Touching off where I was lost in translation, I discovered a new way of looking at the I ching, through the Wu xing. However, historically I now find myself delving through a Confucian understanding which is in a time period later than the time I wanted to explore. Originally, My intention was to find some works that could point out some of the links of the I Ching to Chinese Medicine. However since a majority of the commentaries to the I Ching are Confucian, I believe I found myself in the right direction just peeling another layer to the onion. The clarity that I did discover was very simple and practical. I’ve read a variety of the commentaries in the past from various books and often found them rather superfluous, and verbose. These may be due to the english translations of the text, now that I have a chance of getting closer to the ancient traditional Chinese, the depth of meaning is profound.
The Confucian paradigm is one that can be used daily on a one to one, and on a group dynamic level. It touches the individuals position in society, how he interacts, and how he should continue in his pursuit of the Dao. Traditional Chinese Medicine consolidated out of various Han texts that set it apart from the Shamanism of the times. A proto scientific thought came about where a logical classification of nature was ordered. Many of the ideas came from a philosophical framework that is very relevant today. As one of my teachers, Arnaud Van Sluys, says “One must get in to the Han mind, to practice the medicine.”
In order to get more of sense of Pre- Han and Han thinking I decied to take a course on Ancient Chinese thought taught by Edward Singerland from the University of British Columbia.
His breakdown was a methodical step by step process leading from the Han to the Warring states period. A chronological sequence of thinkers that progressed from Confucius to Xun zi. Menscius rang a large bell with me. He has had also in the past. The affinity to Menscius, was simply due to my optimistic nature. I felt a kin to his view on human nature. In the arguments of the variable viability of nature vs. nuture the varying degrees between the Philosophers of the period are very nuanced. Menscius with the positive slant of inborn goodness nourished the optimism that has always brightened my path. In this manner I can see the directionality of our own evolution that remains in question in the unknown. The consequences that we experience whether they are in accord our inborn nature or not is only part of the process toward self discovery. My slant has been toward the optimism of our inborn goodness.
Which had led me perchance to find essays on a Guodian text called Xing Zi Ming Chu- Human Nature calls the Mandate. The author is uncertain, may it be Confuscius’s son or his students remains to be, though the work stands in a pivotal period of the times. It examines the role of the Jun Zi, and his own in-born human nature. The layers between intent and action are so colored with an explored intensity of criterion, it is astounding that more than two thousand years ago these were the ways people lived.
I had a prior taste of what I just recently explored from essays by Lonny Jarret and Heiner Freuhauf.
Heiner’s translation of the Bai Hu Ming Tang gave me an idea of what the capacity of a Jun zi is. Lonny out lined a Confucian approach to the five elements. The XZMC substantiated the ideas that I sampled from them. This was not just meat and potatoes, but tempura asparagus, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and sake. Many questions as to how the Heart Mind works connects to what today we argue today with Human nature. Recent scientific explorations as to genetic traits and development can also be paralleled with the philosophical arguments. What still stands out is that Xing- Human nature is only a stepping point for the heart mind. Like sprouts in a garden, as Menscius puts it, the goodness needs to be cultivated.
The cultivation process from Xing, goes through many stages, though the nuanced arguments of growth derive the process. Questions as to whether utility, intentionality, prosperity, or discipline are the best drives for the process to continue. This stems out from a sense of directionality that is inborn or aroused from the external influences. There is no argument that there is a mutuality, and a give and take that is necessary every step of the way. The way Xing develops and then is externalized in the social becomes a cultivation of authenticity that is discovered. The varied traits that gradually develop are Benevolence or Compassion, Propriety, Equanimity, Self-righteousness/Trust, and Wisdom. The path takes on these forms through varied modes of self reflection, and commitment. A sense of integrity, De, is developed, and spontaneity- wu wei is aroused. The Jun-zi becomes the man, the act, and the presence for the moment, for the people, and for himself.
The heart mind strives toward an integrity that is sometimes greater than we allow it.
We just need to open our eyes within and through-out so that the seeds within may grow.