Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Canon of Change

King Wen sequence
 Our jaunt through the Taoist version of Creation had a goal: it teaches the basic structure of the Book of Change:
Sixty-four six-line figures, each composed of two three-line figures, positioned one atop the other.
The 8 three-line figures, Ba Gua, or trigrams, enumerate the eight partitions of space.  As they are responsible for creating and supporting space, they can be assumed capable of representing anything that space can contain, thus they are archetypal.  They combine in pairs to account for the time dimension as represented by Change.

Each line can 'hold' one of two possible values, yin or yang, '0' or '1', up or down.  The lines can be understood as representing the Three Operations that produced them: Earth, Mankind, and Heaven.  At top right are presented the 64 Changes in King Wen's ordering.  The Canon of Changes, as it is sometimes called, contains 6 x 64 = 384 lines in total, each bearing a decision on its significance in the context of the hexagram in which it appears and its position within that hexagram, and the trigrams of which hexagram is composed.  This framework provides for a flexible and fertile interpretative system.

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