The King Wen Sequence of hexagrams (who knows who really created it or how old it might be?) is a source of endless fascination. People keep on finding patterns in it.
The first to catch my interest was Danny Van den Berghe’s discovery of a ‘landscape’ of trigrams (download the articles ‘King Wen’s Order’ and ‘The I Ching Landscape’ from here). There are 660 pages on Classical Chinese Combinatorics by Richard Cook. (I haven’t read that one; my maths isn’t remotely up to it.) Scott Davis has recently elucidated some beautiful patterns that combine text and structure in his The Classic of Changes in cultural context. (Huge, fascinating, and not light reading.) I’ve been captivated by sequence patterns myself – and no doubt there’s a lot more good work I’ve omitted to mention.
I’ve read claims that the arrangement of the pairs through the Sequence is random – that if you want regularity and pattern, you need to turn to an alternative arrangement such as Shao Yong’s. This strikes me as bizarre, since the problem’s almost the opposite: there are so many interwoven patterns and connections that it seems impossible to find a single pattern running through the whole sequence.
Except… that it isn’t. The King Wen Sequence makes a single, perfectly simple pattern that you can understand at a glance. You’ll find it in this unassuming little pdf by Gert Gritter, The Hidden Pattern in the Classical Sequence of the I Ching. In the course of reading it I went from ‘Oh, pretty…’ (on page 7) to ‘Wow‘ (by page 10) – I expect you’ll do the same. How could we have failed to notice this?
…and now, how do we use this in readings?