h Phoenix Qi: May 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Daoism on Concentration

"Imagination, song, the soaring spirit.

Separate them to know them as aspects of the whole,

Join them to know the mystery of totality.

"The mind, if focused, can become the most powerful force we know. Yet for most of us, we are lost in the vastness of our own uncharted minds. We play around with different aspects, find certain modes that we can get by with, and leave the rest unexplored. Those who follow Tao do not do this. They want to explore all the dimensions of the mind so that they may find a wholly integral mode of consciousness.

"The primary means of exploration is through concentration of the mind. Practitioners first select an aspect and delve into it by daily focus. Only when they have fully understood do they go on. It is like studying. When you are first introduced to a subject, you must put your attention to work in order to master the knowledge. Such concentration leads to absorption, like mixing liquids together in a bottle: Once they are combined, they cannot be distinguished from one another.

"With concentration, all the various aspects of the mind can be joined together into one superconscious mode. Sound is the same as sight, taste is the same as smell, touch is the same as thought, and all that we are is identical with the spiritual energy that resides within us. In this high concentration, there is complete union, and we feel the joy of total integration with all our facets."

"Concentration" from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao


Some years ago here in the U.S. a television commercial solicited money to send young minority students to college. The tag line was "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

When you think about "Concentration," you will realize that you waste so much of your mind on flitting thoughts and idle mental chatter. Concentration seems to be something of the past in this day of multi-tasking where you are typing away either on a laptop computer or a PDA, and engaging in a conversation at the same time.

When was the last time you were driving, eating, and talking on your cell phone all at the same time? I'll bet it was not all that long ago....last week? Yesterday? This morning? When was the last time you were reading a book for pleasure or a bedtime story to your children while mentally going over tomorrow's "To Do" list?

The mind is an amazing thing, but it can think about only one thing at a time. Consider this experiment: You are in a dark room and you must read two papers on related topics, but you can see only one paper at a time. The light that allows you to read the papers is your mind, but it is like a flashlight, able to illuminate only one page at a time. Now, shine your mind (the flashlight) on one piece of paper and read one sentence.

Now, flip the light over to the other piece of paper and read the first sentence. Now, flip back to the first paper and read the second sentence; flip to the second paper and read the second sentence; flip to the first paper and read the third sentence; flip to the second paper and read the third sentence. (I encourage you to perform this little experiment for real and then assess how much of the content of any of those sentences is still in your mind, and how well you can distinguish the writings from the first paper to the second!)

How well did you do? The writings are all jumbled together, aren’t they? Now, multiply the results of the experiment by twelve, fourteen, even sixteen hours each and every day.

This is how you use the “most powerful force we know,” by dividing it and scattering it until it is useless. Think of the most powerful army in the world. How powerful would it be if its forces were divided and scattered all over the globe? (You’ve heard of “divide and conquer,” haven’t you?) Your army would be very weak and ineffective, and so too is your mind when you scatter your mental forces in too many directions, onto too many tasks at once.

Consider the accomplishments of someone you admire; a professional or Olympic athlete perhaps, or a scientist or inventor. Did this object of your admiration rise to the heights of fame or fortune he or she enjoys by flitting from one thing to another? Or, did he or she use dedication, focus, and concentration on his or her chosen task to accomplish the goal?

Spiritual advancement depends as much on concentration as worldly pleasures and accomplishments. There are no short-cuts to enlightenment. This is not what most people want to hear, but it is completely honest and true. Your advancement entirely depends on your level of dedication and devotion.

This is the most important statement in today’s writing: "The mind, if focused, can become the most powerful force we know." If you are completely focused, if you are mindfully dedicated to attaining whatever goal you set for yourself, You Cannot Fail.

There is one very important thing to notice in all of this talk: there is no mention of the emotions. You should not bring your emotions into play when using the power of your mind. Emotions cause you to judge your desires. This often creates inner conflict between what you want to accomplish (earn a million dollars!) and what your past will allow (yeah, sure…in a million years).

If your past experiences lead you to believe you will fail, or you feel unworthy to attain the goal you have set for yourself, the emotions will often find a way to cause you to self-sabotage, thereby leading you to fail.

Do not fall into that trap; leave your emotions at the door when you enter the practice of mindful concentration, and dedicate yourself to attaining your goals and the Dao.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Magical, Mystical Number 7 Seven

Why is the number seven so special?

These things are never as simple as they look, and it is unlikely that there is one reason above all others that makes seven a particularly potent number and symbol. It is often a series of things that convince people that something holds power just as today we need more than a coincidence or two to believe in the power of things like prayer, the Law of Attraction, or numerology.

I believe there are four major reasons that, cumulatively, made Seven stand out as a special, mystical and magical number to ancient peoples.

First are the stars, specifically the heavenly "wandering"* bodies visible to the naked eye, the planets Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They were pretty special since all the other visible twinkling lights moved through a standard and predictable course.

* The word "planet" is derived from the Greek planetai which means "wandering."

Second is another astronomical explanation: there are seven stars in the Big Dipper portion of the constellation of Ursa Major. The Dipper has been an important part of cosmologies from China to Mexico because it is always in the night sky, and the direction in which the handle points is a seasonal marker. This is most noticeable on the solstices and equinoxes: In the evening of the day of the Summer Solstice, the handle points toward the southern horizon; on the Autumnal Equinox, it points toward the western horizon; on the Winter Solstice, it points toward the north, and on the Spring Equinox, the handle of the Big Dipper points toward the eastern horizon.

Third, seven is the only one of the first 10 digits (1 through 10) that does not divide evenly into the 360 degrees of a circle! Since circles can represent both heavenly and earthly powers and influences, not to mention being symbols of The Eternal, imagine how seven was considered an Otherworldly number with Otherworldly symbolism since it was so unique that it set itself above inclusion in the symbol of wholeness, the circle.

Fourth, the Ancient Greeks considered seven to be a potent number due to the chanting of the seven vowels of their alphabet as magical sounds. There are several spells and incantations revealed in The Greek Magical Papyri In Translation: Including the Demotic Spells edited by Hans Dieter Betz that include the chanting of A, E, E with a line on top, I, O, U (written Y), and O in various orders for various reasons. (Alpha, Epsilon, Eta, Iota, Omicron, Upsilon, and Omega.) It is possible that chanting the vowels in a particular pattern or order caused a shift in consciousness much like the chanting of "Om." In one spell which seeks the attention of the god, the vowels and sounds each also corresponded to a direction; the priest was to chant or sing each sound while pointing his palms into the directions of east, west, north, south, up (sky/heaven), down (earth), and the final vowel was sung while holding one's hands over one's heart for Center.

Here is an interesting and fun list of Special 7 stuff from Wikipedia:

In science

  • The number of spots on a common ladybug.
  • With very few exceptions, all mammals' necks have seven bones.


In the classical world

In classical antiquity:

In religion

  • In Judaism:
    • A highly symbolic number in the Torah, alluding to the infusion of spirituality and Godliness into the Creation. For example:

2. God rested on and sanctified the seventh day (Shabbat).

3. A seven-day purification period is required for one who has become tamei to become tahor.

4. The Shemittah (Sabbatical) year arrives every seventh year.

5. The Jubilee (Yovel) year comes after 7 times 7 years.

  • In Eternalism:
    • The number of deities
    • The years Godzimir was exiled to Turin, in Savoy
    • 1/7 of each of the Deities powers was taken to create the Eternal
    • There are seven verses in each of the Septrains of the Prognostications of Godzimir and Invomandus
    • Seven universe in each phase toward Edication
  • Others:
    • The number of Archangels according to some systems.
    • The minor symbol number of yang from the Taoist yin-yang.
    • The number of palms in an Egyptian Sacred Cubit.
    • The number of ranks in Mithraism.
    • The number seven is of particular significance within Cherokee cosmology.
    • In Buddhism, Buddha walked 7 steps at his birth.

In mythology

  • In Khasi mythology, the seven divine women who were left behind on earth and became the ancestresses of all humankind.
  • The number of gateways traversed by Inanna during her descent into the underworld.
  • The number of sages in Hindu mythology; their wives are the goddesses referred to as the "Seven Mothers."
  • In Guaraní mythology, the number of prominent legendary monsters.
  • Seven Lucky Gods exist in Japanese mythology.
  • In British Folk lore, every 7 years the Farie Queen pays a tithe to Hell (or possably Hel) in the tale of Tam Lin.

In other fields

· In Galician folklore, a seventh son will be a werewolf. In other folklores, after six daughters, the seventh child is to be a son and a werewolf. In other European folklores, the Seventh son of a seventh son will be a child with special powers of healing and clairvoyant seeing.

· Seven candles are lit in the kinara during the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, which is a seven-day holiday.

· The Kulin people of Australia living near the Dandenong Ranges traditionally have seven seasons. Some of the Native Americans of Montana also have seven seasons: chinook season, muddy spring, green summer, gold summer (or dry summer), 'Indian' Summer, late fall, and cold winter.

Seven is also:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The numbers 63 and 64, the I Ching, and fractions of the Eye of Horus.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Eye of Horus (originally, The Eye of Ra) is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and power, from the deity Horus or Ra. In the Egyptian language the word for this symbol was "wadjet" (according to M. Stokstad "Art History").

The Eye of Horus, originally the Eye of Ra, symbolized royal power. The ancients believed this symbol of indestructibility would assist in rebirth. The Eye of Horus was found under the 12th layer of bandages on Tutankhamun's mummy. Horus was an ancient Egyptian sky god; one of his eyes was the sun and the other the moon. The eye represents a peregrine falcon's eye and the markings around it, including the "teardrop" marking sometimes found below the eye.

In arithmetic

In the Ancient Egyptian measurement system, the Eye Of Horus defined an Old Kingdom rounded off number limited by: one(1)= 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64. The Eye of Horus statements created 6-term rounded off numbers. The Old Kingdom definition had dropped a 7th term, a remainder 1/64, that was needed to report exact series. During the Middle Kingdom exact series definitions and applications were written by creating 7-terms, or more, written as Egyptian fraction series, often scaled to 1/320 hekat. For example, the Akhmim Wooden Tablet wrote quotients in the Eye of Horus 6-terms, while writing 7th term remainders as Egyptian fractions, scaled to 1/320 of a hekat. The metaphorical side of this information linked the Old Kingdom six fractions, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 to separate parts of the eye, as noted by:

· 1/2 was represented by smell, symbolized by the right side of the eye in a form of the nose. The pyramid text says: "Behold [the fire] rises in Abydos and it comes; I cause it to come, the Eye of Horus. It is set in order upon thy brow, O Osiris Khenti-Amenti; it is set in the shrine and rises on thy brow."

· 1/4 was represented by sight or the sensation of light, symbolized by the pupil. The pyramid text says: "Perfect is the Eye of Horus. I have delivered the Eye of Horus, the shining one, the ornament of the Eye of Ra, the Father of the Gods."

· 1/8 was represented by thought, symbolized by the eyebrow. The pyramid text says: "...the Eye of Horus hath made me holy...I will hide myself among you, O ye stars which are imperishable. My brow is the brow of Ra."

· 1/16 was represented by hearing, symbolized by the left side of the eye in the form of an arrow pointing towards the ear. The pyramid text says: "That which has been shut fast/dead hath been opened by the command of the Eye of Horus, which hath delivered me. Established are the beauties on the forehead of Ra."

Headline text

· 1/32 was represented by taste, by the sprouting of wheat or grain from the planted stalk, symbolized by a curved tail. The pyramid text says: "Come, the Eye of Horus hath delivered for me my soul, my ornaments are established on the brow of Ra. Light is on the faces of those who are in the members of Osiris."

· 1/64 was represented by touch, symbolized by a leg touching the ground, or what can also be thought of as a strong plant growing into the surface of the earth. The pyramid text says: "I shall see the Gods and the Eye of Horus burning with fire before my eyes!"

In the Middle Kingdom the 1/64 symbol denoted 'rest' and 'healing' as connected to the hekat, with the word dja being attached.

*** End Quote ***

What I find so amazing about this is that the numbers 63 and 64 have a very special significance in the Yijing (I Ching) also.

Hexagram 63 is called "After Completion." This is the only hexagram in the I Ching in which all six lines are in their proper places. There is an energetic law in the I Ching that favors the "weak" yin/broken lines resting on the "strong" yang/whole lines, so it is usually favorable that when comparing pairs of lines, the lower line be yang, the upper line be yin.

In observance of this energetic law or rule, yang lines in places (counting from the bottom to the top) 1, 3, and 5; yin lines in places 2, 4, and 6 constitute energetic perfection and balance. The pairs of lines are all in complete harmony: the yang and yin pairs of lines are 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6. They also are compared in pairs of lines 1/4, 2/5, 3/6.

So, in the I Ching as in the Eye of Horus, the number 63 appears to be the end. After all everything has been completed, all the lines of the hexagram are in harmony and in the right places. The trigram for water is above the trigram for fire, indicating that the energetic movement of each is toward the other….water moves down to combine with fire, and fire moves upward to combine with water. With its parts that add up to 63, the Eye of Horus appears to be whole and complete as well

So, what is the next step? Why is the Eye not a complete 64/64? Why does the final hexagram, hexagram 64, contain all the line comparison harmonies of hexagram 63, but have all the lines are in the wrong places, all the yang lines are "resting" on yin lines? That just won't do!

The next step after completing something is starting something else. A new life perhaps?

The final hexagram is named "Before Completion." The Image (referring to the upper and lower trigrams of three lines each) says: "Fire over water. The image of the condition before transition." Perhaps it means before the transition to immortality!

In Daoist philosophy, there is the concept of immortality. Each person is born with multiple souls. Some of these are heavenly souls (fire) and some are earthly (water). Through a practice called the Kan and Li Qigong (Water and Fire Energy Practice), a person can attain immortality by melding together his heavenly and earthly energies, his water and fire energies.

Some believe the I Ching is a map of how a person should work with their energies and souls to attain immortality. If they manage to complete the process, they reach the perfection of hexagram 63. If not, their energies move apart as they do in hexagram 64, the energies of fire rising skyward, and the energies of water flowing earthward, and immortality is not attained.

Some believe the Eye of Ra is a symbol of immortality also, especially the immortality of Ra of course, but there is something missing, here, too. The eye has everything it needs except a pupil….that part of the eye through which a person can see. An eye without a pupil is as good as no eye at all, for one cannot see with it. Is it possible that the missing 1/64 of the eye is the pupil, that part of the eye that would grant Vision, perhaps of an immortal or enlightened type?

Possibly this is so. The number 64 is the square of 8, and squares of numbers tend to have special significance, such as 3X3, and especially 7X7 (which we see in the saying "the seventh son of a seventh son").

The number 8 can represent two different ideas of wholeness or completeness. First, on a two-dimensional level, it can represent the eight directions; in time, it can represent the eight special days of the year, the two solstices and equinoxes as well as the cross-quarter days, the days that fall between the solstices and equinoxes. Second, on a three-dimensional level, the number 8 can represent the corners that form the earth (shades of the ancient "square earth" theory), and the four corners that hold up the sky! Without four heavenly corners, the sky would just fall and there would be no earth.

So, it seems very reasonable that the number 63 would symbolize a life well lived and well spent, and that 64 would be an indication of a life just starting over again!

In hexagram 64 we have balance and harmony, just in the wrong order, and if you give the Eye a pupil, that last little 1/64 of its weight, it will surely see it's way clear to return from the Otherworld of Osiris and make a new life here on Earth again.

Whether that new life is a rebirth or a resurrection is a topic for another post. :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Symbolism of numbers - especially 108

Just about every culture around the globe has thoughts and ideas attached to numbers. There's "lucky 7" and "unlucky 13," the "4 corners of the earth" (which actually is grounded in observation of the rise and set of the sun on the solstices), "two's company, three's a crowd" when you're on a date and want to be alone with your special someone. I'm sure we all remember our mom saying, "I've told you a million times….." Then there is the mysterious pinnacle of numerological significance, the nth straw that broke the camel's back.

Numbers and numerology can be fun, but they are very serious, too. Most numerological symbolism and significance comes from the observation and recording of celestial events, the wheeling of the Big Dipper in the sky is of particular interest in China, the Stars and Constellations helped to mark the seasons of the year for ancient peoples, the Sun and Moon are of special importance even today to calculate the date on which Easter will fall. (In case you are curious, non-Orthodox Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.)

Below you can enjoy some writings on numbers and numerology, especially the number 108 which is known to have great significance in Buddhism and Hindu traditions.


As we are taught by the I Ching, keeping the calendar, which meant keeping track of days, solar and lunar months, solstices and equinoxes, and years in cycles of 60, was a sacred duty by which man learned to understand cycles-within-cycles and order within the universe.

Hexagram 49, "Revolution" from The I Ching or Book of Changes Wilhelm/Baynes translation:

Fire in the lake: the image of Revolution.
Thus the superior man
Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.


The writing “Numbers” from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao

One gives birth to two, two gives birth to three,

Three gives birth to the ten thousand.

One hundred and eight counts make one cycle,

Constant turning creates all things.

Today is the one hundred and eighth day [of the year*]. Why are numbers so important to those who follow Tao? Even today, when numbers are more commonly yoked to the service of finance and engineering, there are those who revere numbers with the cheap version of mysticism -- superstition. Numbers form a closed world with mysteries to explore and exploit if our understanding is deep enough.

Followers of Tao emphasize certain numbers: One is the unity of Tao. Two is duality. Three is the unevenness that will generate movement. Four is the seasons. Five elements generate the world. Six parts of the body are the arms, legs, head, and trunk. Seven is the day of the waxing moon by the lunar calendar. Eight is the number of divination. Nine is the number of life. Ten is heaven's cycles.

There are twenty-four periods in a year, each with its own characteristics. Thirty-six is six squared. One hundred and eight is three cycles of thirty-six and represents a greater cycle, although there are even more esoteric connotations attached to it.

Numbers are only symbols, a way for human beings to project order upon the universe. They are a language more precise than words. But does Tao talk? Numbers are important to master, but take care to look beyond language and numbers to the true reality that they foreshadow.

* This writing was assigned to the date of April 18, the 108th day of the year.


Verse Sixty-one of the The Hua Hu Ching: Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu translated by Brian Walker

To understand the universe, you must study and understand these things:

First, the Oneness, the Tao, the Great Tai Chi

Second, the Great Two, the forces of yin and yang;

Third, the Three Main Categories, expressed either as Heaven, Earth, and Man, or as body mind, and spirit;

Fourth, the Four Forces, strong, weak, light, and heavy;

Fifth, the Five Elements, symbolized by water, fire, wood, metal, and earth;

Sixth, the Six Breaths--wind, cold, heat, moisture, dryness, and inflammation--which transform the climate and the internal organs;

Seventh, the processes of change and recycling;

Eighth, the Eight Great Manifestations--Heaven, Earth, Water, Fire, Thunder, Lake, Wind, and Mountain--the combinations of which reveal the subtle energetic truth of all situations, as taught in the I Ching.

Understanding these things, you can employ them internally to leave behind what is old and dead and to embrace what is new and alive. Once discovered, this process of internal alchemy opens the mystical gate to spiritual immortality.


Just what is it about the number 108 that is so special? Perhaps we will find a hint in the multiples.

A few of the multiples are: 2X54, 3X36, 4X27, 5X21.6, 6X18, 7X15.428571, 8X13.5, 9X12, 10X10.8, 24X4.5

How about some other relationships? 108/60=1.8, 108/120=.9

In the base 60 numeric system, 108 = decimal 128

Hmmmmmmm…… Well, here are a few explanations and ideas. I have included the url at the beginning of each section of quoted information. I hope you will visit these websites and read the complete articles…I think you will enjoy them!

Explanation One:

In Buddhism, 108 is a prescribed number of times to repeat prayers or mantras among other things. See The Number 108 in Buddhism:

108 is seen as a very special one in particular, as it refers to the number of defilements to overcome to gain enlightenment, and it is derived from the following formula:

The Three Sense Experiences (times) The Six Senses = 18

Aversion or Craving to these experiences = 18 X 2 = 36

Past, Future, and Present incidents of aversion of craving = 36 X 3 = 108

The three sense experiences are:

* good, ie pleasurable

* bad, ie unpleasant

* neutral, ie indifferent

The six senses are

* touch

* taste

* smell

* sight

* hearing

* consciousness (It should be noted that Buddhism considers that the mind is a sixth sense that senses thought objects.)

Temples will often have 108 steps for example, and malas (rosaries) usually have 108 beads.


Explanation Two:

One-hundred-eight is also sacred to the Hindus: See 108:

The number 108 is sacred in Hindu philosophy as a number of completeness frequently associated with astrology. The average distance between the Earth and the moon is approximately 108 times the diameter of the moon (More accurately, 110), and the same relationship exists between the Earth and the Sun (107.8 to be exact). This is why the Sun and the moon appear the same size. Also, there are 9 planets and 12 Zodiac constellations, so there are 108 possible ways to place a planet in a constellation.


Explanation Three:

There is yet another idea – this happens to be my personal favorite – at Why 108?:

Big 1, little 8

One of the arithmetical properties of 108 is dependent on the choice of counting system. In the near-universally used decimal counting system, the quantity 108 is expressed as “108”, meaning “1 hundred, 0 tens, 8 units”. In other counting systems, it would look different, e.g. in a duodecimal (12-based) system, it would be written as “90”, and in the binary system, it is written as “1101100”. Assuming the conventional decimal system, what is remarkable about “1-0-8”?

Like 18, it brings together the numerals 1 and 8, with the former in the leading and the latter in the lowly position. The main difference (valid even more in subsequent numbers like 1008) is merely that an abyss of worshipful distance is created between the regal 1 and the servile 8. So, let us briefly focus on this symbolism of 1 and 8. It is chiefly remarkable as a reference to yet other important symbols.

8 1 6

3 5 7

4 9 2

[Flipped top-to-bottom, this is the magic square known as the Luo Shu used in Flying Star Feng Shui, and each of the eight outer numbers corresponds to a trigram (gua) of the I Ching – Phoenix.]

In the magic square of 9, there is 1 little square in the middle and 8 on the periphery. Also, the 1 central number is 5, the sum of the 8 peripheral numbers is 40, yielding a ratio of 1:8. The magic square itself, with equal sums of the three numerals on every line, is an important symbol of cosmic order, balance and integration. Painted on walls or wrought into little metal plates it is used as a luck-charm.

The Golden Section and 108°

But for now, we may settle for the division [of a circle] in 360°. In that case, the angle of 108° has a unique property: the ratio between the straight line uniting two points at 108° from each other on a circle’s circumference (in effect one of the sides of a 10-pointed star) and the radius of that circle equals the Golden Section. Likewise, the inside of every angle of a pentagon measures 108°, and the pentagon is a veritable embodiment of the Golden Section, e.g. the ratio between a side of the 5-pointed star and a side of the pentagon is the Golden Section. So, there is an intimate link between the number 108 and the Golden Section. But why should this be important?

The Golden Section means a proportion between two magnitudes, the major and the minor, such that the minor is to the major as the major is to the whole, i.e. to the sum of minor and major. The general equation yielding the Golden Section is A/B = (A + B)/A, or alternatively but equivalently, X = 1 + 1/X. In numbers, X = (1 + square root 5)/2; or decimally, X = 1, 618… This infinite series of decimals can be replaced with a more predictable infinite series of numbers, viz. X equals the limit of the series G/F in which F is any member and G is the very next member of the Fibonacci series, i.e. the series in which every member equals the sum of the two preceding members: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144,… This means that every next fraction G/F, i.e. 1/1, 2/1, 3/2, 5/3, 8/5 etc. forms a better approximation of the Golden Section, whose value can be approximated to any desired degree of precision if fractions of sufficiently highly-placed members of the Fibonacci series are considered.

In art and architecture, it is found that the Golden Proportion is naturally pleasing to our inborn tastes. In living nature, there are plenty of sequences where every member stands to the preceding member in a Golden Proportion or its derivatives (square root etc.), e.g. the distances between or the sizes of the successive twigs growing on a branch, the layers of petals on a flower, the rings of a conch, the generations of a multiplying rabbit population, etc. What this symbolizes is the law of invariance: in every stage of a development, the same pattern repeats itself. The son is to the father as the father was to the grandfather. Wheels within wheels: every whole consisting of parts is itself likewise part of a larger whole. And the principle of order: the underling obeys the orders of his master to the same extent that the master obeys the requirements of the whole. Or with a pre-feminist maxim: “he for God alone, she for God in him”, i.e. the wife serves the husband because (and to the extent that) the husband serves the cosmic order defining his duties. As Confucius said, the authority of the ruler, his capability of making the people willingly obey him, is that he himself obeys the Laws of Heaven.

So, the Golden Section is a meaningful symbol in the cosmological, aesthetical and ethical realms. And somewhere in a corner of Golden Section lore, in the pentagon and decagon, we see the number 108 participating. This is meritorious though perhaps a bit too indirect to count as sensational.

[There is an excellent section in this article about the sacred numbers 9 and 12, but it is a bit lengthy for inclusion here. I do hope you will visit the url and read the entire article for yourself. It’s quite interesting and enjoyable! – Phoenix] Why 108?

Square times cube

Among other intrinsic and ever-unchangeable properties, it may be hard to choose which one is sufficiently relevant. Thus, 108 equals the sum of the first 9 multiples of 3, viz. 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24. This reconfirms its intimate relation with the richly symbolic number 9, but then, so what?

Slightly more remarkable is that 108 equals the product of the second power of 2 and the third power of 3, i.e. the first non-trivial even and odd numbers multiplied by themselves as many times as themselves. In figures: 108 = 2² x 3³, or 108 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x 3. This way, it unites on their own terms the polar opposites of even and odd, the numerical counterparts of female and male, yin and yang, etc.


Amazing, isn't it? And that's just a drop in the numerical bucket!

Numbers….they aren't just for math class!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Being One with the Dao

Fu Xi
Father of Daoism

Almost everyone is familiar with the first line of the first verse of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching): "The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao" (– Tao Te Chingtranslated by Stephen Mitchell).

If you can perceive the whole of it, if you can name it, if you can define it, you have brought it into the realm of the small and manageable, so it cannot be the eternal Tao. Whatever else the Dao is, it is not small, manageable, or nameable.

Here is Stephen Mitchell's complete translation of Verse One of the Dao De Jing:

"The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding."

So, even though we can't name the Dao, discuss it with family and friends, does that mean we don't experience it?

I believe we do – we experience it every single day, perhaps many times a day, we just do not recognize it for what it is. We call it dreaming, and daydreaming, and believe it is all internal, our thought patterns going off on flights of fancy while we rest.

Sleeping and daydreaming are about as "internal" as your mind….and you know that your mind is not a physical thing tethered to your particular physical locale. If it was, you would never have to say, "Oh, sorry, I missed what you just said, my mind was wandering."

Your mind regularly experiences the Dao. How? Through the darkness, of course, the "gateway to all understanding."

In this instance, darkness does not mean absence of light, it indicates the yin principle which, among other things, is symbolized by darkness. The most famous of the yin principles, right after "female" is "receptive." In the harmonious workings of the universe, the yin principle is open and receptive to everything the yang principle bestows.

Even though yin is earthly and physically manifest, it receives the Dao through the immaterial, spiritual yang just as the earth beneath your feet receives the energy of heat and light from the heavenly sun.

In order to receive the energy of this enlightenment, you must enter the darkness, or the state of receptivity. Of course, you can learn to do that through various forms of meditation. However, that practice and discipline is connected to your desire to achieve a particular level of spiritual consciousness. This is often expressed as getting in touch with your Higher Power, your Higher Self, your Higher Consciousness, some call it God Consciousness, or tapping into the Universal Unconscious.

Many people believe that desire and goal setting, working diligently toward the achievement of that desire, is the only way to attain that particular level of consciousness. Oftentimes, these people are interested in attaining the full and complete understanding of all universal principles. Yes, that is one type of enlightenment, but it is not necessary to achieve that to experience being One with the Dao.

The truth is, many Oneness and enlightenment experiences are spontaneous – every time you experience an "Ah-ha!" moment, you have received a message and are enlightened in some way. When and how do you experience "Ah-ha!" moments? Usually when you least expect it and are thinking about nothing at all! You are at rest, at least mentally, and are therefore receptive to these spontaneous experiences.

You are at your most receptive when you sleep and when you daydream because you are not directing your mind or attention. Every day as a matter of course and of the human condition, you open yourself to messages of spiritual awareness. Hearing those voices which you have educated yourself out of hearing and following is instinct, intuition. In our modern day, about the only time we completely open ourselves to the receptive state through which we can receive these messages is when we are daydreaming or asleep.

In fact, I believe we move from physical to spiritual every time we go to sleep. At the REM stage of sleep when the body is most relaxed and regenerating, the mind is most active! This is the stage in which we dream. In the REM sleep stage, someone could poke you, and your body would not feel it; generally a person does not experience physical feelings such as pain when asleep. Some researchers thing that when in this sleep stage, you couldn't make your body move if you wanted to; it is too physically relaxed to respond to stimulus of any kind.

Likewise, if we are awake but day-dreaming, I believe we enter the same sort of spiritual (at least non-corporeal) awareness…we lose track of and don’t feel the physical body while in this awake/day-dream state, and we usually lose track of time, too, which is another indication of being in a spiritual place.

I believe that any daytime (or at least "non-sleep-time") awareness shift between spiritual and physical may not have anything to do with desire or reaching a goal (except perhaps to become unattached to normal, thinking awareness), it may simply be a matter of allowing ourselves to follow our natural instincts toward daydreaming and physical dissociation.

You will notice that this awareness has a common thread….dreams. In fact, the word "dream" is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word related to "mirth, joy, and music."

And when do we dream? When our mind is in "darkness," when it is in "receptive mode."

The verse tells us:

"Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding."

I believe that the message of these lines is to devote yourself to spontaneous experiences of enlightenment in order to become one with the Dao. The I Ching sheds some light on the meaning here, also.

Two things that "arise from the same source" are the I Ching trigrams of Earth and Water. In the Heavenly circular arrangement of trigrams, Earth stands in the North. In the Earthly circular arrangement, Water stands in the North. North is symbolic of darkness, darkness being "yin." So here we have two yin/darkness things springing from the same source, but one is spiritual, one is physical:

Free from desire – Water – symbolic of Tao & the spiritual.
Caught in desire – Earth – represents the physical manifestation.

Even more interesting is looking at the hexagrams formed by putting the trigrams together: earth over water (hexagram 7) or water over earth (hexagram 8).

Here is some information from the I Ching website of LiSe Heyboer:

Hexagram 7

Legion, Leader

Hex.7 is not only an army but also 'organizing', especially talents and assets. The character Shi means army, teacher, to teach, master, tutor, a model or example, to pattern or model after another, and a specialist (especially music, painting, divining or medicine).

Hexagram 8

Stand By (often a.k.a. Assembly, or Unity)

Bi(3): The character represents two people standing or walking behind each other. Original meaning: to juxtapose. Later to be close to, compare, equal, similar. A person turned to the left, REN(2), (2) is man, a person turned to the right, BI(3), (3 and 4: deceased mother) is a symbol for female. North, BEI(3), (5) is two people standing back to back - or a man and a woman. The middle between East and West? [The numbers in brackets refer to character diagrams on the website.]

Part of the interesting thing here is that most of the lines in these two hexagrams are darkness/yin; the only bright/yang lines are (always counting the lines from the bottom to the top) line 2 in hexagram 7, and line 5 in hexagram 8. Lines 2 and 5 represent Man in the Earth-Man-Heaven sequence of trigram lines, lines 1, 2, and 3.

By changing either of the yang man lines (hexagram 7 line 2, or hexagram 8 line 5) into yin lines, you turn the hexagram into Hexagram 2: (trigram earth doubled) Earth; The Receptive (the receiver of the spirit of heaven and makes it manifest).

By changing either of the yin man lines (hexagram 7 line 5, or hexagram 8 line 2) into yang lines, you turn the hexagram into Hexagram 29: (trigram water doubled) which is usually called “Pitfall, Danger.” There is a paradox here in that changing dark/yin lines to bright/yang lines actually takes you to a place of even deeper darkness – the “pit.” But also consider that water is the way of Tao, so double water is completely spiritual.

Even more interesting is that the character for Hexagram 29 (double water = double Tao) shows a man falling into a chasm….taking that "leap of faith" perhaps. Alfred Huang in his book The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang calls hexagram 29 "Darkness." Consider the line from the Tao Te Ching: "Darkness within darkness, The gateway to all understanding." The man falling into the chasm is, symbolically, "falling" into the Tao (the water and the "understanding").

Now, falling is usually pretty spontaneous, and coincidentally (is there really such a thing as coincidence?) we often speak of falling asleep…in fact, many people (including me) often wake with a start just as I am falling asleep because I experience that "falling" sensation.

Ultimately, to experience Oneness with the Dao, be open and receptive, and don't try to plan it, allow yourself the spontaneous experience as you dream at night or during the day.

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