Images credit - Avatar: The Last Airbender - Nickelodeon
A re-cap of blog posts on the Avatar series .... connecting the dots
While writing 'Dispel the Illusion with a Greeting!' for Spiritual Experiences, an image from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' came up as a search result on the keywords 'illusion of separation.' I'd had no previous exposure to the animated series.
A few days later the inner voice prompted me to look further into the series and I began watching it from the beginning. I felt deeply attracted to the story in its imaginative setting reminiscent of ancient China and to its messages of wisdom and quality of character.
A reviewer wrote of Avatar, '... The spirituality from Daoism, Zen, Buddhism, and Hinduism is apparent in the wisdom shared by Aang, Uncle Iroh, and the Lion-Turtle. The concepts of qi (chi) blockage and energy medicine are portrayed here in ways I've never seen before — the writers really know their stuff, not only in the martial-arts way.'
Quotes attributed to Lao Tzu have long attracted me and 'Avatar' inspired me to delve more deeply into the Tao Te Ching. In the third season, the episode called 'The Firebending Masters' re-ignited my old attraction to dragons.
The essence of 'The Firebending Masters' is summed up for me when Avatar Aang and Prince Zuko realize that fire is not only a destructive but also a creative force.
One of the turning point in Prince Zuko's life came when he shifted from using rage and hate to fuel his fire-bending, to being empowered by the inner sun.
Following intuition, I spontaneously did a search on the keywords 'dragon I Ching.'
Lo and behold, up came 'The Celestial Dragon I Ching: A Unique New Version of the Chinese Oracle for Making Decisions and Discovering Your Destiny' by Neyma Jahan. It says on the book cover,
'First The Sky Opened ... Then The Celestial Dragon Was Born
'.... This elegant I Ching evokes the mystery and majesty of ancient China while serving as an enjoyable and illuminating tool for practical self-discovery and decision-making in the modern world through its profound insights that have withstood the test of time.
'.... More than 5,000 years old, the I Ching is a collection of divinatory wisdom that encapsulates the whole of human experience. In China the system was used by Kings, Emperors and Sages who would throw yarrow sticks or read cracks in tortoise shells. These days it is more practical to throw coins and consult the I Ching to divine the outcome.
'As Neyma Jahan explains in an easy-to-follow introduction, you throw the coins six times, then convert the resulting six permutations of heads and/or tails into a Hexagram — a six-line symbol of broken and unbroken lines. It is the hexagram that points to our prospects and advises us in our decision-making process....
'The I Ching is a 5,000-year-old Chinese divination system for self-discovery and decision-making. This imaginative new version has all the mystique, poetry and wisdom of the original but none of the obscurity.'
In the series, Avatar Aang and Prince Zuko follow Aang's intuition to dance with the dragons. This powerful sequence led me to find books such as 'T'ai Chi Ch'uan and I Ching' by Da Liu, who says 'The Tai Chi movements are related to the 'I Ching', the Chinese book of wisdom.'
The hexagrams of the I Ching are composed of upper and lower trigrams, and the eight trigrams are Heaven, Thunder, Water, Mountain, Earth, Wind/Wood, Fire and Lake.
'T'ai Chi is a physical expression of Taoist thought — a philosophy in motion. In 'I Ching: Embodying the Principles of the Book of Changes', Stuart Alve Olson shows how the hexagrams of the I Ching relate to the eight basic postures of T'ai Chi, and how together they comprise the orderly sequence of the postures in the Before Heaven T'ai Chi form. The practice of this form initiates a process of internal alchemy that allows for the stimulation and accumulation of chi through the major energy systems of the body. Physically, this process restores youthful flexibility. Spiritually, it frees the mind to roam the sublime Tao.' - from the book
My attention drawn to the I Ching, now I wanted to know more about divination in general, and found this:
'Divination has been defined as the art and science of using symbols to gather information from the collective unconsciousness. While divination includes the practices of fortune-telling, it's real purpose is to help people find out about themselves, the universe, and their place in it.'
Enlightened Pathways goes on to list 'Common Types of Divination' such as:
ASTROLOGY is divination using celestial bodies: the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
CARTOMANCY is fortune telling using cards such as the Tarot....
DOWSING or DIVINING RODS are methods of divination where a forked stick is used to locate water or precious minerals.
NUMEROLOGY is the numerical interpretation of numbers, dates, and the number value of letters....
PALMISTRY is the broad field of divination and interpretation of the lines and structure of the hand....
PSYCHOMETRY is the faculty of gaining impressions from a physical object and its history.
SCIOMANCY is divination using a spirit guide, a method generally employed by channels....
What matters in divining and all else is not so much the system or technique but the frequency of the one applying it in that moment. What are the intent and motives? Is the heart pure? When unclear, I ask 'Do I feel contracted or expanded?' and 'Does this nourish or deplete?' and 'Does this deepen my relationship with the One Being?' I've found that when my attitude is to be of service to the whole of life and trusting, to follow my innermost feelings, the truth and the way become clear.
The collective unconscious is a mix of light and shadows, truth and deception. It is easy to get lost in the matrix, the illusion, if one identifies with information from the collective unconscious or takes it too seriously. I do not seek to access the collective unconscious or any entity outside myself. Why not go for the ultimate and communicate instead with the One Being of pure consciousness, the unmoved mover, the creative source of all that is? It is just as accessible and the True Self of every person. And, it holds the original blueprint.
In 'The Hidden Hierarchy of Existence ,' Kurt Almqvist writes, 'The World has a First Cause, which may be regarded as the Mother of the World. When one has found the Mother, one can know the Child. Knowing the Child and still keeping the Mother, to the end of his days he shall suffer no harm.
'What enables man to arrive at this vision of oneness is the symbolic character in the elements — forms, colors and appearances — that go to build up nature. For all these qualitative elements have their essential reality and task in their ability to show us the way to corresponding elements of a "higher" sphere of reality with less rigid and confined boundaries than those of the physical-material. This sphere, in turn, has its analogical correspondences in a still higher one, and so on, all the way to the ultimate origin of all things, the unity of all, which the Chinese call Tao.'
I cast my first reading with the 'I Ching' asking 'How can I bring more balance to whatever I come in contact with, from a place of balance within?' and it answered with Hexagram 4, called by The Celestial Dragon 'The Child.'
The text for the Hexagrams, even in a modern version for the Western mind, is still too patriarchal — or perhaps more accurately, too Yang dominant for me. Too many 'shoulds', for example. It feels not balanced. I don't merge with it. Still, casting the coins and building the hexagram revealed nourishing insights to me in the moment. I enjoyed seeing the beautiful balance between the lines of Yin and Yang and reflecting on the qualities of ideal childlike innocence, trust, openness, wonder and delight.
Later the intuitive thought arose,'When one is immersed in Being, what questions are there?' and I had to answer, 'There are none.'
Formulating questions and pondering answers can be a distraction from living the moment, which is the only way to live in union with Being. Embodying qualities of Being with conscious movements correlated to natural forces, in addition to acting from those qualities within, still holds my interest.
I feel to simplify my experience with the I Ching, in a way of respectful play. I will explore further the correlation between the Tao Te Ching and flowing movements which help embody its qualities of character and wisdom, and delight in the realizations that come with the unfolding mystery.
Emanate Presence means tending the inner landscape with total responsibility, honesty and accountability. Its main work is letting go of everything from the conditioned mind so the liberated mind can shine. Presence is the creation force. In the liberated mind, past and future run together to create an opportunity for creation from the zero point.
As Iroh tells his nephew Zuko in the Avatar series, 'It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. Understanding others, the other elements and the other nations, will help you become whole.' - Season 2, Episode 9 is titled 'Bitter Work,' the rough meaning of Kung Fu.