Friday, January 20, 2017

Forest of Changes Verse for 20-JAN-2107

Reading for today: hexagram 34, judgment text:

大壯
Hexagram 34
大壯 利貞。
Old text:

Great Strength. Divining benefits.

New text:

Great Strength. Rectification benefits.

All that remains of this text is the divining tag ‘consulting benefits’. Apparently if there were additional texts attached to the place they were lost before 165 BCE, the time of the Han Dynasty copies of the Yi Jing found in tombs at Fuyang and Mawangdui (it is missing from the Shanghai Museum Yi fragments), since the text is identical in those editions. Opinions differ on the name of the hexagram. The standard is Great Strength, but some scholars call it Greater Wounding (Fuyang) and Great Maturity (Mawangdui), both found in the translations of Edward Shaughnessy.

This is an image hexagram. The four Yang lines represent the body of a ram and the two Yin lines show his horns. The Yang lines are in the majority and the situation has ‘turned the corner’ toward the positive.

Note that the ‘great’ in the name of the hexagram is not the sense of ‘exalted, superior’, but large. The strength is large. What a person does with that strength is what decides the good or bad outcome for this situation. The interplay here is between potential and kinetic energy. In Yi Dao, as in the martial arts, we base our actions on timing. To have great potential strength is a valuable resource, but if it is released against an immovable object it is useless, perhaps even harmful. 

Forest of Changes verse:

34 - 34

To the left biting bears,
To the right snapping tigers,
Iron staves before,
Stumbling back into those holding crossbows,
Surrounded on all sides,
No way out.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Forest of Changes Verse for 19-JAN-2107

Reading for today: hexagram 26, judgment text:

大畜

Hexagram 26

Da Xu

The Great Tamed


大畜 利貞 。不家食。吉 。利涉大川
Old text:

The Great Tamed. Beneficial to divine. To be upright benefits. Not dining at home fortunate. Beneficial to cross the great stream.

New text:

The Great Tamed. Rectification benefits. Not dining at home fortunate. Beneficial to cross the great stream.

When viewing a hexagram often the natural tendencies of the trigrams form a ‘motion picture’ of the hexagram as a whole. Here we see Heaven, an upward trending trigram below Mountain, standstill. So the meaning of taming, muzzling, holding back.

The name of this hexagram originally means large livestock. The hexagram also forms a picture related to livestock, if we see the body of the figure as the body of an ox, the Yin lines as horns, and the Yang line at the top as a cover put upon those horns to prevent harm.

Based on the line texts as a whole, and the phrase here of ‘not dining at home’, I propose that this hexagram originally may have been concerned with moving cattle, with gathering and herding them, rather than with raising them at home. Mnay of the line texts speak of terms relating to travel.


Gao Heng claims the root of the word xu means gathered, as in gathered grain.

Forest of Changes verse:

26 - 26

The land of Korea,
Is protected by Ji Zi.[1]
Keeping order in the men and in the family,
Abundant joy, sons and grandsons.
Those seeking work find good fortune.



[1] Ji Zi was a counselor of state who stood up to tyrant Zhou Xin, the last king of the Shang Dynasty. After the Shang were defeated the Zhou Dynasty gave him control of Korea.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Forest of Changes Verse for 18-JAN-2107

Reading for today: hexagram 59, judgment text:


Hexagram 59
亨。王假有廟。利涉大川利貞。
Old text:

Dispersion. Sacrifice. The king approaches the ancestral temple. Beneficial to cross the great stream. Beneficial to divine.

New text:

Dispersion. Success. The king approaches the ancestral temple. Beneficial to cross the great stream.To be upright benefits.

This hexagram is paired with 60, a contrast between scattering and concentrating, between slackness and discipline. The two hexagrams together call for moderation and balance. Here the situation has been allowed to disperse until it is on the verge of chaos. The king must resort to his ancestral temple to ask the advice and assistance of the Ancestors. In 60 the pendulum has swung the other way and once again a return to the middle is advised, an excess of discipline is just as damaging as a lack of discipline.

The character Huan shows an element of water on the left and the phonetic sound huan. It may trace its origins to the river Huan that flowed through the Shang capital. In the ancient text the concept is both the rising waters of a spring flood that cleanse away the traces of winter as well as the spurting blood of a sacrifice.


In early China any great enterprise began with a sacrifice in the temple. The ancestors remained involved in the day to day lives of the royalty and nobility. In addition to the regular offerings of the calendar year sacrifices would be made when a major decision was to be made, such as going to war. This is because sacrifice and divination went hand in hand.

Forest of Changes verse:

59 - 59

The emperor’s visit falls short,
The memorial to the throne does not reach.
The ruler goes hunting,

His dog stumbles, not catching the hare.