We have covered the legendary History of the I Ching. It all began, according to Legend, with Emperor Fu Hsi and Empress Nu Wa, the founders and literal parents, of Chinese Civilization. Fu Hsi saw a Dragon Horse, rising out of the Yellow River. On the side of the Dragon Horse were markings that Fu Hisi interpreted as the Eight Trigrams, Three-lined figures. About One Thousand Years later, Emperor Yu experienced a similar manifestation, but his Trigrams were on the back of an enormous Tortoise. The First Arrangement came to be known as the “Earlier Heaven”, and the Second, the “Later Heaven”.
Another Thousand Years passed, and then the man who would later be known as King Wen, while languishing in prison, paired the Eight Trigrams together, and saw Sixty-Four Hexagrams. He Named them, and interpreted them. His son, the Duke of Chou, wrote the First Commentary on them.
Emperor Yu’s Legend may be closes to the Truth; Ancient Peoples all over the World relied on animals for Divination. In Europe the entrails of a sacrificed animal were examined in an Art known as “Haruspicy”. The Patters interpreted may have resembled the Chinese Trigrams and Hexagrams eibniz (Gua).
The Chinese System probably began with a Yang (unbroken) Line meaning “Yes” and a Yin (broken) Line meaning “No”. A similar System was developed by the Hebrews using Tumim (“Completions”), dark stones, for “No”, and Orim (“Lights”), clear stones, for “Yes”. This was developed into a more complex System , which has been lost. As in the I Ching, “The Orim and the Tumim” (האורים והתומים “HaOrim v’HaTumim”) may have involved a series of selections. A choice of Six progressive stones out of Twelve would yield a Hexagram; we simply don’t have the Method any more.
This Yin/Yang dichotomy is similar to Divination Methods found all over the World, including the Sixteen Four-lined Figures in Western Geomancy.
Modern Mathematics has rediscovered this Principle, and labeled it the “Binary Code”. Strangely enough, Mathematician and Metaphysician Gottfried Leibniz, in 1679, developed the Binary System after he had read the I Ching! This same Binary System, in the Twentieth Century, was the basis for the earliest Computer Languages.
The Binary Code, or “Base Two”, as it is also known, is very simple. There are only Two Numbers used, One and Zero. As opposed to the Decimal System we normally use, it uses exponents of Two. Thus, although “One” is expressed the same Way in Base Two, “Two” has to be expressed as “10”, “Three” is “11”, “Four” is “100”, and so on.
The Eight Trigrams, and the Sixty-Four Hexagrams, are read from the bottom to the top. If we take the broken line representing Yin as “0”, and the solid line for “Yang as “One”, then the Four two-lined figures are the Numbers 0-3, the Eight Trigrams are 0-7, and the Sixty-Four Hexagrams are 0-63. A similar analysis can be used with the Sixteen Geomantic Figures and the Thirty-Two Paths of
Wisdom. Possibly these are all part of a larger, more Ancient System, lost in Antiquity.