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[Zhang Wenzhi]Philosophy of Life in the Zhouyi (Book of Changes) 2010-8-12


Philosophy of Life in the Zhouyi (Book of Changes)[1]

Zhang Wenzhi[2]

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

I. Preface

The relationship between heaven and humanity is a foundational issue in Chinese philosophy, as Shao Yong邵雍(1011-77), one of the Five Masters of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), says: “A learning that does not relate to the relationship between the heaven and humanity can not be called learning.”[3] A main idea in Chinese philosophy, an aspect which distinctively differs from the Western philosophy, regards the whole universe as a living organism, whereas human is just an important component of it. As Mr. Dongmei Fang方东美(1899-1977), an eminent modern New Confucian scholar, says, “Chinese like substitute ‘nature' for ‘cosmos'. The ‘nature' (cosmos) in Chinese mind is different from the Westerners'. It is not of material, nor mechanic, nor an empirical object which can be cut apart (or conquered), but a living residence for the entire existing world, a process of the myriad of things' changes by their natural regulations and rhythm, and a realm within which all things are integrated into one.”[4] The philosophy of life with the unity of heaven and humanity as a foundational idea in the Zhouyi《周易》 plays a significant role in Chinese philosophy. The life philosophies in both Confucianism and Daoism, and even in Buddhism are closely related to the life philosophy in the Zhouyi. The Zhouyi includes two components: Jing, the ancient Text which is composed of the hexagrams and lines as well as statements affiliated, and Zhuan, the Commentaries (also called the Ten Wings) which is made up of Tuan (Judgment) (I and II), Xiang (Image) (I and II), Xi Ci系辞 (Great Treatise) (I and II), Wen Yan文言 (Commentary on the Words of the Text), Shuo Gua 说卦(Discussion of the Trigrams), Xu Gua序卦 (The Sequence of the Hexagrams), and Za Gua杂卦 (Miscellaneous Notes). Yi Zhuan 易传was the earliest classic extant which systematically interpreted the ancient Text. The Yi jing易经(Classic of Change) referred to in the Han dynasty (206BCE-220CE) had integrated the Text and Commentaries into one entity. Since then, these two components had become an organic entity. The variety of the interpretations to the Zhouyi made by the Yi-ologists of later dynasties further enriched its contents, making the Zhouyi be an ever-novel and vital Classic and even be correlated to Chinese astromancy, astrology, geomancy, musicology, alchemy refinery, and so on. All these aspects are related to the philosophy of life conceived in the Zhouyi, which is discussed in this paper.

II. “Producing and Reproducing”the Foremost Important Character of the Cosmic Life

In regard to the mainstream of Chinese philosophy, no matter it belongs to Confucianism, Daoism, or Buddhism, it tends to regard the whole universe as an organic living body. Though in Chinese history there had appeared some philosophers such as Xun zi 荀子(c. 313-238 BCE) and Han Yu韩愈 (768-824) who adhere to the separation of heaven and humanity, their thought had never predominated over the mainstream, whereas the thought insisting on the unity of heaven and humanity represented by Mencius's孟子 (372-289 BCE) thought later turned out to be the mainstream of Confucian philosophy. Daoism pays more attention to the natural unity of heaven and humanity. The vision that considers the whole cosmos (including the heaven, earth, human, and the multitude of things) as an organic living body is closely related to the concept of the unity of heaven and earth. Yet, the idea that regards the whole universe as a constantly producing organism is represented by the idea explicated in Yi Zhuan.

It says in the Great Treatise (II): “It is the great virtue of the heaven and earth to create things.” In the opinion of the author(s) of the Yi Zhuan, creativity is the initial character of the cosmos (heaven and earth). The whole living body of the cosmos is constantly under a state of “creating”, resulting from the interaction between Yin and Yang. The author(s) of the Yi Zhuan regard(s) Qian (or) symbolizing heaven and Kun (or) symbolizing earth as a pole of Yang and that of Yin respectively as it says in the beginning of the Great Treatise (I): “Heaven is high, the earth is low; thus Qian and Kun are determined”[5] and:

The way of Qian brings about the male; the way of Kun brings about the female. Qian know the great beginnings; Kun completes the finished things. Qian is understood through the easy; Kun shows its capacity through the simple. What is easy, is easy to know; what is simple, is easy to follow. He who is easy to know attains fealty; he who is easy to follow attains works. He who possesses attachment can endure for long; he who possesses works can become great. To endure is the virtue of the sage; greatness is the field of action of the sage. By means of the easy and the simple we grasp the laws of the whole world. When the laws of the whole world are grasped, therein lies perfection.[6]

Each pair of things such as heaven and earth, high and low, male and female, beginning and completion, and so on can be symbolized by Qian () and Kun (), whereas attachment and works, endurance and greatness, as well as virtue and action are manifestations of the attributes of Qian and Kun in humanistic world. So far as the attributes of Qian () and Kun () are concerned, the Great Treatise (I) indicates: “In a state of rest Qian is concentrated, and in a state of motion it is straight; therefore it creates that which is great. Kun is closed in a state of rest, and in a state of motion it opens; therefore it creates that which is vast.”[7] What is emphasized here is the opposition between Qian and Kun, Yin and Yang. Yet, if heaven and earth do not intercourse and Yin and Yang do not interact, nothing will be created, in that “(if) heaven and earth do not unite, all beings will fail to achieve union,”[8] only if “heaven emits energy and earth produce” can “things increase in all directions”[9] and can “all beings come into union”.[10] Hence the saying in the Great Treatise (II): “Qian and Kun are indeed the gateway to the Changes. Qian is the representative of Yang and Kun of Yin. In that Yin and Yang are joined, the firm and the yielding receive form. Thus do the relationships of heaven and earth take shape, and we enter into relation with the nature of the light of the gods.”[11] This is to say, only through the intercourse between Qian and Kun by opening and closing can all beings be created.

Qian as pure Yang and Kun as pure Yin produce the multitude of things through interaction. Though Qian and Kun, Yin and Yang are opposite to each other, they also attract and depend on each other. If the heaven symbolized by Qian(or) and the earth symbolized by Kun(or) do not constantly interact, things will not be constantly created.

Though “creativity” results from the interaction between Qian and Kun, the author(s) of the Yi Zhuan attach(es) more importance to the function of Qian(or) and Yang. It says in the Judgment of Qian (): “Great indeed is the sublimity of Qian, to which all beings owe their beginning and which permeates all heaven.”[12] Yet, Kun or Yin exerts its function just through cooperating and accommodating Qian or Yang: “Perfect indeed is the sublimity of Kun. All beings owe their birth to it, because it receives the heavenly with devotion.”[13] In other words, Qian or Yang governs the beginning of all things, Kun or Yin governs the completion of all things. The originality of Qian is the primary dynamic for the creation of the myriad things, based on which “each thing receives its true nature and destiny,”[14] whereas the originality of Kun is just a womb, based on which “all individual beings attain success.”[15]

Through transformation, hexagram Qian could communicate with the other 63 hexagrams. That is to say, the heaven could produce all things. From the vision of Yi Zhuan, it can be seen that, after the things are created under the dynamic force of the originality of Qian, the reciprocal influence or stimulus-response between the things also become a dynamic for further producing of things. There is a hexagram called Xian () (Influence or Wooing, Hexagram 31 in the received version of the Zhouyi). This hexagram is composed of two trigrams: the upper hexagram is called Dui () symbolizing a maid, the lower trigram is called Gen () symbolizing a young man. The whole image of the hexagram signifies that a young man is seeking love from a maid. The Yi Zhuan further extended: “Xian means influence. The soft (line) goes, the strong below. These two kinds of Qi (vital forces) stimulate and respond to each other, so that they unite …the heaven and earth stimulate each other, and all things take shape and come into being. The sages stimulate the hearts of men, and the world attains peace and rest. If we contemplate the outgoing stimulating influences, we can know the nature of heaven and earth and all beings.”[16] It also says in Wen yan (Commentary on the Words of the Text) for Qian (): “Things that accord in tone vibrate together. Things that share the same kind of Qi (vital energy) seek one another.”[17] Therefore, stimulus-response is a crux in the interaction of Yin and Yang. Only both stimulus and response are completed, could the interactions and changes occur. How to recognize the mutual stimulus and response between the myriad things within the cosmic life? The Great Treatise tells us: “The Changes have no consciousness, no action; they are quiescent and do not move. But if they are stimulated, they penetrate all situations under heaven.” We should understand and experience this state. For the authors of The Great Treatise, in divination, the diviners receive revelatory inspirations also through stimulus with heaven and earth, therefore “the superior man, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes, and he does so in words. It takes up his communications like an echo; neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future.”[18] Only one who can purify and calm his/her mind, can he/she communicate with the cosmic organism and know well the past and future.

Yi zhuan raised a lot of rules in interpreting the Yi, among which the “reciprocal response” theory is an important one. According to this theory, line one and line four, line two and line five, line three and line six are reciprocal lines in a hexagrams. If the pairs of “reciprocal response” lines are made up of by one Yin and one Yang lines, particularly, if line one, line three, or line five is Yang and line two, line four, or line six is Yin, it is called “obtaining response”. For the authors of the Yi zhuan, the lines which obtain responses are in general auspicious whereas those without responses are ominous. For instance, it says in the Judgment of Shi (, The Army, 7): “The strong one (i.e. the Yang line) is central and finds response. One does a dangerous thing but finds devotion. The man who thus leads the world is followed by the people. Good fortune. How could this be a mistake?”[19] This is to say, line two of this hexagram is a Yang line () and in the central position of the lower trigram while the fifth line is a Yin line () which corresponds to line two, a response which accounts for the hexagram statement's auspiciousness. There are many cases which accord to the “reciprocal response” theory that promise advantages in Yi zhuan. This can also be regarded as specification of the stimulus-response thought of Yi zhuan in construing the Yi.

The author(s) of the Yi Zhuan hold(s) that, the task of the sages is to perceive and carrying on this stimulus-response theory. Only in this way can the sages “penetrate all wills under heaven and determine all fields of action under heaven, and to settle all doubts under heaven,”[20] as well as lead the world under heaven to peace by influencing others. Certainly, here the “peace” does not only mean no war, but also refers to a peaceful state of one's mind.

The cosmic living body ceaselessly produces things through the intercourses and reciprocal stimulus-response between Yin and Yang. Yet, what is the optimal state for the existence of the cosmic living body? The 64 hexagrams and 384 lines in addition with the case “when all the lines are nines” for hexagram Qian () and the case “when all the lines are sixes” for hexagram Kun () symbolizes 64 big situations and 386 small situations. The statements of a hexagram summarize the auspiciousness or ominous-ness of the hexagram while the line statements promise the tendency of each line of the hexagram as a small situation. It says in The Great Treatise:

The eight trigrams point the way by means of their images; the hexagram and line statements speak according to the circumstances. In that the firm (i.e. the Yang lines) and the yielding (i.e., the Yin lines) are interspersed, good fortune and misfortune can be discerned. Changes and movements are judged according to the furtherance (that they bring). Good fortune and misfortune change according to the conditions. Therefore: Love and hate combat each other, and good fortune and misfortune result therefrom. The far and the near injure each other, and remorse and humiliation result therefrom. The true and the false influence each other, and advantage and injury result therefrom. In all the situations of the Book of Changes it is thus: When two neighboring lines do not harmonize, misfortune is the result: this gives rise to injury, remorse, and humiliation.[21]

This paragraph accounts for the results of fortune, misfortune, remorse, or humiliation by the relationship between the lines of a hexagram. In addition, as the Change is characterized with imagery analogy, these situations can be infinitely extrapolated and extended from, hence the infinite symbolic significance of the images inhering in the hexagrams and lines. Despite the different situations symbolized by different hexagrams and lines, there are 192 Yang () lines and 192 Yin () lines, so what the inventors of the Zhouyi emphasize is the balance and harmony between Yin and Yang. In addition, the Change pays much attention to the middle way. There are overall 29 references related to middle which are distributed in the Commentary of Judgment of 36 hexagrams and the Commentary of Image of 38 hexagrams and 43 lines. Particularly, all these hexagrams and lines related to middle are affiliated with auspicious statements. Therefore, for both the authors of the Text and those of the Commentaries, middle way is the best state for the existence of the cosmic life. Consequently, equilibrium of Yin and Yang, the middle way and reciprocal complementary between Yin and Yang turn out to be the goal the subjective man strives for, and became the ideal state of Confucianism, Daoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

III. “Unity of Heaven and Humanity”, “Great Harmony” the “Ought to be” State for the Transformation of the Cosmos

Through a systematic interpretation to the ancient Text of the Zhouyi, Yi Zhuan reveals a mode of existence for the cosmic life, i.e. unity of heaven and humanity. Though the ancient Text of the Zhouyi had shaken off both the cult of “God” popular in the Shang dynasty and the veneration to the “Mandate of Heaven” by the Zhou people in the earlier period of the Zhou dynasty and thus stressed the subjective position of human, yet, the ancient Text, especially the Commentaries did not put human in a governing position of the cosmic life. On the contrary, Zhouyi upholds human conducts ought to be in alignment with the cosmic life. Besides, the Commentaries open a special thinking mode: establishing the Dao (Way) of human by the Dao (Way) of heaven, and establish humanities by the patterns of heaven.

This thinking mode derives from a distinctive feature of the Yi jing. It is well known that Yi jing, here only referring to the ancient Text, is made up of two components: one is the hexagrams; the other is the hexagram and line statements. It is obvious these two components are correlated, that is to say, the statements have some connection to the images of a hexagram and its lines. The Commentaries exposed this character and established particular mode of the Yi: image-number generates the meaning-pattern, whereas the meaning-pattern is the exposition of the meanings of the image-number.

According to the Yi Zhuan, a trigram or hexagram also symbolizes the Dao of Three Powers of heaven, earth, and human. For a trigram, the top line correspond to heaven, the mid line to human, and the bottom line to earth; for a hexagram, the bottom line and the second line correspond to earth, the third line and fourth line to human, and the fifth line and top line to heaven. In the opinion of the author(s) of the Yi Zhuan, heaven, earth, and human can communicate each other. To perceive the Dao of the Three Powers is to attain to the unity of heaven (including earth) and human. The author(s) of the Yi Zhuan insist(s) that man should follow the Dao of heaven and attain to the realm of “according in his character with heaven and earth; in his light, with the sun and moon; in his consistency, with the four seasons; on the good and evil fortune that he creates, with gods and spirits. When he acts in advance of heaven, heaven does not contradict him. When he follows heaven, he adapts himself to the time of heaven”,[22] under the state of which man can be unified with the heaven and earth and the cosmos will be more vitalized and hence more advantageous to the development of human. By the Yi Zhuan, this state ought to be attained to by each person. This thinking mode had exerted significant influence upon Confucianism, Daoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, astrology, and so on.

In ancient Chinese philosophy, the heaven has two meanings: one connotes “virtuous heaven”; the other means “natural heaven”. The former is mostly adhered to by Confucianism and the latter mostly by Daoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Chinese sciences. But most of the schools adhere to the unity of heaven and human, no matter in which heaven they believe.

VI. “Advancing in Virtue” and “Everything's Nature Being Corrected” Unity of Heaven and Human in Virtue

In Yi Zhuan, the heaven is a virtuous existence. But when the heaven has the sense of time, it is a natural existence. The heaven as a virtuous existence was mainly adopted by Confucianism. As Yi Zhuan is filled with the thought of virtue, it had been esteemed by Confucian scholars of each dynasty. As previously mentioned, Yi Zhuan opened a thinking mode of “establishing the Dao (Way) of human by the Dao of heaven”: “If the patterns of heaven are contemplated, the changes of time can be discovered. If the patterns of human society are contemplated, one can shape the world.”[23] This is to say, man should follow the Dao of heaven. According to the Commentaries, through “lending aid in a mysterious way to the light of the gods” and “putting themselves in accord with Dao and its power,”[24] the holy sages invented the Book of Changes. Yet, the purpose for the holy sages to create the book is to ask man to be in alignment with the Dao (Way) and virtue, and “explore the law of their nature to the deepest core so as to arrive at an understanding of fate.”[25] Therefore, according to the authors of the Yi zhuan, the Book of Changes is in the final analysis a book plumbing the Principle and fully developing human innate nature, by which the realm of unity of heaven and humanity can be realized. How to attain the unity of heaven and humanity in virtue? Yi zhuan suggested two approaches: advancing in virtue and being sincere in speaking and writings.

Obtaining inspiration from the images of the hexagrams, trigrams and lines, i.e., seeking the meaning-pattern from the images and numbers is specific implementation of the spirit of “imitating the Dao of heaven to open the Dao of human” inhering in the Yi zhuan. The advocate of “promoting morality by observing images” by the Yi zhuan is the very embodiment of this spirit. The emphasis of virtue is a heritage and development of the thought of “respecting virtue and protecting the people” and “matching heaven with virtue” upheld by the beginning rulers of the Zhou dynasty. The ancient Text of the Zhouyi also contains some stresses on virtue. For instance, the third line statement of hexagram Heng (Duration, 32) that “He who does not give duration to his virtue meets with disgrace. Persistent humiliation” reveals this idea. The Da xiang zhuan大象传(Great Image) is a wing which explicating the implications of the images of the 64 hexagrams. This wing usually advocates promoting morality by observing the images so as to make personal speech and conducts accord with the rhythm of the changes of the universe manifested in the Zhouyi by which the unity of heaven and humanity can be really arrived at. The Great Images of the following hexagrams exemplify this idea: “The wind drives across heaven: the image of Xiao Xu小畜(The Taming Power of the Small, 9). Thus the superior man refines the outward aspect of his nature.”[26] “Thunder comes resounding out of the earth: the image of Yu(Enthusiasm, 16). Thus the ancient kings made music in order to honor merit, and offered it with splendor to the Supreme Deity, inviting their ancestors to be present.”[27] The superior man's conducts of “stirring up the people and fostering their virtue” inspired by the image of hexagram Gu(Decay, 18), “acquainting himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past in order to accumulate his virtue” inspired by hexagram Da xu大畜(The Taming Power of the Great, 26), “walking in lasting virtue” inspired by the image of hexagram Kan(The Abysmal or Water, 29), “brightening his bright virtue” inspired by the image of hexagram Jin(Progress, 35), “turning his attention to himself and molding his character” inspired by the image of hexagram Jian(Obstruction, 39), “being devoted to virtue and heaping up small things in order to achieve something high and great” enlightened by the image of hexagram Sheng(Pushing Upward, 46), “abiding in dignity and virtue in order to improve the mores” enlightened by the image of hexagram Jian(Gradual Progress, 53), and “examining the nature of virtue and correcting conduct” inspired by the image of hexagram Jie(Limitation, 60) reveal the importance of the enhancement of virtue and significance the enlightenment of the images of the hexagrams. Wen yan文言(Commentary on the Words of the Text) further points out how to advance in virtue: “The superior man improves his virtue and labors at his task. It is through loyalty and faith that he fosters his virtue. By working on his words, so that they rest firmly on truth, he makes his work enduring.”[28] The Xi xi (Great Treatise) mentions: “Possessing everything in complete abundance is called great business, whereas renewing everything daily is called abundant virtue.”[29] “Possessing everything in abundance” is an attribute of Kunsymbolizing earth, while “renewing everything daily” is an attribute of Qiansymbolizing heaven. “Improving one's virtue and laboring at his task” is to follow the Dao (Way) of heaven and earth. Because heaven and earth are characterized with sincerity and faith, to accord with the Dao of heaven, man must be loyal and faithful to improve his virtue and be sincere to complete his business. The next state is: “Even in ordinary speech he is reliable. Even in ordinary actions he is careful. He does away with what is false and preserves his integrity. He improves his era and does not boast about it. His virtue is influential and transforms men.”[30] Through this kind of accumulation of virtue day by day, the ideal state will be arrived at: “The great man accords in his virtue with heaven and earth; in his light, with the sun and moon; in his consistency, with the four seasons; in the good and evil fortune that he creates, with gods and spirits. When he acts in advance of heaven, heaven does not contradict him. When he follows heaven, he adapts himself to the time of heaven.”[31]

The three times of recounting of the virtues of the nine hexagrams in the Great Treatise further reveal the inspirational significance of the images: “Thus the hexagram of TREADING shows the basis of virtue. MODESTY shows the handle of virtue; RETURN, the stem of virtue. DURATION brings about firmness of character; DECREASE, cultivation of virtue; INCREASE, fullness of virtue; OPPRESSION, the test of virtue; THE WELL, the field of character; THE GENTLE, the exercise of virtue.……”[32] No matter whether the recounting was congruous with the original meanings of the Ancient Text of the Zhouyi, the understanding of the authors of the Yi zhuan is the priority of virtue to other aspects.

It is obvious that Yi zhuan attaches much importance to virtue and advises us to constantly accumulate virtue and goodness so as to achieve advantages, which, according to Yi Zhuan, was not achieved by divination but by the advancing in virtue. In this way Yi Zhuan transforms the Yi jing as a book of divination to a book of wisdom. The idea of stressing virtue coincides with the emphasis of virtue by Confucius exposed in the silk manuscript of Yi Zhuan excavated at Mawangdui, Changsha City, Hunan province. This idea was inherited by later generation Confucians.

Through accumulating virtue and goodness, man can attain the unity with heaven. What is this assertion's theoretic basis? According to Yi Zhuan, human innate nature of goodness correlates to the virtue of heaven, accordingly it corresponds to the Dao of heaven. In this way, heaven and human are innately correlated. Only if man has completely developed his “original mind” and enlarged his goodness, can he perceive the Dao of heaven, and hence can he perceive and correct his innate nature, and hence can he perceive his fate.

V. “Acting Timely”Natural Unity of Heaven and Human

The Zhouyi not only tresses virtuous unity of heaven and humanity, but also pays attention to a natural unity of heaven and human, under the state of which the heaven is regarded a “natural” heaven which is signified by seasonal points. It is through the explication of the philosophy of time, establishment of the Dao (Way) of the Tree Powers (of heaven, earth, and man), and the correlation of the eight trigrams, eight positions, and five agents that the Yi zhuan established theoretic basis for the natural unity of heaven and humanity, and at the same time sew the seeds for the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine and alchemy refinery. But it should be noticed that this natural heaven is still a grandiose organic vital body.

Though the terms of Yin and Yang was not mentioned in the Ancient Text of the Zhouyi at all, the symbols of Yin () and Yang () lines conceive implications of Yin and Yang. Up to the Yi zhuan, the Dao (Way) of Yin and Yang had been set forth. In the Warring States period (475-221 BCE), the Qin (221-206 BCE) and Han (206 BCE-220 CE) dynasties, though all the schools of Daoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Art of War and Yin-yang explicated the Yin-yang theory, their Yin-yang theories should be traced back to Yin and Yang symbols in the Ancient Text of the Zhouyi. This accounts for the assertion that “the Yi is that which explicates Yin and Yang” in the Zhuang zi庄子.

The authors of the Yi zhuan had perceived that, under the intercourse of Qian and Kun, heaven and earth, all things of the universe are in the state of changing: “When the sun goes, the moon comes; when the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon alternate; thus light comes into existence. When cold goes, heat comes; when heat goes, cold comes. Cold and heat alternate, and thus the year completes itself.”[33] The changes caused by the intercourse of heaven and earth, motions of the sun and moon lead to regular seasonal alternations. Shuo gua zhuan说卦传(Discussion of the Trigrams) further correlates the eight trigrams with eight directions and seasonal points:

All living things come for the in the sign of the Zhen(Arousing), which stands in the east. They come to completion in the sign of the Xun(Gentle), which stands in the southeast. …The Li(Clinging) is the brightness in which all creatures perceive one another. It is the trigram of the South. …The Kun (Receptive) means the earth. It takes care that all creatures are nourished. …The Dui (Joyous) is the mid-autumn, which rejoices all creatures. …The Qian (Creative) is the trigram of the northwest. …The Kan(Abysmal) means water. It is the trigram of due north, trigram of toil, to which all creatures are subject. …The Gen(Keeping Still) is the trigram of the northeast, where beginning and end of all creatures are completed.[34]

This correlation can be depicted as a diagram as follows which is referred to as the Postnatal Eight-trigram Diagram.

Shou Gua had correlated the eight trigrams to the eight directions, eight seasonal points, as well as five elements, namely, it is called Gua qi theory. Later, in the Yi learning, the twelve waxing and waning hexagrams of Fu(), Li(), Tai(), Da Zhuang大壮(), Guai(), Qian(), Gou(), Dun(), Pi(), Guan(), Bo(), and Kun() were correlated to the twelve lunar months of November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October respectively, in order to illustrate the waxing and waning of the vital force of Yin and Yang in a year. In religious Daoism, these twelve hexagrams are correlated to twelve 2-hours to illustrate the alternation of Yin and Yang in a day so as to establish its alchemy refinery theory. This idea was also adopted by Traditional Chinese Medicine in diagnosis and acupuncture.

Postnatal Eight-trigram Diagram Twelve Waxing and Waning Hexagrams Diagram

VI. Conclusion

The Zhouyi consider the whole cosmos (heaven, earth, and human) a living and creating organism, in which the theory of the Dao of the Three Powers (of heaven, earth, and human) exerted significant influence on traditional Chinese thinking mode. Confucianism pays more attention to the humanism conceived in the Zhouyi and mostly adopted the idea of virtuous unity of heaven and humanity, whereas religious Daoism, which pursue immortality, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which seek a dynamic balance between Yin and Yang in human body and mind, mostly adopted the idea of natural unity of heaven and human from the Zhouyi. (After the Northern Song Dynasty, influenced by Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism, the religious Daoism turned from pure physical refinery to the cultivation of both physical body and metaphysical human nature, manifesting a tendency of combination of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.) The idea of that “a house that heaps good upon good is sure to have abundance of blessings; a house that heaps evil upon evil is sure to have an abundance of ill”[35] and the discourse on the relationship between speech, image, and the idea in the Zhouyi supplied a theoretic basis for the transmission and sinicization of Buddhism in China. In the Zhouyi, the whole cosmos is not only a natural existence, but also an existence of value, whereas human is just a member of it. Only human has attained to the unitya natural unity or a virtuous unity, and even both of them, can his individual life be fully realized. The idea of the unity between heaven and human is much different from the dominant dualistic Western philosophy which separates the subject from the object, whereas it has remarkable affinities with the Process Thought initiated by Alfred North Withehead, which is marginalized in the West. The dualism led to the development of Western science, which gained status for the West, while “the failure of Chinese traditional philosophy to stimulate comparable developments in China led to loss of self-confidence and prestige.”[36] Many Chinese ascribed the poverty and decadency to traditional Chinese culture, especially in the Cultural Revolution, traditional Chinese culture including the Zhouyi was subjected to depression, which led an occasional breaking up of the transmission of traditional Chinese culture. Undoubtedly, modernization based on science and technology have greatly promoted the development of our material life, yet, on the other hand, the success of modernization also led to the loss of traditional value system, “whereas historically the main function of education was the transmission of values, now much of education prides itselfin being value free.”[37] Moreover, the drawbacks brought by science based on the Western dualism in the separation of man's body from mind, environmental pollution, and the waste of non-regenerating sources are also very surprising. How to solve these problems, I think traditional Chinese philosophy and process thought can make not a trivial contribution. According to the Zhouyi, the whole cosmos is in a ceaseless creation, therefore, the emergence and transmission of the Western science and technology in China also resulted from this creativity. But, during this period, Western science thought put human in a higher position over the heaven and earth, disturbed the rhyme of the cosmic creativity, and overturned the relationship between human and the natural world, thus human will inevitably be punished by the nature. Once we recognize this, we should change our orientation of thought from only relying on sciences to studying traditional, examine every new science and technology in perspective of the unity of heaven and human, depart from the advantages to entire human even the whole cosmic organism, in order to attain to both a natural and virtuous unity of heaven and human and actively participate in the holistic cosmic transformation to maintain a dynamic balance of it. Only in this way can we realize the goal of great harmony.

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