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Blog post: Not interpreting the I Ching

hilary

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Not interpreting the I Ching

rusty gate opening to view of beach and sea
This is a challenge I set for Change Circle members in the first week of our Imagery Class: to find a way to respond to a reading without interpreting it. The idea is to create a space where we can interact with all the layers and facets of the Yi’s imagery from the ‘inside’. Instead of dry theorising about the various things an image might represent, we can have an immediate, visceral experience of the reading. Then the imagery-experience resonates with our lived experience, and the oracle gets to work.

For me, this is a way to escape from the trap of ‘knowing what it means’. This hexagram is about overwhelm, that line is about defensiveness… yes, maybe (and also maybe not), but what is it saying to you now? It’s horribly easy to slip into doing a ‘what I already know this means’ reading instead of a Yijing reading.

For a comparative newcomer to the oracle, the same strategy – respond first, interpret later – might be a way to escape reliance on commentaries. That’s just another variety of ‘knowing what it means’ before you have time to respond to the reading, only with the idea that someone else knows when you don’t. Any such advance knowledge, yours or a commentator’s, puts distance between you and direct experience of your reading.

So Change Circle members have been coming up with ways to connect with a reading and defer interpretation. First you experience the imagery in its own terms, from the inside; then you start to ask what this experience reminds you of.

This week’s experiment involves telling the story of a hexagram or line, in the first person, from the inside – without trying to apply it to the question. For instance…

‘The disaster of disentangling
Maybe someone tethered a cow –
Travelling people’s gain,
Townspeople’s disaster.’

Hexagram 25, line 3

‘I promise you I tied Daisy up to this post just like I always do, I used the same good old knots that my father taught me, and now she’s gone! How was I supposed to know something like that could happen?’

‘People in harmony at the outskirts altar.
No regrets.’

Hexagram 13, line 6

‘Well, here we all are! Look at that great dome of sky… it’s so good to get outside. Spread out, now, there’s plenty of elbow room for everyone. Bring the sacrifice! Start the singing!’

‘The vessel with upended feet.
Fruitful to get the blockage out…’

Hexagram 50, line 1

‘What am I doing? I’m cleaning out this vessel is what I’m doing. Yes, I know it’s not exactly ritually correct – OK, so it’s unspeakably disrespectful – but that gunk stuck in the legs was making everything smell odd, and do you think the ancestors appreciate that? No, nor do I. Now if I just give it a couple of sharp taps with this wooden spoon…’

Your stories will be different, of course, and different again each time you come back to a line – and that’s as it should be. The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words mean.
 

dfreed

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Thanks Hilary! This reminds me of the divination examples from the Zuo Commentary - which I've been reading in Richard Rutt's Zhouyi (p173).

These are accounts or 'stories' of Yi readings from 670-480 BC (or thereabouts). In all of these, the diviners used the hexagrams' names (or their interpretations of the names), the Zhouyi judgement and line text, and the trigrams as their main components for interpretation. What is interesting to me is how creative and alive they are, even though some of these accounts initially left me thinking, "hmm, how the heck did they ever come up with that?"

* In once example, the diviner talks about the good auspices of someone based on their name and the name of the state they ruled - and I thought, "but this doesn't have anything to do with what the Yi is saying." However, it is a good reminder, to 'let the situation' participate in our readings, that they are not done in isolation.

* Another describes Earth being the lower trigram in both hexagrams, with trigram Wind above becoming (changing to) trigram Heaven - and they determined this suggests a Mountain. Again, I thought, what the what? But Rutt made note of the fact that Mountain is the upper nuclear trigram for Hex. 20.

* And finally in another, it talks about one trigram turning into another - for example, Wind becoming Mountain, but then it goes on to suggest that this can be Wind becoming Mountain, or it can also be Mountain becoming Wind, thereby making the 'zhi' relationship (in this case, between the trigrams) a two-way street.

Overall, they've been very good examples of how to look at readings in more open and creative ways!

*********

The other day I took a walk on the beach, and saw many Blue herons at the water's edge. When I got home I posed to the Yi: 'tell me about a siege of herons' - siege being what you call a group of herons, as you refer to a gaggle of geese or a 'murder' of crows!

In response I got Hexagram 33 - Pig, with moving lines 3, 4, and 6. One of the lines, 33.3 is (in Rutt's translation): "Binding a pig. In sickness, dangerous. Auspicious for keeping male and female slaves".

And my first reaction - as with some of the Zuo Commentaries - was 'pigs, herons, what the what?'

But I thought, what if here - in this reading - I think of 33's name Dun/Pig as a 'loan word' for Heron (i.e. nothing set in stone to tell me what the word means)? And I then put the 'parts' of the reading together as:

* A group (siege) of herons at the water's edge is auspicious, but when there is danger (or there are no fish), staying together can be like a 'sickness'. (And this very much describes the ever-change numbers and locations of this siege of herons.)

Looking too at the trigrams: Heaven above Mountain (33), changing to Water above Earth (8):

* Here is a siege of herons are standing very still (mountain). This is not a time for great, heavenly heron thoughts, but instead they need to be aware of the tides and of what danger (moving waters) may be near. They need to be both Still and Of This Earth.

... and this brought me to, 33.6: a siege of "Plump herons (pigs)", feeding and catching fish at the water's edge is "unfavorable for nothing."

*****

As an aside, on my beach walks I've been asking myself: is this body of water (Saratoga Passage or Admiralty Inlet, depending where I'm walking) more like a Lake or more like Moving Water, or both? .... I just looked at Hex. 33, with it's four solid lines above two broken lines - which makes me think of a big, doubled-up Wind trigram. And I thought, could this body of water be more like Wind, in it's comings and goings, it's rising and falling? (i.e. there's nothing set in stone to tell me what these trigrams mean - not rules, only guidelines!)

Best, D
 
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hilary

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I thought, what if here - in this reading - 33's name Dun/Pig is a 'loan word' for Heron (i.e. nothing set in stone to tell me what the word means)?
Oh good grief, no, pigs are not the same as herons. What dozy twerp came up with this 'nothing set in stone to tell you what the word means' idea?
The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words mean.
Ah. That one.

What I was trying to say: nothing is set in stone to tell you what the images mean. A pig is a pig is a pig (unless it's a retreat), but what's the significance of the pig? What does it represent? That part of interpretation is free, and might begin afresh with each reading. But you do have to engage with the oracle itself, not rewrite it, or you can't even begin.

By the way, you could pause after changing lines 3 and 4 and look at the relating hexagram.
 

dfreed

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By the way, you could pause after changing lines 3 and 4 and look at the relating hexagram.

nothing is set in stone to tell you what the images mean. A pig is a pig is a pig (unless it's a retreat), but what's the significance of the pig? What does it represent?
Yes, thanks, both good points. (And I did look at the related trigram (zhi bagua?) Earth - changing from Mountain with 33.3.)

It was a very open reading and I was getting creative - and thinking 'heron' instead of 'pig' is what came to me. It might be right, or wrong (and admittedly out there!), but it allowed me to find meaning in the Yi's response - e.g. as someone said above: 'nothing is set in stone to tell you what the images mean'.

And I can also do as you suggest and see how the image of a 'pig' gives meaning to this reading: 'Binding a pig in sickness, dangerous' - that 'binding' a pig might be dangerous, and so too might trying to keep a siege of herons (bound) together when they are faced with danger (e.g. an 'illness') such as when a Bald eagle is trying to steal their food.

Which is just like my original idea, but with the herons swapped out for pigs - and which also fits LiSe Heyboer's 'Save Your Bacon' as her title for 33. But however I slice the bacon, I know I will never look at a siege of herons in the same way again - now all I'll see is a 'drift' of sea-pigs. (Get it, 'a drift'; though that's what a group of pigs is called!).

Best, D
 
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hilary

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This may be a good moment to mention that I don't think Rutt - as Christian bishop and missionary - ever intended his work to be used for divination. Hence he doesn't seem to have given much thought to how an oracle has to work as an oracle, answering all possible questions - and using it exclusively may leave you in some awkward situations, like this one. I recommend picking up Wilhelm/Baynes, for instance, to use in parallel.
 

IrfanK

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I recommend picking up Wilhelm/Baynes, for instance, to use in parallel.
Who was yet another Christian missionary, albeit one with a fairly advanced and liberal conception of his mission, with his proud boast that he never converted a single Chinese in all his years in the country ... I don't think he ever made bishop! But it just goes to show, missionaries come in all shapes and sizes ...
 

Liselle

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I know I will never look at a siege of herons in the same way again
Next thing I want to do when I have a moment is read about herons. I don't know a single thing about them. (Though I did quickly compare ::::|| to 1622548847573.png . :D )


It's also interesting that when you add the final moving line to ::::|| / 1622549216468.png , you get hexagram 8, a group, which is exactly what you asked about.
 

hilary

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Who was yet another Christian missionary, albeit one with a fairly advanced and liberal conception of his mission, with his proud boast that he never converted a single Chinese in all his years in the country ... I don't think he ever made bishop! But it just goes to show, missionaries come in all shapes and sizes ...
Good point!
 

dfreed

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I don't think Rutt - as Christian bishop and missionary - ever intended his work to be used for divination.

.... I recommend picking up Wilhelm/Baynes, for instance, to use in parallel.
I tend to agree with you about Rutt. And I think Wilhelm did think (or he considered) that his translation would be used for divination.

As Rutt says in his intro. to his book, which he titled: Zhouyi - A Bronze Age Document, Translated with Introduction and Notes ....

" ... the Book of Changes is to be explained in the light of its own content and of the era to which it belongs ….’ When Richard Wilhelm wrote these words in 1923, he believed they described what he had done in his great German translation. Yet within ten years archaeology and philology had shed new light on ancient China, revealing that what Wilhelm had produced was a Book of Changes smothered by philosophical theories that were unknown in the (Zhou) era to which it belongs ...."

So, I can agree that Rutt may have not intended his translation to be used for divination, but he did intend for it to be a translation of the Zhouyi from a pre-Confucian era. And the fact that we can use it for divination and as an oracle I think speaks more to the nature of oracles (and their use), and less about what Rutt intended his translation to be used for.

As to using Wilhelm, I think that the many discussions about how many and/or which translations, commentaries, Wings, etc. to use or not to use (or what people think of Rutt's translation) are very well-worn paths, and I suspect that the ruts may be so deep that we could have trouble getting out of them, e.g. we have perhaps "dug our heels in" ....

However, I did as you suggested and looked at Wilhelm's translation of 33.3, which is ....
"A halted retreat is nerve-wracking and dangerous ...."

Here Wilhelm removes the pig imagery as did Hatcher, Nigel Richmond, and others (and maybe you, or you only mention it in passing?) - but I still feel I end up in pretty much the same place:
A drift (group) of pigs (or a siege of herons) at the water's edge is auspicious, but when there is danger (or there are no fish), staying together can be like a 'sickness'.

Overall what I am sharing above is 1) some thoughts on divination that I read about in the Zou Commentaries (found in Rutt), which I found to be both creative and useful; and 2) an example of how - in this one particular case - I worked with the imagery of the Zhouyi: it was meant as an example only - not as a lesson in proper Yi interpretation. But I do like where it led me (which is why I shared it).

Best, D
 
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IrfanK

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As Rutt says in his intro. to his book, which he titled: Zhouyi - A Bronze Age Document, Translated with Introduction and Notes ....

" ... the Book of Changes is to be explained in the light of its own content and of the era to which it belongs ….’ When Richard Wilhelm wrote these words in 1923, he believed they described what he had done in his great German translation. Yet within ten years archaeology and philology had shed new light on ancient China, revealing that what Wilhelm had produced was a Book of Changes smothered by philosophical theories that were unknown in the (Zhou) era to which it belongs ...."

So, I can agree that Rutt may have not intended his translation to be used for divination, but he did intend for it to be a translation of the Zhouyi from a pre-Confucian era. And the fact that we can use it for divination and as an oracle I think speaks more to the nature of oracles (and their use), and less about what Rutt intended his translation to be used for.
I remember Redmond once made a joke about reading the Chinese classics in the original, saying that nobody can really understand them unless they already know what they mean before they start. He meant, of course, that the Yi is so obscure and difficult that people usually come to it with all sorts of ideas based on the tradition and use those ideas to decode it. Rutt really does try to come at it without those ideas, and the results he produces shows how difficult his endeavor is.

I know you're enthusiastic about using the trigrams to interpret the Yi, based on the traditional associations from the Shuogua. Rutt rejects that approach, with a lot of skepticism about whether the trigrams even really existed before the Han dynasty. He certainly says there's no evidence that they preceded the hexagrams. If you start off with that assumption, it's going to affect the way you translate. Why would you see something that you don't think exists? If you don't believe that there are patterns and relationships between the hexagrams, you aren't going to see them. So you end up with all these wildly divergent ideas between different translators about what the text means.

The great thing about the tradition is that it provides a common language, a common understanding of what the hexagrams mean. Yes, yes, as Hilary says, a squealing pig can mean different things to different people, or different things to one person at different times, but the underlying symbol is the same, there is a common referent. If no-one can agree on whether it's a pig in the first place, it tends to devolved very quickly into some kind of epistemological anarchy, a tower of Babel where no-one is speaking the same language.
 

dfreed

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Regarding the idea / concept of 'tradition':
Newly unearthed versions of the Changes ... contain language (and images) that differ from the received Zhou Yi ... A working hypothesis is that variation is valid and expected within the context of divination. It reveals the personalized nature and unique skill set of diviners .... To make all variations equal the text of one tradition (i.e. the received text) betrays the overall tradition.
Between Numbers and Images; the many meanings of the trigram Gen in the early Yijing;​
Adam Schwartz, 2017​

Irfan, I really don't get most of what you're saying here. It feels like stabs in the dark ....
I know you're enthusiastic about using the trigrams to interpret the Yi ....
If by 'enthusiastic' you mean that I make use of the trigrams, and that I find them useful, then yes, you are right. And there is a very long tradition of trigram use with the Yi and within divination in general, going back at least 2,400 years. So people have been enthusiastic about it long before I was.

Rutt rejects that approach, with a lot of skepticism about whether the trigrams even really existed before the Han ....
That is not what Rutt says. He wrote:

"During or shortly before the Han dynasty the development of mathematical thinking led to the surmise that the hexagrams had been built out of these trigrams. We shall see later that this theory is contestable."

The point here is that during the Han dynasty they came up with 'proof' that the hexagrams came from / out of the trigrams, and that this proof is questionable. He is not saying that the trigrams didn't exist prior to the Han.

You also said that, "he ... says there's no evidence that they preceded the hexagrams". That may be entirely correct, but that has nothing to do with my use of the trigrams, nor how I choose to work with the Yi.

If you start off with that assumption, it's going to affect the way you translate.
I am not sure what 'assumption' you're talking about? If it's the assumption that the trigrams came before the hexagrams, or that the hexagrams came first - than either way, it does not affect how I work with the Yi, nor does this have anything to do with why I work with the trigrams, or any other parts of the Yi.

Or ... if you are talking about how this 'assumption' affects how the different authors translate(d) the Yi, I don't really know about that, or about its implications. Perhaps you can provide some examples of how these different translations were affected by this assumption (and I hope you'll also clarify what this 'assumption' is).

Why would you see something that you don't think exists?
I have no idea what you're talking about?

If you don't believe that there are patterns and relationships between the hexagrams, you aren't going to see them. So you end up with all these wildly divergent ideas between different translators about what the text means.
Whom is the 'you' you are talking about? Is it me? Or is this the plural 'you', as in "if we don't believe that there are patterns ..."?

Or are you talking about the authors who do - or don't - see these patterns, and therefore they have wildly divergent ideas of what their texts means (along with wildly divergent text)?

Besides all that, I do see patterns and relationships - that's a key ingredient in how I work with the Yi.

The great thing about the tradition is that it provides a common language, a common understanding of what the hexagrams mean. Yes, ... Hilary says, a squealing pig can mean different things to different people, ... but the underlying symbol is the same, there is a common reference. If no-one can agree on whether it's a pig in the first place, it tends to devolved very quickly into some kind of epistemological anarchy, a tower of Babel where no-one is speaking the same language.
What 'tradition' are you referring to here? Is it the one Hilary mentions above, where "The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words (images, patterns, relationships) mean"? That 'tradition'?

Otherwise, if you're talking about needing to make sure that a pig is always a pig (or something like that), and that we can never imagine it as a heron, well I think you've got way bigger fish to fry:

* First, within this 'tradition' (whatever the heck it is) many translators don't even include a Pig in Hex. 33. Wilhelm titles Hex. 33 'Refuge', Wu Jing-Nuan calls it 'To Hide', and Hatcher says it's 'Distancing' and none of them have a pig in their translation. And we have a host of other variations for 33: Retreat, Withdrawal, Retiring .... and we find this variation through and across different translations.

It seems then that it may be time for a good old-fashioned, Qin-style book burning to get rid of this anarchy; and Wilhelm, Hatcher and others all need to go into the fire.

* Second, if we all then turn to Rutt's translation - which does have Pig as the title for 33 - I don't see that we really have as much 'common reference' as you seem to imply: I doubt that someone who raised, then slaughtered, and then ate pigs will have the same reference as me, someone who has only seen live pigs a few times in my life.

And this gets even more suspect if you compare anyone to Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons (from Game of Thrones) as to their common reference about dragons:


And this 'common reference' gets more and more suspect if we talk about the already-mentioned dragons, or the Big Dipper, or eclipses (or what's the other name, something like 'bright anomaly?), or about tigers, cranes, or family members (and relations), and cauldrons ... to name just a few.

And if you go back and look at my reading, I tried it with herons, then with pigs, and then (as Hilary suggested) with Wilhelm using his non-pig translation - and I ended up in pretty much the same place. So, what part of this are you questioning: the journey, which route or detours I took, or where I ended up?


Regards, D
 
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IrfanK

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Or are you talking about the authors who do - or don't - see these patterns, and therefore they have wildly divergent ideas of what their texts means (along with wildly divergent text)?
That one.

Look at the way Rutt, Fields and Shaughnessey translate 52. Gen, for example. They all start off determined not to be influenced by the traditions, but just to look at the text itself, the pure, unadulterated, Bronze Age Zhouyi. And they come up with three completely different results, all equally plausible. And no mountain in sight in any of them because, well, you can't trust the Shuogua, that's some late Warring States aberration.
 
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dfreed

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Look at the way Rutt, Fields and Shaughnessey translate 52. Gen, for example. They all start off determined not to be influenced by the traditions, but just to look at the text itself, the pure, unadulterated, Bronze Age Zhouyi. And they come up with three completely different results, all equally plausible. And no mountain in sight in any of them because, well, you can't trust the Shuogua, that's some late Warring States aberration.
I am still not sure of the point you are making? That there are a wide range of translations and/or interpretations of the Yi? We are in agreement on this point. Otherwise, it still feels like you're taking shots in the dark - or trying to pin some inappropriate use of the Yi to me, or questionable translations to some others because they focused on the Zhouyi.

So okay. You are looking at one hexagram translation out of 64 for your 'evidence'. (And out of all I said above, this is the only thing you're going to focus and comment on?) Setting the similarities to current US politics aside, if we look at the wide range of translations that don't try to make the Zhouyi be the Zhouyi - Wilhelm, Barret, Hatcher, etc, we still get a wide range of interpretations - and perhaps an even wider range of commentaries.

I have never read Fields or Shaughnessey's translations (I'm waiting for inter-library loan to start up again to check out Field), but even with Rutt, I do not get the sense that he based his translation of the bronze-age Zhouyi on something he read in the Wings.

Also, in another thread - the Image in Divination, I get the the sense that you like and use the Images - the Daxiang - from the Wings Commentary (and you consider them part of the Yi), but here you are calling into question the Shuogua, another commentary from the Ten Wings - because they talk about trigrams?

And if this is the basis of your argument, then you better get out the lighter fluid and start up the Yi book burning, because we also find the trigrams used and talked about in three or four other Wing's commentaries, including the Daxiang - heck, even Wilhelm, Barret, Karcher, and Hatcher use the Trigrams (or the Images), so your bonfire of questionable translations just got really big!

If you look at many of the threads here they are about the wide range of possibilities: how to interpret the Yi; which 'parts' of it to use; the wide range of translations, both of Yi text, and of individual words (some of which have changed many times over the centuries). You seem to touch on this, often when you quote the experts or modernist - but then out of all that, it seems you now want to find fault with me for using Rutt and / or the trigrams?

Finally, the main point I am touching upon still holds true: that there is - and likely has always been - a wide and very creative range of ways the Yi has been interpreted and used - and this is the 'tradition' that I am trying to be part of. E.g.

"The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words (images, patterns, relationships) mean"? - Hilary Barrett

"To make all variations equal the text of one tradition (i.e. the received text) betrays the overall tradition."
- Adam Schwartz

Regards, D
 

IrfanK

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I am still not sure of the point you are making? That there are a wide range of translations and/or interpretations of the Yi? We are in agreement on this point. Otherwise, it still feels like you're taking shots in the dark - or trying to pin some inappropriate use of the Yi to me, or questionable translations to some others because they focused on the Zhouyi.

So okay. You are looking at one hexagram translation out of 64 for your 'evidence'. (And out of all I said above, this is the only thing you're going to focus and comment on?) Setting the similarities to current US politics aside, if we look at the wide range of translations that don't try to make the Zhouyi be the Zhouyi - Wilhelm, Barret, Hatcher, etc, we still get a wide range of interpretations - and perhaps an even wider range of commentaries.

I have never read Fields or Shaughnessey's translations (I'm waiting for inter-library loan to start up again to check out Field), but even with Rutt, I do not get the sense that he based his translation of the bronze-age Zhouyi on something he read in the Wings.

Also, in another thread - the Image in Divination, I get the the sense that you like and use the Images - the Daxiang - from the Wings Commentary (and you consider them part of the Yi), but here you are calling into question the Shuogua, another commentary from the Ten Wings - because they talk about trigrams?

And if this is the basis of your argument, then you better get out the lighter fluid and start up the Yi book burning, because we also find the trigrams used and talked about in three or four other Wing's commentaries, including the Daxiang - heck, even Wilhelm, Barret, Karcher, and Hatcher use the Trigrams (or the Images), so your bonfire of questionable translations just got really big!

If you look at many of the threads here they are about the wide range of possibilities: how to interpret the Yi; which 'parts' of it to use; the wide range of translations, both of Yi text, and of individual words (some of which have changed many times over the centuries). You seem to touch on this, often when you quote the experts or modernist - but then out of all that, it seems you now want to find fault with me for using Rutt and / or the trigrams?

Finally, the main point I am touching upon still holds true: that there is - and likely has always been - a wide and very creative range of ways the Yi has been interpreted and used - and this is the 'tradition' that I am trying to be part of. E.g.

"The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words (images, patterns, relationships) mean"? - Hilary Barrett

"To make all variations equal the text of one tradition (i.e. the received text) betrays the overall tradition."
- Adam Schwartz

Regards, D
David, I really think I explained what I meant quite sufficiently well. And I'm pretty sure we've had this argument elsewhere, and I'm not sure we should be clogging up blog posts with this protracted debate. But I'll give it one last shot.

The modernists, of whom Rutt is generally considered to be one, like to examine the text without any reference to the later traditions. For example, they would not refer to the Shuogua or Daxiang to determine the meaning of the text, because those were written after the Zhou dynasty. So they work it all out from scratch, referring only to texts from the same era, from the oracle bones, the bronze inscriptions, and so on. And that seems to lead them to barking up many different trees, scattered all over the forest, as can be seen by the wildly divergent interpretations they produce.

Contrary to your somewhat bizarre interpretation of what I wrote, I place quite a lot of value on the wings. My copy of Wilhelm, which I purchased in 1982, is quite safe from fires involving lighter fluid, at least by my hand. What I said is that the tradition provides a common language by which people can understand the Yi. It represents thousands of years of people working to understand it, building on the ideas of people before them, each generation adding a new dimension. I find the rejection of that tradition slightly ridiculous.

Can we leave it there? Because I'm getting a bit bored by it. With all due respect, I don't think I'm going to engage with you on this topic further. Thanks for your inputs.
 

dfreed

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Because I'm getting a bit bored by it. With all due respect, I don't think I'm going to engage with you on this topic further. Thanks for your inputs.
So you've decided not to engage anymore. That is quite okay. And you may decide not to read this, however ....

I was not making a 'bizarre interpretation' of what you wrote; if there's something I did not understand that does not make me bizarre (nor stupid). If I misinterpreted what you said, that's all it was, a misunderstanding.

If you don't like Rutt or his translation - or you want to find fault with him for not relying on a later 'tradition' that you think he should be relying on, that's fine. I am not requiring anyone to agree with me, nor should anyone all of a sudden think Rutt is the best thing since sliced bread. However, your opinion of his translation does not make him wrong, nor his Zhouyi unfit for divination use or interpretation.

Throughout the history of this Yi 'tradition' - however you choose to define it - I sense one thing that has been consistent: the proof is in the pudding - that if we get something useful, truthful, or helpful (especially regarding whatever it is we've ask the Yi about), then that is what is important.

Harmen Mesker once did a reading for me about a situation where someone owed me money and was refusing to pay. His interpretation, using only the trigrams, was spot on and was very helpful for me in resolving the matter. I once did a reading where I only looked at the two trigrams of the received hexagram and without opening the Yi (nor considering the moving lines, etc.), it gave me exactly the information I needed.

Of late, I'm more inclined to look at the imagery and the meanings of the hexagrams and trigrams, along with the text of the Zhouyi (right now I'm using Rutt) to interpret the Yi's response - and that works for me. And this way of interpretation - using text, imagery and the trigrams - has a very long history, going back at least 2,400 years. And since you're looking at Rutt, you may want to look at the divination examples from the Zuo Commentary (p. 172) which he includes in his translation.

I will end with the main points I was making about "the tradition" - as I see it. Again:
"The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words (images, patterns, relationships) mean."
- Hilary Barrett

"To make all variations equal the text of one tradition (i.e. the received text) betrays the overall tradition."

- Adam Schwartz

D
 
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