CHAPTER II. On the Composition and the Use of the Book of Changes

1. The holy sages instituted the hexagrams, so that phenomena might be perceived therein. They appended the judgments, in order to indicate good fortune and misfortune.

The hexagrams of the Book of Changes are representations of earthly phenomena. In their interrelation they show the interrelation of events in the world. Thus the hexagrams were representations of ideas. But these images or phenomena revealed only the actual; there still remained the problem of extracting counsel from them, in order to determine whether a line of action derived from the image was favorable or harmful, whether it should be adopted or avoided. To this extent the foundation of the Book of Changes was already in existence in the time of King Wen, The hexagrams were, so to speak, oracle pictures showing what event might be expected to occur under certain circumstances. King Wen and his son then added the interpretations; from these it could be ascertained whether the course of action indicated by the images augured good or ill. This marked the entrance of freedom of choice. From that time on one could see, in the representation of events, not only what might be expected to happen but also where it might lead. With the complex of events immediately before one in image form, one could follow the courses that promised good fortune and avoid those that promised misfortune, before the train of events had actually begun.

2. As the firm and the yielding lines displace one another, change and transformation arise.

This brings out specifically the degree to which events in the world are represented in the Book of Changes. The hexagrams are made up of firm and yielding lines. Under certain conditions the firm and the yielding lines change; the firm lines are transformed and softened, the yielding lines change and become firm. Thus we have a reproduction of the alternation in world phenomena.

3. Therefore good fortune and misfortune are the images of gain and loss; remorse and humiliation are the images of sorrow and forethought.

When the trend of an action is in harmony with the laws of the universe, it leads to attainment of the desired goal, this is expressed in the appended phrase "Good fortune." If the trend is in opposition to the laws of the universe, it necessarily leads to loss; this is indicated by the judgment "Misfortune." There are also trends that do not lead directly to a goal but are rather what might be called deviations in direction. However, if a trend has been wrong, and we feel sorrow in time, we can avoid misfortune, if we turn back, we can still achieve good fortune. This situation is indicated by the judgment "Remorse." This judgment, then, contains an exhortation to feel sorrow and turn back. On the other hand, a given trend may have been right at the start, but one may become indifferent and arrogant, and heedlessly slip from good fortune into misfortune. This is indicated by the judgment "Humiliation." This judgment, then, contains an admonition to exercise forethought, to check oneself when on the wrong path and turn back to good fortune.

4. Change and transformation are images of progress and retrogression. The firm and the yielding are images of day and night. The movements of the six lines contain the ways of the three primal powers.

Change is the conversion of a yielding line into a firm one. This means progress. Transformation is the conversion of a firm line into a yielding one. This means retrogression. The firm lines are representations of light; the yielding lines, of darkness. The six lines of each hexagram are divided among the three primal powers, heaven, earth, and man. The two lower places are those of the earth, the two middle places belong to man, and the two upper ones to heaven. This section shows the extent to which the content of the Book of Changes reproduces the conditions of the world.

5. Therefore it is the order of the Changes that the superior man devotes himself to and that he attains tranquility by. It is the judgments on the individual lines that the superior man takes pleasure in and that he ponders on.

From this point on we are shown the correct use of the Book of Changes. For the very reason that the Book of Changes is a reproduction of all existing conditions--with its appended judgments indicating the right course of action--it becomes our task to shape our lives according to these ideas, so that life in its turn becomes a reproduction of this law of change. This is not the kind of idealism that artificially imposes an inflexible abstract pattern on life of quite different mold. On the contrary, the Book of Changes embraces the essential meaning of the various situations of life: thus we are in position to shape our lives meaningfully, by acting in accordance with order and sequence, and doing in each case what the situation requires. In this way we are equal to every situation, because we accept its meaning without resistance, and so we attain peace of soul. Thus our actions are set in order, and the mind also is satisfied, for when we meditate upon the judgments on the individual lines, we intuitively perceive the interrelationships in the world.

6. Therefore the superior man contemplates these images in times of rest and meditates on the judgments. When he undertakes something, he contemplates the changes and ponders on the oracles. Therefore he is blessed by heaven. "Good fortune. Nothing that does not further."

Here times of rest and of action are mentioned. During times of rest, experience and wisdom are obtained by mediation on the images and judgments of the book. During times of action we consult the oracle through the medium of the changes arising in the hexagrams as a result of manipulation of the yarrow stalks, and follow according to indication the counsels for action thus supplied.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12