Now it has been announced that I would speak this evening about the I Ching. I should just say then briefly, that the Book of Changes, is thought to be the oldest of the great Chinese classics , and to date from perhaps as early as thirteen hundred B.C. Although perhaps the figures of which this classic is a discussion may be much earlier than that they may go back to the earliest phases of human thought, because I Ching really is the ground plan of the way in which the Chinese think and not only the Chinese. It’s almost a mapping of the thinking processes of man. And it may surprise you to know that the system of arithmetic, which is used by digital computers. Came from the I Ching. We have a binary system of arithmetic, in which all numbers may be represented by zero and one in various arrangements. Is you is or is you ain’t? So there’s a sudden money expected a link between the most sophisticated mathematical machinery and a book originating at least thirteen hundred B.C..
But what the I Ching really goes into is this question is you is or is you ain’t?. It sounds terribly simple. Black or White. And we keep saying to people you know. Life isn’t just black and white or black or white there are many shades of gray. True. But against some backgrounds, Gray is dark. In another context grays light. And really all colors, in fact all information whatsoever. Can be translated into terms of yang and yin. For example, when you look at color television, the signals are broadcast to your set as a stream of pulses. They could be put on magnetic tape, in terms of an arrangement of pulses. Indicating either yes or no.
This technique has reached such the sophistication that with the aid of a laser beams, we can translate a physical object; let’s take a complicated one, let’s take a dandelion flower gone to seed, a dandelion clock. You take a dandelion clock about so big. It can be turned into a formula, passed through channels, enlarged to any size say this big, and with laser beams cut in solid plastic in a matter moments. Third you can get this reproduction of a three dimensional object. But the transition between the two was handled simply in terms of pulses. So likewise the nervous system, is so constituted that the neuron carry a message, either fires or does not fire. as all of us not five. If it is fire or if its activated, that registers as a yes if it is not fire the absence of firing is represented as a no. And so you could say that all your perceptions. In all their variety and all that color and made up of a vast composite of little yeses and and little nos. In every conceivable variation. So after these two come everything.
Yang means the positive and even the negative. Yanni is identified with the South or sunny side of a mountain. Yin with the North or shady side. And note, this mode that you cannot have a one sided mountain. Imagine. And this then is the crucial thing that one must understand about the yang/yin philosophy. And it is represented in the symbol of a circle crossed with an ask one side of which is black and the other side is white. And so they’re like two fishes. And in the head of the Black Fish is a white eye and then the head of the white fish the black eye. These two sides are interdependent because the black one is outlined by the white one and the white one is outlined by the black one. And they chase each other in the form which is really the double helix the pattern of the Spiral Nebulae, and also the pattern of love making between many many kinds of creatures. The spiral folding into itself. Black chasing white, white chasing black. Now obviously white and black out as different as different can be. When we say of someone that he is a awful liar and a conman, he said why he could prove to you that black was white. But strangely enough black is white in a certain sense and white is black if you take the copulating word ‘is’. To mean implies. Because black implies wife and white implies black. All positive implies negative and negative implies positive, because you can have the one without the other. So to put this into words. We can say explicitly black and white are different, but implicitly that is to say by implication, they are one. So exoterically, outwardly. The positive and the negative of life are very different. Life is different from death and good is different from evil. But the secret is that they are. As God says through the prophet Isaiah ‘I am the Lord and there is none else I follow the light to create the darkness I make peace and create evil I the law do all these things. But that if information is not normally handed out from the book. So we have to begin then seriously considering Yarran and he and black and white.
First of all if I have a black background. Somehow I am tempted to make it white mark. If I have a white background, I’m tempted to put a black mark on it. Because if there was nothing to see but black. That would be tantamount to being blind. Because there would be no difference. Nothing would matter nothing would make a difference so there wouldn’t be any. Likewise if everything were white. It would be as good as being blind. For there would be no difference. It’s only by contrast. When black and white have put together that we know black is black and white is white.
However now, when I look at a small white circle or discover a black background. Or a small black disk on a white background I once get this in my thought which is positive and which is negative. Does black represent the negative because it’s dark. Like night. But when I look at the black dot on the white background I think the black dot is the same there so that must be positive. It was put on. And therefore the white represents negative because it suggests nothing. Now Mark like white paper behind the print blank blush the English blank in the French blanche with means white it’s a blank, negative. Isn’t this mysterious You see that both white and black can play the negative role. But then let’s think of white as light. And it’s playing the positive role and when we think of black as the think the mark. Then it’s playing a positive role see both can play the negative in both the positive. But still you can’t have one without the other. I look at the black with a white dot. And I say is that a white glowing sun in the night or is it an old through a wall? In which case the black will be the thing and the white the absence. I look at the black dot on the white background and say, Yes obviously the black dot is the thing, but all the other hand it may be a picture of a white box with a hole in it. You see, there reversible.
Therefore some reflections about these. It isn’t easy for a human being, the way we’ve been trained, to notice that you can’t have one without the other because our attention has difficulty in seeing both sides at once. You know that Gestalt image where you get to faces it profile. And they are drawn as black silhouette. So you get two faces in profile about to kiss. But then look again and you notice the white ground between them and it is a cup like a chalice. What have we got here kissing faces or challices. People have difficulty in seeing both together you must have one or the other either will do not make your choice. It’s like you are going to be a boy or a girl either will do but you have to choose one of them. And yet bodhisattvas are always represented to some Africa. As being the as it were bisexual, transcending sexual differentiation, because after all everybody who exists is the result of a boy and a girl. Boys can’t be boys without girls and girls can be girls without borders. They are very different. If lot if they are. But, by reason of their interdependence, they’re one.
Talking of the beans and the flowers, where there are be as there must be flowers. And where there are flowers there must be be some sort of insect equivalent. And this implies that the be on the flower are really one organism. The head of the body looks very different from the feet just as the bee looks different from a flock. But a complete body requires both head and feet. So the head and the foot are obviously one organism is less obvious with the bee in the flower but they are an organism.
What is very difficult for us to see however, is that solid are all of a piece with spaces. Now here comes with thing you see take a situation in which we say of a given figure ground relationship that the black is the thing, the black letter on the white page. We say yes it’s the black letter that’s a ball that’s the thing. But supposing it’s a white letter on a black page. Still, we said the letters the thing. That’s a ball All right so. He said we look out of the sky at night and we see the stars and the planet as. We say that’s what’s there. That’s the space around them as darkness and nothingness, corresponding to the area of the magnetic tape which is magnetized which delivers no message and therefore the message zero. That you see does deliver a message. Absence speaks, nothingness is important. But we are brought up we are so brainwashed we are so bamboozled we are so ignorant. That we don’t know that. That’s the whole trick that we play on ourselves, we don’t know that nothing is something. But it’s important!
Lao Tzu put it this way. The usefulness of the vessel is not so much in the place around but in the empty space in which something can be carried the usefulness of the window is not so much in the frame is in the empty space through which light can be see. It sounds odd and paradoxical and almost a little contradictory but nevertheless there it is. The space is after all not nothing. I had an argument with Buckminster Fuller about this. And he had to grant me that I was theoretically correct. Because he said so far as I’m concerned space is just negative event. Just negative or the fallacy wasn’t in the word negative event that’s a beautiful phrase it was in the word just only. This space could be dismissed. And so in exactly the same, when we don’t recognize that side of life people complain all kinds of tricks on us. The main trick is, I can scare you with death. You won’t be. I can remove you are. You going to get removed anyway these days you just won’t be all that people off. Now you just aren’t. You know as a person you won’t be will be nobody to realize how terrible it is. This is the thing that this is one of the great tricks of life and you have to be watching this as people use it they, because they’ve all been taught to use it through the fall of man was not recognize the other side. So that everything that we think of as nothing space, empty space, death. Sleep. Dissolution, decay, any sort of weakness. Anything that goes against structure that is against the same that we think is bad bad bad, and we’re trying to get a world where that finally things is rendered impotent. Nothingness. Must no longer constitute a threat to something. In other words we want to play black and white. And if we call white the light the positive White must win.
That’s the game we’re trying to play, not realizing that there cannot be winning without losing. If whiteness when blackness lose. But if black loses we can congratulate black for having helped white to win. Because unless black loses white one. You can translate this into the difficult ones only question of race relations how would you know you were free white and twenty one. How could you prepare our being a white man that’s what black. You wouldn’t know you are living on the right side of the tracks unless there were people living on the left side tracks. You know as an I.Q. thing it says up is to down as blank is to left. Or left is to black. As opposed to fill in. I would put taken. Anyways, taken and left. Right and left, right and wrong. These opposites get tricky. But the point is people are afraid afraid of the negative one. Don’t be negative. The Power of Positive Thinking. That’s all nonsense. The negative is the source of the positive. This is of absolutely fundamental to the I Ching. This is why in the Hexagrams of which is the the I Ching is about, there’s about sixty four combination of six black and white symbols. Actually, they use an unbroken line for the positive and a broken line for the negative six such lines there are sixty four combinations of groups of six hexagram. And in all those there is not one bad one. There is no sign of the I Ching which you can draw and the oracle will tell you this is just plain bad. Because you can get to the very end of the night, the blackest pitch black and it is precisely at that moment that the yang, the positive element, is reborn. Because you see, it is recognizing that energy is waves, energy is pulsation. Now you can’t have a pulse without a vibration. It sounds if I go “OHHHHHHHHHHHMMM.” Something without nothing.
But actually if you listen very closely to that sound you hear. You’ll hear pulse. Because without that region which is a past nothing happens so this table which is level and solid and philosophers are always talking about tables because there was a table’s environment clusters. That this thing is going to. Have to talk about it kept inside. And I always look at us. And we find that there are cellular structure in wood. Analyze that molecules and my we found to our amazement; if you take a molecule out of this table and it’s about the size of my fist. Blow it up with that the next moment you will be while we’re with the other side of the room. At that level of magnification. What’s in the molecules? Atoms. Take an atom the size of my fist, this where the next Monday I’m in Los Angeles. I mean you know I was talking fancy shapes and figures and they were a long way what’s inside the AM. Electrons protons may sound so it’s utter and they the size of my fist We don’t even know if they’re particles or waves, it’s difficult to talk about this, but they are on a long way from each other so we suddenly find that in the solid table there’s more space than there is anything solid. Is a little bit of thought but as you VERY did our new go step, step down, it’s like approaching a limit in mathematics when you have a curve sweeping towards an axis posing it’s an asymptotic curve, it’s always getting nearer and nearer and nearer to that axis but never actually collides with it. So we get nearer and nearer as we study substance, nearer and nearer to finally what is the shell around the emptiness near it we never quite catch it. Solid disappears. Into space as at this level of magnification the spaces disappeared into the solid. See, if I just have one thing I better illustration is like a lighted cigarette in the dark I just got one point but I was it around and you see a continuous circle that’s how you see a solid table. Because they’re in gangs are so fast that your eye can catch the spaces between. Too little, too quick. Zip!
So, looking at things from one point of view we find a lot of emptiness looking at them from another point of view we find a lot of solitude. But what you have to realize is that the solid is based on the emptiness just as much as the end in this is based on the solid so don’t be afraid of nothing. It can’t bite you. It’s only something that can bite you. There’s nothing to be afraid of in nothing. And yet mysteriously nothing is the source of something. It’s like the womb and the and the seed.