Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 22-AUG-2017

Hexagram 45, judgment text:


Hexagram 45
Gathered
亨。王假有廟。利見大人。亨。利貞。用大牲吉。利有攸往

Old text:

Gathering. Sacrifice. The king enters his temple. Beneficial to see the great man.
Sacrifice. Beneficial to divine. Using the great victim is fortunate. Beneficial to move.

New text:

Gathering. Success. The king enters his temple. Beneficial to see the great man.
Success. Beneficial to be firmly correct. Using great gifts is fortunate. Beneficial to move.

Before any great enterprise the people would gather and the king would make sacrifices to his ancestors in his temple. This would happen on the eve of a battle, with divination often being performed to determine the prospects for the war.

This hexagram is unusual in having what seems like a double text. The term for sacrifice/success occurs twice, dividing the text fairly evenly into two sections, each of which contains a complete set of omens. This is conjecture, of course, but one can’t help but wonder if some ancient scribe, faced with two versions of the text just included both. Interestingly, in the Ma Wang Dui Yi Jing on Silk the first instance of the word sacrifice/success is missing, giving rise to another conjecture…that it is just a duplicate and the first of the two doesn’t belong in the text.

The great victim would have been a full grown ox that met ritual specifications, a rare and expensive beast.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

Hexagram 45 Reunion

We have seen several instances of how hexagrams opposite in meaning follow one another in the sequence of the book of Changes. We see it here with this hexagram of reunion following one of confrontation and fragmentation. The reunion was already present as an internal quality in the previous situation. Here it becomes the basic theme of the hexagram as a whole. In ancient China the king was seen as the living representative of his ancestors, the previous rulers. Thus the contrasting of the living and dead is used in the aphorism of this hexagram. But the text speaks both of the contrast between the two and the reunion of these opposites. This is the meeting with the great man mentioned in the text. Since this reunion both as a whole and in all its particular aspects is a great and serious enterprise there is a call for a great sacrifice. If a person undertakes all of this their actions will be beneficial; although great, they guarantee their own success. We read in the text:

Reunion.
Success.
The king comes to the possessors of the temple (the ancestral spirits).
Beneficial to meet with the great man. Success.
Perseverance benefits.
A great sacrifice is needed (then there will be) good fortune.
Beneficial to have somewhere to go.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

450

Gathering
The king approaches the temple.
Meet with a great avatar and make a make a donation to their cause.
Consult the Oracle again.
Find a temple where there are animals and donate there, then travel on.

Commentary: The Great Avatar is either a semi-divine figure or a great (noble) leader or teacher.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

45 - 16

An animal bound to a tree by a pierced nose,
Fallen upon by a tiger.
A sacrifice to the Queen Mother of the West,[1]
Disaster strikes but the calamity is not complete.
Suddenly escaping.


[1] This goddess from mythology started as a primitive and frightening being in the pre-imperial period and evolved into a powerful but merciful figure in later times. Her veneration was very popular in the Han Dynasty, particularly beginning in the late decades of the Western Han.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 21-AUG-2017

Hexagram 33, line 5:


九五 嘉遯貞吉。

Old text:

Nine in the Fifth. Congratulatory piglet. Divining is fortunate.

New text:

Nine in the Fifth. Praiseworthy retirement. Perseverance (leads to) good fortune.

On festive occasions a gift of food often was the central and symbolic gift of choice. Here in the Old text version we see a piglet sent as a congratulatory gift. A familiar instance of such a gift is when the ruler of Lu sent Confucius a carp as a gift to celebrate the birth of his son. The Master was so honored he named the boy ‘Carp’.

The secondary and modern meaning of the hexagram is retirement or retreat. The Yang force, when faced with growing Yin forces, withdraws, gathering its strength till the day the cycle reaches a tipping point and it can begin to increase its presence again. Here the action is halted. It is a time to celebrate.

Being at the apogee and holding a celebration reminds me, in the context of the hexagram retirement—of a retirement party. One phase of life is over and a new one begins. There is a peaceful changing of the guard.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

The fifth line usually displays the fullest degree of external manifestation for a situation. Here however all outward action is directed to avoiding external manifestation, displaying one’s strength within. That is why the escape shown here is considered fortunate. This naturally requires perseverance. So the text says:

Strong line in the fifth place.
Fortunate escape.
Perseverance fortunate.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

335

Yield as to a friend.

Persevere and you will find good fortune.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

33 - 56

Limping on one foot, resting the shoulders,
The taboo is not broken.
A protective screen on all sides,
A fortress of metal with doors of iron,[1]
All is peace without disaster.


[1] The Yuan Dynasty edition notes that this relates to the Han Dynasty metaphor of mountain passes being a natural defensive gateway guarding the country.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 20-AUG-2017

Hexagram 31, line 5:


九五 咸其脢。无悔。

Old text:

Nine in the Fifth. Chopping out the loins. No regret.

New text:

Nine in the fifth: Influence in the loins. No regret.

The progression of parts of the body continues here. After a pause in the fourth line, here we reach the loin, the most choice cut for sacrifice in the old text.

The new text tradition views this as the neck or the place where jaw meets neck. Huang Dao Zhou points out the danger of excess, since the change of this line results in hexagram 62, where the small exceeds. In this fifth position it is easy to ‘go overboard’. When great resources are freely available there is still no cause for waste and excess.

The term ‘no regret’ is not frequently seen as divining tag, and only seen once in a lower trigram. Intuitively that seems right. We do not have regrets in the early stages of life, but later, as we reflect. In Yi Dao, as in Stoicism, regret is of no use. It is better in life to be here now, looking toward the future and learning from the past. But when something is in the past it cannot be changed, it cannot be undone. It is important to learn not to be anxious and full of regret about that which cannot be changed. Learn and move on. I feel that is how a follower of Yi Dao approaches ‘no regret’.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

In this line we can already see the unbending steadiness and persistence that will develop in the next hexagram. Thus the spine is taken as a symbol, an object that is the immobile stanchion. After all the trigram Gen is that of the spine, and in the text of the Book of Changes it is associated with immobility. This constancy means that although there were some errors committed in the past they can be corrected here. Thus the text reads:

Strong line in the fifth place.
Interaction.
(It only touches) your spine.
There will be no regret.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

315

Influence in the neck.
Achievement requires a solid foundation.
Find the tree of life.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

31 - 51

Younger brother and older,
Meeting in a narrow alleyway.
The young noble and the well-born girl,
“Sit together and play the reed organ.”[1]


[1] From Mao 126 of the Book of Songs.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 19-AUG-2017

Hexagram 13, line 4:


九四 乘其墉。弗克攻。吉。

Nine in the Fourth. Atop the city walls. The assault is turned back. Good fortune.

The defenders man the walls of their city to beat back the attack of those laying siege to the city. This is a Yang line in a Yin place, so it indicates defensive warfare. The city is safe, so there is an omen of good fortune.

It takes patience to sit things out, but the situation is ideal for it. Secure in the city under siege the troops sit atop the wall, easily beating back all attacks. This translates in life to being objective, looking down at the situation from above and making reasoned decisions, always remembering that a hasty move here could have catastrophic results.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

The crisis is past and it would seem that now is the time to realize the goal: uniting with people. But that meeting is shown in the second and fifth lines. So the fourth line shows the moment just preceding the meeting. If that is not understood there may be moments of intensive and immature (and therefore unsuccessful) aggression. When it seems the moment to charge forward is just about to come that is precisely the moment to hold back and let the situation mature. This is shown rather clearly in the text, which calls for turning to a life of seeking knowledge. Ou Yi interprets it thus: “The new act of cognition is in full harmony with knowledge acquired in the past. Although at the beginning the person feels a certain immobility, afterward they determine that it is that immobility that allows them to find the truth, eventually is capable to enter into that truth with total impartiality and attain good fortune.” The text expresses it thus:

Strong line in the fourth place.
Having climbed the city wall, do not undertake the attack.
Good fortune.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

134

Climbing up the wall without attacking.
Good fortune.
Reconciliation.
Go find a library.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

13 - 37

Quarreling and arguing,
Bickering ceaselessly.
Yin and Yang negate one another,
That ‘East Wind’ is blowing,[1]
A household is divided,
Mother and child are left behind.[2]


[1] This alludes to the Book of Songs, Mao 35. In that verse a woman is scorned by her husband. The east wind, usually warm and benign, heralds a damaging storm in the poem, a loved one’s betrayal.
[2] See also note to 16 - 37 in the print edition.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 18-AUG-2017

Hexagram 36, judgment text:


明夷
Hexagram 36
Injuring the Light

明夷 利艱貞。

Like hexagram 52, Resting, the present hexagram may well be associated with the process of making a sacrifice. The old text is full of images of body parts. Since it shows the sun beneath the earth one could conjecture that the sacrifice involves the solar cycle, for instance a rite marking the shortest day of the year and the renewal of the light. Kunst, and those of the new school follow Gao Heng’s lead in associating the hexagram name with a pheasant, specifically a kind of pheasant with feathers that were suitable for fletching arrows (Field, 2015).  So we have two of the common themes of divination texts from the Yi and its preceding oracles: Sacrifice and hunting. Timing is key in both activities.

Historically this hexagram is associated with good people suffering through bad government. There are, unfortunately, many examples of dissident voices silenced or imprisoned by self-serving and tyrannical rulers to call upon in history, in China and everywhere else. In times when darkness lords it over the light it is best to follow Confucius’ advice (in A. Charles Miller’s translation):

[14-3] 子曰。邦有道、危言、危行。邦無道、危行、言孫。

[14:3] The Master said: “When the government is just, you may speak boldly and act boldly; when you have an unjust government, you may act boldly, but be careful of what you say.”

So the follower of Yi Dao does not ‘stand down’ from their duty to what is right, but they don’t endanger themselves and others for the self-righteous pleasure of making speeches to repressive regimes that don’t actually cause change. This is reminiscent of the old George Bernard Shaw adage: “I learned long ago not to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

According to the Gui Cang from Wang Jia Tai Tomb 15 this hexagram was received about dragons:

“Brightness Obscured” says: In the past Xia Hou Qi divined about flying on a dragon to rise into heaven and the stalks divined…(Auspicious).

(Translation from Shaughnessy, 2013, p. 142).

The missing divining tag at the end is provided from a commentary by Guo Pu (276 – 324) to the Classic of Mountains and Seas (ibid. p. 143).

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

Hexagram 36 Light Defeated

It is easy to see when reading the Book of Changes that the hexagrams are succeeded by their opposites. Thus the first hexagram is all strong lines and shows pure Creativity, the second all weak lines and pure Completion. The previous hexagram showed the sun rising over the earth and the present one shows the sun sinking into the earth. This shows us that a person must not only be able to go forth, but also to withdraw. Because if a person does nothing but move outward it would violate the rhythm of activity and ultimately become a threat to their radiance. This hexagram is called Light Defeated. It shows the light descending into the darkness, into the depths of the earth. There is a second interpretation of the names since the second character can also be read as ‘barbarian’. Read this way the title becomes ‘Educating Barbarians”, i.e. descending from a high cultural level to people of low culture. Both versions appear in the commentaries, but Ou Yi insists on the first. When a person descends this way it is natural for them to encounter difficulties. But it is in difficulties when all is dulled and extinguished that we should remain firm in doing what is right. So the brief text says this:

Light Defeated.
Perseverance in difficulties benefits.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

360

Obscurity.

In bad times, persevere.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

36 - 24

Rumors and slanders,
Misleading one another.
The tracks by the road are gone without a trace,

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 17-AUG-2017

Hexagram 43, judgment text:

Punishment
Hexagram 43

揚于王庭。孚號有厲。告自邑。不利即戎。利有攸往。

Old text:

Punishment. Raised up at the king’s court. The captives cry out and there is danger. Reporting in your own city. No benefit to taking up arms. An expedition benefits.

New text:

Decision. Elevated at the royal court. Announcing truthfully. There is danger. No benefit to taking up arms. Beneficial to have somewhere to go.
This is a martial hexagram, but for most situations it is baleful. The character guai means a decision, a split in the river or fork in the road. It can also mean something divided by a knife. Thus the meaning of punishment. The term ‘weapons’ can also mean a specific group of tribesmen on the edge of Zhou territory, the Rong. Some scholars would interpret the line as ‘do not attack the Rong’. Although the conventional translation of the last line is ‘an expedition benefits’ here it may well mean ‘appropriate to retreat’.

This hexagram reminds us that thinking about a decision should be done before it, not after. As humans, the time line only runs in one direction for us, so once a decision is made and action taken in accordance with that decision the matter is done. We cannot go back for a ‘replay’. This means that we should not have regrets but we should learn lessons.  We cannot undo the past but we can learn from it and at least try to not repeat our mistakes. Yi Dao has a lot in common with Stoicism in this. Only be concerned about that which you can change.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

Hexagram 43 Going Forth

One must examine the structure of this hexagram in order to understand it. All the lines save the top one are strong and the sixth, a weak line, is graphically represented as a broken line, representing the possibility of breaking out or breaking away, i.e., making a decision. The bottom five lines represent a large collection of creative forces and obstacles retreat before them. Thus the hexagram’s title ‘Going Forth’, should also be understood as ‘decision’ and ‘breakthrough’, and the line texts will reveal those aspects of the hexagram. Why ‘breakthrough’? Because the increases of the previous hexagram eventually can to reach the point of overdevelopment, thus overflowing, so to speak. As water accumulates in a vessel and eventually pours out over the edge, just so here there is a rising force that departs from the previous form, pouring out of it. A great deal of inner rectitude is needed to not lose control of such a situation. That inner rectitude comes from the self, from speaking directly as oneself. If a person does the opposite, using force and weapons to aggressively move against others unconcerned with self-improvement will have bad results. With this one can understand the text:

Going forth.
Rising to the king’s court.
Call out aright.
(And if there) will be danger (then) speak for your town.
Not beneficial to take up arms.
Beneficial to have somewhere to go.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

430

Decisions.
Snakes and dragons abound.
Before making a move, announce your decision to all involved.

Danger, but still a good time for travel and action.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

43 - 43

Supporting Yao and assisting Yu,
Chi Song Zi, Wang Zi Qiao and Peng Zu[1] travel,
Going west to meet the Queen Mother.[2]
The road is level and smooth,
And no one dares block the way.


[1] Chi Song Zi lived at the time of the legendary emperor Shen Nong. Wang Zi Qiao was the son of King Ling of Zhou (r. 571 - 545 BCE). Their names became generic terms for hermits. Peng Zu (Ancestor Peng) was the Chinese Methuselah, supposedly living for 800 years.
[2] This goddess from mythology started as a primitive and frightening being in the pre-imperial period and evolved into a powerful but merciful figure in later times. Her veneration was very popular in the Han Dynasty, particularly beginning in the late decades of the Western Han.

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 16-AUG-2017

Hexagram 25, line 4:

九四可貞。无咎。

Old text:

Nine in the Fourth. Able to divine. No blame.

New text:

Nine in the Fourth. Able to persevere. No blame.

An alternate for the term ‘persevere’ in the New text version is ‘correct’, thus Legge’s use of ‘correct and firm’ or ‘firm correctness’ for the term. The Old text version simply means that one can proceed with the divination and the actions arising from it will not be unfortunate. There were two forms of divination used in early China ‘cracking the bones’ and enumerating the milfoil. The Yi was traditionally held to be the text used in interpreting the yarrow divination. Since this is an answer received in divination meaning ‘ok to divine’, perhaps it meant that it was appropriate to go on to the oracle bone divination after receiving this answer from the yarrow. The text here is so short that it may be truncated. Perhaps there was something after the word ‘to divine’, such as ‘able to divine about war’ or hunting, or health, or a thousand other possibilities.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

As we know, the fourth position is drawn to the fifth. The fifth line has the central and dominant position in the hexagram as a whole. The faultless state that is described in the initial text of this hexagram in a preparatory period. Thus the fourth line, drawn to the fifth as it is, has a very laconic text. All that is needed her is steadiness, steadily maintaining one’s faultlessness and nothing else. Therefore the very laconic text only says:

Strong line in the fourth place.
(If) you can remain steady there will be no blame.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

254

Make a suitable gift.

No trouble.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

25 - 42

As a flopping fish muddies the water,
So did Jie of Xia bring our land to chaos.
Harnessing the dragon chariot[1] to sally forth,
Eastward into the town of delights.
Heaven provides the fortunate occasion,
A life full of blessings.


[1] The royal chariot.