Archive for January, 2014

Concerning the I Ching (from my journals 2007)

March 10, 2007

I have been reading The Taoist I Ching, starting at Hexagram 1 to hopefully the end, and as I read it, I realise that my understanding of it before was totally selective and subjective, in fact discriminating in the extreme. Because I was reading it then to understand yin and yang, to understand how the changes occur and how to read them and respond to them. In other words I was reading the I Ching looking for personal advantage, and I was also consulting it (as everyone does) for answers to personal questions. That must be a valid approach to the I Ching: ask it questions that concern or bother or intrigue or baffle you. The I Ching supplies a cryptic answer. But when you just read it (The Taoist I Ching being a specific Taoist interpretation of the book) you realise how you did not understand it before, because you ignored some of what the book was saying and concentrated only on those bits that you felt you could use, put into action etc. But the bits you read but really skipped over were (are) the important parts: they are about living your own truth and if you can’t do that then all the other stuff in the book really can’t help you.

First you must be able to tell the truth from the false and then you have to live that truth. It’s obviously as simple as that, but somehow we can’t seem to live that simply. We like to follow obscure deviations, or believe there is some arcane secret that will reveal to us how to live well, when all the time it comes down to what the simplest child knows deep in its heart: it is better to tell the truth than to lie. And if you can tell the truth you must live with and by that truth no matter how inconvenient it may be for your ideas of personal advantage (ideas of benefitting the self), which all your life you have acted on. Acting like this is just wrong, and it’s now time to set aside personal advantage (the self) and follow the truth wherever it leads, this being a selfless action. It’s taken you a long time to get to this place, but better late than never. Time after all is relative. and can go back as well as forward.

January 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm Leave a comment

A Cultivator’s Diary Pt 8 (From my journals 2007)

February 27, 2007

My generation, me included, started our adult lives with great optimism, wanting to change things, to live by different values, not to follow the conventions set by our parents. But we abandoned all that, and as John Carpenter said, we all turned into money-grubbing guys, just like our parents’ generation, perhaps even worse than that.

Is it possible to go back to that earlier state of mind and of being, to want to change things for the better, to live by a different set of values, a more human set. Can I do this for myself before it is too late, before I lose it, age and become useless to myself and others. This would be a great project to set yourself. Are you capable of it? Can you in fact go back to that 11 year old you who you admired so much. This is the great work for you: to reverse your aging, reverse your body and mind, and go back to the state of being of your 11 year old self. Can you do it?McCloskey School photo

January 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm Leave a comment

A Cultivator’s Diary Pt 7 (from my journals 2008)

March 21, 2008

Woke this morning wanting to read again about Cheng Man Ching’s idea of accepting loss and accepting pain, since this is what I have to do, in fact what I feel I have now done. No more anger, no more bitterness, no more regrets, now these need to be transformed into compassion for the Pythons, for their ignorance.

Also reminded of Richard Sennett’s ‘corrosion of character’, about dealing with failure. He says there are many books about achieving success but few about coping with failure. We have to buy into our failure in the same way that Cheng says buy into your pain and loss- they are all the same thing. Accept your failure, incorporate it into your body and mind, let it become part of you, but not to let it distort you. To make loss, pain and failure streams that flow into the ocean of your strength and therefore can’t harm it or alter it but only add to it.

That which does not destroy you makes you stronger.

January 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

A Cultivator’s Diary Pt 6 (from my journals 2007)

February 11, 2007

I read an article by Melanie McFadyean about her grandfather, Herbert Guttman from Berlin, whose father started the Dresdner Bank. Guttman went from an 80 room villa in Berlin to homelessness in London in 1939, but his attitude was “Money lost, nothing lost. Sense of humour lost, everything lost“. This is the right attitude to have in your current situation, where you are starting to worry about how you can fund everything. But this will all work out. Have faith.

February 24

I hope my energy improves soon. It’s now almost two weeks since I got ill and I hate the feeling of low energy, low enthusiasm and tiredness. It’s no good for work or life.

February 25

When you get ill, you realise how dying will feel, and you sense how old you are. What if you never recovered from this tiredness? Illness leads to thoughts of death, of continual weakness increasing (or rather strength decreasing) so that an illness creates a new lower plateau of being which can never be overcome and increased in most old people (unless they are very healthy).

What if you were a smoker? What would this illness, which has thrown up so much phlegm and bouts of deep coughing, do to someone who smoked? It would really devastate them, possibly leaving them in that lowered state of energy and being in which the next virus or cold or even damp weather might hit them again and lower their energy even more. So one can see an illness acting on the results of another previous illness, leading to a lower resistance and an inclination to get yet another disease. And so we go on into old age, declining year by year until we are gone.

Is there a lesson for you in this illness? Perhaps this is how you have to learn compassion. To feel so weak and low yourself, and to know that this is how many elderly and ill people feel every day, without the possibility of ever getting better. Knowing this is how they feel, surely you can sympathise with their feelings of health, extend compassion towards them, and understand that they and you are the same, in both health and illness. Sometimes well, sometimes ill, but always the same shared feelings of mind and body.

January 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm 1 comment

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.