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Help w/ understanding to "Make an Offering" and/or ".. a Sacrifice"

richlovejoy

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Does anyone out there have any insights and/or clarification as to how one "makes and offering" and/or "make a sacrifice" ??
 

cal val

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Hi RLJ...

Most of the Zhouyi is about sacrificing and making offerings to the ancestors. If you really want to understand what they mean and how they might apply to your question, I believe it's important to understand at least a little about the spiritual beliefs of both the Shang and the early Zhou. Hilary has kindly listed a number of resources on this site. If you want to keep them as reference books, she's made it easy for you to buy. Additionally, if you buy through her site, she gets a small thank you from the bookseller, which she well deserves. Consequently, I always try to buy my reference books through this site. And, if you don't want to keep them around for reference, you can try to find them at your public library.

In short, the Shang and Zhou had a great deal of reverence for their ancestors and frequently asked them for help or to intercede with the spirits that caused the floods and earthquakes and sickness, etc. They offered sacrifices in exchange for these little favors. Not so frequently, they offered sacrifice directly to the spirits. I strongly suspect 29 is pits in the ground that were filled with sacrificial victims offered directly to the earth spirits until they were quieted. And I strongly suspect that 29.5 is saying "Okay, you can stop throwing victims into the pit now, the earth spirits that caused the great earthquake are quieted now."

The offerings could be food, animal or human. The ding (hexagram 50) was used for food sacrifices. Hexagram 18 could very well be about a food offering to the closest ancestors (deceased mother and father) that was spoiled or mildewed. It's possible the elephant in hexagram 16 was a sacrificial elephant. In many hexagrams, the sacrificial victims sound distinctly human, 17, 31, 52 to name just a scant few. In 31 and 52 they were dismembered. I mention that because just last night, while reading 31, I was wondering if the practice was to dismember them alive or not. Does anyone reading know the answer to that? Harmen? Anyone?

Hope that helps RLJ.

Love,

Val
 
B

bruce

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Val,

Good stuff. Thank you.

I?m curious how you might apply or translate the literalism of your examples into a modern day application. For example: what do we appease when we draw a sacrificial hexagram, today?
 

richlovejoy

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Thanks Val but I think I'm even more confused than ever .... maybe I just need to let what you said stew in my cauldron or vessel for a while ......
 

dobro p

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Val

"I believe it's important to understand at least a little about the spiritual beliefs of both the Shang and the early Zhou"

Yup. Interesting for sure. But how do you apply 'offering' and 'sacrifice' to a modern context? What's the difference?
 

pakua

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It could be as simple as making it a point to give alms when you pass a beggar...or offering your time to a worthy cause...or bringing flowers to your sweetheart...or even just a glass of fresh water to your favourite deity
 

dobro p

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Yeah, I understand that, but is there a difference you think between 'offering' and 'sacrifice'.

For instance, if 'sacrifice' meant 'killing something to appease divinity', then that would be more intense, more dramatic, and probably more high-energy than just 'offering'. No? Yes?
 

kevin

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Sacrifice has a double meaning in English... The Judaic (semantic)image rooted in killing something, like the lamb at pass over and to give something up in order to gain something from the gods; spirits; or other person or body - like your employer.

The Celts used to make small models of the things they sought like good luck in a battle - a small sword - or fertility - a small fat pregnant model - and then they would throw them into a river or lake... These too were sacrifices... I know I have done it and the cost of the silver was not small.

Also remember that a burned offering to a nomadic or agrarian society represented a very substantial loss... or sacrifice of what they could have enjoyed themselves.

Postponed gratification?

--Kevin
 

cal val

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Hi Bruce...

Well understanding that most divinations done pre- and early Zhou (many of which are compiled in the Zhouyi) were about sacrifices or were preceded with sacifrices is a start to my understanding... if you get my drift. At this point, I mostly understand why later generations of scholars felt a need to re-interpret the hexagrams and lines... *grin* It was all pretty gory stuff. Hexagram 59... castrated horses gushing blood... YUCK!

But I also notice that many hexagrams don't particularly pan out for me the way they've been re-interpreted. And, looking at them with a questioning mind rather than an accepting mind, I see that many were re-interpreted to advance the agenda du jour of the jour they were re-interpreted and the school who re-interpreted them.

Some of the re-interpretations make sense to me even in 2005, such as working on what has been spoiled in 18. 57, which seems to be about healing disease (that's why it all happens around beds and all the diviners and magicians are called in), works for me as re-interpreted as well... emotional healing by gentle penetration.

I have gradually understood many other hexagrams and lines, though, by the experiences that succeed their casting (that includes the experiences people share here in this forum) rather than by their re-interpretations. 37 is about more than family, as it's been re-interpreted. It's also about the household and the financial aspect of running the household. Hexagram 51 is another example. It was clearly mis-re-interpreted by well-intentioned men who apparently had never experienced earthquakes and would have no way of recognizing the post-quake dialog in the hexagram and lines. I have though, and I do.

And some hexagrams and lines are still shrouded in mystery for me. Hex 31 is still very much a mystery to me. Either my 31 experiences have been too subtle for a thick head like mine to notice or I just haven't experienced it as it's been re-interpreted (And, of course, I hope to NEVER experience it as it appears it was originally meant... *gulp*).

Increasingly, I see for me it's about intuition... picking out the sentence or two that says 'ding ding ding' from all the verbiage (as is the case with the Wilhelm Baynes version) and leaving the rest behind rather than finding an answer of profound meaning from reading and assimilating ALL the verbiage. But there are still things I feel are hidden from me in some of the hexagrams and lines because of my ignorance of the men and women who wrote them, so...

What I hope to learn now is what kind of situations they used the different sacrifices for, such as the dismemberment described in 31. Maybe that kind of information will help shed more light on the mysteries for me.

Love,

Val
 

cal val

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As I said in my previous post we do not have to accept and assimilate every single word in any one interpretation in order to understand what the Soul of the World is saying to us through the Yi. And 'make offering' and 'sacrifice' are some of the words we don't have to accept and assimilate.

Although making offerings and sacrifice was an integral part of the Shang and early Zhou belief system, my tendency is to ignore those lines as obsolete in today's world. It worked for the Shang and Zhou because of their stage of scientific development. They didn't understand what caused earthquakes and floods and disease, and they made offerings and sacrifices to try to stop them.

I know what causes earthquakes and floods and disease, and I know that no amount of sacrifices will stop earthquakes, and I know that, although man has no control over weather, he can build dams to hold back floods, and I know that doctors and medical science cure diseases... so what need of offerings and sacrifice today? None. And because of my own spiritual experiences... because of all my lessons from 'the men in grey', I don't believe offerings and sacrifice is ever asked or required of us either.

Love,

Val
 
B

bruce

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Thanks, Val. Going to chew on that awhile. Though it didn't exactly answer my question it's good food for thought. I can certainly understand your keen interest in the subject of early Zhou.
 
B

bruce

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I?ve been thinking about sacrifices and offerings, on one hand, and the essential value of origins, on the other.

A sacrifice, in the Yi context, is (I believe) the decrease of subjectivity (little self) for the sake of increase in objectivity (bigger self). That?s oversimplified, but I think it boils down to that. 41 exemplifies sacrifice, and 51 might be a good image of offering, as is 26. A prayer could be an offering, or a sacrifice if the pray-er doesn?t feel like praying. Giving up a bad mood or feeling for the sake of reason can be a sacrifice. Lending or giving money to a friend (or stranger) could be a sacrifice or offering. Giving up a night out with the boys could be a sacrifice to benefit the family. Any reducing of self for the sake of something greater could be a sacrifice or offering.

I still haven?t determined the practical value of Zhou studies, other than to get as close to origin as possible, and thereby establishing possible hidden meaning and implication. Not to downplay the value of that, but I haven?t yet determined if it?s essential to live within the principles of the IC. All applicable truths taught in Yi existed before Zhou. At least that?s as far as I can understand now. I welcome thoughts on this.
 

bradford_h

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Hi Bruce-

RE: All applicable truths taught in Yi existed before Zhou. At least that?s as far as I can understand now. I welcome thoughts on this.

I think my thoughts on this subject are well enough known, but I would add ?and most applicable truths expressed by the Yi also exist after the Zhou. I personally think very few lines exhibit cultural myopia.

As one who has spent time among ?primitive? people, I?ve learned that we humans all around the globe have a lot more common ground than postmodernists, deconstructionists and other Tabula Rasa folk who?ve never left the ivy halls of academia would have us believe. Evolutionary psychology is amassing a wealth of new data, and it ain?t all about cultural differences - there is a Human Nature. After that, there are the memes.

b
 
B

bruce

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Hi Brad,

"I personally think very few lines exhibit cultural myopia."

Yes, this is my view too. It extends before and after the culture who was able to a) perceive it b) document it c) teach it.

And I believe it's found at the core; not at a level of comprehension only, but a level of experiencing, even indwelling. Thus the same truth exists in a stone.

As always, appreciate your input.
 

cal val

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Hi Bruce...

<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>quote:</font>

...Though it didn't exactly answer my question<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>
Sorry... I knew I wasn't drawing any strong conclusion in my previous post, so I wrote the last one as a follow up, and I thought I was pretty clear there. Now I see I wasn't.

My answer in a nutshell is I don't apply them to a modern context. I think the concept of offering and sacrifice is obsolete, and I don't consider them in my readings. The context in which they are used in the Zhouyi is what is important, and that's why I want to understand better the occasions for which all the different offerings and sacrifices were made.

Again... the words 'make offering' and 'sacrifice' are used all over the Zhouyi... in many hexagrams... because that's a lot of what the Zhouyi was about. As I said before... just as an example... and to emphasize just how often they made offers and sacrifices, they made sacrifices to do divinations, and they did divinations asking about sacrifices.

The words 'make offering' and 'sacrifice' are as important to the interpretation of the hexagram and line statements as the word prayer is to all the different prayers in the Bible. If we were interpreting a prayer from the Bible here, we wouldn't devote any amount of time to the word 'prayer'.

Was that any clearer?

Love,

Val
 
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bruce

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Yup.


'cept my prayer mention wasn't limited to the Bible. God forbid!
 

bradford_h

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Hi Bruce-
You'll soon hear a lot about memes if you haven't yet - it's a term coined by Richard Dawkins in "The Selfish Gene". It's a new model of cultural evolution. Units of culture, called memes, behave analogously to genes in organisms and ecosystems. Competition, coalition, aggregation, propagation, parasitism, toxicity - the analogy can be really useful in analyzing, for example, competing ideologies and social trends, like religions and rituals. A language is one large set of memes. The Yi represents another slightly smaller set. But it's still an overlay on common mammalian, primate and human neural substrata that we share with most members of our species, including things like Maslow's Needs, Piaget's development stages and what Jung called the archetypes of the collective unconscious. It's these that we have in common with the last 75 to 200,000 years of humankind. It's the reason I don't need a special psychology textbook to figure out a Fijian and it's the reason I can translate Zhuangzi into his language so that he laughs in all the right places. It's also the reason that some of us can understand the Yi's author's meanings right here in Century 21 - because they are talking largely about human universals, not a narrower set of culturally bound rituals and superstitions.
 

bradford_h

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Hi Val-
I'm gonna bet that you make sacrifices and offerings a lot. I know I do, little things that we do for the greater good, however we may conceive of that.
b
 

cal val

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Good morning Brad!

<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>quote:</font>

I'm gonna bet that you make sacrifices and offerings a lot.<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>

You're on. How much do you want to wager?

Love,

Val
 

bradford_h

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Before I place my bet ...
You've never written a check to feed a hungry kid or save a patch of rainforest?
No random acts of kindness or payments forward?
We don't need to set the Gui tureen on the altar anymore. We refined that a bit. Now we can just put the food on a paper plate and hand it directly to the homelesss guy or the battered wife.
You sure?
 

cal val

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Hiya Brad...

Place your bet first. Then we'll discuss the psychology of language and mindsets and all that good stuff.

Love ya,

Val
 
S

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In a modern context, depending on the question, could it not refer to something you do for or give to the person who is the object of the query? For instance, in a relationship question, it might refer to something tangible such as the guy buying his girl flowers or something intangible like compromising on an issue. Or if you were asking about getting a promotion, it might indicate doing something directly for your boss, or maybe taking on extra work which would show you are a team player and can handle more responsibility.

BTW, making actual offerings to God or spirits is still practiced tody. Christians often tithe to the church, and most Pagan/Wiccan practitioners make offerings of food, incense or other gifts as do the Voudoun, and it does usually involve an altar.
 

kevin

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Hi Brad

My effort at explaining deferred gratification and the fact that both sacrifice and offerings are central to our culture and nature were not as well understood as yours... thanks.

Re your last post - You got it!

Sacrifice in all its forms is a central tenet to our nature and, for me, focussing on the image that Rutt portrays of ancient China has a propensity to allow us to distance ourselves from that part of ourselves which still functions in that fashion... albeit it in modified forms.

I am over the moon at the fact that American philanthropists have just struck a deal to save huge acreages of Israeli glass houses so that thousands of Palestinian workers will be able to continue to work them as the Israeli owners withdraw.

A sacrifice to peace!

Tonight my hat is off to America and her people.

--Kevin
 

kevin

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Hi Seeker - Crossed posts... yup


--K
 

bradford_h

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Hi Val-
I have a dear friend who consistently wins state level poker championships (never a national title).
He says it isn't gambling at his level.
So I'm gonna bow out, what with this not being a sure thing. Sacrificing face.
b
 

cal val

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Hiya Brad...

<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>quote:</font>

...I'm gonna bow out<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>You're a wise man Brad... *grin*

First of all, as it happened, I had a conversation with the SOTW about this very thing right after I had my breakthrough to my fear of marriage... a conversation about 'offering'. I was very very grateful and asked them how I could repay them for what they'd done for me. They told me I was not to repay them but to always remember to give credit where credit is due. Pressing the issue, I asked if I should give something like 10% of my future profits to my (or their) favorite charity once I got into this wonderful career that's been alluded to, and they answered that was MY choice... not required nor requested.

In the Jewish faith there are seven mitzvahs. The highest mitsvah is kindness to animals because one knows one is not getting anything in return for their kindness. Sacrifice today is no different than it was during the Shang and early Zhou dynastices. They gave then to get something back. They made sacrifices to gain favor with the spirits. And as you said yourself Brad, people then weren't much different from people today... and just like then people today make sacrifices to get something back.

Sacrifice is a matter of perception, and perception is a choice. What I'm curious about is why anyone would want to perceive anything they do to be a sacrifice. What's the payoff? For some I know it's martyrdom... in the case of masochists where self-sacrifice is of paramount importance. And for some it could be 'hero'dom. Maybe that's the payoff for people with narcissistic personality disorder for whom self-sacrifice is also very important. I don't know though. It could very well be the martyr thing for them as well.

When I spend time or money on anyone or any cause it's never a sacrifice... ever. I never 'give it up' I spend it. Fifteen minutes capturing a spider to get it safely outside is always time well spent... never time sacrificed.

Earlier I went googling for some information on the psychology of sacrifice to share here. What I found were mostly religious sites. But I did find this book, "Slaying the Mermaid : Women and the Culture of Sacrifice" and a quote from the inside flap of the book:

<blockquote>Drawing on the experiences of a diverse array of women, Stephanie Golden examines the dichotomy between selfhood and sacrifice, enabling women to become conscious of self-defeating behavior. Using the image of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, the ultimate ideal of the self-sacrificing woman, Golden offers a new paradigm: in order to run with the wolves, you must first slay the mermaid.</blockquote>I'm not going to read the book... I don't sacrifice anymore... I gave it up for Lent *wry grin*... and I don't imagine you will either, but I've heard the voices of some women here who might benefit from it, so I'm mentioning it.

Love ya,

Val
 

bradford_h

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Hi Val-
I wrote a bit about that in my commentary to 41.2.
The reference "before making anything sacred" is to the etymology of the word sacrifice.
b
 

heylise

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It is like Brad says, "making sacred", and what Bruce calls the little self and the bigger self.
To sacrifice is making holy.

Val used it in its sense of giving away, and that does not necessarily mean you make it holy. A gift in order to obtain something, or to make the neighbors admire you, or from fear, obligation and such, are not holy - although they can be.

When Yi tells me to sacrifice, I try to find my bigger self back. Because very often that in itself is the advice. What I have to do stands or falls with that. Giving in because you create harmony instead of having things your way - or maybe not giving in because it would cause you to lose your own tao.. Both are 'sacrifices'. If I give in to avoid trouble, or don't give in because I happen to be in a fighting mood, then they are no sacrifices.

LiSe
 
B

bruce

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LiSe ? agreeing completely.

Ritual, if performed with purity, reduces that which is too much and increases that which is too little. The size isn?t important; in fact smaller is often better because it is not bigger than we ourselves.
 

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