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"Book of Changes" or "Canon of Changes" (I-Ching, Zhou Yi - the Chinese character "I" means "changes", "Ching" - "canon, book", "Zhou" is interpreted as "cycle of circulation, circulation" or , according to some researchers, perpetuates the name of the era of the Zhou dynasty (1122 BC to 249 BC)) - one of the most ancient philosophical texts created in China.
The "Book of Changes" is based on the idea of variability, based on people's observations of the constantly changing circumstances of the world around them. The theory of fortune-telling according to the I Ching (one of the most ancient ways of obtaining predictions, which replaced fortune-telling on the shell of a turtle) allows you to track how expedient a person's activity is in a given situation, whether it corresponds to the course of world achievements or is discordant with it.
According to legend, the creator of 8 trigrams (of which the I-Ching hexagrams were later formed) was Fu Xi, the first ruler of China, a deity with a dragon's body and a human head. He also invented music, taught people sericulture, some types of fishing, hunting, cooking, etc.
The "Book of Changes" contains 64 gua (lyu shi si gua) - graphic symbols consisting of 6 horizontal yao (lines) and called hexagrams (from the Greek hexa - "six" and gramma - "line"), characterizing one or another the situation, taking into account its development in time. The Yao that make up the hexagram can be either whole (yang) or interrupted (yin). The first are designated by the number 9 (tszyu), white and symbolize light, activity, tension (gan), the second corresponds to the number 6 (lyu), black; they are an expression of darkness, passivity, yielding (zhou).
In the process of fortune telling, after rituals and complex manipulations with various objects (yarrow stems, twigs, coins, etc.), a hexagram is built (in some cases, 1 or 2 additional graphic symbols of 6 lines are formed on its basis) and an interpretation is sought, written in the form of aphorisms and placed in the appropriate section of the book.
Myths about the Book of Changes
Confucius wrote commentaries on the I Ching. There is no consensus as to who the authorship of "Shi-i" (translated from Chinese - "Ten Wings") - comments to the "Book of Changes" belongs to. Some researchers claim that all the comments were written by Confucius. Others believe that only Da Zhuan belongs to his pen (translated from Chinese - "Great Tradition", another name - "Xi tsi zhuan" - "Tradition of Aphorisms"). Still others argue that Confucius did not write comments at all, but was the author of the main text of the "Book of Changes". However, many modern scholars argue that Confucius has nothing to do with the "Book of Changes". First, he was distinguished by deep rationalism and a desire for ordering, therefore he could hardly have been seriously interested in the idea of constant variability in the irrational mantic that underlies the I Ching. Secondly, the peculiarities of the language of the Book of Changes suggest that the main text was written long before Confucius (most likely between the 8th and 7th centuries BC on the territory of the Qin il Yi-Jin domain), and the Ten Wings "appeared after the death of the famous philosopher and were written by one of his followers.
The Book of Changes was listed by Confucius as a must-read text. This is not entirely true. Researchers believe that the I Ching was adopted by the Confucians in 213-168. BC, i.e. after the death of Confucius. Today, the "Book of Changes" is indeed part of the Wu Ching ("Pentateuch"), a list of Confucian canonical books that must be studied. In addition to the I-ching, this list contains Shi-ching ("Book of hymns and songs"), Shu-ching ("Book of traditions"), Li-chi ("Notes on the perfect order of things, government and rituals") and Chun-chiu , representing the chronicle information about the principality of Lu (the authorship of this text is attributed to Confucius).
Another name for the "Book of Changes" is "Forest of Changes". Completely erroneous opinion. I-lin ("Forest of Changes") is one of the treatises based on the I-Ching. The authorship of this work is attributed to Jiao Gong, who lived during the reign of the Han Dynasty. In his work, he considers not only each hexagram separately, but also tries to trace its connections with the rest of the hexagrams, as a result of which 4096 combinations are formed (instead of the classic 64). Each combination was accompanied by a verse commentary, but the meaning of these poems has not yet been unraveled. It should be noted that "The Forest of Changes" is not the only imitation book written by the Confucians on the basis of the I Ching. An example of such imitation is "Tai Xuan Jing" ("The Book of the Great Mystery"), written by Yang Xiong and which is a collection of aphorisms accompanying 81 figures, formed from 4 features (and not from 6, as in hexagrams), and the composition of these figures includes not only whole and interrupted yao, but also double interrupted lines.
The Book of Changes can be considered a Taoist text. The philosophy of ancient Taoism, which sought to go beyond the physical world, did not coincide with Ii Jinism, which did not have the aforementioned goal. But, starting from the 1st century. there is a strong influence of the "Book of Changes" (and not the main text, but the commentary "Xi tsy zhuang") on Taoist authors (Wei Bo Yang, Ge Hong, etc.).
With the "Book of Changes" you can learn about the future. The I Ching can answer a question, outline the state of affairs in general terms, give advice on how to act in a given situation. But to make the final decision, as well as to commit (or not to commit) this or that act, the person himself will still have to. The type of question asked also plays an important role. If, for example, a person was interested in the development of events of the past, then all the answers of the "Book of Changes" will concern exclusively the past. In addition, the development of events in time can be displayed in the relationship of the features of the hexagram, read from bottom to top - from the future to the past, and in some cases - from top to bottom, from the past to the future ("vertical time"), and sometimes in the hexagram the time vector is directed from below up, and in its constituent trigrams - from top to bottom.
For divination by the "Book of Changes" it is best to use coins. The choice of items required to obtain a prediction depends on which method of fortune telling you wish to use. According to the descriptions posted in various sources, in order to get an answer from the I Ching to your question, it is enough to toss 3 coins 6 times. Further - in accordance with their position, draw 6 lines (if 2 or 3 coins fell up "heads" - a solid line, if "tails" - a dashed line), making up a hexagram, the interpretation of which can be found in special tables. Nowadays it is this simplified method of divination according to the "Book of Changes" that is dominant.
A more complex method is to assign a numerical value to each side of the coin ("heads" - 2, "tails" - 3), tossing 3 coins and then adding the resulting digits, giving a total of numbers from 6 to 9, and constructing a hexagram. In some cases, diviners use special hexagonal dice.
However, there is also a classical, much more complex method of fortune telling, in which, according to the description contained in the Xi tsi zhuan (Commentaries on the attached sayings), yarrow stems are used (nowadays they are often replaced by bamboo sticks, pencils, matches, etc. etc.). Other objects can also be used (for example, the same coins), but it should be noted that there should be 50 of them. Since in the process of fortune telling, objects should be divided into 2 groups, and subsequently clamped in the palms - the best choice would be long and thin sticks ( classic stems of yarrow or other plant, bamboo sticks, etc.).
The process of divination according to the "Book of Changes" is extremely simple - to build a hexagram, it is enough to toss coins 6 times. Yes, if we are talking about a simplified way of fortune telling. But the traditional method involves a much more complex ceremony. First, a copy of the I Ching is taken from a special box, wrapped in silk (the fortuneteller covers a small table with this silk, on which manipulations will be performed) and 50 yarrow stems, the length of which can be from 30 to 50 cm. Having laid out the mentioned objects on the table, the fortuneteller lights incense, turns to face south, assumes a certain pose (sits on his heels) and makes 3 ritual bows. After that, he collects all the stems in his right hand, and carries them three times over the steaming censer. Then the stems of the yarrow are arbitrarily divided into 2 bunches, clamped in the hands, after which 1 stem is taken from the right bunch with the right hand and placed between the ring finger and the little finger of the left hand. Then, with the right hand, 4 stems are removed from the left bundle, the remaining (from 1 to 4) are placed between the middle and ring fingers of the left hand. After that, with the left hand, 4 stems are taken out of the right bundle, the remaining stems are placed between the index and middle fingers of the left hand. Then the stalks, placed between the fingers of the left hand, are laid aside, and the rest are again joined together, divided into 2 bundles, and the same procedure is performed with them as the first time (called "change"). Then the third "change" is carried out with the remaining stems, after which the remaining stems are divided by 4 and, in accordance with the received number (6, 7, 8 or 9), one or another line is drawn. In order to build a hexagram, 18 changes are required. After completing the session, the fortuneteller again makes 3 bows to the ground and collects the objects laid out on the table in a box.
There are several more methods of fortune-telling:
- the stems are not separated by hands, but simply placed on a horizontal surface, after which they are allowed to crumble in random order, and the appropriate calculations are made;
- 12 sticks are dipped into the glass, 6 of which have the designation "yin", 6 - "yang". Removing sticks from a glass, form a hexagram;
- calendar method, produced as a result of numerological manipulations with a particular date;
- creation of hexagrams as a result of counting randomly selected objects (stones, leaves, birds, flowers, etc.);
- getting a drawing of a hexagram during meditation, dreaming or observing nature.
In traditional fortune telling, 50 items are used. Indeed, for fortune telling on the stems of yarrow, you will need exactly 50 items. This number is a derivative of several components:
- 10 heavenly trunks (tian gan), which served to designate a 10-day week and were distributed in accordance with the elements in combination with yin or yang qualities (for example, the first trunk (jia) - yang tree, 2 (i) - yin tree, 3 (bin) - Yang fire, etc.);
- 2 terrestrial branches (dizhi), according to some researchers associated with the 12 lunar months that make up the solar year. Each of the branches corresponds to a certain geographic direction, element and animal. For example, the first branch (tzu) corresponds to the north, water and the Rat, 2 branches (chow) correspond to the northeast, earth, Ox, etc. In addition, the branches are subdivided into Yang (even) and Yin (odd);
- 28 constellations ("lunar stations") - correspond to certain lunar days.
This collection of 50 items is referred to as the "Great Diffusion". However, it should be noted that one of the stems at the very beginning of the ritual will be set aside, therefore, in fact, in all calculations, work is carried out with 49 objects.
The table used to construct hexagrams is square. For convenience, trigrams, from which hexagrams are subsequently formed, are indeed most often placed in a square table. However, there is also a circular arrangement of trigrams, and in this case, opposite each set of 3 lines on the diagonal is its opposite.
The process of divination is exhausted by the construction of the hexagram and its interpretation. If we are talking about simplified fortune-telling, this is so. In the classical version, traits are subdivided into "old" and "young" (number 6 - "old yin", 7 - "young yang", 8 - "young yin" and 9 - "old yang"). If at least one "old" trait falls out during fortune-telling, another hexagram is built in which the trait "gets younger", i.e. is replaced by the opposite. In this case, the first hexagram is interpreted as the current state of affairs, the second as the development of the situation in the future (the so-called "horizontal time"). Sometimes only aphorisms associated with the "old" trait undergoing the process of "rejuvenation" are considered, and the second hexagram is not built. The "hu gua" ("internal (nuclear) hexagram") can also be isolated from the hexagram: a separate hexagram is built on the basis of 4 internal traits (2-5).
Much attention is paid to the study of the relationship between the traits in the hexagram. There are several types of relationships:
- "xiang ying" ("consonance") - juxtaposition of 1 and 4, 2 and 5 (this relation is called zhong - "middle"), as well as 3 and 6 features. Diversity of traits (yang - yin) is considered to be consonant or favorable, while combinations of the same name are called "bu xiang ying" ("dissonant");
- "chen bi" ("neighborhood") - 1 and 2, 2 and 3 features are compared, etc. As in "xiang ying," the diversity of traits is considered favorable and is called "cheng bi" ("rapprochement");
- "ju" ("support") - if the yang line is located above the yin ones;
- "cheng" ("saddle") - the yin trait is based on yang;
- "cheng" (a hieroglyph similar to the previous one in reading but differing in spelling and meaning "acceptance") - the yin line is located under the yang yao.
Each line in the hexagram corresponds to a certain number. The lines in hexagrams are counted from bottom to top (while the Chinese writing assumes reading the inscription from top to bottom), the first of them is called "chu" ("initial"), the last - "shan" ("upper"). The rest of the positions are actually named according to the ordinal numbers - the second, third and fourth.
By analyzing the position of the lines in the hexagram, one can also obtain information about various events. The interpretation of both the features themselves and their interrelationships is much broader. For example, studying the hexagram, you can get information about the relationship of 3 main categories of ancient Chinese philosophy - Heaven (symbolized by the upper pair of lines), Man (middle pair of yao) and Earth (lower pair of lines). In some cases, the ratio of hexagrams and 5 planets is considered.
Each yao position has a correspondence in the human body (1 - feet, 2 - legs, 3 - thighs, etc.), the body of the animal (1 - tail, 2 - hind legs, 3 - back half of the body, etc.) , and in society (1 - commoner, 2 - servant, 3 - nobleman, etc.).
Some experts consider and interpret the hexagram obtained in the process of fortune-telling as a reflection of the state of the chakras (from muladhara to ajna), but it should be noted that such an interpretation has nothing to do with the ancient Chinese method of fortune-telling and interpretation of the information received.
In the case when the hexagram is considered as a combination of two trigrams, the lower one is a reflection of the inner world, offensive and creation, while the upper one personifies the external world, retreat and destruction.
The interpretation of each hexagram consists of 6 parts, displaying the meanings of each of the traits. In modern explanations accompanying this type of fortune-telling, this is so. However, in the earliest versions of the comments, each hexagram was accompanied by 4 aphorisms reflecting the stages of development of the entire set of traits as a whole (from the "initial" position to "developing", "complete" and, finally, "decaying").
There are "correct" and "incorrect" hexagrams. In this type of fortune telling, the locations of the features, called "wei" ("positions") are divided into yang and yin (odd positions, from the initial to the fifth - yin, even - from the second to the upper - yang). And the location of the yin and yang (ie, whole or interrupted) traits in the corresponding positions is called "appropriate". However, this arrangement takes place only in one hexagram - 63. In all other cases, at least one feature is "out of place". The complete "irrelevance" of features is observed only in the 64th hexagram.