Notes to compile, and fruitless yearning

APRIL 17 03 – This website is also a notebook, hence its look. An encouragement to gather scraps written in notebooks and on backs of envelopes and put them somewhere where I'll be able to find them. I have extraneous notes on the Yijing and Daodejing, for instance, and many thoughts not yet committed to paper. I plan to make online notebooks specifically for these subjects. In fact, it is a lovely sunny day and I am now going out into the garden to go through old notebooks to extract comments on hexagrams made since my first big bonfire of Yijing notes in 1995. The good thing about this is that in re-writing them down I inevitably expand them. And now, since I have already encoded the Zhouyi in Chinese, it is an easy matter to paste in from there the actual Chinese characters I am commenting on. This is one example of how starting this website project leads to activity. From these notes may grow a germ of an idea, that leads to a book, so I should not stint in putting online ideas that may eventually be reworked into a book, since it is the activity itself that is giving rise to the momentum.

Yet even now, I turn my head and see an attractive couple momentarily pass my window arm in arm, and merely as a result of that I put aside the interest I have expressed in this subject and think: 'Why am I not doing that? This is a sunny day, this is a day for kissing in the grass.'

Ah, away with it, I have a hot cup of tea waiting for me next to my chair in the garden, the books are stacked, love will come another day. This springs to mind:

The superior man does not permit his thoughts to go beyond his situation. (The heart thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements of the heart – that is, a man's thoughts – should restrict themselves to the immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the heart sore.)

The above is one of the most valuable pieces of advice the Yijing has instilled in me over the years (Wilhelm-Baynes, hexagram 52), but the lesson of willing acceptance of the limits of one's position is one of the most difficult to learn. In practice, if one does not dwell on it the difficulty is fleeting and the result expansive. I have not yet worked out, however, why in some matters I am not confined at all.

Yet on thinking further, I realise that even in those matters I have been confined in the past and unable to achieve much. Clearly then, in matters I feel confined now it is likely I will not be confined in the future. Indeed, in the past, I have not been confined in areas I feel confined now. And this essentially is the essence of the teaching: be in each thing as it arises, don't concern yourself with what you might otherwise be doing. It cuts out a lot of fruitless yearning.