I Ching, Yijing or Zhou Yi
"Oracle of the moon": © 2000 LiSe

  Yi Jing, Oracle of the Moon

Hexagram 25 and 26

The eternal structure of life and time

   25 is not about daily-life real people, it is about the natural state of man. The base of what he is, his face before he was born.
   26 is mythology. It is not real, not the size and truth of daily life, it is image, metaphor, analogy, symbol. Every day life relies on it, life is carried by the big symbols. Its time is eternal time, not human time but time of the gods.
   The following is, in my opinion, about both hexagrams. The last paragraph makes hex.25 especially clear. 

   Joseph Cambell ('The masks of God, primitive mythology, foreword) says:
   "..the mask in a primitive festival is revered and experienced as a veritable apparition of the mythical being that it represents – even though everyone knows that a man made the mask and that a man is wearing it. The one wearing it, furthermore, is identified with the god during the time of the ritual of which the mask is a part. He does not merely represent the god; he is the god.
   ..there has been a shift of view from the logic of the normal secular sphere, where things are understood to be distinct from one another, to a theatrical or play sphere, where they are accepted for what they are experienced as being and the logic is that of “make believe” – “as if.”
   ..as J. Huizinga has pointed out in his brilliant study of the play element in culture, the whole point, at the beginning, is the fun of play, not the rapture of seizure. “In all the wild imaginings of mythology a fanciful spirit is playing,” he writes, “on the border-line between jest and earnest.”
   ..The gentile, the “spoil sport,” the positivist, who cannot or will not play, must be kept aloof. Hence the guardian figures that stand at either side of the entrances to holy places: lions, bulls, or fearsome warriors with uplifted weapons. They are there to keep out the “spoil sports,” the advocates of Aristotelean logic, for whom A can never be B; for whom the actor is never to be lost in the part; for whom the mask, the image, the consecrated host, tree, or animal cannot become God, but only a reference. Such heavy thinkers are to remain without. For the whole purpose of entering a sanctuary or participating in a festival is that one should be overtaken by the state known in India as “the other mind” (Sanskrit, anya-manas: absent-mindedness, possession by a spirit), where one is “beside oneself,” spellbound, set apart from one’s logic of self-possession and overpowered by the force of a logic of “indissociation” – wherein A is B, and C also is B. ..But there is another attitude, more comprehensive, which has given beauty and love to the two worlds: that, namely, of the līlā, “the play,” as it has been termed in the Orient. The world is not condemned and shunned as a fall, but voluntarily entered as a game or dance, wherein the spirit plays.

  Prof. Huizinga: ..From this supremely aristocratic point of view, any state of seizure, whether by life or by the gods, must represent a fall or drop of spiritual niveau, a vulgarization of the play. Nobility of spirit is the grace – or ability – to play, whether in heaven or on earth. And this, I take it, this noblesse oblige, which has always been the quality of aristocracy, was precisely the virtue (αρετη) of the Greek poets, artists, and philosophers, for whom the gods were true as poetry is true. We may take it also to be the primitive (and proper) mythological point of view, as contrasted with the heavier positivistic; which latter is represented, on the one hand, by religious experiences of the literal sort, where the impact of a daemon, rising to the plane of consciousness from its place of birth on the level of the sentiments, is taken to be objectively real, and, on the other, by science and political economy, for which only measurable facts are objectively real. For if it is true, as the Greek philosopher Antisthenes (born c. 444 B.C.) has said, that “God is not like anything: hence no one can understand him by means of an image,”
or, as we read in the Indian Upanishad,

It is other, indeed, than the known,
And, moreover, above the unknown! 

   then it must be conceded, as a basic principle of our natural history of the gods and heroes, that whenever a myth has been taken literally its sense has been perverted; but also, reciprocally, that whenever it has been dismissed as a mere priestly fraud or sign of inferior intelligence, truth has slipped out the other door.

   And so what, then, is the sense that we are to seek, if it be neither here nor there?

   Kant, in his Prolegomena to Every Future System of Meta-physics, states very carefully that all our thinking about final things can be only by way of analogy (L: italics mine). “The proper expression for our fallible mode of conception,” he declares, “would be: that we imagine the world as if its being and inner character were derived from a supreme mind”
   Such a highly played game of “as if” frees our mind and spirit, on the one hand, from the presumption of theology, which pretends to know the laws of God, and, on the other, from the bondage of reason, whose laws do not apply beyond the horizon of human experience. I am willing to accept the word of Kant, as representing the view of a considerable metaphysician. And applying it to the range of festival games and attitudes just reviewed – from the mask to the consecrated host and temple image, transubstantiated worshiper and transubstantiated world – I can see, or believe I can see, that a principle of release operates throughout the series by way of the alchemy of an “as if”; and that, through this, the impact of all so-called “reality” upon the psyche is transubstantiated. The play state and the rapturous seizures sometimes deriving from it represent, therefore, a step rather toward than away from the ineluctable truth; and belief – acquiescence in a belief that is not quite belief – is the first step toward the deepened participation that the festival affords in that general will to life which, in its metaphysical aspect, is antecedent to, and the creator of, all life’s laws.

   ...The laws of life in time and space – economics, politics, and even morality – will thereupon dissolve. Whereafter, re-created by that return to paradise before the Fall, before the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, belief and disbelief, we are to carry the point of view and spirit of man the player (Homo ludens) back into life; as in the play of children, where, undaunted by the banal actualities of life’s meager possibilities, the spontaneous impulse of the spirit to identify itself with something other than itself for the sheer delight of play, transubstantiates the world – in which, actually, after all, things are not quite as real or permanent, terrible, important, or logical as they seem.

last update: 01.12.2020


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