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It is suggested that this is because the stalks originally come from living organisms and hence are appropriate instruments for consulting what is considered to be a dynamic or living system.

It is also a slower method and allows—according to some, including myself—psychokinesis PK to influence the stalks at a subconscious level of the psyche. The assumption seems to be that some deeper aspect of ourselves already knows what would be best for us to do in any specific situation, even if our brain-dominated consciousness does not. And that aspect of ourselves somehow influences the way the stalks are pided and counted out.

If this is correct, as I believe it is, it implies that one should never consult the I Ching flippantly, disrespectfully, or casually, nor for trivial questions or problems one could easily solve for oneself. It should be used infrequently and only when one has a serious dilemma. In other words, one must attempt to get in touch with one's deeper self and not with some more superficial aspect of one's psyche.

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Influence of I-ching (Yijing, or The Book Of Changes) on Chinese medicine, philosophy and science.

Another method of consulting the book is by tossing ancient Chinese coins. Although they do not have the metaphorical association with life that yarrow stalks do, they at least preserve the association with ancient China. Whether PK—and one's unconscious self—can influence the result as readily is difficult to determine, although PK experiments have been conducted by parapsychologists with such materials, often with statistically significant, although not usually very exuberant, results.

Some Americans use ordinary modern currency such as copper pennies, considering that they are comparable to ancient Chinese copper coins. Still more recently, a computer program has been developed that chooses one's hexagram electronically. With all such modern methods, the element of ritual involved in the use of yarrow stalks is bypassed. The few times I have witnessed these modern methods, I felt that the resulting hexagram was somehow inappropriate to the question being asked, often completely unintelligible. That is why I prefer the slower, ancient method using yarrow stalks as is described in Wilhelm-Baynes text — Because there are obviously more than just sixty-four different situations one might find oneself in, the text offers a variety of alternatives.

There are actually four possible outcomes for each of the six lines when consulting the yarrow stalks. These lines are identified either as "young yang," "young yin," "old yang," or "old yin. The old lines are moving; that is, they change into their counterparts: An old yang changes into a young yin and an old yin into a young yang.

It is unusual to arrive at a hexagram containing only fixed lines, which suggests a situation that one cannot change and simply has to accept. Equally uncommon would be to arrive at a hexagram with six moving lines, indicating an extremely fluid situation. More common is a hexagram with at least one or two moving lines. In that case, one gets two hexagrams: the starting one and the one it changes into. That suggests possibilities for solving or resolving one's present situation creatively instead of reactively, which often happens when one deals with life's problems based on past habit patterns.

Another important aspect of the I Ching is that each hexagram has both a judgment and an image associated with it collectively called the kua-tz'u , both of which are expressed in metaphors. The text describing each of the possible moving lines known as the yao-tz'u is also expressed metaphorically.


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The vagueness involved in both is important, since it allows one's subconscious—perhaps even one's higher self—to interpret the hexagram in a way that is appropriate to oneself. Two people with two different problems arriving at the same hexagram might appropriately interpret it in different ways according to the nature of their question.

In other words, the I Ching is a remarkable book with an almost infinite range of possible answers to life's dilemmas. In addition to the kua-tz'u and yao-tz'u , there are several commentaries, probably appended to the basic text over several centuries. The most interesting from a theosophical point of view is the wen yen , which stresses the philosophical and ethical implications of the hexagrams. As Wing-tsit Chan observes, it is upon that commentary and some appended remarks hsi-tz'u , as well as comments on some of the trigrams, "that much of Chinese philosophical speculation has been based" Just when the I Ching was compiled is difficult to determine.

Tradition ascribes the eight trigrams to the legendary hero Fu-hsi traditionally dated prior to the twenty-third century BCE and their development into the hexagrams to King Wen reigned — BCE , although modern scholars dispute this. Hellmut Wilhelm points out only that it is generally agreed that there are several layers of the text, the present form having been reached "in the century before Confucius" Wilhelm-Baynes xiv. It is known that Confucius — BCE included it among the classics ching he required his students to study, and it is believed that he wrote a commentary on it called "The Ten Wings" , although this also has been disputed by some scholars Chan One assumes that Confucius considered it a book of wisdom rather than of pination, perhaps relating to earlier times before China began to degenerate into interstate warfare which started during his lifetime but became endemic during — BCE, called the Warring States period.

Confucius looked to the past as a model for restoring political order. In any event, the I Ching assumed great importance in later centuries in China, especially when the examination system required aspirants for government positions to write essays on the Confucian classics. Theosophical references to China are scarce and to the I Ching even scarcer. Blavatsky makes several references to Confucius in The Secret Doctrine , but most of them make little sense and none relates in any obvious way to the I Ching.

It is a shame, because this Chinese classic, however it is construed, is most interesting. His I Ching , obviously the result of many years of study, is over pages long, much of it in small type, and encyclopedic.

The uncertainty machine

Each portion of the entries for each hexagram is accompanied by an exegesis that is a digest of the historical commentaries and the interpretations by previous translators, as well as reflections by Minford himself that link the hexagram to Chinese poetry, art, ritual, history, philosophy, and mythology. It is a tour de force of erudition, almost a microcosm of Chinese civilization, much as the I Ching itself was traditionally seen.

David Hinton is, with Arthur Waley and Burton Watson, the rare example of a literary Sinologist—that is, a classical scholar thoroughly conversant with, and connected to, contemporary literature in English. A generation younger than Watson, he and Watson are surely the most important American translators of Chinese classical poetry and philosophy in the last 50 years. Both are immensely prolific, and both have introduced entirely new ways of translating Chinese poetry. Or perhaps its fragments and aphorisms are meant to be dipped into at random, the way one reads E.

Cioran or Elias Canetti. His I Ching puts the reader into the Tao of nature: that is, the way of the world as it is exemplified by nature and embodied by the book.


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  7. To that end, Hinton occasionally translates according to a pictographic reading of the oldest characters, a technique first used by Ezra Pound in his idiosyncratic and wonderful version of the earliest Chinese poetry anthology, the Book of Songs , which he titled The Confucian Odes. The difference between the two translations—the differences among all translations—is apparent if we look at a single hexagram: number 52, called Gen.

    His translation of the text throughout the book is minimalist, almost telegraphese, with each line centered, rather than flush left. He has also made the exceedingly strange decision to incorporate tags in Latin, taken from the early Jesuit translations, which he claims. The back Is still As a Mountain; There is no body. He walks In the courtyard, Unseen.

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    No Harm, Nullum malum. This is followed by a long and interesting exegesis on the spiritual role and poetic image of mountains in the Chinese tradition. Expect nothing from your life. Wander the courtyard where you see no one.

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    How could you ever go astray? Keeping his back still So that he no longer feels his body.

    He goes into the courtyard And does not see his people. No blame. True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there is light in life. The hexagram signifies the end and beginning of all movement. The back is named because in the back are located all the nerve fibers that mediate movement.

    If the movement of these spinal nerves is brought to a standstill, the ego, with its restlessness, disappears as it were. When a man has thus become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no longer sees in it the struggle and tumult of individual beings, and therefore he has that true peace of mind which is needed for understanding the great laws of the universe and for acting in harmony with them. Whoever acts from these deep levels makes no mistakes. There is no blame.

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    The six judgments for the six individual lines of Hexagram 52 travel through the body, including the feet, calves, waist, trunk, and jaws. But the Energy of Others…cannot be mastered and harnessed. No Retreat is possible, only a reluctant acceptance. One lacks the foresight for Retreat. The leg cannot move independently; it depends on the movement of the body. If a leg is suddenly stopped while the whole body is in vigorous motion, the continuing body movement will make one fall. The same is true of a man who serves a master stronger than himself.

    He is swept along, and even though he himself may halt on the path of wrongdoing, he can no longer check the other in his powerful movement. When the master presses forward, the servant, no matter how good his intentions, cannot save him. Loss of weight is a concern, and it directly affects the emotions. Both Richard J.

    Smith, in a monograph on the I Ching for the Princeton Lives of Great Religious Books series, and Arthur Waley take the hexagram back to the prevalent practice in the Shang dynasty of human and animal sacrifice. There will be no misfortune.