I Ching, the Book of Changes

The I Ching is a highly complex yet simple philosophical system which describes our world’s immanent change and declares change itself as the basic principle of the universe (cf. Govinda 1983). And the wisest thing for us to do is to subordinate  to this change, these changes, to adapt  to bring ourselves into harmony with the world around us.

So it is not at all about subjecting the world. We cannot. But what we can do is make changes where we can make them: in our own consciousness.

The hexagrams of the I Ching show us these possible developmental paths of our inner being. If one follows the interpretation model, the steps towards the solution can be discerned in the sequence of the individual trigrams and core characters.

Phase Element Fire

Fire is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Fire | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

The Chinese character Li [Fire] actually means to leave, to separate, to be distant[. …] Etymologically the character’s radical shows a short-tailed bird next to it a bird-catcher: a hand holding a net (Wang, p. 68). The bird is caught in the meshes of a net. Popularly Li refers to a golden oriole. Lorenzen 1998, 4 Continue reading “Phase Element Fire”

Phase Element Metal

Metal is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Fire | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

Metal, as an element of Chinese nature philosophy, here is described as a quality that can flexibly adapt to a mold (ie, as molten metal) and then become hard and thus useful. Changeability and alteration between solid and liquid states corresponds to metal and accounts for its benefit. Lorenzen 1994,  21, 205-219 Continue reading “Phase Element Metal”

Phase Element Earth

Earth is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Earth | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

Earth, our center of safety and security, is the foundation for maturing our relationships with others. Only a sense of self, an accordance with ourselves, gives us the opportunity to relate and bond with others. It is the definition of the Self in relationship to and differentiation from the environment. It is a Self that draws its power from loyalty to mother earth, from a feeling of being safe, nurtured, accepted. From having a home to retreat to, no longer striving and acting, but absorbing strength and peace and security within oneself.
Continue reading “Phase Element Earth”

Phase Element Water

Water is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Water | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

Well, in man the phase element water corresponds to plant seeds in nature, which rest in the soil during winter until new growth in spring, preserving the year’s essence, the most valuable of any previous existence. It’s like our own collective existence which we owe to our roots, our basis for new growth. As long as we still have a connection to our past, as long as we are aware of our roots, we can draw life power from them. Continue reading “Phase Element Water”

Phase Element Wood

Wood is one of the five phases of the five-element doctrine (Wu Xing), which describes the laws of natural phenomena. This theory is applied in practice, for example in acupuncture.

Phase Element Fire | Functional Circuits | Pulse Quality

Wood means to be deeply rooted in the earth, just like a tree, and to strive towards the sky, fire, absolute Yang.
The wood phase within a person guarantees a free and powerful flow of energy. It lets a person turn outward, open to the outside world through his/her eyes, to behold and grasp the environment, and finally engage in it with the help of muscles and tendons. Lorenzen 1994, 216-217

Continue reading “Phase Element Wood”

Wang Bi: The Images Stem from the Ideas

The images stem from the ideas. The words make the images clear. In order to fully express the ideas, there is nothing better than words. The words are a result of the images. This is why you can see the images by looking at the words. The images are dominated by the ideas. This is why you can see the ideas by examining the images. The ideas are fully captured by the images and the images made clear by the words. Therefore, the words are intended to explain the images; once you have captured the images, you can forget the words. The images are intended to explore the ideas; once you have captured the ideas, you can forget the images. Continue reading “Wang Bi: The Images Stem from the Ideas”

Lama Anagarika Govinda: The Inner Structure of the I-Ching

The most striking feature of the Book of Changes is that it is not looking for the unchangeable and eternal, ie not for something that corresponds to man’s desire to maintain his identity in a constantly changing and transitory world, but that change itself is declared basic principle of the universe. The Chinese did not fall victim to the wish-born thought Continue reading “Lama Anagarika Govinda: The Inner Structure of the I-Ching”

Shen

What is Shen? You cannot perceive Shen through your ears. You must have excellent eyesight and an open and tender heart, so that Shen, spirit, communicates through your consciousness. Spirit cannot communicate through the mouth, but through the heart. To capture Shen, you must look very closely, and suddenly you will come to what there is to capture. But just as quickly you will again loose this kind of knowledge. Shen communicates with man just like the wind that suddenly clears all clouds. And that is why in this case we speak of Shen. Huangdi Neijing Suwen, Chap. 36 Continue reading “Shen”

Yi

The classics say that Qi follows Yi and manifests itself as a result. Everything that is, has previously existed as an intention (Yi). In that context Wu Wei signifies to be with intention or to have intention. However, Wu Wei does not mean to do nothing at all.

Intention should not be mistaken for will.

Continue reading “Yi”

Daoism and Confucianism in TCM

Besides some aspects such as demon or ancestral medicine, the roots of Chinese medicine practiced today developed approximately around 500 to 200 after the turn of the eras. After Zhou Dynasty the social and political structure of China collapsed. During the Warring States Period statesmen and philosophers were concerned with the question how to acquire happiness and well-being for both state and individual. Kongzi [Confucius] and Lao Zi, Continue reading “Daoism and Confucianism in TCM”

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Translations: by the author