when action occurs out of compliance. Heaven and Earth act only out of compliance. Thus, the sun and moon never err, and the seasons never vary. The Sage acts only out of compliance. To prepare and gather what is needed to live fully within your means and yet be capable of modesty means that one must be content.

So, prepare and gather those qualities needed to extend your practice and rest in contentment.

07/27/2021

Today we look at one quality that hopefully all internal artists can aquire and one of the most important, so much so that it is stressed in all the major works of Daoism including the Dao De Ching and the Zhuangzi. This is Hexagram #15 Ch’ien or Qian, Modesty. It is made up of the trigrams Kên, Keeping Still, Mountain, below and K’un, the Receptive, Earth, above. Ken, the Mountain, dispenses the blessings of heaven, the clouds and rain that gather round its summit, and thereafter shines forth radiant with heavenly light. This shows what modesty is and how it functions in those who are great and strong. Lowliness, on the other hand, is a quality of K’un, the Earth: this is the very reason that it appears in this hexagram as exalted, by being placed above the mountain. As the Dao De Ching has stated: the Dao of Heaven is to make the full empty and to fill or bring increase to that which is modest. The Dao of the Earth is to transform what is full and to make what is modest flow and spread.

As stated in the Judgement to Ch’ien: MODESTY creates success; The superior person carries things through (without boasting of what one has achieved). Need I say more? Good luck with your training, and no matter how much you accomplish, don’t get full of yourself.

07/26/2021

Today we have another inverted hexagram, the reverse of the preceding one. It’s Hexagram #14, DaYou (Great Holdings/Great Possessions). With Li, Fire/Flame on top and Ch’ien, Heaven below, it is the inverse of #13, Tongren, Fellowship. DaYou is even more auspicious than Tongren. Why is that?

In Tongren, the ruler of the entire hexagram is the Yin line in the weak second position, the middle of the lower trigram, Li. However, in DaYou, the Yin line, which remains the ruler of the hexagram, is in a position of strength now that its trigram Li is on top. Thus, Great Holdings/Possessions is expressed by the way its ruler, the Yin line in the fifth place, obtains this noble position by its yielding nature and abiding in the Mean (commonality) and enjoys greatness as those above and those below all respond to it.

The Virtues of Great Holdings as expressed by the Yin line in the fifth place include hardness and strength but also civility and enlightenment or, as I mentioned yesterday, clarity based on discernment of the Mean. It is by resonating with Heaven’s Will that one achieves timely action, and this is how fundamental prevalence comes about. As the Virtues of Great Holdings work in response to Heaven’s will, one’s actions are timely and correct. One’s hardness and internal strength allow one to stay free of impediments while one’s civility and clarity keep one free of wrongdoing. Since one’s actions are also timely, they will not be in conflict with Nature.

So, work on trying to acquire the Virtues of DaYou by combining your practice with calm abiding throughout the day. Best of luck to you.

07/25/2021

Today we look at a positive trait, Fellowship, which is Hexagram # 13, Tongren. The hexagram consists of Qian, the Creative, Heaven, Yang in the upper trigram and Li, Fire or Flame and sometimes referred to as Radiance. So, it is Heaven over Fire, which has the flames of the fire burning up to heaven. Thus, in the same way, the weak Yin line in the second position reaches up to the strong Yang line in the fifth position, the middle of the upper trigram, Heaven. Thanks to its achievements of the Mean, the weak Yin line finds itself in resonance with the ruler of the upper trigram, the strong Yang in the fifth line. Such a situation is referred to as Fellowship.

Exercising strength through the practice of civility and enlightenment, the Second Yin and the Fifth Yang each respond to the other with their adherence to the Mean. Here the “Mean” refers to commonality while “enlightenment” does not refer to Nirvana but rather to clarity that is derived through the discernment of that commonality you have with other persons despite differences in status and social position. The exercising of strength should not be done with external force but instead with the internal qualities of civility and discernment.

In this hexagram, the lower weak Yin line and its opposite the higher strong Yang line respond to each other not out of dissent or conflict but out of adherence to that commonality they have as the rulers or central figures of their respective trigrams. So, the traits for us to aquire are civility and discernment. By finding places of agreement where common goals can be shared, we can develop a bond of common understanding and thus build Fellowship with an individual or within a group.

07/24/2021

Moving along to Hexagram #12, Pi/ Standstill (Stagnation). This is certainly not a quality an Internal Artist or Cultivator would want to aquire. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Speaking of opposistes, Pi is the very opposite of Hexagram 11, T’ai, Peace which had K’un the Receptive, Earth, above and Ch’ien, the Creative, Heaven below. But in Pi, Ch’ien is above and K’un is below. So, what is the problem with that? Plenty.

In his commentary, Richard Wilhelm points out that “Heaven is above, drawing farther and farther away, while the earth below sinks farther into the depths. The creative powers are not in relation. It is a time of standstill and decline.”

Heaven and earth are not on the same page. Their communication is way off and that has everything in a stagnant state of numbness. Again, Wilhem comments: “What is above has no relation to what is below, and on earth confusion and disorder prevail. The dark power is within, the light power is without. Weakness is within, harshness without. Within are the inferior, and without are the superior. The way of inferior people is in ascent; the way of superior people is on the decline.”

But even in the midst of all this stagnantion and meanness, there is a much needed quality that arises – Restraint. Wilhelm goes on to explain: “But superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles. If the possibility of exerting influence is closed to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.”

From the image of Pi, Stagnation or Standstill, we get the idea of Heaven and Earth being unable to unite and drawing further away from each other. Then the I Ching tells us if we want to be superior, we must fall back on our principles, our inner values and act with restraint.

“Thus the superior man falls back upon his inner worth
In order to escape the difficulties.
He does not permit himself to be honored with revenue.”

Wilhem adds: “When, owing to the influence of inferior men, mutual mistrust prevails in public life, fruitful activity is rendered impossible, because the fundaments are wrong. Therefore the superior man knows what he must do under such circumstances; he does not allow himself to be tempted by dazzling offers to take part in public activities. This would only expose him to danger, since he cannot assent to the meanness of the others. He therefore hides his worth and withdraws into seclusion.”

From this reading, we learn there are three things that must be done to avoid stagnation. First, always keep your inner principles in mind and never compromise them. Secondly, try your best to avoid people with inferior morals and values. Finally, restrain from accepting money and other favors that would compromise your principles.

07/23/2021

Before moving on I would like to go over the last two qualities from Hexagram 11, T’ai/Peace and Hexagram 10, Lu/Treading. As I mentioned yesterday, Lu, Treading, carries the quality of “Cheerfulness,” and that, in turn, leads to the quality of Peace or Calm Abiding that we have in the internal Arts. I cannot emphasize enough how important both of these qualities are. If you can remain cheerful in the face of failure, mistakes and blunders, and other negative situations, not only will you attract the spirit of heaven as we said yesterday but also the hearts of other people. No one likes a sour puss or a cry baby. While some may empathize with this person, they certainly don’t want to remain around them for too long. All that sobbing and complaining gets old very quickly. But a cheerful person not only attracts good spirits from the Heavenly realm but good-hearted people as well. People want to be around a cheerful person, who feels so blessed just to be alive and appreciative of everything that life has to offer, even if some of it is negative. So, even if they do accidentally tread on the tiger’s tail, they know it may growl somewhat but it certainly won’t take a bite out of them.

This attitude, as we said yesterday, leads to a “Peaceful” inner nature, which is most important for advancing within the cultivation arts. In fact, you cannot advance at all if you are not at peace with yourself and comfortable with who you are and your situation in life. While cheerfulness is not the only route to a peaceful inner nature, it is perhaps the smoothest and most direct one. It may not guarantee bliss or nirvana, but being at peace with yourself, your circumstances and your environment and the world all around you makes each step along the road so much easier and fruitful.

07/22/2021

Next up is Hexagram #11 T’ai (Peace) above K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH and below CH’IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN. Here, the Receptive, which moves downward, stands above; the Creative, which moves upward, is below. Hence their influences meet and are in harmony, so that all living things bloom and prosper.

This hexagram denotes a time in nature when heaven seems to be on earth. Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth, and so their powers unite in deep harmony. Then peace and blessing descend upon all living things. In the world of man it is a time of social harmony; those in high places show favor to the lowly, and the lowly and inferior put an end to all feuds. Inside, at the center, in the key position, is the light principle; the dark principle is outside. Thus the light has a powerful influence, while the dark is submissive. In this way each receives its due. When the good elements of society occupy a central position and are in control, the evil elements come under their influence and change for the better. When the spirit of heaven rules in man, his animal nature also comes under its influence and takes its appropriate place.

So, you can see how our last quality “cheerfulness,” implicit in #10, Lu, Treading, has led to T’ai, Peace. Cheerfulness naturally elevates one’s spirit by attracting the light with its powerful influence, which, in turn, diminishes the dark. One’s “cheerfulness” attracts the spirit of heaven, which reins in your animal nature and your peaceful inner nature will prevail.

07/21/2021

Hexagram #10, Lu, Treading. Although “Treading” is the name of the Hexagram, that is not the quality we are after. Instead, the real quality is implicit in the design and nature of its two trigrams – Qian (Heaven) above and Dui (Lake, sometimes translated as Joyous, Cheerful) below. Here, the treading is a matter of the soft (yin) treading on the hard (yang). It is because Dui responds to Qian with Cheerfulness that even if one treads on a tiger’s tail, one will not be bitten.

The third Yin line is the master of this Hexagram, Lu. Here it walks with a Yin’s softness and treads on the hardness of the Second Yang, and this is to tread on danger. That it treads on the Tiger’s tail and yet is not bitten is due to the way Dui responds to Qian with cheerfulness. And that is the quality that we want to consider acquiring. Being cheerful even when you make a mistake and accidently tread on the tail of fate. It will not turn around and bite you. Your very own cheerfulness will ease the sting of your mistakes.

07/20/2021

Hexagram #9 Xiao Xu is often translated as Small Accumulating, Lesser Domestication (Garnering), Taming Power of the Small. Here it could mean the force of the small that restrains, impedes or tame. The Image of Xiao Xu is that of the Wind crossing the Skies. Though merely empty air, the wind can restrain the clouds and make them grow dense. That in itself will not bring rain. Without a solid body, the wind does not produce great or lasting effects. So also an individual, in times when one can produce no great effect in the outer world, one can do nothing except refine the expression of one’s nature in small ways. Or, as Wang Bi, an ancient commentator on the I Ching, had put it: one can seek out “the accumulation of resources that lead to prosperity.”

Just as we saw yesterday in Hexagram 8, Pi, Grouping or Gathering, Xiao Xu doesn’t have a specific personality trait to acquire but allows us to examine our nature and search for inner qualities that will lead to prosperity. In our case, prosperity doesn’t refer to a wealth of money or external possession but rather internal possessions and resources. Best wishes for a successful cultivation.

07/19/2021

Hexagram #8, Pi or Bi, Holding Together, Grouping, Gathering is the inverse of the previous hexagram, Shih, the Army. In Pi, K’an Water is the upper trigram and K’un, Earth, is the lower trigram. Thus, instead of being ground water, the water becomes river and streams flowing upon the Earth to join together in the ocean. Then, just as streams flow into rivers and rivers flow into the oceans, so, too, humans gather in various groups of like-minded people be they political, religious, or social groupings. How does grouping effect your personality and allow you to be successful in your practice?

Grouping, itself, is not necessarily a personality trait. However, psychologists look at things like introverted and extroverted. If one is extroverted, that person will have a personality that is attracted to being a part of a group, while an introvert will tend to shy away from groups, especially large ones usually do to insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. What is helpful about Hexagram #8 and grouping is the way you look at who you group yourself with. What kind of people are they? This will tell you a great deal about your personality, especially the subconscious part that lies beneath the surface. This is true of things as well. How do you categorize your ideas? According to your work? Your family? Your friends? How do you categorize the objects that you use everyday. Taking a long look at these various groupings that you have put together over the years will tell you a great deal about yourself and especially the latent part of your personality.

07/18/2021

Some may think of Hexagram #7, Shih, the Army, as being too aggressive or forceful. We can see this by some of its other translations: soldiers, legions, martial artists, military forces, militants. But actually this is quite an auspicious hexagram on which to model our behavior and personality. Why is that?

Basically, there are two very important qualities an Army must have: discipline and organization. If we think of ourselves as generals in charge of our minds, bodies and lifestyles, these two qualities are essential for us to develop in order to have any kind of success, not only in the Internal Arts but in most of life’s endeavors. They are especially necessary when we are being attacked by outside influences: media, money matters, business and family demands. Think about it. Does a day ever go by when you are not besieged with a deluge of responsibilities? To wade through this flood of pressures and stress, one needs strict discipline and organization.

This is most interesting when you think of the Image of this hexagram. It is comprised of K’an, a muddy pool of water at the bottom, and K’un, the Earth at the top. Thus it symbolizes ground water stored up in the earth, which is very much symbolic of the situation I just described: worldly pressures and demands flooding our lives everyday.

A third quality also must emerge in our Inner General: obedience. An actual general of an army requires obedience as well as discipline in order to organize the troops. But in the case of our lives we cannot “force” this obedience upon bodies and minds. This is especially true of Daoism and the Daoist Internal Arts. Instead this is done by putting our hearts into those areas that our most important to us; eg., our practice, our diets, our mindfulness, and to warm our hearts with enthusiasm for them. This is how our inner discipline is built.

Hopefully, this has given you further insight into a dynamic and fruitful ways to enhance and strengthen your personality.

07/17/2021

The next hexagram is one that we definitely do not want to acquire. Or, if we have it, we should definitely work on eliminating it or at lease reduce its effect. That would be Hexagram #6, Sung, Conflict. Some other translations are quarrelsome, argumentative, contentious. Conflict here is comprised of two negative qualities: a deep cunning and a fixed determination on reaching an outward goal.

Both of these go firmly against the Way of the Dao. Neither the Dao nor those who are aligned with it are at all cunning. instead, they are completely opposite in that they do not think or plan ways to achieve a goal but instead let their inner nature attune to whatever life brings. Secondly, they have no outward determination. Whatever determination they might harbor, you can rest assured that it is certainly not fixed, but always moving, constantly changing with the conditions.

Thus, it would lead to greater Internal Arts success if we can allow our bodies and minds to nullify these two qualities by watching for and studying their effects.

07/16/2021

Next up is Hexagram #5 Xu, Waiting, Nourishment, Attending to What is needed, waiting for the right moment, Patience. That last one, Patience, is my own personal translation. However, Richard Wilhelm in his commentary on Hexagram 5 implies the idea of patience in waiting rather than giving in to the fight or flight reaction. Here’s what Wilhelm has to say…

“Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal. Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success. This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water. One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself]. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized. This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action. For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it adequately. Then he will be able to cross the great water–that is to say, he will be capable of making the necessary decision and of surmounting the danger.”

He goes on to comment on the Image of Xu – clouds mounting in the skies: “When clouds rise in the sky, it is a sign that it will rain. There is nothing to do but to wait until after the rain falls. It is the same in life when destiny is at work. We should not worry and seek to shape the future by interfering in things before the time is ripe. We should quietly fortify the body with food and drink and the mind with gladness and good cheer. Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready.”

So, all in all, Xu, Waiting with Patience for the right moment and course of action, should be another trait you can enfold within your personality.

07/15/2021

Today we look to Hexagram #4, Meng, Youthful Folly to see if we can find a personality trait that may be helpful to us. Some other terms used by translators and commentators of the I Ching for Meng are Juvenile Ignorance, Immaturity, Foolishness.

It is not at all unusual for youth to act foolishly out of confusion or immaturity. Young persons simply lack the wisdom that age and experience bring. However, once a person has gone beyond their teenage years and early twenties, foolishness and an ignorance of how life works is something one should want to shed and not develop. The psychological term, the Peter Pan complex, applies to that person who is now in their thirties and forties but have never actually grown up or matured. They keep making the same foolish mistakes over and over. Or, in some cases, they simply refuse to mature but want to retain the aura of youth as long as they can. So, unless they go into some form of entertainment like music or movies, most of their ventures are doomed to failure.

07/14/2021

Today we look at Hexagram #3, Zhun or Chun. It’s title has been translated many ways: Birth Throes, Sprouting, Difficulty at the Beginning, Begin to Grow, Constancy. So, how does this fit in with the concept of chosing character traits that can eventually lead to success in the Internal Arts as well as integrating a personal sense of self within the higher levels of your practice.

The image most often associated with Zhun is that of a tree on a mountain. It shows what can transpire from constantly applying oneself. That huge tree began as tiny seed that turned into a sprout that had to constantly push against the hard, crusty soil at the top of a mountain before finally pushing through. This is an example of the difficulties at the beginning of almost any worthwhile endeavor. While it may look easy for some, we know it really isn’t. It requires that constancy of applying one’s talents and skills until one finally reaches a breakthrough and then carrying on from there. So, while there are many difficulties at the beginning, the costancy of continuous resolve despite setbacks can not only engender ultimate success but increase your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Hopefully, you can see how valuable a character trait Zhun is accomplishing whatever it is that you set out to do.

Tomorrow we will look at Hexagram #4 Meng, Youthful Folly. What do you think that is all about?

07/13/2021

Yesterday we looked at Hexagram #1, the Creative. Today it’s Hexagram #2, Kun, The Receptive, the Earth.

Just like the Earth is receptive, welcoming sunlight and rain from Heaven, we can all afford to be a little more Receptive, and some of us perhaps a lot more receptive. When people are interacting with us, do we give them our full attention? Good listening skills are definitely a vital part of being receptive. Some other words that are synonymous include nourish, welcoming, open, yield, enfolding to name a few.

However, we should also look at one important antonym – reactive. When you hear or learn something disturbing, do you immediately react? Or can you be receptive to problems and situations that befall you, realizing they are just as much a part of life as pleasures and enjoyment? Can you put some space between the initial event and your immediate reaction? Receptivity rather than reactivity is a most valuable personality trait to acquire, especially for higher cultivation of the Internal Arts.

Good luck with your practice. Tomorrow we will look at Hexagram #3 Chun or Zhun, Sprouting.

07/12/2021

Last week I attended an online Internal Arts workshop, where we looked at many aspects of orienting a sense of self into the higher levels of our practice. One of the essential qualities necessary for success in doing this is having the right personality traits. Your personal qualities can make a massive difference between success and failure. So, just what is a proper personality for advancing wthin the Internal Arts? What traits mark that personality which can attain the higher levels of cultivation?

I thought I would let the I Ching answer that question. So, what I will do is look at each hexagram individually to see which ones seem fitting to be woven into our personalities and which ones should be stricken if we unfortunately have acquired them. Then you can contemplate each quality as we go and see how that can be integrated or removed from our sense of self. Here goes then with the first one…

Hexagram #1 Chien, The Creative, Heaven. Obviously creativity is great personality trait to possess or acquire. No, it doesn’t mean you need to paint or sculpt a masterpiece or write a best-selling novel. Creativity can be about simple, everyday things that get your creative juices flowing. You can start with your environment and the space you dwell in by getting rid of the clutter in a particular part of the spece and finding something colorful or uplifting to put there instead. It could be something you made or something you might buy in a shop that feels just right for that space. You can also develop more creativity in the kitchen with the way you prepare your food. Try blending the colors of the various vegetables and fruits that you have at a meal. Try adding different spices or the way your prepare and serve a meal. You can paint a room in a different color, hang curtains, buy a throw rug. Try changing the clothes you wear or the way you comb your hair. There are so many little touches that will revive and strengthen your creativity. Go for a walk in a park or some other natural area and open the camera on your cell phone then start snapping. The many small ways you find of being creative will eventually make creativity a mainstay of your personality.

Tomorrow we will look at Hexagram #2, Kun, the Earth, the Receptive.

07/01/2021

Attending Internal Arts Workshop – No Diary for a few days. Return 07/12.

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

08/09/2021

Continuing with Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, Becoming Spontaneous, Pure, Innocent, Free from Confusion, as I mentioned yesterday, although this is a womderful quality or character trait to acquire, it is nearly impossible to achieve in so many aspects of one’s life. Why is that?

For one thing, that which one is using, the acquired mind, to disentangle from the web of worldly influences is the very thing that is causing one’s life to become entangled in the first place. Attempting to use one’s conscious mind will only entangle one’s life all the more. Secondly, one cannot disentangle from one’s everyday world while living in that very world. There are too many distractions and way too many involvements. One needs to spend some time away from that world and retreat to a much quieter one. It’s the meaning of the Daoist term: “One foot in, and one foot out.”

Nevertheless, even though a quiet retreat may help one’s conscious mind to disentangle from worldly desires and influences, what about the subconcious mind and ultimately the tainted unconcious. Those perversions, insecurities and fears are still there. And so are the desires to consume as well as the fears that we won’t be able to consume enough. Consume, consume, consume, that’s what we humans do, whether we need what we consume or not.

Thus, to disentangle, you need to get away for awhile from those things that you are always consuming, whether it be money, food, sex, drugs, possessions. Just get away from it all and chill out. Calm your mind and calm your desires. Take a time-out from everyday living to just enjoy living without consuming. Good practice, everyone.

08/07/2021

Today we look at perhaps the most auspicious and beneficial trait an internal artists or cultivator can possibly have. Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, becoming spontaneous, pure, free from confusion. With Chien, Heaven above and Zhen the Arousing, Thunder below. we have the idea of being released from entanglements, perverse influences or worldly attachments. It enables you to act spontaneously and successfully deal with whatever comes your way and to attract and welcome the unexpected. Disentangling yourself from the influences of worldly gains and being sucked into various perversions is the best way to remain innocent and maintain that purity that is your inherent nature or Xing.

But there is one problem. Developing disentangling as a character trait is not easy to say the least. In fact, the way the world comes at us, it is next to impossible unless you are a total recluse. More on disentangling tomorrow. Good practice, everyone

08/06/2021

When all the light has been pushed out or split apart and filled by the dark as in yesterday’s hexagram #23 Po/Eliminating, Splitting Apart, then reversion or change is close to starting. That is the point of today’s hexagram,
#24, Fu, the Turning Point or Return.

With K’un, The Receptive, The Earth above and Zhen, The Arousing, Thunder below, Fu marks the return of the light, a Yang line in the first position while all five positions above it are filled with dark Yin lines. But this is not the Yang forcing its return. As with all situations in Nature and in our lives, this change is natural. After a time of decay whether a year, a decade, a century, or an eon, comes the turning point where what was eliminated or banished now returns. The old is discarded and the new is eventually established. It will remain in prominence until it too grows old, and the cycle of reversion completes another turn.

08/05/2021

With KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN above and THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH below, today’s Hexagram #23, Po/Splitting Apart, Stripping Away, Eliminating is not a favorable one. Why not?

The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it. The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually and imperceptibly, so that it finally collapses. The lines of the hexagram present the image of a house, the top line being the roof, and because the roof is being shattered the house collapses. The yin power pushes up ever more powerfully and is about to supplant the yang power altogether. This often happens within our psyche, our deep subconscious and, deeper still, our unconscious.

THE JUDGMENT or STATEMENT says: SPLITTING APART. IT does not further one to go anywhere.

This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior people. Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the Sage to undertake anything. The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes.0 The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion. The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness. This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. For it is a question not of man’s doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness. It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time. Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.

And taking one’s cue from the IMAGE:
The mountain rests on the earth:
The image of SPLITTING APART.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.

that may be good advice for those to whom securing a position is all important. But for the Sage and Internal Cultivators, stripping away or eliminating is a a better interpretation. Now is the time to work on yourself. Strip away and eliminate old habits and ideas that are keeping you stagnated and weighing you down. Strip away everything that is not an ideal character trait and replace them with traits that are.

08/04/2021

Today we take a look at Bi or Pi/Elegance, Grace, Beautify, Embellish, Reflect inner awareness. The top trigram is Ken, Mountain or Keeping still. The bottom one is Li, Clinging, the Fire. Here, Elegance means prevalence, but it is fitting only for small matters, should one set out to do something. The soft provides the hard with pattern, and this is the reason for prevalence. Rising to the top, the hard provides the small with pattern, and this is why it is fitting only for small matters.

Adorning or embellishing describes your situation in terms of outward appearance. By decorating, embellishing or beautifying the way things are presented, this increases intrinsic value. Let the way you present yourself address the changes in your life. Be flexible and adapt to what present itself to be done. In that way, you are in step with the flow of Dao and not acting out of preconceived motivations and self-interest. Contemplate the overall pattern and the pattern of the people involved. But, above all, contemplate the changes that are taking place within you. Good practice, folks!

08/03/2021

Today’s hexagram is nothing that a Daoist cultivator need be concerned about. It is Hexagram #21, Shih Ho/Biting Through, Gnawing, Tenacious, Determined, Punishment. If those nouns seems like something you would want to cultivate, go right ahead. Be my guest. But I’m not buying it. Why not?

The upper trigram is LI THE CLINGING, FIRE and below Zhen THE AROUSING, THUNDER. This hexagram represents an open mouth with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet. To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle.

The Judgment or Statement for Shih Ho suggests, when an obstacle to union arises, energetic biting through brings success. This is true in all situations. Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking the way. To prevent permanent injury, vigorous measures must be taken at once. Deliberate obstruction of this sort does not vanish of its own accord. Judgment and punishment are required to deter or obviate it.

First of all, we are humans not rats. We do not need to gnaw our way through anything. Nor do we need to take vigorous measures if we are truly Daoist cultivators who practice ‘wu wei’ and who study the Dao De Jing, especially Chapter 63, where Laozi states:
“Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.”
Notice, he did not say Judgment and punishmebnt are required to deter or obviate it. Further on in Chapter 63…
” Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal wit the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
Accomplishes greatness.”

So, forget the gnawing, forget punishing others and just be mindful. That way you can see or feel when a problem is about to arise and deal with it while it is still in the nascent stage. Continued cultivation within your practice, everyone.

08/02/2021

Today’s I Ching hexagram has a double meaning. Hexagram #20 Kuan or Guan/Conteplate, Viewing, Examine, Divining, the Tower. The Upper Trigram is SUN THE GENTLE, WIND while K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH is below. It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example. These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.

Richard Wilhelm goes on to comment that a tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country and at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around. He then applies these two qualities to a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses. So good so far. We want to develop the quality of contemplating the law of heaven or the Dao which is far above us. Also, we want to contemplate Nature in general as well as human nature. This will tell us a lot about ourselves and our fellow beings.

Then Wilhem comments on the Image of Kuan, the Wind above the Earth. “When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power.” He considers both of these qualities as beneficial and states: “The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed. All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality.” While true contemplation of the Dao or Heaven is a much desired quality, to use that quality to gain power or change customs and interfere with the Way (Dao) and its natural processes is not only non-Daoist, it is corrupt. It is not one of our precepts of to, as Wilhelm states, “impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.”

The thing to remember here is the two main precepts of Daoism as stated by both Laozi and Zhuangzi are humility and being lowly like the flow of water. The two go hand-in-hand in Daoism. As my teacher says: “Liberation from ideas of becoming ‘special’ is the first step on the way to moving towards union with the Dao.” Being in the background rather than the limelight or towering over the world with a prominant personality should have prevalence in our lives. Again my teacher states: “Humility is an extremely Yin state of being. To be able to place yourself behind others is a difficult thing lbut important in Daoism.”

Therefore, don’t think of humility and being behind others or appearing lowly as detrimental but rather as something very special to attain, more so than prominence or fame.

.

08/01/2021

We start the month of August with Hexagram #19, Lin/Approach, Nearing, New Arrival. It is composed of the upper trigram K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH and below TUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE

The Chinese word “Lin” has a several meanings. The ancient explanations in the Book of Changes give as its first meaning, “becoming great.” What becomes great are the two strong lines growing into the hexagram from the base of Tui, position 1 and 2; the light-giving power expands with them. The meaning is then further extended to include the concept of approach from below.

THE JUDGMENT then states that APPROACH has supreme success, and Perseverance furthers.
But When the eighth month comes, There will be misfortune.

The hexagram as a whole points to a time of joyous, hopeful progress. Spring is approaching. Joy and forbearance bring high and low nearer together. Success is certain. But we must work with determination and perseverance to make full use of the propitiousness of the time. But one thing more: spring does not last forever. In the eighth month the aspects are reversed. Then only two strong, light lines are left; these do not advance but are in retreat. We must take heed of this change in good time. If we meet evil before it becomes reality-before it has even begun to stir-we can master it.

THE IMAGE of the earth above the lake:
The image of APPROACH.
Thus the Sage/Ruler is inexhaustible in his will to teach,
And without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people.

The earth borders upon the lake from above. This symbolizes the approach and condescension of the Sage in a higher position to those beneath him. The two parts of the image indicate what his attitude toward these people will be as well as the qualities we should try to acquire: Just as the lake is inexhaustible in depth, so the sage is inexhaustible in his readiness to teach mankind, and just as the earth is boundlessly wide, sustaining and caring for all creatures on it, so the sage sustains and cares for all people and excludes no part of humanity. Thus, be inexhaustible in your readiness to teach those in your charge, and be boundlessly sustaining and caring for all living creatures, both human and otherwise, and exclude no part of humanity like we see today in governments around the world and even in many states here in America.

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