Value of Caution

The Value of Caution as a Teaching of the Book of Changes

The time at which the Changes came to the fore was that in which the house of Yin came to an end and the way of the house of Chou was rising, that is, the time when King Wen and the tyrant Chou Hsin were pitted against each other.

            That is why the judgements of the book so frequently warn against danger. He who is conscious of danger creates peace for himself; he who takes things lightly creates his own downfall. The Tao of this book is great. It omits none of the hundred things. It is concerned about beginning and end, and it is encompassed in the words “without blame.” This is the Tao of the Changes.

The time at which the Changes came to the fore was that in which the house of Yin came to an end and the way of the house of Chou was rising, that is, the time when King Wen and the tyrant Chou Hsin were pitted against each other.

This is a reference to 1200 BC as the ascension of the I Ching.

It actually refers to the beginning of the era of Later Heaven, the era of divination and the divinity of mathematical randomness.

This was the time of King Wan and the Duke of Chou who wrote down a new interpretation and rearranged the sequence of trigrams according to mathematical associations rather than observations of nature.

In this Great Treatise it has been such that the Later Heaven arrangement has been encouraged and the Early Heaven arrangement was marginalized and discouraged.

However, even within the mathematical arrangement of Later Heaven the secret presence of the Earlier Heaven arrangement and its astrological foundations, while obscured, still remained a vital presence.

That is why the judgements of the book so frequently warn against danger. He who is conscious of danger creates peace for himself; he who takes things lightly creates his own downfall.


This tries to direct the source of advice in the judgements to the dangers and fears of King Wan and the Duke of Chou.

Since it was valid for them, it must be so for all of their subjects.

In the secret times of Earlier Heaven the danger would be not to live up to the influences of the heavens and the moving lights.

To elevate ones nature meant to live up to and emulate the nature of the gods.

To do so meant a life of good fortune.

To go against the ways of heaven would bring disaster or misfortune.

In the times of Earlier Heaven the changes and their sequence was natural.

The Tao of this book is great.

From 1200 BC, the beginning of Later Heaven and the mathematical sequence of the trigrams, the concept of Tao changed to an abstract concept of nothingness and hence peace.

However in the era of Earlier Heaven Tao represented the balance of the light and the dark in nature;

in the heavenly lights above,

in the cycles of the moving lights:

the sun through the zodiac or year,

the moon through its phases or month,

the earth through its rotation or hours or houses.

Originally the greatness went beyond the superior man and his virtue.

It originally included the ways of nature, that is, the heavenly lights above, the dark receptive earth below and the life of man in between.

It omits none of the hundred things.

The hundred things probably relate to the emperor’s rules and regulations as this number has not occurred in the changes themselves.

It is concerned about beginning and end,

The way is concerned with birth and death and with the beginning and end of natural cycles.

From this the way of living and the nature of the changes were determined.

and it is encompassed in the words “without blame.”

This is the teaching of the changes.

In the era of Later Heaven blame would come from not living up to the requirements of the superior man and the emperor.

There would be penalties and blame for not living up to, or going against the ways of the emperor and his society.

In the era of Earlier Heaven blame would come from not living up to the demands and cycles of nature.

In the seasons:

if one did not plant seeds in the spring when the light was increasing, misfortune would result and personal blame attributed.

The blame here is personal and the penalty is self inflicted.

In the month with its moon phases: there were tides and the demands of light accordingly.

The dark new moon presented very different challenges than the bright full moon.

In the rotation of the earth: day and night determined what was appropriate and what was not, and what would cause blame.

A good night’s sleep ensured good health and alertness.

Getting up and being active during the day would bring good fortune.

If one deviated from this cycle there would be increasing vulnerabilities and blame.

This is the Tao of the Changes.

There are two different Taos in the worlds of Earlier Heaven and of Later Heaven.

Three thousand years later, man has become separated from nature.

There will be sorrow and blame!

In the development of the mathematical era, man has gotten further and further away from nature and its ways of Tao.

Pollution is prevalent.

Entire species are becoming extinct.

Will there be sorrow?

Will there be blame?

Will there be life?

Thoughts about the decline of an era come to mind.

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