Philosophy of Nature

Mansions in the Mountain by Tung Yuan

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1. The single totality and the origin of all things.

From the Single Totality came the Two opposing Forces. From the Two Forces came the Four greater and lesser phenomena. From the Four came the Eight Principles of Reality. From the Eight Principles came the myriad of things. The Totality is the Creator. The Creator is the cause of all things and all things reside within him. The Totality is the origin of all things.

2. All is one and the one is divine.

All is one. All reside within the one. The Two opposing Forces are one. The creative force, yang, and the receptive force, yin, is one. Together their movement from light to darkness maintains the world in harmony and balance like two fishes swimming in circles. Neither is greater than the other. As yang advances, yin retreats, and in this manner, the world follows the natural order of the universe.

The Single Totality, the Creator, and the Great Pattern are one and the same. They are unknowable. They are invisible, inaudible, and intangible. Meeting it you do not see its head; following it you do not see its tail. The Great Pattern has no beginning and no end. It alone is eternal and incorruptible.

3. Unity of the opposites.

The opposing forces are one. Existence and negation define each other. Life and death follow one another. Difficulty and easiness come after each other. The long and the short define each other. The high and the low form one another. One half cannot exist without the other. Remember that one can only know what is full when one understands what is empty. Heed the words of Heraclitus, “The way up and the way down is one and the same.”

Only the partial can be made complete. Only the twisted can be made straight. Only the empty can be made full. Only the worn can be made new. Only by losing can you obtain. Only by letting go can you learn.

4. The transformation of things.

The creative force progresses and the receptive force recedes. Their movement causes the great wheel to turn. The turning of the wheel weaves the Great Pattern of the universe. From the Great Pattern we observe the transformation of things.

Although things change from one form to another, the sum of all things within the One remains the same. All things that are woven together into the Great Pattern have a common and sacred bond. All things are interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent. Even with the transformation of things, there is one totality, one universe, and one truth. What that has perished does not fall out of the universe but remains within it in a different form.

For this reason, Marcus Aurelius said, “The universe is change, life is understanding.” All things flow and nothing abides. Everything changes and everything moves. Everything is becoming, nothing ever is. With time, nothing remains the same as it was. Thus Heraclitus tells us, “We cannot step into the same river twice; the sun is new every day.

5. The causes and effects of time.

From the transformation of things we feel the presence of time. Time is felt as things change. Time is the great coordinator and the guardian of the Great Pattern. It prevents everything from happening at once. It is the continuous passage in which events pass from their potential future, through the current present, and into the inevitability of the past. Time is the transformation of things.

Time is a thief.  Time is, times was, and time is past. The present is a fleeting thing. When you think of it, it has already passed. Everything passes, everything wears out, and everything breaks. Time tries all things and time devours all things. Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the only one left standing is a tomb.

There is nothing new under the sun. The more things change, the more they remain the same. There is nothing permanent except change. The laws of change are eternal. Past phenomena will occur again. Dead men will rise again. The world changes but the Great Pattern endures. The past will catch up with the present. The future is a mystery; the past is but a memory; the present will shape your destiny.

6. The law of exchange.

There is a price to be paid for everything you take. One cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain something you must first sacrifice something. Nothing in the universe is free. When you take something from the world, a price must be paid as compensation whether you know of it or not. Pay as much attention to what you throw away as to what you take.

7. The natural order of the universe.

There is a natural order in the universe. Everything must act in accordance and in harmony of this natural order. Everything has its cycles. The seasons change from summer to winter; and then from winter to summer. The sun sets as the moon rises; and when the moon sets, the sun rises. The circle of life goes on. When one observes the world, one sees a continuous chain of events; every cause an effect; every action a reaction; everything is part of the process and there is never an end to the transformation of things.

What was in front is now behind. What was warm is now cold. What was strong is now weak. What was in order is now in ruin. With time, fire may turn to ice; chaos may turn to order; destruction may turn to creation. Reversal is the way of the pattern. Anything that has gone too far in one direction will inevitably move in the opposite direction. The movement of the pattern ensures that nothing goes beyond its limit to harm the natural order of the universe. For this reason, the ancients say that, “It is neither good to be too high or too low.” Remember that the brightest light casts the darkest shadow.

Do not fill a vessel until it overflows. Choose the time for any action carefully. Remember that there is a time and place for everything and everything is good only in its season. Be like the wind and water. Be spontaneous and effortless. Flow from the high to the low; follow the natural order of the universe and you will thrive. The fools that go against the natural order of the universe shall fail.

The ancient Chinese recognized the natural order of the universe and their patterns. They understood the Single Totality and the Eight Principles of Reality. To guide future generations, they compiled the sixty-four patterns derived from the Eight Principles into the Classic of Changes. The Classic is a tool of observation to study the celestial clock and the way of Heaven.

The ancients recognized that the natural order of the universe is the source of creation and direction of the Great Pattern. There is an appropriate timing for every action and inaction. The goal of live is to live in harmony with the natural order of the universe. To succeed in one’s endeavour and to avoid harm, one must tune one’s own actions to the pulse of the Great Pattern. Let everything be as they are meant to be, let them return to their true nature, and let nature take its course.

Comments
2 Responses to “Philosophy of Nature”
  1. lly1205 says:

    This was a pretty interesting post, thanks!

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