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Thread: Five element theory

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    Default Five element theory

    Quote Originally Posted by hilary

    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:

    earth001000
    water010
    metal110111
    fire101
    wood100011

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

    earth101111
    water110
    metal010000
    fire001
    wood100011

    Heaven:

    earth101001
    water000
    metal010110
    fire111
    wood100011

    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.

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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.

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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.
    Last edited by ernobe; January 7th, 2018 at 09:55 PM. Reason: rm signature

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.
    Last edited by bradford; January 8th, 2018 at 01:39 AM.

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    Hi ernobe,
    Good to meet you.

    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.)

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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.

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