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.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The I Ching's Perspective on Gender

It's important to note that at its core, the I Ching system is a Binary system; it's yin/yang, 1 and 2.  These express themselves as simple binaries (at the level of individual lines being yang-male or yin-female) and complex binaries (ie. the combination of two trigrams, where you might have for example the combination of a trigram that's two-parts yin one-part yang with a trigram that's three parts yang; or that sort of thing).

So with regard to gender, the perspective that the symbolic/mathematical language of I Ching takes is of necessity that there isn't a spectrum of entirely different types of gender (eg. gender-1, gender-2, gender-3, gender-5, gender-52) which are all inherently different from one another; but that there's a spectrum of genders that are different accumulations of those two basic forces (eg. at the level of trigrams this would be something like male-3, male-2 female-1, male-1 female-2, female-3; at the level of hexagrams things like male-4 female-2, male-3 female-3, etc.).

There is an added degree of complexity when you understand that it's not just the quantity of yin and yang in each trigram/hexagram that matters, but also where the lines are placed. So female-2 male-1 where the one male line is at the bottom is a different expression than female-2 male-1 where the one male line is in the center.

I think that at times, there is a tendency to imagine that the I Ching is fairly absolutist about gender, after all Yang is "male" and Yin is "female".  But remember that there, we are talking about "constituent forces".  Yin and Yang as separate forces exist Nowhere at the material level of reality; the I Ching is really saying that while at dimensions beyond the actual manifested material world we live in, you can talk about something Archetypical or even Primordially "male" or "female".  But at the level of manifestation (the hexagrams), in our actual world, there's nothing that is only purely male or only purely female.  Even the hexagrams #1 and #2, which consist of all "male" lines and all "female" lines respectively, and are thus as-male/female-as-you-can-get in this level of reality, still have within them the potential for changing.  Any one of the lines that is solid can theoretically become a changing line and then mutate into its opposite.  So even those two cases cannot be thought of as "Absolute" in their maleness or femaleness.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to Interpret an I Ching Casting: Part 2

In I Ching tradition, the number of changing lines you have affects what should be read, and allows you to determine which particular part of the overall reading represents the “centre”, that part of the casting that marks the present or the most urgent thing to attend to (with all that comes before that “centre” being previous developments, and all that comes after being later developments).

In the reading, if you have: Then read:
-No Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text only.
-1 Moving Line: then read the Main Hexagram Text, the Moving Line, and the Future Hexagram Text, and the Moving Line is the “centre”.
-2 Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text, both Moving Lines, and the Future Hexagram Text; and the UPPER Moving Line is the “centre”.
-3 Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text, all three Moving Lines, and the Future Hexagram Text; and the MIDDLE Moving Line is the “centre”.
-4 Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text, the four Moving Lines, the Future Hexagram Text and the two lines from the Future Hexagram that were unmoving (for example, if you get a hexagram with lines 1-4 moving; then you will read lines 5 and 6 of the Future Hexagram). Of these, the LOWER Future Hexagram Line is the “centre”.
-5 Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text, all five Moving Lines, the Future Hexagram Text, and the unmoving Future Hexagram Line; and the single unmoving Future Hexagram Line is the “centre”.
6 Moving Lines: then read the Main Hexagram Text, all six Moving Lines, and the Future Hexagram Text; and the Future Hexagram Text is the “centre”.

Naturally, all of the above describes the basic way you would read an I Ching casting, and it is how you begin. However, as you develop there are other aspects you are doing to want to look at, but it is not good to overburden yourself at the beginning. Make certain that you have a firm grasp of the fundamental method before delving into other details. Later on, you may want to look at and contemplate the structure of the hexagrams you cast: look at the lines, which line is where, understand why that makes certain things good or bad. Look at and contemplate the image evoked by the component trigrams (both the “official” one described in the book and other ways you could imagine those two elements combining to create an image). You will also want to look at the Nuclear Hexagrams involved, as well as the opposite, overturned and reversed hexagrams; there may be more information on this later.

If you want more information and guidance to performing an I Ching casting, please consider purchasing the book "The Magician's I Ching". 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How To Interpret an I Ching Casting: Part I

Once you have generated a hexagram with a casting (whether its by the yarrow stalk, three coins, my own 'four staves' or some other method) you must then interpret the casting.

The way to do this is first, look up the hexagram generated in the I Ching (most I Ching books have a master table that lets you easily look up the hexagram number based on its component Trigrams).

Once you have looked it up, read FIRST the general main description of the Hexagram.

Second, read any "changing lines" that were generated by your casting.  Read only those lines, do not read the oracles for the lines that were not changing lines.
In terms of interpretation, as a rule of thumb, if the changing line/lines seem to contradict the oracle in the main text use the oracle of the lines.  The lines deal with the specifics of your particular moment in the process of that hexagram, while the main text deals with the bigger "panoramic" view of the hexagram's theme.

You can also read, if you are using a translation that has them, the image description and Confucian commentaries for that hexagram.

Then, after that, take all the changing lines and change those lines into their opposite: so any broken changing lines become solid lines, and any changing solid lines become broken lines.  This generates a brand new hexagram, the "future hexagram".  Look it up, and read only the main text description.  This provides you with an oracle as to what the present situation is in the process of evolving into.

These are only very basic simple instructions.  Later on, I'll try to write more detailed instructions as to how to interpret a casting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Second Preliminary Exercise

This is the second preliminary exercise of Yi Fa Qi Gong, "Touching the World":

If you are interested in joining the Yi Fa Society please don't hesitate to contact me for information.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The I Ching's Hyperdimensionality

The image presented here is of the "boolean lattice" arrangement of the I Ching hexagrams.  It demonstrates how the I Ching can be mathematically projected into a sixth dimensional hyper-geometrical prismatic figure. That is to say, some of the hexagrams existing within other hexagrams (nuclearity) are meant to reflect hyper-dimensionality.

So together, the hexagrams are a conceptual of "drawing" time itself in the same way we might draw distance. From the point of view of a sixth-dimensional universe, time would look like a physical object (just like if we existed in a second-dimensional universe depth would not have solid form).

This is difficult even now to wrap our heads around, but it means that the hexagrams of the I Ching collectively are as much a "physical map" of TIME like one could have a physical map of, say, Norway.

Note that this is not a new concept, either, as such ordering is also present in traditional Chinese understandings of the I Ching:

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Significance of Line Positions in a Hexagram

I think that when it comes to the interpretation of line positions, there are clearly certain significant general rules. Yang is, on the whole, better than Yin; getting a solid line is usually more promising than getting a broken line. However, the lines of the hexagrams are affected by both their position on the hexagram (ie. a yin line in number 2 is more likely to be positive than a yin line in number 3 or 5), and the nature of the lines in other positions (ie. a yin line in number 2 is more likely to be positive if it is surrounded by strong yang lines; or if there is a solid yang line in number 5).

The overall positions of the lines seems to have more influence than the trigrams that compose the hexagram, when it comes to determining if any given line is auspicious or not; but the trigrams do still exert their influence. The overall image they create can affect the line concepts; and certain trigrams (like Kan, which symbolizes the lunar Moon force even though most English versions of the I Ching call it "Water"), tend to have stronger influences than others (Kan also represents "a pit", and so its seen as a serious malefic force unless its very well-dignified).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Fall of the Shang

An excerpt from The Magician's I Ching:

The Fall of the Shang

In the era of the Shang dynasty, when the I Ching was already in use but not yet quantified into a book, the great Shang wizard-kings were expected to make regular auguries. At that time, the Shang used bones thrown in fire for their divination; turtle shells and ox bones (the cracks the fire caused in the bone or shell would reveal the lines of yin and yang).

In the earlier Shang archeological records, you see auguries about all sorts of subjects, and auguries where the King proclaimed good luck or bad: "we should attack this country", "if we attack now it will be disaster", "the king's second wife will have a child", "the queen will have a stillborn son". Prosperity and famine, bounty and disaster were both predicted.
However, by the later period of the Shang dynasty something interesting happens: the oracles the wizard-king declares become quite different, suddenly they are all very vague and generally good, one after another. There are thousands of declarations that say something like "the next period will be truly auspicious, with no misfortune".

The notable difference is that the earlier era was one where the Shang were the mightiest kingdom in their known world. The latter era, however, was one where the Shang had become corrupt: their last king was tyrannical toward his outlying provinces while engaging in decadent behaviour at home (legends hold that near the end he had built an artificial lake of wine with a paradisaical island filled with deer meat at its centre, and sumptuous palaces where he held degenerate orgies that included the sadistic torture of commoners). Rival powers were emerging and the Shang dynasty would soon be overthrown, their kingdom being over-run by the Zhou (including the great King Wen, who wrote the text of the I Ching and thus proved he had superior magical power and wisdom than the decadent kings of Shang).

It seems that in the earlier era, the people were willing to hear, and thus the king to declare, bad news as well as good. But in the latter era, when things had gone bad, the people didn't want to hear anything realistic from their government, they just wanted to keep being told everything was going to be great and there wouldn't be any problems; they wanted to be given reassuring lies. These oracles were the equivalent of "campaign promises" in modern elections; and by the end time of the Shang dynasty no ruler dared demands "blood, sweat or tears" from the people, or ask them to make sacrifices; instead he had to constantly repeat the story that everything was great, that they were the best country in the world, that every problem would be solved and no sacrifice would be needed. Thus, the last Shang king was blinded by his own lesser nature, to the extent of having executed wise counsellors who attempted to warn him of the dangers his kingdom faced.

This is what the Confucian commentaries of the I Ching would describe as the preponderance of the Inferior Person: a time of decadence that has spread to the moral, intellectual and vital faculties. At that point, only revolution (by the Zhou) could restore society. And indeed, King Wen's son fulfilled his father's dreams by uniting 11 of the border territories against the Shang, defeating their armies and conquering the kingdom. The last King of the Shang committed suicide on his deer meat island while his palaces burned.

In this little piece of I Ching history, there is a very interesting example of the kind of teaching the I Ching promulgates (and explanation of the context of the times in which the actual text of the I Ching was written); and likewise the ways someone can use it effectively, or fail to apply it correctly. Its also an interesting message for our modern era, showing off just how relevant the I Ching continues to be, 3000+ years after the time of writing of the I Ching, because the same problems keep happening.
The I Ching has, for thousands of years, warned us what happens to those individuals, as well as societies as a whole, who are fat and complacent, only wanting to hear 'good oracles'.