"The book of Changes" is a Chinese traditional classic philosophy book. It is said that it was written by the emperor Jichang of Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC). The book includes two parts. The first part is called as "Scripture", which includes "Zhou Yi predicting method" contenting "the 64 Gua picture" and Gua texts and Yao texts. "Zhou Yi predicting method" is the traditional Chinese predicting method, which has been used for over 3500 years in China. The theory of the method is the Yin Yang theory.
The second part is called as "Biography", which explains about the the first part of the book. The second part is rather rich in content. It has total 7 parts and applies much philosophic ideas to explain the first part. Since Warring state period "The book of changes" became the most important book of Confucianism. Since Han dynasty (201 BC - 221 AD), the book became the first book of "Six scriptures", which were the classic textbooks which all ancient Chinese intellectual must learn about.
Zhou Yi predicting method
The first part of the book introduces the predicting method itself, which contents 64 Gua. Each Gua is composed of the picture of the Gua, the name of the Gua, the text of the Gua. A Gua picture is the symbol of a Gua. A Gua picture is composed of six Yao. Gua name is the name of a Gua.
The Gua pictures of Qian Gua (blue) and Kun Gua (red)
There are two kinds of Yao, one is a streak "-", which is called as Yang Yao, another is two streaks "--", which is called as Yin Yao. Each Gua contents six Yao. Yaos are permutated by certain way and form total 64 different Gua pictures.
Each Yao has a Yao title, which is the name of the Yao. The name contains the information of the position and the gender (Yin or Yang) of the Yao. Yin Yao is expressed with nummber six, Yang Yao is expressed with the nummber nine, the position of a Yao is expressed with the number of the line where the Yao lies in the Gua. For example, Nine six, means Yang Yao on the sixth line (top layer) of a Gua.
Each Yao has its' own Yao text. The predictor must first find the Gua by using one of "Finding Gua" methods, then find the explanation for the Gua from the Yao text, Yao position, Gua name and Gua text. The explanation for the Gua is the forecast result.
The picture of Zhou Yi predicting model
The construction of "the 64 Gua"
The 64 Gua is evolved from the 8 Gua, made by Fu Xi, by permuting every 2 Yao of the 8 Gua. The 8 Gua represent the heaven and the earth, thunder and wind, sun and moon, mountain and river.
The original 8 Gua represent the natural environment which human lives in. Their names are respectively Qian and Kun, Xun and Zheng, Kan and Li, Hen and Dui. The 64 Gua are ordered by the way to simulate the natural life circle: beginning – growing – peak – declining - ending. The 64 Qua are divided into two parts. The first part represents the nature environment. The second part represents human and the society. The first Gua in the second part is Xian Heng represents that a man and a woman marry with each other and live together whole life. The last Gua is "Wei Ji" which means "not finished yet". This Gua reflects the idea that there is no real ending, but reversing and changing.
Each Gua is composed of six Yaos located respectively in six rows. Each row represents some certain meanings. For example, the first and second rows can represent the earth, the third and fourth rows can represent human, the fifth and sixth rows can represent the heaven; The first row can represent the beginning, the second row can represent spring, the third row can represent good, the fourth row can represent higher or better, the fifth row can represent success, the sixth row can represent finish; The first row can represent toe, the second row can represent cruses, the third row can represent the waist, the fourth row can represent the upper body, the fifth row can represent face, the sixth row can represent head. The line numbers have more meanings than the mentioned.
According to Yin Yang theory, odd is Yang and even is Yin, so the first line, the third line and the fifth line are Yang position, the second and fourth lines are Yin position. However, not always Yin Yao appears on a Yang position, Yang Yao appears on a Yang position. When a Yin Yao appears on a Yang position, and Yang Yao on a Yin position, it is called "miss position", when a Yin Yao appears on a Yin position, and a Yang Yao appears on a Yang position, it is called as "fit position". A "miss position" predicts often something not good enough.
Generally a Yao at the second or the fifth row predicts something good. Explanation to this is that middle is the best position, which means neither too much nor too little.
The second part of "The book of changes" includes seven parts: Zhuan, Xiang, Wenyan, Xi Chi, Shuo Gua, Xu Gua and Zha Gua.
Zhuan explains Gua texts. The Zhou Yi predicting method includes total 64 Gua, and the 64 Gua are divided into two groups. Zhuan includes also two parts. The first part explains Gua texts of the first group of Gua. The second part explains the Gua texts of the second group of Gua.
Xiang explains the symbols in "The 64 Gua". Xiang includes two parts. The first part explains Gua pictures. The second part explains the Yao pictures.
Wenyan explains two Gua: Qian Gua and Kun Gua. In the explanations, the writer applies Yin Yang theory to explain the Yin Yang balance between the heaven and the earth, the principles to treat the relationship between the emperor and the minsters, and the principles of self-cultivation.
Xi Chi gives general explanations about the construction of 64 Gua and 384 Yao, the relationship between the world and the model, how to use the model to predict, the method of making tools to find the correct Gua, the source of the book, the writers of the book, etc. Xi Chi includes two parts. Both parts are rich in contents and philosophical ideas. It gives exciting explanations about the reasonable ways to manage country and why it is important to cultivate morality.
Shuo Gua explains especially about the original eight Gua. It includes eleven chapters. It mainly explains the production, nature, functions, positions and the pictures of the eight Gua.
Xu Gua explains the the order of 64 Gua, for example, it explains the reason of that Qian and Kun is the first pair of Gua. It explains the inner relationships among the 64 Gua, and points out the 64 Gua are ordered following the principle that reason decides result, character decides relationship, and extreme causes reversation. However, some detailed explanations in this part are unreasonable.
Zha Gua reorders the 64 Gua and divided them into 32 pairs. Additionally, it explains the meanings of Gua names.
The sense of "The book of changes"
In Han dynasty, "The book of changes" became the first book of Confucianism. This improved the status of the book and helped developing the contents of the book. The later Chinese scholars not only improved the method to find the correct Gua for prediction, but also continually enriched the thinkings and philosophy in it, so that it became a guide book for Chinese scholars to learn the principles of the nature, the principles of self-cultivation and managing country.
Additionally the researching on this book brought important progress into many academic fields, such as, methodology, philosophy, sociology, logic, nature science, etc. In ancient time there were over 3000 books about "The book of changes". In the modern time, although many think it is only an ancient and superstitious Chinese astrology, "The book of changes" is still very popular among Chinese. Researching and studying on it are also prosperous in China, and since 1980s' many thesises of high quality have been published. Mystery is one of the reasons that "The book of changes" is attractive today. However, very many think also that knowledges, especially the philosophy, in the book still have high pratical values in today's Chinese society.
"The book of changes" has attracted attentions of many great intellectual in western since it was introduced to the world. Three scientific achievements gotten Nobel prices were inspirited by "The book of changes". They are: "Uncertainty principle" of Werner Heisenberg; "Quantum mechanics" of Niels Henrik David Bohr, "The law of Non-equivalence" of Tsung-Dao (T. D.) Lee and Chen-Ning Franklin Yang. It seems theories expounded in the book match well with some theories of physics. It is not impossible that scientists can find new inspirations from the book in the future.
Coat-of-arms of Niels Bohr
Yin Yang - the most important philosophy of Chinese civilization
Yin Yang - the most important philosophy of Chinese civilization