The Great Treatise

The ten wings

The I Ching is accompanied by a series of comments entitled the ten wings and attributed to Confucius. You will find a detailed description in Richard Wilhelm’s book.

The Great Treatise

The fifth and sixth wings are entitled “Ta Chuan” or “Great Treatise”.

Here I propose you to study an excerpt from the Great Treatise that you will find in Richard Wilhelm’s book.

The changes is a book
From which one may not hold aloof.

Here, the author invites us to constantly follow the I Ching’s advice, and never lose them from sight.

Its tao is forever changing –
Alteration, movement without rest,
Flowing through the six empty places;

The way is changing because the situations never stop to evolve. The six places design the hexagram that we are going to obtain during the consultation.

Rising and sinking without fixed law,
Firm and yielding transform each other.

The French translator, Etienne Perrot, has translated the first line like this: “Montant, descendant sans arrêt” which would mean “Rising and sinking without stopping”.
The study of the hexagrams structure is based on ascending and descending movements. The six lines can also transform themselves.

They cannot be confined within a rule;
It is only change that is at work here.

The changes are not deterministic.

They move inward and outward according to fixed rhythms.
Without and within, they teach caution.

A line that moves outward is going to transform iself. A line that move inward has just transformed. Thus we see a situation replacing another. It allows is to imagine the consequences of our acts and decisions, and thus we are taught to be cautious.

They also show care and sorrow and their causes.

We can also think about past problems and realise why they have taken place.

Though you have no teacher,
Approach them as you would your parents.

When someone has nobody to guide them, they can ask the I Ching.

First take up the words,
Ponder their meaning,
Then the fixed rules reveal themselves.

After thinking about the meaning of a situation, we can finally grasp the meaning of it. We can discover more than one law for a given situation.

But if you are not the right man,
The meaning will not manifest itself to you.

When an answer is not understood, it’s often because of a lack of study, it is not rare that an answer is understood later after some experience has been acquired. In some cases the questions are poorly formulated or the answer is difficult to give (see 61.6).

Going further

How does it work?