Biting Through He Luo Li Shu

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Biting Through is Hexagram 21, Thunder under Fire.


When Action is applied without Clarity, one is acting before it is clear what needs to be done. When a situation is complex, there may be an entire process involved in bringing clarification to a situation. In such situations there is potential for timely actions to transcend, or "bite through" the situation, leaving what is unnecessary behind.


Like digestion, or inner alchemy - there is a complex process involved, and if one acts out of place one suffers indigestion, vomits, tips over the cauldron, spills the elixir, or worse. But when the process is able to reach completion, everything is transformed.


This hexagram tried me. I read many translations and interpretations before the essence starting coming through. Especially the last line seemed very confusing and out of place. Now I realize the last line IS the transformation, is the transcendence. When one finally reaches line 6 after all manner of complicated process, everything reverts upon itself, and none of your hard work matters to the situation any longer. Either your hard work is rewarded and you enter a new level of attainment, or you are put back in your place and with nothing to show for your efforts. Best accept this in emptiness and start over, rather than have your efforts be deemed improper and cause punishment.




He Luo Li Shu is a guide to using the principles of the He Tu and Luo Shu diagrams to map the ever changing energies of time to I-Ching Hexagrams.


Using this guide, one might match a particular point in time frame to a Hexagram. Further, one may use the I-Ching to observe change through-out the lifetime of something created during a particular moment of time.


The I-Ching is already well suited to understanding flows of change over time. Mapping the I-Ching to people's birthdays presents a very powerful and subtle astrological framework.




The He Luo Li Shu first came to me in the form of Sherrill & Chu's The Astrology of I Ching. Zhongyongdaoist has a post on this book here.


For over a year I hand calculated the natal I-Ching Hexagrams of my friends, followed the yearly-monthly-daily changes from calculations described in the book, and observed. I wrote daily logs on the changes I felt and listened to the counsel of the yijing.


Being new to the I-Ching, I let myself be empty. Various awarenesses emerged. I would feel strong for-shadowing of the next day as the current day neared midnight. I began to

notice feeling yin and yang days differently.


The hexagrams of my friends - I did about 20 - were interesting. Some matched the people incredibly well. Others were a stretch. But the yijing is a subtle teacher. If you look, you will find.




Last autumn I found myself facing Biting Through as my weekly hexagram. One line per day, six days.

  • Day 1: Felt empty, without motive. And yet as though I were a clap of thunder. Went about my day as usual, intent on remaining empty.
  • Day 2: Stirrings, questions. Investigating principle without penetrating it. Read many translations of 21 and posted to an I-Ching forum. And yet... found myself searching online regarding Astrology of I Ching, and uncovered some controversy regarding the proper calculations. Sent emails to two of the originators of this controversy asking for help and clarity.
  • Day 3: Don't quite recall much aside from trying to be patient. Life as usual, waited to hear back, some more research, no conclusions.
  • Day 4: Actively penetrate to the root. Got a reply from one of the sources I'd reached out to. We discussed how the hexagrams are calculated from the BaZi, or Four Pillars of Destiny, and how The Astrology of I Ching does not use the traditional method of performing these calculations.
  • Day 5: Right and wrong and false and true are clearly distinguished. Indeed, various instructions on the correct calculations didn't add up. Unfortunately I did not discover this right away.
    Open and balanced, alert and wary, one will see that there is a primary principle; understanding it within and proving it without; all acts conform with the tao.... Well now, the principle was clear. Even so, things were already transforming.
  • Day 6: If one is strong but unenlightened, not knowing how to distinguish truth, one misuses intelligence and gets sidetracked, wasting a whole life, eventually going to one's destruction. Too late I reached out for help correcting the errors. The answers came the next day, but only now - eight months later - do I understand their true purpose.


But oh, the majestic subtlety of yijing.


The very calculations which brought me to hexagram 21 that week, had themselves been undone by hexagram 21. As I arrived upon the trigram of clarity, I had already begun to stop following the old calculations, even as hexagram 21 worked its art.




Essentially, The Astrology of I Ching is a fine book to follow, but I recommend doing separate calculations for the 4 Pillars prior to applying the stem/branch-to-number assignments found in the book. Without saying they are right or wrong, I will say some dates, when passed through these calculations, result in a different 4 pillars chart than traditional 4 pillars calculations. It is entirely possible I made errors in my calculations, but some computer programs which follow The Astrology of I Ching methodology produce the same discrepancies. Some Chinese websites also offer He Luo Li Shu calculations, and this matches what I get using the above method.






And so I was brought to attach my birth to a new hexagram. This hexagram brought me into a much deeper connection with the calculations and their principles.


Each line of the main hexagram clearly matched struggles I've been through in life over the course of six or nine year segments. Yearly hexagrams also matched. The system for calculating yearlies is the same, but the year begins on li chun, the first day of Chinese spring, whereas in Astrology of I Ching yearlies begin on the day of the winter solstice. On this point, I did see a translation thread on the old fivearts.net site seemingly pointing to this interpretation, or at least to a beginning in winter. I've also read in the time of the Yellow Emperor the year began at Zi, instead of Yin. The monthlies are different, and didn't settle with me at first, and I haven't explored them enough to have any comment.


So this year I've avoided attaching to monthly and weekly hexagrams, instead focusing on change over time. Gradual progress is my yearly hexagram, and that's what I've been cultivating. Recalculating my friend's hexagrams has resulted in almost literal clarity on the essence of change in their lives.




So this Spring I took a course on Chinese Astrology, which answered many questions I had on the system He Luo Li Shu is based upon. As it turns out the stems and branches are now appearing in classics I've stumbled upon recently. Or perhaps I'm just noticing them more now. Hah!


Yesterday I consulted the yijing on the day - I use the rice method described in The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth, by Hua-Ching Ni - and received line 5 of hexagram 21.


Later, in a Cafe I was amusedly pondering writing of my experiences with hexagram 21 in this forum... decided against it and went down do make an order. The number they gave me to set on my table while waiting for the order - do I even need to say it? - 21.


But that's an aside. See... something has been bothering me, and I've been mulling this principle over more and more. Basically it's simple. Why don't the hours of mao and you align with the ebb and flow of sunrise and sunset as the seasons change? Externally at least the ebb and flow of energies adapts with the season. Is it really possible our internal meridians behave in shifts of strict 2 hour windows?


Coming from a background in Western / Tropical Astrology, I realize what important differences precision can make. There are all manor of alignments and systems, based on the longitude, latitude, shape of the earth, etc. Now.... one can easily become lost in all these calculations and their implications. I much prefer the idea of feeling the changes and timings directly through cultivation.


Last week I was looking for a phone app to display the 12-branch clock. After endless searching (I don't understand Chinese), I finally stumbled upon this Japanese Traditional Time app. The characters are the same, and it was simple enough, so I started using it. It didn't take long to realize this is a clock based on temporal hours, calculated based on my input coordinates. Sunrise is the center of mao, sunset the center of you, with noon and midnight aligned at wu and zi. I was thrilled, as this was exactly what I've been wanting to study. This also introduced me to the Wadokei.


Lately the classics seem to be sharing more on mao, you, zi, and wu with me. To the point of mao and you:


8: "Middle of the path" (zhongdao) here refers to the two intermediate points along the cyclical growth and decrease of Yin and Yang. As mentioned above, these points are represented by mao and you. They are symbolic places and times in which the Yang begins to overcome the Yin, and the Yin begins to overcome the Yang, respectively. (Pregadio)


Further, there is great emphasis on using awareness of the ebb and flow of Yin and Yang in nature as a tool for understanding the unfixed and shifting nature of the cycles within our selves. Surely we may meditate during these periods of change in heaven and earth, and gain greater clarity on their influence to us. And at these times different energies are in operation, following the principle behind the ebb and flow of yin and yang. But the lesson in all of this is to understand how to apply these principles to the ebb and flow of yin and yang in ourselves.


In any case, this investigation of principle lead me to confidence in linking the hours of mao and you to sunrise and sunset. It follows the principles and is not contrived.


Thus I adjusted my birth time, which shifted from the hour of xu to hai, and resulted in another birth hexagram.


It's funny. The last hexagram fit very well. The challenges of imbalance were all predominant themes in my life. And yet.... this new hexagram fits even better. They're of a similar theme, but this one aligns even more precisely and completely. At any rate I have some observation time ahead of me.



And again, hexagram 21 leaves me in new territory after shedding an old skin.




So the work of investigating principle requires you to strip off layer after layer, stripping away until you get to the bones and marrow of the Tao. When there is no doubt or confusion at all, only then is this true knowledge and clear vision. If you haven't gotten to the marrow of the Tao, there is still obstruction, and you cannot be said to have found reality; you should not act arbitrarily, for then you will bring disaster on yourself.


liu yiming



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