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Lao Tzu and the Hexagrams

pocossin

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Lao Tzu apparently composed the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching by means of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. Since 81 exceeds 64 by 17, 17 hexagrams are used twice. (The same problem occurs in the taixuanjing.) If I am not mistaken, these duplicate uses occur as the first chapters in each of the two books of the Tao Te Ching -- the first 7 chapters of Book I and the first 10 chapters of Book II:

Book I. (Tao Ching)
Ch. 1 - 7 = hexagrams 1 - 7.
Ch. 8 - 37 = hexagrams 1 - 30.

Book II. (Te Ching)
Ch. 38 - 47 = hexagrams 31 - 40.
Ch. 48 - 81 = hexagrams 31 - 81.

(To avoid doing arithmetic, I penciled the hexagram numbers into my Tao Te Ching texts.)

Examples from D.C. Lau's translation:

Chapter 22 (hexagram 15):

"He does not show himself, and so is conspicuous;
He does not consider himself right, and so is illustrious;
He does not brag, and so has merit;
He does not boast, and so endures."

Chapter 53 (hexagram 36):

"The court is corrupt,
The fields are overgrown with weeds,
The granaries are empty;
Yet there are those dressed in fineries,
With swords at their sides,
Filled with food and drink,
And possessed of too much wealth.
This is known as taking the lead in robbery."

Chapter 61 (hexagram 44):

"In the union of the world,
The female always gets the better of the male by stillness."

Only Chapter 64 (hexagram 47) and Chapter 76 (hexagram 59) contain references to trees. Chapter 64 (hexagram 47): "A tree that can fill the span of a man's arms grows from a downy tip...." We know from LiSe why there is a tree in hexagram 47, and the upper trigram of 59 is Wood.

Chapter 72 (hexagram 55): "Do not constrict their living space...."

The relation between chapter and hexagram is not always so direct. Chapter 18 (hexagram 11) describes false peace. Chapter 65 (hexagram 48 Well) describes how the sage governs by means of the profound. Chapter 73 (hexagram 56) describes the "way of heaven" that the sage follows.

Tom

Links:

http://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/I_Ching_community/messages/92/457.html?1037269693
I ching and Tao Te Ching

http://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/I_Ching_resources/tao.html
The I Ching and the Tao -- "Reading the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching together, it seems that Lao Tzu must have known and loved the tradition of the ancient oracle."

http://www.anton-heyboer.org/i_ching/hex_33-48/hex_e_47.htm
Hexagram 47 ENCLOSED TREE
 
C

cheiron

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Tom

I shall certainly be having a look at that... I always wondered.

Thanks

--Kevin
 

gene

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To me the I Ching is a little like the eastern version of Tarot Cards, and the Tao Teh Ching a little like the eastern version of the Bible. The I Ching and the Tao Teh Ching fit together like a hand and a glove. (Not like O.J. Simpson's glove of course.)

Gene
 

bradford_h

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Hi Pocossin-
Having carefully translated both the Yijing and the Laozi, and having done the Yi first, I thought I might be in a position to look for influenecs of the Yi on the Old Boy. I looked maybe a little more eagerly than a true scholar should look, certainly more eagerly than scientists are allowed, but I'm afraid I still came away empty handed. I couldn't even see any evidence that Laozi had even heard of the Yi.
Of course that's not the final word, but I dug to some real depth there.
brad
 
C

candid

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Being neither researcher nor scholar, it's seemed to me, Yi is to day as Laozi is to night. One is alive while the other is not. One thinks while the other sleeps. One gathers while the other lets go.
 

pocossin

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I made a typing mistake above. The second line under Book II. (Te Ching) should read:
Ch. 48 - 81 = hexagrams 31 - 64.

Thanks for looking, Kevin.

Gene, I agree that Yi and Tao Te fit together like a hand and glove. Lao Tzu wrote a book with a book in hand. The Yi is the hand on which the Tao Te fits.

Brad, I don't read Chinese. I work by comparing translations. I am sorry you came away empty handed, but that needn't be the end of the matter. Why not give my theory a chance? I did give specific examples, and I am willing to defend it further, if you have questions.

Candid, sometimes we are lucky enough to light a candle in the darkness.

Tom
 

hilary

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Hi Tom! good to know you are still around


I really hope you are right - or that there is some such deep-seated connection. I'm always in favour of people finding meaning and pattern where the best scholarly opinion says a priori that there can't possibly be any. (LiSe does something similar with characters, and Bradford does this all over his translation...)

But the first thing I come across is:

"The spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it."

There are surely hexagrams that this could help with, but I can't for the life of me see how it has anything to do with hexagram 6.

Could it be that the TTC has a smaller scope, and will approve of a more limited range of attitudes? I can't imagine Lao Tzu ever thinking it was a good time to 'set out to bring order', or ever being enthusiastic about Prince Kang's eagerness to breed his horses.
 

soshin

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Dear Tom,

I'll give your theory a try and will look at it. I am very curious about the outcome... I like both books very much, but had always a hard time to understand the Dao De Jing into it's depth. I can feel inside, that there is a connection to the soul of the universe in the words of Laozi, but my ego stands in the way (chuckles). I think I'll give it a try to read the Dao De Jing again ten years after the last time I read it.

Thanks for remembering,

Yours,

Soshin
 
C

candid

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Hi Soshin, I believe that's the whole point and nature of the Tao Te Ching. How can you grasp what isn't? But as you said, we can feel it if we're quiet enough, or laugh hard enough. Its ridiculous and wonderful. There are no words.
 
C

cheiron

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Laughing

Candid

"Grasping what isn't"

That is the great human error - my error!

I love it - Another one from your stable!

--Kevin
 

soshin

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...or words which are leading to an area which is beyond words...
 

pocossin

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Hi Hilary.

Yes, I am still around tenuously, and thanks for asking about the relation between hexagram 6 and chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching. Whatever could the 'spirit of the valley' have to do with conflict? Or, What is there in the hexagram that might have put Lao Tzu in mind of ideas we find in the chapter?

In hexagram 6, except for line 5, the person who is opposed consistently gives way.

From The Judgement:

A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
6.1
If one does not perpetuate the affair,
There is a little gossip.
6.2
One cannot engage in conflict;
One returns home, gives way.
6.3
If by chance you are in the service of a king,
Seek not works.
6.4
One cannot engage in conflict.
One turns back and submits to fate,
6.5
To contend before him
Brings good fortune.
6.6
Even if by chance a leather belt is bestowed on one,
By the end of a morning
It will have been snatched away three times.

So hexagram 6 does imply a spirit of noncontention, although its name might suggest otherwise.

I confess that in concluding chapter 6 to be related to hexagram 6 I did not at first read so closely. I focused entirely on the word "dies" in "The spirit of the valley never dies". This word occurs only twice in Lau's translation, and the second time it refers to a natural death from old age. Since death is so typically the outcome of conflict, it seems to me that just from the name of hexagram 6 Lao Tzu would have been led to think of the noncontentious and life giving.

Tom
 

dobro p

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The guy(s) who wrote the Tao Te Ching knew all about the Yijing. They were steeped in it most likely. But with guys like that, they sing their own songs, they don't copy. They're free and they're creative. I can see Lao Tse saying in his mind to the creator of the Yijing: "Okay, you did 8X8=64. I'll do you one better. I'll do 9X9=81." And then he laughs. But I don't see it going deeper than that.
 

lindsay

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I think Dobro is right on target. It can?t be a coincidence that one of the few ancient Chinese archeological sites where texts have been found ? Mawangdui ? contained both the Yi and the TTC, along with a bunch of stuff no one had ever seen before.

I also think the TTC was probably a giant step in the development of Yin-Yang theory, which is one of the key features of the classical Yi. The TTC always seems to me a kind of an Ode to Yin (like the Schiller-Beethoven ?Ode to Joy?), although I?m not sure the actual word (or character) is ever used.

And we should not forget that Wang Bi, the Mozart of classical Yi interpretation, welded the Yi and the TTC together in his pursuit of Xuanxue (Dark Learning). My own impression is that classical Chinese gentlemen, Confucian bureaucrats by day, often kicked back at night with the TTC, the Yi, and a cup or two of good rice wine.

Has anyone read the Judge Dee mysteries by the late Dutch sinologist Robert Van Gulik? They are a wonderful recreation of life in traditional China. My set is falling to pieces from being read over and over.

Lindsay
 

pocossin

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Soshin, if you are like me and don't read Chinese, then if you wish to read the Tao Te Ching in the light of the I Ching, scholarly translations are essential. Vague interpretation is unhelpful:

Chapter 4 (hexagram 4)

Gia-Fu Feng/Jane English: "I do not know from whence it comes."

versus

D.C. Lau: "I know not whose son it is."

Wing-Tsit Chan: "I do not know whose son it is."

Waley: "Was it too the child of someone else? We cannot tell."

I suspect the Chinese underlying this line is something like "not know child" or "child not know" and that this is an allusion to the "young fool" of hexagram 4. (Brad, may I have your opinion of this?)


Chapter 67 (hexagram 50)

Gia-Fu Feng/Jane English: "From humility comes leadership."

versus

D.C. Lau: "Not daring to take the lead in the empire one could afford to be lord over the vessels."

The expression "lord over the vessels" is translated as "chief of all Ministers" by Waley, and as "the leader of the world" by Wing-Tsit Chan.

Legge: "...I can become a vessel of the highest honour."

I think Lao Tzu is making a play on words. The "lord over the vessels" is both the ruler and the ting, since the ting is the greatest of all bronze vessels. Without a literal rendering, the allusion to the ting will be missed.

Tom
 

bradford_h

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Hi Tom

This on's pretty straigtforward
Wu bu zhi shu zhi zi
I/we do not know whose child
xiang di zhi xian
Imagine (it) divinity's ancestor
 

someone

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Very good:
"The Gate Of All Marvelous Things", by Gregory Richter.
Chinese, pinyin romanization, character-by-character gloss in English and a new translation.
"I not know who (part) offspring seems god (part) predecessor"

Better:
"Tao Te Ching", by Jonathan Star.
Chinese, literal character definitions, concordance, grammatical and interpretive notes on individual terms and verses, literary and verbatim translation.
"I not know who its child seem Lord-of-Heaven its preceded"

S
 

pocossin

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This on's pretty straigtforward
Wu bu zhi shu zhi zi
I/we do not know whose child
xiang di zhi xian
Imagine (it) divinity's ancestor


Thanks, Brad, but "straightforward"? Lao Tzu is allusive, subtle, indirect. What's with his Mona Lisa smile (cover of Penguin Lau)? The Old Boy knows he can take us "young fools" before the game even starts. When I hit lines like those my mind fogs over, and I know I've been had.

Whatever are the issues here? Paternity? Illegitimacy? Lao Tzu was (apparently) a poor boy made good by literary and intellectual skill, a commoner not entitled to a name (Wing-Tsit Chan, pp.39-40). "See, you guys with names", I suppose him to be saying, "a man of Tao is beyond mere nobility."

Is "divinity's ancestor" a dig at the Yellow Emperor, as Waley says? Even the first noble guy messed up. A child possesses the image of its parent. Did the Yellow Emperor have big ears like Lao Tzu?

See how I get lost when I look at Lao Tzu too close? I'm safer at a distance.

'Someone', thanks for recommending those books. Having long ago read Fenollosa's "Chinese Written Characters as a Medium of Poetry," I think a thorough reading of Lao Tzu would require looking at the components of the old style characters, like LiSe does.

This is truly beyond me. Art is long and life short, and the things I wish to find, as Poe exemplified in the Purloined Letter, are hidden in plain sight.

Take a peek at chapter 16 (hexagram 9). The word "return" occurs six times in this chapter, surely an echo of

9.1 Return to the way.

9.2 He allows himself to be drawn into returning.

We don't need Chinese to see this.

Or chapter 80 (hexagram 63). Surely there is no question where the ideas of "tools of war" and "ships and carts" come from (even if you decline to ride in her boat).

Knowing Chinese is good. Knowing context and spirit is better.

Tom
 

pocossin

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chapter 72 (hexagram 55)

"When the people lack a proper sense of awe, then some awful visitation will descend upon them" (D.C. Lau).

Will wonders never cease? Steve Marshall was right. Those old guys did associate hexagram 55 with the solar eclipse.

Someone should tell Steve. Does anyone know what he drinks?

Steve would have been more persuasive (to me, anyway) if he had pointed out some of the simpler relations between hexagram 55 and the eclipse. Something like:

Li + Zhen = sun + shock. A solar eclipse is certainly a shocking event.

Or, for those able to see hexagram gestalts:

_ _
_ _ the dragon's horns
___
___
_ _ the dragon's face
___

The eclipse occurs when greedy dragon attempts to swallow the sun.

Tom
 

pocossin

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In the spirit of Taoist playfulness, I propose a game called 'Find the Hidden Hexagram'. I will give a quote from a chapter of the Tao Te Ching, and your objective -- if you choose to play -- will be to find the hexagram that gave rise to that chapter. Answers are given at the end. All quotes are from D.C. Lau.

Tom

1.
"When the way prevails in the empire, fleet-footed horses are relegated to ploughing in the fields; When the way does not prevail in the empire, war-horses breed on the border"(Chapter 46).

(Hint: a horse hitched to a plow is impeded in walking, that is, obstructed.)

2.
"There is a regular executioner whose charge it is to kill.
To kill on behalf of the executioner is what is described as chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter.
In chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter, there are few who escape hurting their own hands instead"(Chapter 74).

(Hint: executioner and carpenter chop with the same tool. In the hidden hexagram, this tool is lost.)

3.
"Through this the offering of sacrifice by descendants will never come to an end....Cultivate it in the family....Look at the family through the family...."(Chapter 54).

4.
"The people are hungry:
It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes
That the people are hungry" (Chapter 75).

(Hint: The hidden hexagram is a doubled whose component trigram symbolizes the mouth.)

5.
"Know the white
But keep to the role of the sullied
And be a model to the empire.
.....
Know honour
But keep to the role of the disgraced
And be a valley to the empire"(Chapter 28).

(Hint: The "sullied" and "disgraced" are sure to be punished.)

6.
"Following the way from the start he may be said to accumulate an abundance of virtue;
Accumulating an abundance of virtue there is nothing he cannot overcome;
When there is nothing he cannot overcome, no one knows his limit;
When no one knows his limit
He can possess a state;
When he possesses the mother of a state
He can then endure"(Chapter 59).

(Hint: "Accumulating" and coming to "possess" are types of increase.)


-------------

Hidden Hexagrams as named in Wilhelm/Baynes

1. hexagram 39 Obstruction.
2. hexagram 57 Sun.
3. hexagram 37 The Family.
4. hexagram 58 Tui.
5. hexagram 21 Biting Through.
6. hexagram 42 Increase.
 

soshin

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Dear Pocossin,

after some reading of the Daodejing lately, you nearly convinced me. It seems quite clear, that there could really be a relationship.

Maybe one could use the Yi's text for "normal" uses, but reading the Daodejings text like a breeze, like a meditation, in connection to it.

Thank you...


Soshin
 

pocossin

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Soshin, thanks for the attention. I no longer have any doubts, and I should stop doubting myself.


Hilary, thanks for the hospitality, but I'll have to leave for awhile. Something has come up.

The relation between Yi and Tao Te is solid. I could bet the farm on it. However, I did not realize what a treasure chest I was opening. Jewels are tumbling out, and I am now scrambling to pick them up. I will not post further on this topic until implications are sorted out.

Anyone wishing to collaborate should email me directly.

Tom
pocossin@yahoo.com
 

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