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Blog post: This means something

hilary

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A thoroughly useful guiding principle for both diviners and translators: this means something.*For diviners with/ translators of the Yijing, the principle needs elaborating: this means something, whether or not I have the faintest glimmerings of a clue what it means.
That should really be inscribed in every Yijing book and journal. Probably*the most common beginner’s mistake is to look at a reading, not ‘get it’, and give up. The experienced user does sometimes look at the reading and ‘get it’ right away, but more often than not the only difference*is how you persist*through the confusion. You sleep on it, ask questions about*it, search for related readings (easy as falling off a log with the Resonance Journal), and just keep on listening – because you trust the oracle.
This principle of trust gets interesting when the oracle’s advice goes against ‘common sense’… but for now I’d like to write about something a little geekier/yeekier. What happens when you extend it into the depths of the Yi’s text and structure*and keep on assuming that ‘this means something’?
One thing that can happen is delusion. Let me just get that out of the way – we humans are good at seeing meaningful patterns, whether or not there are any. There’s even a term for it: apophenia, seeing meaningful patterns in random data, a term first coined to describe the early stages of schizophrenia.
So yes, we can deceive ourselves. We can weave a tight net of ‘meaning’ that entangles and traps us – or newly-recognised meanings can be like opening doors and flooding light. The possibility of delusion isn’t a reason not to go looking for meaning.
One thing is sure: if you start out from the assumption that something doesn’t*carry meaning, you can’t learn anything from it.
Take, for instance, the Sequence of Hexagrams. It’s still commonly said among Yijing people who should (I feel) know better that this is a mostly random arrangement. They’ll concede that the hexagrams are arranged in pairs and the beginning and ending are deliberate (starting with pure yang and pure yin hexagrams, ending with yang and yin completely mixed), but that’s about all there is to it.
No, it really isn’t.
I’ve been re-reading Scott Davis’ The Classic of Changes in Cultural Context, a book filled with such beautiful ideas and discoveries about the Yi that it’s well worth wading through the Academese it’s written in to find them. He works on the principle that the Sequence and the text are a single fabric rich with meaning. And because he looks, he finds.
A simple example from his book:
Hexagram 5 line 6 changes to 9; 9.6 changes to 5. Hexagram 5 is about Waiting, traditionally thought of as waiting for rain. 5.6 says
‘Entering into the pit.
There are uninvited guests,
Three people come.
Honour them: in the end, good fortune.’
Three uninvited guests, and then in the end good fortune. Three hexagrams,*6, 7 and 8, and then in the end Hexagram 9. 9 line 6: ‘Already rained, already come to rest…’
A more complex and richer example, also from his book:
Hexagram 18 speaks of three days before and three days after*jia. What’s jia?*Literally something like ‘seedburst’, it means ‘beginning, new start’, and is the name of the first day of the 10 day week.
The hexagrams are grouped in 10s throughout the Sequence (you can verify this for yourself with a glance at how the trigrams are distributed). Suppose the first hexagram of a decade is like the first day of a week: then jia day relative to hexagram 18 is hexagram 11.
Hexagram 11 says, ‘Small goes, great comes.’ Three ‘days’ after hexagram 11 is hexagram 14, Great Possession. Hexagram 12, on the other hand, says ‘Great goes, small comes.’ Three ‘days’ before 12 is Hexagram 9, Small Taming.
(Aside: Davis doesn’t suggest this, but you could also think of this as pointing to the*jia*day after*18: Hexagram 21. 18 happens to fall three ‘days’ before it. That’s interesting too, but not so elegantly woven into the fabric of the whole as Davis’ discovery – there’s much more about it in his book.)
If you find yourself counting to and fro on your fingers through the Sequence… you’re not the only one. If hexagrams can play the role of days, or uninvited guests, what else could they do?
Here’s one I stumbled across the other day.
We know that hexagrams come in pairs, mostly created by inversion of the same pattern of lines.*So Hexagram 42 is really just 41 looked at from a different angle. By the same token, 42 line 2 is really just 41 line 5 looked at from a different angle. (You can demonstrate this by drawing hexagram 42, marking line 2 changing, then rotating the paper through 180 degrees.)
41 and 42 are a nice example of a pair because their names – ‘Decrease’ and ‘Increase’ – make it clear they belong together. The same’s true of the text of 41.5 and 42.2:
‘Maybe increased by ten paired tortoise shells,
Nothing is capable of going against this.
From the source, good fortune.’
‘Maybe increased by ten paired tortoise shells.
Nothing is capable of going against this.
Ever-flowing constancy, good fortune.
The king uses this to make offerings to the supreme being: good fortune.’
Both of these lines change to Hexagram 61, Inner Truth.
A little background: I’ve been working with this book full-time for about 20 years, and I’ve never noticed anything remarkable about this before, except that the paired lines have paired text. Specifically, I never saw any significance in there being ten pairs of shells – because it never occurred to me to look. I accepted the general consensus: numbers in the Zhouyi have no particular meaning beyond ‘some’ and ‘a lot’. But… what if this means something?
Tortoise shells are objects used in divination. Can I think of another object used in divination – one that, as these lines not-so-subtly remind me, comes in pairs? I think I can. And if I increase 41-42 by 10 pairs of hexagrams
reflective-tortoise.jpg
 

Liselle

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Ten pairs of hexagrams = 20 hexagrams. 41-42 plus 20 = 61-62.

There is some pair of some divinatory object mentioned in 61-62?

Here are the things mentioned in 61-62:

61 - Piglets, fishes, a calling crane, a wine vessel, the moon, a horse, its yoke-mate, a cockerel.

62 - a bird, father, mother, ruler, minister (who are people, not objects), clouds, altars, arrows, a cave, another bird.

:confused:
 

Pearlescent

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I really wish I understood that last bit about what other divinatory object comes in pairs... All I can think is if you add 10 pairs of hexagrams you get 61 and 62, but then I'm quite lost. I wish I knew what you were onto here, perhaps someone will come along and figure it out, I hope ^_^
 

Trojina

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Yes you got it right ! Well done. I only know because of being in CC. Not sure I'd have figured it out by myself. 10 pairs away from 41/ 42 is 61/62 and that means ??? Well we don't know yet but for sure the connection is a wonder because this, amongst other things Hilary found exploring the sequence and the patterns within it, means the text and the sequence are interconnected. To me it looks somewhat like they play hide and seek. If the text refers to the sequence then there's a whole added dimension to this book we hadn't even been aware of until now.

Oh both 42.2 and 41.5 change to 61. Both these lines mention '10 pairs of shells' and if we count 10 pairs away from 41/42 we come to 61/62. It's a connection for sure, there is a meaning and just because we don't know what that is yet doesn't mean we ought to not bother looking. I thought that was the gist of the Blog post. I feel we will come to understand gradually as if we continue to be aware of the patterns we can allow them to unfold their meanings in our readings.
 

Trojina

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Thinking of how to use these patterns in readings I thought back to Hilary's question of how to use the sequence in readings here http://onlineclarity.co.uk/answers/2015/10/01/using-the-sequence-in-readings/ which was 25.4.6>3 which seems to me to boil down to not trying to use it in a formulaic way and being aware we are still very much in hexagram three with this. In seeing patterns emerge from the mists and not knowing what to make of them (3) we need to avoid hurrying to make formula (25.6), need to stay disentangled...well Hilary wrote it in fulsomeness, see link.


I feel another question brewing just about what to make of/how to use the specific connection of the 10 pairs in 42.2 and 42.5>61. I might ask.
 

Liselle

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Tortoise shells are objects used in divination. Can I think of another object used in divination – one that, as these lines not-so-subtly remind me, comes in pairs? I think I can. And if I increase 41-42 by 10 pairs of hexagrams

Oh both 42.2 and 41.5 change to 61. Both these lines mention '10 pairs of shells' and if we count 10 pairs away from 41/42 we come to 61/62. It's a connection for sure, there is a meaning and just because we don't know what that is yet doesn't mean we ought to not bother looking. I thought that was the gist of the Blog post.

I agree that was a point of the article in general, but I didn't think it was the point of this particular part.

It doesn't seem that mysterious (to me, anyway). The text of 61-62 is what it is, and there are no divinatory objects there. There just aren't.

I get that people will sometimes take a cockerel's crowing or birds flying as signs or omens, but those don't seem like divinatory objects in the same way as tortoise shells. Objects used in the manner of tortoise shells are used on purpose. You want to divine, so you pick up your tortoise shells (coins, marbles, yarrow stalks, computer program) and divine. Omens such as flying birds don't work that way - they are not under your control.

Plus which I don't think noticing signs and omens is even called "divining" (?)



...oh wait...

Hilary, were those possibly two separate, unconnected thoughts?

"Tortoise shells are objects used in divination. Can I think of another object used in divination – one that, as these lines not-so-subtly remind me, comes in pairs? I think I can."

<stop>

"And if I increase 41-42 by 10 pairs of hexagrams…"

<stop>

In other words maybe you never meant that the divinatory objects are IN 61-62? Just that there is some other pair of divinatory objects mentioned in the Yijing* --- and that there is surely some connection between 41-42 and 61-62 --- but those are not the same thing?


*not that I know what that is, but I haven't looked yet
 

hilary

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Yes, Trojina sums it up well. This is like 5.6 to 9 - a 'counting' reference in the text that, if followed, leads you to the line's zhi gua. Or in this case the lines' zhi gua. And beyond that I'm as lost as anyone.

'Maybe increased by ten paired tortoise shells,
Nothing is capable of going against this.
From the source, good fortune.'

It does tell us something about the nature of an increase of 10 pairs of tortoise shells. We'd got as far in interpretation as saying 'good thing, very valuable' and perhaps also 'tortoise shells, divination, so that's like 10 readings all unanimously in favour - hm, powerful stuff.' Now we can add to that: this kind of increase takes you to 61's kind of inner certainty, and that's why nothing is capable of going against it.

That doesn't really tell you anything you didn't know from 61 being the zhi gua... but to me it seems to add some welcome clarity: here is exactly what kind of increase/blessing you have here, the kind that adds up to Inner Truth.

I wonder if it also implies that you get there in steps, incrementally?
 

hilary

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Lisa... the 'mystery' divinatory objects that appear in pairs are just hexagrams. The things that stand in place of tortoise shells in the Yi because they're how the answers become manifest and where they are 'inscribed'.
 

Liselle

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Lisa... the 'mystery' divinatory objects that appear in pairs are just hexagrams. The things that stand in place of tortoise shells in the Yi because they're how the answers become manifest and where they are 'inscribed'.

Ohhh...okay, sorry, thank you.
 

Liselle

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(Am not grouchy today while writing a comment, like I was earlier in this thread...:eek:...sorry..."do not post when you're irritable, Lisa.")

I have read through what you've been writing about the Sequence, Hilary, in Wikiwing, too. An awful lot of it is above my head right now, but one question I have is what do you think about the exceptions? Do you think they matter?

It seems whenever there's a nifty pattern, there are also exceptions to it. Three off-the-cuff reactions: (1) nothing can be perfect, especially something as complex as the Yijing, so there will unavoidably be exceptions and they do not invalidate the patterns, (2) we're brushing off the exceptions too lightly because we're bedazzled by a shiny pattern, and maybe we shouldn't. If the Yijing is as tightly constructed as we think it is, maybe there shouldn't be exceptions, or (3) the exceptions carry meaning, too?
 

Tim K

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61 and 62 are special in a way - they are symmetrical, and anyway you look at them - they are the same.
Constant inner truth, universal, single from all points of view. Inner pressure.
And the same with 62 - outer pressure, small potential, looking at the core meaning of things, doing the part that matters without extra adornment.
 

hilary

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(Am not grouchy today while writing a comment, like I was earlier in this thread...:eek:...sorry..."do not post when you're irritable, Lisa.")

I have read through what you've been writing about the Sequence, Hilary, in Wikiwing, too. An awful lot of it is above my head right now, but one question I have is what do you think about the exceptions? Do you think they matter?

It seems whenever there's a nifty pattern, there are also exceptions to it. Three off-the-cuff reactions: (1) nothing can be perfect, especially something as complex as the Yijing, so there will unavoidably be exceptions and they do not invalidate the patterns, (2) we're brushing off the exceptions too lightly because we're bedazzled by a shiny pattern, and maybe we shouldn't. If the Yijing is as tightly constructed as we think it is, maybe there shouldn't be exceptions, or (3) the exceptions carry meaning, too?

Bah - post when irritable if you like, since I for one can't tell.

About exceptions... well, asymmetry and imbalance is a sign of life. A perfect symmetry of, for instance, the amount of water inside and outside a plant means (as far as I know) a dead plant. Certainly imbalance is what makes music interesting, and walking is just a refined form of falling over.

In practice with Yi, whenever I see someone saying, 'It shouldn't be like that because it breaks the pattern,' I expect to see someone who's missed the point.

Example 1: 'Hexagrams 63 and 64 are the wrong way around. Completion follows incompletion, not vice versa.'
Answer: It's a joke - or a cosmic truth, or both. Explaining would spoil it.

Example 2: 'The Upper and Lower Canon are divided wrongly, with just 15 pairs in the first and 17 in the second. The Upper Canon should end with hexagram 28 to make this even.'
Answer: Try counting the number of unique hexagram shapes in each half. (That is, hexagram 1 is unique, so is hexagram 2, but hexagrams 3-4 are just one shape seen from two different angles, so they count as one.) Or you could look at the relationship of 27-28 to 61-62 and 29-30 to 63-64 in terms of, say, component trigrams.

Shorter answer: exceptions carry meaning. Think of it as like complex music constantly playing around with dissonance and resolution. Maybe one pattern is being interrupted by another...

61 and 62 are special in a way - they are symmetrical, and anyway you look at them - they are the same.
Constant inner truth, universal, single from all points of view. Inner pressure.
And the same with 62 - outer pressure, small potential, looking at the core meaning of things, doing the part that matters without extra adornment.
Nice summary.

Also, of course, the rotational symmetry is why the paired lines can change to the same hexagram.
 

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