Livia Kohn has done a great job telling us, readers of encyclopedia, about different kinds of ‘observation’ in different times, beginning from the fifth century with the rise of Louguan (‘Tower of Observation”) for a Taoist monastery and leading the list of terms throughout the Buddhist influence in the seventh century and later.
Zhiguan, neiguan, qiguan vs. shenguan, jiafa guan vs. shifa guan and piankong, youguan vs. wuguan and zhongdao guan, and also waiguan and yuanguan to contrast neiguan, and the ultimate technique — kongguan, or observation of emptiness. The meaning of the word ‘guan’ is ‘to look at carefully’, ‘to scrutinize’. And now we have the volumes of teachings! Why people put so much passion to make simple things so complicated!
Let’s make this picture easier to understand. My favorite list of careful observations would be printed out like this: observation any cup of coffee, green or black tea, or Japanese matcha I have made during past decades; observation sky and earth, and any tree, leaf, flower, or snow every time I leave the home; observation my dreams and daoyin exercises every night and my work every day; observation every child and adult person I can meet and talk; observation my favorite ideas, books, and authors during the whole life, and observation of the hexagrams of the Book of Changes (which is probably the best item in the whole list).
L. Kohn didn’t mention it, but the character Guān 觀 (observation) is the hexagram No 20 in the Book of Changes (I Ching).
Well, my list doesn’t look neither shorter nor easier after mentioning 64 hexagrams especially (actually it is much longer), sorry for that 🙂
Spring: earth, sky, new grass and young leaves observation time)