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Bao Ti (Bao Gua)

Sparhawk

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Dedicated to Lindsay (who wonders if anybody uses trigrams for interpretations...) :D

I really like to plug Bent Nielsen's book here, "A companion to Yi Jing numerology and cosmology". I bought it a couple of month ago after having it in my Amazon's Wish List for some three years (if you take a look at the price you'll see why...) I believe the book is a treasure chest full of tasty Yi morsels.

One of those morsels I found very interesting is the concept of Bao Ti (Bao Gua), or "contained [or containing] trigrams". The term is attributed to Lin Li, a 12th century Chinese official and Yijing commentator, although, according to Nielsen, none of his extant writings contain this concept.

Now, the concept is simple: each hexagram can be seen as composed of a trigram containing another or, vice-versa, a trigram contained by another.

The "containing trigram" is formed by either the 1st, 2nd and 6th line or the 1st, 5th and 6th line (I drew a sample below where the red lines form this). The "contained trigram" is easily seen in the black lines.

baoti-300.jpg


Bent Nielsen (as attribution) said:
Quan Zuwang (1704 or 1705-1755) gives the following explanation of contained (or containing) trigrams:

The theory presumes that one hexagram provides two interlocking [trigrams] (Nuclear Trigrams; my note) [...] If one hexagram [of a pair] selects the upper interlocking [trigram], the other hexagram selects the lower interlocking [trigram]. E.g. when Qian contains Kun, it is Sun (41) and Yi (42), and when Kun contains Qian, it is Xian (31) and Heng (32). One trigram contains [or is contained] in 32 hexagrams, and eight trigrams contain [or are contained] in 256 hexagrams.

Cool idea, IMO. :)


L
 
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rosada

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Can you give an example of what this then tells you?
 

Sparhawk

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Can you give an example of what this then tells you?

Hi Rosada,

I'm still thinking about this as a tool for interpretation. For starters, the idea of "inside" (lower) and "outside" (upper) trigrams is one common concept. That goes also for "nuclear" trigrams (what Nielsen calls "interlocking") What I find interesting about this concept is that one of the ideas it introduces is that of "possession" (and being "possessed by"). How would you use that in an actual interpretations, as I said, I'm still thinking about it and I certainly invite opinions. In my case, it would certainly be one of those things/tools that will be very contextual with the situation at hand.

Luis
 
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hmesker

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I don't know if this is the original usage, but I apply it like this: baoti is a system in which one (nuclear) trigram is captured by another trigram. The captured trigram cannot express his qualities because of the oppressive/protective nature of the capturing trigram.

Taking Luis' drawings as examples: in the first hexagram the nuclear trigram Gen cannot express his qualities of stillness, retreat, meditation etc. because it is captured by Dui, Lake. Joy, happiness, prevents stillness, so to speak.
In the second hexagram the trigram Thunder, impulsive behaviour etc., cannot express himself because it is captured by Wind - calm, thoughtful decisions etc.

The baoti system can clarify the obstruction of elements in your inner nature, the most intimate part of yourself. It is a clear example of interaction
between trigrams. At least that is how I use it.

Harmen.
 

Sparhawk

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The baoti system can clarify the obstruction of elements in your inner nature, the most intimate part of yourself. It is a clear example of interaction
between trigrams. At least that is how I use it.

Harmen.

There you go. That makes sense to me and, for me, clicks with the "possession/possessed" qualities of the baoti. Nice one, Harmen.

L
 

frank_r

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I don't know if this is the original usage, but I apply it like this: baoti is a system in which one (nuclear) trigram is captured by another trigram. The captured trigram cannot express his qualities because of the oppressive/protective nature of the capturing trigram.

Harmen.

That's a interesting technique, but today I tried to do it with a hexagram, 24. Then earth is captured by thunder and also by earth. How should you read that, captured by itself?
 

lindsay

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Luis, thank you for sharing this. Thanks to Harmen, too, for amplifying how baoti works. I’ve known about Bent Nielsen’s book for a while, but it’s never been within my reach. The book must be very good. There are references to it in scholarly literature – academic journals and such - which is very rare for lay I Ching publications.

There is another reason I haven’t tried too hard to fund the exorbitant cost of the book. It has to do with practical application of Han symbolic methods.

The rift between those who favor “textual” interpretations of the Yi and those who seek meaning in the gua themselves, “symbolic” interpretations, is old and well known. Most of my own efforts have been concentrated on the texts. Readings of great power and subtlety can be fashioned by following the words where they lead, seeing how they combine and echo off each other. The process of extracting meaning from words I understand.

What I don’t understand is how subtle readings, nuanced readings, powerful readings can be derived from “structural” analysis. The eight trigrams are elemental, like building blocks, but they are not subtle. They seem too abstract to apply to specific situations – except in a general sort of way. They oversimplify the world as we know it. What do you get when you identify which of the eight trigrams apply to “What can I do about helping my friend?” To me, the trigrams are similar to our chemical elements. I find the least interesting thing about water is that it is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

Mostly this boils down to the problem of applying big abstractions to concrete situations. But the Han schools go way, way beyond this. They introduce complexity. So instead of one or two big abstractions, you find yourself juggling half a dozen or more. The more symbolic complexity you introduce into a reading, they more you are forced to sacrifice detail and depth. Telling detail. Psychological depth. Suddenly the whole thing becomes an intellectual juggling act, all based on the slender premise of assumed symbolic relationships.

This is not to say that symbolic interpretations aren’t useful. They are, in a general sort of way. Contextually. But to answer your questions directly with a sort of symbolic algebra strikes me as … well, very difficult.

But, I admit right away that I do not know how to do this. I do not know how to use Han techniques to answer my questions. I rely on what I feel comfortable doing, and that is mainly reading texts. My question is, can these complicated techniques really be used to give good and useful readings? Or is this all just theoretical, pure thought?

Nothing wrong with that. We know, ever since Joseph Needham wrote “Science and Civilization”, that the ancient Chinese elaborated the Yijing symbol set into a kind of sophisticated science to explain the world. The Han symbolists were part of that process – but it is important to realize this was science, not divination. But if your interest in the Yi centers on divination, not system-building, do these Han thinkers have anything to offer that is psychologically valid?
 

frank_r

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My question is, can these complicated techniques really be used to give good and useful readings? Or is this all just theoretical, pure thought?

I think they can at least thats my opinion. When I started to work with the trigrams a whole new world opened for me. Because of the simplicity of the 8 trigrams on one hand and the complexity to adjust these 8 trigrams to the answer the Yi is giving on the other hand.

Today I went swimming, and while a was in the water I thought about hexagram 15(why 15 I don't know, but I did). And I also thought about this new technique. The trigrams of water and thunder are captured by trigram earth. Two strong yang trigrams, the two oldest sons are captured by the most yin one the mother.
It gave a new look on 15 for me, some other part of 15 was revealled for me.
 

Sparhawk

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Lindsay said:
The rift between those who favor “textual” interpretations of the Yi and those who seek meaning in the gua themselves, “symbolic” interpretations, is old and well known. Most of my own efforts have been concentrated on the texts. Readings of great power and subtlety can be fashioned by following the words where they lead, seeing how they combine and echo off each other. The process of extracting meaning from words I understand.

What I don’t understand is how subtle readings, nuanced readings, powerful readings can be derived from “structural” analysis. The eight trigrams are elemental, like building blocks, but they are not subtle. They seem too abstract to apply to specific situations – except in a general sort of way. They oversimplify the world as we know it. What do you get when you identify which of the eight trigrams apply to “What can I do about helping my friend?” To me, the trigrams are similar to our chemical elements. I find the least interesting thing about water is that it is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

I suppose you are not saying that both approaches are exclusionary. Personally, I see no conflict in using both at the same time. In my experience, they usually back each other. OTOH, my mind works in a very holistic way and tries not to attach and/or default to any given approach.

There way a theory, in the late 1800's, by Charles de Harlez, et al, that said that the Yi, as a classic composed of hexagrams and attached texts, was in fact a dictionary/encyclopedia of sorts. That theory was thrown out the window, starting with Legge, but I wonder if there isn't some truth in it. If we think about it, hexagrams/trigrams, with their implicit simplicity, can be seen as a sort of universal "character system." The key is to find a way to read them as such, the same way we are reading this. Not that I'm any closer in finding that "reading key" but this is why I like using the imagery of trigram symbols when I consult the Yijing.

Luis
 

lindsay

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Thanks, Frank. I appreciate your observations about the trigrams. I think I’ll start studying them a little and try to use them. I would like to broaden my approach and maybe learn something for a change, instead of always finding problems with what I already know.

I wish Rosada had started “Memorizing the Trigrams” – it would be very interesting to hear people’s thoughts about them, and – we would be done with the series by now.

Luis, you’re right about my view of things – the symbols do complement the texts - but it’s one thing to say this and another to practice it. I find working with the texts a lot easier than trying to figure out the message of the symbols.

De Harlez’s theory – the Yi as universal dictionary – sort of mirrors some of the claims made in the Great Treatise, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the Dazhuan more or less claim the Yi includes and represents everything? Certainly that was the premise the Han cosmologists (aka “symbolists”) were working from. This claim used to worry me. If you map everything in the universe to 64 categories, you end up with a pretty crude map. Or, as the wise ones say, “the granularity is rather coarse.” Another problem (I’m good at finding problems) is the 64 categories of the Yi are not the ones I would choose to represent everything in the world. A few important concepts seem to be missing. Finally, the hexagrams – being the result of 2 to the 6th power – represent a closed system. No room for a 65th hexagram. Nobody in the modern world believes in closed systems, especially that reality itself is a closed system.

OK, so I’m open to thinking about symbols, and I’m a complete novice. Let’s say I start with the trigrams. But where do I go from there? Is anyone familiar with “Master” Alfred Huang’s “The Numerology of the I Ching”? It has the advantage of being one-tenth the price of Bent Nielsen, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Does anybody have other suggestions that help with divination?
 
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hmesker

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That's a interesting technique, but today I tried to do it with a hexagram, 24. Then earth is captured by thunder and also by earth. How should you read that, captured by itself?

In the case of Earth being captured by Earth, it can signify a passive attitude which blocks nurturing - like a mother who does not raise her child because she is afraid she will harm it. This is just one example, it depends on the situation how you see these kind of interactions.

Harmen.
 

Sparhawk

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I would suggest Da Liu's, "I Ching Numerology", 1979, Routledge and Kegan, ISBN 0710004087. Hard to find though. Huang is good too.

The nice thing about Nielsen's book is that is organized as an encyclopedia and ordered by the pinyin transliteration of the original Chinese characters. Many of the entries are short takes but very substantial at the same time. I believe Nielsen did a superb job, albeit priced away from most people. Even Richard Cook's, phone-book sized monograph on "Classical Chinese Combinatorics -- Derivation of the Book of Changes Hexagram Sequence" is priced a third less than Nielsen's.

Lindsay said:
De Harlez’s theory – the Yi as universal dictionary – sort of mirrors some of the claims made in the Great Treatise, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the Dazhuan more or less claim the Yi includes and represents everything? Certainly that was the premise the Han cosmologists (aka “symbolists”) were working from. This claim used to worry me. If you map everything in the universe to 64 categories, you end up with a pretty crude map.

Yes, but I don't think De Harlez and some of his contemporary translator and commentators had the Dazhuan in mind when they stated this. As for 64 hexagrams being "too finite a number" of symbols to represent the whole universe, I can see where you are not a mathematician... :D The Yijing's 64 may be a different language and symbolic system altogether, in and by itself, but just think how much can a physicist like Einstein can do with a limited number of algebraic symbols.



Luis
 

frank_r

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OK, so I’m open to thinking about symbols, and I’m a complete novice. Let’s say I start with the trigrams. But where do I go from there? Does anybody have other suggestions that help with divination?

Linday, I studied the trigram in different ways. What I did first was naming some of the qualities from a trigram in the things you see, like looking to the trees and see what wind is doing to the leaves. The same aspect you can see when people have stress and have a lot of indirect influence on other people.For me thats both a aspect of Wind.
And think of thunder when you know somebody who is the eldest son. What thunder qualities you see in this person.

When I´m swimming I see-feel many times a new aspect of the trigram Water. Like when I stay long under Water, the middle yang line is giving me a sign to go to the surface. Then I really need some fresh air. So start to name aspects you recognise in the trigrams.

When you see and-or feel the different aspects of the trigrams you can also see these aspects in the hexagrams. Than a new world can open, one of Yi translations who is working with the trigrams a lot is Nigel Richmond. On the site of Steve Marshall you can download two of his books. http://www.biroco.com/yijing/richmond.htm I really like them, especially language of the lines. There he plays with the trigrams, and by reading them often they start to live more and more. In my opinion of course.

Lindsay I hope you will enjoy working with the trigrams.
 

frank_r

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In the case of Earth being captured by Earth, it can signify a passive attitude which blocks nurturing - like a mother who does not raise her child because she is afraid she will harm it. This is just one example, it depends on the situation how you see these kind of interactions.

Harmen.

Thanks Harmen, I will experiment with this idea of capturing I find it higly intersting. But like you said it will depend on the situation, the capturing idea with the same trigram isn´t still `living` for me. It´s to abstract for me at the moment, but I will try it when I throw the right hexagram.
 
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hmesker

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To me, the trigrams are similar to our chemical elements. I find the least interesting thing about water is that it is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

Ah, but that kind of information is often not necessary when you work with the trigrams. If you encounter the trigram Wind you do not need to know that Wind is created by the sun which warms up the Earth, creating high pressure and low pressure areas, which make the air flow, which is wind.....on the other hand, it is an aspect of Wind, so the idea of 'warmth creating wind' can be a helpful association. But you must not work with what you do not find helpful, work with what you find useful - and don't bother yourself too much with where it comes from.

Mostly this boils down to the problem of applying big abstractions to concrete situations. But the Han schools go way, way beyond this. They introduce complexity. So instead of one or two big abstractions, you find yourself juggling half a dozen or more. The more symbolic complexity you introduce into a reading, they more you are forced to sacrifice detail and depth. Telling detail. Psychological depth. Suddenly the whole thing becomes an intellectual juggling act, all based on the slender premise of assumed symbolic relationships.
The relationships are not really assumed, they follow a pattern, some kind of reasoning (mainly based on the wu xing). There are several systems which are based on the wuxing and that can make things look complicated. But if you slowly get acquainted with the material you will see that every system has its merits. Just don't try to learn everything at once.

My question is, can these complicated techniques really be used to give good and useful readings? Or is this all just theoretical, pure thought?
No, inn fact, all my interpretations are based on the trigrams and their relationships. There is mainly one reason for this: I don't trust Yi translations, and I am not able to work with the Chinese original - yet. So all that is left is the hexagram with all of its building blocks.

OK, so I’m open to thinking about symbols, and I’m a complete novice. Let’s say I start with the trigrams. But where do I go from there?
I'd say, start with the Ten Wings, especially the Shuo Gua. That is a good start to get to know the eight trigrams.

Harmen.
 
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hmesker

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the capturing idea with the same trigram isn´t still `living` for me. It´s to abstract for me at the moment

I can understand that it sounds strange, yet there are numerous cases in this world where similar relationships occur. Haven't we all been in the situation at school, when you wanted to say something very urgently because you were enthusiastic about it, but every time you started to open your mouth another child was just a little quicker? A case of Thunder being captured by Thunder. Or when you are so introvert that you are not able to come up for yourself any more and keep quiet - you have lost the connection with the outside world: a case of Mountain being captured by Mountain.

I am sure you can come up with similar associations. Be creative, you can do it! Unless you are so full of ideas that not a single one of them exactly finds a way out: a case of Heaven being blocked by Heaven.....

Harmen.
 

frank_r

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I am sure you can come up with similar associations. Be creative, you can do it! Unless you are so full of ideas that not a single one of them exactly finds a way out: a case of Heaven being blocked by Heaven.....

Harmen.

Now you are challeging me!, yes I found one, I could hardly find one, I had fear that nothing came out. Water is controling Water. But now the fear is gone and Water is streaming again .
 

lindsay

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Frank, Harmen, and of course Luis – thank you very much for your encouraging words about the usefulness of symbolic interpretation. I am definitely going to think about your ideas carefully, and try to broaden my practice.

Harmen, I find the following remark almost incredible:

“All my interpretations are based on the trigrams and their relationships. There is mainly one reason for this: I don't trust Yi translations, and I am not able to work with the Chinese original - yet. So all that is left is the hexagram with all of its building blocks.”

(1) “I don’t trust Yi translations . . .” I’m sure this is very wise. Putting aside all the unique issues surrounding the Yi, isn’t it always a good idea to distrust translations? You are at least bi-lingual – I'm sure you know things that can be said easily in Dutch that have no close English equivalent. The whole genre of poetry – which bears close resemblance to the Yi’s compressed and metaphorical language – is notoriously difficult to translate. In fact, it is almost impossible to do justice to a great poet in one language by translating his or her poems into another language. When you go from Chinese into a Western language, there is not just a difference of expression, but a profound and possibly unbridgeable cultural difference as well. Serious people have written extensively about how the Chinese “think” differently than Westerners. Add to this a gap of nearly 3000 years, putting the Yi somewhere between the strange worlds of the “Gilgamesh Epic” and the “Iliad”, and the hope for straightforward communication virtually disappears.

Having said all that, we have a choice: either to give up translation altogether as inherently inaccurate and deceptive, or to accept translation for what it is – an approximation of a text’s meaning. We are not entirely ignorant of the Yi’s background. Other ancient Chinese texts exist. There is archeological evidence to consider. Much can be guessed politically, socially and economically on the basis of parallel developments elsewhere. You yourself have explored all of this at first hand.

In the case of the Yi, however, we have something else that is valuable: an unbroken living tradition, similar to that of the Bible, which establishes meaning where meaning has been lost. I am not saying the Chinese tradition is uniform, but I am claiming that sacred texts get special treatment everywhere. Transmission tends to be very conservative. As in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, there is much wrangling over details, but the main outlines are clear enough and accepted by all.

We can overdo the obscurity factor in the Yi. When you place radically different interpretations side by side – say, Wilhelm and Kunst – there is agreement on about 80% of the text. I would invite you to read some really obscure stuff, such as the “Tian Wen” in the “Songs of Chu” or the entire “Classic of Mountains and Seas.” By comparison, the Yi is rather straightforward. All ancient works in every old language are full of textual problems. Before printing, it was impossible to guarantee standard versions, and copying anything by hand was bound to result in mistakes and “improvements.” Actually, the discovery of the Mawangdui Yi established the integrity of the traditional text to an amazing degree. We probably would not give much thought to textual difficulties in the Yi if we were not reading it so intensely for purposes of divination.

A long time ago, I spent nearly six years reading 9th and 10th century Latin sources, and manuscript texts in Old English and Old Norse for my PhD dissertation, and I can tell you the textual condition of the Yi is not particularly bad as ancient documents go. I’ve seen far worse medieval materials.

(2) “I am not able to work with the Chinese original – yet.” My God, Harmen, you can’t be serious? I marvel at your standards. What do you lack beyond what every other scholar lacks who considers the Yi? Look at all those articles you’ve written!

One thing is certain: neither you nor anyone else will ever discover the original meaning of the Yi. Not possible to avoid historical anachronism. Not possible to reconstruct the world of 3000 years ago with any degree of certainty. And what if you could? Would the Yi as it was understood at the moment the ink was drying on the first copy, would that Yi be any more valid for divination than Wang Bi’s interpreted text? If so, why?

But better approximations are always possible. There is a tradition in astronomy that the position of a star cannot be fixed by any single observer. Only when we have the data from many observers can we approximate a star’s location. The more observations, the better the approximation – but even thousands of observations still leave us with an approximation. Nobody knows where the star “really is”.

Some rigor can be false rigor. Many of the things that really matter to us cannot be proven or established conclusively. Other standards, non-absolute standards, are needed.
 
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lightofreason

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Oner can also throw all of the traditional perspectives away and focus on the universals forms and how they get customised by local context to turn into 'traditional' perspectives. Search out "The Species I Ching" in the archives.

Included in that is the ability to use object perspectives as well as wave perspectives in the generation of meaning. To bring out the XOR material, as in 'how' come it works, consider:

As mammals, and especially primates, we have developed communication skills focused on the 'reading' of emotions and in particular emotions expressed on the face. As such our faces 'encode' meaning, expression, as codons do for genetic expressions.

Our emotions, or more so their categorisation, stem from the self-referencing of the fight/flight dichotomy (aka anger/fear) where the generic characteristics of the elements of that dichotomy are isomorphic to the other dichotomies listed above.

The rich collection of neural dynamics associated with faces and the processing of emotion expressed on such appears to be not limited to faces but to be generalised to cover generic information processing.

Lets take fight/flight and represent such with the 1/0 dichotomy. Recurse that dichotomy to three levels and we have representations of:

111,110,101,100/011,010,001,000

[trigrams, from heaven to earth]

What do these represent? Basic emotions. In what associations?:

111 - anger [heaven, singlemindedness, self-devotion etc]
110 - sex (love)
101 - acceptance
100 - surprise
011 - anticipation
010 - rejection
001 - grief
000 - fear [earth, dual mindedness, refined to others-devotion (protection in numbers)]

(the category names come from Plutchik's work).

There are four dichotomies here:
Anger/fear
Love/grief
Acceptance/rejection
Surprise/anticipation

Where these have been derived from self-referencing fight/flight.

The face can express all of these and it does so through configuration of muscle expressions. As such, each category represents the particular configuration of facial muscles to communicate the meaning. BUT the WHOLE SET of expressions is present at any one time such that facial expression utilises ALL of the muscles in a constructive/destructive interference dynamic where some muscles are tensed, others relaxed. We can consider the face topologically as a closed space and so any 'amplification' of one 'part' will influence all of the others in that THEIR states contribute to the whole expression (and fine detail is possible through manipulation of particular muscles etc)

Thus the categories of emotions listed represent not 'parts' but 'aspects' of the whole that is the set of categories aka the 'face'. LOCAL context then elicits a 'facial expression' to fit that context. The success of such has led to finer distinctions that can objectify the aspects, make them into 'parts' or more so 'parts-interpreted-as-if-wholes' aka metonyms.

The development of SERIAL communication, the written/spoken word, adds more precision through mapping of precise words to carry the emotions/feelings. (where we differentiate emotion from feeling in that the latter covers finer distinctions drawn out of the former)

This plasticity of expressions WITHIN an overall ground is reflected neurologically in the processing of information - see references in:
http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/wavedicho.html where the 'whole' we are aware of is more so a local expression of a 'greater' whole that is unconscious, working in 'background' so to speak.

My analysis of the METHOD of self-referencing has brought out a property that only becomes apparent after about six loops of recursion where, through use of the bit template (mapping a dichotomy to 0/1) and the application of XOR and EQV operators on that template, we find that the set of categories are not 'independent' but in fact are aspects, facial expressions, made up of one aspect through which all of the others contribute to make up the WHOLE expression.

Why the use of XOR? Because consideration of how the neurology deals with self-referencing includes consideration of how it deals with paradox and THAT brings out a focus on the dynamics of creating the neurology to process XOR - by self-referencing (one neuron has to feed back onto another to get the result) - see http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/paradox.html (there is also the consideration of XOR being fundamental in the encrypting/decrypting of information and so covering issues of data compression/decompression etc in the brain for storage etc - something we see in the RNA/DNA dynamics where the DNA 'side' covers relationships that through cut n paste can form into a 'gene' encoded in a contiguous form in mRNA for processing by the ribosome for protein production - as such the RNA represents the discrete, the particular, the expression as DNA represents the continuum, the general, the essence; shift levels of meaning and the genotype is the essence, the phenotype the expression)

Overall:

Make a dichotomy of yang/yin. Recurse six time or more. Out comes a spectrum covering all possible expressions of the mixing of the elements of the dichotomy. The qualities of those elements are isomorphic in general to differentiating/integrating. Simple.

These are the universals, the regular network. Expose to a random network (i.e. environment) and the resulting dimension is customised to dampen the expressions of some, amplify the expressions of others. (iow a small world network emerges)

The WHOLE is the full set of categories where we can interpret the whole as 'the face' and each category as a 'facial expression'. As such, doing this, we also identify the entanglement of all of the emotions in the expression of any particular emotion.


Chris.
 
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hmesker

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Hi Lindsay,

Thank you for your honest remarks. The reason why I don't trust Yi translations stems from the fact that a lot of material that I find in my own research is hardly covered in the existing translations. There is such an enormous wealth of information to be gained from oracle bones, bronze inscriptions, the variant texts of the Yi that we have these days, the specialized dictionaries which explore these fields, etc. It helps me to get a better idea of the language of the Yi, and sometimes it helps me to translate a certain text better, according to my view. I often miss this kind of information in the existing translations, and because they have not examined the Chinese original to the fullest (again, according to my standards) I doubt them. Heck, I even doubt my own translations! I The only translation I sometimes use is Richard Rutt's version - not because it is so great in the practice of divination, but just because his end notes motivate his choice for a certain translation, and sometimes he also gives alternative readings.
Most Yi translations say that the Yi is a book from the Zhou dynasty, yet they don't treat it as such and use much later commentaries for the meaning of certain characters or phrases. That is totally unacceptable to me. And I know that most translations are good for divination purposes, but the idea that a text might not meet my standards makes it very difficult for me to work with it.

We can overdo the obscurity factor in the Yi. When you place radically different interpretations side by side – say, Wilhelm and Kunst – there is agreement on about 80% of the text.
That is true, but I'm not interested in the 80%. It is like strawberry yoghurt: it contains less then 10% strawberry, yet they call it 'strawberry yoghurt'. I'm interested in the strawberries, not the rest that makes the yoghurt. The 20% that differs has my undivided attention. Indeed, very often I spend weeks translating a sentence from the Yi, only to find out later that my translation hardly differs from the mainstream. And believe me, that is very comforting. But there is too much in the existing translations that I cannot agree with. For instance, the name of hexagram 29, kan 坎 , does mean 'pit', 'hole' or something similar. But that is not the only meaning. Is is also an onomatopoeia for the sound of a drum, especially when the character is repeated - '坎坎'. Most modern versions of the Yi do mention the meaning of onomatopoeia, but they don't apply it. Yet in line 3 we have the phrase '来之坎坎', and in the Shijing we also have the combination of '坎坎', where it clearly means 'the sound of drumming'. If it does mean that in the Shijing, a book of which large portions are from the Zhou era just like the Yi, why don't we translate '坎坎' as 'sound of drumming' in the Yijing? The combination '坎坎' can hardly mean something else. A translation like 'coming to the very pit' (Kerson Huang) does not make sense to me. But I hope to write more about the possible context of hexagram 29 soon in my weblog. There is an interesting connection between 'drumming' and 'pit' which I hope to explore.
Most Yijing translations just don't cover what I want to see in a translation which meets my standards.

(2) “I am not able to work with the Chinese original – yet.” My God, Harmen, you can’t be serious? I marvel at your standards. What do you lack beyond what every other scholar lacks who considers the Yi? Look at all those articles you’ve written!
Actually, these articles give a very wrong idea about my knowledge of the Chinese language. I have never made a secret of it, but without electronic gadgets like Wenlin, a scanpen and a Chinese OCR program I would be nowhere. From most Chinese books I can understand what they are about, but for the details I have to resort to my dictionaries. I cannot read the Chinese text of the Yi, but even if I could I would not be able to use the text in divination - simply because I first of all want to know what the text or a character meant during the Shang or Zhou dynasty, and in what context it is used in other ancient texts. It would be very cumbersome if I have to turn to my load of dictionaries to explore the characters of a received text and their context, before I am able to translate it and squeeze a proper interpretation out of it.....
But I like reading Chinese books without being able to read them. At the moment I am 'reading' a book about the discoveries of the silk and bamboo manuscripts in the last few decades ('簡帛 - 發現與研究', Bamboo and Silk - Discovery and Research' by Ma Jinhong 馬今洪'. I was actually surprised that I could type this in pinyin without using my scanpen. Maybe my Chinese skills aren't that bad), and I get a lot of pleasure from the things that I do understand while reading it. The overall picture that I get while 'reading' is often a great reward, and the details are not always missed.

Best wishes,

Harmen.
 

Sparhawk

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My God, Harmen, you are way too modest. Amazing depth and standards.

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bruce_g

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Great stuff, Harmen. Thanks.

Interesting to think of 29 as an onomatopoeia of drums. A drum roll often accompanies a dramatic moment, such as during a circus performance. “And, now, ladies and gentlemen, the Great Kan will attempt to high dive into a thimble of water, from 50 feet!” (drum roll!)
 
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hmesker

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Interesting to think of 29 as an onomatopoeia of drums. A drum roll often accompanies a dramatic moment, such as during a circus performance. “And, now, ladies and gentlemen, the Great Kan will attempt to high dive into a thimble of water, from 50 feet!” (drum roll!)

Well, you are right that, in my view, line 3 of 29 refers to drumming for something important that is coming. What that is I will not tell you. I like to build up the tension.....

Harmen.
 

Sparhawk

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I know. I'm so modest, people start to notice it. So I'm not so modest with my modesty. Which means I'm not very modest.

:rofl:

Harmen.

Was that an 'oxymoron' or a 'conundrum'? Or both?? :rofl:

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hmesker

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Well, definitely a drum.

But the pronunciation of 坎, 'kan', reminds me of something I always found funny:

In the nineteenth century you had these performances in Paris by women standing on the stage, doing suggestive dances, called the 'cancan'. It was specially meant for men, and I always found it funny that 'cancan' in Chinese means 看看, 'take a look at'. It also means 'pay a visit', something many men did after the performance....

Harmen.
 

Sparhawk

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In the nineteenth century you had these performances in Paris by women standing on the stage, doing suggestive dances, called the 'cancan'. It was specially meant for men, and I always found it funny that 'cancan' in Chinese means 看看, 'take a look at'. It also means 'pay a visit', something many men did after the performance....

Harmen.

LOL!! You know what? Before you replied with this I was writing something about your message to Bruce above saying something like: "please don't leave that open to speculation as, for some, it can be the tension that builds just before a scantily clad damsel is about to enter the room..." I scrapped it, but, now that your brought up those images... :rofl:

cancan.jpg


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bruce_g

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Love it! Gives a whole new meaning to "can do".

(patiently awaiting Harmen's dramatic introduction.. rolls his drum Brdrdrdrdrdrdrdr.. )
 
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bruce_g

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Or, should that be onomatopoeias his drum? Had to look that one up, btw, Leave it to the Dutch to teach Americans English.
 

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