Imagine that a being from an advanced culture gave you a toy designed to both entertain you and instruct you in the workings of our reality matrix. The toy works like this: at any moment, you can freeze the flow of time into a very small slice which not only tells you the nature of the moment, but why you chose it, the ramifications of having chosen it, and three other co-ordinates of change that create the moment and the choice.
Essentially, the I Ching, the gift of Fu Hsi, is such a toy. Any means of random selection can be used – counting yarrow stalks, tossing coins or a binary computer program – to provide the hexagram which marks the quality of that moment. This hexagram is then interpreted by various methods and then related to other hexagrams to provide an inclusive and holistic perspective on the evolution of that moment in time. The value of such knowledge, however, comes from our ability to make use of it.
And this, perhaps, was the genius of King Wen. In addition to writing the enigmatic judgments, King Wen also designed a way to structure the hexagrams in pairs so that the increment of change between the pairs described the rhythmic structure of that elusive quality the now or the ever-changing present. This discovery animated the larger structures described by Fu Hsi’s trigrams so that time or change was rendered interactive. King Wen’s arrangement became the standard sequence used in most versions of the I Ching, and for millennia was the preferred way to consult the oracle. It survived because it worked. Through the King Wen arrangement, it was possible to have a dialogue with this ancient source of wisdom.
How this actually worked was a mystery until recently. Carl Jung’s study of the I Ching led to his theory of synchronicity as an acausal connecting principle, but he was unable to see how the flow of archetypes formed meaningful structures in an acausal manner. Synchronicity could be defined as a psychological event, the projection of meaning onto a background of randomness, but Jung left unanswered the question of meaning itself. Does this temporal universe inhabited by biological entities truly have a “meaning?”
Perhaps not a meaning, but at least a “destiny.” One of the commentaries on the I Ching attributed to Confucius tells us that “the future likewise develops in accordance with the fixed laws, according to calculable numbers. . . This is the thought on which the Book of Changes is based.” Another even older commentary informs us that “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.” Clearly the early commentators and interpreters saw the I Ching as something vastly more significant than a simple oracle.
But what exactly? This question was answered by a couple of the century’s most brilliant minds. The McKenna brothers, Terence and Dennis, in their groundbreaking work, The Invisible Landscape, postulated that the King Wen arrangement contained just such a backward and forward flowing pattern of numbers, and that these numbers could be used to construct an interface with similar vital holons, or holistic hierarchies, in the organization of space/time.
The McKennas demonstrated this by overlaying the 384 lines of the sixty four hexagrams (6 x 64 = 384) on the 13 month lunar calendar (13 X 29.53 days = 383.89 days). They then used these basic units to develop a temporal lock with the solar/sunspot cycle, the Zodiacal Ages, and the length of the Great Year of precessional motion. With the same increment, sixty four, they found it was possible to assemble a 26 step model of space/time from the size/age of the universe down to Planck’s Constant. In this view, the I Ching is a fractal model of all that is, was, or will be. It is also hologramic, in that the piece, the I Ching, contains the information of the whole, the evolving universe.
Applying this realization to the structure of the King Wen arrangement produces a model of the holonic nature of evolution. If we think of the time from the emergence of life on earth to the immediate future, roughly 1.3 billion years, as one increment and then begin to divide that by 64, some interesting time periods are highlighted. Our first division, one 64th of 1.3 billion years, brings us to the high point of the mammals, 18 million years ago. The next division by 64 brings us to 275,000 BCE, the dawn of Homo Sapiens. Dividing again by 64 brings us to the high point of the ancient cultures such as the Egyptian around 2300 BCE. Another division brings us to the mid 20th century and the last 67 + years of the cycle.
According to this view, all of biological and cosmological time is approaching a point of concrescence in the near future. The McKenna brothers went looking for possible dates for this concrescence and decided that the helical rising of the winter solstice sunrise in 2012 matched the requirements. It would certainly be an event of cosmological significance that could serve as a symbol of the concrescence itself. The McKennas found that this date also matched the wave form derived from King Wen’s arrangement with historical events. The end of World War II and the atomic bomb, for instance, fell on 1945, the year of the last division, the beginning of the last 67 + years of biological and galactic evolution which completes the vast hexagram of time which began 72.25 billion years ago.
All of the information, “novelty” as the McKennas called it, that was generated in the course of the previous billions of years from the formation of the earth to the present is compressed and recapitulated in the last 67 + years. Therefore we can apply the same scale of division, creating a new hexagramic hierarchy, to this 67 + year period. Within this time period, there are 64 groups of 384 days which cover three major and six minor sunspot cycles. When the wave front of concrescence is applied to the time period, we find that the first node falls on the beginning of the last 384 day cycle. The McKennas suggested that this node marked a shift in “novelty” or information density, equal to that which occurred in 1945 CE, 2300 BCE, 275,000 BCE and so on.
The next node on the concrescence wave happens six days before the shift point and again represents the same kind of acceleration in “novelty.” The first trigram is completed at the next node, 135 minutes from ground zero, and represents another level of acceleration. Novelty continues to speed up at the next node, 127 seconds, and again at the next, 1.98 seconds, and then for the final time at .003 seconds when it accelerates to its maximum. The pattern then inverts and novelty decreases by the same incremental pattern with which it increased. Another round has begun.
The implications of this are staggering if considered from the perspective of the universe’s meaning or destiny. Perhaps sentient life developed out of the primal matrix just to be aware of this all important wave of information acceleration as it reaches concrescence. Perhaps the true value of the I Ching is to help us understand the transformative possibilities of living in a moment of rapidly accelerating time.
Terence and Dennis McKenna’s work has been validated and expanded upon by others since the first publication of The Inner Landscape in 1975. John Major Jenkins, in his definitive work on the Maya and precession, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, credits the McKennas with having the intuition that the helical alignment with galactic center in 2012 was an important precessional marker. Jenkins’ work suggests that the Maya actually based their calendar on such galactic alignments. The work of Moira Timms, in Beyond Prophecies and Predictions and in other articles, suggests that the ancient Egyptians also aligned the Djed pillar with the center of the galaxy. In our recent book, A Monument to the End of Time, my co-author, Jay Weidner, and I demonstrated that the ancient traditions of alchemy and chiliaism in the west are also based on the precessional mysteries.
Interestingly enough, the Taoist alchemists of the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1127 CE) seemed to understand the concept of alchemical time and the transformative process at the heart of King Wen’s arrangement. In a curious mandala entitled The Cauldron, Furnace, Medicines and Firing Process, the King Wen sequence is used to describe the alchemical process. “The science of the gold pill (alchemy),” as Liu I-ming, the foremost Taoist scholar of the 19th century, tells us in his commentary on the mandala, “has the Heaven and the Earth for its cauldron and furnace, Water and Fire for its medicinal ingredients; the other sixty hexagrams, beginning with Difficulty and Darkness, are the firing process. . . The science of the gold pill (alchemy) is not outside the tao of transformation, the tao of transformation is not outside the tao of evolution of yin and yang, of heaven and earth, sun and moon.”
And so the toy, so bright and strange, given to us by an advanced culture or being turns out to be the wish fulfilling jewel of transformation. This super computer of destiny, the world’s oldest book, not only has an application in the moment, it just might be that it was designed specifically to be used at this moment as a way to understand the relentless process of information acceleration and increasing novelty. In that sense, the McKenna brothers deserve to take their place along with Master Kung, King Wen and Fu Hsi for defining this aspect of the I Ching’s wisdom.