Bagua

Bagua

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Trigram Notes: "Li" The Sun/Primordial Fire

Li has traditionally been translated as “fire”, but this is the concept of pure primordial fire, not the lesser elemental fire.  Thus, the best translation for this trigram is another historical attribution, which would put it in line with what “Li” is meant to represent in western esotericism: “The Sun”. It is sometimes also referred to as “lightning”.  

It is the trigram associated with summer (when the Sun is at its strongest), beauty, the power of clinging. Because it is a single weak line between two strong ones, it is referred to as the “middle daughter”. Its quality is radiance. Its key spiritual concept is “Elegance”.




The Li Trigram in conjunction with other trigrams generally strengthens and makes a hexagram more positive. In general, all the hexagrams that include the trigram of the Sun are among the most positive of all the hexagrams of the I Ching.  Its power is such that it is only diminished when in conjunction with the Moon trigram, its opposite in both form and fortune.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Yi Fa Society and The Western Esoteric Tradtion

The structure of the Yi Fa Society and its curriculum is based on techniques of eastern origin (primarily the I Ching and Qi Gong). How does it relate to the western esoteric tradition?

In the first place, it bears reiterating that the Yi Fa Society is not a "chinese" esoteric system. It is a Universal system. This does not mean that it is some sort of mishmash or lacking solid foundations; but that the fundamental formula of its work is a universal formula.

In truth, while there are eastern and western religions, or eastern and western mythologies, or eastern and western techniques, there is no such thing as a true mystery school that is "eastern" or "western".  All true systems are Universal system, because they deal with the human experience.

The fundamental purpose of all mystery schools is self-transformation. The fundamental formula of self transformation can be summarized as "Awareness cultivation + Concentration discipline + Virtue training".  All systems of eastern esoteric or western esoteric origins use that formula.  Even the basic expression of any mystery school is going to be the same: it will be based on training in Symbolic Language, plus training in Cosmology (that is, a abstract 'mapping' of reality) plus training in a set of practices to allow one to manifest and apply one's Will.

In practical terms, there is a significant similarity between the training system of the Yi Fa Society and the training system of magical schools like the A.'.A.'. or the Golden Dawn.  These western schools rely on a combination of mystical teaching, meditative practices, and 'magick' (which is the application of Will to create Change).  The Yi Fa society combines the mystical teaching in the principles expressed in the I Ching, meditative practices in Qi Gong, and training in the application of Qi, De, and Gong to generate Change in one's own being and the world.

It can thus be understood as a 'parallel system', which matches the same goals as that of western magick, but in a different way. It is in fact complementary to the training that western magical systems provide, and training in the symbolic language and cosmology of the I Ching, in the physical cultivation and meditative practices of Qi Gong, and in the secret techniques for utilizing one's Qi, can all serve to strengthen anyone who is already working with a western system. It provides a new perspective, and new skills to enhance one's existing techniques.

If you are interested in applying for membership in the Yi Fa Society, please contact us here, on Facebook, or on Google+.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Postponed

Today's blog entry is postponed on account of being busy providing Holiday I Ching castings for Yi Fa Society students.

Please contact me if you are interested in membership in the Yi Fa Society.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Video: The Active Consciousness

In this new video of the Yi Fa Society, some explanation and instruction of what it means to practice with the Active Consciousness.  This is an essential part of effective practice of Yi Fa Qi Gong, or of any meditative practice in general.




If you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society, please contact me.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Trigram Notes: "Kan" The Moon/Primordial Water

Kan has been traditionally translated as “water”, but in the same way that Li represents primordial fire, Kan represents primordial water, thus another traditional attribution is a more appropriate one for western correspondence: “The Moon”. It is also referred to sometimes as the cloud, or the pit.  It can represent “danger”, because of its hidden power (a strong line surrounded by weak lines).  It is associated with winter (when the sun is at its weakest), the characteristic of enveloping; and because of the strong line in the middle it is called the “middle son”. Its quality is depth.  Its key spiritual concept is “Abysmal” (i.e., “Deep”).



The Kan trigram, in conjunction with other trigrams to form hexagrams, tends to be the most inauspicious of all the elements.  Most of the most troubling hexagrams include the Moon trigram, and it is rare to find good news in the forces represented by it.  This reaches a pinnacle in the Pit hexagram (#29, moon and moon), which represents great danger, a trap, imprisonment; and in an esoteric sense represents the forces of dispersion found in the depths of the abyss, those fundamental qualities that divide a person from oneness.  

However, even here the I Ching offers an optimistic note: as Change is a constant force, from this hexagram marking the lowest point, things can only go up.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

What to Expect, and What is Expected, in the Yi Fa Society

In terms of what would be expected of members in the Yi Fa Society, and what you could expect: Members of the Society at Level 1 gain access to a secret Facebook Group where we engage in discussion and teaching, where there are a number of videos and files on I Ching and Yi Fa Qi Gong that are not found in the public venues (like the Yi Fa blog, the Youtube channel, or the Magician's I Ching Group).  They are thus given some additional instructions on these practices not found in public.

However, MOST of the Level 1 work is publicly available (the exercises are on the Youtube Channel, the I Ching material is in the book); the real value of Level 1 is that it is a period of training in developing discipline, and you get personal interaction with a Teacher to answer questions and keep you on track.

Yi Fa Society members can write in the group or to me personally at any time to discuss their practice, answer questions or share/get insights on their experiences.

The really advanced starts to happen from level 2 onward, as you may have seen in the recent blog post revealing the level 2 curriculum: advanced exercises, new teachings, secret I Ching techniques, and other practices that are aligned to a precise curriculum that marks the student's ongoing advancement; each of the 8 levels provide new material that matches where the student should be in their level of awareness and Qi Cultivation.

What is expected of the student is diligent practice: this includes if at all possible practicing the Qi Gong on a daily basis, and following the study program of the I Ching.

This group is not some order that grants symbolic titles or something like that; each level is not based on 'time served' but on actual work done. The point of the levels are to mark and guide further progress, and provide material in a sensible format that actually allows a person to best study what makes sense to study and do at the given point they're at in their spiritual work. So there can be no moving on to the next level unless the lessons of the former have been integrated.

If you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society, please get in touch with me. Don't be shy!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Curriculum of the Yi Fa Society, Level 2

Each level of the Yi Fa Society has its own curriculum, with new material presented for the student's growth, practice and study.  A previous entry already detailed the Curriculum of Level 1.

The Curriculum of Level 2, in brief, consists of the following points:

1. The Level 2 Yi Fa Qi Gong exercise. This is a secret exercise taught only to members of level 2 of the Yi Fa Society program.

2. "Transforming the Inferior Person": a contemplative practice, used by a level 2 student to address those parts of their persona that act as barriers to the Superior Individual, to re-integrate them and remove them as barriers.

3. The Universal Yi Fa Qi Gong: a 50 page secret text that acts as a guide to the theory and study of Yi Fa Qi Gong.

4. "The Three Offerings": devotional practice/ritual to further the development of Union.

5. Secret Techniques of the I Ching: secret methods to determine further insights into I Ching castings, including understanding the origins and further developments of aspects of the present casting, alternate resulting hexagrams, and concepts of Timing to determine duration of casting effects.

6. The Yi Dao: a 22 page text of commentaries on the study of the I Ching.


These advanced teachings are only available to those students who are members of the Yi Fa Society and complete the Level 1 curriculum.

If you are interested in membership in the Yi Fa Society, please contact me!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Who Should Join the Yi Fa Society?

The Yi Fa Society is not for everyone.  It is not meant to be a vast worldwide movement, it is not a religion, and it is not a mass-market product.

The Yi Fa Society is a systematic training program in self-transformation through a series of esoteric practices.  It's core practices are Qi Gong, the I Ching, and meditation itself (in a form that integrates body, mind and will). 

You do NOT have to already know a great deal, or even anything at all, about the I Ching or Qi Gong before becoming a member of the Yi Fa Society.  You do not even need to be specifically interested in these two, as much as you need to be very interested in transforming your being and expanding your consciousness. 

You need to have some slight inkling that there is more to your existence than what you currently define as your 'self', and want to unite more strongly with that thing that is vaster than 'you'.  You do not need to know what that greater thing is; in fact, it probably helps if you understand that you are not completely sure what it is, yet.

You need to have a little bit of discipline, and want to develop more of this especially in your spirituality.  The Yi Fa Society's curriculum is not an easy one; even though none of the practices are very hard, it requires that you test yourself through being able to make the commitment of doing them consistently.

You need to have a bit of a sense that your being has many different parts, and to want those parts to work together more harmoniously.

You need to have a sense that there is an experience that can be described as "Truth" or "Reality", and that you want to get that experience more often than you have thus far.

If this appeals to you, if you want to work in a system of spiritual discipline that will lead you to discover your true Will/Nature, and unlock the power in your own being, and challenge you in all levels of that being to grow more vast and whole; and if you are willing to place a high value on that and make the work of practicing it a priority, then the Yi Fa Society is definitely for you. 

Please contact me if you wish to apply.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Master Dong and the Sorcerer of Yueh


There is a story about one of the great Masters: Dong Zhongshu. Dong was a master of the Confucian cultivation arts at the time of the Han Dynasty. He had reached mastery when only in his 30s. He was a strong advocate for the teachings of Confucianism, which led him at one point to be imprisoned by the Han Emperor Jing. The Han dynasty would eventually rise to be the first imperial Golden Age of China but at this time the Han Emperors were not yet so grand, and depended upon corrupt feudal lords, had an inept and nepotistic bureaucracy, and followed the teachings of the witch-doctors (“wu”, or Shamans) who dealt in what could be termed sorcery. These sorcerers used incantations to conjure up spirits they worshiped, and performed divination, and relied on talismans to bless, protect, heal or curse. They came out of a folk tradition that was itself not unhealthy, but by the time of the Han the ones who had risen to great status as the advisers to the Emperor were often wicked and corrupt, black magicians.

While Dong Zhongshu was imprisoned, the Emperor Jing died, and his 15 year old son Emperor Wu came to the throne. Dong sensed much virtue in the new emperor, but he was being manipulated into a life of hedonism by his sorcerous advisers (who were in fact acting on the orders of the Dowager Empress, who still held all the real power). In the 5th year of the new Emperor's reign, when Dong was 39 years old, he petitioned the Emperor. He advised him that the power of inner cultivation, and its ability to affect the world, was superior to the witchcraft of the Shamans and that if the Emperor were to follow his advice for reforms he would become the greatest ruler of the mightiest Empire of the world. The chief shaman, known as the 'sorcerer of Yueh', advised the Emperor that Dong Zhongshu was committing blasphemy against the spirits the young Emperor had been taught to worship and makes offerings to, and urged that Zhongshu be killed. The young Emperor, possibly torn between the lifelong conditioning of the shamans and his own desire to create reforms and fix the many injustices he'd seen in his empire when he'd traveled it in disguise (something he was known for doing), decided that the proof of which of the two (Master Zhongshu or the Sorcerer of Yueh) were speaking the truth would be determined by their relative power. He therefore told the Sorcerer that if Zhongshu is a blasphemer, the Sorcerer should use his magic to destroy Zhongshu.

The Sorcerer of Yueh was versed in a particularly malignant form of Qi Gong called the Five Animal Dance, a style from the “Refuge school” where the practitioner would enter into a trance through swaying and the recitation of mantras and vibration and then allow one of five animal spirits to possess his body.  These spirits would then use the shaman, who was really little more than a vessel (and thus cultivated no Virtue or Gong), to engage in magic, using talismans for healing or cursing or performing auguries.

As the Sorcerer began to draw into himself a tiger-spirit that would let him use a dark talisman to kill Zhongshu, the latter put on his Confucian robe and envisioned the Bagua, the pattern of the eight trigrams in a circle, directing his Qi to project these in a circle around himself. Then he recited the first four words of the I Ching: “Yuan Heng Li Zhen”. The moment he finished intoning these words (which are the four virtues: Union, Discipline, Harmony and Truth), the Sorcerer dropped dead. Zhongshu had created a field of reality that caused all of the Sorcerer's attempts to warp reality to his own desire to backfire on himself.

Having found clear evidence of the superiority of Dong Zhongshu's cultivation and wisdom, the Han Emperor took him on as his adviser and they began instituting the reforms (the criminal punishment of corrupt nobles, abolishing nepotism, institution of merit-based tests for the bureaucracy that would allow anyone worthy to serve public office regardless of social class, and adopting Confucianism as the official philosophy of the state) that assured the prosperity of the Empire for the rest of the young emperor's 54 year reign and for many generations to come in the Han Dynasty. Indeed, some of the reforms (like the merit-based exam system) remained part of Imperial China for the rest of its 2000 year history.

The lessons of this true story from history are that:
-Confidence in one's Virtue and careful cultivation are the best means to help serve and change society.

-Reliance on “spiritual” methods that ignore one's inner cultivation in favor of material trinkets is ill-advised.

-Cultivation systems that abandon personal responsibility of practice (and the development of Virtue), in favor of relying on being helped by external spirits or deities, will always be inferior to Cultivation Systems that depend on your main consciousness.

-The practice of “magick” that seeks to force your personal desires on the World will always be less effective than the Magick that relies on connecting to and adjusting the fundamental forces of Reality as it is.


As for Dong Zhongshu, he ended up imprisoned once more in his lifetime, and almost executed, when his contemplation of the I Ching led him to make the prediction that the Han Emperor's family line would come to an end when it would be overthrown by a Confucian Scholar who would take the throne. The very idea seemed insane and sounded seditious, and only the popularity Dong Zhongshu had with the court and his advanced age granted him a stay of execution and release from prison. After his death Dong Zhongshu would be remembered (as he is to this day) as one of the greatest Confucian sages of all time. 

His prophecy with the I Ching also came true, 113 years after Dong's death, when the Confucian scholar Wang Mang temporarily overthrew the Han Dynasty and created great chaos for a period of 16 years until the restoration of the Han.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When, Where and How to Practice Qi Gong



There are many things that can affect your ability to process Qi, most of these internal. What in Qi Gong is often called your 'enlightenment level' (just how Conscious you are), your physical health, whether or not you are under stress, how many distractions there might be and whether you allow them to be distractions, your will (to "show up" for the practice and do it with your main consciousness), and of course the cultivation of Virtue.

And it is important to note that ALL phenomena are 'natural' phenomena from the perspective of Yi Fa, so there is no special advantage in and of itself between practicing on a mountaintop or practicing in the middle of a mall. But of course, that difference could cause differences in those internal conditions I already mentioned. If where you are is more appealing to you, changes your stress level, makes you more willing to show up, etc, it will put you in a better frame of practice. So the golden rule is: do Qi Gong where you feel most inclined to do it, if possible (but above all else, DO QI GONG, do it every day, regardless of whether circumstances are ideal).

There is one external difference that is more important than any other I have found: Qi Gong practice is much more effective if done in a space that has some kind of opportunity for circulation of air. So if you are doing Qi Gong in a place with all the doors and windows closed, it will be less effective. If you are doing it in a small room with the door locked it will be less effective than doing it even in a bigger room with a door to some other rooms open. Practicing in a big indoor space, or outdoors, is more effective than in a small enclosed space.

(the former is from a letter to a Yi Fa Society student.  If you are interested in personal training in Qi Gong and the whole system of internal alchemy worked by the Yi Fa Society, please contact me regarding membership)








Friday, November 20, 2015

External Qi Gong

Yi Fa Qi Gong, as practiced in the Yi Fa Society, is an example of "internal" Qi Gong.  That is, an inner alchemy used for the purpose of creating transformation (Change) in ourselves and our surroundings.

There is also a kind of outer Qi Gong, different from what we practice.  It is usually but not always practiced in the context of some forms of martial arts.  Just like with inner Qi Gong, Qi is cultivated, but here it is applied to the fortifying of the body to be capable of notable physical feats, rather than for inner transformation.

Just like with inner cultivation, outer Qi Gong has a mix of legitimate practices, and frauds.  In this video we see an example of some external Qi Gong applications:




This information is shared for understanding of the differences between inner and outer cultivation, and general interest; with the understanding that Yi Fa Qi Gong and the work of the Yi Fa Society is an inner practice.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Video: I Ching Hexagram #2

This is the second in the video series explaining more details on the hexagrams of the I Ching. It serves as an additional commentary to material found in the book "The Magician's I Ching". 


Members of the Yi Fa Society receive even further details on these hexagrams, through documents not available to non-members.  If you are interested in the study of the I Ching, one of the world's oldest books of wisdom and a profound guide to self-transformation, please consider joining the Yi Fa Society to advance your studies through it's multi-level training program!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Trigram Notes: "Chen", the Fire Element/ "Thunder"


The trigram “Chen” is traditionally translated as “thunder”, but its quality is that of the hermetic element of Fire. It is the active and moving force, the force of dynamic power, the arousing or energetic force.  It is correspondent to springtime, the time of rising force. Because of its single strong line at the bottom (the first line of the trigram, because in the I Ching the lines are always read from the bottom to the top), it is called the “eldest son”. Its quality is vibration. Its key spiritual concept is “Arousing” (i.e., “Exciting”).



In hexagrams, the fire element can bring energy and impetus to an otherwise sluggish situation; it can represent will and enthusiasm, excitement.  But ill-dignified it brings chaos, from energy poorly directed. When it clashes with its paired trigram element, then great disruption and struggle ensues.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Yi Fa Qi Gong Video: Mudras

The latest video on the youtube playlist is a guide to the basic Mudras, or hand positions, in Level 1 of the exercises of Yi Fa Qi Gong.  These hand positions are crucial to the fully successful performance of Yi Fa Qi Gong.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Magician's I Ching Facebook Group

The Facebook group created alongside the publication of The Magician's I Ching, the version of the I Ching specifically created for the Yi Fa Society in English, has just reached 800 members.

This group is not just for this particular book, but for the study of the I Ching in general. It has daily postings of people's questions, discussion, information and much advice on how to use the I Ching.  While it is not part of the Yi Fa Society, the Magician's I Ching Facebook Group is a very valuable resource to members of the Yi Fa Society or to anyone at all who is interested in the I Ching and wishes to further their studies of it.

If you are on Facebook, and this is a subject of interest to you, please feel free to join.  Members come from all backgrounds and from a vast range of personal experience with the I Ching: from total beginners to some of the greatest authorities on the subject.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Practicing Qi Gong While Ill

Contrary to those who "do not have time", there are also practitioners that find themselves in the difficult situation of being injured or unwell.  How should one approach the practice in these situations? On the one hand, Qi Gong is specifically beneficial to recovery from injury or ill-health, but ironically those conditions can sometimes make it feel very difficult to practice Qi Gong.

The following is a selection from the Level 2 text "The Universal Yi Fa Qi Gong", a special document exclusively for students of the Yi Fa Society that explains both basic and advanced concepts in Yi Fa Qi Gong practice. While many sections of that text are secret to Level 2 students (and above), there is nothing in the following section that prevents its public dissemination.

XLIII. Practicing While Ill
The practice of Qi Gong is generally beneficial to bodily health (although not always to the extent some try to claim). However, there will be times a practitioner may become ill as this is a natural consequence of life.

When ill (or injured) it may be difficult to keep up the standard discipline of Yi Fa Qi Gong practices. Whenever a practitioner is ill, they should still practice as much as they comfortably can, but without straining themselves or complicating their illness. If they are too unwell to continue the practice in full, they should only do those practices that are easy for them. If their movement is restricted due to injury or health complications, they should adapt the exercise so as not to cause themselves pain; however, they should only adjust the exercise movements as little as is necessary to avoid pain or discomfort. If a practitioner cannot stand or get out of bed due to their health issue, then they should focus their practice on Qi Breathing.


The Yi Fa Society is open to applications for membership. If you wish to join its training program, please contact me here, by email, or on Facebook.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fake Qi Gong and People Responsible For It

Here's a great example of totally fake Qi Gong:


The old fraud in this video claims he's using Qi to move everyday objects. In fact, as subsequent investigation found out, the table he was putting all the objects on was rigged with a machine that moved them.

This was a particularly obvious example of fakery, but there are many other supposed "Qi Gong Masters" out there who engage in slightly more clever frauds.  None of them are very clever, however.  For the most part, common sense should allow one to discern fraudulence.

But why are there all these frauds?  Who is really responsible for them?  Of course, on the one hand people like this faker are responsible for the choice to engage in fraud; but the question remains as to why they feel driven to do so in the first place?

There is an old saying: "the reason there are so many fake teachers is because there are so many fake students".  The people who engage in this kind of trickery do so because there are great number of people willing to give them fame, fortune, unmerited respectability, and other benefits for their falsehood.  In turn, these people give this over to the frauds because they in turn desperately want to believe in gaining the types of powers these teachers claim to have. They want to have answers, to fix their problems, to gain fame and be respected as "spiritual people", so they will buy into what these snakeoil salesmen are selling.

If you are drawn to Qi Gong, or to other mystical teachings, it is important to look within to understand the reasons why.  You will likely find that you do have some of these reasons listed above. You may also find that you have a deeper reason: to want to transform yourself, to overcome your own limitations and develop your consciousness.

It isn't that there are just "fake students" and "real students"; this is a question of the Inferior Person and the Superior Individual taught about in the I Ching.  We all have our lower motives and our higher motives: the lower ones lead us, through fantasies and lust of result, to fool ourselves and let ourselves be fooled by otherwise obvious fakes.  The higher ones let us break free and liberate our being.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Trigram Notes: Tui (Water Element/Lake/Marsh)

The trigram “Tui” is traditionally translated as “lake”, but its quality is that of the hermetic element of Water.  It is the deep and still force.  It corresponds to autumn, when nature is slowing down. It is also sometimes translated as “a marsh”, or even a “swamp” (but this is somewhat inaccurate, as it is not meant to have any of the negative connotations westerners associate with swamps).  




It has the quality of the rain, of joy and relaxed pleasure. Because of its broken line at the top, it is called the “youngest daughter”. Its quality is openness. Its key spiritual concept is “Pleasant” (or “Complacent”).

In combination with other trigrams to form hexagrams, the Water trigram has a tendency to push toward a kind of passivity and complacency.  When well-dignified it can considerably reduce the harsher qualities that would otherwise arise in a situation.  But when ill-dignified it can imply laziness or an excess of self-interested sensuality that cause trouble for the querent.


Monday, November 2, 2015

"I Don't Have Time To Practice" and Other Nonsense

It is a simple reality of most spiritual practice that there are no serious short cuts.  Discipline is an essential virtue for growth.  Some sincere spiritual practices place very high demands on their practitioners, some place much lower demands, but all have in common that they require steady and regular practice (almost always daily practice, of at least a baseline of exercises) in order to be fruitful.

In the cases of Yi Fa Qi Gong, or of growth of understanding and development of skill with the I Ching, when students suggest to me that they are not making progress, the first thing I would ask of them is "are you practicing at least a little bit every day"?  There can be other reasons for failure in these practices, or it is also possible that a student may be in fact making progress but just doesn't feel as though they are, but the single most frequent cause of genuine lack of progress is a failure to practice with consistency and regularity.

And by far, the most common reason or excuse given for this failure is that the student "doesn't have enough time".  Some say it as though they truly wish they could have enough time, as though they would be dedicating hours of the day to practice, if only that were possible; but their schedules mean that they can't spare even enough of their time to do the most basic work.

But let's consider this for a moment:  in Yi Fa Qi Gong, the absolute most basic level of daily practice would involve the following:
-warm-up exercises
-Preliminary practices
-Level 1 "Earth" practice
-Qi Breathing

Of these, Qi Breathing does not need to be done at any set time.  Certainly, it is worthwhile to do a few minutes at least of standing meditation at the end of the Earth practice, or to do a few minutes of sitting practice. But if this was not possible (and even if it is possible and you do it) it is still very worthwhile to just do Qi Breathing throughout the day whenever you remember to. It doesn't have to be done apart from the rest of your activity. You can practice Qi Breathing all the time in just about any situation; while doing any number of other activities. All you have to do is breathe. If you didn't have time to even breathe, you would be dead.

As for the other three, it takes about 2-3 minutes total to do the suggested warm-ups. It takes about 4 minutes total to do the preliminaries, and it can take as little as 5 minutes to do the Earth practice. Certainly, it might be more preferable if you could spend 10 minutes or more doing the Earth practice, but it would be possible to do it in 5.

So the bare minimum daily practice of Yi Fa Qi Gong requires, in a conservative estimate, a total of 12 minutes of the day.  If you were to repeat the Earth exercise three more times in the day as is strongly recommended, this would still theoretically be possible to do in less than a half-hour total throughout the day.

Of course, different people have different kinds of commitment, some people have more time in their schedules than others. Sometimes schedules get disrupted, it isn't always possible to do all the practice one might wish to do in a day. Even a Qi Gong master could have days where, because of particularly busy activities, it might not be possible to do as much as one would feel is even a truly decent minimum of practice.  There may be a day here and there of absolute emergency where due to catastrophic circumstances one might not be able to practice at all. And fortunately, very occasionally missing an entire day of practice is not the end of the world.

But the idea that anyone couldn't do the minimum of practice for the most part, on a sufficiently regular basis to see the benefits and grow in the effects of daily practice, is essentially nonsense.

The situation is similar with the study of the I Ching.  The "bare minimum" of study would here be to select one hexagram, read the material of that hexagram (which in The Magician's I Ching rarely takes up more than one single page of text, and could likely be read in well under five minutes), and then try to make some effort to think about what you have read over the course of the day (which can be done at any number of moments you find convenient).

Once again, there is no possible way that the vast majority of practitioners could truly "not have enough time" to accomplish this, if the will to do it is there.

What is really happening when someone says "I don't have enough time to practice" is usually a different situation altogether: when a student says they don't have time to practice, what is really happening is that (whether they realize it or not) they are choosing not to make practice a sufficiently high priority in their life.

There are some spiritual practices which demand a very high prioritization.  Some schools require that a practitioner leave their entire life behind and live in a monastic environment, dedicating every hour of their life to the practice.  Others are less strenuous but still put huge demands and expect that the student will make their spiritual work the very first priority above every other thing in their life.

The work of the Yi Fa Society does not do this.  It comes from a tradition of the 'secret schools' which not only allowed but expected students to lead regular lives, and considered their experiences and activities in that regular life to be an important 'field' or environment in which to put into practice the teachings of the school.  Moreso even than most of these schools, the work of the Yi Fa Society has been crafted to be as easy as humanly possible to incorporate into one's life; that is, as easy as it was possible to make without rendering the practice ineffective.  For example, while many systems of Qi Gong require that a practitioner set aside a single long period in the day for practice purposes, Yi Fa Qi Gong is set up so that one can compartmentalize the practice to fit their own schedule. A student can do all the exercises listed above at once, or they can spread it out in little bits over the course of the day.

There is no practice that I could conceive of that could be easier to do regularly and still be capable of effectively allowing for a full flowering of awareness in the practitioner over time.

So in the context of the Yi Fa Society, what is a correct level of priority to put on daily practice?

Most people, in their lives, have a variety of commitments.  In some cases these commitments are in essence obligatory: things that must be done to maintain one's basic obligations in the world.  Others are in essence voluntary: things that one does as a routine that are not ultimately essential to life in the world.
Among the former are the things that, from the perspective of the Yi Fa Society, should be put in an order of priority above daily practice.  These include: whatever is necessary to keep up one's health, commitment to family (and wider commitments to community), and commitment to one's work and career (or studies).

The work of the Yi Fa Society is not merely a practice for health, or mental well-being, or a hobby. It is a spiritual practice for self-transformation, and in some sense this work, of progressing toward the manifestation of the Superior Individual and Enlightenment, is the most important thing any human being could engage in.  As explained above, this does not mean that one should abandon other essential commitments for the sake of the practice; if for no other reason than that how you fulfill these other commitments is also an essential part of applying the practice itself, vital for the development of Virtue and a genuine growth of Awareness.

But at the same time, the Yi Fa practice should not be treated frivolously.

One more thing: it has been recently reported that for the first time, the number of hours on average that people spend online has surpassed the amount of time people spend watching television.  The combined time on average of both of these activities is somewhere around six hours a day!

Now, there's nothing wrong with this, and no one is suggesting that a student should stop engaging in these or any other activities they find engaging, relaxing, or interesting. But if a student can take just a small percentage of the time they spend doing these things, or any number of other things they occupy their day with, and decide to make the practice a priority in that small amount of time, the rewards are enormous.

The practices of the Yi Fa Society should not be a burden. They are meant to enrich your life. In order to do this, they require that your become aware of the great value they offer, and give them just a small but appropriate level of priority in your life.   If on careful inspection, and understanding what this practice offers, you still did not feel that you could give that time, then recognize that a spiritual practice is not something you actually value (at least not now).

On the other hand, if you consider this and acknowledge the potential value of spiritual practice in your life, let that reflect in an appropriate level of dedication to the work.



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Costs and Membership in the Yi Fa Society

My work in the Yi Fa Society, and my spiritual teaching in general, depends on the support of dedicated students. As many of you may know, I don't really monetize my teaching in a particularly business-like fashion and am certainly not making "big bucks" (or planning to do so) from my teaching. But a teacher doesn't live on air, and for the work to continue basic necessities must be provided for.
In the Yi Fa Society, as with most schools of this type in tradition, it is expected that students will help the teacher with his upkeep; it could have been possible to charge some kind of flat rate for the Yi Fa work, but instead (after consulting the I Ching) the decision was made to approach this in the fashion more traditional to Qi Gong and Alchemy schools in history: that is, to leave it up to each student to decide how much they can help.
As such, students who plan to work on the Yi Fa Society program and to move on to the higher levels where there will be much more instruction and development to come, are asked to send a monthly donation to assist in this.

Some people have asked just how much of a donation is required for the Yi Fa Society. 
Membership in the Yi Fa Society depends on a monthly donation; but the amount paid depends on the income of the student. You give what you feel is possible, and based on how much you value the teaching. This is in following with old Qi Gong traditions, where students helped their teacher but each paid a percentage of their income.

What do students of the Yi Fa Society get in exchange for this?  They receive access a private group for discussion of the work, where they can ask questions or share their experiences, with all the other students. This group also contains documents, teachings, instructions, advice and videos that are not publicly available.  This includes video material providing additional details and training in the Yi Fa Qi Gong exercises and additional information and commentary on the secrets of the I Ching.
You likewise have the opportunity to converse privately over e-mail and possibly video chat for instruction that is more personal. 

And of course, when a student has completed the necessary prerequisites of study and practice, they can proceed through the rest of the 8 levels of Yi Fa training, with additional exercises and work at each level.   


Finally, it is worth remembering that this isn't just for the teaching you get here in this group or in private emails with me, it is a way to ensure I can continue to offer ALL the teaching I offer to people.





If you are interested in participating in the Yi Fa Society, please feel free to contact me!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yi Fa Qi Gong: Basic Stance

This video details the simple points of how to hold the correct stance or posture in Yi Fa Qi Gong:


Please check out the other videos in this series, and if you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society and its training program in Internal Alchemy, please contact me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trigram Notes: Wind/Air

The Wind or Air Trigram consists of a broken line at the base followed by two solid lines above.  Called Sun or Xun it is traditionally translated as “wind”, but its quality is that of the hermetic element of Air, which is also part of its traditional attributions.  




It is sometimes also translated as “wood”, which is correspondent in Taoist alchemy to some of the concepts of the Air element, and like the hermetic air element corresponds to the intellect.  It has a gentle quality, but insistent. Because of its weak line at the bottom, it is called the “eldest daughter”. Its quality is consideration.  Its key spiritual concept is “Flexible”.

In combination with other trigrams, the Air trigram tends to emphasize themes of motion, fluidity, and swiftness.  Well-dignified, it can represent liberation from stuck situations; ill-dignified, it can represent instability or volatility, where prior stability slips away and solid ground is lost.


Friday, October 23, 2015

I Ching Commentary: Hexagram #1

This is additional commentary on Hexagram #1, going beyond what is in my book (The Magician's I Ching).


 

 If you find this material interesting and want to deepen your work and studies, please keep in mind that in the Yi Fa Society there is even more instructional material (and personal guidance) available. If you are interested in joining the training program of the Yi Fa Society, please contact me.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Trigram Notes: Mountain/Earth-Element

The Ken trigram is usually translated as "Mountain", but from a western context corresponds to the Earth Element. It is the lowest of the four terrestrial trigrams.



This trigram represents immovable solid power, and has the quality of stubbornness and stuckness.  Because of its strong line at the top, it is called the “youngest son”. Its quality is attachment.  Its key spiritual concept is “Solid”.

In I Ching divination, Ken/Mountain/Earth-element tends to "slow" the elemental force of the other trigram paired to it, reducing its intensity, movement or force.  Hexagrams with this trigram tend to represent situations that have either a positive or negative quality of slowing things down or cutting off force, generally suggesting patience, slowness or caution.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Determining the "Present" in an I Ching Casting

An excerpt from The Magician's I Ching:

In I Ching tradition, the number of changing lines you have affects what should be read.  Depending on the number of changing lines, the "present" or "central incipiency" of a casting varies.  Everything that comes before that "present" is a reflection of previous developments (that are still influencing the present moment), and everything that comes after are "incipiencies" that have not yet manifested, that is, later developments.


Determine the changing lines you have:


-No Changing Lines:  the Main Hexagram Text is central, and should be the only part read.

-1 Changing Line: the single changing line is the "present".  The Main text and the main text of the resulting hexagram are broad themes of the prior and later developments.

-2 Changing Lines: the UPPER of the two changing lines is the "present".


-3 Changing Lines: the MIDDLE changing line is the "present".

-4 Changing Lines: in this case you should read the main text of the hexagram, the four changing lines of that hexagram AND the two unchanging lines of the resulting hexagram (so if you have a hexagram with lines 1-4 being 'changing lines'; you should read those four, plus lines 5 and 6 of the new hexagram).  Of these, the LOWER of the two resulting hexagram lines is the "present".


-5 Changing Lines: As above, read the main text, all 5 changing lines, and the single line of the resulting hexagram that was not changed.  The single unchanging line from the resulting hexagram is the "present".

-6 Changing lines: read the main text, all six moving lines, and the resulting text.  The resulting hexagram text is the "present".

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yi Fa Society Membership

There is a great deal of instructional material available to those who are not participating in the Yi Fa Society.  The Youtube video series provides instruction on the I Ching and Qi Gong.
There is also excellent instruction and discussion in the Magician's I Ching Facebook Group.

However, membership in the Yi Fa Society includes access to a special private group on Facebook where participants get considerably more information on the Yi Fa Qi Gong practice, on the I Ching, access to materials and writings that will not be made available anywhere else.  It likewise entitles members to personal interaction and instruction to assist their learning process and practice.

If you are finding the teaching on the I Ching and Yi Fa Qi Gong interesting and useful, please consider contacting me regarding membership in the Yi Fa Society.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Historical Schools of the I Ching

In the course of its 3000 year history as a written book, the I Ching has been in a central position in the Chinese spiritual and intellectual world.  So entire schools of thought have risen and fallen with regard to the interpretation of the I Ching.  Almost any debate we could have now, or almost any insight or realization you could have about the I Ching, will likely be echoed by the thoughts of some luminary of Chinese history.

Two of the most famous (and famously opposed) schools were the "Image and Number" School and the "Principles and Meaning" School.  These both emerged in the later part of the Han dynasty, and took diametrically opposed views about how to see the I Ching, in ways that reflect debates about it today.

The Image and Number school focused on the metaphysics and mathematics of the I Ching; on complex systems of divination, on studying the sequences of the trigrams and the hexagrams; they treated the I Ching like a secret code that had to be cracked, whose mysteries would reveal the true nature of the Universe.
At their best, they drew one into states of altered perception in ways similar to the western Qabalah properly applied; being able to see the mysteries of the hexagrams, elements, yin and yang in all phenomena and thus making the ordinary sacred.  At their worst they would get lost in metaphysical ruminations and get obsessed with pointless models that had no meaningful application to real life. They would get caught up in totally made-up models based on creating wild supposition, and would mistake the mere symbolic "filing system" for reality itself (sometimes going as far as to suggest that it was the world that was fake, and their ideas about lines that were really real).

The "principles and meaning" school, on the other hand, rejected esoteric metaphysics and advocated the direct study of the text, and seeking to understand its philosophy for practical applications to one's life.  They considered the obsession on image and number to be just pointless distraction, busywork, intellectual masturbation that leads nowhere.   They sought to remove the clutter and focus only on the core teaching value of the I Ching text itself.
At their best, they were pragmatic, remembering what the point really is, and focusing on what works.  At their worst, they were dogmatic and iconoclastic to the point of impracticality; going so far as to claim that when you "got" the basic meaning of a hexagram you didn't really need the image or number at all.  This is dumbing-it-down to the point of losing out; where the I Ching becomes less than what it has the potential to be and do for you.  The mistake is in thinking there is only one meaning to be "got".  This leads to a situation where one ultimately rejects doing any work at all (as indeed, most Confucians of this school did not actually do divination with the I Ching at all).

So both these schools, and the perspectives they represent, had their right and their wrong.  And eventually what replaced them at the time of the Song dynasty (considered by many to be the "peak" of I Ching studies) was a synthesis that tried to stick to the best of both perspectives; exemplified by the works of the great Shao Yung, Zhang Shi, and Zhu Xi.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Confucius on the I Ching

Confucius: The Survey (chapter 4)

The I Ching is a simulation of the whole of Heaven and the World, thus it includes all of these.  If we study its ways we can look up and observe all celestial events, and down to study all worldly features.  We can learn the secrets of visible and invisible principles.  We can study the origin of all things in the universe, and from this chart their end points; we can thus understand the cycles of creation and destruction. 

The Qi builds up and forms shapes into living creatures, essence floats and dissolves constantly into different elements; thus we can understand the ways of the spirits. 

Understanding the ways of Heaven and the World in the I Ching, people avoid violating these ways in their actions; this allows people to avoid troubles by acting in harmony with space and time, according with the Will of Heaven.  People learn how to use its Power (Virtue) and not to seek to move beyond its landmarks, thus they are relaxed and can act sincerely and with benevolence, extending love throughout the land.

The I Ching measures all Change in Heaven and the World with great precision, assisting carefully in the development (of all who study it), giving insight by day and by night and omitting nothing.  Thus, this wondrous book is not limited to being a guide to any single area, and the Changes marked in the book are not restricted to any limited definitions.

Yi Fa Qi Gong Level 1 "Earth" Exercise

The following is the video for the main exercise of basic Yi Fa Qi Gong.  It is the central practice of the Level 1 work of the Yi Fa Society.




In the video, the last few positions are meant to be held for at least one minute each, but they can be maintained for as long as the practitioner wishes.  After a certain point in training the body may naturally sense when to move to the next step.

The final position, the chan or meditation mudra, is the standing posture to hold for qi breathing, and should be held for at least two minutes.  This posture should be used to enter into deep relaxation and meditation as the qi drawn into the body circulates.