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Former Heaven and Later Heaven Origin

merlewine

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I have been trying to understand the origin, nature, and ordering of the eight trigrams, in particular as they appear in the Former and Later Heaven sequences.

I always seem to have the most trouble with the simplest things. I have many books and resources that comment as to the nature of the trigrams and these two sequences. I have looked and thought long and hard, and so far have been unsatisfied, have come up with no real understanding. I blame myself, of course, for not somehow “getting it.”

As an astrologer of many years, I have studied the nature and phases of cycles for a very long time, some 40 years. I understand that all things that exist are cyclic, which means they go through some sort of cycle. We get some return from them. The phases of ALL cycles are more or less identical, whether it is the cycle of the heartbeat, breath, lunar cycle, or what-have-you? In other words, all identification is based on real-life cycles and their returns. If something does not return or cycle (come back to our attention), we have no real memory of it. It appears as a straight line, not a curve. Our memory depends on curves that cycle. That is one background idea here.

I naturally take to the Former Heaven sequence. When I look at the trigrams in that sequence, they make perfect sense to me as a cycle, and in that particular sequence. I can immediately understand and interpret them. No problem.

However, when I read and study the nature or meaning of each individual trigram (as it exists in many books), and then try to match up that trigram’s meaning with what that meaning should be in the sequence or phase in the Former (or Later) Heaven sequence, the interpretations don’t line up. In other words, the Former Heaven sequence itself (the eight trigrams in that particular order) describes the phases in a typical cycle, like: spring, summer, fall, winter, that sort of thing. As I look at the lines in each trigram in the Former Heaven sequence, that trigram fits what the phase in the cycle (any cycle) is about. There is a match. So far, so good.

Yet, when I try to take the commonly accepted meaning of each trigram and try to make it fit the particular phase in the Former Heaven sequence, they don’t all really fit.

Next: If I look at the Later Heaven Sequence, everything makes even less sense as far as the structure of the three lines of each trigram. I fail to understand how we can take the two archetype (Yin/Yang) trigrams Qian and Kun, and place then off-center from the two main directions south and north, winter solstice / summer solstice, and so on – whatever cycle we might want to look at. Placing Qian in the S.W. direction and Kun in the N.W. direction… AND… not even opposite one another confounds me.

So, I are writing here for help in understanding or for pointers where I can read about this in depth. The many books I have kind of just brush over these two very important sequences of the trigrams, or simply state that the Later Heaven sequence is laid out in this way. Yet they never give any real reasons, other than the oft-repeated statement that this Later Heaven sequence represents the way life is down here on Earth and the Former Heaven sequence life as it is in heaven.

I hear that, but seldom except anything just on pure faith, because someone says so. I am seeking to understand why this Later Heaven sequence is the way it is.

My question to you is: can you please be kind enough point me to books or articles that you feel actually explain the meaning and use of the Later Heaven Sequence, the relations of these two sequences, and perhaps to an explanation of the meaning of the trigrams that matches up with some kind of phase order and sequence, since they are said to cycle, at least in the Former Heaven Sequence. Or: is this whole idea of viewing the eight trigrams as phases in a cycle simply to be discarded. My thanks to you for reading this.

Michael Erlewine (michael@erlewine.net)
 
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getojack

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Hi Michael,

I'm sure there are others here more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, but I'll do my best to answer your question.

The Former Heaven Arrangement, as far as I know, is not meant to be taken as a representative of a cycle, but as a logical arrangement of the complementary trigrams (opposite trigrams are opposite each other, and so on).

The Later Heaven Arrangement, however, is indeed to be taken as a sequence or cycle, starting with Thunder (symbolizing Spring) in the East (where the sun rises), and cycling clockwise through Fire in the South (Summer), Lake in the West (Autumn), Water in the North (Winter) and back to Thunder (Spring) again.

Hope this helps.
 

RindaR

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What a great question!

Rinda
 

merlewine

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Curiouser and Curiouser...

First, thanks to both of you for your responses!

getojack: I read what you wrote, but it left me more in a quandry than ever. Let me try to explain why:

You menioned that the Former Heaven sequence is not arranged in a cycle, but, instead, as pairs of opposites, AND that the Later Heaven sequence IS arranged in a cycle. To me, it would appear that the case is just the opposite.

Former Heaven Sequence: Here the trigrams are perfectly arranged in a cycle, with mother and father trigrams (Qian and Kun) at the key positions opposite one another and on around, all very symetrical and "cycle like."

Later Heaven Sequence: Here, although you suggest a cycle, I can't see it . The Mother and Father trigrams are not only off the angles, but not even opposite one another.

It would seem to me that any cycle would have the extreme Yang trigram (Qian) and the extreme Yin trigram (Kun) opposite one another, as they are in the Former Heaven sequence.

So, I am perplexed, and would love to hear more.

Thanks,

Michael Erlewine
 

merlewine

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Thanks sparhawk, for the link.

I checked it out, and while it is filled with many thoughts, ann even addresses the idea (at one point) of the Later Heaven sequence as cyclic, which I am told many authors do, there was no explanation or referall to how each of those lo-shu numbered trigrams relate one to another around the wheel, that is: in the order they are listed in the Magic Square.

The Later Heaven sequence originated from the lo-shu (Magic Square), which contained numbers that can be translated into the familiar trigrams, thus:
4 | 9 | 2
3 | | 7
8 | 1 | 6

What I am trying to learn is how is this sequence "1-8-3-4-9-2-7-6" (or its reverse), in any order, related in terms of each being a specific phase in a cycle, either clockwise or counterclockwise?

I apologize for being so ignorant, but I am willing to learn.

Thanks,

Michael Erlewine
 

frank_r

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Former and Later Haeven

The Later haeven is a older cycle than the Former Heaven in history.

In the Former Haeven sequence the forces are holding each other in balance. That´s why it´s not a real cycle everything is balanced. All trigrams are mirrored in the opposite.

When you look to the Tai Qi figure you can put numbers in the later Heaven sequence, starting with one Heaven, two lake , three fire, four thunder, five wind, six water, seven mountain and 8 earth.

Then the 1-8 axis is the creative axis, 2-7 the qi axis- the axis of life, the 3-6 axis is the earth axis, the created axis and 4-5 the egalisation axis, the axis the gate where the 2 source powers go through.

The created axis the earth(3-6) axis, is the only axis which stays the same in former and later Heaven sequence. The only difference is that in the Later Heaven it's turned from horizontal to vertical . That's also the reason they stand on the places of Heaven(fire) and earth(water), So fire is the representation of heaven on earth and water is the representation of earth on earth.

The former heaven you must always see that's shining through the Later Heaven.
So when you look to thunder in Later Heaven , the force of fire is shining through. And this force is endless because of the power of the opposite mirroring from water in this example.

In Later heaven thunder is the starting point, ending in mountain to be born again in thunder. It's on the place of spring.
 

merlewine

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Sequence

Thanks Frank_r.

That was interesting, but I still have questions. Some of yoursentences perhaps were typed quickly, so the words kind of got a little hard to understand. It is easy to do.

You pointed out, and I understand, that in the Former Heaven sequence the opposing trigrams are the opposite of each other, on opposite sides of the wheel. I recognize that. What I was pointing out is the “sequence” or cycle aspect of these eight trigrams, as you read them clockwise or counterclockwise, like: “1-8-3-4-9-2-7-6,” the wheel.

While I have not studied as you folks have the Yi-Ching cycles, I have studied cycles and cycle phases for a very long time. The phases in any cycle do follow a strict pattern, like the cycle or our heartbeats or the cycle of the breath, breathing in and breathing out.

In cycles, there is no onus for being perfect or following the ideal cycle pattern, no separating heaven from earth. The sequence of the trigrams in the Former Heaven sequence strictly follows the pattern of any cycle. As someone who studies cycles, I noted this at once and it helped me understand what I am studying here.

Also, in all of the books I have, people like Stephen Skinner, Derek Walters, and many others are careful to point out that the Former Heaven sequence historically precedes the Later Heaven sequence, thus their names. Please show me where in the literature it is stated that the Later Heaven Sequence is prior. I would appreciate that.

Next, my first and continuing question is not about the Former Heaven sequence, but about the Later Heaven sequence, and how are we to understand any sequence of those trigrams (2-3-9-7-6-4-1-8) clockwise or counterclockwise. How do these eight trigrams constitute a cycle. I am not referring here to trigrams opposite each other, but the sequence itself. And many books say that the Former Heaven sequence is cyclic.

I find it hard to understand how this could be called a cyclic sequence, when Qian and Kun are just one sector apart. I would appreciate someone explaining this to me.

Thanks,

Michael Erlewine
 
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jesed

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Hi Michael

Just in case the comment could be useful

From long time ago (Ta Chuang), people who had study those orders had arrive at the same conclusion: the Earlier Heaven is not a "cyclic sequence" (as Frank and Getojack had pointed), where one trigram moves into the next one.

If, dispate this, you insist in study it with the perspective of find a cyclic sequence, you could be there years and years.... a lot of speculation could be (and had be) made.. but nothing else.

Best wishes
 

merlewine

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Question

No matter how many times I ask the same question, I get a response about the Former Heaven.

My question is would somone explain the cyclic nature of the Later Heaven sequence, which many books point out. That is the question, if you know. I don't. That's why I am asking.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Michael Erlewine.
 
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lightofreason

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merlewine said:
Next, my first and continuing question is not about the Former Heaven sequence, but about the Later Heaven sequence, and how are we to understand any sequence of those trigrams (2-3-9-7-6-4-1-8) clockwise or counterclockwise. How do these eight trigrams constitute a cycle. I am not referring here to trigrams opposite each other, but the sequence itself. And many books say that the Former Heaven sequence is cyclic.

with one exception, the King Wen compass reflects the dynamics of five-phase, the exception being on placing mountain at the end of the cycle and so removing it from it position with earth.

See diagrams/comments etc in http://members.iimetro.com.au/~lofting/myweb/icfive0.html

Chris.
 

toganm

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lightofreason said:
with one exception, the King Wen compass reflects the dynamics of five-phase, the exception being on placing mountain at the end of the cycle and so removing it from it position with earth.

That depends how you interpret when the season for earth comes.
  1. The season is late summer and it is between summer and autumn
  2. The season of summer is the transformation period between each season. Hence the last 18 days of each season (season being 90 days) is the time for earth making it four times in the year

Thefore the second approach takes the consideration of earth is the axis for transformation making the Kun and Gen as the hinge for the cycle of seasons. When looked this way the elements also fit into the Tai Ji Tu.

Togan
 

frank_r

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merlewine said:
My question is would somone explain the cyclic nature of the Later Heaven sequence, which many books point out. That is the question, if you know. I don't. That's why I am asking.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Michael Erlewine.
merlewine said:
Also, in all of the books I have, people like Stephen Skinner, Derek Walters, and many others are careful to point out that the Former Heaven sequence historically precedes the Later Heaven sequence, thus their names. Please show me where in the literature it is stated that the Later Heaven Sequence is prior. I would appreciate that..

Hello Michael,

The first time I read that the later Heaven precedes the Former heaven was in the book of Steve Moore the trigrams of Han. You should read that book, there is a lot of background information about both of the cycles, which is the first and how they work en evolved through history.
And he writes that there is a suggestion that the Former Heaven sequence was not in use during the Han Periode at all.

He is also mentioning other cycles - for instance the world of Element arrangements.
And he writes in his book "the apparent lack of logic in the arrangment has been much debated. Regrettably, the commentarory material on the sequence is rather confused and unhelpfull.
And the numbering system has arisen simpy from the order in which the trigrams are treated in the Shuo Kuo Chuan;

"God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing, he brings all things to completion in the sign of the Gentle, he causes creatures to percieve one other in the sign of the Clinging(light), he causes them to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive. He gives them joy in the sign of the Joyous, he battles in the sign of the Creative, he toils in the sign of the Abysmal, he brings them to perfection in the sign of the Keeping Still."

But there are no real explanations why whatsoever.

But that's with many things how more simple and obvious how harder to see. But it's interesting the people first found the Later Heaven sequence with his for us obscure logic and not the Former Heaven the one who looks a lot more logical.

BTW not that my sentices where typed quicly but I'm not a native speaker that's why they are a bit strange for you. And maybe a little hard to understand.
 
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hmesker

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merlewine said:
Please show me where in the literature it is stated that the Later Heaven Sequence is prior. I would appreciate that.

You could read The genesis of an icon: The Taiji diagram's early history by Francois Louis, Harvard journal of Asiatic studies 2003, vol. 63, no 1, pp. 145-196: http://www.itcn.nl/downloads/louis.pdf , from page 152 onwards. It shows that the xiantian circle is from a much later age than the houtian circle.

Harmen.
 

merlewine

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Still Searching ....

To Frank-R:

Thanks for pointing out a number of things. I found a used copy of Moore's book online and look forward to receiving it and reading it carefully. Personally, I am not concerned with which layout came first or second; I was just parroting what I read, since I am not in a position to have much of an opinion about this matter.

My interest is in: since the Later Heaven sequence is labeled by many authors a “sequence” or cycle, just how did they come up with that particular arrangement as “the” sequence. I understand that the arrangement was arrived at through the Magic Square, but how on earth (or heaven) do they justify putting the father and mother trigrams (Qian and Kun) at a 90-degree angle, rather than the traditional 180-degree angle. I simply don’t understand.

I would like very much to do whatever work on my part that is necessary until I do understand. If there is no “reason,” then I will have to consider that. If the reason is just because the Magic Square said so, then I need to understand more about the power of the Magic Square, if it can dictate something that affects interior feng-shui analysis so profoundly. I include an image I put together, so it is easy to see this particular arrangement.
 

merlewine

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Response

To hmesker:

I read the article “The Genesis of and Icon; The Taiki Diagrams Early History,” by Fracsois Louis, and that did much to clear up my question as to where the two arrangements came from and their positioning, one to another. Thanks,

Michael Erlewine
 

Sparhawk

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Hi Michael,

It is interesting to note that Steve Moore calls the Later Heaven arrangement "The World of of the Senses Arrangement" as opposed to "The World of Thought Arrangement" for the Earlier Heaven one.

I was about to suggest Steve's book when I saw Frank doing so already. You will read this soon, I'm sure:

There is, indeed, a suggestion that the World of Thought arrangement was not in use during the Han period at all. In the History of the Three Kingdoms a conversation was recorded between Kuan Lo (AD 209-256), a famous geomancer, and his friend Liu Fen. Kuan Lo said:

"I really do not understand why our ancient sages placed Ch'ien at the North-West and K'un are the symbols of Heaven and Earth, the supreme things... How could these be reduced to the position of the other six trigrams? ... How could they occupy side positions?"

As a geomancer, Kuan Lo should have had a full knowledge of the arrangements of the trigrams. The implication here is that the World of Thought sequence (where Ch'ien and K'un are placed at the top and bottom of the arrangement) was unknown to him. A further implication would seem to be that the original logic behind the World of Senses sequence had been forgotten, even at such an early date as the third century AD; otherwise Kuan Lo would have known full well why Ch'ien and K'un were placed in the North-West and South-West. The apparent lack of logic in the arrangement has been much debated. Regrettably, the commentatory material on the sequence is rather confused and unhelpful.

The World of the Senses is said to relate to the real, phenomenal world in which we live; the world perceptible to the senses. By contrast, the World of Thought is said to show the idealized interchange of yang and yin as cosmic principles. The Senses sequence is usually numbered from Chen in a clockwise direction, although it should be pointed out that nowhere in the Ten Wings are numbers actually connected with the individual trigrams. This numbering system has arisen simply from the order in which the trigrams are treated in the Shuo Kua Chuan.

L
 

merlewine

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Earth Lords

Hi Sparhawk.

Kuan Lo’s thoughts are mine, exactly. How could this have happened, and what are the reasons?

I have accepted the statement (for years) that the Former Heaven is somehow the ideal, and the Later Heaven is “the way of the world,” but I have just spent a few years energetically studying the phases involved in cycles of all kinds, and came back to this topic with a more open mind, willing to also examine things rather than just accept them.

I have been studying various forms of space allotment and reorientation, including traditional feng-shui, but also a special form of Tibetan divination, called the Earth Lords (Sa-Dak), which have never really been presented here in the West. They are similar to what the Chinese call the “Grand Duke,” but with a much more extensive retinue - hundreds. The Earth Lords are the lords of local spaces, serving as protectors of the earth.

At any rate, the Later Heaven arrangement or sequence is so important to feng-shui that I really would like to examine it more closely, which I am attempting to do, thus my posts here to see what you folks might have to point out.

Thanks,

Michael Erlewine (Michael@erlewine.net)
 

Sparhawk

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Hi Michael,

merlewine said:
I have been studying various forms of space allotment and reorientation, including traditional feng-shui, but also a special form of Tibetan divination, called the Earth Lords (Sa-Dak), which have never really been presented here in the West. They are similar to what the Chinese call the “Grand Duke,” but with a much more extensive retinue - hundreds. The Earth Lords are the lords of local spaces, serving as protectors of the earth.

Interesting you mentioned the Tibetans... Here is something I posted in Midaughter a few weeks ago about a Tibetan mirror with a Ba Gua in it. The trigram sequence was unknown before, at least for me and the other folks there. I was bidding on it on eBay and I'm kicking myself for not being online the last few minutes of the bidding war... My fault.

Just in case the mailing list requires membership for reading posts, here it is:

Found it!! I was bidding on this on eBay the other day and lost it at
the last minute... I edited the file for a better contrast and also
made a negative version of it that may make it easier to read.

Now, if you notice the sequence you'll think, at first sight, that it
is the King Wen or Later Heaven sequence but it isn't.

If Li is South in the Later Heaven and assuming it is also in the
mirror then we have:

Later Heaven Sequence:

Li=S
Kun=SW
Dui=W
Qian=NW
Kan=N
Gen=NE
Zhen=E
Xun=SE

Tibetan Mirror Sequence:

Li=S
Qian=SW
Xun=W
Kun=NW
Kan=N
Zhen=NE
Dui=E
Gen=SE

I'll check later (I'm not at home now...) my copy of my Govinda's
Inner Structure of the I Ching to see if it appears there.

Original

http://www.yitoons.com/images/tibetanmirror1.jpg

Negative version

http://www.yitoons.com/images/tibetanmirror1.jpg

Luis


Luis
 

merlewine

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Mt. Wu Tai Shan

Sparhawk:

Very interesting piece. My last trip to Tibet was a couple of years ago, when I went to Kham (Eastern Tibet) with my teacher Ven. Khenpo Karthar, Rinpoche, traveling to Thrangu Monastery, the monastery in which he grew up and was trained at. We made pilgrimage to many very special places in that area.

The Ba-gua is not something you see so much in Tibet, but we also spent about a week during that period in the Mt. Wu Tai Shan area (in China), where they are, of course, quite common. We were able to visit the peaks of all five of the mountains sacred to Manjushri that are part of that complex. It was quite a trip.
 

Sparhawk

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Michael,

I'm glad you got to see all that. Sounds like one great experience.

In a bit of synchronicity, I just received my post mail and this book I ordered was in the bunch.

I was browsing thru it and found this passage that, although it doesn't explain why most of the trigrams are where they are in the Later Heaven sequence, it does explain a little bit of the logic of the arrangement.

Differing from the Early Heaven arrangement, Late Heaven arrangement pairs the opposite energies to interact with each other. Fire and Water are opposite energies as well as governing energies. Therefore, Fire was positioned at the top of the circle and Water at the bottom. Thunder (wood) and Lake (metal) are paired, and Wind (wood) with Heaven (metal). Mountain (earth) and Earth are paired as the harminizing and stabilizing forces.

Italics are mine.

Luis
 

merlewine

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Origin of Number

I posted another thread, but never got an answer. Let's try here:

Where did the numbering system for the trigram come from. For example, why is "Li" numeral "9,' and so on.

Am really curious,

Michael Erlewine
 

frank_r

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The numbering in the Lo Shu

merlewine said:
I posted another thread, but never got an answer. Let's try here:

Where did the numbering system for the trigram come from. For example, why is "Li" numeral "9,' and so on.

Hallo Michael,

Where does it come from I don´t know, but I know this about the numbering:

Life starts from water, yang starts from water. When you look to the Former Heaven then the first movement is from water to fire, it's done under the force of the Planet Saturnus, seen by the Chinees as the mother that makes the first push. It's the action of the opposites that gives the movement

With the later Heaven sequence the movement also starts with water as being the first movement, on the lowest level. Again the action starts with water on yang side and action on yin side starting with fire.


In the Lo Shu you have the Earth movement starting with one and following with 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-1 . Nine is not included because it's a spiritual number a number of no change. A heavenly number not belonging by earth.

But there is also a movement from Heaven and Earth, and now there are fases of changes. In this case there is also movement with the nine.

There are two movements a yang and a yin movement.
Yang is starting with one a yin and ending with 9.

So the first is 1-2-3-4-5-9 and the other is 9-8-7-6-5-1.

When you look to the trigrams you see with the yang movement . Water - earth - thunder wind -earth(5 is no trigram but is seen as centre belonging to element earth)- fire. When you convert these trigrams to the element than you have water - earth - wood - wood earth - fire.

Then the yin movement 9-8-7-6-5-1.

Trigrams; Fire - mountain - lake - heaven -5(element earth again) - water.
Converting to elements. Fire - earth - metal - metal - earth - water.

And when you put these 12 in a circle you have the energy of the seasons, With 4 elements of earth before a season is starting. (as Togan already pointed out earlier in this thread).
 

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(1) The Later Heaven is used in Feng Shui extensively.
Both auspicious and bad directions will be based on Later Heaven. Remedies and solutions are being recommended based on the 5-elements of each direction on the Later Heaven with respect each individual's 8-Characters.

(2) For predictions, the Early Heaven would be of great help.
From metaphysics perspective, the "time" on earth is delayed, preceded by the "spiritual time" of the other worlds.

Some scientists may argue about earth's pole shift, which again may be not be a bad assignment to look into ...
 

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I posted a part of my investigations on this forum here:http://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/friends/showthread.php?t=3846

Last night I had a look into this feature a bit more and I have found something quite interesting. I am in the process of illustrating it, but I think anyone who investigates the pattern a bit further can easily find it.

I really do think that in the context of the Later Heaven sequence, the 9 magic square needs to be seen as a special arrangement of consecutive numbers whose mathematical interactions come second to the need for a continuous, balanced progression of integers. The Chinese looked (and still look) at things from a more dynamic and processual vantage point than Westerners. As such, I think we are so impressed with the 'magic' of the Lohshu, and are so used to keeping things within rigid categories, that it can seem irrational to change the magic square in any way, but maybe what I am suggesting here shows that this is not necessarily the case.

Whether the magic square remains mathematically consistent or not (with regards to adding up to 15) has no apparent bearing on the bagua surrounding it. I propose that the numbers in the outer periphery of the square reflect a positional order, rather than any mathematical significance. This seems supported by the fact that the Later Heaven bagua positioning appears as mathematically strange as when one initially views the positioning of the magic square numbers (prior to realising any odd/even/addition patterns), and even more so when the number 5 is replaced by a Taiji symbol.

By making the 9-magic square periphery numbers (which are 8 in number) into an 8-based sequence, an 'intermediate positional guide' between the Former and Later Heaven sequences can be constructed as is shown below. This guide is by no means a complete solution, but I think one will find the implications intriguing enough to discover a significant link between the two sequences. Within the square, 6 is replaced by 5, 7 by 6, 8 by 7, and finally 9 is replaced by 8. Once this has been done, the numbers within the square periphery can now be related to the more simple positional numbers of the Former Heaven bagua.

However, in addition, what I have only just realised in the past 30 minutes while posting this message, is that in the newly constructed intermediate stage, the even numbers (Yang) and the odd numbers (Yin) are now positioned in the square in the same shape as a Taiji symbol!.... and to make it even more profound, the symbol is at 90 degrees to how it is represented in the Former Heaven sequence! ;)

Please credit me if you wish to include this in any paper or work you publish, if only to do justice to the hours I have put in to exploring the bagua. I have not seen this published or suggested anywhere else, so I would be grateful if you could point me to anywhere you have seen it previously.
 

erime

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Here is what I found last night. Two sides of the Former Heaven bagua represent the destructive cycles of the 5 Element cycle.

The 'intermediate positional guide' (which I showed in my previous post above), geared to the peripheral integer sequence of the Lohshu, has a similar pattern of dual destructive elemental sequences moving in opposite directions. The 'gaps' between the two destructive cycles are filled by creative links between the elements.

A line (in yellow), in both cases drawn between the dual destructive sequences, moves by 90 degrees as one shifts between the Former Heaven and 'intermediate positional guide'.

I find this correlation between dual destructive sequences, and 90 degrees shift very interesting. There is an additional 'mapping' phenomenon apparent between the two diagrams which I will require more time to illustrate.

Once again, this is all my own work, so I would appreciate some enlightenment as to it's existence elsewhere.
 

erime

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Here is the final part, where we get the elements arranged in what seems the 'antithesis' of their sequence in the Later Heaven arrangement (see attached image below).

The new mystery is:

What method was being followed to cause the Duke of Wen, or whoever, to flip the anticlockwise sections of the sequences?

Anyway, I hope it enthuses.

:bows:
 

denis_m

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The word xian-tian traditionally meant "a priori" or "innate." Xian in this term means given in the nature of things. The word hou-tian traditionally meant "acquired" or "empirical."

Translations like "former heaven" or "pre-heaven" give a mistaken impression that heaven has two stages. Stephen Moore quite rightly characterized hou-tian as the world of the senses, and xian-tian as the realm of ideal relations.

The xian-tian order of trigrams is not really a cycle. It is a binary expansion which obeys the rule yang first. By arranging this order in an octagon, opposite trigrams are lined up in pairs. They stand in timeless contrast.

I am impressed by frank_r's axis groupings, which he found within the trigram arrangements. I'm also intrigued by the work erime did linking the xian-tian and hou-tian arrangements by means of the peripheral numbers of the Lo-shu. However, it is not necessary to take out the 9.

There is a simpler way to link the xian-tian and hou-tian arrangements through the mediation of the Lo-shu. If we superimpose the xian-tian (former heaven) octagon over the Lo-shu, we get peripheral position numbers for each trigram. The sequence of these numbers---1,6,7,2,9,4,3,8---is the same sequence we get by starting from "1" at the inner bottom of the Ho-tu diagram, wrapping around to the top, and then scrolling straight across the diagram from left to right. {This was noted by Al Huang in I Ching Numerology.}

These numbers are alluded to in the next to last section of the Great Treatise, Part I, where it says "{the number of} heaven is 1, earth is 2, heaven is 3, earth is 4, heaven is 5, earth is 6, heaven is 7, earth is 8, heaven is 9, and earth is 10." If you line up the heaven numbers in order over the earth numbers, you'll get birth and completion numbers of the five elements in order.[1 and 6 for water, 2 and 7 for fire, 3 and 8 for wood, and 4 and 9 for metal, with 5 and 10 for earth in the center] Thus the Ho-tu is correlated with spatial placements of cardinal trigrams (Kan, Li, Zhen, Dui) in the hou-tian octagon, and it is also correlated with the numbers assigned to the five phases. As shown by Al Huang, this can in turn be correlated with the Lo-shu.

As I mentioned in my "Musings on the Zhouyi," the Lo-shu is like a formula whereby the timeless equilibrium of the xian-tian arrangement is converted to the temporal order of the hou-tian arrangement.

As to the erlewine's original question in this thread, Feng Youlan {i.e. Fung, Yulan} gives an explanation in the Han dynasty section of his History of Chinese Philosophy, but I don't understand it very well. The popular explanation, referred to in many commentaries, is that the parents (Qian and Kun) have withdrawn to the corners, allowing their children to take over the cardinal positions of the hou-tian octagon. This fits with the idea that we have entered a natural order where temporal processes trump ideal relations.

The distinction between cardinal and non-cardinal positions among xian-tian trigrams also has some kind of structural relevance in the I CHING. Hexagrams generated from cardinal trigrams of the xian-tian octagon (i.e., Qian, Kun, Kan, Li) dominate in the Upper Canon, a time of creation. Hexagrams generated from non-cardinal trigrams dominate in the Lower Canon, a time of completion. This is an old bee in my bonnet. Perhaps it may have some relevance for this thread.

Regards,

Denis Mair
 
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