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The wisdom of The Books of Changes

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A ll beings arise from the interaction between heaven and earth. The instruction of sages touches people and helps them recover to their innate goodness, and thereby world peace is realised. Observing how heaven and earth interacts enables one to understand the interrelationships between heaven, earth and all beings.

T he virtue of sages corresponds to that of heaven and earth, it illuminates everything like the sun and the moon, adapts to the changes of the four seasons, and understands the transformation between good and bad, good fortune and misfortune.

T he union of seed and power produces all things; the escape of the soul brings about change. Through this we come to know the conditions of outgoing and returning spirits.

Confucianism 4222 | 
Great Commentary 1.4.2 

T he Master" (1) said, "What is there in the world to think about or to deliberate about? In the world there are many different roads but the destination is the same. There are a hundred deliberations but the result is one. What is there in the world to think about or to deliberate about?

Confucianism 2268 | 
Books Of Changes, APPENDED REMARKS," PT. 2, Ch. 5, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 13. 
The idea of a hundred roads to the same destination is a direct expression of the spirit of synthesis which is extremely strong in Chinese philosophy. It is the Confucian version of Chuang Tzu's doctrine of following two courses at the same time

T herefore what exists before physical form [and is therefore without it] is called the Way. What exists after physical form [and is therefore with it] is called a concrete thing. That which transforms things and controls them is called change. That which extends their operation is called penetration. To take them and apply them to the people of the world is called the business of life….

Confucianism 2267 | 
Books Of Changes, APPENDED REMARKS," PT. 1, Ch. 12, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 13. 

E ssence and material force (ch'i) are combined to become things. The wandering away of spirit (force) becomes change. From this we know that the characteristics and conditions of spiritual beings are similar to those of Heaven and Earth and therefore there is no disagreement between them. The knowledge [of spirit] embraces all things and its way helps all under heaven, and therefore there is no mistake. It operates freely and does not go off course. It rejoices in Nature (T'ien, Heaven) and understands destiny. Therefore there is no worry. As [things] are contented in their stations and earnest in practicing kindness, there can be love. It molds and encompasses all transformations of Heaven and Earth without mistake, and it stoops to bring things into completion without missing any. It penetrates to a knowledge of the course of day and night. (1) Therefore spirit has no spatial restriction and Change has no physical form.

Confucianism 2266 | 
Books Of Changes, APPENDED REMARKS," PT. 1, Ch. 4, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 13. 
Exactly what is meant by "spirit" is not clear, but it is surely not the spirit of a deceased person that influences human affairs. Traditionally kuei-shen means either simply spirits of ancestors or spiritual beings. In the latter case, it may mean either good or evil spirits or the positive and negative aspects of the soul, respectively. But here it is simply the unfathomable force behind all transformations. Later in Neo-Confucianism, it is to be understood purely as the spontaneous activity of yin and yang.

H eaven is high, the earth is low, and thus ch'ien (Heaven) and Pun (Earth) are fixed. As high and low are thus made clear, the honorable and the humble have their places accordingly. As activity and tranquillity have their constancy, the strong and the weak are thus differentiated. Ways come together according to their kinds, and things are divided according to their classes. Hence good fortune and evil fortune emerge. In the heavens, forms (heavenly bodies) appear and on earth shapes (creatures) occur. In them change and transformation can be seen. Therefore the strong and the weak interact and the Eight Trigrams activate each other. Things are stimulated by thunder and lightning and enriched by the influence of wind and rain. Sun and moon revolve on their course and cold and hot seasons take their turn. The way of ch'ien constitutes the male, while the way of k'un constitutes the female. Ch'ien knows the great beginning, and k'un acts to bring things to completion. Ch'ien knows through the easy, and k'un accomplishes through the simple.

Confucianism 2265 | 
Book of Changes, "Appended Remarks," pt. 1, ch. 1, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 13. 

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On other page(s):  History and calligraphy of The Books of Changes

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