Friday, December 15, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 15-DEC-2017

Hexagram 5, line 4:


六四 需于血。出自穴。

Six in the Fourth. Waiting in blood. Leaving your cave.

The cave of blood, a vivid and dark image. We do not know what was intended by the early text. This line is Yin and in a Yin position and its corresponding line at one is correct. So even though both of them are not central, their interplay is beneficial.

Redmond (2017) has an interesting angle on this, that the blood is the blood of sacrifice and thus is not a negative factor, but a norm. The participants in a sacrifice would at points in the ritual rub the blood onto objects (such as bells and drums) or themselves (for instance a sacrifice held at an oath ritual would involve smearing the lips with blood in descending order of the hierarchy of honor).

The position is difficult, in the usually problematic fourth place. It is a time for a change of pace, as in the American expression ‘you need to get out more’. A slavish conformance to routine can slowly dig us into such a rut that we can no longer see the outside world. It’s time, then, to get out of the cave and take a walk in the sunshine.

Huang Dao Zhou cites the Book of Songs, Mao 218, verse 3:

Even though I have no good wine, the drink will be fairly good;
Even though I have no fine viands, the food will be fairly good;
Even though I have no bounty to give you, we will have song and dance.

(Karlgren’s translation)

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

After the crisis situation shown in the previous line further movement takes on a new aspect of waiting. This is a not a passive waiting, it is active, full of inner strength acquired in the previous stages. In order to take acquired knowledge into the future here will require defending it and liberating it from the opposing forces. The seemingly peaceful act of waiting is transformed into such intense activity that it can only be shown with the image of bloody battle. This is not waiting on the sandy bank or in the mud…but in blood. But only here is here an exit from the dark cave of ignorance into a world clearly and openly perceived. The text couches this in the following phrases:

Weak line in the fourth place.
Waiting in blood.
Leaving the cave.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

54

If you are a warrior, go into a fighting area.
If you are not. Get to a safe area and outside any building.

Commentary: In Second Life one of the land settings is a little heart for ‘damage’. When turned on, it allows people to inflict ‘damage’ on an avatar. This is measured in percent and when it goes to zero the avatar is teleported home, a symbolic death. Many roleplaying areas have more advanced combat systems, usually worn as a HUD (head up display).


Forest of Changes verse for today:

5 - 43

The North Star is at the core of the Purple Palace,[1]
By clothing and cap establishing the central.
By using benevolence establishing virtuous power,
Great are the repeated blessings.


[1] The constellation where the North Star is found is called the Purple Palace in Chinese and is a symbol of the royal palace of the emperor. Ursa Minor, and parts of Camelopardalis, Draco, Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

Buy a copy of the Forest of Changes 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 14-DEC-2017

Hexagram 9, judgment text: 

小畜

The Small Tames

Hexagram 9


小畜 亨。密雲不雨。自我西郊。

Old text:

Small Victim. Sacrifice. Clouds gather without rain from our western border.

New text:

The Small Tames. Clouds gather without rain from our western border.

This hexagram means raising, as in raising livestock, as well as the associated concepts of cultivating, increasing and taming, but it also means gathering and stopping. Like the 5th hexagram, Waiting, we have Qian below and a Yin line immediately in front of it. In Waiting the image is waiting before a stream. Here the water is suspended in the air. As hexagram 14, Da You, Great Possessing shows five yang lines controlled by the wealth of one Yin line, here one Yin line is ‘herding’ the five Yang lines around it. Thus like the hexagram before it there is gathering here, but due to a small thing…the accumulation goes to the neighbors, not to us. Thus the last line, literally ‘from our western neighbor’ or ‘from our western outskirts’, may actually mean ‘to our western neighbor’. In the Yi Jing on Silk there is a quite different meaning to the text. The title tag is ‘harvest’, not taming and the term used for neighbor is ‘dry fodder’ or ‘pasture’. I favor the use of the meaning dry fodder. Interpreted from that angle this means: ‘The lesser harvest. Clouds gather, but there is no rain on our fields of dry fodder in the west.’ Rain is almost always a blessing to a farmer…except when the dry fodder is in the field, gathered, but not brought in. A soaking rain will turn it into useless, rotting muck. The event is not as disastrous as losing a crop, thus ‘small harvest’, but it is still a setback. There are two hexagrams with Chu4 in the title tag, this one and 26. The ancient meaning of Xiao Chu was a small victim used in sacrifice, not the larger animals used by higher nobility and at great occasions.

Received in divination this hexagram text often points to an indecisive situation, a situation of ‘ferment’ as Gao Heng puts it. There is the potential for great benefits, but they are held up by the situation or by poor process.

Sometimes in life there is a big pile of wood, someone has spilled kerosene and lighter fluid all over it, several people are standing around with match and…no fire. This is because is not yet right. When it is the time, lightning will strike in several places at once.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Hexagram 9 Educated by the Small

Here, as in the preceding two hexagrams, one line is contrasted with the others, and that line becomes their point of focus. This catalytic effect of the minority was already seen in the preceding hexagram. Intensified here, it gradually affects the entire process. The opposing entity germinates here, so to speak. Also, it is entirely in the outside environment, characterized by the yielding quality of the Xun trigram, counterpoised with the tension and creativity of the Qian trigram below. So the situation here is weakness beginning to overcome strength, putting obstacles in its path. Another aspect here is the resistance and differentiation of the individual to their surroundings. There is an untranslatable play on words in the original text, with the same word meaning ‘obstacle’ and ‘educating’. References to it are like a red thread meandering through the commentarial literature. After all, obstacles are the key to education; and overcoming them, turning the negative into a positive, is the best way to teach patience and persistence. What then is the ‘obstacle’ that is educational here? The answer to that question is found in a strangely autochthonic image. Rain clouds in China generally come from the east, from the sea. The authors of the Book of Changes, the Zhou, traditionally came from the west. Thus for the book’s authors the west symbolized the past. Clouds coming from the west (and thus from the past) do not bring fertilizing rain. Only education produces development, but to attain to it one must overcome the past. A concept often seen in the works of Yi Jing scholars on this hexagram is that one must overcome the past, thereby preventing it from overcoming the present. This includes Ou Yi, who exclaims: “When sages rule the world they do not hold the people in contempt because of their limitations. The Buddha, saves all, includes even demons among the saved. Shall the one who is perfecting their conscience, moving triumphantly forward, be held back by obstacles? They are the cobblestone that cannot stop a wagon wheel, the blow that strikes a bell to make it ring or the sharpening stone to the knife. When pigs approach a golden mountain they only increase its radiance. When frost and snow increase the pines and firs are most beautiful. That’s why this is about development.” Thus we see that the memory of past stages of cognition can form an obstacle to the new cognitive act that must be overcome, resulting in education. These words of the commentaries can be heard to echo in the text:

Educated by the small.
Development.
Dense clouds, but no rain; (they) are from the western borderland.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

90

Seek mountains in the West and conceal yourself in the clouds to meditate.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

16 - 9

The bat hides itself in the dark of night,
Not daring to show itself in the daylight.
The wine becomes vinegar,
A stew of rotten salted bream.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 13-DEC-2017

Hexagram 36, line 2:


六二明夷。夷于左股。用拯馬壯吉。

Old text:

Six in the Second. Offering up a strong horse. Good fortune. Trouble disappears.

New text:

Six in the Second. Rescued with the aid of a strong horse. Good fortune.

The old text version is based on the Yi Jing on Silk. Field (2015), maintains that this was an omen for gelding a horse to make it stronger. However I cannot find anything to support that conclusion. Instead, gelding is used to make a stallion more compliant and to keep it from breeding (i.e. if it is considered an inferior animal). Rutt (1996) also agrees that this was an omen of gelding, but instead of strengthening reads healing.

I see an instance of meaning ‘to use in sacrifice’, ‘to offer’ here. The word in later texts that means to save or rescue was in the old texts to raise up, though comes commentaries maintain this also means to rescue. The old text has an additional divining tag of ‘trouble disappears’.

The practical sense of the text is to look for outside help and, if necessary, moving to get to better conditions. But that outside force is strong, but passive. We are calling on a force that we can control to get us out of the current unpleasant circumstances, essentially calling in the cavalry to save the day.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

The impact of the characteristic defeat of this situation is reaching farther and farther. The person who is providing support in such a situation needs to show enormous strength in order to bring about a good outcome. The horse symbolizes great strength and active power in the Book of Changes. Therefore we read in the text:

Weak line in the second place.
Light defeated.
(He) is wounded in the left thigh.
Help as powerful as a stallion is needed.
Good fortune.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

362

Injured in the thigh.
Escape on an animal's back.
Help your friends get to safety.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

36 - 11

Though danger presses urgently,
A misfortune, if watched for, does not occur.
The tiger dares not put its teeth into me,
My profits increase.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 12-DEC-2017

Hexagram 56, judgment text:


Hexagram 56
Traveler
小亨。旅貞吉。

Old text:

Traveler. Small sacrifice. For the traveler divining is fortunate.

New text:

Traveler. Small success. For the traveler firm correctness is fortunate.

Although the judgment text here is generally favorable, this hexagram as a whole is not. After the apex of power, the apogee of position that we saw in hexagram 55, comes the traveler. The king who was surrounded by ring upon ring of supporters and defenders is now a stranger on a perilous journey with a single servant, and may lose even that final retainer.

It was common to make a small sacrifice at the start of the journey. A thousand years after the Yi was written, in the middle of the Han Dynasty, there were a few curious practices in these travelers’ offerings. There were magicians who specialized in such rites, but the concept was so evil it was eventually forbidden by the government. You see, they would offer to the spirits of the road, asking that the accident or attack that would befall the traveler be transferred to some other poor sap on the road.

It might seem strange to modern people to make a sacrifice before setting forth on a journey, but consider the conditions for the ancient traveler. The roads were nearly non-existent, the elements as fierce as today and the wild animals much more numerous; in many places barbarians and bandits lined the route. On top of that, if you read Chinese tales of ghosts and strange phenomena, a great many concern traveling. A typical scenario is: Person goes traveling, stops in an abandoned temple to sleep for the night, chaos ensues.

There is an interesting (and ironic) description of such an offering in the Jiao Shi Yi Lin (Forest of Changes) a Han Dynasty divinatory book based on the Yi:

16 - 26

Stopping the light chariot to offer the ancestors a libation,
A sudden wind arises.
Ritual vessels and ancestral tablets go flying.
The prayers were for blessings on the road,
And safety from harm.

In fact, the sacrifice, and complications of it, may not be limited to antiquity. There was a story in the news recently of an elderly Chinese woman who made a sacrifice for good luck before her journey, throwing coins. Unfortunately she decided to throw them into the engine of her plane and the flight was delayed several hours.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Hexagram 56 Traveling

The previous hexagram spoke of personal home and wealth, a life of plenty with scarcely a mention of that wealth’s outward pathways. The present hexagram speaks about those pathways. The subject here is traveling. But no matter how far the journey it has to start from a few steps. So although the growth and success is small, it should be remembered that it could be the start of a long journey which will require perseverance. In the previous hexagram the sun was at the halfway point of its path, but that means it was starting to decline, to set. The image of the trigrams shows this decline as well, Li, Fire, atop Gen, Mountain; the image of the sun setting behind a mountain. This image shows us the gradual withdrawal of Traveling.

Traveling.
Growth for the small.
Perseverance is fortunate when traveling.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

560

Travelling.
Make a small donation.
Ask the Oracle again about your destination.
Good fortune.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

56 - 53

The Wei Serpent moves slowly,[1]
My thoughts are of father and mother.
Work done for the king must not fall short,
I have no time to rest.

[1]  The Wei Serpent was a creature mentioned in the Classic of Mountains and Seas. It is also mentioned in the Zhuang Zi and the Wen Xuan. According to tradition it was a creature found in the swamp. Those who confronted it would become ill, but if they were fated to be a hegemon they recovered. The story is told that Duke Huan of Qi, the first hegemon, met such a creature. From the Zhuang Zi, Chapter 19, translated by Legge: 'Let me ask what is the Wei-tuo like?' asked the duke. Huang-zi said, 'It is the size of the nave of a chariot wheel, and the length of the shaft. It wears a purple robe and a red cap. It dislikes the rumbling noise of chariot wheels, and, when it hears it, it puts both its hands to its head and stands up. He who sees it is likely to become the leader of all the other princes.' Duke Huan burst out laughing and said, 'This was what I saw.' On this he put his robes and cap to rights, and made Huang-zi sit with him. Before the day was done, his illness was quite gone, he knew not how.’ See Bodde, 1975, p. 102 - 103, Knechtges, 2014 p. 292, Granet, 1926, p. 317. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 11-DEC-2017

Hexagram 29, judgment text: 


習坎
Pit Trap (Danger)
Hexagram 29
習坎。有孚。維心亨。行有尚。

Old text:

Repeated danger. Having captives. Offering the hearts. Traveling praiseworthy.

New text:

Repeated danger. Having sincerity. Relying on the heart/mind has success. Actions are honored.

This hexagram shows Kan, water, doubled. The concept of Kan is a pit trap filled with water. It represents peril, risk, but for those who get through it, success. In the west the element of water, the sea, is also associated with risk and commerce. In a situation of danger the single most important key to survival is ‘keeping your head’. That is what is meant by relying on the heart/mind. The concept of heart and mind in early China are combined. As in the west the anatomy of the matter was foggy, but conceptually the idea of heart and mind, are one, with the word for heart, Xin used for the concept of mind.

The contrast between the old and new interpretations of the texts is dramatic, based once again on the term Fu, captive in ancient usage, sincerity in modern meaning.

A Han dynasty alternate to ‘offering the hearts’ is ‘binding the hearts’.

The concept of water in China is more related to mercury in the west, quicksilver, symbolic metal of the God Mercury. Water represents risk and danger as well as trade and communication. Looking at a world map if you find the places furthest away from water they are also the places of least commerce, the most obscure places on earth. This is because water is at once something that can be harnessed to move on or through and something that can be destructive. But without it, life fades away.

The energy of water is gradual, in contrast to Li, fire. I read once that scientists think that uranium gains its massive store of energy from many, many millennia of water flowing by, accumulating energy in the stone. I’m not sure if that is still current science, but still like the idea.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Hexagram 29 (Repeated) Danger (Abyss)

The name of this hexagram can be translated two ways: danger or a bottomless pit. So although the commentaries address the word ‘danger’ the images of a pit are all over the place. Danger in the present hexagram comes about because several of the nearby hexagrams are rather peaceful and show a person’s life as equally peaceful. But the most peaceful existence, if insufficient preparation is made for future difficulties and calamities, leads to carelessness. From the viewpoint of gnoseology the commentaries see this as replacing the act of cognition with accumulated memories. But if the concentration here were only on the state of being in a pit here that would not be characteristic of the Book of Changes, the goal of which is to give warnings and advice to overcome the difficulties of various life situations. So it is perfectly natural here to find advice on how to escape the current situation. The image of the trigram Kan, here repeated, is uncompromising movement in the midst of stagnant surroundings. Richard Wilhelm has an interesting interpretation of the trigram Kan. A strong line is placed between two weak ones. But the weak lines do not so much represent weakness as they do inertia, stagnation. So Wilhelm speaks of the image of a stream that runs between frozen banks. It is thus with a person’s moral action, which should run through all the accustomed views, traditional conventions, etc. This sets the tone of this hexagram, calling urgently to seek the truth, that inner constancy found mentioned in the text. Because it is only internal constancy that can lead to a person’s actions harmonically synching with world development and thus receiving approval. So we read in the text:

Repeated danger.
The possessor of truth is perfected only in the heart.
Actions will be approved.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

290

Pitfalls.
Speak with a stranger.
Donate where and what your heart tells you.
Fly up out of danger.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

29 - 46

Widowers and widows, orphans and the unmarried,
Bitter and thin is their fortune and fame.
Entering the house and not seeing your wife,
Bitter is Wu Zi’s grief. [1]


[1]  From the Zuo Zhuan, Duke Xiang, year 25: 'The wife of the commandant of Tang of Qi was an elder sister of Dong Guo Yan, who was a minister of Cui Wu Zi. When the commandant died, Yan drove Wu Zi [to his house] to offer his condolences. Wu Zi then saw Tang Jiang (The wife of the commandant), and, admiring her beauty, wished Yan to give her to him for his wife. Yan said, "Husband and wife should be of different surnames. You are descended from [duke] Ding, and I from [duke] Huan; the thing cannot be." Wu Zi consulted the milfoil about it, and got the diagram Kun (), which then became the diagram Da Guo (大過); which the diviners all said was fortunate. He showed it to Chen Wen Zi, but he said, "The [symbol for] a man [in Kun] is displaced by that for wind [in Da Guo]. Wind overthrows things. The woman ought not to be married. And moreover, [upon Kun] it is said, 'Distressed by rocks; holding to brambles; he enters his palace and does not see his wife. It is evil (see the Yi, on the third line of Kun)' 'Distressed by rocks;'—in vain does one attempt to go forward. 'Holding by brambles;'—that in which trust is placed wounds. 'He enters his palace and does not see his wife; it is evil:'—there is nowhere to turn to." Cui Zi replied, "She is a widow; —what does all this matter? Her former husband bore the brunt of it." So he married her. Afterwards duke Zhuang had an intrigue with her, and constantly went to Cui's house. [On one occasion] he took Cui's hat and gave it to another person; and when his attendants said that he should not do so, he remarked. "Although he be not Cui Zi, should he therefore be without a hat?" The incident is also cited as one of the instances of divinations interpreted in the Zuo Zhuan by Rutt (1996), p. 188.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 10-DEC-2017

Hexagram 23, line 1:


初六 剝牀以足。蔑貞凶

Old text:

Initial Six. Flaying the slave’s feet. Bad omen for a dream. Misfortune.

New Text:

Initial Six. The bed’s legs collapse. Bad omen for a dream. Misfortune.

Perhaps nowhere else in the Yi is the contrast between ancient and modern texts as obvious as in this one. The barbarous flaying of prisoners for a sacrifice comes to be the benign, if not fortunate, situation of collapse in the later interpretation of the hexagram.

The term Chuang, a bed, found in lines 1, 2 and 4 here has always sounded odd to me. Rutt introduces the term ‘ewe’ for it. Kunst and Field associate the whole hexagram with a specific historic incident, that of Wang Hai, a founding ancestor of the Shang. I maintain that the Bronze Age Yi was primarily a manual of sacrifices and the associated omens of sacrificial rites. Animals were raised for regular offerings and that which was taken in the hunt and in war was offered as it came along. Here we have a plundered victim, animal or a slave (based on the alternate word Zang instead of Chuang), and a failure in the flaying. Perhaps the skin splits and thus will not be useful for the making of ritual objects. Zang is found in the Mawangdui Yi on Silk and translated as ‘good’ by Shaugnessy, but there are alternative definitions in the Grand Ricci Dictionary of slave, plunder, and person captured in war, which fits in perfectly with the ancient layer of the Yi.

In the new text we have the first line, naturally associated with images of a bed and feet. Even that image is split between the past and present. In antiquity, as in the country to this day in China, the bed is more like an earthenware oven on which one sleeps, at least in the north. It is a continuation of the floor, and thus fits here, as does the image of feet at the bottom of the hexagram. In later times beds came to have feet, thus the new text image of those feet collapsing, the situation losing its foundation right from the start…a bad omen. The translation’s use of ‘dream’ comes from Gao Heng. Dream interpretation was a key element in Chinese omenology as it is everywhere else that humans dream. Indeed, it even made its appearance in the Analects, where Confucius sadly relates:

[7-5] 子曰。甚矣吾衰也 久矣吾不復夢見周公

[7:5] The Master said: “I am really going down the drain. I have not dreamt of the Duke of Zhou for a long time now.” (Translation by A. C. Muller)

In Yi Dao philosophy common sense plays a large role. It is easier to fix a crack that is just starting to form. Let it progress, and it may ruin the situation entirely. That is the warning here. Things are off to a bad start. Step in to actively prevent them getting even worse.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

When faced with an oncoming wave of destruction it is particularly important to bear in mind that even if that wave is about to pull the rug out from under our feet, depriving us of our comfortable ‘bed’, that this process is sequential, as are all processes seen in the Book of Changes. So if one maintains a steadfast perseverance it is still possible to fight the growing trend while it is still not strong. Even if the damage is not heavy and the process is just beginning that perseverance must not be neglected here. The bed is an image of a person’s calmness. Here it is used to show damage that is appearing at the very foundation of a person’s peaceful existence.  It effects only the ‘legs of a bed’. But it is the start of a process and only perseverance can stop it. Therefore the text warns:

Weak line in the beginning.
The bed’s feet are destroyed.
(If) perseverance is rejected (there will be) misfortune.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

231

Change your legs.
Drive out evil.
Bad omen.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

23 - 22

Raising robes to ford the stream,
The deep water soaks the cloth.
Luckily a boatman happens along,
And disaster is averted.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 08-DEC-2017

Hexagram 52, judgment text:


Hexagram 52
Stilling
其背。不獲其身。行其庭。不見其人。无咎

Old text:

Cleaving his back. Not capturing his body. Walking his court. Not seeing his people. No blame.

New text:

Stilling his back. Not feeling his body. Walking his court. Not seeing his people. No blame.

Much commentarial ink has been spilled over the meaning of this hexagram’s name. Though in terms of world image it is simply the mountain trigram doubled, in the texts attached to the figure there are dramatic differences between the old text of 1,000 BCE and the Neo-Confucianist view we find in commentaries after the Song Dynasty. The Ma Wang Dui Yi Jing on Silk uses the character for trunk, like the trunk of a tree, which has the same sound as Gen, but Shaughnessy interprets it as being stillness as in the modern texts. Kunst and Rutt call it cleaving, holding that the various parts of the body described are the acts of cleaving a sacrificial victim. Thus my old text translation, which follows them.

An alternate meaning of the character bei, ‘back’, is north. It shows two people with their backs turned to one another.

Stillness and motion, as Shchutskii points out below, are parts of a whole. We see this in the practice of still meditation of the 64 Gua in Zhou Yi Dao and the active dance of Yi Dao Zhuan martial dance. Moving and staying still is a matter of timing. Each has its time. When the divining tag is ‘no blame’ as here, it means a mistake is made, corrected, and no blame is assigned.

In the family symbolism of the Yi, Zhen is the eldest son and Gen the youngest. The dynamic motion of Zhen passes through the conduit of Kan, the trigram of water, business and risk and ends in Gen, stillness, when the Yang force is at the end of its cycle and about turn to Kun, the Yielding.

The structure of the sentence, with repeated use of the possessive particle Qi , is very similar to the text of hexagram 62, line 2: Six in the Second. Passing by his ancestor. Meeting his ancestress. Not reaching his ruler, meeting with his minister. No blame.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Hexagram 52 Concentration

The great Song Dynasty philosopher Cheng Yi wrote that the person who understands the essence of this hexagram understands the essence of Buddhism. Cheng Yi was not a Buddhist, but knew the Buddhist philosophy of his time very well. Apparently his description is correct, since Ou Yi, who was a Buddhist, gave this hexagram exhaustive attention in his commentary. It can be summed up like this: Motion and rest are inseparable. They are correlative concepts. Motion and rest are linked, each depending upon the other. They lack an independent existence since one cannot exist without the other. The stopping of motion is rest and the stopping of rest is motion, each concept depending on the other. The preceding hexagram spoke of total motion. Thus it was pointing to rest, but it is not possible to speak of two things at once in the Book of Changes, so the concepts are dealt with in succeeding hexagrams. Thus the present situation of maximum peace and concentration follows that of excitement. The main sense organs that excite our cognition are the eyes, located on the front of the face. The back, lacking senses of sight, smell and taste is thus the symbolic opposite of sensation. The spine is the most static element of the body if, with Ou Yi, we consider the sense organs themselves to be the place where the dynamics of sensation are most concentrated. The situation shown here is one in which concentration is so total that a person no longer senses their body, totally existing in the stillness of their back. They may still act, but that action takes nothing from surrounding objects and people. One would think that such detachment, submerged in the self, would cut a person off from the world completely. But the situation is temporary, indeed, momentary, a transitory abstraction, so the overall results are not bad. The text has this to say about it:

Concentration.
(Concentrate on) your spine.
Not sensing your own body.
Walking in your courtyard, not noticing your people.
No blame.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:

520

Rest up and change your back.

No trouble if you wander in a courtyard and all are strangers there.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

52 - 46

Sun Bin deceives Pang Juan,
He dismantles the cooking stoves.
The troops dive for cover,
The arrows fall like rain.
The Wei army is thrown into disarray,
About to be captured,
Pang Juan dies beneath a tree.[1]


[1]  Sun Bin and Pang Juan were disciples of one master, but Pang Juan betrayed Sun Bin, leading to him being branded a criminal and having his kneecaps removed. These events happened in Wei. Sun Pin feigned madness and fled, entering the employ of Qi. Eventually he would fight several battles with Pang Juan, ending with the battle of Ma Ling against Han. In 342 BC, the Wei army led by Pang Juan invaded the Han state, an ally of the Qi state, and Han requested help from Qi. Sun Bin used several ploys to deceive the enemy forces, feigning weakness and dismantling many of their cook stoves to deceive the Han into thinking there were less troops in the field. Eventually they used a surprise attack to send the Han army into a panic. Pang Juan, riddled with arrows, killed himself beneath a tree.