Shoshin or “beginner’s mind” is a concept from Zen Buddhism and refers to an attitude of openness, enthusiasm, and lack of preconceptions, similar to that of a beginner. The practice of Shoshin serves as a counter to the hubris and closed-mindedness often associated with considering oneself an expert.
Shoshin also acts as an antidote to the “Einstellung effect”, which is a predisposition to solve a particular problem in a specific way, even if better or more appropriate methods exist. It is the negative effect of previous experience when approaching new problems.

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The “Book of Documents” or “Classic of History” (Shūjīng, Shu Jing, formerly: Shu King; also known as Shàngshū) is one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. The compendium itself contains, among other, texts that were written 1000 years before the Book of Documents was elevated to the status of a “classic”. Most of the chapters, however, date from later times. Due to its heterogeneity, Shūjīng has long been the focus of great philosophical debates.

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Small Intestine (SI)

In no2DO trigram Li, the fire, is associated with the functional circuit small intestine (SI), The small intestine is considered the alchemist of the inner being, the instance that is able to distinguish the important from the unimportant. This is not only about digestive processes and energy production, but also about the clarification of facts, relationships and feelings, i.e. about issues of mental health. The small intestine nourishes our heart (HT) and protects it from all that is unimportant and disturbing.

Read more: Citations regarding the Functional Circuit Small Intestine
Read more: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

Spleen (SP)

In no2DO  trigram Kun, the earth, is associated with the functional circuit spleen (SP). The functional circuit spleen is about making that what comes from outside, foreign influences and food, one’s own, to incorporate it. Foreign matter is converted into the body’s own substrate, it is distributed and stored. When our stores are filled and the distribution of nourishing substances is ensured, we feel well supplied and in balance.

Read more: Citations regarding the Functional Circuit Spleen
Read more: Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

Stone Classics

The Stone Classics are a collection of stone carved books on various Confucian classics.

The stelae that were elaborated over an eight year period (AD 175 to 183) during Han dynasty (BC 206 to AD 200) contained 200,000 characters across 46 stelae. They covered the seven classics recognized at the time: the Book of Changes, Book of Documents, Book of Songs, Book of Rites, Spring and Autumn Annals, Classic of Filial Piety and Analects. Each stelae was about 2.5 meters high and 1 meter wide.
The Stone Classics of Han dynasty  were mostly destroyed in the fighting following the collapse of the Han dynasty in 207, and only a few fragments have survived. They were the first of several enterprises through history that tried to provide correct and authoritative versions of the classics texts.

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Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: origin, beginning, the starting point of all things, the creative impulse, that is: Qian.
Often symbolized as rain


Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: fertilization, things that simply land at one’s lap without voluntary accomplishment; the receptive, feminine principle, Kun.
Also represented as clouds.

Sun, the Wind / Tree

Modern Interpretation: Assertiveness; thinking, planning, acting; mental skills, insight

Sun, the Wind / Tree, stands for a lively, pushing growth from within. Like the landscape’s greening in the spring: self confident, powerful, without hesitation. Strategical, relentless, unstoppable. Like the wind: passing through every opening, into every corner.

Phase Element: Wood
Functional Circuit: Liver (LIV)

Read more: I Ching Study Guide: Sun, the Wind / Tree

superior man

Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: an ideal personality with good character that strives towards a life in harmony with circumstances and time quality, without losing sight of his own objectives.
German: “der Edle”

systematized combinatorial system

A systematized (objectifying) combinatorial system is an oracle that provides a fixed set of rules to establishes the relationships between individual elements of the divination. In astrology, for instance, these elements include the signs of the zodiac, planetary constellations, and houses. The underlying set of rules enables the rational understanding of the “random“ initial situation, such as the time of birth in astrology, while still allowing for interpretation. This flexibility ensures that systematic conclusions can be applied to to the questioner‘s individual situation.

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Taiji symbol

The Tàijí symbol shows how Yin and Yang blend into each other: when Yang reaches its greatest abundance it already contains the seed of Yin – and vice versa. Any human action should ultimately aim at (re)establishing of the balance of Yin and Yang.


see Dao. Dao is traditionally referred to as “the path”.


Virtue. Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: inner strength, inner voice that reconnects man with his own inner being, helping him to walk the right path (Dao). Further names for te in the classical interpretations: virtue, inner qualities, spirit, character.


Oral transmission of the Dharma in lecture form. Cf. Deshimaru 1991, 144

Ten Wings

The “Ten Wings” (also known as the “Commentaries”) are a part of the Textus receptus and were conceived from about 200 B.C. on. They consist of 10 text sections which, among other things, explain the hexagram names and texts, explain the symbolism of the trigrams and order of the hexagrams and include ethical-moral instructions and a philosophical-ethical interpretation. Especially the  9th Wing is attributed to Confucius and shows in which order the hexagrams follow each other.

test point

The model Follow the Path of Dao distinguishes individual trigrams according to their qualitative dynamics. At the test points, Kan, the water, and Li, the fire, the focus abruptly shifts from self-relation to world-relation, or vice versa.

Test points are tipping points, the dynamic may change abruptly and suddenly. Here it becomes apparent to what extent both areas – inner integration and dealing with the outer world – have already developed and matured.

Read more: quiet point, landmark point

Textus receptus

Received text (Latin).

The I Ching is mainly known as a  canonical script of China engraved in stone and is one of the so-called “Stone Classics”, stone slabs with doctrinal texts, dated to year 175 AD. Scholars from all over the country were obliged to copy these texts and use them in their teachings.

The I Ching in the form of textus receptus consists of two text parts: the Classical Text (jingwen) and the Commentaries (zuhuan).
The Classical Text forms the basis of interpretation and serves as a manual of divination. It has two parts: The hexagram text – a general description of the situation – and the line texts, which consider different aspects of the situation. In terms of origin, the Classical text is dated to the 8th century BC. The traditional view is that the invention of the eight trigrams goes back to the mythical first Chinese emperor Fu Xi, the hexagrams are attributed to the Zhou king Wen Wang (1231-1135 BC), and the line texts are said to have come from his son, the Duke of Zhou (d. 1105 BC). In fact, however, it is more likely that the Classical Text is a collection of oracle vocabulary (such as the inscriptions on the oracle bones), ancient songs, and traditional folk wisdom that was later compiled by one or possibly more authors.
Remarkable in this context is a peculiarity of the Chinese language: Texts are automatically ambiguous and equivocal when heard – and thus awaken the association of a mystical language of the gods. The authors of the I Ching were certainly aware of this ambiguity of oral language and tried to adopt this phenomenon in writing. In return, when it comes to the interpretation of a (written) text, both, the figurative expressiveness of the character itself as well as the associative ambiguities and variations in meaning that arise during pronunciation, should  be taken into consideration.
The Commentaries, also known as the Ten Wings, were written much later (from about 200 B.C. on) and consist of 10 text sections which, among other things, explain the hexagram names and texts, explain the symbolism of the trigrams and order of the hexagrams, include ethical-moral instructions and a philosophical-ethical interpretation according to Confucian moral concepts. (cf. Hertzer, 40-42)

The fact that the earliest parts of the I Ching date from the 8th century BC, but the Stone Classics were elaborated some 1000 years later, raises a number of questions: What changes in content and structure of the textual material occurred during these 1000 years? Has there really always been only one valid version of this text or were there several variants in circulation? And, should there have been variants: What political and socio-cultural influences ultimately led to the selection of the version of the I Ching that became part of the in the Stone Classics?
Against this background, the archaeological discoveries made 1972 in Mawangdui (near Changsha / Hunan; silk books) and 1977 in Shuanggudui (near Fuyang / Anhui; bamboo and wooden strips) are of particular interest: In Mawangdui a tomb library was discovered that also contained a copy of the I Ching, which, however, is much older than the textus receptus known so far. This version of the I Ching deviates to approx. 25% from the textus receptus, among other things in the order, how the hexagrams follow each other; the archaeological finds in Shuanggudui still need to be analyzed. (cf. Hertzer, 51-52)

Hertzer, Dominique. 1996. Das Alte Und Das Neue Yijing. Die Wandlungen Des Buches Der Wandlungen. München: Diederichs.

traditional acupuncture

Traditional Acupuncture, a sub-system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is deeply rooted in Five Element Theory (Wu Xing, Five Phases). It’s aim is to help people restore their balance at all levels (body, mind, soul) and grow and mature. For that purpose Traditional Acupuncture relies mainly on using the meridians’ elements points (ancient points).

Acupuncture points can be understood as an energy pattern. It is possible to activate them not only through needles or finger pressure, but also through meditation, opening our minds to their metaphorical imagery.

Read more: Recommended Literature on Traditional Acupuncture


The eight trigrams are the basis of the I Ching. They are composed of three solid (Yang) or broken (Yin) lines. Two trigrams form a hexagram, one image of I Ching.
The colored trigrams link to the respective chapters in the I Ching Course where they are explained in detail.

Phase Element





receptive, dark, nurturing,
soft, flexible, adaptive, fertile
stability; compassion,
commitment; peaceDysfunction:
Spleen (SP)



joungest daughter

heiter, zufrieden,
erfüllt, offen
humility; connection,
Lung (LU)




hot, bright, luminous,
adherent, intelligent
Dysfunction: chaos
Small Intenstine (SI)


gentle, penetrating,
well-rooted, flexible
thinking, planning,
Liver (LIV)




creative, clarity,
conscious, extending
expression, passion;
warmth, loveDysfunction:
Heart (HE)




erregend, stark, schnell,
in Bewegung, umwälzend
flexibilityDysfunction: fury
Gallbladder (GB)




abysmal, dangerous,
exposed to uncontrollable
basic trust; intuition
basic trust; intuition
Dysfunction: anxiety
Kidney (KI)




to hold still, to persevere;
a meditative state
transformationDysfunction: Trauer
Large Intenstine (LI)


Te. Central notion of the traditional interpretation of the I Ching. Meaning: inner strength, inner voice that reconnects man with his own inner being, helping him to walk the right path (Dao). Further names for virtue in the classical interpretations: te, inner qualities, spirit, character.

Wang Bi

Chinese philosopher, 226 to 249. Wáng Bì is one of the most important commentators on Laozi’s Daodejing and the I Ching, although he died at the early age of 23.

Wáng Bì considered himself a Confucian. With his interpretation of the Daodejing during the turbulent years of the Three Kingdoms, he wanted to contribute to the restoration of order and create a Daoism that would fit in with the ideas of Confucianism.

Read more: Wang Bi citations
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wu wei

Besides that of Dao, the concept of Wu Wei is central to Daoism and can be roughly translated as non-intervention. Jpwever, this does not mean apathy, but rather an attitude characterized by creative receptivity, attention and openness towards the environment. Only when we are aware of a situation in all its complexity and intricacy can we, from a state of inner calm, act spontaneously and in harmony with the whole. This then happens easily and effortlessly, without will, and is quite different from the usually rather fruitless, intellectually shaped actionism that our culture so readily rewards.

I wrote an extensive article on the subject of Wu Wei, non-intervention.
Read more: Wu Wei. An Approximation.


Yang was initially symbolized by the warmer, southern side of the mountain, a sunny bank, later the mountain as a whole. Subsequently Yang represented everything including light and bright day, summer and sun. Also dryness, air (wind) and fire were assigned to Yang, as well as increasingly warm days of spring, the warmer season’s flourishing and revival of nature, all that is active, creative, invigorating, expanding, shiny, external. Yang corresponds to the hard and masculine.
Yang manifests itself in odd numbers and is represented by a solid line, for example | or also

yarrow stalks

For the I Ching various divination methods exist. When, for example, divination is done with yarrow stalks, fifty dried stalks are selected from a bundle and taken in the left hand. Then one yarrow stalk is put away. The remaining 49 yarrow stalks are divided into two piles and, taking four yarrow stalks from each pile, are counted according to a complicated system until the result is either 2 or 3. This process is repeated three times and the sum is added up. The values 6 and 8 represent a broken line (yin) and 7 and 9 a solid line (yang). This process is repeated six times until the hexagram is complete.
The values 6 and 9 are regarded as changing lines, i.e. they change into their respective opposite: 6 (Yin) becomes 7 (Yang), 9 (Yang) becomes 8 (Yin). This transforms the original hexagram into another of the 64 hexagrams.
In this context the material – yarrow stalks – certainly also has symbolic significance: The stalk of the yarrow is hard on the outside, but hollow and soft on the inside, thus symbolizing the opposites of yin and yang. Yarrow itself is a remedy that unfolds partly opposite effects in the human body, depending on which effect is required for healing, which in turn refers to its balancing effect on the relation of Yin and Yang.

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Consciousness, intent, intention; a state of allowing; directed consciousness.

Read more: Yi


Yin originally referred to the colder north side of a mountain, the shaded river bank or the darker, cooler south side of a valley. Later on Yin was associated with the idea of days with cool weather and overcast skies, with shadows and all that is dark, cool and humid, with water and earth, night and winter. Yin qualities correspond to winter, the passive, hidden, astringent, dull, interior. Yin is associated with the soft and feminine.
Within the I Ching Yin is represented by even numbers and a dashed line such as | ¦ or als