13 November 2010

I-Ching in One Minute

Since I put my "Dao De Jing in One Minute" here, let me reproduce my "I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Living" from my Bvotech blog here as well. It seems to me that posting in blogger got referred to more often.

I-Ching in a Few Words
Many people heard about i-Ching, the Book of Change, from the Chinese and want to know more about it. While it is a short book in the original Chinese language, it is highly codified and very rich in content. Here is an attempt to explain it in One-minute.
  • I-Ching in one word is “Change“.
  • It is clearer in two words, “Handling Change“.
In one sentence,
I-Ching is about using unchanging principles to handle change“.
It is about being able to meet life ever changing situations and handling them well and so able to live in stress free  abundant vitality.


The Unchanging Principles
  • They are based on the ways of working of Heaven and Earth and applying to men for living harmoniously and productively together.
  • It is righteousness based and middle-of  the way of dynamic balanced.  
  • The balanced position is not fixed but changes with time and the interactions.
  • It is integrative bipolar, yin-yang, interactive thinking like:

    • push - pull
    • hard - flexible/soft
    • quantity - quality
    • immediate - long term
    • start - stop
    • reasons - compassion
    • tasks - people
It is not ether A or B but both A and B in different degree. It is win-win innovative thinking.

The Change - Outcome Measure
To handle change, we must know how to measure the states of changes. What good or bad is. I-Ching outcome measures in most simplified form is either Good Fortune 吉 or Bad/Disaster 凶.
Good is defined as "harmonious flow of life of differences". Life is about vital interaction of differences and of not uniformity where there is no interaction. No interaction is dead. The key is Harmony not uniformity. It is very relevant to today world of globalization where different cultures interact to live in peace and harmony.

The Change - Situational Measures
The situation is observed is states (64 hexagrams, e.g. 04 蒙 Naive – Learning06 訟 Litigation, 36明夷 Darkening 11泰 Great-Vibrant Flow etc registration is needed.),  time and position. For timing, it is cyclical, going through 6 stages into another state. For the short term, timing is more important. But in the long term, it is the positioning that become more important in determining the outcome.

Handling Change - Be Flexible in Application of Principles
To handle change, we must know how to describe the state of a situation. I-Ching has 64 hexagrams to describe the main states. The two foundational states are 1 乾- Creative Heaven(all Yang) and 2 坤 Receptive Earth(All Yin). The other 62 states are various extent of interactions of the main Yin and Yang forces.
Handling is then the wise and adaptive applications of the principles to cause the change to move in the direction that one wishes. It is flexible application of principles and not one fixed rule to handle all situations.

You Are Responsible for Your Future
Contrary to the popular misunderstanding that i-Ching is a book about fortune telling, i-Ching tells you that you hold your fate in your hand. You are responsible for your own life. This is because the outcome of good and bad can be determined from our action according to the teaching of i-Ching. For a given situation, if i-ching tells you that doing this will bring bad result, then we should wisely take the heed to NOT do it and give a good outcome instead of the predicted bad outcome.

What if I know I should but I can't?
Many people fall not because they don't know but because they can't. We have the famous Bible word that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". We have a mind and also a heart. The mind know what is right. But the heart, the motivation, just can't bring itself to do it.  We can try to by reading, reminding, and meditating on the teaching of i-ching so that we can feel the goodness or badness if we don't follow the right moves. Otherwise, i-Ching does not provide you the will to follow or even learn of its teaching.

The Answer
The answer on the will and motivation is found elsewhere. I found it in the Bible.
The very description of the 'unwilling' problem:
  • Romans 7:18b ... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. ![NIV]
The answer  :
  •  Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The full passage is Rom 7:18-25.

Here is the mind-map that summarized the above:


Update 7 Feb 2012 i-Ching in One Minute with Chinese.
Revised 18 Apr 2012

To learn more, please see:

03 November 2010

The Tao Bible in One minute

The teaching of Lao Zi as written in Dao De Jing (or The Tao Bible) is easily misunderstood as passive, no action and let it be. Here is an attempt to share the essence of Dao De Jing in one minute.

For Dao De Jing references, a good website with Chinese-English-French translation is here. A recommended English translation is here. Another good site with Chinese & English translations of many Chinese Classics work is here.

Foundational Truth - The Way
This created universe has a universal way of working called the Dao (The Way). While this eternal way cannot be described fully (since our mind and language are limited and any observation and measurement will distort the original), nevertheless, we could observe its workings and see its wonderful glory: of the abundance of lives and things in harmony. Dao De Jing itself was an attempt by Lao Zi to share it with us. Lao Zi's thinking follows much from the I-Ching teaching that preceded him. Even though many I-Ching commentaries were written by Ru Jia (followers of Confucius and Mencius), I think Dao De Jing captures the essence of I-Ching better.

Principal Teaching - Know The Way and Follow It will lead to Abundance & Peace
In Hebrew, there is a word that describes this abundance, peace and harmony. It is the word, Shalom, meaning complete and translated as peace, prosperity, abundance and harmony. I prefer the word harmony as peace tends to be taken as quietness and no movement. Harmony gives the ideas of powerful forces at work and yet synchronising well and producing a great symphony.


The Corollary - Violating The Way will need much effort and still Ends in Failure
The working order of The Way (the Dao) cannot be violated without paying a price. We need great efforts and may have temporary success. But in the long run, we will lose the very thing that we tried to gain. Man learns it the hard way and never seems to learn the lessons. Wars after wars. Trying to outdo nature only results in a violent reaction from nature into global warming and weather distortions.


The Duality Mindset: Yin + Yang
The mindset is duality. Lao Zi used Yin and Yang only once in Chapter 42. He used Have and Have-Not more often. Other related words include Act and Rest, Hard and Soft, Seen and Unseen, True Wisdom of Dao vs Worldly Wisdom (Selfishness, Short-cuts, Cheats, Lies to gain for self).

The Key Principles of Dao-Way

The two main principles are "No-Action Action" 无为之为 and “Empty Heart” 虚心。

K1 - No-Action Action 无为之为 - Acting according to Dao-Way
A key principle in Dao De Jing is 无为 No Action. Most people think it means don't do anything or do nothing. The Chinese even have a famous phase, 以静制动,not reacting to overcome actions. However, I think the real meaning of the 无为 No Action is 'not violating the Way' type of action. It is not talking about doing nothing, but about doing things that do not violate the Way such as harming the natural eco-system for selfish gains. The better translation for '无为之为' will be 'Action according to the Dao-Way' or simply "Action of Dao".

Doing nothing is just one option of the many possible non-violating actions. Another way could be to channel the attacking energy back to the attacker. This is the concept of Judo. We have heard the phrase "giving him enough rope to hang himself". Lao Zi preferred the gentle approach, to draw out, to embrace than the direct confrontation with a stronger force. Chapter 36 柔 弱 胜 刚 强, the gentle overcome the hard and strong. Chapter 76 强 大 处 下 , 柔 弱 处 上 。 Strong and big occupy the lower ground but soft and gentle occupy the higher ground.

The wise men are encouraged to do 'no-action' action as written in Chapter 2 是 以 圣 人 处 无 为 之 事  行 不 言 之 教. They are to teach without words (i.e.  teach by examples. The exhortation is not to teach, but to teach rightly, by being the model for others to follow). This teaching without words is repeated in Chapter 43.

Chapter 3 为 无 为 , 则 无 不 治 。 Do the non-violating actions and then there is nothing that cannot be ruled or managed.  It is about not forcing people to do certain things but to create the environment and facilitate in such a way that the people do them automatically. Letting the people 自动自发 self-directed and self-motivated is the best.  When they are self-motivated, they will do them happily and do them with quality and excellence.  When people are forced, they will do them with anger and with bad quality.

The working of the Dao Way is given in Chapter 37 道 常 无 为 而 无 不 为 。 The Way always has no-violating action and always act. This is repeated in Chapter 48. In Chapter 81 圣 人 之 道 , 为 而 不 争 。 make an example clear. The wise men act but without fighting (for self-benefits).

Chapter 16 不 知 常 , 妄 作 凶  shows the negative in action. Not knowing the constant Way and acting in recklessness will result in disaster.

Christians will paraphrase this "Always do the right things and no disobedient sinful acts“.


K2 Empty Heart - Humility
The other key principle is to have an empty heart. A heart without desires and prejudices. A good word for it is humility. But it is richer than what we would normally understand of humility. It includes the following:
  1. Not Knowing 无知 and hence always learning. Chapter 27 虽 智 大 迷 , 是 谓 要 妙 。Wise but appeared confused, this is because wanting to be wonderful.
  2. Not selfish 无 私 Chapter 7 非 以 其 无 私 邪 。 故 能 成 其 私 。 Not selfish and yet ends up receiving!. Chapter 13 及 吾 无 身 , 吾 有 何 患 。 Because I have 'no-body' (self) and hence I have no worry!.
  3. No Selfish Desire 无欲 Chapter 44 祸 莫 大 于 不 知 足 ﹔ 咎 莫 大 于 欲 得 。Disaster comes from not knowing contentment and sin comes from wanting to gain.
  4. Not Insisting on one greatness 不持: C2 功 成 而 不 居 Achieve success and yet don't claim credit. C77 是 以 圣 人 为 而 不 恃 , 功 成 而 不 处 , 其 不 欲 见 贤 。 The wise men do and yet don't insist of claiming the success, not sitting on the success and not wanting to know the high level people. C44 以 其 终 不 自 为 大 , 故 能 成 其 大 。 At the end not thinking about one's greatness and therefore is able to accomplish great things.
  5. Not Competing 不争. C8  ...水 善 利 万 物 而 不 争 ,...   动 善 时 。 夫 唯 不 争 , 故 无 尤 。 Chapter 8 describes Dao-Way as water. Water supports the living things and does not fight with them. Because I don't fight with others, trying to get ahead of them, and hence I have no regrets or fault.
    C81  圣 人 之 道 , 为 而 不 争 。 The Way of the saints is doing and yet not competing (for credits or benefits) with others. Non-competing can be found in C22, C66 and C68 too.
  6. See also Yin-Yang Thinking Framework - Building Upon the Great Teacher on a key teaching by Zhuang Zi, the 2nd most important guru on Dao besides Lao Zi. 化解自我,虚而待物
    Translated: Forget about oneself, handle things with humility and gentleness (as if empty).
Finally, Love or Kindness is the Way: Do it always without selfish motives

Lao Zi's active push for kindness is seen all through out. The opposite of the Not selfish, Not fighting, No-Self Desire are LOVE or Kindness to others. There are quite a number places where he stated it in the positive - do the kind thing. We have covered Chapter 8 above. Chapter 49 善 者 , 吾 善 之 ﹔ 不 善 者 , 吾 亦 善 之 ﹔ 德 善 。 We are good to all - those that are good to us and those that are not good to us. Chapter 63 show forth the power of love - transform badness by goodness. 为无为,事无事,味无味。大小多少,报怨以德。Do the things that do not violate the Way, doing things as if not doing (effortless work, no motives), bring out the taste from the tasteless, no matter big or small, return hurts and harms with virtue of love!

Chapter 67 says Love is best and most powerful.

Doing the right things without selfish motivation, no claiming credits or benefits, following the great universal Dao Way to bring vitality and harmony into the world is the heart of Lao Zi.  Let's follow them and benefit the world likewise.

Update 6 Dec 2011
Here is an updated mind-map on the Tao Bible in One Minute. It provides additional information.


Lim Liat (c) 2011