Al-Ghazali on Patience and Thankfulness by Abu Hamid al-GhazaliOriginally written as a manual of spiritual instruction, these writings examine Sufi and mystical influences within the Muslim tradition. A crucial work of medieval Islamic thought, this portion of Revival of the Religious Sciences provides insight into the intellectual and religious history of the Muslim world. The virtues of patience and thankfulness are defined and their place in the Islamic worldview is elucidated, with particular attention paid to their attainment and the influences that divert people from these virtues.
Al-Ghazali on Patience and Thankfulness is a translation of the thirty-second chapter of The Revival of the Religions Sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din). This chapter fills in the last of the four sections of the Ihya, the section dealing with the virtues or what is conducive to salvation. Ghazali here presents definitions for patience and its different forms; the need for patience; the degrees of patience; and why patience is considered to be half of faith. The second part of this chapter deals with thankfulness and again Ghazali gives us definitions for thankfulness, its nature and its blessings. In addition to the translation, Dr Henry Littlejohn provides an extensive introduction which illustrates the importance of the topics of patience and thankfulness in Islam throughout the centuries.
History of the I Ching
The History of the I Ching
Possessing a history of more than two and a half millennia of commentary and interpretation, the I Ching is an influential text read throughout the world, providing inspiration to the worlds of religion, psychoanalysis, literature, and art. The I Ching uses a type of divination called cleromancy , which produces apparently random numbers. Six numbers between 6 and 9 are turned into a hexagram , which can then be looked up in the I Ching book, arranged in an order known as the King Wen sequence. The interpretation of the readings found in the I Ching is a matter of centuries of debate, and many commentators have used the book symbolically, often to provide guidance for moral decision making as informed by Confucianism , Taoism and Buddhism. The hexagrams themselves have often acquired cosmological significance and paralleled with many other traditional names for the processes of change such as yin and yang and Wu Xing.
The Chinese I Ching, or Book of Changes in English, represents sixty-four archetypes that make up all the possible six-line combinations of yin and yang, called hexagrams. The interpretations of the sixty-four hexagrams describe the energy of human life divided into sixty-four types of situations, relationships or dilemmas. Each hexagram can be analyzed in a number of ways. Divide the six-line forms in half and you get trigrams three yin or yang lines that represent the Chinese version of the eight fundamental elements: sky, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain, and lake. These eight trigrams, known as "Hua," also serve as the compass points in the ancient art of placement known as Feng Shui pronounced fung-shway. The I Ching is the oldest of all the classical divination systems.
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Who Wrote the I Ching?
It is the oldest of the Five Classics of Confucianism and offers practical wisdom for any situation and an ordering of the universe. Although the I Ching was originally used for divination purposes, it later became an important part of the Chinese philosophical system as well.
There are two histories of the I Ching, the mythological and the academic, and they are both sort of muddled. Historically the I Ching probably developed out of the earlier methods of tortoise shell and ox shoulder-bone divination, whereby a red-hot poker was applied to the bone or shell and the random pattern of cracks examined by priests who deduced the meaning. In this there is little difference with similar forms of divination from the ancient mediterranean world. In China however the the patterns of cracks inspired a more systematic approach in terms of geometric lines - i. Exactly how the jump from cracks to hexagrams was made is not explained. After the hexagrams were deduced the trigrams were later formulated as a simplified and idealised theoretical underpinning this aspect of the historical approach I believe to be correct. One day he saw a dragon-horse rise from the Yellow River.