Gezi's Pillow Book

About this diary

I am a frog, deep in a well.

Hello everyone! I am complete and utter beginner, that is to say I am incredibly ignorant, whose current interests lay largely only in the realm of using divination to correct my behavior. This diary will largely be a collection of notes on varied topics, it will initially be mostly focused on studies of the Yijing as I am, as of writing, too busy to focus on much of anything else. I will branch out to other topics, hopefully.

Most of the notes will be on Zhouyi divination, which unless said otherwise will be performed in the following fashion:

I will try to perform it only once a day, more or less precisely at 6 A.M. using the coin toss method. Regarding the coin toss method, I will be using the method involving the use of only a pair of coins, rather than three, this is to compensate for certain lacunae when comparing the three coin method to the yarrow stalk method. Once performed, I will note down the hexagram, alongside the Judgement. I will not study it further until much later in the evening. Once I’m studying it, I will read the commentaries by Wang Bi and Han Kangbo regarding the hexagram. Then I will try to organize my thoughts and my learning here.

The question asked will likely stay secret, unless it’s something that I am comfortable sharing.

Notes directly unrelated to the divination itself might not be written in an organized way. These notes may be numbered, for the sake of personal future reference, corrections, or additions. I will perform divinations daily, but lack of time may prevent me from organizing my thoughts on here, or at worst studying it at all.


2023, November, 6th Day.

1. Wang Bi’s Remarks on the Judgements

According to Wang Bi, the Judgement, is a discussion on the substance of a hexagram by clarifying the controlling principle that generates it. This is because, the controlling principle of all traces back to the One, the most solitary. All things follow their own principles, there are rules and there is that which gave birth to things. And thus “things are complex but not chaotic, multitudinous but not confused.”

This principle is behind what allows the interpretation of the hexagrams, through the study of each line and the order in which either hard (yang) lines and soft (yin) lines supersede one another.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Bi(䷕), the 22nd hexagram. Li below, Gen above. The second yin, and the third yang are old.

Bi here means “adornment.”

Study of the Judgement

The Judgement states: “Elegance means success, such that is fitting only for small matters.”

“The soft provides the hard with pattern,” that is to say the pattern, or elegance, of Heaven. “The rising of the hard line to the top provides the soft with pattern,” This is the basic principle outlined by Wang Bi in his Remarks on the Judgements, the intermingling of hard and soft lines determines the patterns either of Heaven or Earth.

“This is why it is only fitting for small matters.” I do not understand how this follows from the previous statements, even with Wang Bi’s commentary. I need to study further. I will expand upon my understanding of this in a future divination, when it arises.

“This is the pattern of Heaven. The pattern enlightens by setting curbs, this gives man pattern.” The pattern which provides man with pattern, or elegance, is culture, this includes matters like social etiquette and personal cultivation (or learning).

“Observe the pattern of Heaven to examine the fluctuations of the seasons. Observe the patterns of man to transform and perfect the world.” Change corresponds to the four seasons, and thus it is fundamental to observe the patterns of Heaven, which generates the pattern (culture) which gives man elegance.Then, self-cultivation, that is to say the study of the pattern of man, allows one to help transform and perfect it.

Second Yin and Third Yang

“The beard provides Elegance”: Second yin has no line with which to resonate, that is to say that its upper counterpart fifth yin is not its opposite (which it seeks to naturally resonate with) but another yin (with which it cannot), similarly so is third yang. Since neither finds resonate, the two pair up. This may explain why these lines are old (acting in pairs, they change in pairs). Similarly to a beard, which clings to the face, the second yin which finds no resonance clings to the third yang.

“Such consummate Elegance here, such perfect luster, so perpetual constancy means good fortune”: Third yang in forming a pair with second yin forms a pair, that brings their pattern to perfection. Through their treading together of “a path that is right for them,” Together they adorn each other’s path, conferring “perfect luster”. This constancy may be preserved, and therefore provide good fortune.


2023, November, 7th Day.

1. Further remarks on the Judgements by Wang Bi

Wang Bi clarifies how the lines are commensurate with Change

Hexagram lines address states of change, which is brought about by the innate tendency of things. The substance of things, and the innate tendency to change can be in opposition.

“Nearby lines are not necessarily close with one another,” “faraway lines are not necessarily distant. Nearby lines and faraway lines pursue each other; lines that attract and lines that repel provoke each other; and lines that indicate contraction and lines that indicate expansion induce each other to action.” Wang Bi explains, noting that many things that seek each other don’t need to be self-same in all aspects, like substance or tonality.

Despite there only being one yin line, and one yang line, these represent the nature of all things under Heaven, and are inexhaustible. They perfectly resemble the transformations of Heaven and Earth, as they are analogous models to them captured by the sages so that one could cultivate the instruments for correct action.

Wang Bi clarifies how the Hexagrams correspond to Change and make the lines commensurate with it

“The hexagrams deal with moments of time, and the lines are concerned with the states of change that are appropriate to those times.” This notion explains why Zhouyi divination methods take care of which specific lines are old, their study indicates the most moral (and therefore proper action) the one who asks the question can take.

Hexagrams can concern growth or decrease of the Dao, for each moment of time entails either an obstacle, or an opening – in the sense of the opposite of an obstacle. Therefore the study the hexagram obtained through divination tells one whether to restrain their efforts, in the case of an obstacle, or to push forward, in the case there is an opening.

The principle of change means that misfortune can turn to good fortune and good fortune can turn to misfortune. Through the naming of a hexagram one can foretell whether good fortune or bad fortune ensues, depending on its category.

  • Resonance, means that the lines share purpose, and the position of a resonance helps understand why a certain line is in that position. Resonance, as mentioned previously refers to the presence of opposing corresponding lines between the upper and lower trigrams that make up a Hexagram, that is to say for example regarding the 10th Hexagram, Lv(䷉) “Treading”, third yin is in resonance with sixth yang.

  • Carrying and riding lines are either congruous and incongruous. This refers to lines that are adjacent to one another. That is to say for example, two yin lines or two yang lines – one atop the other – are congruous; but one yang line atop a yin line are incongruous.

  • Distance and proximity provide images of danger and ease.

  • Inner and outer provide image of going forth or staying still. Outer refers to the upper trigram, it provides an image of “going out” because it is opposed to the “staying in” of the inner trigram, that is to say it presents a dichotomy between one’s home (the inner) and the outside.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Jie(䷧), the 22nd hexagram. Kan below, Zhen above. Fourth yang is old.

Jie here means “release.”

Study of the Judgement

Wang Bi explains that “release” refers to release from troubles and deliverance from danger. Once such has been relieved of trouble it is then fitting to “travel Southwest,” this refers – according to Wang Bi – to the mass of common folk, as it’s only proper for someone free from trouble to extend this freedom to the masses. Then, if there are no troubles worth dealing with, one should not deviate from what is proper, but if there is trouble one should deal with it quickly, as “quick action shall mean good fortune.”

Fourth yang

According to Wang Bi, fourth yang is out of position and incorrect, but in forming a pair with third yin, the latter then becomes attached to it as a “big toe,” this causes it to lose its natural resonant relationship with first yin and it must therefore release its pairing with third yin, before it can properly resonate with first yin.

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2023, November, 8th Day.

Issuing a correction on yesterday’s divination, Jie is the 40th Hexagram, not the 22nd. This error was brought on by my lack of attention.

Assorted notes on Qi, Yin, and Yang.

The word “qi” originally denoted the vapor that comes when you cook rice. And it has then since become representative of a nourishing vapor that is the source of life. While it can be tempting to think that it is the same as matter, it is in fact not. For one it is said the qi predates it – matter is the condensation of qi. All things are therefore made of qi, in varying degrees of purity. The totality of qi is called then, the cosmos. The amount of qi in existence, while capable of concentrating or dispersing at points, is constant.

Qi can be divided into two strands: yin and yang. The constant state of qi, and thus of all things, is the competition between yin qi and yang qi. Because qi is constant, as yin grows then yang declines, and as yang grows then yin declines. There is however neither “good” nor “evil” in this, all things require both yin and yang to exist. That is to say, there are no living things that exist purely made of one or the other.

2. On Wang Bi’s Remarks on the Images

“Images are the means to express ideas. Words are the means to explain the images.” Within these words Wang Bi reminds us, and then later warns us not to get caught up in either the image or the words, in doing so we lose sight of the idea that truly lay behind the image. After all, “Anything that corresponds analogously to an idea can serve as its image,” the image is only representative of the idea by analogy, but it is not fixed onto that idea in itself.

Wang Bi then states that one ought to “forget about the images”, and instead look for the ideas that they sought to express so that then such ideas can make themselves evident.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Xian(䷞), the 31st hexagram. Gen below, Dui above. Top yin is old.

Xian here means “reciprocity.”

Study of the Judgement

Before I start this study proper, I would like to note that the divinations that have been had so far have been interesting, including this one. In that it appears as if the results of my divination relate to both the question I seek answered and where I am in my studies of Wang Bi’s commentary and clarifications. In fact, to prefigure the following study, Wang Bi discusses in his commentary of this hexagram, one of the concepts that he discussed on his “Clarification on the Images,” that I’ve studied above. Therefore, this following study will focus on expanding upon the concepts above.

“Reciprocity is such that prevalence is had. It is fitting to practice constancy here. To marry a woman means good fortune.” Wang Bi states that the last sentence is a way to illustrate the principle of common categories. This concept is what he refers to when he states, “Anything that corresponds analogously to an idea can serve as its image,” in here “Anything that corresponds analogously to an idea” can be interpreted as “Anything in the same category,” but what does it mean for something to belong to a common category? Wang Bi explains that the innate tendencies of all things are seen in how they are stimulated. Whenever such takes place, it is a realization of the Dao of Reciprocity, if this does not take place then the things involved do not belong to the same category.

Top Yin

“Reciprocity is in the jowls, cheeks, and tongue.” Wang Bi explains quite simply, that reciprocity peters out at this stage, becoming nothing more than mere words.

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2023, November, 9th Day.

3. The Effects of Lingering Resentment

I shall be taking a brief detour off my studies of Wang Bi’s and Han Kangbo’s commentaries to start what will likely be another long term project of studying the effects of lingering resentment.

The following are all sourced from the Zibuyu.

3.1 The case of the five-hundred ghosts(鬼, guǐ) under King Wenxin in the Netherworld (地府, Dìfǔ)

It is said that a certain Bingzhen was once visited by a man in black clothes, who then brought him to the netherworld dressed similarly to one of his past lives. He was asked to intervene in the case of five-hundred ghosts working under an official of the underworld, King Wengxin, who lamented that they were wronged for having been murdered as a response to a rebellion. He was asked to do so as one of his past lives was a certain Xiu, an official who’d written an instruction to discourage the Commander from performing the massacre in the first place, this was however disregarded.

The Commander and Bingzhen would present their case to the king. I will only note the king’s judgements regarding the five-hundred ghosts, where he states that they could not be reincarnated as humans, for they still had lingering grievances and resentments.

I can then tentatively note that lingering resentment prevents reincarnation.

3.2 The case of Zhang Yiniang

This concerns the sin of a man named Jiang, who came from a wealth family. Zhang Yiniang was a beautiful prostitute, and so was courted by Jiang, despite this he never had any intention of marrying her. Once Yiniang was married however, Jiang would reveal his sinful greed, eventually resulting in Yiniang’s suicide.

This would provoke Yiniang’s spirit (魄, pò) to take out her grievances upon him, causing him to become ill. When he asked a Daoist skilled in magic to exorcise her, he would make an attempt and fail. This was because the Daoist could only control beings such as evil ghosts (妖孽, yāoniè) and foxes, in this case however Yiniang’s lingering grievances were punishing him for getting in the way of a love relationship.

I can then tentatively note that a spirit born of lingering resentment or grievances is not necessarily an evil spirit.

3.3 The case of the Hua Po (花魄, Huāpò)

A certain Xie, a scholar, one day found a beautiful woman five cun tall (roughly, 18cm), naked and completely hairless, and she appeared distressed. Once brought home, she appeared to relax. She had an incomprehensible speech, fed on food, would dry up in the sun (leading to death), and could be revived with water.

A certain Zilin, would then inform Xie of the origins of the spirit, that it was born from the lingering energy of resentment from three people hanging themselves on the same tree.

From this I can tentatively note:

  1. Resentment can linger on as mere energy, detached from its source.

  2. Under certain conditions it can condense into a creature.

  3. This creature is not necessarily evil.

Additional Note: For future reference, whenever I make mention of the “Netherworld,” I might append the actual Chinese word used. This is because several different terms are translated as “Netherworld” in English, and since there is little consistency in whether or not they are mere synonyms or refer to completely different places, the original term will be added back for the sake of not losing any potential nuance.

This will also happen when it comes to terms related to “spirits” or “ghosts.”

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Wuwang(䷘), the 25th hexagram. Zhen below, Qian above. Top yang is old.

Wuwang here means “inerrancy.”

Study of the Judgement

“Inerrancy is such that the hard and strong comes from outside,” this is why the image of the hexagram has Qian as the upper – that is to say outer – trigram, it signifies strength since it is made only of hard (yang) lines. “And becomes the ruler within.” Within refers to the Zhen trigram, says Wang Bi.

What is then the idea that this image, captured by the sages, was meant to represent? To begin, Zhen signifies dynamism, thus we can at the broadest lines perceive the curbing of dynamism, through strength (Qian), to bring forth inerrancy.

Through deeper study of the lines, Wang Bi, explains that “being dynamic, it is strong” is permitted through the resonance of the fifth yang and the second yin, which allows it attain centrality since the middle lines of the two outer and inner trigrams are resonant.

Top Yang

It is explained, that here (at the top yang) one is located in the most extreme conditions where one should not be errant, and it is recommended then to do nothing for safety.

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2023, November, 10th Day.

4. Inner Deities

Once again my inability to focus on a single topic has caught up on me, this is the beginning of another long term project of study focusing on the inner deities. This will also be an aid for when I decide to engage in more serious practice.

4.1 What are inner deities?

The human body is a realm, and thus it bears within it a bureaucracy. The officials within this bureaucracy are the inner deities. Just like any realm there is a hierarchy, there are departments and ministries, supervision and reign. Some of these inner deities commune with outer deities, often these is a correspondence between a certain inner deity and a certain outer deity but this is not a given.

Their maintenance – often through a cultivation technique called cun – is important, as it allows one to ensure health and longevity, even to the point of immortality, and they will defend one from demons or other noxious entities.

Additional Note: For anyone reading this unfamiliar with pinyin, the pronunciation of cun is would probably be better (but still imperfectly) approximated in English as tsun with the ts aspirated.

4.2 Inner deities recorded in the Taipingjing

Recorded within one of the texts within the Taipingjing are the Wuzang Jingshen, "Gods of the Five Viscera. "They are also referred to as Jishen, “Mounted Gods.” All of them wear crowns and ride a chariot pulled by four horses, and are in many ways representative of the four seasons and the five phases. They wore either a single garment of the color of the current season, or three layers of clothing related to the qi of the current season and the next two.

They are futher described as such: “The Eastern Jishen holds a spear, the Southern Jishen holds a halberd, the Western Jishen holds a bow and a hatchet, the Northern Jishen holds a blade, the Central Jishen holds a sword and drums.”

The purpose of cun with these deities is to maintain these deities’ functions by bringing these back when they travel outside the body back into the body. Through cun the mind wandering in Heaven can communicate with the mind wandering in one’s own body, allowing one to exert the control necessary to return the deities within one’s body.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Dayou(䷍), the 14th hexagram. Qian below, Li above. Fourth yang is old.

Dayou here means “great holdings.”

Study of the Judgement

“Great Holdings is such that it provides fundamental prevalence.” I will admit that even with Wang Bi’s commentary I have no idea what this means. I will follow with a study of the commentary on the Judgement, as well as Wang Bi’s supercommentary over said judgement to make an attempt to understand these words.

Combining these it is explained that, Great Holdings is expressed in terms of how a weak or yielding line (these are both names for yin lines) “obtains a noble position and there practices the mean and enjoys greatness, as those above and those below respond to it.” What is meant by noble position and practice of the mean is the fifth yin’s central position in the upper trigram as well as its resonance with the lower second yang. Moreover, as it is the only yin line in the hexagram it is also the master.

As explained by Wang Bi in his Clarifying the Judgements, “If one hexagram has five positive lines and one negative, then we have the negative line be the master. [. . .] And if the negative is represented by a single line, how could the five positive lines ever fail to follow it!” It is of note that this also applies the other way around.

Thus “those above and those below respond to it.”

It is then explained that through resonance with Heaven, one can emulate its greatness, allowing to keep one’s actions timely without fail. Inner, firmness and strength (Qian) allows one to continue unabated; Outer, civility and enlightenment (Li) keeps him free of wrongdoing.

Fourth Yang

It is recommended that one make us of one’s intelligence (or talents) when making decision, since doing so is wise.

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2023, November, 11th Day.

A break from Wang Bi’s commentary

I will today finish the study of the first part of Wang Bi’s General Remarks, I will not venture beyond this for a while. The simple reasons for this are a combination of fatigue – this project proved far more difficult than I first anticipated – and the fact that my mind constantly wanders towards different other topics.

I will still continue the Zhouyi divinations alongside studies of the commentaries and supercommentaries on the hexagrams themselves, however, I will not move forward with his further General Remarks. I will also continue to review the first part of his General Remarks until I’ve grasped all that I can grasp within it. I will try to produce regular (but not daily) synthesises of what I’ve grasped.

2. On Wang Bi’s Remarks on the Images

2.1 Considering the Line Positions

Wang Bi states that the Commentary on the Images never discusses whether a first or a top line are correct or out of position, the Commentary on the Appended Phrases similarly discusses certain matters only regarding the second to the fifth lines, but never on the first and top lines.

He then mines the Ten Wings Commentaries on the Hexagrams, and then he writes, “There are no definite yin and yang line positions for the first place and top place,” this he concludes from reviewing all that has been written on the hexagrams within the Ten Wings.

Positions are places ranked as either superior or inferior, abodes suitable for the capabilities with which one is endowed. Here Wang Bi makes an argument that lines should fulfill duties that are proper to them, this is what determines whether a line is correct or out of position.

He names a noble position, “one where a yang line should be”, and a humble position, “one where a yin line should be.”

He then surmises that through exclusion of the first and top lines:

  1. The third and fifth lines ought to be noble positions, for they are the uppermost positions for which a line can either be correct or out of position.

  2. Conversely then, the second and fourth lines ought to be humble positions, for they are beneath the above.

The question on why however the first and top lines don’t have a designated position remains, Wang Bi explains that this is because they represent, respectively, what precedes and what follows a given situation, and thus are not constant.

And so although there are no fixed position for them, there must nonetheless be six lines, since all situations have a beginning and an end.

Assorted notes on Qi, Yin, and Yang

The Heavenly Master in the Taipingjing explains that when the first humans were born they did not need to eat. This is because they were nourished by the yuan qi, the “primal qi” or “qi of origin”; or the ziran zhi qi, tentatively translated as “qi of spontaneity” or “qi of naturalness.”

“When under heaven people were born and received life, their bodies divided off of Heaven and Earth.” All birth is a miracle, for it is born of the union between Heaven (yang) and Earth (yin). “They embraced the yuanqi naturally, never drinking nor eating. They lived breathing the qi of yin and yang, and did not know of thirst and hunger.” In the next section instead of yuanqi it is the fact that the ziran zhi qi was once contained within creatures that allowed them these incredible feats, that we now know as “immortality.”

However this state of things would of course not last, the spirits of the people would drift away from the Dao and drift towards the artificial, giving rise to thirst and hunger. This state of affaris would exhaust the Great Dao, and the tianqi, the “qi of Heaven,” became unable to follow, protect and look after all living things. All this would give rise to death.

Out of pity, Heaven and Earth would produce food and drinks for the errant humans, who had now become mortal.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Guimei(䷵), the 54th hexagram. Dui below, Zhen above. None of the lines are old.

Guimei here means “marrying maiden.”

Study of the Judgement

“The marrying maiden is such that to set forth would mean misfortune. There is nothing at all fitting here.” Regarding the divination itself, the given correct action to take – none – is very straightforward, thus we shall continue with the study of its esoteric meaning instead.

Wang Bi explains: that “mei(妹) is a term for the youngest daughter”, and that correspondingly the inner trigram Dui is the youngest yin. Zhen then he says, is the eldest yang, and ought to therefore implicitly represent the eldest son. Here the youngest yin carries the eldest yang.

A note I will make here is that, Wang Bi says that Dui here “acts out of joy” in subordination to Zhen, and this is the image of Marrying Maiden. I make this note to state, I will not be taking each and every single one of Wang Bi’s beliefs as absolute. Shameless as it is for someone like me to say, much as Wang Bi was a venerable genius (He was one of China’s most influential philosophers despite dying at the mere age of 23), I will choose to disregard beliefs I see as outdated to some degree. After all he lived and died in the 3rd Century. I will now continue with my study.

It is then said that “Marrying Maiden expresses the great meaning of Heaven and Earth,” this is because the marriage between Heaven and Earth – that is to say the union of yang and yin – is that which produced all things. Thus “Marrying Maiden is an expression of humankind from beginning to end.”

On a bizzarre note

On a bizzarre note, I was just about done drinking an afternoon coffee when I heard — tok tok tok — three crisp knocks coming from the entrance. Now that i think of it, it was not the typical hurried knock of someone trying to get your attention, rather it was an almost mechanical sound. But when I rushed to it and peered through the peephole, the lights were off and there was clearly no one there.

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2023, November, 12th Day.

Guarding the One, Taipingjing

“Guarding the One” is one of the terms used by Daoists to refer to meditation. That said, in some texts it refers to various specific tecniques. In here I will be exclusively referring to it as defined in the Taipingjing. I have chosen to begin the practice of meditation with this tecnique for two reasons:

  1. It is the oldest Daoist meditation technique detailed in a text. This is not meant to be an appeal to tradition, but rather my assumption that, the earlier a tecnique is the simpler it is (as future texts would likely either take is as a given that one is already familiar with older texts, or elaborate on older techniques with more refined but complicated methods), making it ideal to my status as a complete and utter beginner.
  2. Moreover, the text reads as if the technique is indeed meant for beginners. In fact, it does not jump immediately to the practice itself. Rather it gives instructions to train one’s concentration first.

The tecnique is detailed as such:

Part I (Training One’s Concentration)

One must first prepare a meditation chamber. Lock the doors and not allow anyone to enter. One should then examine oneself, and if one is unable to concentrate properly then one ought to leave, as there’s no way to force the practice. Eventually one should repeat this until they gradually get used to it, and finally attain sufficient concentration.

Part II (Meditation)

In a state of mental peace one does not wish to leave the room, one does not seek to chat with anyone. Eating and drinking will still be necessary, but one can otherwise easily be without the company of others. One can then turn one’s mental gaze to the inside and observe one’s own body and physical appearance. It should be seen as if in a mirror, as if you were inspecting your reflection in water.

Beyond this, details taken from the Taipingjing Shengjun Mizhi – a collection of texts supplementary to the Taipingjing– expand upon with greater precision what one ought to eventually see.

It’s said that when one is not first refined at Guarding the One Light (This is the name given to it in one of the two passages I’m synthetizing the information of here), it will be pitch-dark when one closes one’s eyes. After Guarding the One for a longer time one will naturally produce radiance (That is to say one will see an inner light after closing one’s eyes, not that one will emit light). At first this radiance wll be like that of a firefly, but after a long while it will be like lightning.

This will become part of my daily morning practice alongside Zhouyi divination, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to detail anything at all in the beginning due to my lack of any spiritual training whatsoever. I will probably fix it at 7 AM, to give leeway for divination practice as well as to make sure I’m fully cleared before I commit to it.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Guimei(䷵), the 54th hexagram. Dui below, Zhen above. Fifth yin is old.

Guimei here means “marrying maiden.”

As I’d studied this just yesterday, I will only study fifth yin.

Fifth Yin

Act with nobility, even if you are not the best at a certain task.

For the sake of full transparency, this has been heavily editorialized (and interpreted) by me. The text proper is rather misogynistic, which makes me somewhat uncomfortable. What is written here is what I contemplated in the morning, not what is the result of deep and careful study. For this I apologize.

Today’s Meditation

I failed. I lasted only a mere five minutes and saw nothing other than that which one would normally see with their eyes tightly closed.

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2023, November, 13th Day.

Assorted Notes on Wang Bi’s Remarks

On “The One”

The One is that which governs all things. This does not necessarily mean that the One is a thinking, conscious being, rather it is akin to how matter is governed by the law of gravitation. But how can we surmise this?

Wang Bi states, “The many cannot govern the many,” this is because for there to be something that we can call many it must be in contrast with something of lesser amount. Following this chain of reasoning we then contrast amount with lesser amount until we reach that which is the smallest amount the One. But how can the One govern the many?

We can understand this by further study. Wang Bi states, " Activity cannot govern activity," using our previous reasoning activity must be contrasted with its opposite, which we shall call constancy. There must be a constant principle that governs activity. This principle cannot be drawn from the many, this is because there is then a contradiction:

  1. If each of the many has a different principle, then we have an immediate contradiction. There is no possibility of constancy in a world where the many are ruled by different principles.
  2. Then, if the many have the same principle, then there is nonetheless another contradiction. The many are then not governed by the many, but by one singular constant principle.

Wang Bi calls this principle the One.

Consequently, though there are many principles, they all derive from the One principle. All things behave according to their own principles, regulated by the fundamental regulator; and born from the primordial generator. These are both functions that the One principle undertakes, passively. Primordial generator, because as said above all principles derive from it; fundamental regulator, because being derived from it no principle can contradict it.

On the Study of Hexagrams

Therefore the multiplicity of principles creates a world that is complex, but not one that is chaotic. This is why it is possible to enclose within just sixty-four hexagrams the truth of many things. Further, since, “No thing ever behaves haphazardly but necessarily follows its own principle,” we can even pick out just a single line and study it in accordance to its own principle.

We can thus study the totality of all things provided we hold fast to the One, and although the world nonetheless remains impossibly large and complex, we know that it is possible to cover it with just one name. The citation of the name of the hexagram then allows us to find the controlling principle within its meaning. The Judgement further helps us understand the ideas that are involved.

Wang Bi also remarks, “As the hard ones and the soft ones supersede one another, one can establish which one is the master and use it to determine how all are ordered.” In his other Clarifactions, Wang Bi uses the word “master” to describe various matters. But here, given it refers to hard ones, that is to say yang lines, and soft ones, that is to say yin lines, it is likely limited to what he says shortly thereafter.

“The rare is what the many value; the one that is unique is the one the multitudes make their chief.” This is the principle according to which, if there are five yang lines and one yin line then the one yin line is the master and vice versa. Why is this?

This question partly returns to the first matter discussed, “the many cannot govern the many,” and much of the same principles also apply. However, Wang Bi further adds, “Now what the negative seeks after is the positive, and what the positive seeks after is the negative.” This is what will later be discussed as the principle of resonance, however I will not discuss it here.

Wang Bi follows, stating that there are some hexagrams where the substance of a hexagram requires the study of its trigrams rather than its lines. An example of this is the Guimei hexagram I’ve studied yesterday and the day before so, where its study revolves around the relationship between is constituent trigrams Dui and Zhen.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Gu(䷵), the 18th hexagram. Xun below, Gen above. Third yang and top yang are old.

Gu here means “ills to be cured.”

Study of the Judgement

The hexagram Gu is made up of compliance, the trigram Xun for it is a soft trigram, and immovableness, the trigram Gen, as it is a hard trigram. The situation in which there are ills to be cured is such that it “provides an opportunity for fundamental prevalence,” that is to say that one ought to cure these ills that present themselves so that “the entire world will become well ordered.”

This hexagram signifies a time when there are problems that await for someone capable of dealing with them. And thus the Dao of Gu will allow one to take action.

Third Yang and Top Yang

Third Yang: Here it says that one who uses rectitude to straighten out the father’s affairs will have slight regret but nonetheless it incurs no great blame. Third yang is in a proper position, that is to say that the third line is ideally a yang line, however it “has slight regret”, this is because it does not resonate with the top line.

Top Yang: Here it says that one should not concern themselves with the affairs of “king or feudal lords” but should purse works that will elevate one’s own higher pursuits.

Today’s Meditation

Same as yesterday. My progress might be quite slow on this front.

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2023, November, 14th Day.

Personal Thoughts

It’s become pretty clear to me that my progress in meditation will be quite slow. This puts me once again in a position where I have to modify my plans. I’m gonna need some time to absorb what I’ve learned so far, however I don’t want my progress to slow down so immensely.

I am then considering anticipating my future planned study of Kabbalah by trying to get a grasp on the Torah with some commentaries. I am considering alternating this with the study of the Yijing with Wang Bi’s commentary. On this note, once I’m finished with the Yijing, I won’t focus full-time on the Torah but will pick another classic to study. It will likely be another Wang Bi commentary, but I don’t know for sure, alternatively it might just be literature if I want to take a break.

I haven’t figured out a proper schedule yet, but it might be weekly. This is so I can structure my study as:

  1. Monday to Friday, I take notes.

  2. Saturday or Sunday, I synthetize what I’ve learned.

I’ll begin this schedule starting today. The purpose of this is to try and acclimate myself to what the Kabbalah makes reference to, not to inform my future practice. I am not sure when I will schedule a full study of the rest of the Tanakh.

A few additional personal notes:

  1. I am admittedly rather unfamiliar with both Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Bible so I might make some embarassing mistakes. For these I apologize.

  2. I am also unfamiliar with how I’m meant to use either Jewish or Christian commentaries, so it may take me a while to get used to it.

  3. I was told by a friend that if one can’t read the Torah in Hebrew, it is ideal to read two translations. I will try to do this, and it may contribute further to my slow progress in this.

Torah Study Notes (Genesis 1:1)

According to the Stone Edition’s annotations, “The Torah is not a history book, but the charter of Man’s mission in the universe.”

It is also stated in the aforementioned edition that “the name Elohim denotes God in His Attribute of Justice, as Ruler, Lawgiver, and Judge of the world.”

Rashi’s commentary states, “It does not state Adonai (The Lord, the Merciful One) created,” because at first God intended to create a world ruled by strict justice, but realizing that such a world could not endure he gave precedence to the attribute mercy and joined it with the attribute of justice. This is conveyed in (Genesis 2:4b)“When the Lord God (Adonai Elohim) made Earth and Heaven.”

Genesis begins with the moment of God’s creation of Heaven and Earth. It is mentioned that an alternate reading of this is “In the beginning God created,” however a grammatical argument is made by Rashi that this is incorrect. In fact, Rashi states: “The text does not intend to point out the order of the acts of Creation — to state that these (Heaven and Earth) were creted first.”

This is further elucidated by Ramban: The answer is that the process of creation is a deep mystery not to be understood from the verses, and it cannot truly be known except through the tradition going back to Moses our teacher who received it from the mouth of the Almighty, and those who know it are obligated to conceal it.” (Emphasis given as I quoted mor e than necessary, however I felt the full quote was interesting in itself.)

Ramban then elucidates on the word “reshith” (Beginning). He quotes that which the Rabbis have said in various texts, then explains:

"The word ‘bereshith’ alludes to the creation of the world by Ten Emanations, and hints in particular to the emanation called Wisdom, in which is the foundation of everything, even as it says, ‘The Eternal hath founded the earth by wisdom.’ " He then elucidates on reshith as it referred to that which he quoted before:

Quote Elucidation
Reshith surely signifies the Dough-offering, as it is said, "'“The first of your dough”. Reshith surely signifies the Tithes, as it is said, “The first of thy corn” This is the Heave-offering, and it is holy; it has no precise measure, thus indicating the little understanding created beings have of it. Now just as a man counts ten measures — this alludes to the Ten Emanations — and sets aside one measure of the ten as a Tithe, so do the wise men contemplate the tenth Emanation and speak about it. The Dough-offering, which is the single commandment pertaining to the dough, alludes to this.
Israel is the Eternal’s hallowed portion, the ‘reshith’ (first-fruits) of His increase.” [. . .] Reshith surely signifies the First-fruits, as it is said, “The first-fruits of thy land.” The Rabbis have further said: “For the merit acquired by Moses, as it is said, And he chose a first part for himself.” Now Israel, which is called reshith as mentioned above, is “the congregation of Israel,” which is compared in the Song of Songs to a bride and whom Scripture in turn calls “daughter,” “sister” and “mother.” The Rabbis have already expressed this in a homiletic interpretation of the verse, Upon the crown wherewith his mother hath crowned him, and in other places. Similarly, the verse concerning Moses, And he chose a first part for himself, which they [the Rabbis in the above Midrash] interpret to mean that Moses our teacher contemplated [the Deity] through a lucid speculum, and he saw that which is called reshith (the first) for himself, and therefore he merited the Torah.

Note on Above

I am hoping this gets easier, because I haven’t even gone further than one verse.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Xun(䷸), the 57th hexagram. Xun below, Xun above. Second yang, third yang, fourth yin, and top yang are old.

Xun here means “Compliance.”

Study of the Judgement

Because this entire hexagram consists only of Compliance, that is to say the trigram Xun, “prevalence can only be had on a small scale.” There is compliance for both superiors and subordinates , who will faithfully carry out commands as a matter of course. One ought to conduct themselves with Compliance, as it will make one’s Dao prosper.

The repeated Xun trigrams express how commands are reiterated. It is possible to be hard and strong whilst practicing compliance, in fact doing so will allow others to “identify with him,” that is to say that his subordinates would be obedient to him. This is what is intended by prevalence on a small scale.

Second Yang

There is fortune here, so long as one adheres to the Mean. That is to say that one should not lose rectitude, that is to say correct behaviour, because of excessive servility, that is to say by being too compliant.

Third Yang

There will be regret in practicing Compliance because one’s will will be exhausted as one has been forced into something one cannot avoid, thus “This one practices Compliance with a scowl.”

Fourth Yin

However, one’s regret will vanish, as they will succeed in attaining a meritorious achievement.

Top Yang

And finally, one’s Compliance will be completely and utterly exhausted, this will provoke them into being unable to practice righteousness. That is to say they will eventually suffer misfortune.

Today’s Meditation

I am calmer than the previous two days, but I am still unable to perceive anything.

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2023, November, 15th Day.

Assorted Notes on Wang Bi

What are the hexagram lines?

“They address the states of change.” Change is that which is brought about by:

  1. The interaction of the innate tendency of things.
  2. Their countertendencies.

What is meant by countertendency? It is when the substance and its innate tendency are in opposition, and material and its inclination are in contradiction. Examples ar e given to clarify this:

Substance and innate tendency in opposition

  • When something that tends to coalescence would disperse.
  • When something that tends to contraction would expand.

Material and inclination are in contradiction

  • A thing inclined to agitation yearns to be still.
  • A soft material that craves to be hard.

No matter how meticulous one is, it is impossible to keep track of change. And it is impossible to set standards for them, for neither law nor measurements can stay at pace with change.

On the lines

Wang Bi provides explains, “Adjacent lines are not necessarily amicable toward one another, and distant lines are not necessarily hostile.” He then goes further in explaining the innate tendency of certain opposites to attract.

  • Things with the same tonality resonate together, despite not having the same pitch
  • Things with the same material force seek out one another, despite being different in substance

Wang Bi states that if people understood innate tendency, “they would not grieve at contrariness and distance” (for example, this is to say they would not be homesick), and if they understood the inclination involved, “they would not try to settle things through arms.” For this last one, Wang Bi explained, “If troops disarmed themselves on dispersive ground, even the six relations will not be able to protect one another, but if they were to share the same boat to cross a river, what possible harm cold happen to the men of Hu and Yue in spite of the treachery they feel for each other!”

A Digression

For some context on the last quote, “six relations” (六親, liùqīn) here refers to one’s closest kin. That is to say, one’s three superiors (father, husband, elder brother), and one’s subordinates (son, wife, younger brother). These were once considered the fundamental building blocks of society in (ancient) China. Needless to say it is an outdated hierarchical way of thinking. However, I will note that these relationships were ideally meant to go both ways. That is to say for example, in theory, a wife need not obey a husband that did not observe his proper duties.

Variations of the six relations also exist, for example one has the three superiors as: prince, friend, teacher; and the three subordinates as: minister, friend, student.

For the sake of further context, “The men of Hu and Yue” (胡越, Hú Yuè), is an expression used to refer to what were in ancient times termed respectively, the “barbarians to the north or west” (胡, Hú), and the “barbarians to the south” (越, Yuè). In some versions of the text this reads “The men of Wuyue” (吳越, Wúyuè), but this is likely to be the incorrect version.

Returning to the original topic

It is the understanding of innate tendency and contradiction that allows one “to see how things in opposition still yield knowledge of their kinds, and to see how different things still yield knowledge of their continuity.” One should comprehend the innate tendency involved so that one may follow it, for abrupt action will be counterproductive.

So the sages, who understood these things, created analogous models that captured change and transformation through their knowledge of innate tendency and inclination. Creating the instruments necessary to allow one to have the capacity for action. Change is the rhythm that all under heaven follow.

This is why the hexagram lines perfectly emulate the transformations of Heaven and Earth. For the sages who had a thorough grasp of the Dao of day (yang) and night (yin) constructed an analogous model that only required two sorts of lines, yin and yang lines, to follow every twist and turn of the myriad things. That which they are able to represent is inexhaustible.

And so the hexagrams are the means to preserve the moments of time, and the lines are the means to indicate the change involved.

Torah Study Notes (Genesis 1:1-1:6)

According to Ramban, God create everything that exists under or above the sun from non-existence. From nothing God brought to exsitence a “very thin substance devoid of corporeality but having a power of potency, fit to assume form and to proceed from potentiality into reality,” the Greeks called this substance hyly. God created nothing else, but simply formed and made things with and from hyly. And so the whole of existence, the heavens and the earth, consist only of one substance. In Hebrew this substance is called tohu, and when given form it is called bohu.

In the same commentary it then explains the meaning of “And the Earth was ‘tohu’ (unformed) ‘vavohu’ (and void)” (Genesis 1:2), explaining that the Earth was tohu, “a thing which then astonishes people”. Then turned into bohu, “a thing which has substance,” for it is a composite word bo hu, “In it there is substance”.

Ramban states, “Elohim” means “the Master of all forces.”

When “God (Elohim) created the heavens”, it is meant that He brought hyly from nothing; “and the earth” means that He then created all the four elements (fire, wind, water, and earth), not just land.

The Heavens, includes the sun, moon, stars, and constellations. The Earth, includes the trees, herbs, and the Garden of Eden.

Tohu was matter without substace. It became Bohu when he clothed it with form. This form, it is explained, includes the four elements. The word ha’aretz (the earth) includes these four elements:

  • Fire is called “darkness” because the elemental fire is dark. Were it red, it would redden the night.
  • Water is called “deep.”
  • Air is called “spirit.”

“Scripture thus states that the earth took on form, and the fire above enveloped the intermingled waters and dust, and the wind blew and rose in the darkness and hovered over the waters.”

Personal Note: “Tohu wa-bohu,” as explained elsewhere (not Ramban’s interpretation), is as a concept strikingly similar to that of Hùndùn (混沌), the state of the universe before the separation of Heaven (yang) and Earth (yin) in some Chinese texts.

“When He created the substance of the Heavens, He said that from that substance there should come forth a shining matter called ‘light.’” The verse then does not say, “And it was so,” as in the other days, because light did not remain in this state all the time, as did other creations. Ramban then hints at a secret interpretation of the Rabbis concerning this matter.

The Emanations from God are called “days,” for every Divine Saying (“And God said”) which evoked an existence is called “day.” “the Emanations issuing from the Most High are called “days,” for every Divine Saying which evoked an existence is called ‘day.’ These were six, for Unto God there is the greatness, and the power, etc.’ The Sayings, however, are ten because regarding the first three Emanations, the term “day” does not apply at all.”

The process of creation is divided into two steps. The bringing forth of things from nothingness into existence is called amirah (saying). And the granting of permanence to things called into existence is called re’iyah (seeing). This is why “God said [. . .]” is not always followed by “God saw that [. . .] was good.” The purpose of the word “seeing” indicates that God’s Will is for a certain thing to continue existing.

“God separated the light from the darkness,” does not refer to the darkness in the second verse (Genesis 1:2), as that refers to fire. Here instead it refers to the absence of light.

“God called the light Day and called the darkness Night.” The matter of calling a name here indicates the division which bounded them when they assumed form.

“In the midst of the waters.” Here Ramban hints at the secrets of creation, which he is obligated to conceal.

Today’s Divination

This early morning’s divination gave Sun(䷨), the 41st hexagram. Dui below, Gen above. Second yang, fourth yin, and top yang are old.

Xun here means “Diminution.”

Study of the Judgement

Although one suffers Diminution, it is still possible to have good fortune. It would be fitting to do something here. Two simple vessels may be used to make sacrifice.

Second Yang

Do not quickly set forth, but practice constancy, or one will suffer misfortune.

Fourth Yin

Afterwards, one may diminish his anxiety. For he may then act quickly, as he will have reason to be joyful.

Top Yang

Finally, one will suffer no Diminuton but only enjoy Increase without blame. One can carry out their will with great success.

Today’s Meditation

Same as yesterday.

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2023, November, 16th Day.

Assorted Notes on Wang Bi

Yesterday’s notes were extremely muddled and unclear because I tried to stick too close to the text. For this I apologize. I will re-synthetize parts of that with that which Wang Bi discusses shortly after.

“What are the hexagram lines? They address the states of change.” What is change? It is what results from the interaction between the inherent nature of things and their yearning to become what they are not. This is reflected in the fact that when we perform divination with the Zhouyi, we only study old lines. This is because those lines yearn to become their opposite.

Now what are the hexagrams themselves? They deal with moments of time, and the lines represent states of change appropriate to those times. Moments of time entail either an obstacle or an opening. This is why the application of a given hexagram is either a matter of action or withrawal.

The hexagrams were created by the sages of antiquity. Why? Because they wanted to create an instrument so that man could take correct action. How? Through a thorough grasp of the Dao of day (yang) and night (yin), which allowed them to construct images that perfectly emulated Heaven (yang) and Earth (yin).

Note: The following paragraph involves significant amounts of my own personal deductions on Wang Bi’s thoughts, take with a grain of salt. I’m very much a beginner and an amateur. The views don’t necessarily reflect my own, but those I think belong to Wang Bi.

Why are hexagrams constructed as they are? Why do they have six lines? No definitive answer can be given to this question, we can only attempt to glean a small understanding of what the sages thought. First, we must consider the hexagram as made up of its two constituent trigrams. These emulate the relationship between Heaven and Earth, that is to say that of superior and subordinate; and are also representative of the Inner and the Outer, that is to say what is within one’s home and what is outside, or by analogy, one’s inner self and the outside world. But to represent these one only requires two lines, why six? We shall now study the constituent lines. We should first group these six lines into two groups: the first and the top line, and the four lines inbetween. We shall first study the four lines, these are separated from the first group by the fact that they have correct and incorrect positions. That is to say, some lines should ideally be either yang or yin. Why is this? This like the trigrams emulates the relationship between superior and subordinate. Why is it necessary to model it three times? Two reasons. Heaven and Earth contain within themselves models of the greater cosmos. Moreover, when the undifferentiated first separated, it created a superior, Heaven, and a subordinate, Earth. We can therefore assume that this relationship is a fundamental principle. We shall now discuss the first group, the first and top lines. These represent respectively, that which is before the moment of change and that which is after the moment. This is of fundamental importance for the hexagrams to be able to model reality. As complex situations may be represented by one hexagram after the other, as the top line of one is the first line of another.

End of speculation

Torah Study Notes (Genesis 1:6-1:8)

Ramban’s Commentary

What is the meaning of the word shamayim, “Heavens”? It means shem mayim, “A name for waters.” Meaning that “heaven” is the name given to the waters whey took on new form. So the names “Heaven” and “Earth” in the first verse refers to the names they would be given in the future. However, it is more correct to say that the ehavens mentioned in the first verse are the upper heavens, which are not part of the lower spheres but are above the merkavah (the Divine Chariot). “It is on account of these higher heavens that the Holy One, blessed be He, is called He Who rideth upon the heavens.”

Scripture however did not write anything on their creation, in the same way it does not discuss the creation of the angels, the chayoth of the merkavah, and all Separate Intelligences which are incorporeal. (I have no idea what any of these are.)

The heavens mentioned in the first verse, are the ones that contain the Throne of the Holy One. But there is a sublime and hidden secret in the name “the heaven” and in the name “the throne.” The heavens were not createed from nought but from another preceding substance, “the light of the garment.”

Personal Note

I have elected to temporarily discard daily Zhouyi divination studies to save time. This is largely due to private reasons that are making me significantly busier. I will only report on meditation whenever I manage to achieve significant progress.

I am also hoping that past Genesis Torah study gets easier, because I am so lost.


2023, November, 17th Day.

Torah Study Notes (Genesis 1:9-1:19)

Unless stated otherwise, these are all notes taken from Ramban’s commentary.

Third Day

The proper name for the dry land would be yabashah, because as the waters are separated from sand it becomes dry. However, God called it eretz, Earth, as it included the four elements created on the first day.

In the second day it is not stated, ki tov — “that it was good.” This is because the work associated with the waters wouldn’t be completed until the thrid day. This is why this is repeated twice on the third day.

It is said by the Rabbis that “On the third day He created three creations: trees, grass, and the garden of Eden.”

Fourth Day

Light was created on the first day, but the firmament created in the second day intercepted the light and prevented it from illuminating the lower elements. So on the third day, Earth in darkness. God thefore decreed that there would be luminaries in the firmament, that would illuminat the Earth.

The Rabbis say, “The sphere of the sun is an offshoot of the upper light.” This is because this realm does not deserve the primeval light without an intermediary.

The lights were not made from the body of the firmament, they were set into it.

“And God set them [. . .] to dominate the day and the night.” This is a different matter from the function of shining upon the Earth. “Their rulership over the earth comprises the changes which they cause in it and the power of bringing about the existence and deterioration of all things in the lower world since the sun, by its rule during the day, causes the sprouting, the propagation and the growth of all the warm and dry things, while the moon by its rule increases the springs and the oceans, and all liquid and cold things.”

“It is possible that the rulership given to them contains also a power of emanation for they are the leaders of things in the lower world, and with their power, every ruling power in nature holds sway. Thus the constellation which comes up by day rules during it, even as it is written, ‘The sun and the moon and the stars… which the Eternal thy G-d hath allotted unto all the peoples.’ And this is what Scripture means when it says, ‘He counteth the number of the stars; He giveth them all their names,’ likewise, ‘He calleth them all by name.’ For the calling of names signifies the differentiation in their respective powers, giving to this one the power of justice and righteousness, and to that one the power of blood and the sword, and similarly all other powers, as is known in astrology.”

“And to divide the light from the darkness.” This too is a matter of rulership. The greater luminary will rule by day and light will be everywhere, and the smaller luminary will rule by night.

Personal Notes

I might have to learn about astrology. If it’s referenced particularly often in Ramban’s commentary, I’ll probably study it once I’m done with the Torah.

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2023, November, 18th Day.

Torah Study Notes (Genesis 1:20-2:4a)

Unless stated otherwise, these are all notes taken from Ramban’s commentary.

Fifth Day

Plants do not have a soul. Only in moving beings the power of growth is a soul. Moving beings are nefesh chayah, “a living soul.”

"‘The great sea-monsters’ are the Leviathan and its mate which He created male and female. He then slew the female and preserved it in salt for the benefit of the righteous in the hereafter."

Sixth Day

“Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness.” Man was created from the Earth like the previous living creatures before him, so what is the meaning of “In Our image, and after Our likeness?” It means that man will be similar in capacity to both the Earth, in that his body will be similar to it as he was made from it, and in spirit he will be similar to the higher beings, because it is not a body and will not die.

Meat was forbidden to mankind until the time of the “sons of Noah,” according to the Rabbis. “The reason for this was that creatures possessing a moving soul have a certain superiority as regards their soul, resembling in a way those who possess the rational soul: they have the power of choice affecting their welfare and their food, and they flee from pain and death.”

“But when they sinned, and all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth, and it was decreed that they die in the flood, and for the sake of Noah He saved some of them to preserve the species, He gave the sons of Noah permission to slaughter and eat them since their existence was for his sake”

“And God saw all that he made and, behold, it was mostly good.” The meaning of the word me’od is “mostly.” God added this word on the sixth day because He was speaking of creation in general, which contains evil in some parts of it.

Seventh Day

“Host of the Earth”: are beasts, creeping things, fish, and all growing things, and also man.
“Host of the Heavens”: are the two luminaries and the stars, the Separate Intelligences, and also the souls of mankind.

Adam was the light of the world for a thousand years.

Personal Note

I’m getting way too busy :smiling_face_with_tear:

2023, November, 20th Day.

Still busy due to sudden unfortunate circumstances, I will be forced to study the occult less than I’d like.

Assorted Notes on Wang Bi

Notes on General Remarks, Part Two

“If a hexagram embodies all four virtues, they succeed one another with precedence going in turn to the more prevalent, [. . .] the order is stated as ‘fundamentality, prevalence, fitness, constancy’” This is to say that if one is given a certain hexagram and it embodies all four virtues, then one should first practice constancy to attain fitness, practicing fitness will then attain prevalence, and prevalence in such a case will attain fundamentality. If a given hexagram embodies only some of these, for example prevalence and constancy, then the same rules apply in order: practice constancy and you will attain prevalence.

The Commentary on the Judgements always provides a discussion on the hexagram as a whole, this is why if it depends entirely on a single line. That is to say in the case where there are five yang lines and one yin line, or five yin lines and one yang line, it will explain the essence of that line which will provide a complete understanding of the meaning of the entire hexagram. When a hexagram does not depend on a single line, then the Commentary on the Judgements will explain it on the basis of its two constituent trigrams.

Notes on Some of the Language Wang Bi uses

This will contain (unmarked) corrections on previous notes, alongside simple summaries.

  • Resonance, when corresponding lines on opposing trigrams (for example, first line and fourth line) are of opposite kinds to one another. Wang Bi explains that this is because “All yin lines and all yang lines are entitites that seek to form partnerships with the opposite kind.” Nonetheless, opposite lines that are adjacent to one another avoid forming partnerships, because they have different goals. There are exceptions to the rule of opposites, though rare. This is because “hexagrams involve either decrease or growth,” that is to say that some hexagrams dealing with growth may have corresponding lines of the same kind resonate and viceversa (that is, hexagrams dealing with decrease can have corresponding lines of the opposite kind not resonate).

  • X line carries Y line, this means that X line is below Y line. When a yin line carries a yang line, they are congruous; when a yang line carries a yin line, they are incongruous.

  • X line rides Y line, this means that X line is above Y line. The rules for congruity and incongruity are also true here.

  • Distance, this means specifically “to be distant from trouble.” Lines distant from trouble indicate ease, this refers to the fact that “Hexagrams deal with moments of time, lines are concerned with the states of change appropriate to those times. Moments of time entail either difficulty or ease.”

  • Proximity, this means specifically “proximity to trouble.” What is written above applies here as well.

Wang Bi’s Proper Positions for the lines:

Line Correct Position
Top None
Fifth Yang
Fourth Yin
Third Yang
Second Yin
First None
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2023, November, 21st Day.

Notes on “Providing the Sequence of the Hexagrams”

“Only after there were Heaven and Earth were the myriad things produced from them.” This is why the first two hexagrams are Qian (Made up of only yang lines and thus representing Heaven), and Kun (Made up of only yin lines, representing Earth). This is the most common and basic sequence given in ancient Chinese thought for the sequence of the creation of the cosmos, sometimes also expressed as “One produces Two, Two produces Three.” To be noted here is that in some texts the two (yin and yang) aren’t directly identified as Heaven and Earth, but are instead generated by the Three. This is a good example of why generalizations of Chinese thought (even within singular lineages) should ideally be avoided.

Zhun, here given as “Birth Throes,” (It will be implicit from here on that every translation given follows either Wang Bi’s or his student’s interpretation) then naturally follows after Qian (Heaven) and Kun Earth). This immature early state of the cosmos is then represented by the hexagram Meng, “Juvenile ignorance.”

“When things are in their immature state, one cannot fail to nourish them.” This is Xu, “Waiting.” How is it that Xu represents nourishment? This is because of what is said in one of the Ten Wings, the Commentary on the Images: “The noble man takes this opportunity to enjoy himself in drinking and eating.”

Assorted Notes

Prior to the rise of Greek philosophy, the ancient Greeks assumed that nature (their ancient word for which is physis) was not understandable, as it was the product of unfathomable powers and under the whims of unseen forces. Greek philosophy then began as a rejection of the idea that nature was incomprehensible, though they did not reject that it was under the whims of unseen – sometimes divine – forces.

And so they thought that nature was a kosmos (an orderly arrangement), with a logos (a rational account, in this case an explanation for this order).

Where do humans seeking to understand nature fit in this order? There are two broad possibilities:

  1. Humans in of themselves have an order, a “microcosmos.” That is to say since we are part of nature, we can understand it by introspection.
  2. In trying to understand it we stand outside of nature, as our understanding of it can only be a representation of its true order.
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