Article Index

Chapter XI - On yarrowstalks, signs and lines
XI - 1
The master said: 'What is it, that the I does? The I opens up things, accomplishes the undertakings of men, and embraces the ways of all things under the sky. This and nothing more is what the I does. Thereby the sages, through it, would give their proper course to the aims of all under the sky, would give stability to their undertakings, and determine their doubts'.

XI - 2
Therefore the virtue of the stalks is versatile and spirit-like; that of the hexagrams is exact and wise; and the meaning given by the six lines is changeful to give the proper information to men. The sages having, by their possession of these three virtues, cleansed their minds, retired and laid them up in the secrecy of their conciousness. But their symphaties were with the people in regard both to their good fortune and evil. By their spirit-like ability they knew the character of coming events, and their wisdom had stored up all experiences of the past. Who could be able to accomplish all this? Only the ancient sages, quick in apprehension and clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence and all-embracing knowledge, and with a majesty, going spirit-like to its objects: it was only they who could do so.

XI - 3
Therefore, fully understanding the Tao of heaven and having clearly ascertained the experience of the people, the sages instituted these spirit-like things as a provision for the use of the people. The sages went about the emploment of them by purifying their hearts and with reverent caution, thereby giving spirituality and intelligence to their virtue.

XI - 4
Thus the closing of a door may be pronounced analogous to K'un, and the opening of it to Ch'ien. The transition in between may be called a change; and the continuous passing of one state to the other may be called the constant course of things. The first appearence of anything is what we call an image; when it has received its complete form, we call it a definite thing. The divining-plant having been produced, the sages set it apart and laid down the method of divination: that we call the laws of divination. The advantage arising from it in external and internal matters, so that the people all use it, stamps it with a character we call spirit-like.

XI - 5
Therefore in the I there is the Grand Extreme, which produced the two elementary Forces. Those two Forces produced the four images, which in turn produced the eight trigrams.
Note of the compiler: Legge also gives 'Grand Terminus' as a translation of 'T'ai Chi'. Wilhelm gives 'First Beginning'. Neither, of course, were familiar with the concept of the Big Bang at the beginning of our Universe.


XI - 6
The eight trigrams served to determine the good and evil issues of events, and from this determination was produced the successful prosecution of the great business of life.

XI - 7
Therefore of all things that furnish models and visible figures, there are none greater than heaven and earth; of things that change and extend an influence, there are none greater than the four seasons; of things suspended in the sky with their images displayed clear and bright, there are none greater than the sun and moon; of the honoured and exalted there are none greater than he who is the rich and noble one; in preparing things for practical use, and inventing and making instruments for the benefit of all, there are none greater than the sages; to explore what is complex, search out what is hidden, to hook up what lies deep and reach what is distant, thereby determining the issues for good or ill of all events, and completing all men's strenuous endeavours under heaven, there are none greater than the I.

XI - 8
Therefore heaven produced the spirit-like things, and the sages took advantage of them. Heaven and earth are marked by changes and transformations, and the sages imitated them. Heaven hangs out its figures from which are seen good fortune and bad, and the sages made their images accordingly. The Ho gave forth the Map and the Lo the Writing, of both of which the sages took advantage.
Note of the compiler: The last sentence is an addition of a later date. Reference is made to two legendary occurrences at the times of Fu Hsi and YĆ¼ (founder of the first dynasty of China, the Hsia-dynasty, which is said to have lasted from 2205 to 1766 BC). The Map is He T'u, or 'Map of the Yellow River'. The Writing is Lo Hsu, or 'River Lo Writing'.
See also: Section 1, Chapter IX-1,2


XI - 9
In the I there are images to inform men; the explanations appended to them convey the significance of the hexagrams and lines; there are determinations as fortunate or the reverse to settle the doubts of men.