I-Ching Reading


Hexagram

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The I Ching book consists of 64 hexagrams. A hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines, where each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the center).
The I Ching, or "Yi Jing" also called "Book of Changes" is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts.
The book consists of two parts. The "basic text" of the Changes, which took form sometime in the early Zhou dynasty (traditional dates: 1122-256 B.C.E.), consists of sixty-four six-line divinatory symbols known as hexagrams, each of which has a name that refers to a physical object, an activity, a state, a situation, a quality, an emotion, or a relationship.
In addition, each hexagram possesses a short, cryptic description of several words, called a "judgment", and a brief written interpretation for each line of each hexagram, known as a line statement. The line statements, which are read from the bottom of the hexagram upward, describe the development of the situation epitomized by the hexagram name and the judgment.
In the process of divination, the person consulting the text evaluates not only the judgment and line statements but also the relationship of the constituent trigrams for insights into the issue under consideration, and what to do about it.
During the late Zhou period, a set of appendices known as the Ten Wings--attributed to Confucius--became permanently attached to the "basic text," and so the work received imperial sanction in 136 B.C.E. as one of the five major "Confucian" classics.
This second part of the book articulated the Yijing's implicit cosmology and invested the classic with a new and powerfully attractive literary flavor and style. The world view of this amplified version of the Changes emphasized correlative thinking, a humane cosmological outlook, and a fundamental unity and resonance between Heaven, Earth and Man.
It also stressed the pervasive notion of yinyang complementarity, cyclical movement and ceaseless alternation. These amplifications and explanations of the "basic text" have had enormously important consequences in many realms of Chinese culture, from the Han period to the present.