The Poetic Principle in the World of the I Ching: Mankind’s Long Journey to Reason and Beauty

In this lecture Dr. Quan Le focuses on the I Ching, the first Confucian Classic (of five: Yi Jing, Shu Jing, Shi Jing, Chun Qiu and Zhou Li) which magnificently embodies the poetic principle famously outlined by Shelley, centuries later, in his Defense of Poetry which re-asserted that Poets are the true legislators of the world.

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese divination text and among the oldest of the Chinese classics. It has been a centuries old guide to mankind’s long journey towards a moral reason. It has provided guidance to the worlds of religion, philosophy, literature, and art.

I Ching (Yì jīng) means the “Classic of Change”, the Chinese character for change Yì 易 shows the sun with the rain underneath, a stark image of contrast between the sun and rain symbolising change. The I Ching has existed for over thirty-two centuries in written form and for several centuries prior to that in its oral tradition.

Confucius is considered to be the writer of the ten wings of the I Ching. The ten wings are the philosophical commands on the core text, which consists of four thousand four hundred Chinese characters of Middle Chinese.

The most important dimension of the I Ching is the philosophical, epistemological and political dimensions which is the focus of this lecture.


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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Hello all and thank you for this wonderul lecture. What books would you recommend to look into to study the topics of confusionism and timelessness?

  2. Quan Lee says:

    Hi JakeHarrisReachesForPeace,
    For confucianism, I suggest the three following books:
    1-Confucius and confucianism : the essentials
    by Lee Dian Rainey
    You can get a free pdf copy on the Internet
    2- The authentic Confucius : a life of thought and politics
    by AnnPing Chin
    3- The Analects by Confucius is quite eye-opening
    many translations , I suggest the one by Robert Eno, you can get a free pdf copy on the Internet

    For timelessness, a super broad subject, I suggest :

    The I Ching translated from the german version into English by Cary F Baynes in 1950 but there are more recent publications,obviously.
    The german version has been created by Richard Wilhelm (1973-1930) with the help of a chinese scholar, Lao Nai Xuan (1843-1921)

    I would like also to suggest The Book of Secrets by Osho Rajneesh
    for timelessness, because the portal into eternity is the practice of meditation. In that book, you will find many valuable insights and 112 methods to enter timelessness.
    A free pdf copy in 2 parts is on the Internet.

    Take care !

    Quan Lee

  3. serenus says:

    Old man time said, “it is not me you need” all you need is what makes you tick, whatever, where ever and with whomever that don’t make you sick, it is all in your head he said, “it is not me you need”……all that is structural is transitory….whether or not it is physical or metaphysical…chaos is timeless…I don’t care how many Platos or Confuciuses, or Jesuses show up attempting to show me the way…until you embrace the chaos you are entrapped in structure…..

  4. Bob Herrschaft says:

    Here we have a helpful introduction to Confusion philosophy. Quan Le also has a comprehensive knowledge of Greek philosophy, so commonalities are explored.

  5. What a great presentation by Dr Le. I find your scholarship just sublime. Thank you Cynthia and RTF for bringing this to my attention retrospectively on the heels of the other wonderful talk on the Three Kingdoms which I equally appreciated. As a complete novice in this field, I was amazed to find how the structured components of the Confucius philosophy resonated so much with what I consider natural instinct.

    Also, great introduction by Cynthia – framed, downloaded and shared.

  6. Just chipping in with some rambling thoughts and two reading recommendations:

    Dr Le mentioned 2014 and opined that [paraphrasing] a good prophet might have foreseen (and hence avoided) the outbreak of WWI if they had adopted and practised the I Ching principles and contemplated in their timeless space rather than having their mind cluttered by the worldly noise.

    Yes, if only – if only all people strived (through gentle ‘indoctrination’/education to seek to strive) for such a peaceful outcome, or rather avoidance of conflict before it happens.

    What occurred to me is that WWI (and almost certainly all other such major conflicts) are not merely organic but are carefully contrived geopolitical masterpieces. The book “Falsehoods in War-Time” by Arthur Ponsonby (for example) establishes the conspiratorial machinations behind WWI – think ‘Babies on Bayonets’ and the [Viscount James] Bryce Report: “Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages (1914-15)” in particular. Incidentally, this type of ‘atrocity propaganda’ was also used by Narita Al Sabah (aka Nayirah) some 75-plus years later to ‘manufacture consent’ for the first Gulf War.

    So my point here is that there are people or groups who are actively SEEKING conflict and chaos and there comes a point where we can’t trust them to adopt the principles of I Ching (either instinctively or through structured learning) but must inevitably resist them.

    Which brings me to the book “On Resistance to Evil by Force” by Ivan Ilyin, wherein he ‘admonishes’ Tolstoy for his ‘devout pacifism’ and argues along theological grounds that if you don’t resist evil you surrender to it and invariable become its instrument. From Chapter 2 …

    “In fact, what would “non-resistance” [to evil] mean, in the sense of the absence of any resistance? This would mean accepting evil: letting it in and giving it freedom, scope and power. If under these conditions the uprising of evil occurred, and non-resistance continued, it would mean subordination to it, a surrender of the self to it, participation in it, and finally, turning oneself into its instrument, into its body, into its cesspool, its playing, an absorbed element thereof.

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