The Story of Yin and Yang and the earliest correlation to cosmology.
The land of China is a large piece of continent surrounded by natural barriers from 3 sides. If there was any similarity in cultural characteristics with another cultural, then such kinship probably had its origin dating back before the separation of the continents, because otherwise it would be quite unthinkable that any outside influence could have reached China during the Neolithic Age or before it. It would be quite unlikely, if not impossible, for the early humans to cross the barriers and migrate into China, because on the North of China there was the impossible coldness of the Siberia. To the North-West was the great Gobi Desert. On the East and South-East there was the China Sea and Pacific Ocean. Then on the South West there was again an impossible barrier, the range of Himalayan mountains. In the days of early human history there was only a small gap in the South-West of China that any flow of prehistoric human contact could have occurred. This was much later opened for traffic as the only path to China, the Silk Road. So it is pretty fair to say that the Chinese culture and language are entirely special and free of outside influence. China's civilization was totally home grown, and the cradle of that civilization was the two great rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. For a long time it has been said that China has some 5000 years of civilization. Actually during the recent decades due to the uncovering of great deal more archeological evidence, and the aid of Carbon-Fourteen (14C) radiation detection and dating, the archeologists have collectively agreed that the span of civilization in China may be extended twice as far back, namely about 10, 000 years, and in time as more relics of the past are unearthed this figure could be even further extended. This is not surprising! Just look at the pictures of the 3 pottery wares I have posted here :-
These 3 Potteries belonged to the Neolithic Age, the first 2 potteries are products of the Pei Li Gang Culture ( ) and the 3rd one is of the Ci-Shan Culture ( ). They are Carbon dated to have been made about 5000 to 6000 BC. They are highly advanced both in art form and in technology (burnt at about 1000 degrees Celsius). Who knows how long it should take for any civilization to develop into some maturity... I don't know about you, but I for one must admit that if I was to make these potteries today, I would not be able to achieve such a standard of creative maturity. For further reading please refer to book No. 28 in the Bibliography.
The first simple and primitive form of written language unearthed so far has been dated back to more than 7300 years ago, although other art forms in tools and potteries have been found to be in use long before that. Other valuable information are obtained from some 150,000 pieces of bones and turtle shells unearthed with script carved on them, which may be easily and accurately dated using Carbon 14 technology. Of course as time goes on, more archeological relics would be unearthed, and such back dates may be expected to extend even further....
On the left is a photo of a bone and on the right is a well preserved turtle shell, both carved with early Chinese scripts. Over 150,000 pieces of such relics have been unearthed in recent decades, giving a great wealth of archeological information
One interesting fact about the early Chinese written language is that some of it can be read and understood by untrained students, such as you and I. The reason is that early Chinese script characters are actually simplified graphics and pictures, which more than often can tell their own stories. The more interesting ones are pictures of ideas, and the complex ones are the combinations of some out of the 8 ways of making a Chinese script, which I would not go into length here. Most people do not realize that the invention and the design of using the simplest possible graphic or pictorial image to represent an abstract idea or an event is by no means simple task. In fact, some are highly abstract and advanced art forms. In the making of early Chinese scripts it often entails a great deal of not just art, but also philosophy that requires a keen eye in seeing and interpreting nature.... It was under the great need to search for the simplest possible pictorial form to represent meanings that the Chinese language expanded, and in turn the language then guided the civilization to evolve with it. In exhausting the use of graphics or pictures the early script developers or the inventors had to combine many pictures, or sounds of the pictures, even the compounded mixture of image and sound, or other means, in order to create more and more words until the language became a great complexity of explicit descriptive and abstract ideological expression. There is a meaningful philosophy or art or sound, or the combination of other methods of expression in every Chinese word. Hence each and every word can stand alone and has a history of its own that can be followed to understand. It is also because of its meaningful and pictorial construction that the Chinese calligraphy becomes by itself a highly appreciated abstract art. Especially in the early Chinese classical writings the scripts were used sparingly to describe highly complex situations. It required even more analytical power and keenness of mind to describe a complexity using the simplest possible expressions. In short, the early Chinese script was focused on pictorial descriptions of life and nature. Because the civilization follows the development of the language, this was probably one of the reasons that the early Chinese civilization, unlike other ancient civilizations, was quite realistic, philosophic, if not materialistic, and had very little concern or interests for Gods or the super-natural beliefs.
However, there must be more reasons than that, but it remains a mystery because since the start of script invention more than 7300 years ago until the Three Kingdom era, roughly 1800 years ago, for all those 5500 years of recorded civilization there had never been any mention of the name, or names of Gods, nor any stories or legends describing the creation of the universe by any almighty Gods or spirits.
Although there had been much worshiping of ancestors going around, as between 2000 to 4500 years ago there were beautiful bronze wares created with highly sophisticated shapes as well as extremely intricate design details to remember and worship the past glory of family or clan ancestry. It was all about the family and ancestry in this old land of China, and because of such clearly traceable family records, it becomes possible today for many Chinese families to trace their roots all the way back to an unbroken chain of over 4500 years. I shall try to write down either here in this web-page or in another page the roots of my own ancestry as it has been clearly recorded in Chinese history, for which I shall enclose documentary records as identification of authenticity....
Here are 3 of the very beautiful bronze vases cast solely in memory for the glorious ancestral past.
The fact that the early Chinese did not believe in Gods and also did not leave us beliefs or legends of any kind of divine creation will remain always a mystery. Anyhow, it was only in the Three Kingdom epoch about the 3rd Century AD that a writer named Shu Zheng did tell the only story of creation that has existed in Chinese history ever since. ( ). The book title "Three Five Historic Records" is translated as "The historic records of Three Huang and Five Di ". Both Huang and Di are titles of supreme rulers, such as Emperors or Kings. The period of "Three Five" covers the span from the Neolithic Age about 7000 BC to round about 2200 BC ). I shall now relate to you the story briefly below :-
Supposedly the universe was originally just a totally concealed solid matter, and an uneventful eternity had already passed. Then one day suddenly a strong, powerful and fully grown man was born inside this concealment. His name was Pang Ghu. There was no light and no free rooms. So Pang Ghu struggled to stretch out. In one mighty jerk he managed to crack open a gap and saw light from outside. In another powerful upwards push he managed to separate the solid rock in which he was born. Now he stood up and found his feet planted firmly on solid ground while his hands were holding up the upper part of his world. But there was still not much free space around, so he started to hack away (By the way, he had an axe and a chisel too). In this very first day he managed to hack open 10 feet space in his world, but then he also grew 10 feet taller, and as each day he hacked away, he grew 10 feet taller each day. He became an enormous giant as he had lived 18,000 years, during all that time he laboured this arduous task of hacking open the space between heaven and earth (but definitely not as arduous as my own hacking!) while he grew daily 10 feet taller..... Finally he became completely exhausted. As he laid dying, his giant body turned into mountains and terrains, his blood and veins became rivers. His breath had already become winds and air. His roars had become thunders. His 2 eye balls one had become the sun and the other turned into moon .... Sorry, can't tell you what he used for eating, or whether he had slept, but at least you know now how our universe got started...
It goes without saying that Shu Zheng had dreamt up all that in the early part of Third Century AD. Imagine for all those millenniums before him when already the Chinese script language was fully mature and the Chinese civilization was very advanced. Eight centuries had passed since Confucius, yet no one had ever mentioned any name of a God that might have created the universe, until Shu Zheng dreamt up the name Pang Ghu. But the most interesting part about Shu Zheng's story is that even then there was no God or Gods! It was just a giant of a man, a mortal who had laboured arduously to open up the heaven and earth.... Shu Zheng had even allowed the giant to grow every day so that he could reach up high enough to work on the heavenly part of his universe. ..... He even allow you to work out how high the heaven is. Cute, isn't it? If that is not genius then what is? You might say, heh! the primordial rock from which Pang Ghu emerged is rather similar to the Big Bang's primordial Singularity, and it is just as unreal and unimaginable. But at least it is more understandable in human terms and much more palatable! What's more, let's face it, if Singularity is science, then why not the story of Pang Ghu?
Now while I am at it, let me point out some facts of history seldom talked about. The Chinese invention of horse saddle and stirrup brought to early human civilization the conquests over less equipped races. Chinese invention of compass enabled intercontinental explorations and conquest of men and nature. The gun powders allowed massive conquest of land and people. Yet China never used those inventions to conquer anybody. Instead, she allowed her invaders to conquer her, and then loved her and be absorbed in her embrace. What's more, at the peak of her power, instead of crushing down her enemies, she preferred to use her mighty resources to construct a defensive wall that is visible today from space with unaided naked eye. There's one other invention, that few people realized how much human civilization is indebted to China, i.e. the invention of Printing Press, which fueled and accelerated centuries of growth in sciences and knowledge. Just think, without these Chinese inventions, and there are hundreds more, what would civilization be like today? But why and how was the early China able to flourish in inventions? Because even in her pre-historical days, her opening leader Fu Xi () had already played a role similar to the role and influence given by Copernicus. The early Chinese had not cruelly forced, or even induced, super-natural beliefs onto her people, she was thinking hard and entirely pre-occupied with the phenomena and behaviours of nature...
OK. If for over 5000 years of civilization even before the story of Pang Ghu was told, the early Chinese did not believe in divine creation, then what did those folks believe about the universal origin during all that time? To put it bluntly, there were two things! There was the belief in the Symmetries in nature and then there was also the belief in the Evolution of nature. For this I shall soon explain with pictures and tell you why. Anyhow, by putting the two together, it was just the results of direct and intuitive observations of nature's phenomena. In short, the early Chinese people were not superstitious at all Somehow it happened that in all those early millenniums they had only tried to understand nature. On the one hand they had simply accepted the existence of nature as a reality. On the other, they had noticed some patterns or rules in all nature's interactions and tried to understand them logically and wisely. In a broad sense, their aims were not too far from science. Because science could not be available yet, they had to settle for what they could do with relatively primitive reasoning.. So they came up with a system of rationalization that bordered on a form of belief and the laws of nature, as well as their own logical wisdom. They had found a link between nature's phenomena and those of human life. It would eventually develop into a complexity of Chinese philosophy for the existence of universe and humanity, and also the science of astronomy as well as the wisdom of divination, or the probabilities which they believed could be obtained by feeling or listening to nature. In other words they believed that man and nature are linked through psychic vibrations. The name of this system is called I-Ching ().
The early Chinese thinkers believed that the universe is an entity, which is continuously evolving within itself with unceasing probabilities. They believed that all things in nature stem from fundamental poles. Because of the difference in the energies of poles that the universe evolves into all kinds of unceasing interchanges. The original first pair of poles are called Yin and Yang (), but these simple poles would evolve into a complexity of poles. Yin and Yang represent the male and female nature, or the positive and the negative, or the top and bottom, or the back and front, day and night, or dark and light, or right and wrong, or the opposite poles of electrical charges, and so on and so forth..... In so doing, they had, in fact, believed that for every positive existence there is a negative one too ( So, some millenniums later, one Englishman Paul Dirac called it "matters and anti-matters", and for that he became a Nobel Laureate in1933 )..... These opposition energies form a complexity of symmetries and give rise to evolution and changes in all natures phenomena. This wisdom of I-Ching, which actually means the Book of Changes, is said to have been partially developed during the rein of Fu Xi () and his offspring. The epoch lasted from 5341 BC to 4082 BC. It is said that Fu Xi invented the basic part of I-Ching, namely the eight Trigrams ( ). Fu Xi ( ) is credited with a host of major inventions in his time, which had greatly facilitated the early human life. Amongst them was the invention of nets with which people were able to catch animals and birds to domesticate them or to keep them as provisions for rainy days. He was therefore respected and hailed as the very first joint chief of all tribes in early Chinese history...
The history about Fu Xi is mainly legendary and not written history, therefore the question arises : Did Fu Xi actually invented the Trigrams more than 7000 years ago? I believe it is more than possible. There are two important reasons. Firstly, there was already a pretty mature background civilization even in those early days in order for such mature pottery art and technology to be appreciated. The beautiful pottery wares shown at the beginning of this page were made during his period. They needed to be burnt with a temperature of about 1000 °C for many long hours. Charcoal or coal fire can reach just over 800 °C. Therefore more advanced techniques, such as forced air, were needed to bring up the heat... Secondly, there must have been a powerful leadership that had influenced the early Chinese people to embark upon a practical, in fact quite scientific route of development. Such an influence in a way would resemble that provided by Copernicus in the European Middle Ages, and the momentum of such influence had lasted millenniums in China. That's why the early Chinese history was very sober and practical. So, by the time of late Warring States (say about 250 BC ) not only the compass, the saddle and stirrup, as well as the gun powders were already in use, but also the printing press had just been invented...
On the left is the symbolic illustration of Yin and Yang ( red and white), surrounded by 8 Trigrams. I have added a spiral galaxy in the center (blue and white).
Legend has it that as Fu Xi ( ) was the joint leader of a community of tribes in early history, he would often look up to observe heavenly phenomena, and then he would investigate earthly changes caused by those phenomena. He would also probe into animals and plants lives, as well as looking for answers in all mysterious workings of nature. He believed that no matter it was the external phenomena or ones own internal transformations, they invariably followed some common rules, which regulate the existence of all lives and events. He was determined to find out what the true laws of existence really were. Then one day a strange creature leapt out of the Meng River, which had a dragon head but a body of horse. It had markings on its back that resembled a meaningful pattern, which was later name "He Map" . Fu Xi was immediately inspired by it, and following deep contemplations he devised the first part of I-Ching, namely the 8 Trigrams. The Trigrams were developed into 64 Hexagrams ( ) at a much later date....
Both the Trigrams and the Hexagrams are developed from the theory that all things in nature evolve from simple poles. When the energy of poles multiplies or interacts with other elements in nature, the complexity begins, but because of the multiples of poles the complexity remains symmetrical. Consequently a series of symmetries (8 Trigrams and 64 Hexagrams) are explored. Then I-Ching goes on to believe that if and when the mind is well rested, keen and susceptive, then it is possible to predict nature's movements by taping or bugging the extra-sensory vibration existing between man and nature to obtain a Trigram or Hexagram from which a probability may be drawn for interpretation using the philosophy of I-Ching and therefore for decision making.
On the left : A statue of the deified Fu Xi holding the spiral poles of Yin-Yang and the 8 Trigrams in his temple in the Tien Sui City, Gan Su Province. He is seen wearing leaves as he belonged to the Neolithic period.
Therefore, during the epoch of Fu Xi, which lasted over 1200 years, it was not only the dawn of Chinese script language (Trigrams are also scripts), but also the dawn of logical and philosophical development. Both the pictorial language and Fu Xi's influence in search of nature's laws had retained their honest description of nature through the early millenniums. There was simply no room for any supernatural fantasies to sprout, hence there was no worship of God or tales of Godly creation. Although much energies were spent in search of answers for nature's probabilities using I-Ching () as means of divination, because amongst the relics unearthed for this epoch more than half of them were actual records of some important divination of the time. In other words, it was fortune telling, if you will. But this also led to a very positive as well as sensible influence in the subsequent political development in the early Chinese history, which I shall explain in the page of " A 5000 years old unbroken chain of DNA ".
For now I shall show you the graphic of the Yin and Yang, which is the very base of Fu Xi's thoughts some 7300 years ago. As Fu Xi believed that everything in the universe evolves from these simple poles, there appears to be a thread of correlation linking to (e.g. the splitting of embryonic or biological cells under nature's fundamental polar energies) the evolution of galaxies, at least graphically. It does make one think! However, I shall leave the thinking to my readers own imaginations. Only I may add though that some 7000 years ago the ancient Chinese thinkers had already noticed that phenomena changes in nature are caused by the evolution of Yin and Yang poles, which in other words are the difference of the positive and negative polarities. This of course is the phenomena of the electrical charges of the weather and the atmosphere in our natural environments. Who knows, perhaps someday it would be proven that what started the galaxies to spiral and evolve are also caused by the polar energies in electric and magnetic induction under Right Hand Rule, which are the fundamental fabrics of nature. If that were the case, then Fu Xi had scored a full mark on the bull's eye in Life Science, in Quantum physics and in Cosmology seven thousand years ago. (Please see the diagram of classification of galaxies by Ewin Hubble below ). There is no doubt that I-Ching () existed many thousand years ago, because historic records clearly show that Confucius (551-479 BC) was very fond of I-Ching in his advanced years. Yet, records also show that in those days the theory of I-Ching was already fully developed and well detailed.
On the left: This is core graphic of I-Ching, or the Book of Change. The image illustrates that within the wholeness of nature everything evolves from the difference of two poles, namely Yin-Yang, whose energies cause all changes. See if you can find that the idea correlates somewhat to the cosmological phenomena.
The diagram on the right is a system of galactic development as classified by Ewin Hubble. I have put a diagram of Yin-Yang in it for comparison.
If science may be termed as "The Knowledge of Nature", which is what exactly the German language has done by calling it "Natur Wisenschaft", and if Cosmology is the effort to gain knowledge of nature by observing and interpreting its phenomena. Then Fu Xi was the first cosmologist who had been doing it more than 7000 years ago. He even came up with a theory complete with mathematics, structural symmetries, and philosophical interpretation (not spirituals or super-naturals) as well as theoretical explanations. His theory would be relayed and expanded by practically countless past scholars in Chinese history and lasted through 7 millenniums. In fact, I-Ching is still in use today and a hotly debated subject by scholars. The motif of I-Ching's poles of Yin-Yang surrounded by the 4 Trigrams has even become the national flag emblem of the nation of South Korea (as seen on the right here! ).
If Fu Xi's Trigrams may be regarded as a stem of cosmology, then this stem is older than the Mesopotamian cosmology by a whole 2000 years. If not, then it can still be safely regarded as the earliest correlation to cosmology in human history. Although both Mesopotamian and Chinese concepts began with observation of nature, their subsequent belief and interpretations went separate ways. The former became super-natural, with a family of celestial Gods, i.e. Jupiter and Saturn, etc... and the later remained natural and practical. Yet, from the very beginning of their existence until today, both systems have never ceased to be important tools for predictive applications...
The above symmetrical patterns are 8 Trigrams. Please note Trigrams have 3 rolls of bars, while Hexagrams have 6 rolls of bars, These reflective bars are symbolic representations of symmetries in nature.
The German mathematician Gottfried von Leibniz (1646-1716) was inspired by the symmetries of Chinese I-Ching's 8 Trigrams (fig on above left) to perfect the binary system of numeration and to invent integral and differential calculus (Newton also claimed the invention), which are the theoretical ancestors of modern computers. Calculus is also the essential mathematics for astrophysics and cosmology.
The Trigrams are said to have also inspired the following Nobel Laureates: Japanese Physicist Hideki Yukawa for elementary particles in 1949, and Chinese physicists Yang Chen Ning and Le Tsung Dao for particle physics in 1957.... Martin Schönberger, in his book The Hidden Key to Life, noted that the 64 Hexagrams ( ) of the I-Ching correspond exactly to the 64 DNA codons, the genetic code of life.
On the left are I-Ching's 64 Hexagrams evolved from the 8 Trigrams
At this point let me insert a word of caution. I-Ching may be considered to have been developed in three stages. The primary stage is cosmological and philosophical. It is said that Fu Xi initially developed I-Ching by observing the changing phenomena of nature, and then comparing their resultant influence to real life. Therefore, at this stage I-Ching is in essence strongly logical and cosmological. This is the reason historically I-Ching has been regarded by scholars as the ancient science of China. This is in fact parallel to the development of early astrology some 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia (before the Greeks added mythological Gods to it). The second stage of I-Ching is the conjecture of symmetries, namely the making of Trigrams and the Hexagrams. In this stage I-Ching has become symbolical representation of nature, (just as geometry and mathematics are representations of nature under certain conditions), but nature does not necessarily change in 8 or 64 ways as described by I-Ching. Therefore, although the interpretations behind the symmetries are still philosophical, but it has departed somewhat from cosmological science. The third stage was developed because of the probabilities of nature's changes. I-Ching then became the application of Divination or Fortune Telling. This part requires the use of coins or sticks to conjecture a Trigram or a Hexagram by random choice. This is completely left to chance and chance alone. It has completely departed from its origin in cosmology... It has only value in the world of psychic practices...
It is also interesting to note that there are some vague resemblance in regard to the ideas of universe between the early Egyptians and those of the early Chinese civilization. See graph below :-
Now let me make it slightly simpler. Here we are!
Now look at the early Chinese word or character for "Universe", "Heaven" or "Sky" of about 4500 years ago, which corresponds to the Egyptian epoch:
This word is in fact made with 2 pictures. It is a standing man (or woman) with an abstract flat sky above him. This word had probably come from the following origin (on the lower left), which consists of the Chinese script "Big" inside a dome or a cover of space. The word "Big" is in fact itself made of a standing man with stretched out arms, just like you and I would gesture something big. Thus it looks like this :-
. However, this symbolic character is not yet discovered among the relics, because the expression of heaven should belong to a much earlier origin (probably a couple of thousand years earlier), for which the relics are truly very scarce. What is found amongst the bone and turtle scripts are pretty well developed already, as you see in the modern scripts it is written as or . There is very little change in all those years.
Meanwhile, the expression "Universe" is created with 2 characters. Both of them are created with a dome or an abstract cover of cosmic realm as follows :
. in modern script they are
There are also very little change in all those years. Now you see what I mean by saying that you and I or some untrained student would be able to read the archeological Chinese scripts. Well, some of them at least! Well, OK just a few! Because things do get pretty complicated when sounds and pictures are mixed up with abstract meanings and even philosophy to construct a Chinese script character. The expression "Universe" here is made of 2 characters, and the first character has 2 parts. The inner part inside the cover of a cosmic dome is yet another Chinese character meaning "given" or "belonging". When the 2 parts are combined into one word , this word means "The sum of Space", or "All that's given within the cosmos". Now the second character of Universe is also made of 2 parts. The inner part is the Chinese word meaning "Origin" or "From". When the 2 parts are put together, it is the new word meaning the "Sum of Time", or "all that since the origin of cosmos". So in fact in the mind of the creator of Chinese Scripts he had described the "Universe" as "The sum total of Space and Time". How about that?! Considering whoever he was, he had lived thousands of years ago! (Actually Chinese history records that Huangdi, the Yellow Empiror, had decreed ChangJie to create scripts 5000 years ago. Because of the sudden development of written scripts, civilization became proven records. That's why it is regarded that China has 5000 years civilization, although total length of history is much longer than that.).... But this is how it helps to learn Chinese scripts, one is in fact learning a form of philosophical picture, or some pictorial philosophies. ... When you started out a culture as such, you are actually leading the people to cultivate thoughts logically, instead of giving it to the super-naturals. However, this creative philosophical heritage did not last beyond the 4th century AD, as after that the oncoming modern social complexity tended to have badly distorted the earlier philosophical simplicity.... Finally, due to lack of religion in the Tang Dynasty ( ) in the early 7th century the Emperor Tai Jhong ( ) decided to import religion from India and sent Envoy San Zhuan ( 600 AD - 664 AD ) to bring Buddhism into China....
Note : for those who are interested to know my sources of information for further reading I have prepared a list of Chinese books as bibliography. Just click on Bibliography and a special page will pop up.
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