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26 Dec 2001

Embodying the Sphere of Change

Reframing metaphors of the I Ching as a codification of the patterns of change

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The purpose of this document is to indicate how a spherical metaphor might be used to interrelate the 64 conditions of change as coded within the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching). The concern is to interrelate the complete set of changes and transformations as they may apply to individuals, communities, countries or the world. Some of these possibilities have been explored in a related set of pages.

The emphasis here is on the experiential quality of the complete set of changes and their ordering -- especially with respect to the transformational pathways between each condition.

Basic metaphor

Trigrams (or Hexagrams) distributed equally over a spherical surface:

Basic design constraint

A basic concern is not to seek conceptual closure, but rather to work with qualities that might include: elusive / non-closure / intimation / unfinished / open:

Change conditions as attractors

Each trigram or hexagram may usefully be considered as an attractor

For more on Human Values as Strange Attractors (see

Dynamics and their metaphors

Changes embodied by the I Ching hexagram set temporarily activate (flickering changes):

Sustainability of any pattern of changes is associated with the dynamics of the whole -- and how each plays off the other

Each hexagram might be considered as resembling any of the following:

Sets of polarities could be understood as stringed instruments

Media presentation

Experiential understanding

The most fundamental challenge is the degree and quality of metaphoric, experiential understanding (essentially incommunicable) associated with each condition (and how each relates to another) -- although metaphorically there is clearly much resonant familiarity with the conditions and the transformations (father - daughter, etc):

It is how such understanding is embodied that is the challenge -- rather than how it may be described conceptually without providing the perceiver with a new way of relating to change as it is experienced in the moment.

In multiple personality terms:

How does any such understanding:

Additional layer of trigrams (to make a hexagram) introduces a fundamental polarity (embedded in metaphoric interpretation):

Quality of encounter

Considering the transformation pathways

Transformation pathways:

Transformation pathways:

Catastrophe theory

Transformations and catastrophe theory

Surfing endlessly

  Creative Arousing Abysmal Resting Receptive Gentle Clinging Joyous
Creative Creative (heaven) Power of the great Waiting (nourishment) Taming power of the great Peace
Taming power of the small

Possession in great measure

Breakthrough (resoluteness)
Arousing Innocence (unexpected) Arousing
Difficulty at the beginning Providing nourishment

Return (turning point)

Increase Biting through Following
Abysmal Conflict Deliverance Abysmal (water) Youthful folly Army Dispersion (dissolution) Before completion Oppression (exhaustion)
Resting Retreat Preponderance of the small Obstruction Keeping still (mountain) Modesty Development (gradual progress) Wanderer Influence
Receptive Standstill (stagnation) Enthusiasm Holding together (union) Splitting apart Receptive (earth) Contemplation (view) Progress Gathering together (massing)
Gentle Coming to meet Duration Well Work on what has been spoiled (decay) Pushing upward Gentle
(penetrating, wind)
Caldron Preponderance of the great
Clinging Fellowship with men Abundance (fullness) After completion Grace Darkening of the light Family
Revolution (moulting)
Joyous Treading (conduct) Marrying maiden Limitation Decrease Approach Inner truth Opposition Joyous


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Anthony Judge:

J.J. Kay. "A Non-equilibrium Thermodynamic Framework for Discussing Ecosystem Integrity", Environmental Management, Vol 15, 1991, No.4, pp.483-495 [text]

H. J. Sussman and R. S. Zahler. Catastrophe theory as applied to the social and biological sciences: a critique. Synthèse, 1978a, 37, 117-216.

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