Man & the Universe

yi jing and you


man and universe

From the perspective of i ching, man is only a tiny part of the universe. To maximize his existence, he has to be keenly aware of his position and act accordingly.

This differs from the values of individualism upheld by some cultures.

Since the beliefs of I Ching (yi jing) are deep-rooted in the chinese culture, this explains why Chinese are more inclined towards collectivism as a community.


ying yang and you

Knowing the relationship between man and the universe not only helps you to understand the Chinese culture, but also enables you to harmonize with the environment that you are in, be it your family, company or the country that you are in.

To understand what this means, we'll have to go back to the concept of yin yang.

In iching, the yin and yang are represented by the following two symbols:




The horizontal broken line symbolizes yin.  The continuous horizontal line symbolizes yang.

From the yin yang, 8 trigrams and 64 hexagrams were developed.  

The full set of 8 trigrams and 64 hexagrams are analogous to the 3-bit and 6-bit binary numerals.

hexagrame iching

This is a highly condensed language to describe the working of the universe. 


Positioning of yinyang in a hexagram

We will use one of these 64 hexagrams to illustrate how one's position is explained in I Ching.

From the position of each line in the hexagram, you would be able to appreciate the relationships between an individual and the society and the universe, and the importance of doing the right thing befitting the position that you are in. 

This explaines why order and hierarchy are so entrenched in the Chinese business culture.

The hexagram below is the first of the 64.   It is made up of only yang:

  qian Qian: The Creative

Now, try reading the positioning of each line in the hexagram. 

Take note! The first line is not the top.

The order starts from the bottom. Reading a hexagram is like walking up a tower.  The line in the bottom is the first, and the top is the sixth.  

It referes not only to counting, but also the drawing. You'll have to observe the same order when you are drawing a hexagram. 


What is your question?

Before you use the hexagram to interpret the position that you're in, you must come with a question.

The question can be about anything under the sun. It can be about your business, your family or your personal relationship.

There are commentaries for each line. Although written thousands of years ago, they are still amazingly relevant today. They outline the most appropriate thing one should do under a respective position, taking into consideration the yingyang relationships with other lines. 

If you take the most appropriate actions befitting the position, you are able to maximize the returns of your efforts.  

The returns can be in the form of tangible rewards. It can also be in the form of neutralizing some adverse effects, or simply to prepare you for some undesirable outcome.  

Otherwise, the outcome can be disastrous.


Are you a dragon soaring in the sky?

Let me use the hexagram Qian The Creative to explain what I mean.

For this hexagram, it uses the life cycle of a chinese dragon to illustrate the different position that you could be in.  It is highly symbolic.

This is a very important hexagram. Chinese are known as 'dragon chinese' partly because of it.

As mentioned earlier, the hexagram can be used to interpret anything under the sun. Your relationships, career growth or business.

For illustration, let's assume the subject matter is your career growth.


Line 1:   

The dragon lying in the deep.  It is not the time for active doing

Line 2:

The dragon appearing in the field.  It is advantageous to meet with great men.

Line 3:


The gentleman is active, but seeing no significant progress.  The position is precarious, but if he can stay vigilant, it will be fine.

Line 4:


The dragon can now attempt to leap out of the valley.  It may be successful, may be not.  But there is no harm trying.

Line 5:

The dragon is flying in the sky.   It is time to meet great men.

Line 6:

The dragon has exceeded the right limit, and is repentant.


From the commentaries given to each position in the hexagram, you would see that there is nothing absolute right or wrong.

Being modest can be right, but there are times that you'd have to promote yourself, or even allow yourself some room to be flamboyant. It all depends on the position that you are in, and whether what you do befits the position.

If you are in the first line, there's no need for you to go round and tell people how good you are.  You are a dragon in the water.  Take your time to make yourself strong, so that you can advance to the second position.

Only when you are in the second position that you should see great men, and promote yourself. This is the time that you meet the right people to help iadvance your career.

The third line is a precarious position. You are in a position that sees as if no progress, although you are in fact progressing. You'll have to be cautious. Stay diligent!

When you are on the fourth line, you can seek breakthroughs. The attempts may be successful, may be not. You simply need to do something different, so as to progress. There is no harm trying!

When you are on the fifth line, you are soaring in the sky. You are successful, and can afford to be a bit flamboyant.

On the sixth line, you've gone overboard. It is time to restraint yourself and seek new path.

So you can see that yi ching is a system that directs you to do the right things at the right time.  The principles marvelously employed in classics like The Art of War written by Sun Tzu and the 36 Stratagems written by anonymous writers.


It can be used to interpret all issues

We used the first hexagram to explain how it can be apply to aid career development decisions.

It was just an illustration. You can use it to interpret other issues as well. Even for the very same issue, you have to be flexible in the interpretation.

Furthermore, there are 64 hexagrams with 4,096 permutation of changes for you to read the position that you are in.

You can use the same logic to explain the relationships between an emperor, his officials, or a husband and his wife.  It can goes beyond human relationships to interpret relationships of Heaven, Earth and the human beings.   

Read more about the Chinese culture.

Read more about i ching.

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