Research Paper: I Ching Classical Understand

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[. . .] The lines themselves are based on the principal of yin and yang, as has already been mentioned.

I Ching from the point-of-view of Aleister Crowley:

In the West there has been a limited interest towards the Oriental philosophy, and "there remain entrenched Eurocentric attitudes which tend to marginalize the influence of Eastern thought on the West." However, the exception has been Aleister Crowley, who created his own religion under the banner of A*A* or Argentum Astrum. The religion and the very figure of Aleister Crowley have been surrounded by undeserved controversy, which is often the result of a lack of understanding of this work. From an analytical point-of-view, it can be claimed the teachings and the religion which he preached was very human centric approach. The focus was on the individual and how we connected and committed himself to the norms and rituals of the Order. [15: Clarke, J.J. Oriental Enlightenment: The encounter between Asian and Western Thought. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1997.]

Crowley too has made his own attempt to present an understanding of the I Ching and the work has been considered to be of considerable merit. Exactly how the interested developed in this direction is a question which is again of considerable debate, since little mention has been done of this acquaintance by Crowley himself, in his work "Confessions." Although his visits to China Town are mentioned in the above mentioned work, it was not until December 13th 1907, when in his work "Liber Trigrammaton XXVII" did he synthesize the "duality of Yin/Yang (represented by the solid and broken lines of the Yi King) with the Tao (represented in this system by a dot), resulting in a series of 27 trigrams." [16: Frater. The I Ching and Western Esotericism. Jade Hexagram Press, 1998.] [17: n.d. "Aleister Crowley & the Yi King." n.d. Scribd. 24th March 2012 .]

The Comparison of Crowley's and the Classical framework:

The I Ching has provided for many interpretations to the meanings that can be attached with the hexagrams. When a comparison study is conducted between the meanings that have been given by Crowley, as compared to the original text, there are many a huge differences that can be seen.

Consider the number 1 hexagram for example; in the Classical I Ching, it is being defined as the "CH'IEN" or in other words, "THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN," which is made up of six unbroken lines, of the yin principle only. These lines have been associated with the "primal power, which is light-giving, active, strong, and of the spirit." The lines that are associated with this hexagram are, [18: Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baynes. I Ching: Or, Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.]

Nine at the beginning means:

Hidden dragon. Do not act.

Nine in the second place means:

Dragon appearing in the field.

It furthers one to see the great man.

Nine in the third place means:

All day long the superior man is creatively active.

At nightfall his mind is still beset with cares.

Danger. No blame.

Nine in the fourth place means:

Wavering flight over the depths.

No blame.

Nine in the fifth place means:

Flying dragon in the heavens.

It furthers one to see the great man.

Nine at the top means:

Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent.

When all the lines are nines, it means:

There appears a flight of dragons without heads.

Good fortune

Again the interpretation of the text would require a bit of an understanding of the Eastern tradition and their cultural elements. The dragon mentioned here, in China holds a place of respect and even that of an "electrically charged, dynamic, arousing force. This force is manifested in many forms including that of a thunderstorm, a force which in the winters withdraws within the earth, only to reappear in the summer. In the first two lines, the dragon is shown hidden and therefore has no effect on anything and anyone. This is synonymous of a man who is hidden and is not yet known to the world for his talent or any other greatness that he may possess. He waits patiently for the right time, like the lighting, which waits for the summer to make an appearance again. This man is no rush for he truly recognizes the strength of his own power.

The next lines represent the dragon making an appearance again, for it is now the right time to make an appearance. He has not made an impact yet, but he has been destined with a purpose. By the third stanza, the man appears to have started making an influence and his fame is becoming to spread. However, the many worries continue to possess him even at night, when the rest of the world is at rest.

The fourth stanza promises a point for the individual when he has soared to heights of great success, and at a position where he can play a great role in the society. This success only continues to soar by the fifth stanza where he reaches to the heavenly steps in regards to his influence and the blessings with which he is blessed.

The image associated with this hexagram is that of heaven, and since its energy is considered unrestricted, therefore it is directly linked with motion. It expresses, in regards to the human world, the creative power that are embodied in any man, and it is through these power that he can take forward his own growth in a more mature form.

The word however mostly used in this regard is "higher nature," which is directly linked with the Western concept of a superman resemblance. But this would be an error of interpretation.

Now consider the interpretation of the same hexagram as has been given by Crowley, which at a first glance may seem very poetic in its nature. He defines the hexagram as "KHIEN Originating from the term, piercing advantageous, right and firm." The rest of the text and the interpretation read as follows, [19: Crowley, Aleister. "The I Ching: A new Translation of the Book of Changes by The Master Therion." n.d. Sacred Texts. 25th March 2012 .]

"The dragon lurks: it is no time to act.

The dragon's in the field: now make thy pact.

Be active, watchful, using care and tact.

The dragon leaps; a bursting cataract.

The dragon ploughs the sky with pace exact.

Exceed not, dragon; Lest thy force react.

(If all this heavenly hosts of dragons lacked

Their heads, good fortune would become a fact.)"

The dragon here is the symbol of the "superior man," which in the interpretation of the Chinese text comes about to be the mature man who has evolved his nature to a higher form. While his home is the water, he can reside on land as well. The verses, as interpreted by Crowley, talk about the force of the dragon, but tell him that this is not the time to act, which can be taken as the same warning that was given in the first stanza, although there the reasons had been interpreted as that of the Spring time not upon the human yet.

When the dragon appears in the field in Crowley's field, he is advised to commit to his work, although caution and care is also advised to him. The dragon would then eventually find the force which is needed for him to burst to the sky and here he will find for himself the fields or the sources to tap for his creative output. The caution is still to be exercised by this dragon or the individual, unless the force -- which however has not been defined -- reacts with the individual to evolve him to a much higher plane.

These two texts while go on to more or less mean the same thing, there is a lack of detail and cosmic reasoning that is found in the work of the Classical I Ching as compared to the interpretation that has been presented by Aleister Crowley.

If we consider another example, this time firstly from Crowley's work. These are the lines that are part of the hexagram 33, which is an important number for the framework that Crowley presents. The lines are as following,

THUN: A retirement. Though thy force be spent.

Adroit withdrawal masters the event!

Peril! Withdraw! Keep still -- though tail yet show.

Hold fast thy purpose subtly, even so.

Gracious to them that bind thee; hate their ire; maugre their will, the great have wit to retire.

Retreat in order -- even the gods admire.

Retreat with dignity -- rekindle fire.

The meaning that can be adhered to the following lines is that there is no disgrace in retiring from a point in the face of the enemy. In fact even dignity can be attributed to this, since "even Gods admire" such an act. The interpretation even… [END OF PREVIEW]

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