Saturday, March 14, 2020

Time and the I Ching

What is the nature of Time? The I Ching seeks to explain that.

This is important for understanding your own spiritual cultivation, as well as to understanding how Divination works, and why!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cultivating the True Will and Superior Individual

What you have to understand is that achieving the True Will (what in I Ching terms is called the Superior Individual) requires three basic ingredients:

The first is self-inquiry. That is to say, growing in your understanding of your self, and what you are really capable of, and developing a way of tapping in, at every given moment and each given decision, to what is the best choice you can make to manifest that true will. Both meditation (Qi breathing) and the study of the I Ching helps with this; the former because it connects body and consciousness, the latter because it guides you in the situations where you can come to frame your choices in time and space. The I Ching is used for divination, but in the context of the Great Work it is a lot more than that; sometimes you will need to cast the I Ching to get answers to difficult situations, but as you grow in practice and if you've spent enough time in contemplating and considering the meaning of the I Ching you will eventually develop an ability to understand what to do by an "observation of nature" (that is, by paying attention to where you are in time and space, and being able to manifest the best possible self in your choices at that moment).

The second is developing in Virtue. The term Virtue is a very specific thing in the context of Yi Fa work; it means working on improving your dedication to the four core concepts inherent in "Yuan Heng Li Zhen": Union/Love, Discipline, Harmony/Justness, and Truth/Sincerity.

It isn't enough to just think about or study these concepts; you have to work on trying to embody them in everything you do in your everyday life. This takes a lot of work, it's like an exercise regime: you'll get better at it the more often you do it. The practice of self-inquiry mentioned above is very important in this regard because as you get better at being able to overcome the passions and impulses of the Inferior Person (the opposite of your True Will, your conditionings) the easier it will be to remember to manifest these qualities.

And the third part is the exercises of Yi Fa Qi Gong. These exercise are a kind of internal alchemy; they gradually transform your body and consciousness at the same time. First off by giving you the opportunity to accumulate Qi (life force) within yourself, that is then transformed within your body to a force that breaks down the attachments you have to activities of the Inferior Person (relating to what in modern lingo could be called the mind/body connection). Beyond that, the regular practice of the exercises helps to generate Virtue, which you can then apply as mentioned above in your everyday life.

As you become more advanced in the Qi Gong practice, it will unlock new levels of your consciousness which will grant you the ability to increasingly directly manifest the Superior Individual.

Of course, all of this depends on you practicing the Work with sincerity and dedication. It takes time, but the longer you do it the more cumulative and lasting the benefits become.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Cultivation Practice Qi Gong Requires Progressive Steps

There are many schools of Qi Gong. Many of these teach amalgam systems, which have either been created by a collection of different exercises from different sources with no consideration as to the progressive nature of cultivation teaching, or from very ancient traditions over many influences of teachers with a lot of mixed up or added material from different sources.

At present, many, undoubtedly most, Qi Gong teachings in the west (or the east as well) focus on good health, and are largely just seen as exercises for health. And in that sense, the significant majority of Qi Gong schools are perfectly adequate for that simple goal.

But the true nature of Qi Gong is not to develop good health. Qi Gong descends from the techniques of eastern Internal Alchemy, and their true purpose is to transform one's consciousness; real Qi Gong is an Enlightenment practice. And when it comes to practicing Qi Gong as a system of spiritual cultivation for Enlightenment, you can't just settle for a hodge-podge of mixed exercises that aren't concerned with establishing solid foundations followed by progressive steps of further transformation. 

The way Qi Gong really works is to imagine a pyramid: the first lowest tier of that pyramid is the Body. it is the absolute foundation. This is why you begin all cultivation practice by being present in your body.

If you are doing things without your active consciousness being in the body it's like you're trying to build a house on air. So that's the first thing you have to learn, how to BE in the body. Because today most people in the West certainly don't know how to do that.

Following that, you must learn how to breathe properly, because the breath is key to the circulation of Qi. In order for that circulation to work properly, your body must be able to relax, so you must not only be consciously in your body, but also to help your body to relax, and breathe naturally.   Only after that can you effectively begin in the basic first-step practices of proper spiritual cultivation, taught in the first level of Yi Fa Qi Gong.

After that, like in the subsequent levels of the Yi Fa society, the work begins to focus on other tiers: the second is the cultivation of Virtue. After that, the effort to unite with what is beyond you, and after that, to experience Reality.

All of these are necessary steps for the system, which is part of why you can't just pick and choose spiritual practices outside of a coherently ordered system, systems of spiritual Cultivation are of necessity progressive. If you just do thing A here, and thing D there, but you skipped B because no one told you about it and C because you didn't like it, then you end up creating a warped practice that will not be able to fully succeed at cultivation.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I Ching Hexagram Commentary #14 - Great Holdings

Here is the latest I Ching video. If you are interested in deeper teaching on the I Ching as part of an ongoing program of spiritual cultivation, please consider contacting me about applying to the Yi Fa Society.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Confucian Moral Teaching for Children

In Chinese Civilization, from the establishment of the Chinese education system until the end of the Imperial era, this teaching, from "The Great Learning" and attributed to Confucius was one of the elementary teachings taught to every schoolchild:

The ancient people who desired to have a clear moral harmony in the world would first order their national life.
Those who desired to order their national life would first regulate their home life.
Those who desired to regulate their home life would first cultivate their personal lives.

Those who desired to cultivate their personal lives would first set their hearts right.
Those who desired to set their hearts right, would first make their wills sincere.
Those who desired to make their wills sincere would first arrive at understanding.

Understanding comes from the exploration of knowledge of things.
When the knowledge of things is gained, then understanding is reached.
When understanding is reached, then the will is sincere.
When the will is sincere, then the heart is set right.
When the heart is set right, then the personal life is cultivated.

When the personal life is cultivated, then the home life is regulated.
When the home life is regulated, then the national life is orderly; and when the
national life is orderly; then the world is at peace.

From the Emperor down to the common man, the cultivation of the personal life is the foundation for all.

It is impossible that when the foundation is disorderly, the superstructure can be orderly.
There has never been a tree whose trunk is slender and whose top branches are heavy and strong. There is a cause and a sequence in things, and a beginning and end in human affairs.
To know the order of precedence is to have the beginning of wisdom.

Friday, December 13, 2019

How Should You Ask a Question of the I Ching?

Different western books and teachings on the I Ching tend to give different advice about how to phrase a question.  I have noted some people claiming that a "yes/no" style of question is really bad. However, I've also noted that those people tend to seem to want readings that are not very direct and straightforward, to leave them a lot of room to interpret the reading in the way they like. In other words, it seems to indicate a lack of trust in the I Ching.

In the Magician's I Ching, I point out that the question itself can be about almost anything, but that in fact in most cases (if it suits the question) it would be advisable to ask in a form where the answer could potentially be as simple as "yes/no" or "good/bad". That doesn't mean that the answer you'll receive will always be that simple, but it's good if you can allow it to be so.

For questions where a yes/no is not really a viable format, asking "should I do X" or "is it advisable to do y" are good questions.

Obviously, any way in which you ask can potentially generate a usable answer. But there are some ways to ask which could make it harder for you to obtain clarity.

For example, I do not advise "either/or" style questions being posited to the I Ching because those can on some occasions cloud the answer.

By either or I mean questions like "which of path A or path B is the best option for me"?

The reason phrasing a question in this way is a bit tricky is because first, you are not asking about one specific thing, so you might be inclined to direct the answer in the direction you would rather wish it was. This is not always a problem because sometimes the two paths are so different (if they were opposites for example, or had radically different characteristics) that you would not be able to just pick the side you like unless you were in deep denial. But when it's less clear a distinction between the two options, you might do some 'reading in' to the answer toward the direction you'd wish was best.

Second, because sometimes there is a tendency for the results to just be muddled and unclear in a casting question like this.

Third, because this doesn't easily leave open the possibility for an option C, or option D, etc.  Again, this isn't always a problem, but when you ask a question in this way you are still predirecting the I Ching to choose between only a set number of options which are what you can foresee, rather than opening to the possibility that something else could be foreseen.

In situations like this, it is sometimes better to either ask a broader question (how should I approach the overall situation? What is the best course of action in general? etc), or to ask more than one specific question (i.e. first asking "what would be the best way to approach option A" and then "what would be the best way to approach option B", and compare).