Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Core Idea of Yi 易

The core idea of Yi is to change. In my translation of Shuo Gua Zhuan Chapter 3:


Recollection of the past is natural. Anticipation of the future is artificial. Therefore, Yi is against pre-determined fate.

Confucius clearly pointed out that the past cannot be changed. It is natural to know that history is history that cannot be changed. However, when we look into the future, we can anticipate what is coming but we can change the outcome with our effort. The two words andare antonyms. The images are going with the current and going against the current. Although the words and have the same pronounciation in Cantonese, they are two entirely different words and cannot be mixed. Making such a mistake will end up having your buttocks beaten by your primary school teacher.

To say that "Yi is to know the future" is misleading if not ignorant. To "know" the future implies that the future cannot be changed. It is very pessimistic and non-constructive. It is simply against the concept of Yi - to change the future.

We can anticipate what we will encounter in the future but it is up to us within the limits of our capability whether to change the outcome or not. If what we anticipate to encounter is good, then we can make the best use of what we have to optimize the result. If what we encounter is difficulty, then we can change the path and the strategy to overcome the difficulty and get our desired outcome.

To anticipate the future is not the same as to know the future. This is not just a matter of translation, it is a matter of understanding the Yi.


1 comment:

Monica said...

Thank you, Joseph. It's my belief that the path of destiny is wide, and the actual destination is huge. After all, does not a mansion have many rooms? Some grand and elegant, while some others are humble and simple...yet all live in the same mansion, right? If our destiny is like that mansion, we have choices to make that will determine the view from our window.