The Image of the Cosmos in the I Ching: the Yi-globe (2011)

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VI. The analogues of the Yi-globe - The Yi-yantra and others

(This chapter is a shortened version of the original manuscript.)

In the previous chapters the Yi-globe was demonstrated as the basic form of the arrangement of the hexagrams. This form, however, can be transformed into other structures too, in order to emphasize or demonstrate certain features, or simply to facilitate comprehension. The chapter on the origin of the canonical sequence (Chp. V) covers some of these transformations such as the planar projection (figure 46), and the Yi-matrix (figure 48), and even the canonical (King Wen's) sequence can be considered a kind of analogue version.

There are forms, however, not originated with the Yi-globe, but still resembling it very closely in respect to form and content as well. In the following passage two of them will be demonstrated: an 8x8 matrix and a yantra-like structure, showing analogies on totally different bases.

The 8x8 matrix of the Yi-globe

From among the numerous 8x8 matrices there is a single one which can be taken for the map of the Yi-globe.

xxx xxx xxx

The Yi-yantra

Symbols similar to the Yi-globe and having identical or analogous connotations can be found in the culture of other peoples as well. Such an analogue is the Hindu yantra, defined by the Knaurs encyclopedia as follows: 'Yantra is a meditation aid well-known from the ancient Indian symbolics and highly appreciated in the modern age as well. It consists of geometrically symmetric forms and resembles the mandalas due to its concentric arrangement. As a rule, a yantra consists of triangles, squares and circles embedded into one another, which, on the one part, transmit some content, [...] on the other part directly comply with the subconscious, archetypal structures of the psyche.'

In his book, Madhu Khanna provides an excellent description about the yantras. He refers to the archaeological findings (seals) from the Harappa culture (app. the 3rd millenary BC) that bear forms similar to the yantras and also the Vedic altars (app. 2000 BC) that were constructed according to such abstract patterns. Much later, at the time of the development and prosperity of Tantrism (700 to 1200 AD), the yantras appeared again and became popular in several forms. The simplified, black and white variations of some yantras are shown below; they illustrate the general structural elements and their construction (figure 54).

Schematic pictures of yantras

Fig. 54. Different yantras (schematic representations)

If the elements of the Yi-globe are compared with those of the yantras, it can be seen at once that the globe embraces the whole set of elements of the yantras, and the principle of the composition is identical as well. The two parts of the Yi-globe shown in figures 13.a and 14.a, where the hexagrams are arranged in a plane, best serve for direct comparison. Here, the arrangement of the hexagrams around the center, the concentric circles embedded into one another, the perfect balance and symmetry present themselves visibly; all these features are common with the yantras. The analysis of the Yi-globe has revealed that the other archetypal elements of the yantras, the triangles and squares, are included in it too. The analogy between the Yi-globe and the yantras can be recognized in respect to almost every formal detail, if the Chamunda-yantra is taken as an example (figure 55).

The Chamunda-yantra (schematic picture)

Fig. 55. The Chamunda-yantra (sketch)

The analogy between the two symbols would be still more complete if the metaphysical contents were compared too. The yantras are the symbols of deities, whereby they represent in one part the deity itself (generally a goddess), while on the other part they indicate the cosmic activity (function) attributed to the deity and the power manifested in it; thus actually, a yantra symbolizes the whole universe. The power of the yantras lies in the concentrated visualization, completed with the vibration of the associated mantras written on the constituting elements. In this way the man is capable to raise and direct cosmic energies into the psyche; whereby he merges into the deity in his mind and will at last be one with the universe, the cosmic wholeness.

The preceding chapters emphasized the cosmologic connotations inherent in the Yi-globe, stating, among others, that:

These characteristics confirm that the Yi-globe, as a whole and in its details as well, embraces the universe together with its powers, as do the yantras. Analyzing the details further on, still the following cosmologic analogies can be revealed between the Yi-globe and the yantras:

The comparison clearly reveals that the Yi-globe and the yantras represent the same spiritual content and most of their formal elements are identical as well. Accordingly, it is fully justified to take the Yi-globe as a special yantra. This mutual relationship can be demonstrated in another way: converting the Yi-globe into a yantra form (figure 56). Since this yantra perfectly reflects all the connotations implied by the Yi-globe and all the contents of the Yijing (I Ching), it is called Yijing-yantra, or shortly, Yi-yantra.

I-Ching: The hexagrams of the I Ching in the Yi-yantra ( = Yijing Yantra )

Fig. 56. The Yi-yantra
(Click here to enlarge.)

On the petals and on the other geometrical elements of the yantras mantras (of Sanskrit syllables or words) are written. On the Yi-yantra these mantras are replaced by hexagrams located at the appropriate places. (This replacement is partly formal here, since the function of the mantras would be manifested only in that case if they were expressed in words. The usage of the Chinese names of the hexagrams would certainly be more suitable for the revelation of the analogy.)

On the basis of the analysis, the meanings of the individual geometrical elements in the Yi-yantra can be clearly followed:

Other analogue symbols

The list of symbols showing analogy with the Yi-globe could be continued. The mandalas were referred already on the preceding pages; containing the most of the important elements, the Yi-globe can be taken for a spatial mandala. The Tree of Life and the Jacob's ladder known from the Hebrew Kabbalah resembles the projection of the Yi-globe very nearly. For example, the ten sefiras may correspond to the ten hexagrams on the axis, the paths among the sefiras (that is to say the paths leading to God) are analogous with the transitions among the hexagrams, while an interrelation can also be found between the levels of the divine qualities and the five levels of the globe.


The numerology of the Yi-globe could be the subject of a further study. It is said that the Book of Changes embraces each phenomenon of the world; according to numerology the archaic numbers mean idea and image as well, i.e. they stand for the whole world too

In the Yi-globe the following numbers are clearly represented:

----- - -----

These analogies are further examples to support the statement: the Yi-globe is perfectly embedded in the traditions of other peoples of the world, together with the Christian cross, the Hebrew six-pointed star, and the Chinese yin-yang diagram. It also finds its place in the world of numerology, and it is in close connection with other religious symbols such as the Life Tree of the Kabbalah, the Hindu yantras and mandalas, and others. Maybe further analysis of the globe can promote the approach towards a better understanding of this tradition.


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