Fourfold Use

Fourfold Use of the Book of Changes

1. The Book of Changes contains a fourfold Tao of the holy sages. In speaking, we should be guided by its judgments; in action, we should be guided by its changes; in making objects, we should be guided by its images; in seeking an oracle, we should be guided by its pronouncements.

The Book of Changes

This refers to the changes in the light and the dark, firm and yielding, creative and receptive.

It also refers to the changing hexagrams and the changing lines which lead to new hexagrams.

The changes in the light and the dark, in the heavens and on earth, refers to the zodiac or heavenly lights, and the astrological houses which measure the changes on the earth.

The changes in the moving lights (sun, moon & planets) are also included.

contains a fourfold Tao of the holy sages.

This is a later statement probably made during or after the time of Lao Tzu and Confucius (500BC) as the word Tao was not likely in use before Taoism.

The fourfold Tao implies four ways to find balance or the essence of things.

In speaking, we should be guided by its judgments;

In the changes themselves, emphasis is on silence and listening.

But if one is going to talk, it is suggested here that one should talk about the changes and their implications.

Value is placed on studying the changes before speaking.

Cultivate wisdom before speaking.

Know what you are talking about!

Wise men follow the stars!

in action, we should be guided by its changes;

It is suggested that we should base our action on advice from the changes.

Follow what is said in the I Ching.

It also implies that it is wise to follow the heavenly lights as they affect the earth and people.

One should consult the horoscope before one does anything.

It is advisable to emulate the nature of the gods and to lift one’s nature to the level of the divine!

This is the essence or balance of divine action or action aligned to the heavens.

in making objects, we should be guided by its images;

This refers to the images of the trigrams and the hexagrams.

It also refers to the images in the heavens and on earth.

The celestial map or horoscope is a divine image.

If we are to make something we would be wise to take guidance from it (from above).

This is the essence of the heavenly images.

They are meant to be applied to life.

If you are going to build something, do it right!

in seeking an oracle, we should be guided by its pronouncements.

In looking for advice, we should be guided by its pronouncements.

The pronouncements of the changes present proper advice.

It is advice that is based on the changes in what is above, what is below and what is in between.

Wisdom comes from watching the heavenly bodies and their effects on earth.

One should consult the horoscope (changes) for good advice.

The essence of good advice comes from the understanding of the heavenly lights and their effect on earth.

2. Therefore the superior man, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes, and he does so in words. It takes up his communications like an echo; neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future. If this book were not the most spiritual thing on earth, how could it do this?

Therefore the superior man, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes,

Before doing anything, one should take guidance from the changes in the heavens above and the effects of the earth below.

One should check the celestial forecast.

One should study the horoscope and the hexagrams which represent the zodiac, the houses and the moving lights.

and he does so in words.

This is advising a specific approach that has been pivotal for the mathematical applications of the changes.

Ask a question and you will get an answer.

This is similar to a particular form of astrology, horary astrology.

In horary astrology one asks a question, and then calculates the horoscope for the moment the question is asked.

From this an answer to the question is found.

Horary astrology reaches far back in history, and is still in significant use today.

It takes up his communications like an echo;

The changes or cycle of hexagrams themselves are neutral but when stimulated they encompass all situations under heaven.

The changes will reflect or respond to what one is thinking, but it is suggested that one will receive the message better if one asks the question in words.

Because it represents the conditions of heaven and earth at that moment it will reflect or echo one’s circumstances, concerns, and questions.

neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it,

Because the essence of the changes includes and transcends all circumstances, the source of the changes is beyond change.

Where do heaven and earth originate?

Where do problems and questions originate?

No matter how far away a moving light or a concern may be (heavenly lights, sun, moon, planets)

No matter how dark or deep the earth or a concern may be (receptive, earth, houses)

This refers to something at the top of the earth at noon or on the MC of the horoscope, the point highest above us on the earth, or to something deep under the earth on the IC of the horoscope or midnight point of the earth, the lowest point beneath us on the earth.

This is a seemingly contradictory statement but it is stating that the changes are close to and intimate with whatever is going on regardless of distance or depth.

This is so because it measures and clarifies all that changes.

and thus he learns of the things of the future.

By studying cycles and their phases, the zodiac with its fluctuating lights, the phases of the moving lights, the astrological houses and the changing circumstances on earth, the hexagrams and the changing lines, one will learn the ways of the future.

When one understands a cycle and observes a specific moment in that cycle one can predict what is coming next.

After the new moon comes the full moon.

After the full moon comes the new moon.

After summer comes winter.

After winter comes summer.

After noon comes midnight.

After midnight comes noon.

After great light comes great darkness.

After great darkness comes great light.

After Aries comes Taurus, then Gemini, then Cancer and so forth.

It is from the sequence in the heavens and the sequence on the earth and the sequences of the moving lights that the future can be determined.

Likewise there is an exact sequence to the hexagrams, and it is from this sequence the meaning can be gained and the future known.

If this book were not the most spiritual thing on earth, how could it do this?

This is a definitive affirmation of the nature of astrology and the hexagrams.

Life itself is filled with meaning, and man can come to understand this meaning by the study of its changes.

In this world of darkness the heavenly lights shine and give us guidance.

The meaning of life is in the fabric of life itself.

It is part of the very DNA of life!

Is there anything else on earth that could compete or contend with the changes?

This is where understanding comes from.

We stand on this earth, under the shining lights of the heavens.

Life is filled with meaning and guidance in its very structure and in its essence.

Within the structure and the cycles lies the essence of change.

3. The three and five operations are undertaken in order to obtain a change. Divisions and combinations of the number are made. If one proceeds through the changes, they complete the forms of heaven and earth. If the number of changes is increased to the utmost, they determine all images on earth. If this were not the most changing thing on earth, how could it do this?

The three and five operations are undertaken in order to obtain a change.

This is part of the mathematical justification of the changes.

It is different from the natural cycles but it is being used to give apparent credibility and reason to the yarrow stalk divination.

1. One stalk is taken out and does not go through the changes.

2. Two piles are created.

3. One is removed from the right hand pile and placed between the ring finger and the little finger.

4. The left pile is counted through by fours. The remainder is placed between the middle and ring fingers.

5. The right pile is counted through by fours. The remainder is placed between the forefinger and middle finger.

These are the five operations referred to.

(There is a further mathematical association here to the five fingers of one’s hand and to the five elements.)

The stalks are then added to get one change.

This process is repeated three times to obtain one line of change, or one line of a hexagram.

This is a mathematical consideration or description of how the changes are created and determined.

This is the way of Later Heaven.

No reference is made to the hexagrams being determined from a natural perception of the heavens (light) above and the earth (darkness) below, or of their natural and obvious cycles.

This process marks the end of the era of natural perception and the beginning of an era of mathematical abstraction and deduction.

Divisions and combinations of the number are made.

The stalks are divided and counted.

If one proceeds through the changes, they complete the forms of heaven and earth.

This is a simple astrological affirmation.

To proceed through the changes implies a sequence and if one proceeds through the zodiac (heaven) and the houses (earth) and the moving lights it will complete the forms of heaven and earth.

It appears to be saying that by counting the stalks in this manner, one will complete the forms of heaven and earth.

This is a process of giving credibility to the numbers, by giving them an association to natural factors and astrology.

If the number of changes is increased to the utmost, they determine all images on earth.

If one considers all of the numbers to determine the changes, and all of the numbers to make up all of the possible combinations of changing lines, they will determine all images on earth.

This is a complicated way of saying that these numbers are so vast that they can refer to all images on earth.

It continues to give primary importance and proof of justification to the images on the earth.

The images (heavenly lights) on the earth (astrological houses) are the natural order and way of things.

By making a mathematical association, however loosely, to the images in heaven and on earth, it gave credibility to the numbers and to the process of yarrow stalk divination.

The divination must be valid because it has a seeming astrological validity.

If this were not the most changing thing on earth, how could it do this?

The changes and astrology are indeed the most changing things on earth, but here divination is given credit for it.

Astrological divination became marginalized and even censored, in favour of the mathematical randomness of yarrow stalk divination.

An era of new abstract mathematical logic came to replace natural perception and astrological deduction.

4. The Changes have no consciousness, no action; they are quiescent and do not move. But if they are stimulated, they penetrate all situations under heaven. If they were not the most divine thing on earth, how could they do this?

The Changes have no consciousness,

The changes of themselves have no consciousness, as a whole they are balanced and neutral.

The images in the heavens (zodiac) and on earth (houses), individually, are divisions of a circle. Together they represent all aspects of a circle.
They include all the options.

It is only when a specific place is focused on that specific consciousness and the subsequent amplifications or biases arise.

Every degree in a circle or line in a hexagram has its own unique implications based on where it is in the cycle of change.

Each zodiac sign, astrological house and hexagram have their own unique implications, and we can learn from them when we focus on them or direct our consciousness towards them.

Each person with their consciousness is born or it has its great beginnings in a particular zodiac sign, astrological house and hexagram.

When we direct our attention to this we can indeed find understanding, wisdom and guidance.

no action;

When everything is in a state of balance there is no movement.

The signs in the zodiac, the astrological houses and the hexagrams are where they are and can be relied upon to remain there.

They hold their position and do not deviate.

They mean what they mean and will stay that way.

they are quiescent and do not move.

The essence of change is still and silent.

The zodiac signs (images in the heavens), the houses (lines on the earth) and the hexagrams and their lines remain fixed in their place and are still.

They are reliable and consistent in where they are.

They do not deviate or move from their place.

They are the base and standard of understanding.

But if they are stimulated, they penetrate all situations under heaven.

It is the moving lights (sun, moon and planets) that move in the heavens and cast their light down to earth.

As the moving lights move through, draw attention to, or stimulate the images in the heavens, they influence or shed light on the lines on the earth (astrological houses).

In doing so, they influence or affect all situations under heaven.

This is a description of the nature of astrology, how we are influenced by the stars and thereby have our own unique destiny.

The oracle is a mathematical means to tap into these teachings without using the planets or moving lights, without using an ephemeris or detailed information about celestial phenomena.

The yarrow stalks represented a different (numerological) way into the wisdom of the stars and their effects on earth.

This process allowed for the preservations of these teachings and the use of them by relatively uneducated people.

It was a new way of understanding.

It gave heavenly guidance to earthly man.

If they were not the most divine thing on earth, how could they do this?

The oracle is a divine or divinatory tool that allowed access to this higher or essential understanding.

It brought the user to wisdom.

The horoscope is also a divine or divinatory tool that allows access to this higher or essential understanding.

It brings the user to Wisdom.

5. The Changes are what has enabled the holy sages to reach all depths and to grasp the seeds of all things.

The Changes

The hexagrams are one and the same as the zodiac (lights in the heavens), the houses (lines on the earth) and the moving lights (sun, moon and planets)

are what has enabled the holy sages

These are the tools that the holy sages used.

The holy sages of ancient days were the astrologers, shamans, priests and healers.

to reach all depths

By understanding the changes above, below and in between they developed wisdom.

In this way their understanding became deep and profound.

and to grasp the seeds of all things.

The seeds are the beginning moment of every cycle of change.

The seed of the zodiac or year is the longest night, the greatest darkness after which light returns and increases.

The seed of the day or astrological houses is midnight, the greatest darkness after which the light returns and increases.

The seed of the moving lights is the new moon (or conjunction), the time of greatest darkness after which the light returns and increases.

The moon waxes brightly up to the full moon and then wanes back to the greatest darkness at the new moon.

In the seed lies the essence of wisdom.

These cycles have their distinct sequence of light moving out of darkness and then returning to darkness.

These sequences represent the original insights and understandings of Earlier Heaven or Fu Hsi.

6. Only through what is deep can one penetrate all wills on earth. Only through the seeds can one complete all affairs on earth. Only through the divine can one hurry without haste and reach the goal without walking.

Only through what is deep can one penetrate all wills on earth.

It is only through the use of the changes and astrology that one can see the individual destiny of every person.

Through the horoscope (changes) one comes to understand the initial character at birth and the subsequent will, or the nature of one’s actions in life.

The spirit has entered life at the great beginning (birth) and has come with a specific will and nature which it will use until the end of things, or until time runs out at death.


Through the use of the moving lights one can understand the cycles of experience and life, and one comes to know the seed moments as they present themselves in a person’s life.

In the seeds of change lies great wisdom and depth.

By knowing the beginning of cycles one is enabled to make profound changes in life.

Only through the seeds can one complete all affairs on earth.

Through knowing the great beginning or seed of life, or one’s horoscope,

One can see the challenges of a lifetime.

By knowing the horoscope well and observing subsequent cycles or changes one can live up to one’s potential and complete what one came into life to do.

Without this special knowledge we would be lost in ignorance and unlikely to fulfill our potentials or complete our affairs before we die.

Only through the divine

Only through divination or, more clearly, only through using these divine tools (horoscopes and hexagrams)

can one hurry without haste and reach the goal without walking.

Through astrology one can get in touch with the time of one’s life.

With this understanding, one can live dynamically, fully and align with the nature and ways of the gods themselves.

One can align with the moving lights, emulate them and elevate one’s nature.

One can move as fast as the planets, or times of change, without haste because one can be prepared in advance.

7. When the Master said, “The Book of Changes contains a fourfold Tao of the holy sages,” this is what is meant.

The Book of Changes contains a fourfold Tao of the holy sages.

Here the fourfold Tao refers to four means of understanding the essence of one’s circumstances or of any cycle of change.

There are four phases in every cycle.

There are four seasons in every year.

There are four sections of the day.

There are four phases of the moon.

In each cycle knowing these four phases

will lead to the essence of understanding.

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