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Five element theory

ernobe

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hilary said:
Thanks for mentioning the Nanjing rules in your recent post - now I understand at least some of where you're coming from. But of course, most people will still be at a loss - so please could you put a link in your signature to an explanation of whatever method/s you are using? If there isn't a good enough explanation online for you to link to, please write us one in 'Exploring Divination'.

There is a way of reading the I-Ching as a continuous text consisting of the 384 lines, which is one of the two ways of reading any text as explained at my website. But what is not explained there is other ways of associating the five elements to the trigrams. There are a total of three ways, corresponding to the three realities mentioned in the Ten Wings: earth, man and heaven. The commonly known associations, corresponding to Earth, are as follows:

style="width: 500px"
|-
| earth
| 001
| 000
|-
| water
| 010
|-
| metal
| 110
| 111
|-
| fire
| 101
|-
| wood
| 100
| 011

Here are the new associations, derived from the explanation of Chinese alchemy at my website.
Man:

style="width: 500px"
|-
| earth
| 101
| 111
|-
| water
| 110
|-
| metal
| 010
| 000
|-
| fire
| 001
|-
| wood
| 100
| 011

Heaven:

style="width: 500px"
|-
| earth
| 101
| 001
|-
| water
| 000
|-
| metal
| 010
| 110
|-
| fire
| 111
|-
| wood
| 100
| 011

These are the three ways of understanding the relationship of the trigrams in a hexagram. From the bottom up, in each of these ways they can relate to one another as generating, destroying, injuring, or exhausting. Combine all three and you have the complete meaning of the hexagram, which can be compared to reaching the goal of the alchemical work.
 

bradford

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I think it was one of the biggest mistakes in Yixue history to try to jam the Wuxing into Yijing and Bagua, and a whole lot of silly errors like this were made in the Han dynasty. They remain a puzzle and a source of confusion to this day because they just don't fit. Five belongs in a universe of five parts and Eight in one of eight. And the Zhouyi was already five or six centuries old when the Wuxing were formulated, so there is no way they could be fundamental. When the Zhouyi was written, the five had a sixth companion, and together they were known as the Liu Fu, the Six Storehouses or Treasuries, with grain or seed being the sixth. These can be seen in the Book of Documents.
 

ernobe

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In the Universe, there are four quarters and a center. But the center is explained and becomes known by the revolution of the seasons, by which the other points of the compass are revealed and it becomes known that what was at one time thought to be five is in fact eight.
 
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hilary

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Thanks for explaining how you work, Ernobe.

On the other thread you said,
5 elements are in the Wings as qualities assigned separately to the trigrams. It is not there as a system.
and I just wanted to follow up on that. I assume you mean the Shuogua and its descriptions of trigrams. Let me gather together all the attributes given for dui...
  • Dui for gladdening. (Dui is mid-autumn, when all things rejoice.)
  • in all gladdening, nothing is pleasanter than Still Water
  • Mountains and Still Water exchange influences
  • Dui means pleasing
  • Dui is a sheep
  • Dui is the mouth
  • Dui is called youngest daughter
  • Dui is still water, younger daughters, shamanesses; mouth and tongue; smashing and breaking; dropping and bursting; soil that is hard and saline; concubines; sheep.
That's all. There is water here, but also earth, and no metal - and, of course, plenty of associations that have nothing to do with 5 elements.

Reading the Wen Wang Gua article at Wikipedia, it seems the association was basically created by correlating the order in which the trigrams are given in Shuogua with the generating cycle of elements. Zhen and Xun are mentioned first, therefore they must be wood; Dui and Qian follow earth, therefore they must be metal. If you want to create trigram-element associations, this seems as good a way as any.

The oldest detailed text we have 'about' trigrams is the Zhouyi itself, and so if the idea that dui=metal and metal destroys wood had been essential at the time, you'd think that Hexagram 61, for instance, would describe great destruction. Or if the idea became important later, that the Image would do so. Ditto hexagrams 49 and 13 (fire destroys metal)... and so on. There's no apparent connection between the Yijing text and 5 Elements.

However, this doesn't prevent anyone from developing a divination method with hexagrams, based on or including 5 Elements, that operates entirely independently from the text. It's been done... - and it's been practised for a couple of thousand years.

But although the result is hexagram divination, it doesn't really make sense to me to describe it as Yijing divination. It's said there were originally three hexagram oracles, each associating the hexagrams with different texts: Lianshan, Guicang and Yi. Fragments of the Guicang have been found, so I'm happy to accept that all three existed. (Also, it just makes sense to me that when people were first associating words with hexagrams, there would have been more than one way of doing it.) So... hexagrams + Yi text = Yi. Hexagrams + Guicang text = Guicang. Hexagrams with no text, but instead a system of associations, are another thing altogether, and it shouldn't surprise anyone when this system produces answers completely different from the Yijing: it's a different oracle.
 

ernobe

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Do you think I've supplied a different text for the I-Ching instead of the existing one in any of my readings? Moss Elk criticized me for this in my reading of 36.6 -> 22, as if I was trying to interpret the meaning of 36.6, and not commenting on the change of 36 to 22. In the I-Ching there is no explanation of what changes from 36.6 to 22.6, leaving the previous five lines unchanged. To explain this one is forced to use words that are not in the I-Ching, not only because they don't exist in the I-Ching, but because the change from yin to yang is a change between opposites, and they wouldn't be opposites if they had anything in common.
 

hilary

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I didn't understand what you were doing there. In an ordinary I Ching reading, the text of the moving line describes the change between two hexagrams. 36.6 -
'Not bright, dark.
At first rises up to heaven,
Later enters into the earth.'
- pinpoints the exact nature of the situation when you cast hexagram 36 with a 6 in the 6th place. That is the I Ching's explanation of the change from 36 to 22. (It does not change to 22.6.)

What is it that you want to add to this?
 

ernobe

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I remember reading about I-Ching divination in various books, where it always says that your original hexagram represents your current situation, and the other one where you are headed.
 

bradford

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Ever since the early Zhou, when the Zhouyi was written, the word for the "changing" relationship is zhi, written Gua1 (Ben Gua) zhi Gua2 (Zhi Gua). The word zhi has a ton of meanings, but the most common indicates either possession or "movement in the direction of."

A more complete list is found in my glossary:
...'s, ...s'; this, him, her, it, them; (to) have,
has, had, will have (had), come to have; get, hold, keep, maintain, possess, take (it, this,
these); be, (there) is, are, was, were, has/have been, become(s), will be, going to be, will have
been (the, one of, that of, those of) or (one to, this to, that to) or (one who, they who, those
who, that which, those which) or (for, to, in, of); come to, approach, arrive at, attain to, come
into, extend to, fulfill, go (to, towards), lead to/into, leave for, move to, proceed to, reach,
resort to, result in, verge on (having, being, coming, going); has/have come to be/have/hold;
refer to, consider, hold, regard (as, with) (s, ed, ing); (having, being, coming, going) (s, ed,
ing); (is, are, was, were, will be) about, among, around, as, at, by, during, for, from, in, of, on,
over, through, to, towards, when, with, within, (one's, his, her, its, their) (own); or (one, him,
her, it, this, that, objects, a thing, things, something, them, they, these, the following, such,
thus, same, here, what, that which, this one, such a one, such as these, this one, the others,
someone, somebody) or (oneself, himself, herself, itself, themselves); (a, the) outcome, result
(s); (to be) resultant, final; in regard to; is this? are these?; this/that to/for; as long as, finally;
-ly; genitive and attributive particle.

I take it in the directional sense, but not that the Zhi Gua describes the outcome of the reading. You may be headed North, but that doesn't mean you'll wind up at the North Pole. It a directional sign, but when you're stopped at a stop sign, you're not required to remain stopped until the sign changes. Other people take Zhi in it's possessive sense, or one of the other forms listed above.
 
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moss elk

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Hi ernobe,
Good to meet you. :bows:

I can assure you, that the related hex is definitely not where you are headed. If you observe and contemplate how the related Hexagram relates, you will find it is, in a way I personally describe as a Qualitative Descriptor of the Primary Hexagram and the subject matter. Or an Amalgamation of meanings. Some people say it is a context, or the sea it is swimming in.

An easy example to see this is in 8.5 (2)
Take 8's meaning of Bonding/Joining
Take 2's meaning Being a supportive assistant, not forcing or leading.
Now look at 8.5:
It describes a situation where you are seeking a Bonding, but you do not Force it. The Sovereign sends beaters from 3 direction, allowing any that do not wish to join an avenue of escape (the 4th direction) This is a true Belonging, as opposed to enslavement.
The single changing line combines the two meanings into its own meaning (with qualities of each.)
 

hilary

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What Moss Elk and Bradford said, except that I wouldn't say the resultant hexagram was 'definitely not' the outcome; it can be, but that's because it's an underlying tendency (a 'towards'), normally describing how the questioner relates to the cast hexagram.

Funny story... I was lucky enough to read a little introductory book by Stephen Karcher early in my experience with Yi, in which he described that second hexagram as the 'relating hexagram', not the outcome. I found this always made sense in readings, when the 'outcome' idea didn't.

Then I started this forum (back in 2000) and met a lot of people who'd been talking with Yi for decades - including several people who'd never heard of Karcher but had also noticed from their own readings that the second hexagram wasn't, in fact, the outcome. It was interesting to connect with people who'd come by different routes to the same conclusion.
 

ernobe

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Researching this more with a view to adding material to my website, I found the following about Chinese philosopher Xiao Ji 蕭吉 (581-618 CE):

The author is of the opinion that the Five Processes are the ground of all creations and also of human relationships. The five measures (wudu 五度) of Heaven are to be seen in the movements of the celestial bodies, the "five elements" (wucai 五材) of the Earth in the richness of is sources, and the five virtues (wude 五德) of man in the expressions of virtues.

According to http://www.chinaknowledge.de/Literature/Diverse/yinyangwuxing.html he is the author of a book which "explains the cycle of the phases". It says that since Han times (206 BCE-220 CE),

The change of the phases is described as different cycles, namely the productive cycle (sheng 生) or victorious (sheng 勝) and the destructive cycle (ke 克).

but cites no other authority. Is there such an authority? Is any of it available in translation?
 
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jukkodave

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As Bradford says, confusion reigns when trying to force fit 5 into 8. We must remeber where the 5 comes from and how it has been diverted into "phases" from the original description which place the 5th element at the center, so could not then be part of the outer circle. The history of the time tells us that many "descriptions " were simply the various Emporers way so f attempting to set themselves as supreme and dovert away from the adherence by the population to signs, omens, ghosts and other entities. All of which diluted the Emporers control and power.
Why do we for example have only 6 lines, why not 8 lines, what is the significance of 6. How do we even begin to combine the sybolism of 5,6 and 8 and the principles of Yin and Yang together. 2 and 6 makes sense and one can then begin to derive that 8 is relevant but 8 lines could just as be relevant. The totalnumber of hexegrams is just it seems a minimalistic way of describing the "myriad things".
 
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Freedda

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Why do we for example have only 6 lines, why not 8 lines, what is the significance of 6. How do we even begin to combine the symbolism of 5,6 and 8 and the principles of Yin and Yang together.The total number of hexegrams is just it seems a minimalistic way of describing the "myriad things".
I don't really see where you're going with this. We have 64 hexagrams, each with 6 lines because that's what this particular divination system is built upon. We might have systems with 4 elements or based on 16 lines in the sand, or the 20 message we find with the Magic 8 Ball, etc. etc.

As to why 64 hexagrams (and not 70 or 33) or why 6 lines (and not 5 or 7), or why eight trigrams .... I don't really know, and I guess I don't really think about it all that much. But if others want to ...


Best, D.
 

russell

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Richard Rutt describes several lines of evidence that the hexagrams may have originally been five-line pentagrams. Among other things, that would suggest that trigrams are a later contrivance.

Six lines produce 2^6 or 64 hexagrams, a convenient number for memorization and so forth. Eight lines would mean 2^8 or 256 octograms, and that would be a lot of text.

There are, of course, other divination systems. The Ling Qi Jing is actually a base five system with 125 oracle texts. The Tai Xuan Jing has 81 texts, like the Tao Te Ching.
 

jukkodave

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Good point Ernobe, "since Han times" is perhaps the most important point we should remember in any attempts to analyse the history and consider what is accurate or not. All the books got burnt and then suddenly we have a load of texts, medical, philosophical and about the nature of man in the universe all suddenly saying that there are 5 elements, placing the 5th at the "centre", symbolising the Yellow Emporer and placing the Emperor at the centre of everything. Paul Unschuld gives some analysis of the history in his translations of the medical texts that arose at that time for anyone that is interested.
Lets face facts, 5 elements and phases, was and is, a completely contrived concept that makes the position of the Emperor of supreme importance and 5 simply doesnt divide into 8 or 12 or 64.
Despite what some may try to claim Chinese Medicine works so much better when 5 element "theory" is dropped. Chinese Medicine works, the I Ching works, why do we even need to try to overlay theories that can be shown to be historically derived and dont even mathematically fit.
 
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Freedda

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Despite what some may try to claim Chinese Medicine works so much better when 5 element "theory" is dropped. Chinese Medicine works, the I Ching works, why do we even need to try to overlay theories that can be shown to be historically derived and dont even mathematically fit.
I claim no authority here, but some people feel that the '5 elements' work very well with acupuncture, as one practioner says,

'In theory, we develop symptoms/diseases when these elements become unbalanced. Treatment involves transferring energy from one element to another creating balance again. Classical 5 Element Acupuncture can be a very effective system to use in conjunction with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Determining a patient’s constitutional factor can be helpful with treatment by understanding why certain symptoms affect you and how to create better balance for a healthier future.'

And about acupuncture and the Yi,

'Dr. Chao Chen is a living legend in the Asian acupuncture community, and is famous for developing an application of ancient acupuncture principles based on the I Ching, which is renowned for quick and immediate results .... (a) system that integrated all aspects of acupuncture and I Ching theory.'

.... so, perhaps 5E doesn't naturally fit with the Yi, but maybe either system, or both, can be integrated into or used successfully with another 'unrelated' practice.

D.
 

jukkodave

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My apologies, I have no intention of criticising, only of seeking the truth. I thought the purpose of the forum was to discuss these rather basic questions relating to the IChing.
There are a myriad of divination methods we could all spend considerable time quoting. But without detailed consideration of whether the theory that substatntiates them is coherent and whether they actually work, when we know the Ching does I cannot see the point of quoting other methodologies. We must remember the history of how 5 even became a significant denominator and so compared to the Yi it is a relatively modern contrivance .
If we dont feel inclined to "really think about it all that much then it would perhaps explaim why some dont "see"where this is going". The question is, the discussion heading is, "5 element "theory". The discussion I raised is not whether 64 has any validity, there are very strong arguments to show and explain how and why 64 is a"coherent "system. But, in accord with the discussion heading, the question was can anyone explain how we 5 divide into 64, or 8. Can anyone attemot to postulate a theory as to why 5 elements are even significant to the Yi. Many have tried but this person can see no logical or coherent rationale that fits.

All the best to everyone
Dave
 
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hmesker

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We must remember the history of how 5 even became a significant denominator and so compared to the Yi it is a relatively modern contrivance .

(...)

Can anyone attemot to postulate a theory as to why 5 elements are even significant to the Yi.
The combination of Five Elements & Yijing might be older than you think: the Shifa manuscript, dated around 350BC uses the FE combined with the trigrams and there are hints in the manuscript that this combination was used for medical purposes, among other topics. Whatever the origin and original purpose of this combination (the way it is described in the Shifa manuscript corresponds to our current usage of FE & Yijing in for instance Wenwanggua), it was seen as a valid way of using the Yijing for more than 2300 years.
 

jukkodave

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Thanks for that information. But the question still remains, is therea coherent way to explain how 5 goes in to 8 or 64 or any other multiple that is not a factor of 5. The "significant denominator" is the pertinent term. We know that 5 has significance becuase of various historical political and religious reasons, but that does not necessarily equate one to the other. 2,4,8 have a relationship and are significant for reasons they are, 5 has political and religious reasons but that does not make the two compatible or coherent one to the other. Just because someone tried to make a correlation to another form of divination only shows that the number 5 was considered to be an important number, it cannot be taken that the interpretations, just because they came from 350BC, are accurate. We used to think the world was flat until we had a coherent understanding that showed our theory was wrong. I can, as yet, see no correlation between 5 elements and phases and the principles of Hexagrams, regardless of if they end up in the Shifa system or the IChing system.
Anyone that has studied other methids of divination will know that the Tarot can result in astonishly accurate results, and there are many, many methods to lay out the cards. It is possible to distill Tarot into a simple form of just 22 cards, just as it is possible to distill the hexegrams down. But to make it useful it needs elaborating, so more hexegrams and more cards. But the question for both is one of coherence. If 5 elements is a findamental factor then it has to fit into whatever method of divination we might consider. But I struggle to find a way to fit 5 into 22 or 8 or 64. For the record, when 22 is broken down it simplifies so that it fits into 64.
Can anyone suggest a mathematical way that explains how 5 elements even makes sense in its own right, let alone as part of a completely differently based number system. We do not have 5 colors, planets or many of the things that are said to relate to 5 elements, that might have made sense when our knowledge was limited ut we have moved on from that point of ignorance. The history tells us that WuXing originally placed the 5th element at the centre, which gives a completely different range of possibilities than get used and make many if the "interpretations" of how they relate to trigrams simply implausible.
All the best to everyone
Dave
 
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Freedda

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Jukkodave, a few responses to what you said:

I thought the purpose of the forum was to discuss these rather basic questions relating to the IChing. There are a myriad of divination methods we could all spend considerable time quoting ....
Actually, if you look at the top of this forum it reads: Forum: Exploring Divination - For discussion of all kinds of divination (not just the I Ching). So, it seems most any divination system is fair game in this forum.

I cannot see the point of quoting other methodologies.
I am not sure if you are referring here to my quotes, above, about the 5 elements and the Yi being used in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, but if you are ...

The point I was making was that even though some people think the five elements are not a good fit with the Yi (but see also Harmen's comments on this), there are places were different systems work with each other - for example, the Yi and five elements being combined with acupuncture. And this was also in response to your comment that: 'Chinese Medicine works so much better when 5 element "theory" is dropped', so I was showing that this is not everyone's opinion about 5M and Chinese medicine.

We must remember ... how 5 even became ... significant ... and ... compared to the Yi it is a relatively modern contrivance.
Again, you may want to see Harmen's comments, above.

Also, whether or not one feels that the Yi and 5E work together, the significance of five (as a number or scale) is ancient, perhaps as old as or older than the Yi. We have the five elements of the ancient Greeks; the pentacle, a five-pointed start; the five wounds of Jesus on the cross; the five pebbles which made it possible for David to kill the giant Goliath; the five points or directions on a Mandala; the five faces of the god Shiva .... and so on.

The discussion I raised is not whether 64 has any validity, .... But, ... can anyone explain how we 5 divide into 64, or 8. Can anyone attempt to postulate a theory as to why 5 elements are even significant to the Yi?
Yes, some may agree here, but I don't know enough about the five elements - and how they are used - to know how meaningful they are for me in using the Yi (at least right now).

But I'd say that I would not base the significance of one system to another (say the five elements as related to the Yi), solely on whether or not the numbers of one divide evenly into the other (e.g. 5 into 64 versus 8 into 64). I'd more rely on whether or not they were meaningful or helpful.

By way of example: Some see the received order of the hexagrams in the Zhouyi as being divided into two unequal parts: the first part containing 30 hexagrams and the second containing 34, neither of which are evenly divided by 8. So does this mean that number or scale of 8 is not significant to the Yi - in the same way that 5 isn't?

And as another example: in his Yi, Bradford Hatcher offers 'correspondences' between the Yi and other 'hermetic' systems, and he, 'gives cross-references to three other systems from the West and Middle-East: the Qabalah, Tarot and Astrology' .... and, 'I am not meaning to imply any historical or metaphysical connection here, merely simple linguistic parallels, which perhaps derived from common elements in the human lebenswelt' (def. a universe of what is self-evident or given: a world that subjects may experience together). So, here you have three other hermetic (divination/knowledge) systems that may not evenly or exactly fit with the Yi, but which have some parallels.

And as far as fitting five elements into the Yi - well, you have 450 Oracle and line statements in the Yi's 64 hexagrams (7 x 64 + the 2 extra lines from Hex 1 and 2), and 5 divided into 450 equals 90. So, you can now assign each one of the five elements to a group of 90 oracle statements ... a fine fit it seems to me!

Best, D.
 
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hmesker

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Personally I am not interested in these theoretical, mathematical and/or philosophical exercises. It is not about about right or wrong, it is about what works and what works is up to everyone to determine. The fact that the FE & Yijing correlation is being used for more than 2300 years and throughout Chinese history is expanded to the WWG system that we know today is far more fascinating to me than the question how 8 should be linked to 5 and whether the system has any validity.
 

jukkodave

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Jukkodave, a few responses to what you said:

Actually, if you look at the top of this forum it reads: Forum: Exploring Divination - For discussion of all kinds of divination (not just the I Ching). So, it seems most any divination system is fair game in this forum.

Point made Freedda, I came to the forum only seeing the confinement to the heading "5 element", apologies for my ignorance.

I am not sure if you are referring here to my quotes, above, about the 5 elements and the Yi being used in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, but if you are ...
The point I was making was that even though some people think the five elements are not a good fit with the Yi (but see also Harmen's comments on this), there are places were different systems work with each other - for example, the Yi and five elements being combined with acupuncture. And this was also in response to your comment that: 'Chinese Medicine works so much better when 5 element "theory" is dropped', so I was showing that this is not everyone's opinion about 5M and Chinese medicine.

My reference to Chinese Medicine was from personal and practical experience. As any "theory" has to be testable and validatable by the reality of if it works or not, those that have experience of both 5 element Acupuncture and "non" 5 element can testify the 5 element "theory" does not give an improved treatment outcome. As it is known from extensive research that any sort of "needling" produces results of some sort it is not surprising that 5 element practitioners get results and so consider that method "works" but the research shows, apart from other important factors, that the more specific the needling the better the outcome and the differential in outcomes is clearly shown to favour the non 5 element approach. Beofre I knew of any of the research that was my definite experience and the reason why the exploration of where 5 elements comes from and it application has been a recurring enquiry for the last 35+ years

Also, whether or not one feels that the Yi and 5E work together, the significance of five (as a number or scale) is ancient, perhaps as old as or older than the Yi. We have the five elements of the ancient Greeks; the pentacle, a five-pointed start; the five wounds of Jesus on the cross; the five pebbles which made it possible for David to kill the giant Goliath; the five points or directions on a Mandala; the five faces of the god Shiva .... and so on.
Of course one can relate many examples of 5, but does that vlaidate them as relevant just because they have been used historically. It would hardly seem to be a surprise that the human mind in its desire to classufy everything it sees uses one of the most basic ways of defining the world- mathematics. But to respond to your specifics: As far as I am aware Greek 5 elements was an Aristolian construction that involved the aether, that which contains everything, so not really an "equal" breakdown of elements; the pentacle and star are one part of the harmonic results that result in Chinese Medicine, Astrology, the manifestations of 12, the mandala is simply 4 elements with the 5th at the centre and so not something that can be used in the manner that 5 elements/ phases has developed into; 5 faces of Shiva is the same principle as Aristotle and as the ether is really the central part that gives the 5th element again not the same as what has become 5 element theory. I dont know where the significance of 5 comes from in the Bible but we must remember that there are all sorts of mathematical constructs that are possible simply because that is the way methematics works and I would suggest that one could just as easily find the number 7 to have historical reference. In fact because we use the particular base of 10 we end up with certain patterns that only have significance to that base, only when we get down to the fundamental "bases"do we find consistency. The Tao te Ching says everything above 3 are the "myriad things", analysis of mathematical bases would suggest a similar thing and most of the "patterns that we see are a result of the use of a particular base and number line theory. I agree 5 has become symbolic all over the world, but would suggest that the reasons are a desire for individuals to "rise above" the realities of 4 elements, an attempt to explaint the innate knowledge that everything is connected and so there must be an ether of some sort, a lot of evidence from Quantum Physics and Enstein quotes to support that possibility, and the "harmonics" that result in the manifestations of 12, a common number used to represent both the human and the world we live in, but 12 is yet anothe number that does not have 5 as a factor.

Yes, some may agree here, but I don't know enough about the five elements - and how they are used - to know how meaningful they are for me in using the Yi (at least right now).

My hope was that someone that did know about the 5 elements would have some ideas as to how 5 elements was significant for the Yi, or for anything else for that matter, but all responses are welcome and it is refreshing to have discussion with such well educated and knoowledgeable folk.

But I'd say that I would not base the significance of one system to another (say the five elements as related to the Yi), solely on whether or not the numbers of one divide evenly into the other (e.g. 5 into 64 versus 8 into 64). I'd more rely on whether or not they were meaningful or helpful.

I would suggest that the "patterns" that are demonstrated in any representation of life are entirely dependent on their divisibility as otherwise there is no pattern and the framework that is required by the human brain to comprehend the world is simply not present, there is no coherence and one just as well pick a number at random to represent significance.

By way of example: Some see the received order of the hexagrams in the Zhouyi as being divided into two unequal parts: the first part containing 30 hexagrams and the second containing 34, neither of which are evenly divided by 8. So does this mean that number or scale of 8 is not significant to the Yi - in the same way that 5 isn't?

But why would anyone break the pattern of thehexagrams in this way, although I would not dispute that analysis in this way gives potential insight into what the hexegrams are informing us and so should not be dismissed, this kind of analysis is not the same as referencing the basics of 8 trigrams, of Yin and Yang. Let us look at the facts of what a trigram is, a collection of Yin and Yang lines, Herein lies the biggest dilemma, how do we get from Yin and Yang to 5, one can see a progression 2,4,8, but why are 6 lines significant, we have to understand that forst to comprehend how we arrived at 64 hexegrams. If 5 was that significant why did we not end up with 5 lines and just32 hexagrams.

And as another example: in his Yi, Bradford Hatcher offers 'correspondences' between the Yi and other 'hermetic' systems, and he, 'gives cross-references to three other systems from the West and Middle-East: the Qabalah, Tarot and Astrology' .... and, 'I am not meaning to imply any historical or metaphysical connection here, merely simple linguistic parallels, which perhaps derived from common elements in the human lebenswelt' (def. a universe of what is self-evident or given: a world that subjects may experience together). So, here you have three other hermetic (divination/knowledge) systems that may not evenly or exactly fit with the Yi, but which have some parallels.

I shall have to read what Bradford has to say, thank you for the reference. Which parts of his volumious works should I be reading.
Although it is always refreshing to get different views from what I know of all of those would not suggest any great significance relating to the Yi, unless one breaks it down to fundamental bases, but while one can derive some inforamtion that might be relevant to the IChing, from its basic construct of Yin and Yang, yet again it still remains difficult to see from the Qabalah, Tarot or Astrology how 5 has the significance that seems to have developed and some seem inclined to try to super impose upon other frameworks.
And as far as fitting five elements into the Yi - well, you have 450 Oracle and line statements in the Yi's 64 hexagrams (7 x 64 + the 2 extra lines from Hex 1 and 2), and 5 divided into 450 equals 90. So, you can now assign each one of the five elements to a group of 90 oracle statements ... a fine fit it seems to me!

That is a very interesting concept, a new one to me I have to confess, where do you get "7" x 64 from. I can see 6 x 64 plus the two extra lines, assuming that we consider the "extra" lines from Hexegrams 1 and 2 as anything other than just a reminder that everything stems from Yin and Yang, They are surely not to be considered actual real lines, only an interpratational concept suggesting nothing than we are dealing with Yin and Yang, and so while I cannot immediately see where 7 comes from, though I look forward to your explanations with much interest, I wouldnt consider that the "extra" lines from Hexagram 1 and 2 are real anyway, but are commentaries and so have no place in any coherent framework, and that would result in 448 and not 450, and so still wouldnt result in any factors of 5. We must bear in mind that if we elaborate and expand enough we could derive almost any factors we cared to imagine. But my question is pointed very firmly in the opposite direction, one of simplification, one of reduction to the bases, which enable the elaboration and explanation to happen in the first place. I do look forward to your reasoning on where the 450 comes from.

What a fantastic forum, intelligent knowledgeable people that actually want to discuss things and not just throw unargued concepts.

Dave
 
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Freedda

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My hope was that someone that did know about the 5 elements would have some ideas as to how 5 elements was significant for the Yi, or for anything else for that matter, but all responses are welcome ....
Dave, if this is really the bottom line for you of what you want to know, than I can't really help at all. I know next to nothing about the 5 elements, and really nothing about their history or use.

Bradford and Harmen - both of whom are more knowledgable than I in these matters - have weighed in here, each presenting a different understanding of the Yi and the 5Es. Hilary, moss elk, Russell and others have also contributed. I really can't add much more to that.

I would suggest that the "patterns" that are demonstrated in any representation of life are entirely dependent on their divisibility as otherwise there is no pattern and the framework that is required by the human brain to comprehend the world is simply not present, there is no coherence ....
I don't quite know how to say this, but it seems to me that it is important to you that the Yi fits into a particular 'pattern' of divisibility - some way that all these parts add up, or can be divided into each other equally, or something along those lines.

Again, I can't really help much here, since my understanding of the Yi and of the universe in general doesn't break down into these nice, or even, or divisible numbers, patterns, parts .... or whatever you want to call them. I just don't see the world or the Yi that way, so it doesn't hold any interest for me. I guess I don't need a 'framework' defined in that way to 'comprehend' the Yi Jing.

So, even if I were to find something within a scale or set of 5, or 7, or 11, or whatever, that was meaningful or useful for me in my understand of the Yi, I'd make use of it, whether or not it was divisible by/or into 64, or 8, or 2 ....

But it does seem meaningful and even necessary to you, so I hope that someone else can better address your question.

I'll say, as an aside, that when I read through your posts it seem like you 'have it out' for five: that it doesn't work with the Yi, nor with Chinese medicine, that the fifth element is really just an add-on to the Greek or Chinese elements, or that it's just the 'center' of mandalas, so it doesn't really count, etc. .... I wonder then, would anything said here in defense of 'five' ever be acceptable - short of some very advanced, but at the same time 'basic' mathematical forumla or theory? That may not be true, but it seems that way.

But otherwise, good luck - really - in getting an answer or answers that make sense for you.

Best, David.
 
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jukkodave

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Thank you for responding Freedda.
Can I be blunt, the "thread" is titled 5 element theory. Thank you for your honesty in saying that you dont know next to nothing about the subject. Though I suspect you know more than you think or you would not have responded at all or referenced Bradford or given numerous examples of how 5's are represented.
It doesnt matter that you cannot present a coherent answer, I have been discussing this very issue with others for many years in the Chinese Medical community and there has been no coherent response from those that claim to use the methodology in a very real and practical way. My hope was that a different perspective from the point of the Yi, or any other perspective related to divination or anything else at all would perhaps shed some light on to the mystery if why and how 5 might be significant and how and why it could be utilized in a very real sense. Whether that is through the medium of TCM, the Yi or some other method of divination is of little concern, if 5 is so fundamental then it will apply to everything and while there may be the use of the Yi for rather trivial matters its real strength lies in its ability to show us ourselves. Was the Yi perhaps one of the first tools of Psychoanalysis. I would suggest that it should be.
My hope was that someone that did have an insight, and that someone that was prepared to go beyond the repitition of unsubstantiated rhetoric would respond and I would get some sort of information that would clarify my understanding on the subject.
To make it perfectly clear I do not "have it out" for five in any way and not for 5 elements. There are 2 options one can take with any theory, accept it and really do nothing more than repeat a concept without full understanding or ability to substantiate the theory or attempt to understand the most advanced aspects, which often will come with the necessity for questions. My own research and personal experience with Chinese Medicine informs me that 5 Elements is a construct that has little place in the explanation of how the humans, the world and indeed the universerse works. But, and this a very important but, I recognise that things dont come into existence for no reason at all and certainly dont survive for thousands of years unless there is something that has some importance. My hope was that students of the Yi would have a diferent perspective and that might give some insight to explain why and how 5 elements might be applicable to life and living.
According to Science everything is describeable in terms of mathematics, and in the simplest sense the use of numbers to distinguish and divide one thing from another is essential. Without such division there would be no Yi, and so the question of how and if something divides, in its fundamental sense, is crucial to any inderstanding of the Yi. Of course, if you thought otherwise that numbers meant nothing you would not even have propesed a 450 line model and would have just taken the hexagrams as they were without question, you recognise the importance of numbers, all I am doing is asking the questions that take is in the opposite direction and rather than expansion I am asking what happens when we reduce down to the basics. Which is of course Yin and Yang, and how then do we exptrapolate from those two fundamentals. One can see how 64 hexagrams was arrived at, it is a simple expansion of the duality that is Yin and Yang. What we define as Yin and Yang, because it is not static and changes, and we rognise that with the book of changes, has within it an aspect of both Yin and Yang and so we get from 2 to 4 and so on until we reach the crucial threshold that is 64. But why is it the threshold, why are there 6 lines. Ok I am being rather superfluous as that is easily understood, but where does 5 fit into that expansion. There is a huge difference in numerical sequence and numerical expansion, we see expansion, in various forms, throughout nature, but sequence is reallya human contrived invention, that only gives any part of the picture at any slice of examination and which without the pattern with which to make sense of the sequence has little meaning at all. So if I am down on 5 then perhaps I am down on 7,9,11,13... as well. I have no interst other than where does the the concept of 5, as a means to describe life, come from, in what sense is it applicable. If I have a gripe it is with anyone that just repeats the 5 element concept without any real understanding of its origins or functionality. I mentioned that we have moved on from the understanding of a flat earth, I could have given hundreds of different examples from a varitey of different fields to demonstrate that ideas that used to be held as true have been shown to be inaccurate and not true. It appears to me that a lot of our "belief" in 5E is because we elavate the history of Chinese Culture to a degree such that the longer ago it was said the more true it must be. But why would we do that, are we not just as capable of working things out as the originators of Chinese Medicine, as the originators of the Yi, why would we even need to use any "commentaries" if we understood the reality of the Yi.
You metioned "advanced", but is that not what the Yi is, being able to distill the whole of life down into 64 hexagrams must be considered to be an incredibly advanced feat, should we not give it the advanced attention it then deserves and ask all the questions so that our understanding is without question. How else can we really understand the Yi unless we have examined these fundamental/advanced questions. Whay could we ever say unless we understood from the very basics "why" the Hexagrams are stacked, why there are 6 lines, why and how each line changes from one to the other, which are the dominant, ruler lines, in each Hexagram, the relationships between each of the Hexagrams and how the changing lines affect that relationship. These are perhaps advanced from the perspective of someone new to the IChing but to any one that uses the Yi for more than trivail use or for anyone that has any sorto fo commentary they must be considered to be the basics that must be undesrtood. So when you say that you know little about the subject I think you do yourself a dis-service as you obviously must do.
When I was saying that the concepts in 5E that place a central point dont count, what I mean is that they dont count in the way that 5E has become to be used, where the 5 are placed equally around the circle and the interactions and phases can then occur. 5E has become very different to what it was originally. If it is 4 with a central point that has an explanation that makes sense, as we need an "aether" for the 4 elements to function through, but that is an entirely different concept that does not alter the 4 in any way or that can result in 5 being equal in some way. It is the latter that is referred to as 5 Elements Theory and the latter that attmpts are made to superimpose on the Yi. It is trivail to superimpose 4 and then understand that everything functions thought the "medium" of an aether, but because the aether is what it is there is no need to consider it as a separate entity as has become the concept of 5E as we now use when we refer to 5 Element Theory.
The world of humans does of course break down into "patterns", because apart from any other considerations that is how our brains work and how we make any sense of the world around us, if we failed to recognise the patterns then we would stumble around in ignorance for what would likely be very short lives. What else is the IChing but a pattern and being a pattern can be broken down to its fundamental consitituents. I simply do not have any information that shows how 5 can be part of those fundamental constituents, but if anyone can enlighten me then I would be most glad to have that missing piece. My real interst is Chinese Medicine, in harmonising so that we correct illness and in understandin the process of health so that we do not get sick in the first place. If 5E has a place then it would surely provide an insight into therpies that could facilitate better health. My own experience is that the way that 5E is taught, as a medical construct, and the way that 5E is used and understood when appled to the Yi, simply does not work as well as methods not using 5E, all that means is that what is taught now is not correct but that does not mean that the original concept is not correct. There may be a way of understanding 5E that puts the 5th at the centre that will expand our understanding of how the body and the brain work. If anyone has any thoughts or opinions as to how that might possibly work then I would be very glad to hear them.
But I have little time or need for any "beliefs". I realised many years ago that a belief is really just a way of saying that one does not really know but is willing to take on trust what one has been taught or what one thinks. Should we not know things for ourselves and eliminate any need for any sort of beliefs, whether that is a commentary from a historical document or a more modern interpretation. A belief may be a good starting point from which to ask questions and will hold up to scrutiny and examination if it is true, but then we would know and it would no longer be a belief. If we do not ask questions then there is no progress.

Could you point me in the direction of what Bradford has to say on the subject.
Could you post a link that details how you arrived at the concept of 450. Please forgive my ignorance but I dont get how 450 might be derived.

All the best
Dave
 

Trojina

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Dave just popping in to say there's a forum bug which makes it difficult to do paragraphs and of course it's harder for people to read large chunks of texts. So if you are having any trouble formatting click here for a way around it.
 
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Freedda

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Could you point me in the direction of what Bradford has to say on the subject. Could you post a link that details how you arrived at the concept of 450. Please forgive my ignorance but I dont get how 450 might be derived. All the best , Dave
Dave, some references:

In his I Ching, Bradford Hatcher discusses Correspondences on p54; on p454 he discusses the Scale of Five, as part of Introduction to the Scales.

His references to corresponding hermetic systems are found towards the end of each hexagram. For example, this morning I was looking at Hex. 9:

09
* Qabalah: Malkuth in Yetzirah
* Tarot: Ten of Swords
* Astrology: Pluto in Air

From his website: you can purchase or download his Yi, and or his Dao De Jing (Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching). Some other links I use from here are:

Yijing Hexagram Names and Core Meanings - here he's compiled many people's different names/titles for each Gua and also has an interesting Notes section, and glosses and core meanings for each.

Tarot as a Counseling Language: Core Meanings of the Cards - here you can find Tarot card descriptions which correspond to what he names the 'The Seventy-Eight Diagrams' of the Yi (found around the 5th page of his Yi)

For example, from the Ten of Swords, (which corresponds to gua 9): 'The Ten of Swords is the wearing force of excessive detail, an erosive process, .... We are slowly worn down or detailed to death .... The Yijing counterpart, Gua 09, is Raising Small Beasts, or Taming Power of the Small. A modern English equivalent of this amusing title might be ‘herding cats.’ It speaks to the diminishing returns of fussing over details ....

For the '450' - what I did was add up all the oracle statements: 64, one for each hexagram, and then I added this to 384 which is each of the six line statements times 64, and then I added this to the two extra line statements for Hex. 1 and 2 (which, regardless of what anyone thinks of them, are part of the Yi) - and we get 450! I would suggest that you not get too hot and bothered over this however. It was meant to show how - without too much of a stretch - you could make the Yi work with or within a scale of 5, e.g. we can now 'assign' 90 Oracle statements to each Element!!

A bit of silliness really, or ... maybe it's the next leap in Taoist thought! Bigger than Yin / Yang even!

D.
 
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jukkodave

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Freedda, thanks for the references. I shall enjoy reading Bradfords works.
I did come across one part from Bradford "While the Wu Xing formula is very ancient, dating back at least to the Early Zhou dynasty, it really has no home base in the Yijing".
While I was waiting for your references I have been scanning his and other works and it is now clear to me that there are 2 methods of generating 5. The Wu Xing originally was with 5th at the centre but has become a completely different thing, and what has been passed down and is now incorporated as 5E theory is something that tries to merge the two methods and that simply does not work and so does not fit into any system and cdertainly one that is based upon 2, such as the Yi. It is only when we get to higher constructions that the reasons of 5 as an important factor becomes more clear, but even then it is not one that is directly or particularly obvious. But that is a far more complex matter than could even begin to be discussed in a forum. Until we recognise that the 5 of the Wu Xing, placing the 5th at the centre is an entirely different beast to one that places 5 as phases in a circular manner, the confusions ovr 5E are going to remain and the possibility of using 5E in any sort of useful paractical manner seem to be non existent.

So while the number 5 may have symbolic significance, thought the reasons for that are entirely different to the construct of the original Wu Xing, and the Mandalas placing a central all encompassing something at the centre of the four elements, its relationship to the Yi does simply not exist not least because there are two entirely different ways of "generating" the 5. Each method of generating a 5 has to be treated differently as each means something entirely different. But neither of them correlates to the I Ching.

Thank you so much for the discussion, without which the obviousness of what and how 5 is derived and its relevance would not have become clear. It was something that had been rankling in my head for many, many years and the realisation that the two 5's are fundamentally different has in that sense completed the circle. Were it not for theses discussions I might have held this dilemma in my head for many more years. It is always astonishing how such dilemmas are so simple when you realise them and it always astonishes me how they could not be realised straight away.
While 5 retains its importance and relevance in how it is derived from the other method, and that other method, which has nothing to do with Wu Xing 5E, does go a long way though to explaining many aspects of Chinese Medicine, though because of the confusions that surround the Wu Xing interpretations that have become embedded in TCM it will take some extracting. A project for a book methinks.

Sorry, but I just dont get the 450 concept. Yes I can see how, if you pick the bits you do, you add up everything and reach 450. My confusion was that you had said 450 lines. If it was the lines the that woukd be 6x64 and not 7x64. But therein lies perhaps the nub of the matter. Although they are all part of the Yi, the lines, overall image, the Hexagram are rather different things within the Yi. And although it is included should we not ask why is there a 7th line in Hexagrams 1 and 2. There is only one real reason, to remind us that everything comes from Yin and Yang. If all 9's we read line 7. But then if we include the moving lines we have to do so for that possibility for all the Hexagrams, unless the only reference ot the extra line in Hex 1 and 2 is to point out that it is all just Yin and Yang. Bradford does make a compelling argument for laying out the Hexagrams so that they, for example have opposites. Then just as 6 moving lines in Hexagram 1 would lead to Hexagram 2, we have to consider, if the Yi is to be taken as a coherent whole, that any Hexagram could have all moving lines and lead to its opposite, just as 1 leads to 2 and 2 leads to 1.
If we include the "image" for the Hexagrams as part of the 450, should we not also include the image of the Trigram and why should we even place that limit, why not include all the combinations of lines, if a single line is important enough to be considered and if all the lines that result in a Hexagram are to be considered and added, wht not include all the Bi-grams, the Quadgrams, and the Quingrams as well. And why not include all the other mathermatical variables as well.
Only when there is consideration of the entirety, and we understand and can explain the coherent rationality that substantiates any understanding can we even begin to discriminate as to what is relevant or not. Lines are one thing, the results of those lines is only relevant when we take into account why there are 6 lines, how do we end up with 6, is it because it is derived from Trigrams or is it because it is that each line is either Yin or Yang and the Trigrams are only a stage on the way, are the Trigrams even that relevant in terms of the Yi itself, it may be taken that a Hexagram is th ecombination of 2 Trigrams but is it not just as valid, and in many ways, perhaps even more valid to conisder a Hexagram as a combination of 3 Bigrams, but perhaps we should just stick to understanding that there are 6 lines, that each line, 1 through 6 has a reason for being there and 6 is not an arbitrary number nad the progreesion of each line is oerhaps the only way we can understand the meaning if a Bigram, a Trigram or a Hexagram. We have to understand the whole before we can make sense of the the parts and start picking one bit or another just to try to make things fit.
My understanding is that lines themsleves and the results of lines, that end up with the Hexagrams, are different, that the moving lines that end up with an additional Heagram are different and until we could begin to explain all of that in a coherent rational way, picking various bits doesnt really add up.
There is of course, when we start dealing with larger numbers, the possibility anyway that we can find all sorts of "patterns", but this is just playing with numbers and a lot of the derivations of such manipulations are just the result of whatever mathematical framework we are using and have no significance in themselves, for example a lot of the concepts of things like Sacred geometry are easily dismissed by recognising that most geometries only manifest according to that particular base and so are entirely contrived and being human contrivances are not sacred at all. But as humans we do have a need for pattern recognition and have a need to explain everything and putting the two needs together does come up with some interesting things along the way. Sometimes of use but often completely bizarre and with no foundations at all.
Though trying to get "believers" of any concept to realise they are wrong rarely happens. It is a shock to us in such a fundamental way, we simply dont want to let our picture of the world go. I know from personal experience how hard it can be. I was taught 5E theory as applied to TCM, to realise that it didnt work was devastating, as apart from having to find out what did then work I also had the realisation that I had taken completely on trust what I had been taught about TCM, I had "believed" the ancient texts, simply because they were ancient, that I had also taken on trust most of the things I had been taught all through my life and the reality was that most of those
"teachings" were flawed. A rather shocking realisation. So I can appreciate why anyone might be inclined to defend a particular position, but surely we are greater than our limits and if we cannot let go of concepts that limit and bind us then what are we. The truth calls us always forward, but to move we have to change. Is this not what the Yi is telling us. Nothing is static, everything changes, we grow, we learn and that often means letting go of things from the past, whether that is physical, mental or psychological. We recognise that it is not good to hold to old emotions that restrict us, why should we not apply the same common sense to old mental understandings that restrict us- such as what the 5E has become.

Nothing is silly. Somethines the most silly and outrageous ideas can spark something of value. But we must always be prepared for the possibility that our ideas really are silly and to be shot down in flames for any ideas we put forward. I can attest that over the years that is an experience that has come my way repeatedly, but it has never stopped me throwing ideas into the ring so as to try to further all of our understanding of what we are all about.
But as to the suggestion that there might be a bigger leap, is that not what the Greeks and the Indians and anyone else that placed a point at the centre was trying to do. But is this not already covered in the Tao. The Tao gives rise to 1, 1 to 2, to 3 and then to the myriad things. To be "greater than Yin and Yang it would have to be a number less than 2 and that is 1, so I think that has already been declared as what is greater than Yin and Yang. Not really an issue for any students of the Yi as the basics for the I Ching are 2, but understanding of 1 is important to matters of medicine. It does astonish me that we dont get that the Yi tells us nothing of the nature of 1, and as that limit clarifies the limitations if divination through the Yi and that would go a long way to explaning a lot of the confusions over various readings.
Thanks again for the discussion. It has clarifed something that had bothered me for nearly 40 years. It was so obvious. I shall enjoy reading the references you have given with the new insight and perhpas, hopefully there will be something that could be used to clarify and improve the concept of 5 as it realtes to TCM so that a better mthodology for diagnosis and treatment can be reached and in doing that and by understanding what ill health is we can improve our understand of what health is, as prevention is always better than cure.

All the best
Dave
 
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Freedda

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Freedda, thanks for the references. I shall enjoy reading Bradfords works.
You might also want to check out Harmen Mesker's current and older web sites as well.

5E theory ... simply does not work and so does not fit into any system and certainly one that is based upon 2, such as the Yi.
It seems people are of varied opinions on this: you say it doesn't work - and doesn't work with Chinese medicine either - and others, including Harmen Mesker, say it does work. As I said, I don't know enough - or really care enough right now - to say yea or nay, and I don't need any convincing one way or the other.

But as is true for 5E, the concept of Yin/Yang is also a later additions to the Yi as well. As Bradford says:

"Worthy of note here is that the terms Rou and Gang, Flexible and Firm, do not appear in the Zhouyi. Neither does Yang, and Yin is used only (once) in its ancient sense of shade or shadow." (P28)​

So maybe they are suspect too? Or maybe people have put too much stock in yin/yang - and rely on it too much - when trying to understand the Yi? I certainly don't think much about Yin/Yang when working with the Yi - in part because I feel it is too limiting and can be too easily misinterpreted - not to mention all of its misogynist associations, which make it highly suspect.

Sorry, but I just don't get the 450 concept.
As I said in my post, above, the 450 are the number of Oracle statements, not just the number of lines. And there are 450 of them, that is just a fact. And I also said, 'I would suggest that you not get too hot and bothered over this,' since it was just something I conjured up, and is not to be taken seriously.

D.
 
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