Thursday, October 18, 2007

How ancients interpret time?

In Chapter II of the Shuo Gua / Discussion of the Trigrams, it is said:

Heaven and earth determine the direction. The forces of mountain and lake are united. Thunder and wind arouse each other. Water and fire do not combat each other. Thus are the eight trigrams intermingled.

Counting that which is going into the past depends on the forward movement. Knowing that which is to come depends on the backward movement. This is why the Book of Changes has backward-moving numbers.

Commentary (extracts):
Here, in what is probably a very ancient saying, the eight primary trigrams are named in a sequence of pairs that, according to tradition, goes back to Fu Xi – that is to say, it was already in existence at the time of the compilation of the Book of Changes under the Zhou dynasty. It is called the Sequence of Earlier Heaven (Xian Tian), or the Primal Arrangement.

When the trigrams intermingle, that is, when they are in motion, a double movement is observable: first, the usual clockwise movement, cumulative and expanding as time goes on, and determining the events that are passing; second, an opposite, backward movement, folding up and contracting as time goes on, through which the seeds of the future take form. To know this movement is to know the future. In figurative terms, if we understand how a tree is contracted into a seed, we understand the future unfolding of the seed into a tree.

The Great Learning (Da Hsiao) exhorts students to investigate things to enable knowledge to be complete. In the course of an extended Yi studies, we would have come across the above saying in the Shou Gua. Either students do not understand what it meant or we had better things to do at the time. Yet, the saying could be on how the ancients interpret the timing of future events and that of Yi oracles. Interested?

The ancient Chinese probably understood the wisdom depicted in the Shou Gua well enough from extended experience to invent the calendar to determine the dates and months of a year for the common good.

If we wish to predict the timing of future events, we need to be familiar with timing in the past, which explain the advent of tables, charts, and records to determine patterns, going forward. (Think of my annual Yi charts and hexagram table; and the Tung Shu.)

If we understand the real meanings and attributes of each trigram, there are only eight trigrams, perhaps our chances of determining time in Yi oracles can be greatly enhanced.

Therefore one has always said that the timing in Yi prognostications is determined in the lines, trigrams, and hexagrams through awareness (obtained through extended divination experience) with no derivative methods required. Only earnestness and sincerity is required in our studies. I am sure Yi aficionados can afford that.

For a start, perhaps it is time for those who have ten years or more of Yi studies to really dig deep into the Ten Wings. Where there are more wisdoms and methods on Yi oracle interpretations to be uncovered than many may realize. Just leave behind your ‘misinformed’ bias, if any, when you investigate into things.

The Great Learning urges the student –
“Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated.”

Therefore you still have to do your own homework, if you want to improve your own understanding of timing in Yi studies, and to become cultivated, just like the sages and the wise that happened to read the Book of Changes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Allan:
This is a most interesting post. I have only minimal knowledge of the I Ching, so can you direct me to the Ten Wings?
John Ballantrae