Ma was asked which the three languages were and she replied, "Try and understand; first of all there were three, then they became many; like sattvas, rajas and tamas; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. From vasana arises creation (sristi), in vasana is maintenance (shtiti) and from karma arises destruction (laya). The exhaustion of vasanas is laya. As you first take one letter, then break up one to form three; from three you get many. Then again to get back to one you break the many and get to three, break three and reach one.
Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi, by Sri Gurupriya Devi, tr. by Tara Kini, volume 3, page 222
Before I even started making Taoscopy’s comments, I had some knowledge of the I Ching. Among the lines that I thought I was understanding very well is 54.6.
The woman holds the basket, but there are no fruits in it.
The man stabs the sheep, but no blood flows.
Nothing that acts to further.
So, this is about requesting for a service without payment, or asking a question when you already know the answer, things that are arranged beforehand. It’s all about falsity.
As we can see in the classical comments, the basket has no fruits, and the sheep is already dead. This can also be related to Jesus’ withering of the fig tree. What can be more clear than this line? Why should we ponder even more about it?
When I have started writing Taoscopy’s comments, the oracle had a few surprises for me. This is one of them.
Others wait until one has finished to prepare before returning.
How can I explain this comment? Until recently, I couldn’t, or at least not very well. We can say that the comment is not so pessimistic, because of 58.5, it would be dangerous to talk about misfortune here. Also, we can, with difficulty, admit that “one is preparing a lie”, so it would show a situation where someone wants to come back after a dispute and is waiting for an acceptable lie to do so.
Can Sri Ma Anandamayi teach us something about this line? Judge by yourself.
Sri Ma Anandamayi and her group of devotees were at Tarapeeth, to celebrate a religious ritual for Tara Devi, one of the Hindu goddesses who are a manifestation of Durga.
In the course of the conversation, Shachi Dada said “Ma, a dead body is arriving today.” Ma said “I have heard that unless a dead body arrives here, Tara Ma cannot have bhoga (enjoyment). In truth, unless what is impermanent and unreal is not finished the true substance cannot be offered to Ma’s bhoga.”
Here, a few explanations are necessary. During the churning of the ocean by the Hindu gods, a deadly poison was produced and Shiva swallowed it. Then the goddess Durga assumed the form of Tara to heal Shiva. So, Tara is the goddess who is curing the poison, and naturally poison is related to death and lies. What is impermanent and unreal is a lie, it’s our body, we think that the material world exists because of Maya, the great illusion.
Thus, we need to understand 54.6 as that the lies need to finish, so that truth can appear. So, truth (one) waits until others have finished to lie (prepare) before returning.
She continued, smiling, “How can that which is permanent and true be offered as bhoga? It is only to make a point that such statement is made.”
The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things
There is a strong connection between the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching. There is also a strong connection between the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. This quote above is very difficult to understand, everyone has a different interpretation of it.
Many people think that the Tao produced the Tao. But, by reflecting on the chapter one of the Tao Te Ching we can see something different.
(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things.
If we consider the Tao as God (formless God), then God produces the Word who is the One of Laozi. The Word is the originator of heaven and earth. So One, The Word of God (the same Word that is mentioned in the Bible) has created Two (heaven and earth), which are naturally the Yin and the Yang. Then Two have created Three. The Three have been very difficult to grasp. This is where Anandamayi helps us:
Ma was asked which the three languages were and she replied, “Try and understand; first of all there were three, then they became many; like sattvas, rajas and tamas; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. From vasana arises creation (sristi), in vasana is maintenance (shtiti) and from karma arises destruction (laya). The exhaustion of vasanas is laya. As you first take one letter, then break up one to form three; from three you get many. Then again to get back to one you break the many and get to three, break three and reach one.
Interpreting the I Ching is very difficult. Different people employ different techniques and obtain results. For example, when we consult with coins, the common usage is that head=3 and tail=2, but there are example of people who have consulted thinking that head=2 and tail=3 for years, and they have received meaningful answers.
Starting with 2 changing lines, then above, there is no definitive interpretation method. If you have read my previous posts, the comments on multiple lines cannot be explained by reading the line comments. One of the safest ways to interpret a comment with multiple lines, is to ask follow-up questions about the two hexagrams, and then for each changing line. Some success can also be obtained with the transformation sequences. But, nobody can tell by reading these sequences what will be the comment for these lines.
So, if we are that clueless, how come that we can get results with multiple lines? Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi has something to teach us about this.
In Deharadun, Ma discussed about diksha with Amulya Babu. He asked, “Ma can we not make do with just the Name without taking diksha ?” Ma answered, “Yes the Name can achieve everything. Do you not observe when a tiny infant, who does not know to say ‘Ma’ cries out, the mother knows she is being called by the child and goes to it ? But when the child grows up the mother does not know she is being called when the boy just cries. Therefore, in a state of ignorance, by whichever name we call out to God, He understand fully.”
While interesting, this does not explain exactly how to interpret the I Ching, because it is about calling to God and not interpreting an answer. But the story continues…
On another occasion she spoke in this context, “Just call out by the Name you like best. Whenever necessary, He will come and tell you His true Name. Look, it is like when you do not know the proper name of a boy and you call him by his pet name from childhood or simply address him as ‘boy’. Perhaps he does not respond at first but if you pointedly call him repeatedly he will surely come and then say, ‘This is my proper name.’ Similarly by whichever name you call God, your purpose will be achieved.”
From these quotes we can determine that the I Ching operates in a similar way. If we are ignorant, the I Ching will answer anyway, even if our understanding of the hexagrams is incorrect. As we progress, the oracle will correct our mistakes.
Therefore my opinion is that there is an organization in the I Ching, a proper way to interpret the hexagrams, but that unfortunately nobody really understands, specially when it comes to multiple lines. However this should not stop us from consulting, because the I Ching will adapt to our level of ignorance.
Some hexagrams, and some line comments are particularly well understood, and there is a general agreement on some of them. For others it’s more complicated, and the differences of interpretation are often caused by different facets of the same situation.
The Last Tycoon (Elia Kazan, 1976) is the story of a film producer confronted to the raising power of the writer’s union. The I Ching commented 62.3.4 about it and it is a very remarkable reading because it makes sense with different interpretation techniques.
15.3 – One remains modest despite their success so they can continue.
The descending transitional sequence shows the power loss of the producer.
This can be considered to be a happenstance, since it is difficult to find a meaning for a given reading with these different techniques. The real technique to interpret correctly multiple lines has not been found yet, but in the meantime, we can do as Sri Sri Ma Ananadamayi taught us, by sticking to what we understand until the oracle comes to us one day and points at the right way to interpret hexagrams.
We wait, and we wait, and nothing happens… and we wait even more and still nothing happens, no matter how long we wait nothing happens… Then we give up on waiting and go to check… and then….
The hexagram 5 describes waiting, it’s one of what I call the “entry points” of the I Ching. The hexagram 5 is one of the simple ones: simple to understand, simple to follow, whether you use the classic comments or the version hosted on this site. This is why it is an entry point: with very little efforts you can grasp its basic meaning, which is waiting naturally.
Many people hate waiting, they can be late but they can’t stand waiting for the life of them. So they come late, in that way they hope that they won’t have to wait. So, we in turn have to wait for them… When I’ve opened Richard Wilhelm’s I Ching book for the first time, I’ve read the comment of the hexagram 5 and I loved what I saw:
Clouds rise up to heaven:
The image of WAITING.
Thus the superior man eats and drinks,
Is joyous and of good cheer.
So, instead of being exasperated by a long wait, grab some food and drink, be joyous and all will go well. You can also read a book or watch a good movie. That’s the idea of waiting.
It works in many situations, but what happens at the end of waiting? When you have waited so much that it’s not possible to continue? This situation is explained by the line 6:
One falls into the pit.
Three uninvited guests arrive.
Honor them, and in the end there will be good fortune.
This line is an entry point of the I Ching by itself. What is said is that at the end of waiting, when you have lost all hope (One falls into the pit), then something unexpected happens: three uninvited guests arrive. What does this have to do with logic? Nothing. Why would three uninvited guests arrive? I don’t know. But the fact is that they always arrive at the end of the waiting.
And then you are given a choice: accept these guests or reject them. The comment is clear that if you accept them, there is good fortune. I have experimented rejecting them once, and the outcome has been unpleasant enough to make me refrain from trying again.
As for Taoscopy’s comment, it is very similar to the classical ones. When I consulted the I Ching about it, I was eager to learn more about these three uninvited guests. Would the oracle say something about them?
Something is coming, look forward to it with confidence rather than going and see.
6 – One loses confidence, then sees a group of three passing by. If one approaches them then what one hoped for will be obtained.
Yes, the oracle did say something about them. Here we see that it’s about confidence. At the end of waiting we are overwhelmed by doubts. Then the three come and we can get what we hoped for.
The end of waiting raises the question of our own end. Most of us are waiting for death, and at the end it’s going to happen, and then will we see these three uninvited guests? In this regard, this line opens the possibility of good fortune after death, for those of us who will honor these uninvited guests.
As I have explained before, Sri Anandamayi is a spiritual teacher. As such, She mastered every situation, like a living I Ching oracle. But most of Her devotees had not studied the I Ching. So, how could they know about the three uninvited guests? They did not. Still, She could teach us through Her devotees something about them.
Before going on, we must be aware that the I Ching belongs to the way of Knowledge. There are two ways that lead to God: the way of Love and the way of Knowledge. While there were advanced scholars among Sri Ma’s devotees, as far as I know none of them mastered the I Ching. This does not mean that Her devotees were not advanced spiritually, they all were very close to Enlightenment. These two ways are discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, here is what Krishna says about them:
Some yogis perform the service of worship to celestial controllers, while others study scriptures for Self-knowledge. Some restrain their senses and give up their sensual pleasures. Others perform breathing and other yogic exercises. Some give charity and offer their wealth as a sacrifice. (4.25-28)
The acquisition and propagation of Self-knowledge are superior to any material gain or gift because purification of mind and intellect eventually leads to the dawn of transcendental knowledge and Self-realization – the sole purpose of any spiritual practice. (4.33)
Lord Krishna said: The path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service both lead to the supreme goal. But of the two, the path of selfless service is superior to path of Self-knowledge because it is easier to practice for most people. (5.02)
A person should be considered a true renunciant who has neither attachment nor aversion for anything. One is easily liberated from Karmic bondage by becoming free from attachment and aversion. (5.03)
The ignorant — not the wise — consider the path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service (KarmaYoga) as different from each other. The person, who has truly mastered one, gets the benefits of both. (5.04)
Whatever goal a renunciant reaches, a KarmaYogi also reaches. Therefore, one who sees the path of renunciation and the path of unselfish work as the same really sees. (5.05)
Spiritual practice, such as prayer and worship can lead someone to Enlightenment on their own, however Krishna states that the way of Knowledge is superior to spiritual practice. Then Krishna also states that selfless service (also known as wu wei or non-action in Taoism) is superior to the way of Knowledge. Finally, He explains that if you master a way, you gain the benefit of the others. The idea is that by abandoning their personal goals, by becoming selfless, the individuals are freed from the karmic bonds. This is why it is easier to reach this point by practicing selfless service. We can also see why spiritual practice is a longer path, because we use to pray and worship for personal benefits. The same criticism can be made about consulting the I Ching, which is a spiritual practice by itself: done with goals it will create karmic bonds. However by continuously consulting the I Ching, we acquire knowledge of the spiritual laws, and we can make progress toward Enlightenment.
In the following video, we can see how Sri Ma introduced the uninvited guests:
When Swami Vijayananda came to see Her when She was very sick, She gave him 4 fruits and said: “It is 3 one gives to an enemy, so I give you 4”. Here, the 3 fruits are the uninvited guests, we can see that clearly. But She gave 4 fruits. As I have said before, if you show disdain toward the 3 uninvited guests, the outcome can be very unpleasant. Unfortunately, Swami Vijayananda has experienced an unpleasant outcome, since Ma left Her body a few weeks later. Why did She say that 3 fruits would have been given by an enemy?
If one approaches them then what one hoped for will be obtained.
When someone obtains what they hope for, a karmic reaction follows, because only action without intent, for its own sake, does not create karma. If She had given 3 fruits, then the terrible outcome would have been avoided, but karmic bonds would have been created. Sri Ma did not spare him the pain of separation, so he could reach Enlightenment faster, Swami Vijayananda has received immediate pain, but it was for his own good.
This other video shows a similar situation:
After asking Sri Ma for a name, this devotee has been given 4 choices: (so the same number than the fruits)
The first 3 are the uninvited guests, the right one is the fourth. But what happened is that the devotee has chosen the first one without pondering about the 3 others, which is a fine name, but if she had chosen the fourth she would have gained a closer relationship to Sri Ma, because the Shakti represents the mother goddess. Did something unpleasant happened after? Br Krishnapriya, who is a nurse, relates that after her patient killed himself (13:28). Again, an instant karmic reaction occurred here, which will let Br Krishnapriya free to reach Enlightenment quickly.
Sri Ma has given us an important teaching before leaving Her body: an enemy will give you what you hoped for. Because of this you will be bound by karma. This illustrates also the difficulty of the path of Knowledge, where obtaining what we want is something bad for us, and it is so easy to obtain what we want when we understand the spiritual laws.
In both cases, the devotees have expressed an intent, but have been freed from the karma by experiencing an unpleasant situation shortly after.
Sometimes it happens that we lose our temper. Because we are tired, or people have been aggressive, or even because someone has shown too much devotion toward us.
What is devotion? When people love us and want to take care of us, it is devotional love. In a perfect couple, devotional love goes both ways. But devotional love is not so easy to accept, would you be as patient as Sri Ma Anandamayi who let Her devotees ornate Her with garlands, make Her drink and eat and perform all sorts of services to Her?
No! Leave me alone! I can do this all by myself! I don’t want your devotional love! So we want love but we are not ready to accept devotion. We would rather have lovers on demand who come show their affection when we snap our fingers at them then leave when we are tired of seeing them.
For these people who were serving Sri Ma, it was a blessing that they could do so. They had so much love and devotion for Her! But what do you think would happen if someone would then come and start badmouthing Her? How would Her devotees react? What would She do? In fact, we know because it has happened.
In the following video, the situation is explained. A sannayasi came with disciples and they started talking rubbish about Ma. But first, we can ponder what the I Ching has to say about it. In fact, when someone is aggressive there are two reactions illustrated in the I Ching:
This answer is about retaliation. If someone starts doing wrong to you, then you’re free to retaliate. It is a self-defensive move. This situation is shown for example in Sailor and Lula’s opening scene (much too violent to be linked here). But sometimes evil people don’t want to start the fight, they seem to only want to make you lose your patience. So, the answer is to be more patient than they are, as explained by the hexagram 38.1:
One must revisit a misunderstanding if they want to dispel it. If needed, one can seek advice. One may abandon the small differences.
1 – Friends who left will return and disparaging people will calm down if one remains peaceful.
However this situation needs to be deconstructed, in that these people are not necessarily evil, despite their bad behavior. This hexagram is about a misunderstanding, so these appear to be evil, when they are not. They follow the wrong path but their intent is not always evil. Some are evil, but others can be benevolent people, for example when you knock at the wrong door, your intent was not evil. So, let watch this video now:
The devotees went the 30.3 way and Sri Ma went the 38.1 way. Br Geetadi says that if we abuse someone and they don’t react then we leave. It’s a dangerous path, because ignoring people is a passive-aggressive stance. The abusers can’t possibly leave without gaining some form of recognition: they need to be acknowledged. Sympathy is not required but acknowledgement is mandatory: “I know that you exists”. When recognition is not given, only the good ones will leave, the evil ones will certainly stay and create more troubles. In this situation, the badmouthing disciples have been acknowledged by Ma’s devotees who caught the disciples by the throat and also by Sri Ma who said: “No, all are His forms and He comes in all forms.”. The difficulty is to decide between 30.3 and 38.1, the answer to this is “Do you feel threatened?”. While Ma’s devotees felt threatened, She did not. In fact, She has calmed down both the sannyasi’s disciples and Her devotees in the same move.
Now we can have a look at the classical comments, and see if they can bring us more understanding about this situation. About 38.1, Taoscopy’s comments are quite similar to the classical ones:
If you lose your horse, do not run after it;
It will come back of its own accord.
When you see evil people,
Guard yourself against mistakes.
Richard Wilhelm also comments:
One the other hand, it is well to be cautious when evil men who do not belong with us force themselves upon us, again as the result of a misunderstanding. Here the important thing is to avoid mistakes. We must not try to shake off these evil men by force; this would give rise to real hostility. We must simply endure them. They will eventually withdraw of their own accord.
This is exactly what happened in this situation, except that Wilhelm does not comment about acknowledgement which I think is a key point, Confucius himself valued recognition very much.
Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi has spoken in very similar terms when she was diseased:
If we mentioned recovery to Ma she would reply, “When you all come to me, I don’t drive you away. Diseases also come and play within this body. Why should I drive them away? They will play as long as they have to and then leave of their own accord.” Saying this she would laugh. The diseases began sporting with great aplomb within Ma’s body. A few days later, the symptoms of diseases receded and the fever also came down but did not stop altogether.
Of their own accord. Naturally, most of us are unable to adopt this attitude, and it should not be enforced on anyone. If we really understand what 38.1 is about, then we should not reject vaccination either.
About 30.3, the classical comments appear to be entirely different:
In the light of the setting sun,
Men either beat the pot and sing
Or loudly bewail the approach of old age.
But it’s the same idea indeed: we feel threatened. Wilhelm in his comments conclude:
To the superior man it makes no difference whether death comes early or late. He cultivates himself, awaits his allotted time, and in this way secures his fate.
This is a wise advice. Wilhelm also explains that in this situation we either become uninhibited (like in Sailor and Lula’s scene) or we yield to melancholy. So, it must be that the answer to a threat is neither in violence or depression, but it dwells in resilience.
Finally, an interesting aspect of 38.1 is that the recommended attitude toward friends and foes is the same:
Friends who leave after a misunderstanding cannot be won back. It is their decision only to return when we show enough patience.
Foes who come after a misunderstanding cannot be expelled. It is their decision to leave when we show enough patience.
What kind of misunderstanding can make us lose friends? Is it when we reject their devotional love, or maybe is it when we give them too much love? These are two facets of the same situation, but the runaway friend is oftentimes the one who cannot stand so much devotion.
What kind of misunderstanding can make foes come to us? When we show them something that they like.
As Laozi teaches:
When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
Often we consult the I Ching and we wonder, “what is the meaning of this line?”, sometimes the comments won’t help. Experienced I Ching’s students can get help from past readings as they recollect how things turned out the last time they received that line. Beginners have to rely on different books or to seek help on forums.
But there is another way, which is to receive guidance from a spiritual teacher. Those who are familiar with the Eastern religions know about spiritual teachers in Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism, even though those also exist in Christianity and Islam. The oracle of the I Ching is naturally a spiritual teacher but if you don’t get the meaning of one or several lines, the teaching is difficult to receive. It’s a tedious process that I have followed to write Taoscopy’s comments. So, the best would be to find a spiritual teacher who can master every facet of the I Ching. Such a teacher would need to be very close to God or even God Himself. And this is where Sri Ma Anandamayi can help us.
At first glance, Sri Ma appears to be a great mystic, then She is considered as a saint, then people think of Her as an avatar. And finally some of Her devotees think of Her as God, while others say that “Ma is Ma”, meaning that they can’t describe Her. During Her time on Earth (1896-1982), She has given a lot of teachings, and was able to answer any spiritual question, just like the I Ching’s oracle. If asked, She would have given great I Ching’s comments, but that did not happen…
However, while watching videos about Her, I’ve realized that She had given extra teachings, that Her devotees did not understand at that time.. Those teachings are connected to the I Ching’s comments, and She also has illustrated Taoscopy’s comments, which made me believe that the oracle who is answering our questions is Her, because those comments have been made under the guidance of the oracle. When I asked the I Ching “Are you Anandamayi?”, I have received the playful answer: One manages to convince others. (18.5).
So, my first move has been to warn Ma’s devotees that She was the oracle of the I Ching. They answered me with a very nice letter, telling me that even though they were not interested in the I Ching, it was not a surprise since “Ma is universal”.
And my second move is naturally to start a serie of blog posts, to show you how Sri Ma can help you understanding the I Ching.
Today, we will examine the mystery of the two small bowls, which comes from the hexagram 41. Here are the comments from Richard Wilhelm’s translation:
DECREASE combined with sincerity
Brings about supreme good fortune Without blame. One may be persevering in this. It furthers one to undertake something. How is this to be carried out? One may use two small bowls for the sacrifice.
So, what are those two small bowls? It is generally considered that the first bowl is for decreasing the strong, and the second bowl for increasing the weak. It is a very difficult question that has left more than one student of the I Ching clueless. But Sri Ma Anandamayi is famous for answering the most difficult questions in the simplest way possible:
In this video Sri Ma cuts off the speaker: Baba… softly, then Baba! more loudly, these are the two bowls of the decrease. It means that when She cuts off the speaker, she first decreases the attention given to him by speaking softly, then she increases the attention toward Her by speaking more loudly. There is nothing complicated about those two bowls, it’s all simple and natural!
This way of cutting off someone is naturally not the monopoly of the most advanced spiritual beings. So, what is the difference between this example given by Sri Ma and the same example given by a TV anchor? The difference is that the most advanced spiritual beings are perfect or close to perfect whatever they do. A seasoned TV anchor could master perfectly the way of withdrawing and giving permission to speak, but on another topic would appear to be hesitating, while a spiritual teacher can be an example on every subject. As a rule of thumb, a perfect master should show no hesitation in any situation, except of course when the situation requires hesitating.
But there is more to say. Taoscopy’s comment for the hexagram 41 is the following:
One loses their support and abandons. Accepting the constraints will arouse sympathy.
First of all, the hexagram is named Remove and not Decrease. Remove is more precise since something is taken from the speaker, and not decreased. Also the comment says that Accepting the constraints will arouse sympathy. So, since Baba, the speaker, has accepted to let Sri Ma speak, She should show some sympathy to him, yes?
If you watch the video up to 1:54, Sri Ma says: “He is happy one who hears, what comes out of the beautiful mouth of Baba”. Is it enough sympathy? Since Sri Ma is also the I Ching’s oracle, She illustrates also Taoscopy’s comments which have been made under Her guidance.
Next time we will continue our hexamination with a line which is well known of I Ching’s students but much less of the rest of the world: 38.1
The following video shows another occurrence of the two small cups, in a very different context:
They buy items from a shop, and Sri Ma Anandamayi says first to reduce the price by 5 rupees (Rs). The seller declines, then Sri Ma says to augment the price by 5 rupees, so they would pay Rs 80 rather than Rs 75. We have two small cups again here, one for decreasing and one for increasing. The sympathy is shown at 35:47: “He became a devotee of Ma.”.
The Hindus describe this as lila, which means God’s play. This is also known in Taoism, because it is described in Zhuangzi’s Chapter 2:
You hear the piping of men, but you haven’t heard the piping of earth. Or if you’ve heard the piping of earth, you haven’t heard the piping of Heaven
We are instruments. Naturally, such God’s play has to be done for its own sake, as if bending according to the situation. Done with intent, it would become a manipulative move. You may wonder if Sri Ma knew the I Ching’s comments. She did not need to, this comes naturally. You and me, and even the least inspired being on Earth, can occasionally act perfectly, the difference is that She always acted perfectly.
Images source: Wikipedia