LiSe and the Book of
I have 5 great loves in my
life. Four of them are people, but I do not need to talk about them. They are
alive, very much so, much more than I could ever say in words.
But the fifth one is a book,
an ancient one, the I Ching or Yi Jing. Its name is well known in the West nowadays, but
its contents are difficult to grasp. Many people have written about it,
explained it, or maybe only added to its enigma. And this will go on and on,
because for everyone it has a different meaning.
I will try to add some new
ideas, maybe clarifying some things to someone, but in the first place simply
because I love this book and because it gives much more value and insight to my
And thinking about it as a book of wisdom, exploring it, finding forgotten meanings that open up suddenly a sentence, or using it as an oracle, it all helps to make the voice of my intuition audible. Usually the voice of common sense is much louder, but this book makes common sense to the small thing it is, useful for everyday life, but not for a rich spiritual life. It makes my intuition the guide of my life.
And I want to share it.
does the moon come in?
Some say, the character I (in Pinyin: Yi), CHANGE, like in the name of
the I Ching, is a combination of the sun and the moon. The modern way of writing
the character certainly looks like that. A square, sometimes a circle, with a
line across, is ‘sun’, and the lower part a moon-sickle with rays.
Others say it represents a lizard or chameleon. If one adds the character
for insect, it is the chameleon that has the task in every Chinese house – or
tent – to catch all flies and other insects.
told me this. He had gone to the zoo in Amsterdam, because they have one there.
Its color cannot change, but it is very indefinable. For one hour and a half it
did not stir, and neither did Dries. Then suddenly it flashed around everywhere.
A perfect animal to portray changes as well as easy, the meanings of Yi.
In old times characters were not specified. One character served for many
words. Yi was change, easy, chameleon, kick, tin and give. Later ‘metal’ was
added for tin, and ‘insect’ for chameleon, so no mistakes would be made. But
in old texts all those meanings are possible. So the chameleon might be the real
Or maybe "The Book of Ease", or "The Easy Book", both very
good names for this book.
Or maybe "The Book of Ease", or "The Easy Book", both very good names for this book.
But if you look at the oldest form of the character, at least the oldest
one I could find, it looks like a moon with rays: moonshine.
Karlgren shows four old versions of the character Yi (b, c, d and e). It looks like the moon with rays emanating from it.
The long rows at left are the character 'moon', from top left: old ones, to right bottom: modern ones.
According to Marshall ('The Mandate of Heaven) Yi is a picture of the sun, peeking out from behind a cloud. At that moment the light and warmth of the sun are more intense than when the sun is far from clouds. When it suddenly emerges from behind a dark cloud it makes a vivid impression.
The old characters in Karlgren indeed look like it, except b. This one looks exactly like one of the moons at left.
So I don't know who is right. For the time being I will keep the name of this website, 'Book of the Moon'.
I found a very old character "YI". No moon at all!! See here
And why the pictures of a moon on every hexagram page? I think every hexagram-line combines with a day of a moon month, eg in hexagram 5 with day 3 of a yang moon, in hexagram 35 with day 3 of a yin moon. Only hexagrams 1, 2, 63 and 64 are not part of this. They are too pure yang and yin to be a day. This is not in any book, it is my personal idea only!
all cultures, even today, and also here in the West, the moon stands for changeability. And that is not only an idea. The moon brings about the tides in
the seas, and also the tides in all living creatures. In astrology too the moon
is the changeable part of the personality, the feelings that react to everything,
always different, in contrast to the sun, which is the more conscious, visible and
The moon was not only changeability because of its influences, but also
because of its phases. New, half and full moon. When electric light did not
exist yet, the phase of the moon was very important. When the weather changed
and the moon was full, the farmers could work through the night to get the
harvest in before the rains. Full moon meant safety, new moon meant danger. Scum
and ghosts love new moon.
Yi means also ‘easy’. And ‘exchange’: money or goods changing
ownership. It is in the name of trade-companies and banks. The first time you
see that, as an I Ching-lover, it feels almost like blasphemy.
When I imagine those old days, I think: it is not either the moon or the
chameleon. It is both. They had both, and everybody knew both. But writing was
unknown. They talked, and things had a name.
Personally I rather think the chameleon was named after the moon than the other way round, but by the time they made a character for it, that was not important any more.
The master says: Alone in the night, and you see the moon, then you are
immediately fulfilled. Loneliness leaves, and a love flows through you and this
love takes all kinds of forms. This continually causes the spirit to make
contact with the essence of the form. Because all forms have the same
universal core, the spirit is continually dismantling. This happens also
when one looks at an I Ching character. They are messengers, rays of the moon,
who is universal love for earth. The moon in the night makes man long for
universal love, his rays are the I Ching-characters.
The longing is actually for the woman, but in the greatness of nature, where loneliness is the real life, there is not the woman, and because of her absence arises universal love. The feelings cannot materialize. It is the same road to universal love. It is not the longing for a woman, but the urge for THE woman, as well in the man as in the woman. In the woman it is the longing for the woman deep inside her, the woman she does not live.