Etymology of Chinese characters, meaning and sound components (1)

Me and Lotti a few years ago. Don’t worry, we are still good friends.

In my The Mystery of the Text online course I talk about the etymology of Chinese characters, and how the majority of the Chinese characters are composed: there is a meaning component, that gives a hint for the meaning, and a sound component, that gives a hint for the pronunciation. This principle is explained in detail on Wikipedia. Several books and websites however see the sound component as a meaning component – they try to relate every part of the character to the meaning of the character as they perceive it. Alfred Huang (who btw died last year) does this in his Yijing translation The Complete I Ching, and another Yijing researcher who does this is Lotti Heyboer, aka LiSe, on her website

One of my students mentioned to Lotti the video in which I discuss this take on Chinese characters, a take that in my opinion is wrong and hardly sustainable. This prompted Lotti to write a blog article in which she defends her position: ‘Etymology, fact, and fiction’. This article is my response to that blog post, although I would have preferred to add my comments to Lotti’s article, but there is no option to do that. Continue reading

Online workshop Heluo Lishu: Life Hexagrams from the Book of Change

The Yijing, the Chinese Book of Change, started as a divination system, and this is how most readers of the book still use it. Hexagrams and their components, along with the text that accompanies them, are interpreted for matters concerning health, wealth, management, relations, property and so forth. But through the centuries the system was connected to almost all aspects of Chinese culture: Chinese astrology, Feng Shui, Chinese Medicine, art – these were all influenced by the Book of Change and the numerous kinds of philosophy that were found in it. The connection with Chinese astrology led to the so-called Heluo Lishu 河洛理數 system of life hexagrams:

“The Principles and Numbers of the He River Map and Luo River Book.”

Which is the topic of a new and exciting course. Heluo Lishu is a book and system from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) in which your Chinese horoscope, your bazi 八字, is converted to two hexagrams from the Yijing. These hexagrams are said to explain the groundwork of your personality, the untainted first layer that forms the foundation of who you are. From these hexagrams yearly, monthly, and daily hexagrams are extracted, each telling you something about a certain period in your life. Continue reading

‘The Power of the Hexagrams’ course coming up!

In September I’ll start another The Power of the Hexagrams Course!
If you agree with one or more of the following statements, then this workshop is for you:
– I always find it difficult to interpret the answers from the Yijing
– I only use the text of the Yijing, and would like to do more with the hexagrams
– I don’t know how to practically apply the trigrams
– I know that every line in a hexagram has a general meaning, and I would like to use these in a reading
– I have been using the Yijing for years, but I still feel like a beginner
– I want to know more about the Chinese philosophy behind the Yijing
– I want to pick Harmen’s brain on the Yijing
– I want to have more confidence in my own interpretations
– I want to integrate the Yijing into my own profession
If one or more of these statements apply to you then you will benefit from this online workshop. In eight lessons you will learn the power of the hexagrams, how to read them, and make them useful and meaningful for every question that you address to the Book of Changes.

Continue reading

Crossing the great river

In this video we are going to look at the phrase she da chuan 涉大川, ‘cross the great river’ and the early usage of the keywords from this phrase.