1. The Book of Changes contains a fourfold tao of the holy sages. In speaking, we should be guided by its judgments; in action, we should be guided by its changes; in making objects, we should be guided by its images; in seeking an oracle, we should be guided by its pronouncements.
2. Therefore the superior man, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes, and he does so in words. It takes up his communications like an echo; neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future. If this book were not the most spiritual thing on earth, how could it do this?
Here the psychological basis of the oracle is described. The person consulting the oracle formulates his problem precisely in words and regardless of whether it concerns something distant or near, secret or profound, he receives--as though it were and echo--the appropriate oracle, which enables him to know the future. This rests on the assumption that the conscious and the supraconscious enter into relationship. The conscious process stops with the formulation of the question. The unconscious process begins with the division of the yarrow stalks, and when we compare the result of this division with the text of the book, we obtain the oracle.
3. The three and five operations are undertaken in order to obtain a change. Divisions and combinations of the numbers are made. If one proceeds through the changes, they complete the forms of heaven and earth. If the number of changes is increased to the utmost, they determine all images on earth. If this were not the most changing thing on earth, how could it do this?
A great deal has been said about the "three and five" divisions, and even Chu Hsi is of the opinion that the passage is no longer comprehensible. But we need only take as a basis chapter IX, section 3, which the passage above serves to explain further, in order to establish coherence in the text. The "three" operations are the division into two heaps and the special disposition of a single stalk, "to represent the three powers." After this each of the two heaps is counted through by fours, because "there are two intercalary months in five years," and thus we arrive at three plus two, i.e., five operations, which yield one change. We proceed in this way with divisions and combinations until we "complete the forms of heaven and earth," that is, until we obtain, as a first result, one of the eight primary trigrams or a "small completion" (cf. chap. IX, sec. 7). Continuing until the topmost or sixth line is reached, we obtain a complete image, which is always composed of two trigrams.
4. The Changes have no consciousness, no action; they are quiescent and do not move. But if they are stimulated, they penetrate all situations under heaven. If they were not the most divine thing on earth, how could they do this?
Here we have a plain statement of what has been brought out in the remarks on section 2.
5. The Changes are what has enabled the holy sages to reach all depths and to grasp the seeds of all things.
6. Only through what is deep can one penetrate all wills on earth. Only through the seeds can one complete all affairs on earth. Only through the divine can one hurry without haste and reach the goal without walking.
Here it is shown that because of the Book of Changes reaches down into the regions of the unconscious, both space and time are eliminated. Space, as the principle of diversity and confusion, is overcome by the easy, the germinal.
7. When the Master said, "The Book of Changes contains a fourfold tao of the holy sages," this is what is meant.
It may be assumed that section 1 is based on a saying of Confucius that has been rhetorically elaborated and is once more summarized here.