Tag Archives: Thomas Cleary

Can You Hear Me? – IC – 110520

“Holy crap!” (Excuse my language.) Puzzle pieces were coming together with rapid fire speed!

Early November 30th, the blue moon already in full affect, I sat up knowing I should check out Jack Balkin’s version of SACRIFICE, the final outcome of today’s reading.

When I wrote the Common Sense Book of Change, all the readings came easily. All except one. SACRIFICE. I rethought it for the second edition, and revised it again for the third.

And I’m not the only one who’s had trouble getting it right.

That’s why, when a media celebrity dared psychoanalyze the Bible, I questioned his skewed view of Abraham’s call to sacrifice. In Rethinking Sacrifice, I responded with a more comprehensive, Life Wheel understanding:

[Sacrifice] is the essence of the challenge offered in Exodus. “Return unto me and I return unto you.” It emphasizes travel on the inward path from surface to center of the Life Wheel, releasing attachments to ephemeral possessions, limited opinions/identities, and outgrown lifestyles.

I pointed out that definitions of sacrifice, like virtually every value word in the English language, span the continuum, black to white and everything in-between. The language has been adulterated. I’ve called it The Tower of Babel Effect. The following quote could not be more timely, given current events:

. . . even people with the best of intentions use the same words to mean very different things. They miss each other coming and going, only vaguely aware of the disconnect. . . Instead of being used as a means for unifying human beings, language is often degraded into chaotic paralyzing noise – a weapon for stirring up animosities, division and confusion.

(NB. I’ve expanded on the limitations of good intentions elsewhere. Bottom line: lacking the underpinnings of a complete and accurate paradigm, they easily slide down the slippery slope that leads to the dark side. It’s worth your time to consider.)

To the point here: inverted definitions are used to excuse slave trafficking, pedophilia and worse:

Pagan sacrifice of children and animals is irrelevant to the meaning of Abraham’s test. At issue is the difference between transcending pain for the sake of higher love versus selfishly destroying life (whether with physical, verbal and/or psychological violence) to get what one wants here on earth.

Anyway. As I was saying. It was very early. . . 1:30 a.m. My brain synapses were firing at triple speed. I was remembering that at the time he published The Laws of Change, Jack Balkin was Knight Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School.

Balkin’s hefty, scholarly work is a wonderful resource, one which complements my small, easy-to-read version. No doubt his appreciation of Natural Law profoundly enriches his applications of the Constitution to current events.

In any case, my mind was busy connecting the dots that link Common Sense advocates over time – from Tom Paine’s book, Rudy Giuliani’s website and the Taoist approach to the Book of Change. In short time, I published a bonus blog, What Happened to Common Sense?

On a different note, President Trump spoke in Wisconsin (my home state) on November 2nd. An event within the event resonated with my post, What Happened to Unity, where I wrote:

God and the good angels are broadcasting loud and clear. But it’s hard to get through. The message is being jammed, the signal blocked.

What happened in Kenosha? The podium mike failed. People couldn’t hear. Trump improvised. He joked, turning it into a game. As technicians struggled to get the sound system working, the President shouted to the crowd. “Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” They bantered back and forth til the problem was solved.

The following morning a Mike and the Mechanics tune Silent Running popped into mind. Great song. Prescient. I looked it up on Youtube and found I’m not the only one who thinks so. One comment asked, “Does anyone else feel this song has significance right now?” It got 407 likes and 55 replies. It’s worth a listen and a watch. Here are the lyrics:

Balkin’s perspective is Confucian, meaning he’s primarily interested in human behavior and social order as it manifests on the surface of the Life Wheel. In contrast, a very different version, The Taoist I Ching translated by Thomas Cleary, focuses on yogic practices associated with the middle, e=energy level.

So, for today, I though you’d find it interesting see three versions – just a taste — set side-by-side. With U.S. election results up for grabs, this is the reading for October 5, 2020.

TRAVEL is the initial answer to the question, “What should we be aware of NOW?” It appeared last time as a changing component of the November 2nd reading. In part, the CSBOC version reads:

In dealing with strangers exercise careful self-control. Talk little. Listen much. Learn from everyone who has information to share. Avoid dangerous exposure.

(Before sacrificing much of today’s original content, I initially had a paragraph here about the the famous saying, “Keep your powder dry.”)

In the Balkin version, TRAVEL is called The Wanderer. He comments:

You are in a period of transition. Things are not yet certain, and it is not yet clear how you fit into them or what your identity is supposed to be. The text compares your situation to that of a wanderer who is traveling through a strange land.

Cleary says of Travel:

You should not remain attached to the realm you pass through. If you are concerned with externals, you forget the inward; by pursuing ramifications you abandon the root.

The changing line in the second place advises, “Moderate careful behavior will win the respect of your leaders.” When advice is heeded, it changes to a second outcome, which in the CSBOC reads:

A balanced relationship between the individual and the whole is achieved through service in the spirit of SACRIFICE. Changing selfishness to compassion and acts of kindness builds bridges of mutual trust. Unselfish giving benefits everyone involved, helping the community to overcome obstacles and dangers. Avoid twin dangers: selfishness and self-denial.

The Balkin version calls it The Caldron, or Ding. Descriptive terms include:

He comments:

A Ding is a sacred vessel, normally made of bronze, in which ritual foods were prepared and cooked during religious ceremonies.. . Through this ritual, people purified themselves and rededicated themselves to spiritual ends.. . Ding teaches that you can transform yourself and your world IF you do so not for selfish ends but in pursuit of something valuable.

The Cleary version calls it The Cauldron:

The comment:

Producing illumination through following an initiatory process, the mind becomes daily more humble while illumination increases. . . When empty and illumined, that enlightenment illumines all, and the mind cannot be moved by the vagaries of wealth and status.

The classic Wilhelm/Baynes translation uses the word Ting. It hints of secret teachings:

There is in man likewise a fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing.These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.

This image, suggestive of the “initiatory process,” supports hints of yogic meaning. It associates the material cooking vessel with the lower energetic center (dan tien), the place where basic materials are combined, transformed and then circulated throughout the system. Markings, front and back are changing I Ching hexagrams.

In sum, today seems to be a time of transition, best used to digest, assimilate and transform raw elements to a higher purpose.

Let this be food for thought to those with ears to hear.

Rethinking ACTION

One of the 64 Essays on Change is posted each consecutive Sunday. The choice is decided either by requests made on the Contact Page and/or immediate relevance to current events. See the UPSG Essays page for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays from which to choose.

On the new moon of March 9, 2014, the first of the Essays to be posted was Number 61 on PEACE. It was selected as a timely response to events in the Ukraine. The following Sunday, the very first Essay, CRIME, was selected, followed by its companion Essay Number 18 on MOTIVES.

The final Essay, Number 64 has been selected for Sunday, March 30th, the second new moon in the month of March. It completes a triad that started with CRIME, then MOTIVES, and now, consequent ACTION. This Essay has immediate applications to the progression of world events.

Bloggers have likened Putin’s actions to the strategy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. America’s leaders have been faulted for lacking the ability to think in terms of positive action responses. It therefore behooves everyone, everywhere with an eye to the future, in the interests of human survival, to fill in that void.

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64. ACTION

“Military action is important to the nation — it is the ground of death and life, the path of survival and destruction, so it is imperative to examine it. . . The Way means inducing the people to have the same aim as the leadership, so that they will share death and share life, without fear of danger.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“The warrior is always alert. He is always awake. He knows how to focus his mind and his body. He is what the samurai call “mindful.” . . . As a function of his clarity of mind, he is a strategist and a tactician. He can evaluate his circumstances accurately and then adapt himself to the “situation on the ground.” — Moore & Gillette, The Warrior in His Fullness

“We cannot stop the seasons of history, but we can prepare for them. Right now, in 1997, we have eight, ten, perhaps a dozen more years to get ready. Then events will begin to take choices out of our hands. Yes, winter is coming, but our path through the winter is up to us. . . History’s howling storms can bring out the worst and best in a society.” — Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines action on a sliding scale of meanings. Taking in the full spectrum as a whole is an eye-opener. Originally it was a physics concept, the state of being in motion. From there the definition changes to habitual conduct characterized by energy and boldness. It changes again to include the effect produced by something (like a drug), or the way organs or machines work.

Action is used to describe the function of a piano or a gun. It shifts to take on the connotation of a legal proceeding by which one seeks to have a wrong put right. It’s the term used to describe military combat. Lastly, in slang it denotes excitement, specifically gambling.

Over a life-time, novelist Earle Stanley Gardner worked to develop a best-seller formula: a virtuous hero whom everyone loves to see in action. The result, Attorney Perry Mason, solves crimes and puts wrongs right in the court of law. He’s a deliberate blending of Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes. Robin defended the betrayed and down-trodden. He took from the rich to give to the poor, helping them stand against oppressors. Sherlock used his highly trained powers of observation and deduction to trace devious crimes to the unseen hand of the evil Moriarty, then courageously drew the villain out to defeat him.

New law students are often grieved to find reality so far removed from fiction. Just so. Gardner knew people bought his books exactly because they longed for what’s missing in their lives. But fiction soothes without solving. The times call for a multitude of Positive Perrys taking positive action every day, here and now.

Movie action heroes also exemplify the intellect-action blend of leadership we miss. To become a Jedi knight, Luke SkyWalker first must train to attune himself to “the force.” Indiana Jones similarly blends the best of right and left brain worlds. Both he and Nazi opponents search out the arc of the covenant, then the grail. The enemy wants the key to world domination; Indy and his beloved father seek “illumination.” They respect the wisdom of ancient times and adventure to recover lost treasures. The I Ching is another of the ancient lost treasures, both used and abused by seekers through the ages.

Unlike these action heroes, intellectuals who contempt practical people and workers who enviously mistrust the educated are equally lop-sided actors. For positive results, scholars and street-smart frontliners must join ranks. Better still, we should each train ourselves like action hero role models to balance self-awareness and action, to live fully effective, each in our own way.

George S. Patton, the general who defeated Hitler’s army, quoted scriptures like a bishop, knew Shakespeare’s verse by heart.

THE BACK

The opposite of action is inaction. This may be appropriate. Those who patiently wait also serve. Other times it’s due to indifference or paralysis of will. Procrastination, delaying action, may be a result of ambivalence. Lack of commitment or conflicting goals and beliefs often work unconsciously to sabotage consistent action.

A perversion of action is hyperactivity, sometimes the result of a chemical imbalance, other times an effort to avoid thinking. Restricting youthful energies, forcing children to sit too long inactive, can trigger rebellion as an extreme and opposite reaction to boredom.

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  • Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Thomas Cleary. (Shambhala: Boston, 1988.) p. 41.
  • Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, “The Warrior in His Fullness,” in The Awakened Warrior: Living with Courage, Compassion & Discipline, ed. Rick Fields. (Putnam’s Sons: New York, 1994.) pp. 29-30.
  • William Strauss & Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. (Broadway Books: New York,1997.) p. 7.