Monday, November 21, 2016

Confucianism or Daoism

Often there is talk of how people wish that we could get more Taoism in our translations of the I Ching and less of the Confucianism. They base this on the apparent morality signature of the Confucian model. This is a misunderstanding. Taoism and Confucianism are based on exactly the same principle, so that when we read the commentary on a given portion of the I Ching we are getting both the Taoist and the Confucianist model.

Now, that being said, it is my contention that Taoism goes much deeper, in a sense anyway. But that still does not take away the value of the Confucian model. The Wilhelm/Baynes interpretation of the I Ching has been accepted generally as a Confucianist model of interpretation, yet the W/B version is very, very, esoteric.

One way of looking at it is that within each chapter and each line, there are multiple levels of interpretation. This is more true in the original language, but is also true to a certain extent in English. For example, the third line of hexagram thirty two, a yang line, states that, 'He who does not give duration to his character meets with disgrace." Well, since most of us are totally into the divination aspect of the I Ching, the meaning of this line makes us scratch our head and wonder, "How can this possibly apply to my question?" Well, if you received that answer, it most likely does, but how? Often we are subject to moods and mood swings, which brings us up to another topic to be discussed later, about emotions, and the importance of them and the role they play in our lives. The viewpoint on the meaning and importance of emotions varies greatly between men and women, and causes a great deal of confusion and anxiety between partners of the two sexes. There is a reason for this and it relates to our view of reality, which is different. In the case of a divination, mood swings may be affecting our capacity to see the truth and the reality of the situation. Our mental attitude becomes different and that in itself changes the reality which we experience.

But if we want to look beyond the simple explanation in relation to our question presented to the I Ching, we begin to see the reading in a new context. The new context is not just specific to the question asked, but is specific to how we best live our lives in the present world. Therefore, the answer, in a sense, becomes more "taoist" in nature, and we perceive it as guidance for our lives as a whole, not just an answer to a specific question. The commentary says, "Inconsistency invariably leads to distressing experiences." But why? And this is key, absolutely key, if you want to understand the I Ching. Many will balk at this, and discount it, but the reason it consistently works that way because there are certain laws in the universe that are universal, and they always apply. It is our attitude that is getting us into trouble. Let go of the attitude, and the reality that we experience actually changes. This is hard to understand, it is hard to accept, but it is real, and many have proven in their own lives the veracity of these statements. And the rest of the commentary establishes this fact well, It says, "Such experiences are not merely effects produced by the external world, but logical consequences evoked BY HIS OWN NATURE!" (Capitals mine)

Think about this. This is crucial. This is of utmost crucial importance. We create our own reality!!! If that is true, then how should we live? If we get this line, or any line, in the I Ching, we must stop and think not only how the I Ching is replying in regards to the nature of our future, but how it is replying in relationship to our own thoughts, our own attitudes, and our own moral rectitude. This is reality. This is the ultimate reality. So to  ask simply to find out what our future is is simplistic. We must ask in order to find out how we are contributing to that future. If we are subject to moods, we are subject to whatever the universe brings us, which will BE in accordance with our moods.

And finally, let me ask, which is more correct here? The Confucian model or the Taoist? I would submit we do not know one from the other, because we have no framework for deciding? A moralistic viewpoint might be, it is wrong to do such and such. A Confucian and Taoist viewpoint might be, reality flows where attention goes. Are they two different things? Or in reality are they one and the same?

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