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Published by: RevShemsu NefretNubti on Dec 12, 2011
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The I ChingBy Swami Anand Nisarg
Preface: The Unfolding of the Changes
Beloveds,Love.In the beginning, there is nothing.Nothing creates Nothingness.Nothingness creates a Nothingness impregnated with potential.This Pregnant Nothingness gives birth to All.The All divides itself into the One and the Two.These give way to Enlightenment.Enlightenment expands into the Sun, Fire, Water, Air, Earth and the Moon.These various elements contract into the World.LoveSwami
The I Ching is an ancient and profound system of divination comparable to the Tarot orthe Runes; and like these, it is much more than the simple fortune-telling device thatmost use it for today. Its success is indicated by the fact that it is one of the mostancient sacred texts to continue in uninterrupted use to this day; it is at least 3000 yearsold.It is, in its essence, a system of classification, of self-analysis, that allows its student toobtain a greater understanding of the nature of external reality and his interior self.When adequately studied, the I Ching allows one to engage in deep contemplation andto receive practical advice to the challenges of the moment.In spite of this, there are certain challenges faced by the student of the I Ching,particularly the western student; whether he is a beginner, someone versed in westernmysticism, or someone who has attempted to study eastern mysticism. Issues of time,distance, and translation have all acted as barriers to many would-be students of thisworthwhile system.
The first challenge with the I Ching is a straightforward issue of translations. There area great many translations of the I Ching, some better than others, and many are trulygood. Of particular note are the translations by Legge (published 1882, which wasdeeply flawed due to issues with correct translations of the time) which was one of theearliest; Wilhelm (published in 1923, translated to English in 1951, which suffered frombeing a translation of a translation and being excessively academic), Aleister Crowley(not published in his lifetime, suffering from translation issues due to the limitations of his time, and remade in a poetic format not original to the I Ching), Blofeld (1965,perhaps the best mystical translation though still loaded down with commentary); aswell less regular interpretations like Ma Deva Padma’s beautiful I Ching deck, the “TaoOracle” (2002).In general, these and other translations tend to have one of two problems: either theyhave a serious academic focus, leading to translations that put more emphasis on literaltranslation and on providing the full Confucian commentaries (which can be veryrewarding to read but can also be intimidating to the beginner and is not designed to bepractical for actual use), or they tend to be watered-down or diluted versions of the IChing, perhaps “made simple”, but not made more useful for it.On the subject of Confucian Commentaries: the regular text of the I Ching is actuallyrather small, but over the centuries it has had commentary after commentary heaped ontop of it. The most significant of these are allegedly Confucius’ own commentaries.These can at times be deeply illuminating, but they are still ultimately Confucius’ ownstatements about the text, based on the philosophy he sought to promote. Butsubsequent commentaries have at times become part of the “official” text (that is, thebook that is usually translated into English), and of course on top of this mosttranslators feel the need to add their own particular commentaries in the forms of additional explanation or extensive footnotes. While this can be very good for the sakeof in-depth academic study, they can at times be confusing for the purpose of practice;more importantly, they will tend to corral the mind into one particular direction of understanding the written verses, sometimes causing the would-be I Ching user to avoidopening up his awareness to receive a more intuitive application of his reading to hisown use. If you are spoon-fed the meaning of a line of the I Ching, it reduces thelikelihood that you will be open to understanding the possible implications in a waymore open to your own situation in the context of the moment you make the reading.The opposite problem from spoon-feeding is the fact that many lines in the I Ching areunintentionally rendered more obscure or incomprehensible than they should be, due toa sometimes too-literal translation of the text. While there are several truly good literaland technical translations of the I Ching, there are few if any that do a good job of whatcould be called the “Symbolic Translation”.The symbolism of the I Ching is a language that is sometimes foreign to the westernexperience. While Symbols are universal, the way different cultures express and orderthese symbols are variable, and this can create difficulties in understanding. On themost superficial level of this phenomenon, there are a number of verses in the literaltranslation of the I Ching that are in fact figures of speech, common and understandableto someone familiar with Chinese culture, but that would not automatically beunderstandable to someone who is not.But at a more fundamental level, the usual translations of the most basic elementalsymbolism of the I Ching is framed in the historical “ordering” of the elements ineastern mysticism; which are not quite the same as those of western mysticism. This isnot to say that both cultures use different symbols, it is that the way they express thissymbolism is different, and if you translate these expressions literally, you end up
“Heaven” and “Earth” respectively. Now, “heaven” is not a poor choice of word for theChien trigram (you could use “celestial”, or “sky”, or even “phallus” in its function asthe symbolic masculine). The use of “Earth” for Kun, on the other hand, creates anumber of problems; thinking about it makes it clear that the “Earth” referred to is “theworld” (juxtaposed with Chien’s “heaven”), but using the word “earth” confuses thistrigram with the concept of the “Earth Element”, one of the four basic elements.as “Mountain”. A student of western mysticism who is familiar with western alchemy,astrology, the tarot, the kabbalah or other western systems of metaphysics might notrealize that the trigram for “Mountain” is supposed to represent the same symbolicconcept as the “Earth element” found in alchemical earth, the Taurus sign, the suit of coins, etc.This version of the I Ching is not meant to be a new literal translation; rather, it is a re-writing of the I Ching, based on the goal of creating a version of that sacred book thatfocuses only on the fundamental core of the I Ching text, avoiding including all of thecommentaries. Likewise, it will remain true to the essential spirit of the system fororganizing reality that the I Ching expresses, but will present the text and componentsof the I Ching in a way that is more directly relatable to the language in which westernmysticism expresses these symbols. A sincere effort has been made to keep only themost essential expression of each line of the text, never adding any material that isn’tabsolutely necessary, and when necessary rephrasing verses that make reference to“figures of speech” into plain English. In this way, it is my hope that this version of theI Ching will be ideal for use to the actual practitioner; to the individual who actuallywants to use the I Ching for contemplation and self-inquiry as well as divinationpractice.
Chapter 1: The Basic Structure of the I Ching
Tao, Yang and Yin
The structure for understanding the I Ching begins with the Tao. The Tao is the termfor the pure force of the universe. It is whole, eternal, and ineffable. It is said in the TaoTe Ching, the masterpiece on the subject written by the master Lao Tzu, that “whatevercan be described is not the Tao”.The basic way to think of the Tao is to think of it as the concept of zero. It is emptiness,but also eternity.The Tao itself can be seen at a variety of levels: as pure emptiness, as an emptiness thathas a quality of emptiness, as an emptiness that has the quality of fullness (that is, anemptiness that is “pregnant with potential”), or as a vast fullness.At that final level of understanding, of a vast fullness, one can at first understand thisTao as a completely undefined fullness, just full with a pure energy.Beyond that, one can understand this “full Tao” as containing within it the forces of allopposites; that is the Tao as the “union of opposites”.

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