Toltec I Ching Series #1: About Trigrams and the Senses in our One and Many Universe.

William Horden Vol II Toltec I Ching Series: Image and Number.

What follows is a direct copy-paste of a passage from William Douglas Horden‘s Second Volume “Image and Number Treatise” in his multi-volume series about the Toltec I Ching which is his meisterwerk, a newly configured I Ching times with new numbers and commentaries for every Hexagram. It is designed for these times and written by William as per his Daoist Sudden Enlightenment School Master’s request. William has written literally dozens of books including I Ching texts, autobiographical volumes, poems and a novel. He is both prolific, original and gifted. Not only did he train under a Chinese Daoist Master to learn esoteric understanding and uses of the Yi, he was also adopted by a Tarahumaran Shaman in Mexico with whom he further trained for many years. The fusion of these wisdom lineages in the one person, Don Guillermo, has given birth to the Toltec I Ching, a truly special and splendid work.

I personally am not ready to leave the King Wen version after spending so many decades slowly developing a relationship with the hexagrams, but in his many volumes about it, he provides glimpses into the inner depths of the Yi, its lines, trigrams, hexagrams and world view that offer far more than most everything else available in the English language and I dare say in Chinese as well. His Volume I Mathematics of the I Ching presents truly groundbreaking insights and methods using binary counting of the lines which he discovered gradually over decades of contemplation and work. It is head-spinning and will take me a good long while to fully absorb – if indeed I ever can. This excerpt is from Volume II where, if I understand correctly, William is providing a fresher and deeper take, though grounded in his esoteric school’s and shamanic view, of ‘The Material’ in the Wilhelm-Baynes translation, in whose composition Wilhelm was assisted by a Chinese descendant of Confucius himself and of which William is a great admirer.

In the following excerpt William gives us an entirely fresh take on how the trigrams represent existing portals joining both outer and inner realms of phenomena and human experience, in some sense being what the senses both perceive and manufacture out of what otherwise would be formless, meaningless, soulless particles, similar to how materialists tend to view our universe. Simply put, the trigrams in the Yi are symbolic representations of living processes which make our world along with our ability to perceive and function therein.

One of the duties of a Yi Diviner is to learn to see trigram processes in nature and circumstance all the time. Then the entire world becomes equivalent to hexagrams and trigrams and one can throw the books away and enjoy life as a ‘spirit warrior’ whose enemy, always, is within: that tendency to fall into habitual patterns which imprison us in a container of our own making out of which we can see and hear nothing of the sacred beauty in this living Dream Universe we all share and co-create in the ever-present moment.


2023-05-17 William Holden Vol II Toltec I Ching Series: Image and Number. Excerpt:

Chapter IV. The Esoteric Lessons of The Changes

1. THE CHANGES is a microcosm of the mystical PATTERN OF ORDER AND CHANCE underlying SPIRIT and NATURE: It leaps beyond itself into the Unknowable, carrying the spirit warrior into the realm of transcendent experience.


On the cosmological scale, dynamic creative equilibrium arises from the interplay of the forces seeking stability through predictable order and metamorphosis through random chance. Neither of these two forces ever dominates to the complete exclusion of the other—it is their interaction, like the interference waves of pond ripples, that self-organizes local pockets of times of greater stability and times of greater metamorphosis. The union of this great duality of cosmos and chaos constitutes a pattern that is both alive and aware, much as the DNA of the genetic code is both alive and aware: pure awareness is pure information without any boundaries—self-aware information is the inevitable result, as is unbounded communion of awareness. The Pattern of Order and Chance is a mystical Being who gives birth to the great duality of cosmos and chaos and, simultaneously, is given birth by the union of cosmos and chaos.

That there is a pattern to order is clear. That there is a pattern to chance is obscure. We can see that there are mutations within the genetic code, despite the fixity of the code. We cannot necessarily predict those mutations or their consequences ahead of time but we can appreciate that they are part of the code itself. The Pattern, in other words, allows from the very beginning for its own unpredictable evolution—it seeks its own transcendence by incorporating the unpredictable into its intrinsic structure. And it is not, of course, given birth by the genetic code, since the genetic code is but one of its many manifestations.

THE CHANGES [I Ching, Yi Jing] is likewise a self-contained manifestation of the Pattern of Order and Chance. It essentializes the Pattern in the same way that the RNA messenger code does DNA . By means of its archetypal structure and dynamics, THE CHANGES is able to symbolize the infinitely complex and evolving universe. This it accomplishes by mirroring the subsensorial generative energy that circulates below the threshold of the five senses until it emerges in material form.

This process of emergence is similar to a thought, feeling, sensation, memory, etc., that has resided in the unconscious suddenly becoming conscious: the unconscious element that has existed in a nonperceptible state has nonetheless been exerting its influence on behavior or mood, its unexpressed energy building tension that is finally released as the element crosses the threshold of liminality and becomes conscious. Just as there are individuals who train themselves to be unusually sensitive to unconscious thoughts, feelings, memories, etc., there are individuals who train themselves to be more sensitive to the circulation of generative energy: those who read symbolic behavior of others and thus divine the unconscious dynamics beneath the conscious surface are performing the same type of activity as those who read the symbolic behavior of spirit as it manifests in all forms of nature. Such spirit warriors have since ancient times been called diviners because they are trained to divine the intent of spirit, thereby foreseeing the direction and momentum of change in the natural and human realms.

In the same way that a great ship pushes water ahead of itself as a prow wake in which dolphins sport, the PATTERN OF ORDER AND CHANCE pushes change ahead of itself as a purposeful future in which diviners explore. Similarly, just as there lies the vastness of the open sea encompassing ship and prow wake and dolphins, there lies the vast oceanic Great Mystery encompassing the PATTERN OF ORDER AND CHANCE and purposeful future and diviners. THE CHANGES symbolizes the living awareness that is the PATTERN OF ORDER AND CHANCE: in its actions, it mirrors the way that Order and Chance alternate to create ever-new potential, calling it forth it from THE UNMANIFEST.

[In terms of the Three Treasures, or Heaven Earth & Man, Horden calls HEAVEN ‘Spirit’ and EARTH ‘Nature.’]

Standing at the gate, observing the comings and goings of all things as they arrive from and return to THE UNMANIFEST in their own time, spirit warriors become attuned to the transcendent realm of timeless creation. Since ancient times, this gate has been called The Estuary, for it is the place where the river meets the ocean—where the freshwater of the Known terrain mingles with the saltwater tides of the Unknowable sea.

Here is the secret standpoint of the diviner, for just as freshwater and saltwater are both water yet impossible to mistake one for the other, mortal and immortal awareness are both awareness yet immediately discernable from one another. The Estuary is that sacred place wherein diviners dwell, neither in time nor in eternity but in that shared space where their ever-circulating currents create an ephemeral mirror-like awareness of what passes between them.

Figure 13, above, illustrates the principal symbols of the PATTERN OF ORDER AND CHANCE and their associations to the solid and broken lines of THE CHANGES.

2. THE CHANGES reveals the unchanging nature of SPIRIT and the unchanging spirit of NATURE: SPIRIT is none other than the invisible half of NATURE, just as NATURE is none other than the visible half of SPIRIT. In the changing lines lies the secret relationship between mortality and immortality. The union of the masculine and feminine halves produces the spiritual embryo: Once the spiritual twin can journey on its own, one becomes an intimate of birth and death. Roaming in the land of The Changeless even as we perform our everyday tasks, we commune equally with the souls of the living and the souls of the dead.


Figure 13, above, makes clear that Nature is symbolized by broken lines and Spirit by solid lines. This reflects their essential unchanging identities: Everyone and everything has a visible half and an invisible half, a body of Nature and a soul of Spirit. But the lines grow and incorporate more of the qualities of their opposites over time, an interchange reflected in the changing lines: broken lines change into solid lines and solid lines change into broken lines. This interchange symbolizes the secret way that nature changes into spirit and spirit into nature—the profoundly mysterious and hidden path by which the mortal body becomes immortal spirit and immortal spirit becomes mortal body.

The spiritualization of matter and the materialization of spirit: such is the secret path by which the innate perfectibility of all things advances through ever-deeper and ever-higher realms, sweeping like a wind through every chasm and valley, every storm and open sky. In the changing lines are hidden the body of the soul and the soul of the body, the feminine half and the masculine half of every nonduality.

The interchangeability of the qualities of these two halves on the individual scale of the lived life results in a blending of characteristics, like the roots of two mighty trees interwoven deep underground, that forms an unbreakable bond between the soul of the body and the body of the soul: uniting the seeming opposites into the personal nonduality is a creative act, a birth, that mirrors the cosmological union of the Great Duality into the ongoing Act of Creation. What is born here on the personal level is the intentional body: It is for this reason that it has been said of old, Just as there is a mind within the mind, there is a body outside the body.

The intentional body is, at first, unstable, like a newborn deer trying to find its legs and keep its balance— unsure of the realm in which it lives, the intentional body struggles to find its footing and maintain continuity of awareness. With familiarity and concentration, though, it gains strength and agility, no less than the fawn bounding and leaping within the safety of the herd—as it emerges within the intentional landscape, the intentional body begins to move among the landmarks and other intentional bodies with cautious deliberation. Finally, with patience and practice, it moves with all the grace and inner power of a great stag perfectly at home in the wilderness—coming into contact with the intentional bodies of all those who have ever lived, the spiritual twin evolves into a fully-formed purpose that must align itself with the Universal Purpose of the One Intent if it is to create good fortune wherever it goes. It is in this realm that we build great alliances and set in motion formulations of generative energy to take form and enter the flow of history.

3. THE CHANGES reveals that the original nature of human being is identical to the sacred WAY of SPIRIT and NATURE. Wisdom is found beneath the artificial layers of culture, history, and personality:

Human perceptions are made of the same material as SPIRIT and NATURE. The enemy-within is made of all one’s self-defeating perceptions, amplified by all the self-defeating lessons drawn from the social environment: failing to commune with one’s true self, with HUMANITY , with NATURE, with SPIRIT, all out of fear and distrust of life—this is the road of misfortune that leads to a wasted lifetime. Spirit warriors seek the true self beneath the facade of the enemy-within, harmonizing with its purpose for taking up this lifetime. They bring their intent into accord with that purpose, they bring their actions into accord with that intent. They know the outflowing cycle of generative energy on the path of fate and choose instead the path of freedom.

No longer confined to the realm of birth and death, they are at peace, filled with the love of the world. They do not strive, but follow the path of least resistance marked out by meaningful coincidences. They radiate gratitude for being part of such a wondrous creation, returning the loving-kindness of SPIRIT and NATURE with benevolence toward all. Allowing themselves to be loved by that which is greater than themselves, they can love.


The wisdom teachings of the perennial truth favor no one: like rain and sunlight and soil, they nurture every seed without bias. There is no special knowledge or esoteric skill that privileges one soul over another. It is simply the authenticity of conscious perfectibility that forever pulls the sincere individual from one station to the next. This natural tendency toward awakening sets the compass points of the intentional body’s sense of direction: the path is wide and straight and level for those who mirror within themselves the sacred marriage of Spirit and Nature. Shedding the conventional domestication of human nature, such spirit warriors focus their intention on extinguishing the self-defeating habits of thought, emotion and memory that would chain them to a lifetime of trivialization.

This mirroring within the microcosm of the macrocosm is inevitable because the very substance of human perceptions is made of the same substance making up all other phenomena in the universe. It is in this sense that it has been said of old, There is no inside and outside. What we are perceiving with is the same substance as what we are perceiving. They have the same intrinsic pattern, the same essential makeup. This is what makes it possible for us to see mountains and rivers where there are, in reality, only subatomic particles: our senses have the same-sized holes between things as the substance making up this mesocosm within which our bodies exist. The ocean of generative energy (qi), in other words, gives form to everything in the universe, including our senses. It is for this reason that the eight trigrams are said to be senses: they establish the bridge between our perceptions and the world of phenomena because they embody the archetypal pattern of order and chance making up both.

As manifestations of generative energy, each of the trigrams contains its own specific allotment of qi. When pictured in their archetypal relationships of opposite-complements, the trigrams are considered to be suspended in their timeless realm, prior to actually manifesting phenomena in the timebound realm

(Holden calls Heaven ‘Sun’ and Earth ‘Moon.’

Published by The Baron

Retired non-profit administrator.

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