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Decoding the "I Ching"

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posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 10:10 AM
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The origins of the I Ching, or the Book of Changes, are unknown. According to legend, the "book" is ancient, much older than the 5000-odd-year age it is given officially.

Certainly, the Ching is the oldest known record of a work/culture that conceptualized 'nothing' mathematically: zero is named K'an in the I Ching. Zero/K'an is considered female, and her chief characteristic is receptivity - described as the state from which all things come, and which allows all possibility and potentiality - often interpreted as "submission."

The I Ching has survived as a 'fortune-telling' book, suspected to contain alchemical and other mystical secrets. It also is seen as a history and creation myth.

In its most basic form, the I Ching is simply an addition table in binary code. The "secret" to expanding the work is recorded in plain sight - the "table" traditionally is represented as a circle, as well as in block form. So while written directions survive, the circular mode of presentation provides an obvious clue even to the uninitiated.

Unlike its counterparts in the West, the Ching survived book burnings and other assaults. Three main conditions ensured its survival through various dynasties and political changes:

1. It's nearly impossible to hide a simple addition table, whether in block or cyclic form;
2. Each successive ruler was convinced of the I Ching's "mystical" importance and value to the dynasty; and
3. As with other ancient "mysteries," it's clear that a sect was created and assigned to keeping the work and knowledge alive, while hiding its secrets from the "unprepared." In this case, perhaps the Taoists.


I am interested in the I Ching as a systems model. As a binary-code-system, the I Ching describes and applies concepts of stasis, linear progression, expansion, contraction and cycles, simultaneously, to a variety of disciplines-cum-sciences.

The Ching describes various elements and their characteristics, relationships and potential interractions - and the relationships and interractions between various systems that make up the larger whole. Intrinsic to the model is the concept of dynamic change, and "time" - a calendar.

In and of itself, the I Ching is a 'systems approach' to knowledge and archiving, both.

Conceptually, the I Ching can be understood to describe "ages" or cycles, which may be applied to astrophysics, geophysics, chemistry, molecular biology, and quantum physics - cycles within cycles as it were, and the human experience framed by external events.

Each "age" gives rise to the next exponentially - accommodating the birth of new elements with different characteristics and qualities - and implies changing dynamics, relationships, and interractions. The Ching also accommodates the idea of contraction or devolution - the "dark" side of the model - as illustrated by the familiar "Yin / Yang" symbol.

For example, if the I Ching correlates accurately to the periodic table by atomic number, then:

Age 1: Started with nothing, 0, and the 'birth' of hydrogen (element #1);
Age 2: Started with (the 'breeding'/birth of) helium, and ended with (the 'breeding'/birth of) lithium (elements 2 & 3);
Age 3: Started with beryllium, ended with nitrogen (elements 4-7);
Age 4: Started with oxygen, ended with phosphorus (elements 8-15);
Age 5: Started with sulfur, ended with gallium (elements 16-31);
Age 6: Started with germanium, ended with europium (elements 32-63).

Age 7 started with the appearance of gadolinium (#64), and (will) end(ed) with the birth of a 127th element.

The potential "contraction" here refers to various processes of "decay" and devolution.

At the same time, correlating the I Ching to the periodic table by the number of electrons might describe different relationships, potential interractions and possibilities.


While some ancient texts carry a code that explains how things work, and how to make or do things, many of these codes relate to different cycles, so the wisdom does not apply. Unfortunately, it is not enough to decode an alchemical "formula."

The right knowledge must be applied in the right time. So one must decode the calendar too, identify the relevant cycle and determine the formula's place in the larger scheme of things.

This is the I Ching's unique strength: it provides a calendar, not just alchemical formulae and other information.


PS. If anyone here is able and interested in helping me to animate the Ching's various cycles, please let me know. I can explain the design, and create the legends, but don't have the skills to do the animation.

...or any other ideas, contributions???





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[edit on 29-9-2006 by soficrow]




posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 11:47 AM
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Just some info you may find interesting, but there is a martial arts style called Bagua Zhang( or Pakua) that uses the I-Ching to describe the 8 basic fighting manuvers, which then mix to create the 32&64 basic combinations. What makes it interesting is that certain fighting positions can be used according to thier I-Ching variant and it's production/destruction cycles to beat someone up in combat. I will give a basic example that is easy to get. Think of the basic jab from boxing, it represents the fire kua/trigram... to counter easily you would employ water, basicly a circular motion that redirects the jab away allowing an opening to hit for yourself. It's oddly a very mathmatical way of fighting. The 5 element theories, and 12 heavenly stem theories also correlate to the I-Ching, or may have been based off of them in the first place. I would agree that the Daoists and in some capacity the Buddhists are the two main groups that have kept the I-ching going for a long time. Daoists for the most part predate all the other religions though... or at least thier practices do.

I'm very interested in the mathmatical and calender like side that you are talking about though. Do you have any pictures of the set-up, or how you would place them? Are you familiar with the Fung Shui "Lo Pan"....a compass based on the tiagrams and thier worldly relations to the cardinal directions?



posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 11:51 AM
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Also, depending on the complexity of the animations, I could help out....I'm a commercial artist so it's not that much of a problem, and I love exploring new variations of understanding of the I-Ching.

[edit on 29-9-2006 by LordBaskettIV]



posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 12:37 PM
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Thanks LordBasket.


Sorry - I just am checking in quickly and then off to an appointment.

...RE: "Fung Shui "Lo Pan"....a compass based on the tiagrams and thier worldly relations to the cardinal directions?"

...I don't remember that name - but have seen a variety of compass configurations. Can you post a pic?

...I'm talking to Regenmacher about the animation - it's hard to describe verbally, but I haven't quite figured out how to send diagrams. Or else I've lost the skill through disuse.



FYI - Here are the notes I sent regenmacher:


D(arn) - wish I knew how to send you images.

1. The images you linked aren't at all what we want - except the one image that shows trigrams encased around the edge of the circle is close - but it's incomplete, and sequence is wrong.
2. The animation needs to show dynamic cycles - think gears, with figure 8's or infinity symbols - with 6 cycles, each enclosing the previous one.
3. The cycles animation starts with one circle, with 2 opposite points (0 and 1) - and it's opposite, a second circle, which is black.
4. Next, a larger circle surrounds both circles, as in the Yin/Yang symbol - this larger circle has 4 points - and again, has an opposite configuration.
5. ...The whole "diagram" has 6 pairs of dark and light circles, each encased one after the other in a larger circle.
6. The # of points in each pair doubles with each cycle - the first pair has 2 points each; the second pair has 4 points each; the 3rd pair has 8 points each; the 4th pair has 16 points each; the 5th pair has 32 points each; the 6th pair has 64 points each.

7. Each "point" on each circle contains a binary number represented by - - for 0, __ for #1.
8. The number of "places" in the binary representation (or pictogram) increases with each new cycle: the first cycle only has one place (as above), by the 6th cycle there are six places (the I Ching hexagrams/pictograms):
# 0:
- -
- -
- -
- -
- -
- -

#63
__
__
__
__
__
__


NOTE: The numbers assigned to each hexagram in standard texts are inaccurate.

Also, each pictogram has an opposite - apparent when 'facing' each other across the circle. This 'opposition' can be understood as an electrical connection or charge. (so the opposite of #0 is #1 in the first cycle, but is #3 in the 2nd cycle, #7 in the 3rd cycle and so on.)

This opposition creates the dynamic - the animation needs to show the 'connections' crossing each circle (which will read as a star). When a cycle completes, it charges the next cycle to move/start, and so the dynamic progresses from each cycle to the next, triggering each consequtive circle to move a place as a cycle is completed.


I need to give you the numbers that relate to each hexagram/pictogram

...and it is a PAIN to keyboard. Any suggestions?

Also, I need to find or remember the order to place the hexagrams on the circle - maybe odd #'s up one side, evens down the other? ...Will get back to you on this one.


Thanks!

Please let me know if I have been clear enough - or if I need to come up with a better way to communicate. ...It would be way fast if I could do visuals for you.


Later, sofi



posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 02:04 PM
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Visuals would help, but I understand what you are saying when describing it as cogs or gears( maybe similar to the aztec calendar, but obviously more complex). You can use free image hosting at www.photobucket.com if you have some way of getting pics or scans. Or maybe I can find something that may help.



posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 02:14 PM
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Any way that you could give the proper binary number using this:



[edit on 29-9-2006 by LordBaskettIV]



posted on Sep, 29 2006 @ 05:06 PM
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Thanks LordBasket - it does help for the 6th cycle. ...I will see if I can draw and scan for the rest...

Please - do wait til we hear back from regenmacher before you do anything. I would hate for you both to be working on the same thing!

Thanks loads, sofi



posted on Sep, 30 2006 @ 01:31 PM
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I've been looking around and came across this:


In 1200 AD the I Ching Calender Wheel was created by Shao Yang, who was rich & well educated. In a retreat he papered the walls of a cabin with hexagrams as installation, and throw a jade pillow at the wall to kill a fly broking it finding a note in the pillow and got the formulas of the Wheel using numberogoly. The Wheel has six circles of Yin (Black) & Yang (White) being divided by 2 outwardly and shows how the energy moves throughout the year.

more here: www.universal-tao.com...


Graphical table in I-Ching and Tzolkin timetables:
www.sipp.org...

I Ching's influence
en.wikipedia.org...'s_influence

[edit on 30-9-2006 by Regenmacher]



posted on Sep, 30 2006 @ 06:07 PM
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GREAT links rainmaker - thanks.


Right now, I am itemizing the similarities between Gilgamesh of Sumeria and Fu Hsi, the 'emperor' credited with creating the I Ching trigrams and hexagrams. Will have a summary soon.

Point being: the I Ching is a rather amazing remnant - and evidence - of an ancient and lost civilization. The Ching contains references to China's pre-history, with creation myths - tales that parallel the Gilgamesh epic and Bible in hugely significant ways.

Given that this thread has been moved from "Ancient and Lost Civilizations" to "Paranormal Studies" ...

One must wonder exactly why the study of Sumerian myth is deemed to address ancient civilizations, but the study of Chinese myths is not.

At which point, precisely, does dogma become bigotry or patronization?




My focus here is to illustrate and try to understand the Ching as a CLOCK: of seasons, cycles, ages. Hence the circles within circles.

[Duh. Don't know why I didn't just say that before.)

There is no doubt that the Ching is meant to function in such a way - and directions for building the model can be found scattered through the various commentaries, judgments and references.

Granted, I recognize that the I Ching is many things, as Richard Wilhelm writes:



The Book of Changes -- I Ching in Chinese -- is unquestionably one of the most important books in the world's literature. Its origin goes back to mythical antiquity, and it has occupied the attention of the most eminent scholars of China down to the present day. Nearly all that is greatest and most significant in the three thousand years of Chinese cultural history has either taken its inspiration from this book, or has exerted an influence on the interpretation of its text. Therefore it may safely be said that the seasoned wisdom of thousands of years has gone into the making of the I Ching. ...

Indeed, not only the philosophy of China but its science and statecraft as well have never ceased to draw from the spring of wisdom in the I Ching, and it is not surprising that this alone, among all the Confucian classics, escaped the great burning of the books under Ch'in Shih Huang Ti.[1]

In the course of time, owing to the great repute for wisdom attaching to the Book of Changes, a large body of occult doctrines extraneous to it -- some of them possibly not even Chinese in origin -- have come to be connected with its teachings.





BUT - I want to start with the clock graphics, animation if possible.





Other Notes:

...Many thinkers - like Descartes, the mathematician and cartographer - have noted the binary form of the Ching.

...The circular format dates back to Fu Hsi.

...The I Ching has been rearranged with regularity, and without reference to the original intent - often to meet political needs, for example:



More than 2,000 years ago, a crafty Chinese feudal king put down a rebellion in his province, went on to conquer six neighboring kingdoms, and then gave himself the name Qin Shihuang, meaning First Emperor. Having established peace, the first Chinese Emperor maintained it ruthlessly, burning books that challenged his laws and burying alive 460 scholars who disagreed with him.





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posted on Sep, 30 2006 @ 07:00 PM
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A note of interest:




Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) is often described as the last universalist, having contributed to virtually all fields of scholarly interest of his time, including law, history, theology, politics, engineering, geology, physics, and perhaps most importantly, philosophy, mathematics and logic [1, 7, 9].

...Leibniz was not the first to experiment with binary numbers or the general concept of a number base [5]. However, with base 2 numeration, Leibniz witnessed the confluence of several intellectual ideas of his world view, not just the characteristica generalis, but also theological and mystical ideas of order, harmony and creation, with 0 denoting nothing and 1 denoting God [13]. Additionally his 1703 paper [10] contains a striking application of binary numeration to the ancient Chinese text of divination, the Yijing (I-Ching or Book of Changes). Early in life Leibniz developed an interset in China, corresponded with Catholic missionaries there, and wrote on questions of theology concerning the Chinese. Surprisingly he
believed that he had found an historical precedent for his binary arithmetic in the ancient Chinese lineations or 64 hexagrams of the Yijing.
This he thought, might be the origin of a universal symbolic language.




Also see:
Leibniz and China



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 02:28 AM
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and directions for building the model can be found scattered through the various commentaries, judgments and references.



Any examples of these little mentions?



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 03:27 AM
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I just have to make a couple of observations that, while they might be off-topic, are drawn from personal experience and may have a bearing on how other people relate to the I Ching.

The first is that the energies with which one deals in chi gung (the practice at the heart of Taoist martial arts) should be taken quite literally. It may seem ridiculous, but I know from my own experience, that metal - the elemental energy of the brain and spinal cord - feels metallic inside one's body when activated. I was lucky enough to do a week-long retreat with this guy, who is the only Westerner so far to become a Taoist lineage holder. In the workshop, he moved the energies of the students by direct transmission - in other words, he's standing at one end of the room and there are around 200 people, and he will effect a very precise and particular chi flow in the bodies of those present without any physical content whatsoever. When he was doing the energies of the spine, my subjective sensation was of someone pushing a metal rod down my spinal cord from the occiput downwards. I have limited experience of some of the other energies, but wood feels like wood in your body, fire generates heat, and water flows.

It probably sounds nutty, but there it is.

I would also recommend Understanding the I Ching by Cyrille Javary. It makes the point that yin and yang originally meant the dark and sunny sides of a mountain, and that there is a dynamic quality to these terms so that a better translation might be "darkening" and "brightening". Javary gives directions about how to think about the monad (the yin-yang symbol) that I found helpful and illuminating - the dot at the centre of each half of the symbol expands until the polarity of the symbol is reversed, and the process continues constantly.

I know that the focus here is on treating the I Ching as a mathematical construct, but it's important to remember that it was originally drawn from very physically felt manifestations of nature. The Taoist sages, as far as I can gather, had direct perceptions far in advance of our limited senses.

Hope this provdes an interesting perspective.

[edit on 1-10-2006 by rich23]



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 11:04 AM
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Originally posted by LordBaskettIV

and directions for building the model can be found scattered through the various commentaries, judgments and references.


Any examples of these little mentions?




You need to go to Legge's hard copy - esp the introductions. Sorry - I don't have links. And the circular representations also present a concrete "clue." ...The 'directions' are in other translations too, but I don't remember where. Legge for sure tho.

When reading, think sundial and calendar-clocks.

FYI - I have been working on this understanding of the I Ching for 20-25 years. I solemnly swear I noted the binary configuration before I learned that Leibniz did it first in 1703.


...My dialogue with 23432 on another thread motivated me to get back to it - but my notes, disks and everything are still packed away. And of course, I have a new HD.

I did create graphics for the clocks-within-clocks - also still packed. But irrelevant I think, because it does need to be animated.



.



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 11:26 AM
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Originally posted by rich23

I know that the focus here is on treating the I Ching as a mathematical construct,




I suspect the "I Ching" is the purest surviving record of an ancient universal language. ...This view is not unprecedented:

In 1703, Leibniz (a world-reknowned mathematician) questioned whether or not the I Ching "might be the origin of a universal symbolic language."

So it's not that I think the I Ching is about mathematics, it's just that attending to the math (arithmetic, really) is necessary to decode, translate and understand the work.






but it's important to remember that it was originally drawn from very physically felt manifestations of nature.




IMO - that's an assumption on your part, and quite possibly incorrect. In fact, my hypothesis is premised on the assumption that your assumption is incorrect.






The Taoist sages, as far as I can gather, had direct perceptions far in advance of our limited senses.




No doubt about it.






Hope this provdes an interesting perspective.




Yes. Thank you.


.



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 04:52 PM
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The text says, "Out of the Tao, Heaven was born." So this is the first "Age," symbolized by 0 and 1; - - and __ .

Then, from 1 came 2 - resulting in the second Age, consisting of the symbols for 0 - 3, presented as trigrams (2 squared).

The third Age is described by the symbols for 0 - 63, presented as hexagrams (8 squared).

The 4th Age then would be 64 squared, or the numbers 0 - 4,095.

The 5th Age is 4,096 squared, including 0 - 16,777,215.

The 6th Age is 16,777,216 squared, or ??????

My calculator won't do this calculation, and I don't want to dig out my old notes. Can someone help me out here?

Thanks,

sofi




posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 05:19 PM
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Originally posted by soficrow
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The text says, "Out of the Tao, Heaven was born." So this is the first "Age," symbolized by 0 and 1; - - and __ .

Then, from 1 came 2 - resulting in the second Age, consisting of the symbols for 0 - 3, presented as trigrams (2 squared).

The third Age is described by the symbols for 0 - 63, presented as hexagrams (8 squared).

The 4th Age then would be 64 squared, or the numbers 0 - 4,095.

The 5th Age is 4,096 squared, including 0 - 16,777,215.

The 6th Age is 16,777,216 squared, or ??????

My calculator won't do this calculation, and I don't want to dig out my old notes. Can someone help me out here?

Thanks,

sofi




The 6th Age is 16,777,216 squared, including 0 - 281,474,976,710,655

If you have windows you can use the calculator under 'accesories' it has plenty of spaces especially on the scientific view.


[edit on 1-10-2006 by Xeros]



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 05:38 PM
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Originally posted by Xeros

The 6th Age is 16,777,216 squared, including 0 - 281474976710655





THANK YOU Xeros.

281,474,976,710,655 - so it's 281 trillion in the American system, and 281 billion in the British system, right? Or wrong?

Either way, I'm thinking we have a bit of time before we hit the big wormhole in the sky. ...Which could be an interesting transition, not necessarily the feared oblivion.

Hmmm. Watcha think?



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 07:04 PM
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Originally posted by soficrow
I suspect the "I Ching" is the purest surviving record of an ancient universal language. ...This view is not unprecedented


No, and Leibnitz was not the only one to go hunting for a "universal language": a fun read on this is Umberto Eco's The Search For The Perfect Language, which traces this back over millennia. Gematria is another example of this attempt to find a mathematical order in the world.


So it's not that I think the I Ching is about mathematics, it's just that attending to the math (arithmetic, really) is necessary to decode, translate and understand the work.


I disagree. I think it's quite unlikely that a Westerner would ever be able to fully comprehend the text of the I Ching and fully realise its use, simply because the written language is ideogrammatic; ideograms/pictograms do not function in the same way as combinations of letters, and the grammar of thought that Chinese people grow up with is necessarily different as a result.

BK Frantzis, referenced earlier, spent several years studying in China with a Taoist lineage holder who told him that despite his extremely good grasp of Mandarin and Cantonese dialects, there were certain kinds of understanding he would never attain because of this difference. Bruce also relates his own experiences of particular lessons in which his master would sit in a corner doing calligraphy and Bruce himself would be physically moved around the room as a result.

And it's funny, millions of people use the I Ching without ever knowing the mathematical side, or even, many of them, knowing the original text in the original language.




but it's important to remember that it was originally drawn from very physically felt manifestations of nature.


IMO - that's an assumption on your part, and quite possibly incorrect. In fact, my hypothesis is premised on the assumption that your assumption is incorrect.



Can you explain why you see these perspectives as mutually exclusive, rather than being simply patronising? Chi gung meditation practices and their derived martial arts are an important part of Taoism, and you will find far more in Taoist literatue about these matters than you will on mathematics. I'm not saying that there are not sophisticated mathematical ideas embodied in the I Ching; rather that its focus is as a tool to understand change, which in Taoist thought, is considered as a dynamic interplay of various different kinds of energy or chi.

Oh, and by the way, the correct term for the yin trigram and hexagram is K'un. K'an is the trigram for water, and its ideogrammatic symbolism is of a river flowing at the bottom of a chasm.

[edit on 1-10-2006 by rich23]



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 08:24 PM
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Originally posted by rich23

Originally posted by soficrow
I suspect the "I Ching" is the purest surviving record of an ancient universal language. ...This view is not unprecedented


No, and Leibnitz was not the only one to go hunting for a "universal language": a fun read on this is Umberto Eco's The Search For The Perfect Language, which traces this back over millennia. Gematria is another example of this attempt to find a mathematical order in the world.



Thanks - Eco is one of my favorites, but haven't read that one.





So it's not that I think the I Ching is about mathematics, it's just that attending to the math (arithmetic, really) is necessary to decode, translate and understand the work.


I disagree.




Fine.





I think it's quite unlikely that a Westerner would ever be able to fully comprehend the text of the I Ching and fully realise its use, simply because the written language is ideogrammatic; ideograms/pictograms do not function in the same way as combinations of letters, and the grammar of thought that Chinese people grow up with is necessarily different as a result.




All quite true, imo.

Just one of the reasons I am choosing to focus on the "numbers," circular configurations and cycles/ages as originally created by Fu Hsi, rather than the appended texts. I do not speak or write Chinese, and better scholars have gone before me.

Little survives of Fu Hsi's original work beyond the trigrams, circular layout, and





Can you explain why you see these perspectives as mutually exclusive, rather than being simply patronising?



I know full well that Chinese thought is subtle and layered, as is the language. I also know that Taoism and its many aspects are worthy of tomes, indeed, libraries.

But that is FAR too much for me to tackle here.

So no. I am not prepared to engage in such discussion. Simply because I am focusing here on the numbers, and the cycles, and the simple elegance of the Ching as a "key" from which to create clocks, calendars, and perhaps, mechanical computers.





Oh, and by the way, the correct term for the yin trigram and hexagram is K'un.




Yes, I know. Brain burp.

I also wrote 'Descartes' earlier when I meant 'Leibniz.' Another brain burp. Expect more. Such things do happen.

But thanks for the heads up.



.



posted on Oct, 1 2006 @ 11:23 PM
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I use the I Ching akin to how a sports coach would give advice to one of his athletes.

I find that on some very deep level the I Ching just "resonates" with what I apparently already innatley know.

The I Ching is very, very special.


I prefer to use my Yarrow Stalks to construct my hexagrams, and I use Alfred Haung's more "traditional" Chineese interpretations.



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