Master Zhuang’s teachings on the YIjing will soon be published innew book entitled “MYSTIC, SHAMAN, ORACLE, PRIEST” (SAIA): 2012
The Dao of Change: the I-ching 易經 (Yijing)
The Yijing is an ancient book written to help early Zhou dynasty kings keep their people in harmony with nature.The word for “King” (Wang) pictures a person who connects the three worlds, ( 三 ), by drawing a line connecting heaven, earth, and underworld ( 王 ). In ancient times, the king was the person who ruled by connecting humans to the three lines, called “trigrams,” in the Yijing, (易经) Book of Changes. The original three-line “trigram” messages, found in the I-ching (Yijing) , date from the early Zhou dynasty, 1050-760 BCE.
Nature’s changes take place in eight steps, called Ba Gua (八卦 8 trigrams), as Dao moves from pure yang to pure yin, and back again. The 8 Trigrams of change rule the inner body, as well as outer nature. Inside the body (三) the top line of the trigram is for head-heaven, the middle line for heart-earth, and the lower line for belly-water. Daoist Meditation harmonizes us with these eight changes, from Pure Yang to Pure Yin and back. (See appendix 1, “Ho-tu and Luo-shu” Ba Gua 八卦 illustrations).
The 8 Trigrams teach harmony with Dao when nature is changing (you-wei有为), and when it is at rest (wu-wei无为). The 8 trigrams are arranged in two sets, to explain this. The first set, the Trigrams of the invisible, Primordial Heavens 先天八卦 are pictured as a circle (the Neolithic 璧 bi jade). The Prior Heaven Trigrams unite us with Wu wei Dao, when the mind and heart are free of judgment and images. The moving Dao,
Yu-wei有为 之道 is square (the Neolithic 琮 cong jade) . It represents change in the visible world. It later was given the name Trigrams of the Later Heavens 后天八卦 and teaches oneness with Dao’s moving cycle of change, in the body, and in nature (See diagram #3, in the appendix, for these two arrangements of trigrams).
To help us find a more precise harmony with the Dao, the Yijing (I-ching) author multiplied the trigrams, 8 x 8, into 64 “hexagrams” (two trigrams written over each other). The 64 hexagrams, as used by Daoists, are spiritual as well as practical guides to Dao’s cyclical changes. The key to using the Yijing (I-ching) is simple. Nature always changes in four steps: spring, summer, autumn, winter; — birth, puberty, maturity, old age/death; – dawn, noon, sunset, midnight, always in a cycle of four.
To teach us how keep in harmony with nature’s four stages, the ancient Yijing (I-ching) scientists used four mantic (i.e., “coded”) seed words, which appear at the beginning of each hexagram. They explain how to respond spiritually to the 64 possible changes inside our hearts, as well as the world around us. The four “mantic” code words, explained below, are contemplative guides to Daoist prayer.
The Four stages of Daoist meditation
The Yijing’s 4 coded meditation words are: yuan 元，for nature’s rebirth in spring, when Dao ploughs and purifies us, implanting new Qi 炁 energy in the inner and outer Cosmos; heng 亨 for summer, when Dao sits like a hen on this Qi energy, to nourish and ripen it; li 利 for autumn (qiu 秋) when Dao cuts or harvests, by emptying our minds of words and our hearts of desires; and zhen 贞 for winter, when Dao writes on our bones and heart (贝), with a fiery brand (卜), as we meditate on Dao’s inner presence (贞). Note that the Yijing uses the 64 simple statements, written at the beginning of each hexagram, as a coded way to respond to external change, and keep our hearts in harmony with nature.
Daoists teach that 49 (7 x 7) of the Yijing hexagrams describe the Moving Dao, (you wei zhi Dao有为之道), while 15 (8 + 7) statements relate to the “Wu wei non-moving Dao, “wu-wei zhi dao 无为之道.” Each of the 49 hexagrams of “change,” yu-wei Dao, begin with one, two, three, or four of the sacred mantic code words. They teach us four ways to respond to change in nature. When ancient kings sought counsel of the Yijing, and one or more of these mantic words occurred, the kings behaved in accord with the meaning of the four sacred words, as follows:
. yuan 元 , purify the fields, and the mind, by plowing and planting (spring);
heng 亨 nourish and ripen the heart (summer-kataphasis) by “meditating;”
li 利 harvest, or “cut away” all images and judgments, (autumn-apophasis);
zhen 贞 rest – contemplate; be one with Dao presence in the belly (winter).
When consulting the Yijing, and one of the statements without a code word (16, 20, 23, 35, 43, 44, 48, 54) or negating them (12, 29, 33, 38, 52, 61, 63) occur, then the ancients knew that the Wu-wei, Dao of “apophasis” was present. It was time to do nothing, except, as Chuang-tzu (Zhuangzi) recommends, sit in forgetfulness, and perform heart fasting meditation. The Yijing is a manual leading to a four step, contemplative form of prayer and ritual meditation, in accord with the brief readings at the head of each hexagram.5 Images of the Yijing trigrams are found everywhere in Daoist Jiao 醮festival and Zhai 齋 burial liturgy.
How Daoist ritual uses the Yijing (I-ching)
Yijing symbols (not the book itself) are used everywhere in Daoist ritual, as well as in meditation. When performing rites of renewal (Jiao 醮), or burial (Zhai 斋), we ritually “close” the trigram Gen 艮 , (see appendix) the northeast “Gate of Demon” (Guei Men鬼门). We do this to purify all sacred places set aside for meditation and ritual. Then we “open” the Gate of Heaven (Tian Men 开天门 ,乾, 三) , in the northwest, to make Wu-wei 无为之道 Dao present. We do this to heal, bless, and renew, during the entire cycle of life’s change. Daoists must first be “one with Wu Wei Dao,” by inner cultivation. Only then, can we provide Rites of Passage, to renew and heal the communities in which we live. (Daoist Master Zhuang, 3rd edition, Los Angeles, 2012, Ch. 5, explains this process more fully).