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[Liu Dajun]Images in the Yijing and Their Transformation in Culture 2009-12-14


Liu Dajun

(Center for Zhouyi & Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China)

Translated from Chinese by Zhang Wenzhi

(Center for Zhouyi & Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China)

The title Professor Shen Heyong 申荷永 recommended me to present for this conference is “Images in the Yijing and Their Transformation in Culture”. He pinpointed in the letter he delivered to me: “The Yijing 易经 is undoubtedly the best recipe to cure psychological disease.” In the letter he provided an example that, one of C. G. Jung's famous patients Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) had suffered from depression such that he tended to commit suicide, whose disease was cured by Jung through psychotherapies by active imagination and the Yijing 易经 . I can not access to what content of the Yijing Mr. Jung had applied along with active imagination to cure Hermann's depression, but it is my firm conviction that the Yijing as a learning embodying the Dao (Way) of heaven can provide a realm full of animation, power, and novelty to each person who had grasped the essence of the Yijing . Therefore, it furthers us to renew and enhance our virtue day by day. Valuing the approach of “renewing and enhancing virtue day by day”, the Yijing infuses each person who attempts to apprehend its essence with bright and sunshine, by dint of which it enables people to ascend to a realm of “brightening one's bright virtue”, making one's spirit and mind always under a state of simplicity and yielding to the Dao of heaven. If one can indeed always cultivate him/herself with the principle and images of the Yijing , the solitude, depression, hardship, and predicament he/she may encounter in his/her life will become nothing, in that he/she firmly believes by the principle and images of the Yijing that extreme Pi 否 ( , Stagnation, hexagram 12 in the received version of the Yijing ) is destined to be displaced by Tai ( , Peace or Fluency, 11) and extreme Bo 剥 ( , Splitting Apart, 23) will inevitably lead to Fu 复 ( , Return or Revitalization, 24). Therefore, in spite of the fact that I had successively experienced confiscation of property, being criticized and denounced at public meetings, forced labor in the countryside through repatriation to my hometown during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), it is thanks to my firm beliefs vouchsafed by the Yijing that my mind was not harmed (i.e. I had not been subjected to any heart and psychiatric disease). In his “Ethics and Wisdom, Benevolence and Transformation”, professor Shen Heyong mentioned while he and other psychoanalysts as well as main sponsors of this conference, surrounding a one-hundred-year old tree, put the question to the Yijing about the development of analytical psychology in China and potential problems in the development, the answer obtained was hexagram Ding 鼎 ( , The Caldron, 50) transforming to Weiji 未济 ( , Before Completion, 64), a case of a 2-yin-and-4-yang hexagram changing into a 3-yin-and-3-yang hexagram. The Image of hexagram Ding 鼎 ( , The Caldron, 50) indicates: “Fire over wood: the Image of the Caldron, thus the superior man consolidates his fate.” And The Image of hexagram Weiji 未济 ( , Before Completion, 64) extends: “Fire over water: the image of the condition before transition, thus the superior man is careful in the differentiation of things, so that each finds its place.” The hidden opposite of hexagram Ding ( , The Caldron, 50) is hexagram Zhun 屯 ( , Difficulty at the Beginning, 3), The Image of which indicates: “Clouds and thunder: the image of Difficulty at the Beginning. Thus the superior man brings order of confusion.” All these images are interesting and can inspire. We may ponder upon the purport of these images.

It is well known that the Yijing is one of the most archaic and most highly valued Chinese Classics, which had gained a repute of “the head of the multitude of the Confucian Classics” and “the fount of the Dao (Way)”. The most distinct character of the Yijing from other Chinese literatures lies in that it possesses a set of semiotic system of the 8 trigrams and 64 hexagrams. The 64 hexagrams can be divided into three sorts: 1-yin-and-1-yang hexagrams, 2-yin-and-2-yang hexagrams, and 3-yin-and-3-yang hexagrams. These three sorts constitute the 64 hexagrams by inversion and hidden opposition. According to Li Zhicai's 李之才 (?-1045) “Hexagrams Transformation Diagram” referred to in Zhu Xi's 朱熹 Zhouyi ben yi 周易本义 (Original Meanings of the Zhouyi), there are six one-yang hexagrams derived from hexagram Fu 复 ( ) and six one-yin hexagrams derived from hexagram Gou 姤 ( ) respectively:

复 师 谦 豫 比 剥

姤 同人 履 小畜 大有 夬

There are 15 two-yang hexagrams derived from hexagram Lin 临 ( ) and 15 two-yin hexagrams derived from hexagram Dun 遯 ( ) respectively:

临 明夷 震 屯 颐

升 解 坎 蒙

小过 蹇 艮

萃 晋

遯 讼 巽 鼎 大过

无妄 家人 离 革

中孚 睽 兑

大畜 需


There are 20 three-yang hexagrams derived from hexagram Tai 泰 ( ) and 20 three-yin hexagrams derived from hexagram Pi 否 ( ) respectively:

泰 归妹 节 损

丰 既济 贲

随 噬嗑

恒 井 蛊

困 未济

咸 旅

否 渐 旅 咸

涣 未济 困

蛊 井

益 噬嗑 随

贲 既济

损 节


Even though these three sorts of hexagrams constitute the 64 hexagrams by inversion and changing into the opposites, they are after all derived from hexagrams Qian 乾 ( ) which symbolizes heaven and Kun 坤 ( ) which symbolizes earth, hence the past Confucian scholars annotated hexagram Qian ( ) in this way: “Qian symbolized pure yang which symbolizes heaven and generates all other hexagrams. Observing the originating power of Qian, one can apprehend the virtue and attribute of heaven. The heaven is the greatest whereas only Qian is able to symbolize it.” Thus hexagram Kun ( ) is also generated from Qian ( ). It says in Wen yan 文言 (Commentary on the Words of the Text): “How great indeed is (the originating power of) Qian! It is firm and strong, moderate and correct, pure, unalloyed and exquisite. The six individual lines are changeable to their opposite phases and thus correlate to other hexagrams.” Hence hexagram Kun ( ), among other hexagrams, is generated. We always insist that “the heart of heaven can been discerned in perusing the Yijing ”, which means that through pondering upon the Yijing 易经 , one can comprehend the essence of Qian 乾 ( ) which symbolizes heaven.

As Professor Peng Xian 彭贤 introduced in her “C.G. Jung and the Yi jing ”, Jung's “most original viewpoints were all related to Oriental thoughts.” Basing on his many-year experience and clinical observation, Jung concludes that “psychological events emerging in unconsciousness sometimes may coincide in outside events as meaning something more than mere chance”, and thus “he avers that normal divinatory activities can symbolically manifest one's unconsciousness and thus demonstrate wonderful coincidence between psychological world and actual world — a correlation completely different from causality.” This correlation is called “synchronic principle” by Jung.

As the Commentary on the Decision (Tuan 彖 ) of hexagram Bi 贲 ( , Grace, 22) indicates: “If the patterns of heaven are contemplated, the changes of time can be discovered. If the patterns of humanity are contemplated, one can make the world cultivated”, the term Wenhua 文化 (generally translated as culture, literally, it should be construed as cultivation or transformation inspired by patterns [of heaven, earth, and humanity]) actually was derived from this Commentary. The Yijing is a book which encourages one to “accord in his character with heaven and earth; in his light, with the sun and moon; in his consistency, with the four seasons.” Because the eight trigrams result from the sages' observing images up in heaven and patterns on earth, watching the ways of animals and the workings of the human body “in order to enter into connection with the virtues of the light of the gods and to regulated the conditions of all beings,” their images are absolutely not simple simulacrums of the myriad things. If so, the Yi jing will not be so difficult that its import and purport can not be fully exposed by language. It is on this account that Xi Ci 系辞 (the Great Treatise) asserts: “The sages set up images to fully express their ideas, and invent trigrams and hexagrams to fully expose the truth.” As for Mr. Jung's discussion of the Yijing and synchronicity, though he had discovered the relationship between regular divinatory activities and the synchronic principle, if we draw his vision into the grandiose perspectives of the images of the 64 hexagrams elucidated in The Image (Xiangzhuan 象传 ) such as “thus the superior man makes himself strong and untiring” and “thus the superior man enhances his virtue to carry the outer world”, and probe this topic “submissively toward heaven and in accord with men” , we might obtain its subtlety and profundity and be enlightened by these perspectives.

The occurrence of most events complies with causality by which we account for the relationship between two successively happened events, whereas as Jung pointed out: “synchronicity reveals the parallels between psychic states and soul, between physical events, between time and significance which science hitherto can not reduce them to a communal rule.” Synchronic phenomena Mr. Jung probed really exist. He illustrated a typical example: One of his woman patients had an impressive dream the night before they met, in which the patient was presented with a golden beetle — a precious artware. When the patient was recounting the dream, Jung heard some sounds beating slightly against a window — it was a beetle that was beating against the window. He promptly opened the window and grasped the beetle whose color is much similar to gold. Jung handed the beetle to the patient: “This is your beetle.”

Inspired by this example, we may obtain new understanding on the Great Image (Daxiang 大象 ) and Small Image (Xiaoxiang 小象 ) of the 64 hexagrams. The former is a commentary on the hexagram statements, while the latter is on specific line statements. For example, the Image of hexagram Qian 乾 ( ) asserts: “The movement of heaven is full of power. Thus the superior man makes himself strong and untiring.” This is called the Great Image . The commentary on the first line of this hexagram states: “‘Hidden dragon. Do not act.' For the light-giving force is still below.” This kind of statement is referred to as the Small Image . The Great Image of the 64 hexagrams is particularly important, in that it may help us comprehend the quintessence of the image of each hexagram and let the quintessence permeate into our moral cultivation and spiritual life so as to guide our life. But when reading the Commentary on the Great Image and Small Image , we are often perplexed by some contents of it. For instance, both the Great Image and Small Image of hexagrams Qian 乾 ( , The Creative, 1) and Kun 坤 ( The Receptive, 2) are intelligible. But the Great Image of hexagram Zhun 屯 ( , Difficulty at the Beginning, 3) that “clouds and thunder: the image of Difficulty at the Beginning, thus the superior man brings order out of confusion” is difficult to be understood. How can we deduce “bringing order out of confusion” from the image of “clouds and thunder”? The Great Image of some hexagrams which often makes us puzzled also includes: “The wind drives across heaven: the image of The Taming Power of the Small, thus the superior man refines the outward aspect of his nature” for hexagram Xiao xu 小畜 ( , The Taming Power of the Small, 9); “Heaven above, the lake below: the image of Treading, thus the superior man discriminates between high and low, and thereby fortifies the thinking of the people” for hexagram Lü 履 ( , Treading, 10); “Fire in heaven above: the image of Possession in Great Measure, thus the superior man curbs evil and furthers good, and thereby obeys the benevolent will of heaven” for hexagram Da you 大有 ( , Possession in Great Measure, 14); “Thunder in the middle of the lake: the image of Following, thus the superior man at nightfall goes indoors for rest and recuperation” for hexagram Sui 随 ( , Following,17); “The earth above the lake: the image of Approach, thus the superior man is inexhaustible in his will to teach, and without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people” for hexagram Lin 临 ( , Approach,19); “Fire at the foot of the mountain: the image of Grace, thus does the superior man proceed when clearing up current affairs, but he dare not decide controversial issues in this way” for hexagram Bi 贲 ( , Grace,22); and “The mountain rests on the earth: the image of Splitting Apart, thus those above can ensure their position only by giving generously to those below” for hexagram Bo 剥 ( , Splitting Apart, 23). The Great Image for hexagram Daguo 大过 ( , Preponderance of the Great, 28) that “the lake rises above the trees: the image of Preponderance of the Great, thus the superior man, when he stands alone, is unconcerned, and if he has to renounce the world, he is undaunted” is particularly difficult to be understood. There are also many this kind of statements in the Tuan zhuan 彖传 (Commentary on the Decision). In my opinion, some of this content of the Great Image which seems not conform to causality might be drawn from some lost historical events or documents; inspired by Jung's “synchronic principle”, I believe some of this content might be originated from one's unconsciousness or dreams which were also referred to in the Mawangdui 马王堆 silk manuscript of the Yizhuan 易传 . Both the synchronic events and causal events asserted by Jung are encompassed in the images of the 64 hexagrams, in that, as Xi Ci 系辞 (the Great Treatise) had already claimed “the Yi (Change) contains the measure of heaven and earth, thus it enfolds the Dao of heaven and earth” and “(it was originated from the sages') observing the images up in heaven and the patterns on earth, thus it enables us to know the circumstances of the dark and light; (on account of the sages') tracing backing to the beginning of things and pursuing them to the end, it enables us to know the lessons of birth and of death; (the sages' notion implicated in the Yi that) the union of seed and vital force produces all visible things and the escape of the soul brings about invisible changes enables us to know the conditions of outgoing and returning of spirits.” Since the Yijing composed of the 64 hexagrams “enfold the Dao (Way) of heaven and earth”, both the causal and synchronic events should undoubtedly be included in the Dao of heaven and earth conceived in the Yijing . Though these events may be manifested as dark or light, as the beginning or the end of the things, they will not go beyond the images of the 64 hexagrams of the Yijing which is a model of the myriad things of heaven and earth. For this reason, Xi Ci (the Appended Comments or Great Treatise) indicates: “In it (i.e., the Yijing ) are included the changes and transformations of everything in the heavens and on earth, so that nothing escapes it. In it all things everywhere are completed, so that none is missing. Therefore by means of it we can penetrate the Dao of day and night, and so understand it. Therefore the spirit is bound to no one place, nor the Book of Changes to any one form.” It seems to be a new approach to synchronicity by analyzing the images of the 64 hexagrams.

For Jung, synchronicity cannot be boiled down to a communal rule by science. So it is with the hexagrams' transformations: despite their painstaking efforts, scholars cannot discover a communal rule for the hexagrams' transformations to correlate the hexagram and line statements to the images of the trigrams and hexagrams. Professor Peng Xian 彭贤 in her article “C. G. Jung and Yijing ” pointed out: “Jung holds that synchronicity is not attributed to causality, ‘but some kind of other relationship between them must exist.' In other words, synchronic phenomenon possesses its unique origin and rational foundation, to which Jung did not give any comprehensive empirical explanations. As a matter of fact, it is a significant project confronting contemporary science and philosophy.” In my opinion, the reason why it was difficult for Jung to empirically account for synchronic phenomena lies in that Jung did not recognize the relationship between synchronicity and causality similar to the relationship between “the dark and light”, between “tracing back to the beginning and pursuing them to the end” conceived in the images of the 64 hexagrams. Jung said: “We'd better assume it stands on some rule.” In actuality, though synchronicity differs from causality, both of them can be included in the Yijing 's rule of visibility and invisibility. This rule implicated in the images of the 64 hexagrams often discloses itself in this way: “it manifests itself as kindness but conceals its workings. It gives life to all things, but it is does not share the anxieties of the holy sage.” Thus “Its glorious power and its great field of action are of all things the most sublime”.

Because my study of Jung's psychology is just a start, and I am not well versed in English, and this presentation is only based on few materials at hand, it must contains lots of omissions, fallacies, and prejudices. It is my hope that these drawbacks will be criticized and rectified. My original purpose is to gain an entry pass to Jung's ideology by this presentation.

Finally, I would like to cite the final part from the poem “A Great Journey” composed by me in 1973 (during the Cultural Revolution) to close my presentation:

Like a wild crane rousted up by singing sounds,

I swiftly spread the wings and soared to great heights;

Let those misty valleys cast off underneath my sight,

As gifted philosophical thought comes from the blue skies!

Liu Dajun 刘大钧 , professor, Center for Zhouyi & Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Shandong University, president of Chinese Learned Society of Zhouyi, editor-in-chief of Zhouyi Studies . Specialties: Chinese philosophy, image-numerology, Han Yi tradition. E-mail:, Web:

Zhang Wenzhi 张文智 , Zhouyi ji jie dao du 周易集解导读 (A Guide Book to the Collected Annotations of the Zhouyi) (Jinan: Qilushushe, 2005), p. 91.

Peng Xian 彭贤 , “C. G. Jung and Yi jng ( Rongge yu yijing 荣格与《易经》 )”, Zhouyi yanjiu 《周易研究》, 2003 ( 2 ) , p. 20.

Ibid., p. 20.

Richard Wilhelm (German) and Cary F. Baynes (English) (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press (Bollingen Series XIX), 3 rd , 1997, p.382.

Ibid., p. 329.

Ibid., p. 372.

Ibid., p. 636

Ibid., p. 373.

Ibid., p. 400.

Richard Wilhelm (German) and Cary F. Baynes (English) (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press (Bollingen Series XIX), 3 rd , 1997, p. 432.

Ibid.., p. 437.

Ibid., p. 458.

Ibid., pp. 482-483.

Ibid., p. 496.

Richard Wilhelm (German) and Cary F. Baynes (English) (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press (Bollingen Series XIX), 3 rd , 1997, p. 294. (With some amendment of the paper's translator).

Ibid., p. 296. (With some amendment of the paper's translator).

Peng Xian 彭贤 , “C. G. Jung and Yi jng ( Rongge yu yijing 荣格与《易经》 )”, Zhouyi yanjiu 《周易研究》, 2003 ( 2 ) , p. 21.

Ibid., p. 229.

Ibid., p. 229.

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