An I-Ching Perspective on China’s Approach to Gaza
Editor’s note: This essay was originally posted on Oct. 15 on Master Tam’s website but the circumstances have changed rapidly. What was written has begun to emerge.
The Gaza conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, from the Chinese perspective, its impact is much greater than the conflict between the Russians and the Ukrainians. It so happened I was working on a revised edition of “A Study of I-Ching Divinations” (周易卜筮研究) by Master Feng Fongxia (馮公夏), published by the Fudan University Press, I decided to make use of the book to make an observation of the changes in world events, and to observe how best China should approach the matter.
The hexagram was Fire above Heaven (Da You or “The Great Harvest”), changing into the Xun hexagram (Wind over Wind). According to Master Feng, Da You is “Great and Properous and Smooth” (大而亨通). However, the “Commentary of Assorted Hexagrams” (雜卦傳) says, “By Da You, masses” (大有，眾也). Therefore, it can be interpreted as “winning the public.” In this changing situation, China could easily be getting the support of many countries.
However, how should one approach this? We can observe the hexagram it has changed into, the Xun hexagram. According to Master Feng, it is said to be “smooth access, in accordance” (通達，順應). The “Commentary of Assorted Hexagrams” says, “Xun, understated” (巽，伏也), which of course refers to the wind on the ground, and not the wind at the mountain or over the ocean. This is key, while China is winning the support of many, it is inappropriate to have a high profile (hence “submission” or 伏). The wind blowing on the ground can be very powerful. This becomes clear from observing typhoons and hurricanes. Blowing from heaven to earth can obliterate things on the ground. In this situation, it is inappropriate for China to openly support the Palestinians. China proposing a ceasefire is very appropriate, which is the outcome as per the changing hexagram. The more low profile China maintains, the outcome is greater. The Western countries who have supported Israel will eventually submit to the Chinese proposal.
The Da You hexagram (changing into the Xun hexgram) also carries with it three changing lines (變爻). They illustrate the process of this development.
The first line change says, “No relationship with what is harmful. There is no blame. Difficult, but without blame” (无交害，匪咎，艱則无咎). According to Master Feng, people should not hurt each other. This matter may be difficult, but it is not wrong. By this explanation, China’s proposal for peace may not get the support of others, but if one persists, it will eventually reach out to other people.
The second line change is in the fourth line. It says, “Not inflated, no blame” (匪其彭，无咎). It means that to diminish or to eliminate what is harmful, there is no fault. China’s approach to the world is to minimize US influence to Israel to escalate, as well as quelling the anger brewing among the Middle Eastern countries. This approach is clearly very difficult, but it will also ultimately eliminate the harm, which is a great accomplishment.
The third line change is in the fifth line. It says, “He whose truth is accessible, dignified. Good fortune” (厥孚交如，威如，吉). Simply said, China will win the public trust, thereby establishing a good reputation.
Now we will look in reverse in the same three lines within the second hexagram. The first line says, “Coming and going, beneficial for the perseverance of a warrior.” In conjunction with the first hexagram, then to achieve “no relationship with what is harmful,” in spite of the difficulty, and the coming and going of the situation, one’s approach should be as determined as a warrior as if facing life and death.
The fourth line says, “Regrets dissolve, three kinds of game are caught” (悔亡，田獲三品). In conjunction with the first hexagram, then, in the process of eliminating what is harmful, in spite of the difficulty, there will be no regrets. There will be harvest.
The fifth line says, “Perseverance brings good fortune. Regret vanishes, nothing is not beneficial. No beginning but with an end. Before the change, three days; after the change, three days. Good fortune.” (貞吉。悔亡，无不利。无初有終，先庚三日，後庚三日。吉。) In conjunction with the first hexagram, then it appears that even if things don’t appear positive at the beginning, the outcome is as one wishes. “Before the change, three days; after the change, three days.” Things may appear that we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves too soon. But it is never too soon, because change happens in an instant, success is within reach.
From this divination, this situation in the Middle East will lead to a good reputation for China. In truth, China only need to highlight the suffering of the Palestinians for the past 70 years, living in Gaza is worse than living in hell. The Hamas attack was an expression of anger. If the Israelis treat the people in Gaza with love and peace, Gaza will also reciprocate with love and peace — this way we will have true peace. Now that Israel wants ownership for the entire Gaza strip, chasing the Palestinians to Egypt, the act will only lead to hatred with the entire Middle East. Taking a step back will lead to centuries of peace, so why not?