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the holy sages and the heart(xin心)


Oct 22, 2018
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If we look into the eigth wing(shuo kua) of the commentaries of Yi Jing, we can see interesting sentence.

"☲ The Clinging is the brightness in which all creatures perceive one another. It is the Trigram of the south. That the holy sages turned their faces to the south while they gave ear to the meaning of the universe means that in ruling they turned toward what is light. This they evidently took from this Trigram. "

Working with the text or working with the lines or trigrams in any form of Yi Jing I have seen the 8th wing is still deeply respected. So understanding that sentence can help a lot.

The clinging, as we already know is the trigram Li☲ . So when the holy sages wanted to find the meaning of the universe they turned to Li.
Bringing the interesting question why turn to Li...
The answer, in my humble opinion is because Li is their heart/xin心.
That may sound strange, to clarify it we need to see how they view xin心.
After that we should be able to sense that there are times in the other parts of the world, we view it in similar way, ideas like "follow the heart" for example, or the "chante ishta"(single eye of the heart) of the native americans etc. but in there its a foundation for a lot of other stuff, so its worth looking at it by itself.

To bring some support in that will post some good articles on the nature of xin心 in the Chinese culture.
When we get to the meaning of shen神, in my understanding we can just think of it as "the active part of xin心", although of course there is much more.

So here is an articles I like on this topic:

As far as Trigram Images go, both of them(xin心 and shen神) are the Trigram Li☲ . And that suggest that the clarity of shen神 is what is sought/needed if someone wants to understand the meaning of the universe. And that also suggest they have to turn South(turning to a direction suggest a period of time ruled by that direction, turning south in bazi would mean someone is going through 10 years of fire).

And that also should explain why we can see often the Trigram Li with the meaning of "clarity".


Nov 16, 2016
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As far as Trigram Images go, both of them(xin心 and shen神) are the Trigram Li☲ .
Thanks Gmulii, I have downloaded the article and hope to read it at some point.

While I like the idea of a heart/spirit connection - and I often use the phrase heart/mind (from Buddhism) to describe perhaps a similar idea - I don't really see connections between the words/ideas xin and shen, and the trigram Li (nor with the Yi). A few reasons for this:

First, the word shen is not found at all in the Zhouyi (oracle and line text), and it is only found a few times in the Tuan Zhuan (Wings 1 and 2). I assume that if this was an important idea or concept for either the trigrams or the Yi as a whole, we'd find it mentioned at least a few times.

Second, the word xin is found at different places in the Yi, but the only trigram associations I found are with Kan - exposure, abyss, water - and none at all with with Li.

And finally, I briefly scanned through the article you shared, 'The meaning of the Chinese cultural keyword xin', and I found no discussion or reference to the Yi, even in the references sited. It's only antidotal evidence at best, but if xin is important to the Yi, it seems they might mention it here, especially since the Yi holds an important place in Chinese culture (or that is my assumption).

Kind regards, D.
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Oct 22, 2018
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Thanks Gmulii, I have downloaded the article and hope to read it at some point.
np, if you have any questions on it feel free to ask. : )


Oct 22, 2018
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So lets develop this a little. : )
What we have so far... It seems xin心 is very important for present day Chinese Culture.
It seems also important for Chinese Medicine and that still used the elements, trigrams and everything else. But it also uses the 5 spirits of the organs, in there is the shen神 as the active aspect of xin心 .

Easy way to see that is most of Chinese Metaphysical schools as almost all terminology there today is related to shen神.
But more then that, from the neijing(the classic book for Chinese Medicine) even if we just read old Face Reading classics like "the mirror of aura" or others, we can see that all this ideas are fundamental for understanding much of Chinese Metaphysics(CM) or what they call The Five Arts. Basically any book after Han dynasty should show it clearly if its considered classic and is related to Chinese Medicine, Chinese Astrology, Divination(including Yi Jing) and I would guess even the other parts of the Five Arts, but for this one is very easy to see, as they use shen神 everywhere.

At the same time I very much agree and it is easy to check, in the time of zhouyi much of these doesn't seem to have been discovered.
So lets look when that develop then...

There have been a lot of steps and changes,since zhouyi, somewhere along the way.
That just happens to be the oldest written source we can use practically, but the knowledge there didn't stop at it.
And the most influential change and development was during the Han Dynasty.

This is very interesting time. Much of the western practitioners interesting in the Five Arts are usually ignoring it, yet it seems for the Chinese that is the most important time from a very long history(more on that below).

With the Neijing the foundations of the TCM(traditional chinese medicine) in the way it will be viewed for the coming 2 thousand years and probably more was also made.
Wen Wang Gua and other similar systems also saw the light for WWG thanks to Jing Fang and his teacher.
And all use the same framwork, trigrams, hexagrams, stems, branches and the 5 elements.

Overall was a golden age for Chinese Metaphysics, including Yi Jing, but also almost all other systems they were using. Before that they had some idea of much that worked a little, but for TCM(traditional chinese medicine) for example much of the healing before Han and the Neijing was mostly trying to chase away "evil ghosts"(that would be gui鬼). Now, gui鬼 is very, very important concept, they could see that, they understood its causing diseases, but they couldn't really understand what is actually is, before Han as far as we know(at least in written sources).
Giovanni explains the step text by text in very detailed way in his lectures, can see some in youtube, some in the books.

In that way, Han Dynasty was a golden age for understanding, so important for them that even today, thousands of years later they call themselves "people of Han".
While the ethnic group is "Han Chinese"

In that sense, the idea I'm working with is that before Han Dynasty they had some very good ideas and they worked some portion of the time. Then during Han there was very important jump in understanding and since then we use most of it in the same way, with some exceptions last few centuries.

So on the important point here... Why much of the terminology that is used everyday in China today developed during Han Dynasty. And that that termionology is still used today we can see in the article I linked before, but its easy to find many more covering the same ideas, or you can just ask anyone speaking Chinese or aware of Chinese culture.
Zhouyi is very, very old and not very clear, practically for most Chinese people(good to remember in most books that would be the text in bold, usually very few sentences, all the rest is from the wings or the author of the specific translation).
While there are many schools and colleges(some even sponsored by the government) looking into the meaning of the old texts, the practical systems used in the Five Arts came to very big expansion and ease of practical use during Han Dynasty.

Considering that more or less all that I'm writing about can be traced to the Han Dynasty, classics like the Neijing, or stuff that is more recent(Dahong Feng Shui schools for example), that just has proven to work better with time.

The reason for that as because, as I have said many times before, what I'm interested in is how these systems work better. And in my view they work best in the way they are used in China and mostly in the countries around it, professionally today. That is very related to Han Dynasty and the changes made then.
Some of the stuff is much more recent, for example some of the most powerful styles of reading of Chinese Astrology(bazi in this case), came to light less then 10-15 years ago. Much of the terminology and rules there won't exist in classics like DTS滴天髓 or ZPZQPZ子平真诠评注. And if we search in them we won't find any mention of it. Yet it works much better, so I would be very interested in it even though it doesn't come from the classic texts.

Of course, Han Dynasty was 2 thousand years ago, so any idea its "recent" is silly. But the question that is important in my view is what has proven to work best, as these systems are so integrated in the roots of the culture there that I do believe in them to figure out what works best for so many years and so much practice.
And while parts of that we can relate to Zhouyi and much we can relate to the way the Zhouyi was presented in the western world, through the Confucianism commentaries on it(the 10 wings), much, much more of it is related to Daoism and some to schools that aren't viewing themselves as one or the other, they are just developing and perfecting what is working better.

And that is the reason this topic is in "open space", as this is look into the culture of China the way it is today and to some degree the way it has been since Han Dynasty, not the way it was at the time of Zhouyi.

Summary. Why the 5 spirits and the heart aren't mention a lot in Zhouyi. Because they weren't there as concepts back then, it took thousand of years of perfecting these systems to arrive at that, around Han Dynasty.
And it took thousands of years from then to today, to be even more perfected and tested by the hundreds of schools in China through the ages and dynasties until we can say today that that is the best we can use, outside of the 3 ancient systems.

Today when Chinese people look back they still view the Han Dynasty as important enough to take it in their name.
The idea we should ignore it and pretend any knowledge from there was "misunderstanding" they keep for 2 thousand years for some reason is silly. There is a lot of meaning and depth in what they arrived at and that is what I'm interested in.

Yet many people in the western world are not interested in it, they learn Chinese Medicine for example, and of course they have to relate to Neijing and that was Han Dynasty but in some way they manage to keep it seperate from the Yi Jing or from BaZi and Feng Shui.
Some people learn Feng Shui and even though we work with Trigrams and Hexagrams they think Zhouyi and the Yi jing is old stuff not related to what they are practicing.
Some learn Yi Jing and think it isn't related to the other stuff as the Zhouyi is very old and much of the other arts in the way they are viewed today is more recent.

All of this is sad, in my view, as when we combine them all of them work much, much better. But that is my view and that is why the topic is in Open Space. And that is why there is no info about the Heart in Zhouyi in the way it was understood later.

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