Four Step Growth

There is evolving cycle to the Yi Ching, as observed through nature. It is the continual cycle of transformation and transmutation, 變 and 化. It is the change over time of hard and soft and that of dark and light. It becomes the cycle of yin and yang. As the ancients monitored the seasonal changes according to the circum-polar sky, four clear positions of transitional change became apparent. These were seen as the four seasons. Observing that they occurred at certain changes in the celestial skys, they were marked with the four cardinal directions. The stages of growth were then noted and put together in the the first Trigram of the Yi Ching, Qian.

Trigram 1, is called Qian, not Tian for a particular reason. Tian is the over head sky, but Qian is more than just the sky over head, it is the yearly sky. It is heaven over heaven. Heaven mirroring itself within and through out. It is translated as the creative impulse behind all. There are four parts to the pictogram of Qian according to Alfred Huang. The first upper left corner is the sun’s rising with a green sprout breaking the ground. The upper right is the Sun’s rays spreading out across the sky, then the lower right is the Sun’s rays falling on the ground, and then finally the lower left is that of a root sinking down into the ground. The light of Heaven penetrates all. Others hold that the left side of the pictogram is that of heaven’s banner, the big dipper, pointing out the directions of time with the right being that bound to earth. The four parts in the Huang description go with the description line of the Trigram.


Alfred Huang interprets it as

Initiating, Sublime and initiative, Prosperous and Smooth, Favourable and beneficial, Steadfast and upright.

Legge translates it as

Qian (represents) what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm.

The characters of the line are called, Yuan, Heng, Li, and Zhen.

Each one has an expression of heaven. Yuan is the original, it is the starting point, it is initiation. Heng, is the growth and completion, it is the best ripe fruits given up for sacrifice. Li is the harvest, the gathering, and the preservation. Finally, Zhen is consultation, it is asking for advice, and finding the best outcome. It becomes determination as the next cycle will then continue.

It is funny how these four, experience permutations through out Chinese History in different forms. The permutations take on correspondences in the cyclical dynamism in Chinese thought and medicine. The Four directions become the Four Seasons, the Four seasons become the four animals, the four animals become the four images.

Next The Four Images

Shu數 and Shi時

Another aspect about the Yi jing is that of number, Shu. Number takes on a different role besides being a counter, it is both part and whole. It is a summation and an expression. It shows form and particular. It is used as a qualifier, either for position, direction, and even structure. It can designate type.

For example:

One can stand for the great unity of all things. I can be the source, the origin, the unfathomable, the singular.

Two can stand for duality, division, coupling, polarity, doubling, copying, mirroring, and many other things.

Three can be the intermediary, the midpoint, synthesis, birthing, a child, multiplicity, and branching. It can be the union of two or its division. It can be the beginning of a plane or an interlocution.

As you can see the picture there is more to a number than meets the eye.

With number comes time or timeliness, Shi. Whatever the function of the operand, number has a result, out of that result is a probability, a permutation. Timeliness, points the direction toward a favorable or unfavorable outcome. As you learn sequences, or sequences of events, you are more certain as to how they are going to turn out. In the most auspicious sense, you would like your outcome to be for the better, not just for yourself but also for others. Shi, is arrival and leaving, it is staying or dwelling or waiting for proper conduct. It is whether to plant seeds or to harvest fruit. It is to arrive on foot, or in a carriage. Shi is an order of time, a pattern of cause and effect, an overall theme, where you can spontaneously act for the better.

The Body Ecologic Prt. 2

Prt. 2

The Sentimental body

The notion of qi was always around. Qi is the communication of heaven and earth. It communicates through the myriad species. However before the Body Ecologic, the proponent metaphor of the body was the Sentimental body. The Sentimental body came around the Warring States period after Confucius, where the ruling class amongst the tribes were educated by the scholars of the times. The scholars were travelling philosophers who engaged in ritualistic endeavors to keep the ancient traditions alive. They went from ruler of state to state to teach how to handle the people, educate the people and themselves. In order to understand the human mind, the scholars of the times explored human emotions and how they manifested physically and mentally. Qi, the grand communicator of Heaven and Earth had its development in this role. Directionality of qi and its expression of yin and yang was attributed to the emotions, each one having a different expression.

The way one felt when they experienced emotions showed the relationship of one’s body to their awareness. For example, the Yin shu, mentions “When one is joyful, one augments yang. When one is angry, one augments yin.” Here a dichotomy of emotions is developed as well as a directionality. Joy, lightens the spirit and has an upward motion. Anger weighs down the body and compresses the body.  Another dichotomy, that developed was that of emptiness and fullness, an inward extent and an outward extent.

From the Nei Ye,

“The form of the Heart is spontaneously replete (Qi). Spontaneously born and complete. It loses this form through, care and joy, pleasure and anger, desire and profit seeking. If (the heart/you) are able to rid itself of care and joy, pleasure and anger, desire and profit seeking, the natural feelings of the heart cleave to rest and calm.”

Here fullness and emptiness take on the roles of Qi, and how the emotions may diminish and fill the heart. Ultimately the nature of the heart is to be rested and calm. So one must try to control one’s emotions so that they may control their Qi.

“with a settled heart within, the eyes and ears are keen and clear, the four limbs are strong and firm. He is fit to be a dwelling of essence. By essence it is meant the essence of qi”

Here the settling of the heart, clears the senses and strengthens the body. This allows one’s body to be open to qi, the communication of heaven and earth. With this there is a settling where Qi can make itself known.

Before seeing the landscape of the body as a reflection of Heaven and Earth, the pre-unified Chinese had to see the body as a settling place of the communication of Heaven and Earth. Qi was recognized as a directional force that through Dao yin, an early form of Qi gong could be moved around in the body by controlling the emotions. The Sentimental Body was an exploration of the directionality of the effects of the emotions, and how they played a role on rudimentary physiology and psychology.