Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Change. What is it?
Many of the candidates are talking about it; some claim to embody it, others make fun of it. The leading Democrats embrace it, while the leading Republican mocks it.

Change is a complex concept that has been studied for thousands of years. The ancient chinese though so much about change that they named their immortal classic 'the Book of Changes". To understand the Chinese people, it doesn't hurt to have a knowledge of the myriad ways in which states can change. By states, I don't mean politically bounded entities, but it could apply there too. In fact, in nearly any situation in life, it doesn't hurt to know your change options. After a time, one begins to recognize certain patterns, and better paths become clearer. One can, in time, know what the future will bring, simply by mastering these aspects of change.

Some excerpts:

In the Book of Changes a distinction is made between three kinds of change: nonchange, cyclic change, and sequent change. Non change is the background, as it were, against which change is made possible. For in regard to any change there must be some fixed point to which the change can be referred, otherwise there can be no definite order and everything is dissolved in chaotic movement. This point of reference must be established, and this always requires a choice and a decision. It makes possible a system of co-ordinates into which everything else can be fitted. Consequently at the beginning of the world, as at the beginning of thought, there is the decision, the fixing of the point of reference. Theoretically any point of reference is possible, but experience teaches that at the dawn of consciousness one stands already enclosed within definite, prepotent systems of relationships. The problem then is to choose one's point of reference so that it coincides with the point of reference for cosmic events. For only then can the world created by one's decision escape being dashed to pieces against prepotent systems of relationships with which it would otherwise come into conflict. Obviously 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. This belief is the foundation of Chinese philosophy, as of all philosophy. The ultimate frame of reference for all that changes is the nonchanging.


Another law is to be noted. Owing to changes of the sun, moon, and stars, phenomena take form in the heavens. These phenomena obey definite laws. Bound up with them, shapes come into being on earth, in accordance with identical laws. Therefore the processes on earth--blossom and fruit, growth and decay--can be calculated if we know the laws of time. If we know the laws of change, we can precalculate in regard to it, and freedom of action thereupon becomes possible. Changes are the imperceptible tendencies to divergence that, when they have reached a certain point, become visible and bring about transformations.

These are the immutable laws under which, according to Chinese thought, changes are consummated. It is the purpose of the Book of Changes to demonstrate these laws by means of the laws of change operating in the respective hexagrams. Once we succeed in completely reproducing these laws, we acquire a comprehensive view of events; we can understand past and future equally well and bring this knowledge to bear in our actions.

Cyclic change, then, is recurrent change in the organic world, whereas sequent change means the progressive [nonrecurrent] change of phenomena produced by causality.


However, no matter what names are applied to these forces, it is certain that the world of being arises out of their change and interplay. Thus change is conceived of partly as the continuous transformation of the one force into the other and partly as a cycle of complexes of phenomena, in themselves connected, such as day and night, summer and winter. Change is not meaningless -- if it were, there could be no knowledge of it -- but subject to the universal law, tao.

The second theme fundamental to the Book of Changes is its theory of ideas. The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as of states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse, as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an "image," that is, of an idea in the unseen world. Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in a world beyond our sense perception, as regards its occurrence in time, it is later than the suprasensible event. The holy men and sages, who are in contact with those higher spheres, have access to these ideas through direct intuition and are therefore able to intervene decisively in events in the world. Thus man is linked with heaven, the suprasensible world of ideas, and with earth, the material world of visible things, to form with these a trinity of the primal powers.

This theory of ideas is applied in a twofold sense. The Book of Changes shows the images of events and also the unfolding of conditions in statu nascendi. Thus, in discerning with its help the seeds of things to come, we learn to foresee the future as well as to understand the past. In this way the images on which the hexagrams are based serve as patterns for timely action in the situations indicated. Not only is adaptation to the course of nature thus made possible, but in the Great Commentary (pt. II, chap. II), an interesting attempt is made to trace back the origin of all the practices and inventions of civilization to such ideas and archetypal images. Whether or not the hypothesis can be made to apply in all specific instances, the basic concept contains a truth.[16]

The third element fundamental to the Book of Changes are the judgments. The judgments clothe the images in words, as it were; they indicate whether a given action will bring good fortune or misfortune, remorse or humiliation. The judgments make it possible for a man to make a decision to desist from a course of action indicated by the situation of the moment but harmful in the long run. In this way he makes himself independent of the tyranny of events. In its judgments, and in the interpretations attached to it from the time of Confucius on the Book of Changes opens to the reader the richest treasure of Chinese wisdom; at the same time it affords him a comprehensive view of the varieties of human experience, enabling him thereby to shape his life of his own sovereign will into an organic whole and so to direct it that it comes into accord with the ultimate tao lying at the root of all that exists.

An Assessment of the Candidates as Human Beings
by Anonymoses Hyperlincoln III