This is one of the first Chinese characters that I learned to analyse. The British sinologist Richard Hunn (1949-2006) was teaching me how to read and interpret the Yijing (易經), and he used the traditional Chinese method of linking ‘王’ (Wang2) to the eight trigrams (八卦 – Ba Gua) – specifically to ‘☰’ (天 – Tian1) – or the ‘Divine-sky’. the three horizontal lines represents the following:
1) Top line = Divine-sky (天 – Tian1.
2) Middle line = Humanity (人 – Ren2).
3) Bottom line = Earth (地 – Di4).
The vertical line travelling from top to bottom (or from bottom to top) of the ideogram serves to ‘unite’ the divine-sky, with humanity and the broad earth. In other words, within the constructs of feudal China, a great being (usually male, but occasionally female), possessed the wisdom and virtue to bring all of humanity together, but not on its own, but inaccordance with the universe above, and nature below. This is the acquisition of inner and outer harmony brought about in the physical world through clear-thinking and lack of selfish motives. Another way of interpreting ‘王’ (Wang2) is to view its structure as representing a human head that is capable of thinking great thoughts. The implication is that if one possesses the ability to think clearly and profoundly, then within Chinese feudal society such a person is obliged to assist society by positively contributing to it – usually through a leadership role. Today, in modern China, this view is out of date, as there now exists universal education which teaches the ordinary people to ‘think’ for themselves. However, ‘王’ (Wang2) is relevant for self-development on a system-wide scale where all beings can use it as a cognitive map and guide for psychological, emotional, and physical cultivation. Although one person can nolonger ‘rule’ society, establishing inner and outer harmony within the individual serves to benefit all beings by removing ignorance and conflict from the within the human mind and from the interactions that comprise society.
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.