THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

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.