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Reflections on the Way and its Power


Apr 8, 1970
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Hello all,

I've decided the best thing to do with the really interesting, long letters to the newsletter is to post them here intact, and link to the full version from the newsletter.

Here's one from Stephen Karcher:

Reflections on the Way and its Power

I thoroughly enjoyed and admired LiSe?s work on 31:32. To my mind, this is excellent work that encourages us to think in Pairs rather than individual hexagrams and brings the old language and myth material into our ?psychology,? so to speak, in a direct, vivid and informed manner. It sparked off a series of thoughts and comments that we might add to the reflections on this crucial and pivotal Pair and to reflections on the ?history? embedded in the texts of Zhouyi ? its ?historical project?, to use the language of comparative literature.

We know that the pair 31:32 is a pivot point in the ?mixing? and conjoining of the two Primal Powers that open the Gates of Change, Qian and Kun, the ?two-leaved Gate of Change.? It occurs right after the Kan-Li figures (29:30), that set up an inner axis of change, Fire and Water, and it opens the Second Book of the Yi as well as acting as Gate to the decade of the 30?s, when we struggle with founding a home, a career and an identity.

It also forwards a particular theme in Change, that of the ?secret sickness pathways? ? an inner pathway dealing with the link between personal and cultural disorders. It opens the space where the ?corruptions of the ancestral images? of 17:18 and the ?teens? decade, and the necessity to Disentangle from the Ghosts that haunt the old tombs of the 20?s (25:26), can be reflected into the ?fully mature adult? and the structure of the family. This will culminate in a dissolution and re-formation of feudal or cultural bounds in 45:46, a re-formation that moves to the release of the Nobles from oppressive structures by re-uniting with the ?common people? and their needs and fertile social structures (47:48); and the great revolution and re-casting of the sacred vessel (49:50), paradigm par excellence of a ?noble order? that is truly connected to the spirit(s).

Its ?nodes? show it empowering the retreat, connection with archaic (Shang and pre-Shang) ancestors, and the vigorous advance that empowers (33:34), as well as the Tiger?s Mouth (27), site par excellence of sacrifice where the Tiger eats the Gu or corruption of the old. Further, it projects this struggle as the Flying Bird (62), which, to my mind, is an image of those words that can cross the boundary of life and death and send the message of a life fully lived in accord with the Way to ?seed? a new generation.

I feel, too, that this figure brings up the great hidden projects of the Zhouyi: 1) dealing with the ?ghosts of the Shang?- a continuing struggle for legitimacy seen, for example, in the figures of the Shadow Shamans of 37:38 who work on the Tenth Day and the dark of the Moon to deal with repressed spirits that might haunt the new family and the new time; and 2) the attempt to ?inscribe? the glorious history of the Change of the Mandate in the ?writing? of the Yi ? in comparative literature terms, the attempt to appropriate and re-define the thrust of an older text and tradition, orienting it towards the great project of what will become imperial culture and pre-empting its more ?popular? aspects.

What I would plead for here is more of a sense of this conflict, which, to my mind, informs the whole ?history? of Change. For ?ming? or Mandate is NOT Dao or Way, and there is considerable evidence to show that the ?proto-daoists? were, from the beginning, attempting to relativize and correct the King?s drive to power and hegemony. The meditative or ?shamanic? tradition out of which Daodejing evolved is a case in point, and this is reflected in a tension in the texts and word use that introduces an element of dis-equilibrium between the older ?magic? practices? and their appropriation for royal and imperial use. I feel it is important not to unreflectively identify with the ?history? inscribed in the texts, but to circulate it through these conflicts and feel the presence of something older between the royal histories. For, nota bene, until the Warring States Period, writing was only really available to the ?royal classes.? Let us use the old texts that support this ?imperializing history? with an underworld ear and listen for the dissonances and repressions as well as the glorious victories. These, too, have much to say to our contemporary psyche and our search for the Way of Change.

Wan fu! Ten Thousand Blessings!

Stephen Karcher


Nov 19, 1971
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All I can say to this is that perhaps Mr Karcher should get into the properties and methods of recursion and so the NATURAL creation of PAIRS and from them into QUARTETS, OCTETS etc etc ... and from there into DIFFERENT sequences of hexagrams, all of which reflect the SAME patterns with the root dichotomy eliciting overall differences.

For example, in the binary sequence the root dichotomy is pure yin(earth, 000000) and pure yang (heaven, 11111)

In the sequence the PAIRS reflect these qualities at ALL scales thus just as 01 'opposes' 02 so do all of the pairings, be they literally of pairs or of a PAIR of octets or PAIR of quartets etc etc reflect this 'opposites' of yin vs yang.

Shift to the sequences derived for, say, the 23/43 pair and each pair in that sequence REFLECTS the same qualities as 23/43.

There are 4096 of these sequences to work on and the traditional sequence is but one of them (its root pair seems to be 01/64 such that each pair reflects at the particular level this relationship and so:

01 is to 02 as 01 is to 64
03 is to 04 as 01 is to 64
63 is to 64 as 01 is to 64.

In the binary sequence at the lOCAL level:

02 is to 23 as 02 is to 01
08 is to 20 as 02 is to 01
34 is to 14 as 02 is to 01
43 is to 01 as 02 is to 01

move to the global level and it is all structural opposites:

23 is to 43 as 02 is to 01
08 is to 14 as 02 is to 01
43 is to 01 as 02 is to 01

Move to the OCTETS and the QUARTETS reflect the SAME patterns:

thus in 11, 26, 05, 09, 34, 14, 43, 01

so (11, 26, 05, 09) is to (34, 14, 43, 01) as 02 is to 01

etc etc etc IOW there is nothing 'special' about the pairs in the traditional sequence, they in fact reflect the consequence of deriving a sequence using recursion. The ISSUES are in that recursion shifts to QUALITIES and so little or no focus on line patterns etc (in the traditional sequence the focus in most is on rotations etc and that too is reflected in the properties and methods of recursion...)


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