“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”.