The existing system of the Book was formed mainly during the Chou dynasty, and, unlike earlier mantle systems, it is called the “Chou Book of Changes”.
It consists of 64 characters – hexagrams, each of which expresses a particular life situation in time in terms of its gradual development. Symbols include of six features; traits indicate successive stages of development of a given job. Features, also called Yao, are of two kinds: either whole (they are also called nines ) or interrupted in the middle ( sixes ) (there is also a color difference between the features, so “nine” are marked with white, “six” – black). This is because the former symbolizes the active state, light, voltage (yan), and the latter –passive state, darkness, yielding (yin). It is believed that the features are read from the bottom up(although there is a reverse interpretation); their sequence describes the development of the situation.
Each hexagram can also be represented as a combination of two trigrams, in general, mixtures of Yao features have a common name “Gua”. Each hexagram, as well as each line in the hexagram, is accompanied by a set of aphorisms, which should advise a guessing person. Divination is in the choice of using a reasonably complex pseudo-procedures, using a coin or a sprig of yarrow , six features and search in the book appropriate hexagram (detail the process of divination using yarrow is described in the ” Xi Zhuang Tzu » (系辞传xìcí zhuàn) , comments, part of the so-called “wings” of the book of change).
The Book of Changes in Confucianism
Confucius assessed the significance of this work in the following way: “If I could prolong my life, I would give fifty years to study Changes, and then I would be able not to make mistakes” ( Conversations and judgments7.16). But it should be borne in mind that the “Book of Changes” is mentioned in “Conversations and Judgments (Lunyu)” only once, and is atypical for the interests of Confucius, who was not interested in the irrational: “I am not talking about the supernatural, the violence, the turmoil and about spirits ”(“ Lun yu ”, VII, 21/22) There is an opinion that in reality, Confucius did not speak at all about the“ Book of Changes ”, and the above quotation is a consequence of the copyist’s mistake. Moreover, the “Book of Changes” is not mentioned either in “Da Xue,” or in “Jun-Jun,” nor in Mencius, but in “Zuo Zhuan” and in Xun Zi, although it is mentioned, it is not mentioned as Confucian classical text. These and other facts give grounds for some researchers to share the idea of the sinologist Tsud Sokiti that the “Book of Changes” was accepted not by Confucius, but by Confucians many years after his death.
The Book of Changes ranks first among the classic books of Confucianism and in bibliographic reviews of Chinese literature. This is understandable since bibliology and bibliography in feudal China were created by people who received a traditional Confucian education. The bibliographers of old China firmly believed in traditions (not original, but rather old) that attributed the creation of the “Book of Changes” to such a deep antiquity that no other classic book could compete with it in the chronological primacy, although in fact the “Book of Changes” is not the most ancient of the monuments of Chinese writing, and it established the Chinese philology.