64 Hexagrams are too many to start for beginners. One can go according to the serial number of the hexagram and do it one at a time.
There are 2 things to learn
- The description of the hexagram and its six-lines or 6-stages description and then deriving the principle.
- The interaction and progression of one hexagram to another.
I will present my translated version of the hexagram this way,
serial-no, Chinese Character, literal translation, synonyms, principle teaching
Let’s take an example,
41損 Decrease – Give, Invest, harm oneself to benefit others （損己利人）
The serial-no or sequence is 41. (so that you can easily look up other translations for its meaning)
The Chinese Character is 損
The Literal Translation is “Decrease”, which also means “harm”
The Dynamic, real meaning translation, is Give or Invest.
The Principle of Teaching is harming oneself to benefit others.
We will discuss 41 損 Decrease hexagram in detail in the future. But I intentionally use this hexagram to illustrate an interesting point. The literal translation of the Chinese word is not a very good interpretation of the meaning. (There are many other literal translations that are OK, but I want you to note that quite frequently, the literal translation is not good enough). Just reading the literal translation without going into the details will result in a misinterpretation of Yi Ying. This is a common mistake of beginners. If we just read 41 as decrease or harm, we may be quick to jump to the conclusion that Yi Jing is teaching us to harm others to benefit ourselves. But the real teaching is the very opposite! It is teaching us to sow first into others and reap the benefits later. This sowing and reaping principle should be quite familiar to Christians. Hence, I prefer to use the word “Give or Invest” in place of “Decrease or Harm” or at least I will quality decrease with giving or invest. So you will find my translation a bit different from other books but it is more meaningful ( I hope. If not, let me know).
Start with the First 2
OK, back to where do we start from? It is usually recommended that one starts with the first 2 hexagrams – 1乾 Heaven and 2坤 Earth. These two are the foundational hexagrams that interact to give rise to the rest. This is the yang (1 Heaven, Father-Creative Force, Energy, invisible) and the yin (2 Earth, Mother-receptive, materials, visible).
There are those who group them. For example,
- to know how to have great blessings, learn these 4 hexagrams:
- 10履 Walk – Right conduct
- 41損 Decrease – Give
- 48井 The Well – Sharing
- 50鼎 Cauldron – Authority & Human Resource Management.
- to know how to do a great project, learn these:
- 61中孚 Integrity
- 5需 Wanting – wait
- 14大有 Great Possession
- 13同人 Same Hearts
- 18蠱 Worm – In-fighting, Decay
- 59渙 Dispersion
- 42益 Overflowing Increase
The Growth Life-Cycle Classification or Taxonomy on Ji Jing
For me, I suggest the following grouping based on the growth life-cycle. It has 7 stages of growth from 1-starting, 2-Growth, 3-Impedance (or Blockage), 4-Breaking Free, 5-Peak Success, 6-Decline, and 7 Renewal. These 7 stages are to build on the 0-Foundational Personal Character and 8-Partnership for group success. Hopefully, this classification allows one to easily recognize the current situation and look for the corresponding hexagram to understand the needed principle for application.
Here is the mind-map of the Life-Cycle Yi Jing Taxonomy: