The Taoist Teaching about Equilibrium


Author’s Note

Please do not confuse the principle of equilibrium or balance as part of Eastern philosophy with the similar notion in systems theory where it says exactly the contrary—namely, living systems are by nature far from equilibrium. Thus, while we as living systems are far from equilibrium, because the latter means death, we become better living systems on the mental, psychic level when we posses inner poise, balance, equilibrium.


Master Hua-Ching Ni is a different I Ching scholar in the sense that he not only provides the usual introduction to each of the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching, and the explanation for each line, but in addition, a more or less extensive comment at the end of each hexagram. These comments are very precious material not only for the I Ching scholar and student but also for those interested in integral philosophy and the unique Taoist teaching of spiritual sufficiency.

This is the comment to Hexagram 2 which symbolizes the receptive force, pure yin energy—six broken lines. Master Ni entitled his comment The Balance of Life : Integrating the T’ai Chi. This comment is one of the most substantial in the book.

Balance is a very fundamental, essential concept in integral spirituality. I tend to argue there are only two of those very essential concepts, it’s the existence of chi and the concept of balance. Without balance, any life will be fragmented and residual. A full life is not possible without balance, as when we breathe, our diaphragm moves up and down. If our diaphragm was stiff, a piece of steel, breathing would not be possible. Hence life would not be possible as life is essentially breath. Chi is breath. The Romans called it pneuma. As it is with breathing, so it is with life as a whole. If it doesn’t move up and down, if it doesn’t flow, and circulate, it’s stuck; then it doesn’t really live and expand in its continual evolution.

Hence there must be a balance between this up and down movement, there must be a balance between expansion and contraction, a balance between hot and cold, right and left, moving forward and backward, or standing still. As I have myself found through the study of the patterns of living in the I Ching, the I Ching recommends the sage not only one way of action, but three different ways to move, namely forward, backward and standing still. While modern society only knows moving forward as evolution, the I Ching recognizes that while moving backward or standing still, one may well get ahead in one’s evolution, and if it’s not on the material plane, then certainly on the spiritual. Without balance this whole system would crash, it would deliver no results, as a man flying to the moon to take some samples of moon dust. In such a linear action there is hardly any gain. Every plain and full action is not linear but nonlinear as all growth in nature is nonlinear. With this in mind, let us read the following quote:

Hua-Ching Ni
In the previous hexagram, Chyan, the universal first nature is discussed. The recognizable trace of the universal nature can be sensed as the qualities, persistence, forwardness, creativity, productivity and positivity. It symbolizes masculinity and fatherhood. The hexagram K’un means to accomplish, continue, receive, follow, realize, formalize, shape and stabilize. It symbolizes feminity and motherhood, and expresses the self-balancing nature of the universe. Self-balancing means harmonizing with all beings and things that are brought forth. Hands are a good example of how Chyan and K’un express themselves in the human body. Gentleness is expressed by the soft left hand, while strength is expressed by the strong right hand. Developed people value the left hand; undeveloped people value the right hand. Actually, both hands assist each other in the practical sphere of daily life. This example also relates to the yin/yang principle and the natural physiology of the left and right sides of the brain and their different functions. Generally, the left side of the brain controls the sequential processes of logic, analysis, rational and scientific behavior, the right side of the body and the special processes of intuition, creativity and dreaming. A dominance of either side of the brain is apparent by observing the behavior and actions of an individual or nation. ‘Military aggression’ can be associated with the overly dominant left side of the brain and ‘the strong right’. Since consideration and sensitivity are associated with the right side of the brain, it is easy to see how ‘gentle people value the soft left hand’. The Universal Way leads to the balance and cooperation of both hemispheres of the brain: ‘Use upright measures to govern the country, use a surprising approach to win the battle. To lead the world, do not interfere with or otherwise disturb people.’ / These ancient discoveries have been accurately utilized in natural diagnosis and acupuncture practice since the Stone Age. Right and left side brain controls are of utmost importance in acupuncture treatment. For example, in the case of someone who has become paralyzed or twisted, acupuncture needles would be applied to the side opposite that of the paralyzed side. Pulse diagnosis in natural healing uses the different functions of the left and right sides of the brain which influence pulsation, thereby yielding the secrets of the body. The most accurate time for reading the pulse is early morning, before any mental or physical activity has had a chance to disturb or change the pulse rate. In ancient times, some achieved ones also used pulse reading as the basis for telling a person’s fortune and predicting what would happen in the near or distant future. They knew that the development of both sides of a person’s brain divulged the secrets and decisive factors of one’s life. This same principle is also applied in palm reading, where the lines of the palm tell the secrets of the brain and thus the influences of one’s life. When one’s customary patterns of life change, the lines of the palm change accordingly. Ancient integral cultural development was based on a natural balance between the right and left sides of the human brain. Today that balance has obviously been lost. The modern ‘right-hand’ culture of logic is accepted, while the ancient ‘left-hand’ intuitive cultural achievement is mistakenly rejected. On a more mystical level, the natural evolution of the human race in both the eastern and western hemispheres can be observed. Their tendencies and habits are interestingly contrasted with each other. Since Earth is shaped like the brain, the different developments of the east and west sides of the globe should also serve each other in beneficial ways. However, it appears that the left side of the brain is overused in today’s society. The T’ai Chi symbol expresses complete balance of both sides. It resembles the brain, with even right and left halves, and the globe of the earth, with balanced eastern and western hemispheres. This symbol of balance, development and integration can be applied to all things and all events. Spiritually, the left hand expresses harmony in the world as well as in human cultures. Earth is not only a mixture of soil, rocks and minerals, but also a vast living organism. It / is a life. When people abuse the Earth, this behavior becomes suicidal for the entire human race. Damage to one’s integrity may also be caused by specialization. A well-trained athlete takes a long time to excel at his or her special event. One may be good at javelin throwing, hammer throwing, discus throwing, and so forth: however, the result of this type of special training generally makes the arm and leg of one side thicker than the arm and leg of the other side. In some situations, the same imbalance can seriously influence one’s brain, organs, personality and total health. People who train with iron-made devices and use machines for building their muscles will probably experience a mechanical reaction to their personalities, due to the lack of naturalness and flexibility of their bodies and minds. Not only do physical training and sports produce unnatural results, but much learning, specific training and some professions also produce adverse effects. These effects often limit one’s capabilities and interaction with others. Specialists often see only the trees without seeing the forest. In order to achieve harmony, it is necessary to balance and integrate yin and yang as one unit. This balance is the subtle yet sustaining power of the universe. Every positive manifestation in the universe comes forth as the result of the creative, harmonious union of yin and yang energies, and each manifestation has its own unique energy arrangement and pattern of movement. Following the inherent order of the universe results in harmony and balance. Opposing the principle of natural order causes destruction. Anything that is one-sided is incomplete. Balance can also be illustrated by the operation of the T’ai Chi principle. T’ai Chi is universal movement, a continual sequence of yin and yang movements. That is how T’ai Chi Chuan originated as a form of spiritual cultivation. Thus, all movement, as an expression of yin and yang, should be balanced. Nothing should be excessive. If there is upward movement there should be downward movement. If there is movement to the right, there must also be movement to the left. Inhalation and exhalation should also be coordinated to maintain balance. One should integrate the principles of T’ai Chi into one’s own life. By understanding all movement, one will be able to lead a balanced, integrated life. /229-231

Glossary

* I Ching or Book of Changes is the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. A symbol system designed to identify order in what appear to be chance events, it describes an ancient system of cosmology and philosophy that is at the heart of Chinese cultural beliefs. It is based on the alternation of complementary energies called yin and yang, which are developmental poles that by their alternation trigger inevitable change. It is also based on the old integrative philosophy of the five elements that is part of many other esoteric science traditions. The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.

The I Ching consists of 64 hexagrams. Each hexagram or kua is an energy pattern that is a unique mix of the two base energies, yin and yang, represented symbolically by lines. Yang is represented by a solid line, yin by a dotted line. Each hexagram is composed of six lines, and two trigrams consisting of three lines each. The lower trigram deals with matters that are in their beginning stage, from the start of a project until about half of its realization. The upper trigram deals with the culmination and the end of processes or projects, positively or negatively.

The I Ching has been a book for divination and relief, and for spiritual learning for many great and famous people such as Confucius, Hermann Hesse, John Lennon, Carl Gustav Jung, and many others. I personally consult the I Ching on a regular basis since 1990.

Bibliography

Hua-Ching Ni
The Taoist Inner View of the Universe and the Immortal Realm
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1979, 1996

Hua-Ching Ni
The Power of Natural Healing
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1991, 1995

Hua-Ching Ni
The Complete Works of Lao Tzu
Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1991, 1995

Hua-Ching Ni
Life and Teaching of Two Immortals
Volume I, Kou Hong
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1992

Hua-Ching Ni
Life and Teaching of Two Immortals
Volume II, Chen Tuan
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1993

Hua-Ching Ni
Internal Alchemy
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1992

Hua-Ching Ni
Nurture Your Spirits
Santa Monica: Seven Stars Communications, 1990

Hua-Ching Ni
I Ching, The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth
Revised First Edition
Santa Barbara: Seven Star Communications, 1990

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