Harmen

To die or not to die, that is the question

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北齊趙輔和為人筮父疾
有一人父疾,托相知者筮之,遇泰䷊。筮者云甚吉,疾當愈。是人喜出後,趙輔和謂筮者曰:「泰卦乾下坤上,然則父入土矣,豈得言吉,果以凶聞。」

 

Zhao Fuhe from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577) divining for a man who's father was ill.

There was a man who's father was ill, so he entrusted the matter to a wise man who divined about it. He received hexagram 11, tai 泰, 'peace'. The diviner said, "this is very auspicious. The illness will surely be cured."


After the client went away, happy because of the good news about his father, Zao Fuhe said to the diviner, "Hexagram 11 is Heaven ☰ below the Earth ☷, indicating the father is buried in the earth. How can you say this is an auspicious omen when the result is truly terrible?"
(Example from Shang Binghe 尚秉和 《周易古筮考》)

 

Shang Binghe does not mention the actual outcome, but I looked up the original version in the 《北齊書》, The History of the Northern Qi Dynasty, and although the text doesn't differ much from Shang's version, the wording (and interpunction in the modern version that I have) is somewhat different at the end of the anecdote, and it tells what actually happened:

 

輔和對卜卦的人説:“《泰卦》下是《乾》上是《坤》,這表示要入土,怎麽能説吉利呢?” 果然就傳來了凶信。
Fu He said to the diviner, "Tai gua 泰卦 is Heaven below, and Earth above, this shows he will enter the earth. How can you say this is auspicious?" As expected, news arrived that the father had died."
(《二十四史全譯》--北齊書, p. 517)

 

Liu Dajun 刘大钧 exclaimed about this case (based on Shang Binghe's version),

 

同样一卦,据辞和据象竟能解出完全相反的后果,真让人不知孰是孰非,何去何从!
The same hexagram, but depending on the words or on the image you can explain it in two opposite conclusions. It really makes it impossible to know which one is right and which one is wrong, and what course to follow!

 

But Liu is a scholar, and I don't think he really understands or practices divination. I also don't think he looked up the original version in the 《北齊書》.

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