Composition and Use of the Book of Changes
1. The holy sages instituted the hexagrams, so that phenomena might be perceived therein. They appended judgments, in order to indicate good fortune and misfortune.
The holy sages instituted the hexagrams…
Who are the holy sages who instituted the hexagrams?
It is certainly a manner of giving credibility to the hexagrams and the changes without attributing it directly to Fu Hsi.
It also implies a different history for the I Ching as if it was written by many ancient sages rather than Fu Hsi.
The plurality of sages seems to give more credibility than referring to the single legendary Emperor Fu Hsi.
This occurs in many places in this treatise.
It is an unnecessary embellishment and tends to obscure history, or what has been passed on as history.
Filial loyalty applied to the Duke of Chou to his father, in writing down the changes.
It is certainly not referring to Fu Hsi who has been given imaginary status.
This is quite different than credibility.
so that phenomena might be perceived therein.
The hexagrams were established in order to gain perspective on the moving lights (Sun, Moon, and planets) and their changes and subsequent effects on the world.
They appended judgments, in order to indicate good fortune and misfortune.
From observing the moving lights in the hexagrams, or moving through the hexagrams and observing corresponding phenomena and forms on the earth.
Words were added and written down to signify the good fortune and misfortune implied.
This is a parallel description of the I Ching and astrology.
The moving lights are observed in the Zodiac Signs and their effects are seen in the astrological houses.
The result is easy or difficult according to the aspects made to it.
Hence there is good fortune and misfortune.
This probably refers to King Wan and the Duke of Chou who wrote down their interpretation of the effects of the changes.
Until this time the I Ching was an oral teaching, astrological in nature.
Observations and implications were passed on by word of mouth according to the understanding of those who knew the changes.
The written version set in motion a belief that these were the definitive judgments of good fortune and misfortune rather than a set of judgments or a new interpretation.
Having them written down seemingly gave the judgments a greater prestige and more powerful sense of truth.
It also allowed for a greater ability to pass on the teachings.
While much of the original teachings were included, many alterations were made and some understandings were left behind as if they were no longer valid.
This has become entrenched over the centuries as the right of the author to his own seemingly improved and better version.
Perhaps this author is the greatest fool of all, making comments on the comments of older commentaries!
- As the firm and the yielding lines displace one another, change and transformation arise.
The firm and the yielding were said to have been the original ancient meanings applied to the lines.
This can easily be understood and accepted by the martial art traditions, however, it is incomprehensible to think that in an oral tradition the observations of light and dark were not included.
There is a double meaning here.
1. It seems to be saying that the changes of the lines causes change and transformation to arise.
However, this may have been a problem in translation of pictures to words.
2. In the wheel of change or sequence of hexagrams, firm and yielding lines alternate accordingly.
The moving lights (change and transformation) move through them and can be seen and understood.
The lines, taken all together are neutral.
It is not until they are stimulated that changes can be seen and interpreted.
3. Therefore good fortune and misfortune are the images of gain and loss; remorse and humiliation are the images of sorrow and forethought.
Therefore good fortune and misfortune are the images of gain and loss….
Referring to the good fortune and misfortune as images reinforces the astrological nature of the judgments.
The moving lights are in a good or bad place as a consequence of which there will be gain or loss.
remorse and humiliation are the images of sorrow and forethought.
Again the word images implies the astrological nature of remorse and humiliation.
Living in accordance with the stars or failing to do so.
Both of these statements confirm the manner of judgment used in the interpretations of the hexagrams and the images in the heavens.
It shows the human and worldly effects of the celestial images in the hexagrams.
4. Change and transformation are images of progress and retrogression. The firm and the yielding are images of day and night. The movements of the six lines contain the ways of the three primal powers.
Change and transformation are images of progress and retrogression.
This appears to be saying that the hexagrams are the images of change and retrogression.
However change and retrogression are images of celestial phenomena or the moving lights.
Some of the moving lights (planets) progress forward and regress backward in the course of their cycles.
The firm and the yielding are images of day and night.
The solid and broken lines (firm and yielding) are the images of light and darkness.
They are positioned in a natural sequence around the circle.
In astrology this coincides with the circle of the Zodiac (seasons of the year), the astrological houses (2 hour segments of the day), and the moving relations (moon phases and aspects).
The lines (firm and yielding) have their set places in the circle or wheel of change.
The movements of the six lines
The lines are said to be moving however they do not move.
They are quiescent and do not become relevant unless stimulated.
It might be expressed more correctly as the movements through the lines.
contain the ways of the three primal powers.
In the changes the three primal powers are what is above (heaven), what is below (earth) and what is in between (the affairs of man).
These refer to the places of the three lines in each trigram.
This could also refer to the zodiac, the houses and the moving lights in between.
The moving lights move in the heavens, they are influenced by the stars and constellations.
They then have their effect on the earth and man tries to simulate them to elevate his nature.
Within the hexagrams themselves are the images of the three primal powers.
They occur within each trigram and are also represented by double lines within each hexagram.
In the upper trigram: Line 6 is above, line 4 is below and line 5 is in between.
In the lower trigram: Line 3 is above, line 1 is below and line 2 is in between.
In the hexagram as a whole: Lines 5 & 6 are above,
Lines 1 & 2 are below, and Lines 3 & 4 are in between.
In each hexagram these lines are either solid (firm and light) or broken (yielding and dark).
Within the hexagram, it is from the nature of the lines in the place of each primal power that meaning is derived.
They are also arranged in sequence as are the degrees of the Zodiac.
In divination one divines a hexagram in which the lines are said to be changing.
However each hexagram is a unique combination of firm and yielding lines.
The lines of a hexagram do not of their own accord change!
They are in the position they are in, within the hexagram and within the circle as a whole.
In the mathematical process of divination, for the sake of a question in the moment, the lines are said to be changing within the bounds of the situation.
This adds an extra hexagram into the situation so divined, to allow for a further sense of time and direction.
The changing lines are synthesized in the process of divination and in such a context are said to be moving, and the situation develops in a certain direction.
One’s relationship to a hexagram may change but the hexagram itself is a fixed combination of lines and does not change.
It is the moving lights or the changing numbers, and not the lines that move through the hexagrams.
5. Therefore it is the order of the Changes that the superior man devotes himself to and that he attains tranquility by. It is the judgments on the individual lines that the superior man takes pleasure in and that he ponders on.
Therefore it is the order of the Changes that the superior man devotes himself to and that he attains tranquility by.
The order of the changes is the sequence of change, from the longest night, through winter and spring, to the longest day through summer and fall and back to the longest night.
From the winter solstice to the summer solstice (from Capricorn to Gemini) and from the summer solstice back to the winter solstice (from Cancer to Sagittarius).
From midnight to noon and back to midnight
From new moon to full moon and back to the new moon
Nature moves in perfect rhythm.
Out of darkness light emerges and then it returns.
Out of darkness we are born.
We live our own lives until we return to the darkness.
If one devotes oneself to studying the order of the changes, one comes to understand the way of life and is not in conflict with it.
Everything will be in its natural order and one will come to tranquility.
The superior man is a concept within the written I Ching that gives preference to the way of the male.
It is through virtue that he comes to include the way of the female.
This is a naïve concept that presumes man is better than woman.
It gives preference to the way of the strong and virtuous.
It gives little or no attention to the way of women, who, through giving birth, nurturing children and guiding them, maintain the most demanding and essential role in life.
This is a bias that has been repeatedly established within the written development of the I Ching.
In nature, however, the forces of light and darkness, the firm and the yielding, as well as those of man and woman are balanced and worthy of equal consideration.
If we consider the superior man to be the healthy, virtuous and wise individual, then there is a more natural sense of the way of the individual in man and in woman.
It is the order or sequence of the changes that one should devote oneself to understanding and through which one will attain tranquility.
It is the sequence of the year, the day, the moon phases and the hexagrams or changes that deserves devoted study and yields understanding and tranquility.
It is the judgment on the individual lines that the superior man takes pleasure in and ponders on.
Each individual line is either solid or broken (light or dark, firm or yielding).
The circumstances of each line within the hexagram as a whole and in relation to the other lines around it, reveal a unique meaning, filled with implications and potential consequences.
The contemplation of these implications can reveal the good fortune and misfortune indicated and can suggest an appropriate way to deal with it.
Basing one’s behaviour on these lines will bring great benefits.
One will be able to improve ones circumstances and life.
This also usually implies the means to improving one’s character in the process.
In relating this to astrology, the places are the equivalence of the degrees of the zodiac and the circle or cycle.
As the degrees are occupied by the moving lights they become stimulated and add the quality of their circumstances (degrees/lines) to the nature of the changing heavenly phenomena.
As the heavenly phenomena occur they take on these implications and manifest the effects on earth.
From this good fortune and misfortune are determined.
The ways of heaven thus establish their presence and guidance on earth.
One improves by pondering these heavenly changes.
6. Therefore the superior man contemplates these images in times of rest and meditates on the judgments. When he undertakes something, he contemplates the changes and ponders on the oracles. Therefore he is blessed by heaven. “Good fortune. Nothing that does not further.”
Therefore the superior man contemplates these images in times of rest and meditates on the judgments.
In times of rest one contemplates and meditates.
It is advised to contemplate the images in the heavens: the constellations, stars and the moving lights.
This implies the astrological factors and their implications.
It also refers to the images of the trigrams and their relationship in the hexagrams as a whole.
Here the reference to both the images in the heavens and the images in the hexagrams applies.
This most naturally affirms the relationship of astrology to the I Ching.
To meditate on the judgments implies the judgments in the I Ching about the implications of each hexagram, based on the relation of the images (trigrams and Hexagrams).
This is a puzzling use of the word meditation.
It probably refers to deeper or more thorough contemplation with an eye to coming to peace with or accepting what is said in the Judgments.
To meditate here probably means to ponder upon or reflect upon.
When he undertakes something, he contemplates the changes
Before one does something one is advised to contemplate the changes.
This is a direct reference to the hexagrams and lines, but also includes a reference to the moving lights and the images in the heavens.
and ponders on the oracles.
Here the I Ching takes its place as an oracle or an interpretation of the implications of change, or a judgment on what is implied in one’s life, and what would be good or bad to do with this hexagram.
This equally applies to the workings of the changes in the hexagrams (I Ching) and to the changes in the heavens (horoscope).
Therefore he is blessed by heaven.
In this way one will be blessed by heaven because one will have considered the heavenly images and hexagrams as the basis of one’s understanding and one’s actions.
One will gain from this.
Nothing that does not further.”
Once one has considered the implications of heavenly changes and I Ching clarity, then everything will work better and nothing will come in one’s way.
This is one of the most astute perceptions about the nature of astrology and the I Ching and their positive effects.
A similar expression would be to thank your lucky stars for knowing such things in advance and being able to use them to one’s advantage.