Taoist Arts Center New York:
Chinese Philosophy

On these pages you will find articles and research on the healing effects of tai chi, chi kung (qigong), Taoist Meditation, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Doctors and medical researchers continue to investigate the effects of these arts on conditions including diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, pain, and stress management. This page presents a selection of health articles along with others on Chinese philosophy and culture.


Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Meditation

Chinese Philosophy

Medicine & Research
 

The I Ching: the Book of Wisdom,
Introduction to the I Ching" part 2

By Richard Wilhelm

The underlying idea of the whole is the idea of change.

Confucius, standing by a river, said: "Everything flows on and on like this river, without pause, day and night." He who has perceived the meaning of change fixes his attention no longer on transitory individual things but on the immutable, eternal law at work in all change.
This law is the Tao of Lao-tse, the course of things, the principle of the one in the many. That it may become manifest, is necessary. This fundamental postulate is the "great primal beginning" of all that exists, t'ai chi -- in its original meaning, the "ridgepole."

Later Chinese philosophers devoted much thought to this idea of a primal beginning. A still earlier beginning, wu chi, was represented by the symbol of a circle. Under this conception, t'ai chi was represented by the circle divided into the light and the dark, yang and yin.

With this line, which in itself represents oneness, duality comes into the world, for the line at the same time posits an above and a below, a right and left, front and back-in a word, the world of the opposites.

These opposites became known under the names yin and yang. In its primary meaning yin is "the cloudy," "the overcast," and yang means actually "banners waving in the sun," that is, something "shone upon," or bright. By transference the two concepts were applied to the light and dark sides of a mountain or of a river. In the case of a mountain the southern is the bright side and the northern the dark side, while in the case of a river seen from above, it is the northern side that is bright (yang), because it reflects the light, and the southern side that is in shadow (yin). Thence the two expressions were carried over into the Book of Changes and applied to the two alternating primal states of being.

No matter what names are applied to these forces, it is certain that the world of being arises out of their change and interplay. Thus change is conceived of partly as the continuous transformation of the one force into the other and partly as a cycle of complexes of phenomena, in themselves connected, such as day and night, summer and winter. Change is not meaningless -- if it were, there could be no knowledge of it -- but subject to the universal law, Tao.

The second theme fundamental to the Book of Changes is its theory of ideas. The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as of states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse, as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an "image," that is, of an idea in the unseen world.

Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in a world beyond our sense perception. The holy men and sages, who are in contact with those higher spheres, have access to these ideas through direct intuition and are therefore able to intervene decisively in events in the world. Thus man is linked with heaven, the suprasensible world of ideas, and with earth, the material world of visible things, to form with these a trinity of the primal powers.

This theory of ideas is applied in a twofold sense. The Book of Changes shows the images of events and also the unfolding of conditions in statu nascendi. Thus, in discerning with its help the seeds of things to come, we learn to foresee the future as well as to understand the past. In this way the images on which the hexagrams are based serve as patterns for timely action in the situations indicated. Not only is adaptation to the course of nature thus made possible, but an attempt is made to trace back the origin of all the practices and inventions of civilization to such ideas and archetypal images.

The third element fundamental to the Book of Changes are the judgments. The judgments clothe the images in words, as it were; they indicate whether a given action will bring good fortune or misfortune, remorse or humiliation. The judgments make it possible for a man to make a decision to desist from a course of action indicated by the situation of the moment but harmful in the long run. In this way he makes himself independent of the tyrany of events.

In its judgments, and in the interpretations attached to it from the time of Confucius on the Book of Changes opens to the reader the richest treasure of Chinese wisdom; at the same time it affords him a comprehensive view of the varieties of human experience, enabling him thereby to shape his life of his own sovereign will into an organic whole and so to direct it that it comes into accord with the ultimate Tao lying at the root of all that exists.

Excerpted from "Introduction to the I Ching" by Richard Wilhelm
http://www.iging.com/intro/introduc.htm


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