We have to start somewhere, and zero is the perfect starting point. Since I have that dreaded mathephobia disease, I am rather handicapped and cannot calculate huge numbers in a multitude of dimensions, I need to use a computer to do the grunt work. Now, I may be blonde, but I’m no dummy. I know that to start any kind of data analysis using a computer, I have to have a starting point. Data analysts call this starting point base lining, which is an accurate measurement of process functionality before any input change occurs.
The base line is an arbitrary designation, but it is the ONLY arbitrary designation. Once that designation is in place, all other points will spring forth from that very important first base line and will not be arbitrary. They will be fixed.
The important question in my mind is—WHERE—would one put such an important designation point? Since this is such an important designation, even though it is arbitrary, its placement is so important that if it is not placed in the absolutely perfect location, the calculations would be completely off. When it is that important, I go to the I Ching for the answer, and of course, it has been answered in the support and discussion materials that surround the I Ching.
Chapter 2 of the Shuo Kua states that Heaven and Earth determine the direction. OK, well, that’s something. But it still doesn’t tell me whether I should use Heaven or Earth to start changing the direction.
Richard Wilhelm does have some thoughts on this and gives me a few more clues which contribute to this idea: “…at the beginning of the world, as at the beginning of thought, there is the decision, the fixing of the point of reference. … The premise for such a decision is the belief that in the last analysis the world is a system of homogeneous relationships – that it is a cosmos, not a chaos.” The two fundamental hexagrams, the Creative and the Receptive are such points of reference; they determine a system of coordinates, ‘into which everything else can be fitted.’ This is good. It corroborates what we know and give us sign posts along the way that tells us we are going in the right direction.
The Ta Chuan states in Chapter 1 that Heaven is high, the earth is low; thus the Creative and the Receptive are determined. * OK, so now I have more clues. We now have an up and a down. Based upon the directions given, it is safe to say that we can go up indefinitely, but we cannot go down indefinitely, because at some point in the going down, it will shoot out the other side of the Earth and then it will be going up. This means that the base line has to be the center of the Earth. This is the one point where, no matter which way we move, it will always be up.
This is our starting point. This is the computer’s 000.
What makes this plotting system so great is that even though we have fixed it into the center of the Earth, it does not mean it’s completely fixed. If we were to land on another planet and needed to use the I Ching for consultation of any sort, we simply use the center of whatever planet we happen to land on as 000 and from that vantage point, all other designations in the space between that starting point and Heaven will be able to be plotted. It would be understood that the term ‘Earth’ or ‘Receptive’ would be a designation for any terra firma that we happen to find ourselves on. At the moment, it’s only Earth, but that could change, in which case, the I Ching can shift its base line to accommodate.
The I Ching shows this flexibility in the Ta Chuan, Chapter 7.2: “Heaven and Earth determine the scene, and the changes take effect within it.”
Chapter 4.4 in the same book states: “In it are included the forms and teh scope of everything in the heavens and on earth, so that nothing escapes it. In it all things everywere are complted, so that none is missing. Therefore by means of it we an penetrate the tao of day and night, and so understand it. Therefore the spirit is bound to no one place, nor the Book of Changes ot any one form.”
Now, plotting out the first point is fairly simple, and as I found out, to my delight and intense relief, there were others who had already done the hard work for me, folks without that dreaded mathephobia disease that I have—folks who swim and frolic through the waters of mathematics where I choke and drown.
Still, it is not easy. Their information is dense and requires much digestion. It’s a good thing my stomach has the constitution of a cow. I just keep chewing on the material over, and over, and over, until the stuff finally sinks in.
It sits alone in the middle of a hexagram because it is a single point on a 2D plane that starts the whole shebang. The reason for the hexagram shape is that there are six possible first level children that the Earth can spawn. More on that later.
Once we have fixed the position for Earth at the center of our planet, we can now designate a number set for Càn, the Creative Heaven. The number set is 111, but it can get as large as it wants to because we can fill the spaces in between with as much as we wish. This was clearly stated by Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching two thousand years ago: “The space between Heaven and Earth, Is it not like a bellows? Empty, and yet never exhausted. It moves, and produces more.”
If I didn’t say it before, I will say it now. Lao Tzu is freaking brilliant. All he had to look at were the same diagrams consisting of a bunch of little lines and dots that King Wen arranged in that weird formation that I was staring at. He also didn’t have a computer to run the numbers at all, but he described the I Ching’s shape as a multi-dimensional entity with the ability to adjust its size to any situation. Even back then, he knew it was not a two-dimensional entity.
Obviously, between these two are other layers of the diagram, but these two lay the foundation for everything else so they need to be established first. The rest are a bit more complicated and will take a little more time and space to talk about.
* I Ching. Book of Changes. Richard Wilhelm.