The I Ching has parts in it that are absolutely ancient! The first Taoists wrote many books, some of which were later compiled into the I Ching (or Book of Changes). One of them, called the Sequence of Earlier Heaven (or the Primal Arrangement) was compiled as part of the Shuo Kua and says the following:
3. Heaven and earth determine the direction. The forces of mountain and lake are united. Thunder and wind arouse each other. Water and fire do not combat each other. Thus are the eight trigrams intermingled.
Counting that which is going into the past depends on the forward movement. Knowing that which is to come depends on the backward movement. This is why the Book of Changes has backward moving numbers.
4. Thunder brings about movement, wind brings about dispersion, rain brings about moisture, the sun brings about warmth, Keeping Still brings about standstill, the Joyous brings about pleasure, the Creative brings about rulership, the Receptive brings about shelter
These eight primary trigrams talk about moving backwards and forwards in time. According to Wilhelm, …following this line leads to knowledge of the past, which is present as a latent cause in the effects it produces.
It seems to me as if the descriptions are incorrect, as stated in the Wilhelm translated Shuo Kua. The first four are images. These images are moving backwards, not forward, as stated in the book.
- Thunder brings about movement,
- wind brings about dispersion,
- rain brings about moisture,
- the sun brings about warmth
Thunder -> Movement
Wind -> Dispersion
Rain -> Moisture
Sun -> Warmth
If we look at the first four, we see a line that moves backward. You have thunder, wind, rain and the sun. Following the images (objects) forward, we have the resulting effect, which is present as a latent cause in the effects it produces. It clearly states that Thunder brings about movement, but you need to see the movement to know that Thunder caused it. You also need to see the dispersion to know that the wind caused it. You see moisture, therefore you know rain. And you feel warmth, therefore you know the sun is up. It is a latent cause in the effects it produces.
The second four are not images. They are attributes.
- Keeping Still brings about standstill,
- the Joyous brings about pleasure,
- the Creative brings about rulership,
- the Receptive brings about shelter
Keeping Still -> Standstill
Joyous -> Pleasure
Creative -> Rulership
Receptive -> Shelter
If we look at the second four, we see a line that moves forward. You have Keeping Still, Joyous, Creative, and Receptive. Following the line from the attributes to the effects lead to knowledge of the future, ergo if you keep still, you will be at a standstill, and being joyous results in a future of pleasure. Being creative will lead to rulership, and becoming the receptive results in being able to be a shelter for others.
These eight primary trigrams combine to give an unlimited number of results, when you throw chance into the mix. It is quite a marvel to behold in action, and endlessly fascinating to me.