The I Ching has been studied extensively since it’s misty origins thousands of years ago as an expression of “the Will of Heaven”. Whilst many of the mathematical connections to our modern, western mind that is highly empirically focused, are obvious, it is the underlying force to this math, which I wish to explore. It must be remembered that the assignment of numbers to the hexagrams is a relatively modern invention (Rutt, 1996) as numbers have been across many civilisations including the Ancient Greeks who were ill fond of the number zero, and indeed we find a binary representation of zero absent in the hexagrams of the I Ching. Zero, a pervasive force in mathematics, is by definition difficult to represent in a pictographic system that strives to communicate manifested realities of our perceived dimension. That binary and parity mathematics of the I Ching can be represented by fractal geometry, and that Chaos theory can duplicate the I Ching’s sense of Taoist Chi with real world analogs such as butterflies flapping their wings and affecting global weather patterns are to me, just the Western world of pragmatism and proofs coming to terms with the outer edges of something more fundamental. Like children, we are beginning to explore the underlying structure of our world by the use of big data, founded on the same binary system as this ancient exploration of the fabric of the universe.
An underlying theme of the I Ching has been described by Coward et.al. (2007) as “The beginning of all things lies still in the beyond in the form of ideas that have yet to become real.” In other words, the infinite sea of potential in unrealized form is where all things come from; this potential is what I will compare to the Higgs field. From the same text, “But the Creative furthermore has power to lend form to these archetype of ideas” is describing how the first hexagram, Ch’ien, is a gateway for potential to take shape. Thus it is fitting that the Ch’ien hexagram is often described as strength, or as dragons, or of time. A solid stairway of masculine energy building a portal if you will between potential and reality.
The first hexagram of the I Ching is Ch’ien, the creative, representation of heaven. I see this hexagram as another way of expressing our quest to understand and access the fundamental force of the universe, much the same as we now use fractal images, chaos mathematics, quantum theory and more recently, the Standard Model. It is the underlying cultural assumption of potential that most interests me. Quantum theory can bring us closer to this fundamental truth is by way of the duality (and multiplicity) of quantum states, consider “up” and “down” quarks as a case in point. The synchronicity expressed by the I Ching can be easily seen as represented in mixed quantum states, most simplistically in the spin of an electron being either “up” or “down”, but I seek here to delve deeper than even these basic dualities, beyond fermions (matter) and bosons (forces) to the field that lies beyond, the Higgs field.
The Higgs field is not exactly a widely held belief of the day, mostly because it is a fairly new concept and many people find it difficult to understand. It is a widely held assumption of particle physicists at this stage in our evolution and I hope that these understandings of the universe can eventually filter to the masses – although the slow shift of Einstein’s theories to high school class rooms over the last one hundred years does little to inspire confidence in this hope! In any case, I am going to use the Standard Model as a modern cultural assumption as even if most people can’t understand it or express it I believe that they feel it intuitively.
Essentially the Standard Model is about matter and force and how these two things interact. I see this as analogous to hexagrams and Chi (Qi). The resulting predictions from the I Ching are simply accessing the interaction of these two fundamental aspects of the universe with a basis in the belief that the synchronicity of the flowing patterns of Qi in the world will elucidate on the “weather patterns” around the seeker at the point of consultation. The text of Coward et.al. looks at only the first hexagram but it does say of it “Its energy is represented as unrestricted by any fixed conditions in space and is therefore conceived of as motion” (RER Pg 273). It then goes on to state that the first hexagram is specific to time but I would suggest that this may be a slightly altered Western interpretation of something far more flexible than what we would traditionally attribute to the notion of “Time”.
A bit deeper into the Higgs Boson
The Higgs field is postulated to be an all-pervasive force that gives underlying structure to all reality as we know it. The Higgs Boson is a manifestation of this field into a point to exert influence on the physical universe by giving it mass – or the strength of the dragon lending creative success. I see the Higgs field to be an exact analogy of the Qi force that underlies the I Ching.
The excitement of detecting the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider in 2013 was because we are finally beginning to come to an empirical understanding of the fundamental structure of the universe. It was dubbed “the God particle” by the media, as it does appear to carry such auspicious weight as to describe the underlying cause of the existence of all things in the universe including the existence of the universe itself!
When an I Ching reading is cast, some potential from the Higgs field is released giving force or mass to an actuality. This actuality can be harnessed by the seeker to keep them in resonance with “the Great Harmony”. The hexagram of Ch’ien could be seen as the doorway through which this potential achieves actuality.
Why does any of this matter (pardon the pun)? Because in ancient times I believe that humans were more connected to the ebbs and flows of potential and synchronicity. Through millennia of trying to understand our reality by quantifying our observations of it into hard numbers we have been digitalizing an analog universe of flowing Qi, culminating in a digital age where everything is being reduced to binary code. If we can start to use the empirical language of mathematics that we have come to have implicit, (and sometimes blind) faith in, perhaps we can bring back to the masses a sense of the importance and power of accessing the Qi or Higgs field with their own consciousness.
How wonderful would be the sound of resonance if all beings remembered that their very will, their cognitive volition of their consciousness could make the universe sing. At that point we would manifest the Great Harmony.
More about the Standard Model – from CERN
A neat book…
Coward, Harold G.. Readings in eastern religions. 2nd ed. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007. Print.