Friday, May 19, 2006

The Buddhist I Ching: Stripping Away

This week's random I Ching hexagram is number 23, Stripping Away. (Yes, I know it's Friday, and a day late, and a bit shortish, but at least I'm doing it....)

From Thomas Cleary's translation of the commentary by Chi-hsu Ou-i:

In political terms, after disarmament and development of culture, people tend to indulge in comfort, leading to the inevitable decline of the basic energy of the country.

In Buddhist terms, when there are too many regulations, this inevitably defeats real practice.

In terms of contemplating mind, there is a positive sense and a negative sense. The positive sense is that after concentrated insight is developed, the "skin" of the ego is stripped away and true reality alone remains. The negative sense is that mundane imitation of concentration and insight can develop mundane intellect and ability, but the essential practice of real cultivation will be overcome by this.

Some western Zen practitioners refer to "Satan's Cave," which is a point in meditation when one experiences inner peace, calm and euphoria. It's easy for someone who has been meditating to escape the miseries of existence to mistake it for the ultimate goal of enlightenment. (Of course, I'm quite jealous, never having even experienced this.)

I think in other sects of Buddhism, and in other religious traditions as well, it's possible to be caught up in the "mundane imitation of concentration and insight." Then we get caught up in how orange our robes are, how long our hair is, whether our neighbors speak English, whether they read the same translation of the same scriptures, or whether they say "AY-men" or "AH-men."

I think.



P.S. Thanks to these folks for making the I Ching graphics!

Linking to: Leaning Straight Up, Stray Dog Found, MacBros' Place, Gospel Fiction, Comedian Jenée: People are Idiots , Woman Honor Thyself