The Methods of the Dao are not many…
December 27, 2014
After our Boxing day lunch, we took a walk in the forest outside of Schleiz, the sun was shinning at the same time the snow was falling. As we walked I thought about the words I read in the morning about the Way of the Dao being simple. The esoteric Daoist saying showed above has always fascinated me; it seems to hold the key to understand the Daoist arts like Feng Shui, I have made a translation of the first line of this saying and collected my thoughts in the last blog post of the year.
The Methods of the Way (Dao) are not many,
The Southern Dipper linked with the Northern Dipper in the Milky Way,
They all have their source in the numbers 3 and 7,
（They can) subdue all the demons in the world.
Lets look at the term “Daofa” 道法 or the Methods of the Way first. It is interesting to note that the Chinese character for the Dao 道is written with 12 strokes and they can be correlated to 12 Shichen 時辰 (two-hourly periods) and the character for the character Fa 法 is written with 8 or 9 strokes and they can be correlated to the 8 Trigrams or the 9 Places of the Luoshu, which are all related to the study of the Yi or Changes (Yixue 易學).
Whether it is a legitimate assumption or not, we can use this idea that the methods of the Way are related to the study of the Yi or the Yin and Yang and from his vintage point we can make sense of the rest of the saying.
“The Southern Dipper linked with the Northern Dipper in the Milky Way” is referring to the 6 stars of the Southern Dipper is located in the opposite direction to the 9 stars of Southern Dipper in the night sky. 6 and 9 makes 15 and this is the number of the sums adding up in all directions in a Luoshu diagram, representing the coming together of the Yin and Yang (numbers) in all 8 directions. Also South is correlated to Fire and North to Water, so it has the meaning of Fire and Water intersect each other to form a beneficial relationship as in the Hexagram JI JI (水火既濟). The Daoists also believe that the Northern Dipper is related to death and the Southern Dipper is related to life, so all again, has to do with achieving harmony and balance between Yin and Yang.
“They all have their source in the numbers 3 and 7” is referring to the working of the Way can be understand through the Art of Numbers (術數 Shushu). 3 times 7 equals 21 and again 2 and 1 has the meaning of Yin and Yang being the 2 and the Taiji being the 1. This again is about Yin and Yang and how to combine them so they can be whole again as in the un-manifested Taiji of 1.
“(They can) subdue all the demons in the world” implied that we could resolve all the difficulties in life (the demons) through the mutual coming together of the Yin and Yang, so we can maintain fullness (represented by the number 10), by finding an appropriate balance and harmony between Yin and Yang.
In the Luoshu diagram, 19, 28, 37, 46 and 55 all add up to 10, that is the cyclical rise and fall of all things can find its fullness through the harmony of Yin and Yang, what is in the formless heart/mind is balanced with the physical form of the external appearance and actions, that is what is out of balance is readjusted to go with the flow. According to the Daoist (and the Buddhist as well), the demon has its root in our heart/mind, if we can change our attitude when things seem impossible to resolve, through readjusting the Yin and Yang, then we can be free from the bondage of all the demons of the world.
It seems so simple and straightforward; may be that is why the first line of the saying says, “The methods of the Way are not many”! But then again, I am not a Daoist expert, I gained this understanding through 35 yars of doing Feng Shui, so I might have oversimplified the saying; any worthwhile comments are welcome.
Wish you all a Happy New Year!