Yi Jing: an original Sequence of Hexagrams #1 to 30.

Sequence 1-30

Before the beginning are Heaven, the spark, and Earth the responding material flame of manifest being. Then comes the seed of life (3) sprouting, struggling to emerge from within the Earth, dark skies pouring with rain above. From which comes childhood (4), learning, the seed having all it needs to grow into the mighty oak but having to go through the process of learning what it already knows on a deep level. Then Wanting and Needing (5), a period of waiting for development. Then (6) obstacles put on the path by social structures and so on. Then (7) the need for socialization, organization, then (8) joining society, becoming a full member; then (9) learning to tame oneself therein lest one encourage egomania; then (10) encountering others vividly, learning to handle their energies, then (11) achieving some sort of balance or (12) becoming stuck with too many contradictions or complexities not adding up; then (13) fellowship, comraderie, doing things together then (14) some sort of actual accomplishment and power which (15) must be tempered with meekness, modesty lest mania develop again, thus some true nobility from which (16) enthusiasm and accomplished joy flourish forth along with (17) following, for a positive path is being made which others can join in after which (18) corruption is inevitable and so learning to deal with that is next from which (19) comes a sense of true inner growth as one’s maturity develops into (20) contemplative view, seeing good and bad, high and low as part of the same weave wherein (21) cutting through deception becomes a necessary art so that (22) emptiness of all forms is appreciated directly and then (23) deconstructing that which is apparent and yet not solid, that which creates obstacles and yet is not extant so that (24) one can start all over again with a new cycle, the same and yet no longer the same, (25) innocent, natural and yet not without experience, (26) able to connect with with the wisdom within, of the ancestors and sages thus knowing (27) how to nourish oneself and others, fostering the good, avoiding the bad, when to move forward, when to be still, how to reduce (28) when there is excess, as there inevitably is, and how to penetrate the depths of one’s being (29) and meet any challenge or hardship and how to master the arts of war and wisdom (30), wearing physical or spiritual armour as the situation demands.

Most versions of the Yi Jing have a section at the end with various elements from the original collection of the texts – Great Commentary, Shuo Gua (trigrams) and so on. Usually they also have a short chapter with the Sequence, one in traditional order (1-64) others in irregular order. On awakening this morning I suddenly though through a 1-30 sequence myself published above.

About the Sequence: the purpose of the Sequences, to my mind, is to help bring each Hexagram to life with its own character and story to tell. They are archetypical expressions of basic ways which reality manifests. Reality in the Yi is Heaven Earth and Man. In other words, it is not merely either material or philosophical-metaphysical reality or social reality but some combination of all three, aka ‘human experiential reality.’ So the Heaven in the Yi may refer to profound principles, but mainly in the context of how we can experience, view or access them in our lives as living humans. Every moment of every day we live in the world of Heaven, Earth and Man in that, materially speaking, there is always Sky Above, Earth Below and Man walking his and her way in between, on the Journey we call Life. Every moment this is going on and of course it’s not just true in the external material physical sense but also in the emotional sense. We have a sense of Mind (Heaven), Body (Earth) and ongoing journey of experience with ups and down, victories and defeats, failures and success (Man). When we have an idea there is the initial void from whence it comes (Heaven) then some sort of actual expression – a word, a brushtroke, a note, whatever – (Earth) and then how we play with that, make something of it, derive meaning or go further (Man).

The 64 Hexagrams take the eight basic energies of the Trigrams and by putting one atop the other create eight time eight hexagrams which comprise a universe of basic energy or situational patterns. We can get some of the story by putting together various qualities from the lines. There are associations made with yin versus yang lines. There are differences between the bottom and the top of the hexagram, the bottom being the lowest and first, the top being the highest and last. There are relationships between the lines such as correspondences between the first, second and third lines of each trigram (1 with 4, 2 with 5, 3 with 6). There are relationships such as yang on top of yin or yin on top of yang. Yang in the 4th place instead of Yin in the 4th place. Lots of things are going on with these Hexagrams so lots of intuition can be sparked.

Plus millenia ago, people gave pictures and names to these Hexagram to nudge our interpretation. The King of Wen spent seven years locked up in a courtyard with nothing but sticks and bare earth to play with so put the Hexagrams into the order we see today from 1 to 64. And to explain that order, he developed the characteristics they still bear today, although any good Yi – Consultant can see past the text into the trigrams and lines and relate them to the query when he so chooses.

The purpose of the Sequence is to give each Hexagram a context in some sort of inter-related unfolding story or structure. Knowing the nature of what is before and what comes after helps give a sense of character to the one being examined. Such things are not carved in stone. But they can be helpful. Most editions of the Yi have a line or two mentioning the Sequence. This is not to be pedantic but to help give a feeling for what sort of dynamic is in play. They usually only reference what came before, but I think they should also reference what comes after. Why not?

I believe the First Book is Heaven and Earth and the last book 31-64, is Man. So the first book is a little like the main cards in a Tarot deck, the more fundamental dynamics, beginning with Heaven and Earth and ending with Moon (29) and Sun (30).

In any case, there is my humble offering above. Just writing it out was interesting and has informed not only how I view those first thirty hexagrams but also my understanding of why they have been publishing those Sequences in the first place.

Published by The Baron

Retired non-profit administrator.

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