I Ching: Made in Vietnam (Part 5)

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(…continued from I Ching:  Made in Vietnam (Part 4)

There is a famous and ancient saying in my language:  Sau cơn mưa trời lại sáng.  This is translated as:  After the rain, the sun shines again.  Here I am, with my little umbrella, making sure that the sun is truly shining on me before I venture forth and remove that umbrella.  It’s not much protection against a typhoon, but at this time in history, this tiny little sprinkling of mist is no big deal.  I think that the sun is actually starting to shine again so I can now remove my little umbrella.

Certainly, when it comes to the extremely long history of my people, we’ve been drenched in one typhoon or another of the bloody kind for the past four-thousand years or so.  It’s been a deadly four-thousand years, let me tell you.  Those were the days when, to speak out loud about the thoughts in one’s head usually resulted in said head being systematically and openly perched on a pike for the world to see.  Twenty centuries ago, the truth had to be buried underground or face being burned and melted and hacked to bits, in hopes that it could be preserved so that one day, it could reveal itself in its basic simple truth.

It is now the twenty-first century.  As humanity moves forward into a more civilized situation, the truth is finally being uncovered.  The sun is now shining on the world with a light that is bright enough to reveal the depths and breadths of that which has been lost.

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I bought a front-row seat to the unveiling.  It is mostly written in Vietnamese, so I am transcribing the words as I am seeing them in front of me.  The words may not be as flowing as they could be (for a writer), but they are as clear as I can translate them and still retain the original meaning, as was originally written by the people who wrote the words.  This should not be difficult.  I am only translating two words.

I Ching

The words I Ching currently means Book of Changes.  At least, that is what we think it means, as told to us by those who don’t know where the origins of the I Ching began.  But that is not what it was originally.

I am going to parse out the two words so that it will be clearer and easier to understand.

The word Ching, in my language, is Kinh.  Kinh means ‘Book’ or ‘Collection of Writings’ or ‘holy scripture’, depending on how it is used in context with other words.  That”s simple enough.  It is the noun of the two words.  It describes a concrete item, something that has mass and can be picked up and looked at, turned around in our hands and touched.

The word I was a phonetic spelling of what later-day scholars changed to Yi.  I have been keeping it as I,  simply for expediency and to remain constant to keep my thoughts as clear as I can without getting bogged down into the details.

Yi was a Han Chinese mispronunciation of Diệc (the D is pronounced as a Y in franco-phonetic transcription) which, after a few thousand years of constant usage, became Việt.  Remember, these words were not written in Romanized alphabets.  It was represented as a hieroglyphic phonetic symbol.

The Diệc Kinh, or Viet Kinh, is literally translated as the Viet Bookaka the I Ching.

As I am translating all of this, another saying pops into my head:  There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.  ~  Anon.

That is quite true, and for thousands of years, the ones who originated the I Ching have done a tremendous amount of good for so many people around the world without asking for any recognition of any form.  However, I think it is time for the credit to be returned to the originator of the deed.

It is time.

8 thoughts on “I Ching: Made in Vietnam (Part 5)

Add yours

  1. taobabe,

    I’ve just read this multipart blog entry from “cover to cover”.

    I had never heard of ‘Lian Shan Yi’ before, nor of Shennong, who supposedly wrote it.

    The spectacular thing about this guy that I found in one of the links I ran accross was that he also is credited with an accounting method that involved that involved tying knots in string.

    Meso-America which you connected to dragons (through its serpents) also had an accounting method of strings of strings of knots…

    Now, this might not seem significant, but through your blog I believe I have found what I was searching for.

    Shennong was responsible for a version of the I Ching older than the Zhouyi. Because he tied knots in string to account for his produce, it is a small leap for me to assume he also used the same knots-on-string idea to keep track of all those hexagram lines (384 in 64 hexes)

    Bingo…this is almost historical proof that someone in history long before me had the idea of recording the hexagrams within a string of beads.

    ‘Lian Shan’ also has the meaning of ‘continuous mountain’, which to my warped connect-the-dots mind appears immediately IF you are standing inside a crater somewhere (asteroid, meteorite or volcano-caused).
    As you spin to take in all the contiguous peaks making up the crater rim, the closer you look the more you see a cyclic, fractal image of the same thing over and over again..chaotic jaggies that eventually repeat !-)

    One of the links to the name Shennong had a Vietnamese character representation, so he was also probably ‘assimilated’ by the Han…I believe this might push your history back further.



  2. Allan,
    Interesting that you mentioned Shennong (Thần Nông). He was the grandfather of the father of Vietnamese people, Lạc Long Quân, aka Hùng Sùng Lãm, aka our one-and-only Dragon Lord of Lạc.


  3. Oh yeah, one more thing…the idea for the (now I guess I must start calling it a lianshan necklace?) came to me in a dream. Early on I found the idea of nuclear trigrams forming yet another inner hexagram very appealing. In a dream during a week of intense I Ching/Wilhelm book study I visualized this looong, chromosome-like sequence of randomly solid and broken yin-yang lines that somehow I knew (in the dream) could be taken in groups of six to form individual hexagrams. Once I woke up the questions ‘ok, but does a sequence of just sixty four lines exist?’ and ‘has anyone else thought of this?’ popped into my mind. Off and on, the idea would pop into my head periodically, until I decided to find a solution. There are SOME!

    So, I guess I’ll stop my search and accept it was discovered before by an ancient in Vietnam:))



  4. Allan,
    Dreams are things our souls try to get us to think about and focus on. In your case, this resulted in a physical construct of an idea (yang to yin). I congratulate you on your rediscovery.


  5. Thanks taobabe…to this day I consider it to have been quite a gift. Once I get good enough programming in Python, I intend to write code that will calculate all possible solutions…I stopped once I found one, another programmer friend informed me there are probably quite a few.


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