7/19/19

Fu, from captives to inspiring confidence

Captive, truth, sincerity, inspire confidence. 

The tag of hexagram 61 is Zhong Fu, inner truth. The character fu appeares 42 times in the Zhou Yi.
Originally it meant captive. It is a picture of a child and a claw: grasping a (small) person.


Bronze character 'fu'.


When the troops returned home, they had to show their conquests. They did it by showing the captives or the number of killed enemies.
Hauling along corpses for a long journey home is not a good idea, so they only brought the ears.
The ears brought home were proof that they told the truth. So the character started to mean truth, sincerity, inspire confidence.
The number of people is still sometimes counted in ears: six ears: three people.

In hexagram 55 line 2 it says: "To proceed brings doubt and anxiety. With confidence Fa gathers." (Fa is the personal name of Wu, king Wen's son).
Wu 'has the power to inspire', he convinces his people and the allies that the eclipse is not a bad sign, on the contrary. It is an omen of the fall of an empire - the Shang of course...

7/10/19

Loan characters (or the poetry of a nation)

This character, jùn, is the first character of the bottom line of hexagram 32. Its meanings are "dredge, dig, excavate, develop, extract, deep, many, unblock the waterway; digging wells and pools".

Jùn héng: unrelenting steadiness, or deep-digging steadiness. 

This same character pronounced as xùn is a place-name: Xùn. A place which is known for its deep waters.
氵夋
 At left 'water', at right an old character with the meaning 'move slowly'.
夂 允 
Which in turn consists of 'move' and 'permit, consent, fair, just right'

The scientific approach is to choose between those two meanings. Either 'deep', or Xun, but not both at once.
Poets (and Chinese) have a different approach: both. Because the two meanings enhance each other.

If you want to make clear how deep and exhaustingly something is being done, wouldn't it make the picture more complete to compare it to the place Xun? Everyone knows that the waters there are so deep and dangerous!

In Rutt (Zhouyi, 1996): "...the place-name had oracular force because of its danger". It is the same force poets make use of. Oracles and poets both use imagery to convey their message. Both speak to your heart, not that much to your mind.

6/30/19

Hex.38.5 His ancestor bites through skin

Who is the ancestor?

I always wondered what the ancestor meant. I found this:
The ancestor can be a leader, grandfather, a person of authority in a family, husbandanyone who has the position to exercise some control. 
This is China long ago, feel free to change it to the female version if that fits better.

宀 示
The character consists of 'roof' and 'altar'. It refers to a certain type of thing or person that has a leading role or is the first: sovereign, leader, eldest son, respect, fundamental, ancient emperor temple, an ancient ritual, official title, take charge of the ritual of sacrifice. I think it is a picture of the little altar in a house where the family honors their grandfather/mother and so on.

The fanyao (corresponding line of the relating hexagram)

38.5 Regrets go away. The clan leader bites through skin. Proceed, how can it be faulty.
Trigram Fire turns into Heaven. Controlling but not too much (just skin, not through hard bone or so).

10.5 Decisive treading. Determination: danger.
Trigram Heaven turns into Fire. Decisive but not too much.

38.5 changes into 10.5 if it is 'old yin', 10.5 changes into 38.5 if it is 'old yang': they are each other's fanyao.

What does it mean in an answer?

If one of the two is too strong, they will clash. If it is the one in authority (or thinks he/she is) it will be 'faulty'. If it is the one of 10.5: being decisive is good, but it always involves risk; how much depends on its flexibility.

"The noble one knows the seeds"

In hexagram 3 line 3 is the character ji, which is intriguing. It can be translated as "seed", the very first beginning of something, when it is not yet really visible. 

幺 戍
It is composed of 幺 (small, doubled) and 戍 (frontier guard). From Wieger: Frontier guards “are attentive to the least movement, to the smallest event".
幺 is actually a picture of silk - very slight, thin, hardly visible.

There are more lines with this character, but all of them about the moon being 'almost' full. On the verge of being full, but just not yet. It is a moment when things can change. A full moon is a time of 'much', but being on the verge of full is a meaningful but still rather undefined moment. See 9 line 6, 54 line 5 and 61 line 6.


There is another character with the meaning 'full', which simply tells us that the moon is 'round', a symbol of success or the kind of mind which can reach success. But the character 'full' in these three lines also means 'hope', prestige and it is also the name of an ancient sacrifice, or to offer a sacrifice to the dead whose remains are buried far away and to mountains and rivers, sun, moon and stars.

7/18/18

Contrast, reflection and contrasting reflection


  Most pairs in the Yi are reflections of each other. Like a mountain in a lake: upside down.

 Another combination is the 'contrast': every yang line in one hex is a yin line in the other and every yin line is a yang line.

 Above is the example of a reflection pair, 3 and 4, and their contrasts, the reflection pair of 49 and 50. Hex.3 and 50 are contrasts, hex.4 and 49 are contrasts.


  When you cast hex.3, the Yi gives advice. But 4 does have some meaning in the advice as well. It is the view from the other side. Not advice about what you should do now, but sometimes it is helpful to see "the other perspective".

  The top is now at the bottom, the bottom at the top. Line 3.1 becomes 4.6, and so on. Line 3.5 is about finding a good place. Its reflection, 4.2, is also about a time without solid facts, but now about caring for what is present already.

  Hex.3 line 5 changes to hex.24, hex.4 line 2 changes to 23, which is - of course - the reflection of 24, because that is how it works.

 Between 3.5 and 4.2 is a reflection. For hexagrams and for lines it works the same. In hex.3 there is a beginning without anything already finished.

 In hex.4 the start is present, but you don't know yet how to proceed.
Starting or learning - two sides of a similar dilemma. In hex.3 you have to start acting. In 4 you have to learn how to act.

6/6/18

Hexagram names: 1 and 2

The names (or tags) of hexagrams 

The names can be confusing. Chinese is extremely difficult to translate, because every character has a wide landscape of meanings. Many meanings are not easy to clarify as a picture. Like eg wind. Wind is only visible in its workings, so the character for wind is a tree with all its branches blown to one side. A picture-with-meaning is called an ideogram.

There are several ways to clarify hexagram-meanings. I start with the contrasting hexagrams with their pictures (ideograms).

1. Comparing contrasting hexagrams

1-2 The contrasting hexagrams 1 and 2.

Hex.1 Heaven, creating the patterns of days and seasons with its laws of time and timing. Its animal is the dragon, which brings the rain according to the seasons and makes the seeds sprout.

The character is a picture of the sun at dawn and banners - the brilliant light reflected on dancing banners. Light, leader, center.

Hex.2 is Earth, with its energies of birth, growth and decay. Of survival and eating each other, but also of connection and supporting each other. Its animal is the mare, with her physical and creative powers.
The ideogram of Kun is a clod of earth, or maybe an earth altar, and a picture of either lightning or stretch-out. Both make sense: stretch-out as a description of the vast wide of earth, lightning as a description of the energies which inhabit the earth. Not only the power which makes everything grow, but also the spirits of the ancestors.

Hexagrams 1 and 2 are contrasts. Every line in hex.1 is yang, every line in hex.2 is yin.
Hex.1 is about the laws of heaven, with its rotating constellations showing the passing of the day and of the seasons, the time and timing which this means, sun, rain and wind which influence the earth, thunder through which heaven impregnates the earth.
Hex.2 is female, dark and nurturing, growing all creatures and vegetation from the seeds she receives. Heaven and earth need each other. Neither can create without the other.