Thursday, January 17, 2019

Video: Freedom is the Basis of All Spiritual Transformation

In this week's video, I talk about freedom, on both the level of the individual and also of society. And I try to explain that freedom is the fundamental requirement for spiritual transformation in an individual; and that a society that values freedom is going to be more open to evolve socially than one who disregards the freedom of the individual.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Can You Use the I Ching for "Trivial Purposes"?

I have often had students ask me whether it's proper to use the I Ching for 'trivial' questions.

The question usually comes from the defining of certain types of questions as important, and others as unimportant. Sometimes it involves the notion that the I Ching should only be used for questions of Spiritual importance, or deep profound life-decision questions about one's purpose or higher self.

So I am asked, for example, if it is acceptable to ask about lost keys or some problem at work or how things will go at a football game, etc.

So my perspective is that this is absolutely acceptable to do; but I think what we need to define is the difference between something being "mundane" and something being actually "trivial", in the context of the I Ching.

The point isn't that the I Ching can't be used for everyday ordinary things. In fact, the I Ching can be greatly useful for mundane questions. You can use it for everyday subjects, even minor questions or doubts, or nearly-inconsequential problems.

However, where you can't use it is for something that's "trivial" in the sense of being a question you don't really care about.

That's true whether the question is about something very mundane or something of great cosmic, spiritual or life significance.

This is the secret of understanding whether a question is trivial or not: it's not about the subject matter but about whether you have anything actually invested in the subject matter.

 If you don't have a sense of the question actually mattering to you, then you should not do an I Ching casting about it.

Note: the idea that "you shouldn't do it" is not in the sense that it would somehow 'dishonor' the I Ching or that it is some kind of spiritual taboo or will cause bad karma or anything along those lines. It's simply that you shouldn't do it because if you don't have some kind of of sense of investment in the question beyond mere curiosity, the casting won't actually work for you.

You need to have some level of caring about the question asked beyond just mere curiosity. It has to matter to you a little more than that, whether it's at the level of something where you just have a strong feeling of wanting an answer even if the casting won't have any real consequence, all the way to "this casting is a matter of life and death". As long as you have investment, as long as there's skin in the game, regardless of the scale or whether the question is incredibly mundane or cosmically profound, the casting will be able to function.

Otherwise, the casting really will be "trivial".

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Chapter 50 of the Path and the Power (Tao Te Ching )

In this new video, I read chapter 50 from my new book, The Path and the Power, a new interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, with commentary. 

You can get a free PDF copy of the Path and the Power if you sign up to the Swami's Newsletter, which will give you one or two updates a month with recent teachings and new material just for subscribers.

You can join the Newsletter by following the link on the video description or by clicking on the "Newsletter Sign Up" link to the right of this blog.

(note that it's an interactive sign-up form so you need to make sure that if you have "noscript" or "adblock" or programs like that on your browser you may have to allow the page's script to see it!  When you sign up, the link to the Path and the Power will be found in the Welcome e-mail sent to you on sign up, so be sure to read that)

Friday, December 21, 2018

What is the Yi Fa Society?

The Yi Fa Society is a "Secret School" founded on ancient formulas for the teaching of a complete system of inner alchemy.  It provides a complete curriculum of training taught over various levels, with both practical and philosophical teaching material.  It utilizes a complete system of Qi Gong (Yi Fa Qi Gong) for the cultivation of consciousness, and trains its members in the secrets and symbolic language of the I Ching. Its 8-level curriculum allows students to progress in understanding and self-transformation.

The structure of the Yi Fa Society emerged from a series of revelations which came as a result of a twenty-year study of the I Ching.  The I Ching is the foundational text of all Chinese spirituality; a three-thousand year old book that has been in continuous use since its creation, the oldest book of such kind in the world.   Used by most as a mere fortune-telling device, sages throughout history have understood it to contain a profound system of metaphysics, and the keys to understanding reality itself.   It also contains within it a system for personal transformation through a process of "inner alchemy".

The I Ching provides the symbolic basis of the system of meditation and inner-alchemy known as Qi Gong, but this too has usually been misunderstood by laymen as a mere system of health-exercises.  Thus, the Yi Fa Society has designed a new set of Qi Gong practices, known as Yi Fa Qi Gong, which are meant to use the principles of the eight elements (the four celestial and four terrestrial elements) to establish a progressive set of teachings by which its members can develop inner transformation, leading to what the I Ching refers to as the emergence of the "Superior Individual", the higher or true self, through the establishment of the True Will (that is, our fundamental natures).

The Yi Fa Society's system of teachings are done in eight levels, each of which provides a graduated series of secret practices and teachings that build on the former levels. It is not tied to any specific religious teaching, but rather to the perennial philosophy of enlightenment; although it makes use of symbols and concepts that have come into common use in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism (as all three were influenced by the symbolism and philosophy of the I Ching).

Where to Begin?

If you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society, please contact me here, on Facebook, or Google+ to receive an application form.  Likewise, please write if you have any questions.

The foundation of the Yi Fa is found in the I Ching.  This book provides the foundation for the entire Yi Fa curriculum, and while there are many worthwhile versions of the I Ching in publication today, the specific teachings of the Yi Fa are best expressed in the book "The Magician's I Ching", where the teachings of the I Ching as a system of divination, decision making, and tool for transcendence are explained in straightforward terms specifically designed for western readers, and for those who plan to actually use the I Ching as a system for self-transformation.

(if you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society and working its curriculum, which is a complete system of esoteric training, please contact me!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

On the Nature of Nuclear Hexagrams

Nuclear Hexagrams are a frequently-misunderstood mystery of the I Ching.  In The Magician's I Ching I attempted to give a brief explanation of how to understand them.  They can be understood as "nuclear hexagrams" because they are the hexagram the exists inside the "nucleus" of a hexagram: the lower trigram of a nuclear hexagram consists of lines 2, 3 and 4 of the original hexagram, and the upper trigram consists of lines 3, 4 and 5 of the original hexagram.

So for example, Hexagram #19:

has as its nuclear Hexagram #24:

I have seen some people mistakenly look at nuclear hexagrams in an I Ching casting as if it was some additional part of the divination process on its own, as if there was some random element to it which contributed to the 'fortune telling' itself. But the nuclear hexagram is static, every hexagram only has a single nuclear (though in the cases of Hexagram #1 and Hexagram #2, they are their own nuclear).
In fact, Nuclear Hexagrams are part of a system of clusters or connections between hexagrams.  On the cover of The Magician's I Ching, you can see this pattern depicted artistically:

The nuclears show you groups of common hexagrams which can be understood to interact in special ways. Their main practical use is for the purpose of contemplating the mysteries and deepening one's understanding of the I Ching as a whole and of the individual hexagrams. The relationship of the hexagrams connected by their nuclear provides important insights.

Let's look, for example, at the hexagrams that have Hexagram #23 as their nuclear:

Hexagram #23 is "Shedding".

In this set of four hexagrams with #23 as their nuclear, for example, you can see the pattern that starts first with the effort of beginning, with Hexagram #3, "challenge":

Then as you build up, it leads to bringing things together, with Hexagram #8 "Union":

 After this, you move to reaching beyond the level of the foundations to be able to discover the greater mastery that is more than the sum of its parts, with Hexagram #20 "Contemplating":

And finally, to the state of making advance to a new level, with Hexagram #42 "Gaining":

So to put it another way, looking at it (for example) in the context of Cultivation: first the initial enthusiasm in the face of a vast undertaking, then the hard work of mastering the basic forms of the exercise, then when that is mastered of understanding what lies beyond the mere technical practice and exploring the essence, and then the genuine growth.

This needs to begin with Shedding (#23); you can almost imagine the "landslide" of Shedding, and following that landslide the tiny sprout of #3 breaking out of the shifted ground, then the hard work of growth, then the bearing fruit, and finally the harvest.
But it is also true that the nuclear governs at each step; as you move from one step to the next there needs to always be a process of shedding off some of what you are doing to make room for the next stage of growth.

In your own I Ching studies, first you need to study and learn the basic meanings of each hexagram by itself. But once you're ready to go deeper, studying the nuclears and the connections between the hexagrams and their nuclears will be of great use for developing a larger understanding of the greater mysteries of the I Ching.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Taoist Secret of Longevity, a new Book, and a Newsletter

In my latest video, I talk about the real Taoist secret of longevity, and how people are always looking for the wrong king of longevity.

Also, I read a chapter from The Path and The Power, my new interpretation of the Tao Te Ching.

Also, take note of my newsletter sign-up, where you will be able to receive a monthly update of my teachings. It's free to sign up, and anyone who does will receive a free PDF of The Path and the Power!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hexagram #12 and the Mulberry Buds

After posting the video commentary to Hexagram #12, where I had recited the text of the hexagram as it appears in The Magician's I Ching, someone presented me with an interesting question:

"What happened to the roots of the mulberry tree in line 5? Anyway, I am surprised that your version is so much different from the original text, that's all."

I felt that it was important to present an answer to this, for those who are students of the Yi Fa Society or readers of my book.

For a start, line five, in the original text, doesn't refer to any 'roots'. It refers to the flower-buds of the Mulberry tree. This is a reference to fortune, patience, and constancy.

So for those who know what the reference to the mulberry tree means, the meaning is in the line I quoted. For those who don't know what the reference to the mulberry tree means, the meaning is in the line I quoted.

"Bao" refers to the calyx or bud of a flower. Xi in this case (to tie) refers to a silkworm, which will make its cocoon next to the flower bud of a mulberry tree.

In other words, it is a stuckness that must be done, to follow one's true will. When the flower bud unsticks, naturally, in the flowering moment, then the silkworm's cocoon opens as well, and the silkmoth will be freed. The Superior individual must remind himself constantly, to create constancy and patience, to bring an end to corruption.

As far as the absence of the analogy in the text, the questioner actually gives a perfect example of why I kept it out. Trying to explain this analogy which is so out of western culture would have required too much room for this type of text, and leaving it as it was for some kind of academic precision in the blind dumb service of sinology would only have created something impractical for actual use for most readers.

Again, those who UNDERSTAND the meaning of the mulberry in this line would understand the line as I wrote it. Those who don't know the existence of the symbol would receive the meaning without the symbol present, and avoid confusion. The only ones who would be distressed by the line as I presented it are people who know, but do not understand.