2007-11-09

I Ching - Peace and Grace

I'm starting to read the I Ching, which is a Chinese book, sometimes used as an oracle, containing kind of proverbs. It is a collection of symbols, which are represented by trigrams and hexigrams (groups of three and six lines), and traditionally, yarrow stalks are drawn to determine different number values for each line, which then leads to an interpretation of that hexagram in a particular situation. There is also an overall explanation of each symbol and what issues it represents in general. The system of trigrams is thought to have originated around 2700 BCE, and the written interpretations somewhere around 1500 BCE. Anyway, I was just reading the ones for Peace and Grace, and I really liked them, so I thought I would share:

T'ai/Peace -

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THE IMAGE

Heaven and earth unite: the image of PEACE.
Thus the ruler
Divides and completes the course of heaven and earth;
He furthers and regulates the gifts of heaven and earth,
And so aids the people.

The upper trigram (three lines) represent Earth, and the lower three represent Heaven. Heaven moves upwards, and Earth moves downwards, so the symbol for peace represents the joining of heaven and earth. Peace is a marker of unity and singularity of purpose, and is a productive time. It is opposite of STANDSTILL. In the human realm, it represents the unity of the rulers and their subjects, each giving respect and deference to the other, and directing their wills to common purpose. In terms of the calendar, it represents Spring.

Pi/Grace -

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THE IMAGE

Fire at the foot of the mountain:
The image of GRACE.
Thus does the superior man proceed
When clearing up current affairs.
But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.

Grace is a bit more complicated of a symbol, and all the lines are interrelated, but the overall idea is a balance between content and form, as well as softness and hardness. The strongest points of the hexagram are when form is recognized simply as an accompaniment to content, and when form ceases to ornament content, but simply presents it as-is. So, in a sense, I see it as the elimination of pretense, or the unbiased presentation of self, just being.

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