I Ching

I-Ching or the "Book of Changes" is an ancient Chinese divination manual and book of wisdom. Know more about it.

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I Ching

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:45 am

Source www.wikipedia.org

The I Ching or "Book of Changes" is the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. It describes an ancient system of cosmology and philosophy which is at the heart of Chinese cultural beliefs. The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change (see Philosophy, below). In Western cultures, the I Ching is regarded by some as simply a system of divination; many believe it expresses the wisdom and philosophy of ancient China.

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Implications of the title

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:46 am

易 (yì), when used as an adjective, means "easy" or "simple", while as a verb it implies "to change".
經 (jīng) here means "classic (text)", which derived from its original meaning of "regularity" or "persistency", implying that the text describes the Ultimate Way which will not change throughout the flow of time.

The conception behind this title, thus, is profound. It has three implications:
1.Simplicity - the root of the substance. The fundamental law underlying everything in the universe is utterly plain and simple, no matter how abstruse or complex some things may appear to be.
2.Variability - the use of the substance. Everything in the universe is continually changing. By comprehending this one may realize the importance of flexibility in life and may thus cultivate the proper attitude for dealing with a multiplicity of diverse situations.
3.Persistency - the essence of the substance. While everything in the universe seems to be changing, among the changing tides there is a persistent principle, a central rule, which does not vary with space and time.

(易一名而含三義:易簡一也;變易二也;不易三也。 commented on by Zheng Xuan (鄭玄 zhèng xúan) in his writings Critique of I Ching (易贊 yì zàn) and Commentary on I Ching (易論 yì lùn) of Eastern Han Dynasty).

Due to the profound ideas conveyed by the title itself, it is practically impossible to arrive at an unbiased translation which could preserve the original concepts intact. The translation of the title into English used to be Book of Changes, though a slightly more accurate name, Classic of Changes, appears more frequently in recent use.

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Traditional view

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:46 am

Traditionally it was believed that the principles of the I Ching originated with the mythical Fu Hsi (伏羲 Fú Xī). In this respect he is seen as an early culture hero, one of the earliest legendary rulers of China (traditional dates 2852 BCE-2738 BCE), reputed to have had the 8 trigrams (八卦 bā gùa) revealed to him supernaturally. By the time of the legendary Yu (禹 Yǔ), trigrams had supposedly been developed into 64 hexagrams (六十四卦 lìu shísì gùa), which were recorded in the scripture Lian Shan (《連山》 Lián Shān; also called Lian Shan Yi). Lian Shan, meaning "continuous mountains" in Chinese, begins with the hexagram Bound (艮 gèn), which depicts a mountain (::|) mounting on another and is believed to be the origin of the scripture's name.

After the traditionally recorded Xia Dynasty was overthrown by the Shang Dynasty, the hexagrams are said to have been re-deduced to form Gui Cang (《歸藏》 Gūi Cáng; also called Gui Cang Yi), and the hexagram Field (坤 kūn) became the first hexagram. Gui Cang may be literally translated into "return and be contained," which refers to earth as the first hexagram itself indicates. At the time of Shang's last king, Zhou Wang, King Wen of Zhou is said to have deduced the hexagram and discovered that the hexagrams beginning with Force (乾 qián) revealed the rise of Zhou. He then gave each hexagram a description regarding its own nature, thus Gua Ci (卦辭 guà cí, "Explanation of Hexagrams").

When King Wu of Zhou, son of King Wen, toppled the Shang Dynasty, his brother Zhou Gong Dan is said to have created Yao Ci (爻辭 yáo cí, "Explanation of Horizontal Lines") to clarify the significance of each horizontal line in each hexagram. It was not until then that the whole context of I Ching was understood. Its philosophy heavily influenced the literature and government administration of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE - 256 BCE).

Later, during the time of Spring and Autumn (722 BCE - 481 BCE), Confucius is traditionally said to have written the Shi Yi (十翼 shí yì, "Ten Wings"), a group of commentaries on the I Ching. By the time of Han Wu Di (漢武帝 Hàn Wǔ Dì) of the Western Han Dynasty (circa 200 BCE), Shi Yi was often called Yi Zhuan (易傳 yì zhùan, "Commentary on the I Ching"), and together with the I Ching they composed Zhou Yi (周易 zhōu yì, "Changes of Zhou"). All later texts about Zhou Yi were explanations only, due to the classic's deep meaning.

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Western ("Modernist") view

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:47 am

In the past 50 years a "Modernist" history of the I Ching has been emerging, based on context criticism and research into Shang and Zhou dynasty oracle bones, as well as Zhou bronze inscriptions and other sources (see below). These reconstructions are dealt with in a growing number of books, such as The Mandate of Heaven: Hidden History in the I Ching, by S. J. Marshall, and Richard Rutt's Zhouyi: The Book of Changes, (see References, below). Scholarly works dealing with the new view of the Book of Changes include doctoral dissertations by Richard Kunst and Edward Shaughnessy. These and other scholars have been helped immensely by the discovery, in the 1970s, by Chinese archaeologists, of intact Han dynasty era tombs in Mawangdui near Changsha, Hunan province. One of the tombs contained more or less complete 2nd century BCE texts of the I Ching, the Dao De Jing and other works, which are mostly similar yet in some ways diverge significantly from the "received," or traditional, texts preserved by the chances of history.

The tomb texts include additional commentaries on the I Ching, previously unknown, and apparently written as if they were meant to be attributed to Confucius. All of the Mawangdui texts are many centuries older than the earliest known attestations of the texts in question. When talking about the evolution of the Book of Changes, therefore, the Modernists contend that it is important to distinguish between the traditional history assigned to texts such as the I Ching (felt to be anachronistic by the Modernists), assignations in commentaries which have themselves been canonized over the centuries along with their subjects, and the more recent scholarly history aided by modern linguistic textual criticism and archaeology. Many hold that these perspectives are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but, for instance, many Modernist scholars doubt the actual existence of Fuxi, think Confucius had nothing to do with the Book of Changes, and contend that the hexagrams came before the trigrams. Modern scholarship comparing poetic usage and formulaic phrasing in this book with that in ancient bronze inscriptions has shown that the text cannot be attributed to King Wen or Zhou Gong, and that it likely was not compiled until the late Western Zhou, perhaps ca. the late 9th century BC. Rather than being the work of one or several legendary or historical figures, the core divinatory text is now thought to be an accretion of Western Zhou divinatory concepts. As for the Shi Yi commentaries traditionally attributed to Confucius, scholars from the time of the 11th century A.D. scholar Ouyang Xiu onward have doubted this, based on textual analysis, and modern scholars date most of them to the late Warring States period, with the some section perhaps being as late as the Western Han period.

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Structure

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:47 am

The I Ching symbolism is embodied in a set of 64 abstract line arrangements called hexagrams (卦 guà). These are each composed of six stacked horizontal lines (爻 yáo); each line is either Yang (unbroken, a solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the centre). With six such lines stacked from bottom to top in each hexagram, there are 26 or 64 possible combinations and thus 64 hexagrams.

Each hexagram is composed of two three-line arrangements called trigrams (卦 guà). There are 23, hence 8, possible trigrams. The traditional view was that the hexagrams were a later development and resulted from combining trigrams. However, in the earliest relevant archaeological evidence, groups of numerical symbols on many Western Zhou bronzes and a very few Shang oracle bones, such groups already usually appear in sets of six. A few have been found in sets of three numbers, but these are somewhat later. Note also that these numerical sets greatly predate the groups of broken and unbroken lines, leading modern scholars to doubt the mythical early attributions of the hexagram system (see, e.g., Shaugnessy 1993).

Each hexagram represents a state, a process and may represent a change happening. When a hexagram is cast using one of the processes of divination with I Ching, each of the lines may be indicated as moving or fixed. Moving ("old", or "unstable") lines have a polarity in the process of reversal; a full reading will consider the hexagram that would result from the lines changing polarity.

The traditional methods for casting the hexagrams use biased random number generation procedures, so the 64 hexagrams are not equiprobable.

There are a few formal arrangements of the trigrams and hexagrams with a traditional context. The bā gùa is a circular arrangement of the trigrams, traditionally printed on a mirror, or disk. According to legend, Fu Hsi found the bā gùa on the scales of a tortoise's back.

The King Wen sequence is considered the authoritative arrangement of the hexagrams: But when the workings of the River Maps are revealed it is found that the Ho Tu (Yellow River) and Lo Shu (Lo River) work together, and so, the workings of the I Ching are far more ancient than the historical figure of King Wen, going back to Fu Hsi who is a mythical figure of an estimated 3500 BC., or to the mythical Yellow Emperors of 2000 BC (as these older mthical characters are said to have invented the Ho Tu, and in some texts the Lo Shu, or the alternations of the days and nights). The workings of the River Maps are revealed when they are combined with the values of Heaven and Earth that are the 'Original Trigrams' (father and mother) - Heaven has all light or unbroken lines and corresponds to odd numbers 1,3,5,7,9, and Earth has all broken lines and corresponds to even numbers 2,4,6,8,10. The father and mother produce the values of the other 6 Trigrams which are called 'The Children'. When the values of Heaven and Earth are placed into the River Maps the right sequences of the all 8 Trigrams appears. The values of the Trigrams form an 8 x 8 square in each of the directions or elements, so the Ho Tu produces 4 squares that can be symetrical add together as opposite light and dark Hexagrams. The adding together of the values then produces a 5th inner which then corresponds with the Lo Shu. The Lo Shu therefore tell one how the Hexagrams formed in Ho Tu actually work, and thus the workings of the River Maps together with the values of Heaven and Earth allows all the maths of I Ching to appear (see Magic Square - of Lo Shu).

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Philosophy

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:48 am

Gradations of binary expression based on yin and yang -- old yang, old yin, young yang or young yin (see the divination paragraph below) -- are what the hexagrams are built from. Yin and yang, while common expressions associated with many schools known from classical Chinese culture, are especially associated with the Taoists.

Another view holds that the I Ching is primarily a Confucianist ethical or philosophical document. This view is based upon the following:
The Wings or Appendices are attributed to Confucius.
The study of the I Ching was required as part of the Civil Service Exams. These exams only studied Confucianist texts.
It is one of the Five Confucian Classics.
It does not appear in any surviving editions of the Dao Zheng.
The major commentaries were written by Confucianists, or Neo-Confucianists.

Both views may be seen to show that the I Ching was at the heart of Chinese thought, serving as a common ground for the Confucian and Taoist schools. Partly forgotten due to the rise of Chinese Buddhism during the Tang dynasty, the I Ching returned to the attention of scholars during the Song dynasty. This was concomitant with the reassessment of Confucianism by Confucians in the light of Taoist and Buddhist metaphysics, and is known in the West as Neo-Confucianism. The book, unquestionably an ancient Chinese scripture, helped Song Confucian thinkers to synthesize Buddhist and Taoist cosmologies with Confucian and Mencian ethics. The end product was a new cosmogony that could be linked to the so-called "lost Tao" of Confucius and Mencius.

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Binary sequence

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:48 am

In his article Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire (1703) Gottfried Leibniz writes that he has found in the hexagrams a base for claiming the universality of the binary numeral system. He takes the layout of the combinatorial exercise found in the hexagrams to represent binary sequences, so that :::::: would correspond to the binary sequence 000000 and :::::| would be 000001, and so forth.

The binary arrangement of hexagrams was developed by the famous Chinese scholar and philosopher Shao Yung (a neo-Confucian and Taoist) in the 11th century. He displayed it in two different formats, a circle, and a rectangular block. Thus, he clearly understood the sequence represented a logical progression of values. However, while it is true that these sequences do represent the values 0 through 63 in a binary display, there is no evidence that Shao understood that the numbers could be used in computations such as addition or subtraction.

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Symbolism

Post by Dj I.C.U. » Mon May 01, 2006 11:49 am

The Flag of South Korea contains the T'ai Chi symbol, or tàijítú, (yin and yang in dynamic balance, called Taeguk in Korean), representing the origin of all things in the universe. The taijitu is surrounded by four of the eight trigrams, starting from top left and going clockwise: Heaven, Water, Earth, Fire.

The flag of the Empire of Vietnam used the hexagram number 30 and was known as cờ quẻ Ly (Li hexagram flag) because the hexagram represents South. Its successor the Republic of Vietnam connected the middle lines, turning it into hexagram number 1. (see Flag of the Republic of Vietnam).

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