Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inner discipline

Sometimes in our personal readings we might get hexagram thirty seven, with, let's say, lines one and three changing. The context here is such that we need to have firm discipline within the family. This does not necessarily mean what we might think it means in our western world. In the western world we tend to think of the Confucian model of the I Ching an outmoded model of superficial morality and ethics. Indeed some often cringe at the thought of the "Superior Man" in the I Ching as they think this leads to unfair biases of one man over another. This all has to do with what we in the west call "Political correctness", where we all try to use words that we think have the least amount of bias built into them. But this so called political correctness is stretched very thin and often distorts the true meaning of words and concepts. The I Ching is full of concepts of the actions of the superior man versus the inferior. Let's face it. Our football teams, baseball teams, and all other sports teams are filled with people of superior talent or they would not be playing professional ball. We must call a spade a spade and face life as it really is.

So, in effect the person who contributes to the well-being of his or her family can in some senses be called acting in a superior way in regards to the family over someone who squanders the families wealth on alcohol or beats the children or what have you. These are not the actions of the superior person. It would be best to quit becoming prejudiced by pretending to be getting rid of our prejudices and see things in their true light.

But it can be that we have no family in the literal sense, so we might be confused when we get these lines, or any lines in hexagram thirty seven. But we must remember that what happens above also happens below, and what happens without also happens with in. And within each of us there are a multitude of personalities calling out for expression. One moment one mood controls us, and the next another. Line one of hexagram thirty seven says, "Firm seclusion within the family. Remorse disappears."  Even if we are not a part of a literal family, we have a family within ourselves, and the best way to integrate that family is to be always focusing on the "superior", and letting the "inferior" go. We must develop ourselves in such a way that there is an "inner power" within us. Line three carries on the theme of discipline, and we must discipline ourselves. When these two lines change, we have hexagram twenty. Hexagram twenty speaks of a profound inner seriousness. (In life, paradoxes exist, so it is equally true that we cannot take life seriously and should have fun, and that we should take life very seriously.) Most people at some time in their life find something that inspires them with a great deal of awe, and they get caught up in it, and try to understand it. In hexagram twenty the person finds great awe in the spiritual and/or cosmological processes of life. It so inspires us that we are in awe of the greatness of it all, and begin to "comprehend" the laws of nature. Science does this as well as the philosopher. But in order to really understand the laws of the universe we must have that inner discipline that keeps us on track, not by force or intimidation but by fascination. We are so in awe of it that our minds become quiet and meditative, as in hexagram fifty two, (which has a similar structure) and it is through this quietness and this awe that we come to understand the spiritual laws of life, and not just have book knowledge of them, which is meaningless. Just reading the book of changes from cover to cover would never give us a profound understanding of the laws of life. It is only when we compare "line with line, precept with precept" that the material becomes part of us and binds us and unites us as an inner "family" and we become awed by the vastness and the profuseness of it all. It changes our inner being. Book learning, and intellectual learning does not do that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Not for the Inferior Man

The utilization of the I Ching works only for the superior man and not the inferior. Therefore it behooves us to know where we stand. If we are not capable of understanding the advice of the I Ching there is no use in requesting it. In the same way, if we do not act in accord with the Tao, or that is, with the way of sacrifice; if we do not recognize a heavenly guidance in our life, or we do not walk a spiritual path, then the wisdom and guidance of the I Ching will not work for you.

For example, let us say we receive hexagram five line four, and we look at the guidance. The hexagram and line speak of a situation in which we are cut off and ordinarily there would be no hope for us. However, there is hope when we compose ourselves and allow guidance to come through. When there is no hope we let fate take its course. When fate takes its course, then suddenly, a way out shows itself. We have this same motif in line six of the same hexagram. After one falls into the pit, three uninvited guests arrive. The uninvited guests are spiritual powers that save us from the situation that we are in. Those spiritual powers will not arrive however, for the average person. It is only when we have turned ourselves over to the Tao, to the spiritual way, to the way of sacrifice, or the way of the cross, that we have any hope of having "three uninvited guests arrive." If we are not at one (atonement) with the spiritual powers, with the universe, the guests will not arrive. This is not to be considered totally a bad thing, it is just the nature of the laws of the universe. We cannot overcome the laws of the universe in any way. The only way we can have this hope is by being one with the tao, one with the natural way.

We see this concept in many places in the I Ching. In the image in hexagram forty seven it says, "Thus the superior man stakes his life on following his will." The commentary on the image says, "This (hexagram) symbolizes an adverse fate in human life." Therefore it is essential that we understand that it is essential that the will we follow is not that of our lower self, but the will of the higher self, which is the will of heaven. Without that, nothing of permanence can be accomplished." Acting from our lower self can be of benefit for a time, but does not have the permanence of the will of the higher self. We cannot escape our fate, but we can consolidate it in a good way by following the way. This the inferior man cannot do, only the superior man can accomplish the will of heaven. Therefore, only the superior man will find help from unseen forces when adverse fate befalls us.

Hexagram fifty also speaks of fate. The image says, "Thus the superior man consolidates his fate by making his position correct."  The commentary says, "There is likewise in man a fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate of a firm footing." Therefore, in many ways, the superior man creates his own fate, though he or she is not necessarily conscious of having done so. It happens in the spiritual realm, beyond the comprehension of the conscious mind. Those powers are nevertheless real, whether we recognize them or not.

Finally, we see this argument expressed in hexagram twenty three, line six. The line says, "The superior man receives a carriage, the house of the inferior man is split apart." Why? The superior man follows the will of heaven. The inferior man follows his own will, arrogantly. When we follow the Tao, or the way of heaven, we create a fate, or a karma, or a destiny that "saves us" at the last minute. The 'uninvited guests arrive." When we create negativity, when we create discord, and disharmony, when are creating the conditions where our house, (the place we shelter ourselves, where we think we have safety and protection), is "split apart."

Monday, October 13, 2014

What is truth?

In life, many times we encounter obstacles that must be dealt with. Sometimes the counsel is to stop and wait. Other cases, as in hexagram twenty one, we must "energetically bite through the obstacle." Lord, give us the wisdom to know which way to deal with a situation in a given situation. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet, (hexagram twenty one, and take the plunge. (Hexagram twenty nine). One way to decide is the "smell test." Often in situations in life something just "doesn't pass the smell test." As a kid I often heard the phrase, "there is something rotten in ..."  Now we say "it doesn't pass the smell test." Where people come up with these idioms and expressions I don't know. But the idea is that "something smells fishy." In cases like these it is well to bite through to the truth. And that is one aspect of the meaning of hexagram twenty one, getting to the truth of the matter.

So Pilate said to Jesus, before sending him off for crucifixion, "What is truth." In Christiandom it has been generally acknowledged that that was a sarcastic statement. And maybe it was, but maybe it wasn't. It becomes apparent to many who have been through tremendous struggles that there IS no truth. Truth is only what we make it in the moment, or truth amounts to "might makes right." If we look at history that certainly is apparent that might has decided who is right. But is there an absolute truth? Should we even use the time to find it? Pilate must have ordered the crucifixion of innumerable personages, many of whom probably had no crime greater than by circumstances getting in the way of the powers that be. Sometimes people are crucified or sentenced to death only because they present a challenge to those who are in power, and often they do not even mean to be a challenge. So it is understandable that he would say, "What is truth?" After all, we only do what is expedient, regardless of any morality. Or, in other words, the highest morality, or the highest truth is simply doing what maintains the status quo.

Sometimes in our lives we have to ask the question, what is truth? Or what is THE truth? obviously, we all get lied to at one time or another, even by our best friends. Sometimes that is only so that we don't hurt someone's feelings, but often it can become more sinister than that. So we hear someone say something, and we think, "That doesn't sound right." Then we get suspicious. When we get suspicious we start reasoning about how we can "bite through to the truth." In the commentary on hexagram twenty one it says, "Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking our way." So when we see obstructions, it is best to find out what the cause is and remove it. (See hexagram eighteen.) Someone might not be telling us the truth, or they may not be telling someone else the truth about us.

Line four is representative of the obstacle that must be bitten through. But that is not always pleasant. So in ferreting out the truth, we may "receive metal arrows," which in some cases may be a good thing, but often when we find out the truth, it is not pleasant for us. So we have to bite the bullet or accept the metal arrows. Often the truth hurts. Yet we must must get through to the bottom line.

But how often are we our own talebearer and our own worst enemy. Perhaps it is our own deception of ourselves that is causing the problem. Perhaps we do not see things in their true light, and are not objective about ourselves, Then, we ourselves will not pass the "smell test." We will not come across as correct, honest, or forthright to others. Then we have to break through our own obstacles before others do it for us. It will be unpleasant, (metal arrows) for us to find the truth out about ourselves. It will likely be even more unpleasant if others point it out to us. And they may not be so merciful to us as we would be to ourselves. We must have truth within. We cannot be honest with the world if we are not honest with ourselves. Illusions always bring pain with them. If it weren't for the pain, we would likely never recognize our deficiencies. If it weren't for the pain, we may never know we skinned our knee. Sometimes receiving metal arrows can be a blessing in disguise.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Resistance is Futile

Everywhere throughout the "Book of Changes" we are confronted with the principle of non resistance. We can see it right away in the second hexagram called "The receptive." The judgment says, "If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead, He goes astray; but if he follows he finds guidance." Does this mean that we should never lead and always follow? Of course not, but even a leader must understand that he himself is to be guided by a higher power; otherwise it is like the blind leading the blind, and "they both fall in the ditch." As a slight diversion here, when we do an actual reading, to find the answer to a question or a problem we have, the text indicates the answer that applies in that particular situation. But if we do readings for personal guidance and deeper understanding, then the answer we get relates to a situation that is always true, within the context of what is being proffered by our Higher Self, or God. So it is always true that we should be guided, even though we lead.

Jesus also spoke of nonresistance. He said, "resist not evil, and turn the other cheek." Of course, we have to be careful to understand the context, just as we do in the I Ching. Non resistance of evil does not mean that we should never fight for what is right, but that we should have an attitude of non resistance nevertheless. It seems like a contradiction, and yet when we put everything in its proper perspective it is not. There are times when we absolutely have to resist evil. Yet we must be very careful of the time and the situation to know how and when. The principle works, but only if we have a deeper understanding of it, and not a simplistic viewpoint. So in hexagram forty line six we are told to "shoot the hawk on the high wall." Here we root out evil. In hexagram forty three however, it gives us a little different perspective on this matter." The commentary on the judgment says, "...and if we do it the favor of fighting it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion." Therefore we must combat it in the right way.

Hexagram sixteen also gives us a little perspective on nonresistance, but in a different way. This gets into the concept of "excessive force" as depicted in hexagram thirty four, but in a different way. In order to "lead men, and to have power over them, we must find the way of nonresistance." If lines one two, and three change of hexagram sixteen, the resulting hexagram is hexagram thirty four, in which we are told not to go too far, not to go beyond the median line. For if we go too far, and push too hard in leadership, all we get in return is resistance from those we try to lead. Here the leader must be in sympathy and harmony with the needs of the people, and shows them how to meet their needs, and solve their problems. If he or she leads by force, he or she is not in harmony with the people, and is not creating unity and harmony within the social structure. We don't fight the current, we go with it. In the same way, here as well, we don't brandish weapons. We fight the evil through nonresistance, and find the path to the greatest prosperity for all. We must know when it is appropriate to fight, and when it is appropriate to use nonresistance. In the martial art of Tai Chi, the older Sages used to use the principle of yielding and neutralizing brute force without confronting it. And when done with skill and agility softness and yin can overcome hardness and yang force very easily. It has in more recent times especially in the western world been emphasized the use of rooting, which is rooting your energy so that you cannot be pushed. That works up to a point, until you come across someone that has a better and stronger root. The best way is nonresistance, letting an opponent go wherever he or she wants to go but then using their own strength against them. This becomes especially easy when an opponent has "gone beyond the median point," where the opponent is now too far forward and off balance. The same thing applies in our social life, if we can learn how to do it, to use softness against force, and allow a person to become "off balance" themselves, and easily toppled. Non resistance works, but only if we have a lot of skill in knowing how to use it, and have practiced for particularly long periods. If we go "blow for blow," as mentioned in hexagram forty three, the bigger and stronger person is probably going to win.

So then, this being said, why does it say in hexagram sixteen line two, that one must be "firm as a rock?" We are firm in our inner principles. We are firm in our determination of following the right way to solve our problems and our shortcomings. We are firm in following the principle of nonresistance and yet at the same time doing the right thing. How do we know what the right thing is? We learn by following the principles in sacred scripture,and studying to know the meaning of a given situation or predicament, and how through nonresistance we can turn it into a plus for us. Not using force, but at the same time being firm. Not giving into evil, but finding a way to fight it without going blow for blow. We "shoot the hawk on the high wall but we do it while understanding the principle of nonresistance. It is really tricky, and we have to understand the principle extremely well in order to use it successfully. The first key, is to, in the process of leading, find our inner guidance.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A few answers to readers

I have received a few requests from people. Of course I don't know any of the people, but to give some answers; As far as allowing others to place posts here, I will consider it. I haven't made a definite decision yet. I do want to say this, that I try to maintain a certain type of internal integrity to the site, so any articles submitted would have to go through me first for approval, and then I would have to give assurances to the readers that this post did not come from me.

As far as the amount of time and effort into the blog, I set it up a few years ago, and do not remember all that much about what I did. This is a blogsite and not a true website, so there is less work put into it than there would be for a regular site. I am not sure where I got the website to put it together; I think it may be googleblogspot.com, or just blogspot.com. You might be able to do a search for blogspots that can be created and see what comes up.

Although I am not really excited about putting email addresses out on the blogspot, I will do so for those who wish to communicate with me in any other way. I cannot reply to anonymous emails, they do not go out. So I either have to do comments or I have to do a post. So please, only readers who have a serious interest in my work or serious questions respond, but here is the email address. It is gener202002@yahoo.com.

From forty to thirty four

But what happens when instead of hexagram thirty four changing to hexagram forty, we have hexagram forty changing to thirty four. In both cases the first and third line are changing. We would think we have the opposite, and maybe in some way we do, but let's look at it. In hexagram thirty four we have a situation where the tendency is to charge ahead regardless of circumstances. In forty we are trying to wrap things up and get back to normal circumstances. Hexagram thirty four is in one sense, starting something, hexagram forty is completing something.

The commentary on line one of hexagram forty says, "In keeping with the situation, few words are needed." When we complete something, (however, line one is the beginning of the situation of completion) the same principles of giving the praise to a "higher power" applies. It is not necessary to boast about our progress. It is not necessary to talk incessantly about our accomplishments. If we do, we can evoke the "anger of the gods" and destroy the progress we have made. The commentary in hexagram two line three says, "He does not seek to have credited to himself things that stand accomplished. but hopes to release active forces..." His focus is on the accomplishment, it is not on his/her prowess in accomplishments, but on the forces that are released, not by his lower level conscious mind, but by the higher powers that operate through him or her that are the true accomplishers of the task. In the same way that the superior person does not revel in the power that he has, the superior person does not revel in his own accomplishments. He gives the glory, the credit, the honor to the higher powers that exist within him.

Line three of hexagram forty carries the same thing. The line says, "If a man carries a burden on his back and nevertheless rides in a carriage..." In other words, we think more highly of ourselves than we should. That does not mean we should not have a good self image, that we should not honor ourselves and recognize the value that we have. But our sense of worth must be based on the reality of ourselves, and our willingness to recognize that our self worth is tied up with our acceptance of higher powers that work in our favor. But when we try to put on airs we are usually more transparent than we think we are. Acting as if we are above our station is usually not a sign of a GOOD self image, but an attempt to cover up for the real emptiness we feel inside. We need to be who we are, and we need to recognize the value of that, giving the credit to the higher power that works within us. When we take these attitudes, the proper attitudes, we find that that is when we accumulate the "Great Power" of hexagram thirty four, and that we can accomplish great things. Like hexagram fifteen we can work together with the higher powers within us with a sense of humility, while at the same time recognizing the value that we have and worth we are giving. Then, as in hexagram fifty, in the image, we "consolidate our fate, and make our position correct."