I Ging - or Book of Changes
The Richard Wilhelm translation
Penguin 1968

I Ging Cultural history: Richard Wilhelm 328


繫辭下 - Xi Ci II

2繫辭下: 古者包犧氏之王天下也,仰則觀象於天,俯則觀法於地,觀鳥獸之文,與地之宜,近取諸身,遠取諸物,於是始作八卦,以通神明之德,以類萬物之情。

Xi Ci II: Anciently, when Bao-xi had come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and the (different) suitabilities of the soil. Near at hand, in his own person, he found things for consideration, and the same at a distance, in things in general. On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spirit-like and intelligent (operations working secretly), and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.


He invented the making of nets of various kinds by knitting strings, both for hunting and fishing. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Lu (the third trigram, and thirtieth hexagram).


On the death of Bao-xi, there arose Shen-nong (in his place). He fashioned wood to form the share, and bent wood to make the plough-handle. The advantages of ploughing and weeding were then taught to all under heaven. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Yi (the forty-second hexagram).


He caused markets to be held at midday, thus bringing together all the people, and assembling in one place all their wares. They made their exchanges and retired, every one having got what he wanted. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Shi He (the twenty-first hexagram).

After the death of Shen-nong, there arose Huang Di, Yao, and Shun. They carried through the (necessarily occurring) changes, so that the people did (what was required of them) without being wearied; yea, they exerted such a spirit-like transformation, that the people felt constrained to approve their (ordinances) as right. When a series of changes has run all its course, another change ensues. When it obtains free course, it will continue long. Hence it was that 'these (sovereigns) were helped by Heaven; they had good fortune, and their every movement was advantageous.' Huang Di, Yao, and Shun (simply) wore their upper and lower garments (as patterns to the people), and good order was secured all under heaven. The idea of all this was taken, probably, from Qian and Kun (the first and eighth trigrams, or the first and second hexagrams).


They hollowed out trees to form canoes; they cut others long and thin to make oars. Thus arose the benefit of canoes and oars for the help of those who had no means of intercourse with others. They could now reach the most distant parts, and all under heaven were benefited. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Huan (the fifty-ninth hexagram).


They used oxen (in carts) and yoked horses (to chariots), thus providing for the carriage of what was heavy, and for distant journeys - thereby benefiting all under the sky. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Sui (the seventeenth hexagram).


They made the (defence of the) double gates, and (the warning of) the clapper, as a preparation against the approach of marauding visitors. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Yu (the sixteenth hexagram).


They cut wood and fashioned it into pestles; they dug in the ground and formed mortar's. Thus the myriads of the people received the benefit arising from the use of the pestle and mortar. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Xiao Guo (the sixty-second hexagram).


They bent wood by means of string so as to form bows, and sharpened wood so as to make arrows. This gave the benefit of bows and arrows, and served to produce everywhere a feeling of awe. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Kui (the thirty-eighth hexagram).


In the highest antiquity they made their homes (in winter) in caves, and (in summer) dwelt in the open country. In subsequent ages, for these the sages substituted houses, with the ridge-beam above and the projecting roof below, as a provision against wind and rain. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Da Zhuang (the thirty-fourth hexagram).


When the ancients buried their dead, they covered the body thickly with pieces of wood, having laid it in the open country. They raised no mound over it, nor planted trees around; nor had they any fixed period for mourning. In subsequent ages the sages substituted for these practices the inner and outer coffins. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Da Guo (the twenty-eighth hexagram).


In the highest antiquity, government was carried on successfully by the use of knotted cords (to preserve the memory of things). In subsequent ages the sages substituted for these written characters and bonds. By means of these (the doings of) all the officers could be regulated, and (the affairs of) all the people accurately examined. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Guai (the forty-third hexagram).

3繫辭下: 是故,易者,象也,象也者像也。彖者,材也,爻也者,效天下之動者也。是故,吉凶生,而悔吝著也。

Xi Ci II: Therefore what we call the Yi is (a collection of) emblematic lines. They are styled emblematic as being resemblances. What we call the Tuan (or king Wen's explanations) are based on the significance (of each hexagram as a whole). We call the lines (of the figures) Yao from their being according to the movements taking place all under the sky. In this way (we see) the rise of good fortune and evil, and the manifestation of repentance and regret.