The Unity of all things dwells in an undifferentiated state of living potential. Neither awake nor asleep nor dreaming, it is the shining awareness everywhere present, the fount of time and eternity. It is still and silent, utterly at peace and filled with harmony.
The Unity of all things produces a secondary world of birth and death when its living potential is activated by the intention of its parts. This is unavoidable, since the harmony of the Whole could not be perfect if it denied in any way the natural creative impulse of its parts. The unitary nature of the living potential produces a single field of intentions, so that no intention exists in isolation but, rather, enters the universe of intentions, where it becomes part of the vast interconnectedness of cause-and-effect.
The living potential bifurcates its generative energy along a line of further-dividing dualities: the 1 becomes 2, the 2 become 4, the 4 become 8, and so on. These numbers represent the ways in which generative energy distributes intention throughout the phenomenal world. They are entities in the sense that they are comprised of intentional parts and comprise an intention of their own as a part of a larger whole: the 8 trigrams is an entity that both contains all 8 of its trigrams and extends the intention of the 4 bigrams. The 4 bigrams double the original duality of solid and broken lines, producing two pairs of dualities. The 8 trigrams double the duality of the 4 bigrams, producing four pairs of dualities. This process continues until the 64 hexagrams produce 32 pairs of dualities. None of these entities, however, actually precedes another: they all exist simultaneously and symbolize the multiple points of view required of human perception to appreciate its environment and respond to it successfully.
This cosmological process is perceptual in nature because it cannot be divorced from human perception—it represents the identification of human nature with the whole of the universe. Because our perception arises from the same process as the rest of creation, we perceive the unfolding of the cosmos by perceiving the unfolding of our own perception. That unfolding comes in a series of emanations coincident with the vast undifferentiated One. Awareness stirs within the stillness of the Unity of all things, its creative urge producing a division in the unity. Now there are two. Thus is born Number. Which produces Symbol: in the case of Two, it is the Duality of complementary feeling-tones of Autonomy and Love, for the movement out of the unity requires independence of spirit even as it establishes the relationship with the Whole. From Symbol comes Name: in this case, yang and yin, masculine and feminine, heaven and earth, creative and receptive, movement and stillness, and so on. With names, things enter into the universe of all other names and the ensuing relationships they form produce an intricate web of Meaning that explores all the possible distributions of generative energy within civilization.
The cosmological process whereby the material universe gives body to the spiritual Unity of all things, in other words, is mirrored in the process whereby civilization gives body to the original undifferentiated perception of human nature. In both cases, it is the cosmological unfolding of ever-dividing dualities that creates a relational order and structure to the world of phenomena and experience—an order and structure resulting in the natural tendency of all things toward increased disorder and decay.
The unfolding of the Many out of the One, then, is the Way of Fate, where all things and relations between things forever spontaneously changes in the direction of greater disintegration.
And it is the return of the Many into the One that is the Way of Freedom.
Reversing the Course of Fate
The return of the Many into the One is an ancient formula symbolizing the spiritual transformation we undergo when we cultivate our present self to the point where we spontaneously re-experience our original undamaged nature. This return to our true self as it exists before and after social conditioning is likewise called uniting heaven and earth. It comes about because we train ourselves to stop viewing the inner and outer world as pairs of dualities (like good and bad, right and wrong, self and other) and develop greater sensitivity to the Unity of all things. This is commonly referred to as the mystical experience arising from the reunion of subject and object: it points at the profound metamorphosis we undergo when there is no longer any distance between us and the universe nor is there any boundary between our individual mind and the one mind. This is called reversing the outflow of generative energy and has long been associated with the real person, or sage, whose enlightened nature has been reclaimed.
As noted in the previous two posts, the Way of Fate is the entropic process carrying all things and the relationships between things ever further into disorder. From the perceptual cosmology, this is the result of the initial division of the Unity of all things and its subsequent doublings into further dualities.
The Way of Fate is the realm of birth and death. Everything that enters this realm must progressively deteriorate and die. This is the first and greatest of the perceptual dualities. From it arise all the other dualities comprising the law of Fate governing the lives of so many.
Running counter to the Way of Fate is the circulation of generative energy. This is the flow of the subliminal force that gives life to life. From the perspective of spirit, generative energy is matter. From the perspective of matter, generative energy is spirit. From the perspective of entropy, generative energy is information. From the perspective of life, generative energy is mind. It circulates among all things, entering all the dualities in order to hold them together in the Unity of all things. It is the subliminal force that can postpone the arrival of Fate indefinitely.
The true person, the sage, the enlightened person, have long been those who cultivated this generative energy of the universal return within themselves and others.
The Oracle of Freedom
Uniting heaven and earth is an act that happens within the human being. It occurs within us in the present mind-moment when we stand at the center of the compass and open our heart-mind to the ever-present Unity of all things. We bring the one spirit of heaven and the one body of earth back together within ourselves every time we re-experience the nonduality of reality. Reuniting the one spirit and the one body in a conscious act is an act of conception that gives birth to a timeless intention—fueled by the generative energy of the return of the Many into the One, it reverses the course of Fate by spontaneously and immediately returning to the Act of Creation. Such experiences not only benefit those who undergo them but spill out into the world of intentions, contributing to the metamorphosis of civilization itself.
There are many traditions of self-transformation whose goal is the mystical experience of nonduality. Our complete metamorphosis into a true person that constantly stands at the center of the compass takes many years of genuine insights and sincere cultivation. Standing at the center point of nonduality, voluntarily collapsing the distinction between subject and object, voluntarily letting go of all boundaries between my self and the One—this is the method and the goal of self-realization practices. It is not a practice undertaken lightly nor attained effortlessly. It is the Path of Freedom in every sense and those who keep it underfoot their whole life are still too few.
But it is not the only way of uniting heaven and earth.
There are many, equally old, traditions of divination whose goal is to make the voice of the one spirit accessible to the one body. Across cultures and the millennia, the tradition of priest-diviners has arisen to give voice to the ancient Oracle guiding humanity away from the cliff edge of self-destruction and back toward the Living Monument of self-creation. It is a tradition based on the recognition that our self-awareness works according to the same laws as the rest of creation: our spirit speaks most directly and powerfully to our body in our dreams, just as the one spirit speaks most directly and powerfully to the one body in its symbols. Long considered the first language, symbols speak with a directness and power that words cannot—laden with complex layers of meaning and emotional associations, they appear all-at-once, spatially, rather than in the linear, temporal, string of words of conscious language.
Divination, then, is the art of translating the symbols of the Oracle. It is the human awareness breaking through the barrier of subject and object, voluntarily merging self with the one spirit, re-coupling the primal duality of spirit and matter. It is the spontaneous and immediate act of uniting heaven and earth. It is not necessary for the diviner to consciously strive to effect such a union—the act of divination collapses the subject-object duality by its very nature.
Engaging the Oracle automatically entails stepping back into the Unity of all things. We cannot seek an answer from the Oracle and hold ourselves separate from the one spirit, we cannot receive the Oracle’s answer and hold ourselves separate from the one body. To open ourselves to the invisible realm of unity underlying this world of the senses is to lose the ego-self and step into the oceanic dreamtime of nonduality: this is called becoming the site of the return of the Many into the One. As has long been said of the I Ching, inquiring of the Oracle is not a matter of any special knowledge or skill— the divinatory act activates a mysterious conjunction of dualities solely by the power of the questioner’s sincerity.
The Oracle is the speaking of the generative energy that circulates between the beginning and end of time, between the Act of Creation and the Act of Completion. It circulates in the same way that the ocean’s water evaporates, forms clouds that are carried by the wind to the land where it falls as rain that accumulates in streams and rivers in order to flow back into the sea. It is an all-at-once-ness circulation that is spatial and not a linear progression of time. It is the flow of the unchanging life-that-gives-life behind the flow of perceptible change. To life, generative energy is the unborn mind that moves at will backward and forward between the beginning and the end of time: it is unborn because it does not ever enter the realm of birth and death and so stands forever outside the realm of Fate—it can move at will between end and beginning because it is the circulation itself.
The 64 hexagrams constitute the map of Fate. They show the 64 possible mixtures of yang and yin generative energy that produce the world of phenomena. They show the pitfalls and traps everything and everyone faces in the realm of birth and death. They show the vast archetypal landscape of entropic change driving all changing phenomena.
Engaging the Oracle activates the creative intent of the living moment, revealing the way to transcend Fate and create a lifetime of good fortune. Circulating among the lines of the hexagrams, the generative energy calls us to follow the way of freedom in every sense.
The Oracle speaks to us by selecting from the 64 possible hexagrams just those that represent the present situation we face and how it is developing into the coming situation. In doing so, it points out the choices we have if we are to keep the path of freedom beneath our feet.
The Toltec I Ching is the newest iteration of the Oracle’s speaking. By recasting the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico, its interpretative material gives a new voice to the emerging Dynasty of the Open Secret. By marrying the two great cosmovisions of the indigenous civilizations of China and Mexico, it unites the East and West hemispheres for today’s global civilization. By interpreting each hexagram with both original illustrations and written material, it unites the right and left hemispheres of the brain for today’s global consciousness.
I cannot distance myself from the I Ching anymore than you. Those who haven’t yet internalized the I Ching may think the above considerations to be mere abstractions but those who know that the 8 trigrams are their own sense organs have already discovered that the 4 bigrams are the opening and closing of the Gate of Good Fortune. May benefit pour out of you to cover heaven and earth.
Next: Reading the Map of Fate
The Toltec I Ching, by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden has just received a Silver Award in the 2010 Nautilus Awards. It recasts the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico and includes original illustrations interpreting each of the hexagrams. Its subtitle, 64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World hints at its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.