Friday, June 23, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 23-JUN-2017

Hexagram 27, line 3: 

六三 拂頤。貞凶. 十年勿用。无攸利。

Old text:

Six in the Third. Slapped cheeks. Divining unfortunate. Do not sacrifice for ten years. Nothing profits.

New text:

Six in the Third. Slapped cheeks. Perseverance unfortunate. Do not act for ten years. Nothing profits.

The top line here is a Yang and the present line, corresponding to it, is a Yin. This means that a person in a high position, but with no knowledge of the situation ‘on the ground’, insults and harms a subordinate. The slap in the face here is merely a symbol of the substantive demotion by those above. Another example of such a situation is a person reaching out to the person they think is their source of nourishment and being rudely pushed away.

This is a very negative hexagram for both parties involved. The organization above is mismanaged, but pointing that out is dangerous to those below.

Ten years represents a complete cycle of time. In the old text perhaps it represents not ten years, but ten days or another unit of ten. It is hard to believe that something would literally not be done for ten full years. I believe this is an instance of the use of Yong, for sacrifice, not use, in the old text.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

The theme of depending on outside nourishment continues here from the previous line. It is repeated here, and it is entirely appropriate to the third line, which is the line of moving from inside to outside. But as we have seen repeatedly in this hexagram, to go outward is to wander from the path here. If a person persists in this, continuing their motion along the same trajectory, the effort cannot end well. Quite the opposite, they need to stop acting for as long as possible (as the Book of Changes puts it, ‘for ten years’), because action cannot produce anything beneficial. Thus the text says:

Weak line in the third (place).
Nourishment pushed away; perseverance unfortunate.
Do not act for ten years.
Nothing beneficial.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


Running your mouth can set you back ten years.

No place beneficial.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

27 - 22

A group of tigers enter the town,
Seeking meat.
A great person stands in defense,
The noble does not lose the nation. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 22-JUN-2017

Hexagram 36, judgment text:

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:



In bad times, persevere.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

36 - 36

The stone of that mountain,
Can grind down jade.[1]
They come to attack my city.
My skin is injured,
The nation suffers and grieves.

[1] Reminiscent of the Book of Songs, Mao 184:
The stones of those hills,
May be made into grind-stones.
…The stones of those hills,
May be used to polish gems. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 21-JUN-2017

Hexagram 58, judgment text:

Hexagram 58



Old text:

Pleasure (Seizing). Sacrifice. Divining beneficial.

New text:

Success. Sincerity benefits.

With a four-character judgment and a total of 42 characters, Dui is the shortest hexagram of the Yi. The judgment text here consists solely of divining tags, so it is possible part of the original text was lost in antiquity. The hexagram is missing from some of the most ancient and fragmental copies of the Yi available such as the Shanghai Museum text, but is present in the Ma Wang Dui Yi Jing on Silk. There the title is different, and ‘small’ is added: “Seizing. Sacrifice. Small benefit from divining.

The nature of rejoicing, celebrating and demonstrating joy makes me think of a phrase from this Analect, one that has a lot of key rules for the practitioner of Zhou Yi Dao:

[10-6] 食不厭精、膾不厭細。食饐而餲魚餒而肉敗、不食。色惡不食、臭惡不食。失飪不食、不時不食。割不正不食、不得其醬、不食。肉雖多、不使勝食氣。唯酒無量、不及亂。沽酒、市脯、不食。不撤薑食、不多食。祭於公、不宿肉。祭肉、不出三日、出三日、不食之矣。食不語、寢不言。雖疏食、菜羹、瓜 祭、必齊如也。

[10:6] When he ate he was not averse to refined rice, nor to finely minced meat. He would not eat rice that was rancid or had gone rotten, nor fish and meat that had spoiled. He would not eat food that that had a bad color or smell; he would not eat food that that was not cooked to the proper level, or which was out of season; nor would he eat food that was not properly sliced, or did not come with the appropriate condiments. Even if there was a lot of meat, he would not eat it greater quantity than rice. It was only wine with which he did not limit himself, but at the same time, he never lost control of himself. He would not drink wine or eat dried meat that came from the marketplace. He would not refrain from eating food with ginger, but he would not overdo it. When there was a sacrifice for the ruler, he would not keep the meat overnight. As for sacrificial meats in general, he would not keep them more than three days, and if they were more than three days old, he would not eat them. He did not chat while eating, and did not talk after retiring. No matter what kind of simple fare it might be, such as coarse rice or broth, he would always make an offering, doing so with due solemnity. (Translation by A. Charles Miller).

So the Master set limits on food, some very specific limits on the meat from sacrifices apportioned to him according to his governmental rank, but did not limit his wine…and never got ‘wake up in Vegas married to a prostitute’ drunk. When he was eating, he would eat, when he was sleeping he would sleep. There is very much of a ‘be here now’ element in this passage. Life is full of joy and sorrow. We set certain rules for ourselves and try our best to follow them, neither being overly strict (hexagram 60, judgment text), nor lax and foolish (hexagram 56, line 6). When we rejoice, we should rejoice, just as the Master ate and slept without distraction. We should drink/smoke to enhance the moment…but not to the point of losing control. There are many, many implications for ritual and life in general in this passage and I recommend it to your study.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Hexagram 58 Joy

If penetration achieves a certain goal, then a person gets great satisfaction from it. This satisfaction leads to experiencing joy. On the one hand joy is concerned with self-satisfaction, but on the other it can easily lead to dispersion. Thus this hexagram shows the process a person experiences after they have attained to a state of joy. The key is for that joy not to remain with the person themselves, but spread to those around them. Otherwise, locked in themselves, they will abuse the oy attained from the previous stage. The joy here must be developed and spread. This is only possible if a person doesn’t give themselves over totally to joy, consciously making sure that their actions are correct and sharing the joy with others. In that light we read in the text:

Perseverance furthers.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


Joyous lake.
Fortunate to donate or rate.
Fortunate to ask the Oracle again.

Good omen for weddings.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

58 - 58

The horses are set out to pasture, the army returns home,
Resting from its exhausting efforts.
The men are happy at last,
Entering their homes and seeing their wives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 20-JUN-2017

Hexagram 56, line 1:

初六  旅瑣瑣。斯其所取災。

Initial Six. The traveler is full of doubts and misgivings. Leaving his home, he meets with natural disaster.
A trip needs an itinerary. Setting off unprepared leads to trouble. The subject of this line is not even sure why they are setting forth, but they go anyway. Thus it is not favorable, as are the majority of lines in this hexagram. The person who looks at everything through a lens of vulgar imaginings will not get far in the world. Nature is no kinder now than it was 3,000 years ago when the Yi was written, thus the reference to natural disaster at the end. Though often translated as calamity the word really carries the flavor of something from nature, flood, fire, earthquake, etc. Setting forth into the wilderness unprepared is a formula for disaster.
Huang Dao Zhou stresses the interplay of light and darkness, since this line changes 56 into 30. He notes that 56 uses pliancy as 47 uses darkness. If the subject of 56 seeks bright notoriety they will call down disaster on themselves. He cites Mao 33 of the Book of Songs, which begins:

The male pheasant flies away,
Lazily moving his wings.
The man of my heart! -
He has brought on us this separation.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Book of Changes version:

Traveling is primarily an outward activity and requires personal courage. To be indecisive here would be to continue the previous hexagram, sitting along with one’s wealth. It is particularly important here to avoid trivial timidity. It can only call down misfortune. So the text says the following:

A weak line at the start.
(If) the traveler (will be) timid in the details,
he will call down disaster on himself.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


Getting bogged down in minor details can lead to major disaster.

Trust but verify.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

56 - 30

Witless and silly,
Going blind in both eyes.
Sprawled on the ground unable to speak,
This is called being stricken in mid-course.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 19-JUN-2017

Hexagram 47, line 6:


Six at the Top. Entangled in vines and creepers. Bound by anxiety. Saying movement is regrettable is itself regrettable. Expeditions fortunate.

Vines do not grow up in a day. Allowing yourself to struggle and wallow in anxiety while the situation slowly worsens is the image here. And now it has reached its climax. The vines have won the battle, but the war is not over, and the line ends on a good note, in contrast to the corresponding third line’s dark image and omen. If we attack the vines, chopping them back to the root, we can overcome the bad situation here.

Huang Dao Zhou cites Mao 198 in the Book of Songs:


Their easy and grand words,
[Only] issue from their mouths.
Their artful words, like organ-tongues,
Show how unblushing are their faces.

Translation by Legge.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

The sixth position is occupied by a weak line. It is shown in the image of undergrowth. Undergrowth is something soft and yielding, but in enough quantity it can form a major obstacle to forward movement, putting a person in a most difficult situation. Seeing that it is not something strong, but the weak that interferes with them can confuse a person. They may decide that any movement will lead to a bad outcome. But that is an error, since what is needed here it to find the inner strength to escape this exhausting situation. So the text says:

A weak line at the top.
(There will be) difficulties in tangled undergrowth.
In an unsteady state crying out: “Movement leads to regret”.
And there is regret.
(But) an expedition is fortunate.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


You've tied yourself up with vines of obligation and feel embarrassed.

Resolve these troubles one by one and don't renew them, then there will be good fortune.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

47 - 6

Duke Xiang leads his sister Wen Jiang down the path of debauchery,
The daughter of Qi travels morning and night,
Arriving, she is sorry to have to return.[1]

[1]  See note on 3 - 28

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 18-JUN-2017

Hexagram 63, line 2:

六二 婦喪其茀。勿逐。七日得。

Old text:

Six in the Second. The married lady loses her head ornaments. Do not pursue. Attained on the seventh day.

New text:

Six in the Second. The wife loses her carriage screen. Do not pursue. Recovered on the seventh day.

The contrast in the old and new texts is not large. There is a difference between various commentaries and translators on the term , which can be a carriage screen but also a phonetic borrowing for a term for a noblewoman’s headdress. In the Ma Wang Dui Yi Jing on Silk it says she ‘lost her hair’. Ouch. In all cases something is lost or misplaced, causing concern. However some time later it is recovered, so in the end all is well.

There are two possible dynamics to this, move forward and stop. Why? Because to the modern mind if something is missing and you know it will be recovered later you move on and get things accomplished. The logic and mores of the time in which the Yi was written differ. If a woman was in a carriage she could ride…unless the screen was missing. If this ‘modesty’ screen wasn’t available she could not ride. The same goes for the older interpretation of headdress missing. Clearly a noblewoman is not going to step out of her boudoir without that, let alone leave the house.

Even the most confident people have moments of doubt, moments then they think they are really not good at what they do and are just faking it. Attaining expertise in a subject is a long process. Some studies show that a person needs to spend 10,000 hours on a specialty or study before they are truly an expert. Even those experts can have their moment of doubt…but it passes. After a time everything falls back into place and life goes on.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

The process of creation has already produced something that exists both in itself and for that which surrounds it. It cannot be concealed anymore. It is manifest and visible to all. If a person is standing in the second position, i.e., a position where he is just himself, and there is a desire for concealment, that desire cannot be fulfilled. This is shown with the image of a woman who has lost her carriage screen. Chasing after that hidden state, pursuing the curtain, cannot have any result. When the time comes (and it inevitably will), when all returns to its place, then the person can close themselves up again. It is not to be attained now and must be left to the future. It is in this sense that the text says:

Weak line in the second place.
The woman loses her (carriage) curtain.
Do not chase.
(After) seven days you will receive it.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


A woman loses her curtains.

In seven days it will be returned to her.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

63 - 5

A black dragon radiates light,
That which was darkness is now bright.
Using fire hunting to take the great prey,
Raising the six army corps to a great fervor.[1]

[1] According to the Yuan Dynasty edition this verse refers to King Wen coming across his future counselor Lu Shang while the king was hunting and Lu Shang was fishing.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Zhou Yi Dao Morning Reading for 17-JUN-2017

Hexagram 46, line 2:

九二 孚乃利用禴。无咎

Old text:
Nine in the Second. The captives can be used for the Yue sacrifice. No blame.

New text:

Nine in the Second. Sincerity makes even a small offering acceptable. No blame.

In the Xia and Shang dynasties the Yue was a sacrifice offered in the spring. In the Zhou it was offered in the summer. In all cases it was made to the royal ancestors by a king. The difference between circumstances is meaningful in how we interpret the text. In the ancient times of the Xia and Shang sacrificing prisoners of war was common. Thus the rather barbarous old text version. This was a spring sacrifice and most combat occurred in winter in order not to interfere with the agricultural cycle. So in the spring there would be prisoners available from the winter’s campaigns. Summer, even though it is the time of nature’s greatest flourishing, is not a rich season for the food items used in sacrifice; those are available in abundance in the fall. So according to some the Yue sacrifice of later times was a rather humble, frugal affair offered to the ancestors. But as the new text interpretation points out, if given with rectitude it was accepted. However, since human sacrifice continued well into the Western Zhou period we may also see the old text version as fitting for the authors of the Yi.

To rise in any hierarchy means looking and moving forward and upward. But at this juncture it is equally important to honor those who went before and those without whom we would not have our present position.

Iulian Shchutskii’s Russian translation of the Yi:

The ability to arise correctly is the main characteristic of the inner veracity shown in the second line. What matters is not how many sacrifices a person makes in ascending, but whether that ascent was straight upward. The text says:

Strong line in the second place.
Be truthful and it (will) make (even a minor) offering beneficial.
No blame.

Oracle of the Singularity version from Second Life:


Acquire a musical instrument.
No trouble.

Subtle tends are profitable in the beginning.

Forest of Changes verse for today:

46 - 15

Craning the neck to gaze into the distance,
Watching till nightfall, eyes wearied.
Not seeing the young concubine,
The emissary is sick with worry.