Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Spiritual Cultivation is Not Just "Follow Your Passion"

One of my students had a question regarding a new-age author who suggested the following advice, not uncommon in our modern culture:
"He says that if in your work you are being distracted with something else, then maybe you should do what you are being distracted with, i.e. follow your passion. Which is common sense of course."

Note that this was even noted as "common sense".

But in fact, this is terribly bad advice to give people; as 'distraction' and 'passion' are not the same thing.

Most people don't have any idea what their passion is.

If they do know, and follow it, they will find that there are all kinds of "distractions" that try to drive them AWAY from those passions, because it turns out that following one's passion requires enormous discipline and very hard and often boring work and many sacrifices and lots of other things that aren't fun.

And your passion requires CHANGE.

It requires that you be almost a completely different person when you come out of the process than when you started, and if you are not willing to make that kind of change, the no-longer-being your existing conception of self, then many of the 'distractions' are likely to be things that are also tempting to you precisely in order to try to get you to keep being who you are right now.

They're saying "look, you find this really interesting, right? Come follow this wild goose chase of things you find interesting instead of that one really hard thing you're trying to do".
And before you know it, years have gone by and you've started ten thousand things and finished none of them.

You need to find out what you actually love (as in, what is your actual will), not the lies that you tell yourself about the type of person you'd like to be because you hope other people will see you that way, or because someone else told you its what you have to be like, but what you are actually want to accomplish, above all else. As precisely as possible.

And then you have to follow that thing you love no matter how hard it is or how much struggle and suffering and sacrifice you go through in it, until it kills you.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The I Ching: Hexagram 15 - Humility

An analysis of the 15th hexagram of the I Ching, in the latest video in the I Ching series:

If you want more teachings on the deeper mysteries of the I Ching, as part of a program of cultivation and spiritual self-development including meditation and Qi Gong practices, please consider applying to the Yi Fa Society!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Why Do People Hide In Their Own Fake Realities?

Q: why do people try to stay in the center of their own little universes?

 We stay in little universes, that we can pretend we're in the center of. At first glance, this might seem to be a way to get something, to gain some fantasies we have. But it's more about trying not to lose.
We fear being vulnerable, so we shut ourselves up in our own little universes, separating ourselves from reality, as a way to create the illusion of greater control in our lives. If we can be at the center of things that means that we are in control and can avoid dangers and can justify anything we do; of course that's all just delusion, but that's how we imagine it'll work. Instead of accomplishing what you want it to, you become trapped in your own tiny box.

Making yourself NOT the center of your own universe means Losing Control, and having to trust: first of all, to trust yourself, that you won't fail without total control. Most people don't believe in their own abilities, so they create this tiny little box-world where they can feel like the big fish of it (what Reich called the "little man").

Second, trust other people.

And third, trust reality itself.

And those are very hard because what we want is not to be harmed and of course all those things WILL harm us. We will fail (sometimes), we will be hurt by people (sometimes) and life will definitely kill us, eventually.

But the expansion of our fears of those things happening, our failure to go ahead and trust anyways and therefore have a chance of creating purpose for our lives, leads us instead to hide away in that fantasy of self-referencing where ultimately all the things we fear will happen anyways, and on top of that we will have failed to have purpose.

And absolutely, through cultivating Virtue, we grow to understand the pointlessness of trying to put ourselves in the center of our own little universe instead of diving into our corner of the great big one and getting to be one precious part of that.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

"Positive Affirmations" are the Opposite of Real Spiritual Positivity

In this video, I talk about how the notion of trying to force the Tao to give you what you think you desire or magically make you who you imagine you want to be is not real "positive affirmation", but the opposite of true positive spiritual perspective!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Flaws in Virtue

The following is an excerpt from a Level 4 text of the Yi Fa Society:

If a practitioner tries to cultivate without Union, he will only be cultivating for himself. His successes might strengthen him, but only reinforce his narcissism. He will start to feel disconnected from the rest of reality around him, and will reinforce the petty interests of his Inferior Person as if these were significant. He will develop a sense of greatness he will not be able to apply to his actual surroundings. In this way, he will eventually subvert all his own progress.

If a practitioner tries to cultivate without Discipline, he will practice in starts and stops. He may at times seek to overcompensate, even practicing in unhealthy ways. He will fall into excuses for why his irregular practice is not a problem, or even how it is unnecessary for him to practice. He may hide in intellect or in emotion, making pretensions of great spiritual feelings or thoughts, while disdaining simple and basic practice. This will eventually mean that he loses all his momentum.

If a practitioner tries to cultivate without Harmony, he will be afraid of his weaknesses, and will put all his focus on his strengths. He will work with great effort at things he's already good at, while neglecting anything he is bad at. He will make a great show of his best qualities, while trying to deny existence of his worst qualities. In this way he will be unable to continue generating Virtue, or receive Gong.

If a practitioner tries to cultivate without Truth, he will delude himself with any fantasy. He may do the physical exercises, but they will exist in his own little bubble. He will interpret Virtue as anything he feels like. He will be unable to receive insight into how to manifest the Superior Individual. He will be unable to manifest Virtue in the world.

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.