A new translation and new interpretation of Yijing
© 1997 Dr. Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong
Yijing (I-jing) as a book as it is was finalized by Confucius about 2,500 years ago. According to the legend, the eight kwas were invented by the sage king, Fuhsi, over 5,000 years ago. That is, it took about three thousand years to formulate the concepts and to finalize the book of I-jing.
I-jing was never claimed as the words of God but was the works of men. With today's standard, the book of I-jing is a small book. For many Chinese, they do view the I-jing as a doctrine which not only understands all the laws of physical world but encompasses all the laws of human relations (including the fate of every individual). This is a big claim indeed.
The book of I-jing alone seemingly cannot support that claim. Today, the laws of universe is described in terms of physics with the language of very advanced mathematics. Superficially, we cannot find any trace of physics and modern mathematics in I-jing. Furthermore, today there are over 6 billions people on earth. How can 64 hexagrams encompass the fate of everyone?
There is no book about I-jing which is able to address the two issues above in a scientific way. For many Chinese, it doesn't really matter. The concept of I-jing is the backbone of every Chinese disciplines (medicine, laws of society, ways of government, etc.), and they have all practically worked, not only in laboratories but on all human situations for a long 5,000 years.
Perhaps, the claim for being a final theory of physics laws and for being able to encompass the fate of every men or women on earth are slightly exaggerated, but it is a good philosophy and a good metaphysics after all.
No, it did not exaggerate. The I-jing is, indeed, a final theory of universe. It is much more advanced than the modern elementary particle physics which still cannot explain the rise of biological life, but I-jing can. Of course, you don't want just taking my words for. You should examine my arguments.
Again, with only 64 hexagrams, I-jing can truly encompass all situations of human fate and life. Perhaps, you would like to know how it can be too.
- The eight kwas.
- Generation of 64 hexagrams -- and Index table 1.
- Index table 2 for Hexagrams.
- The history of attaching meanings to the 64 hexagrams.
- The terminologies and conventions used in I-jing.
- Traditional ways to interpret the hexagrams.
- How to consult the I-jing: a way of divination.
- New meanings -- I-jing is more advanced than modern physics.
- How to encompass all human fates with only 64 hexagrams?
- The entire Yijing book in Chinese ?
I: The Eight Kwas
There is a theory on how to generate the eight kwas. In I-jing, the universe started off as a Wu-chi which transformed into Tai-chi which generated two yaos -- yin () and yang (). There are 7 laws for the yin-yang theory. First, yin and yang must interact. By pairing, four signs are generated. By interacting with yin or yang second time, eight kwas are formed.
Should we add one more yin or yang yao to each kwa for the next (third) yin-yang interaction? The ancient Chinese did not do it for two reasons.
One, eight kwas form a perfect system. First, there are pure yang (Chien -- heaven) and pure Yin (K'un -- earth). Second, the other six kwas can be generated by the interaction of Chien and K'un. For example, Chen is born by Chien (the father) inserting a yang yao into K'un (the mother), etc.
The Eight Kwas
Two, the yin-yang interaction goes on forever. It is not beneficial by adding another yin or yang yao onto the kwas. However, the infinite interaction of yin-yang can be expressed by self stacking (doubling) the kwa into hexagrams. Then each stacking generates 7 more hexagram, that is 64 for all.
[back to top]
II: Generation of 64 hexagrams and Index table 1
Each kwa stacks itself, and it generates 7 more hexagrams with the rule showing in the figure below.
Note: The top yao of each new hexagram is not changed.
These eight hexagrams form a palace. There are total eight palaces, 64 hexagrams.
The Eight Palaces and 64 Hexagrams -- Index table 1
[back to top]
III: Index table 2 of Hexagrams
Use index table 2 to find the number of your hexagrams. The meeting point between the lower and upper kwas (trigrams) indicates the number of the hexagram that you are seeking.
[back to top]
Visit our discussion forum
The applications of Yijing
IV: The history of attaching meanings to the 64 hexagrams
The eight kwas and 64 hexagrams were generated with the rules above. Each kwa and hexagram did not have any meaning at the beginning. Two thousand years after Fuhsi, King Wan (the founder of Chou Dynasty) stacked the kwa
into hexagram and assigned meaning to each with two rules.
Rule 1: Hexagram gets its meaning by how it is generated. For example, the 23rd hexagram was generated by stripping all the yang yaos (except the top one) from the Chien hexagram . Thus, it is not only called "stripping," but represents the phenomena of stripping.
The 24th hexagram has the same number of yin yaos and yang yao as the Stripping (the 23rd) but with a different arrangement. It is generated by inserting one yang yao at the first (bottom) yin position of K'un hexagram. It symbolizes the beginning of the returning to Chien (the father). Thus, it is called "return" and symbolizes the meaning of return.
Rule 2: By incorporating rule 1, King Wan assigned each hexagram with one meaning to form a system which encompasses the entire universe, including the entire human affairs. For example:
After each hexagram was assigned a meaning according to rule 1 of how it is generated, the Duke Chou (son of King Wan) explained the meanings of each yao in a hexagram.
- The Cosmology (explaining the rise of universe and the biological lives) -- 1st; 2nd; 23rd; 24th; 63rd; 64th.
- The Metaphysics -- Every hexagram describes a very important concept in metaphysics.
- For ruler (the way of governing) -- 7th; 13th; 17th; 19th; 20th; 21th; 28th; 29th; 36th; 43rd; 45th; 49th; 50th.
- For people (as subject) -- 35th; 43rd; 50th.
Note: As you can see, there are many more advices to rulers than to subjects. In order to understand Chinese way of governing, one must study the I-jing.
- For the family -- 37th; 44th; 54th.
- For human affairs and encounters -- Every hexagram provides good advice, and the 64 hexagrams covers the entire domain of human affairs.
About 600 years after Duke Chou, Confucius wrote some commentaries about the book of I-jing.
[back to top]
V: The terminologies and conventions used in I-jing
In I-jing, everything is either an yin or an yang. Thus, all odd numbers are viewed as yang because the yang yao is one line (). All even numbers are yin because the yin yao has two lines ().
In this way, yang yao is called "9," and yin yao "6." But, why 9, not 1, 3, 5 or 7? Why 6, not 2, 4 or 8?
Every hexagram has six yaos. There is a very important significance on the position of each yao. The bottom is the first. To emphasize the first is the first, the first yao position is called First yao. The second yao position is call "two", third "three", fourth "four" and the fifth "five." The sixth is not called "six" but "Top."
Because 2 to 5 are used in representing the positions of yaos, only 1, 7 or 9 is available for representing the yang, and only 6 or 8 for yin. In eight kwas, the yin (K'un) kwa has three yin yaos, that is, having 6 half-lines. Thus, it make sense to use 6 to represent yin yao. The yang (Chien) kwa is the original and thus contains yin kwa. Yang (Chien) kwa itself has three yang yaos. Being containing yin kwa, yang is, in fact, 3 + 6 = 9. So, in I-jing, 9 represents yang yao.
Thus, the name of each yao in every hexagram is as followings:
With the above system, the meanings of the entire 64 hexagrams and 384 yaos are understood, but the yin and the yang themselves were not explained. Thus, in Chien Hexagram has a "Use 9 (meaning of yang)," and it is written as U9. The same, there is a U6 for yin in K'un hexagram.
[back to top]
- The first yao is called F9 (first yang) or F6 (first yin).
- The second yao is called 9two (yang on second position) or 6two.
- The third yao is called 9three or 6three.
- The fourth yao is called 9four or 6four.
- The fifth yao is called 9five or 6five.
- The sixth yao is called T9 (top yang) or T6.
VI: Traditional ways to interpret the hexagrams
1) For hexagram itself, it has the symbol (the hexagram), the virtue and the signs (the meaning and the significance). These three form the mean body of I-jing.
Then, every hexagram contains four eight-kwas (trigrams). The meanings of these four kwas will provide additional meanings to each hexagram.
Finally, a hexagram obtained by divination may contain a moving yao, and this hexagram will transform into a new hexagram, that is, with an additional meanings to the old hexagram.
2) For yaos, there are only two kinds of yao -- yin or yang. The meanings of each yao depend on the followings:
- Its position in a hexagram.
- How did this yao get to that position according to the hexagram generating rule?
The position of the hexagram in its palace gives the meanings to this.
- Every position in the hexagram is either an yang seat or an yin seat. The first, third and fifth are yang seats. If a yang yao sits on a yang seat, it is proper, otherwise improper. It is the same for the yin yao.
- Its relationships with other yaos.
- Touching -- the 2nd seat touches 3rd seat, etc. The same kind of yaos touching each other is better, such as yang-yang or yin-yin.
- Corresponding -- every hexagram has two kwas; bottom (inner) or top (outer). The 1st yao of hexagram (also the first yao of bottom kwa) corresponds to the 4th yao of hexagram (the first yao of top kwa). then 2 --> 5; 3 --> top. The opposites (such as yin --> yang) corresponding is good, otherwise offsets each other.
- Shouldering or carrying -- the lower yao shoulders the one above which in turn carries the one below. That yin shoulders yang and yang carries yin is good. Other way around is not.
- Many other rules -- coming or going; far or near, center or offset, etc.
[back to top]
VII: How to consult the I-jing -- a way of divination
First, you must accept God's will. Then, for receiving divination, you must formulate a "personal" question. This question must be beyond your ability to reason and to solve because God already gave you the intelligence to reason and to solve all solvable problems. Then your heart must be sincere, and you must concentrate your will in order to receive God.
After God has entered your heart, toss three coins on a flat surface to construct a hexagram. Tail has a value of 2, head a value of 3.
In statistics, 3 tails or 3 heads are much rarer event than other outcomes; thus this rare event seemingly has higher significance, but in I-jing this means that it has reached its fullness and must be transformed into it opposite. So, it is a moving line.
- 2 tails, 1 head = 7 is Yang (a solid line).
- 2 heads, 1 tail = 8 is Yin (a broken line).
- 3 tails = 6 is Yin (a moving yin line).
- 3 heads = 9 is Yang (a moving Yang line).
After casting three coins six times in all, you will obtain a hexagram. Your first toss will be the first line, starting from the bottom of the hexagram. But, how to interpret your hexagram. See How to encompass all human fates with 64 hexagrams? and Traditional ways to interpret the hexagrams.
[back to top]
VIII: New meanings for I-jing -- I-jing is more advanced than modern physics
[back to top]
- By using eight kwas, Dr. Stephen Wolfram developed an one-dimensional cellular automation which generates some very complicated patterns (artificial lives) with very complicated behavior and often long live.
- I-jing combining with Five Walks (five elements) theory, it is isomorphic to the Modern Quark physics.
- I-jing combining with Prequark Theory and Conway's Game of Life, it gives rise to biological life.
IX: How to encompass all human fates with 64 hexagrams?
In Five Walks Theory, the five elements interact with each other either on a favorable or unfavorable way. Every yao of a hexagram is corresponded with one certain element. Also, every point in time is defined by 4 sets of elements. That is, every person's birth date and time has a set of Five Walk coordinates. Then, all question are classified into six classes; one corresponds each yao.
That is, although there are only 64 hexagrams, no one can get the same interpretation for each divination. After combining with the Five Walks Theory, I-jing can, indeed, encompass the entire human affair.
- If you and I got the same hexagram for our questions, it has different meanings if the questions are different because the yao used as the key for the hexagram is different.
- If we asked the same question and got the same hexagram, the meaning of the hexagram can still be different if the Five Walk coordinates of our birth date and time are different because the interaction of yaos' with the two sets of coordinates is different. Even for two twins, the birth coordinates are still slightly different.
- If we asked the same question, got the same hexagram and have exactly the same birth coordinates, the meaning of the hexagram can still be different if we asked our question at different time which also has a set of Five Walks coordinates. The interaction of yaos and these two sets of coordinates could be different.
That is, although the "answer Space (64 hexagram)" is finite, the "Interpretation Space" can be infinite because the "Question Space (kind of question, who did asking, when the question was asked, etc." is infinite.
[back to top]
[back to Content]