Autumn 2002 Vol. 22 - No. 126 Signs of Hope Signs of Change


Confucius?"Religious" View as Seen from the Section Entitled
"Yao" of the Book Copied on Silk

Zhu Guanhua
Translated by Patrick Taveirne and Purple Kwong

        The following article is an interpretive translation of the original Chinese version published in Tripod, No.124.

        The section entitled "Bei Tong" in Wang Chong's Lun Heng recounts that when Confucius was ill, Shang Qu divined that Confucius would die at midday. After Confucius learned of this, he said: "Bring me the book! Otherwise what shall I do until midday?" This gives us an insight into Confucius’ last days. When Confucius knew clearly that the moment of death was near he did not pray for a long life; rather his hands would not let go of the scrolls. He would not "give up the way and the arts just because the moment of death was imminent," but he continued to "study until the lid was laid on his coffin."

        We can describe quite simply in four characters: zhong de qing shi (regarding virtue as superior to divination) the place of "divination in the eyes of Confucius." There are few extant documents that specifically address the subject. Nonetheless, Confucius’ concept becomes quite clear in the section entitled "Yao" of today's excavated book copied on silk. If we combine this material with the records of extant documents, we can have a much better idea of Confucius’ view of "divination" in the Book of Changes.

Starting from Zigong's doubts

        The section entitled "Yao" of the book copied on silk records Zigong’s [one of Confucius' disciples] questioning Confucius as to why he liked to study the Book of Changes in his old age. "Yao" records that: "The Master later taught this disciple: ‘Those who lose virtuous conduct rush to the efficacy of the gods; those who distance themselves from wise planning resort to divination.’ Ci [another of Confucius’ students] agreed with this and therefore avoided practicing divination. Why then did the Master like it in his old age?" Zigong's question primarily focused on why Confucius spent so much energy "probing into the efficacy of the gods and into divination" in his old age.

        The academic world has long speculated on Zigong's question: why did Confucius like the Book of Changes in his old age? Some maintain that when Confucius was young, he did not study the Book of Changes; he only started to study it in his old age (that is, after he was fifty). As a result, many of his students missed the opportunity to study the Book of Changes. From Zigong's question, it is easy to see that there must have been many students like Zigong who did not have a good understanding of the Book of Changes. Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, since Zigong was able to compare Confucius' study of the Book of Changes, early and late in his life—Confucius must have been studying the Book for some time—Zigong does seem to have had a rather good grasp of the Book. People today, unlike those of fifty years ago, no longer think that Confucius had no interest whatsoever in the Book of Changes. This is a great step forward. This change in opinion can be attributed to the fact that today people can read the "Yao" section of the book copied on silk: "The Master liked the Book of Changes in his old age. Wherever he dwelled he kept the book on the mat, and wherever he traveled he kept the book in his baggage." This reinforces the reliability of what is recorded in Shu'er of the Analects,"Grant me a few more years so that I may study the Book of Changes at the age of fifty." This also supports the statements in Historical Records–Biography of Confucius and in Tian Jingzho’s Complete Biography: "Confucius in his old age loved to study the Book of Changes—‘Sequence of the Hexagrams,’ ‘Commentary on the Judgment,’ ‘The Great Treatise,’ ‘Symbolism,’ ‘Discussion of the Trigrams,’ and ‘Commentary on the First and Second Hexagrams.’ He read the Book of Changes, the ancient books, and so on."

        In Zigong's mind, the Book of Changes was merely a book on divination, limited to the value of divination. In a broad sense, divination became another name for the Book of Changes. His opinion of the divinatory function in the Book of Changes differed from his teacher's view, who later emphasized that the Book of Changes was concerned with an individual's cultivation of virtuous conduct and with teaching people the way of knowledge and judgment. Zigong's value judgment on the Book of Changes was due to Confucius’ denigrating attitude towards sacrifice and divination, which diminished the value of the Book of Changes. This is clear from Confucius’ answer to Zigong's question:

        I only seek virtue. I walk along the same path as diviners but have a different goal. The gentleman's virtuous conduct is not for happiness, so he seldom makes sacrifices. His righteousness is not for good fortune, so he rarely consults the oracle.

        Confucius was consistent in his view and this was in accord with his notion of "revering the spirits and gods but keeping them at a distance," as well as with his rejecting Zilu's offer of prayer when he was ill. Confucius said,

        When one cultivates the will, one's bearing is noble and honorable. When one regards the way and righteousness as superior, one regards kings and dukes as inferior.

        Why then did he change his attitude in old age and spend so much energy and time in studying the Book of Changes? Many people see this as a contradiction. If what I do today is correct, then what I did in the past was wrong. Similarly, if what I did in the past was correct, then what I am doing now is meaningless.

        In the Confucian school, Zigong was good at languages. He was able to express himself well and argue convincingly. He could put Confucius in a quandary. If we do not really understand Confucius’ attitude towards divination, I fear, dear reader, that you will think that Confucius’ answer could not possibly resolve Zigong's doubts.

        In this article, through the analysis that follows, I will try to defend Confucius in the light of the statement: "To regard virtue as superior to divination." Due to my limited knowledge, please favor me with your corrections and instructions.

The Book of Changes is not exclusively a book about divination

        At the very outset I wish to point out the significance of divination in the study of the Book of Changes. Although the Book of Changes is a kind of divinatory book, the book as a whole deals with things other than divination. Since Zigong looked down on divination, he rejected the Book of Changes. This was the reason that the master and disciple were at odds. Confucius in "The Great Treatise" of the Book of Changes says:

        The Book of Changes contains a fourfold way of the sages: in speaking they appreciate the words; in action they appreciate the changes; in making objects they appreciate the images; in seeking an oracle they appreciate its pronouncements.

Divination is listed as one of the ways of the sages, and

        It can also function in the exchanging of toasts, and in interceding with the gods, and in knowing change and transformation.

        The statement "it can also function in the exchanging of toasts" is similar to what Confucius says in his praise of the Odes: "It can assist the masses." When the clan members, relatives and friends have problems, the Book can help them solve their problems and dispel their doubts. It can help them mitigate their difficulties and lead them out of an impasse. Therefore, the saying "it can assist in exchanging toasts" has the same subtle meaning as Laozi's "Benevolent persons see somebody off with speech."

        Later generations made a living by divination. Yan Junping in Chengdu, for example, taught sons and daughters to observe filial piety and taught government officials to be faithful. This is recorded in chapter 9 of "The Great Treatise."

        Many people who have been studying the Book of Changes have not gone beyond the paths of numbers, reason, and symbols. For tutorial purposes, Confucius had to study these thoroughly before he could explain them in detail to his students. Moreover, he would not have carelessly praised the use of divinatory symbols without touching upon numbers, or talk about numbers without touching upon virtue or engage in superficial talk about good and bad fortune.

        In writing "The Judgment" and "The Lines," King Wen and Duke Zhou closely linked the one to the other, so it is impossible to talk about the one without talking about the other. As such, how can one ever isolate the symbols from the numbers, or separate the explanation from the symbol and proceed to superficial argumentation? The results would naturally deviate from the truth and be without content. Therefore Ji Yun in his Summary of Wang Bi’s Commentary of Zhouyi says:

        If the Book of Changes were not used for divination, Duke Zhou would not have been ranked as an authority in divinity. If the Book of Changes were not used for understanding the symbols, Confucius would not have written "Symbolism." If the Book of Changes were not used for numbers, Confucius would not have expounded and elaborated the numbers.

        Everyone who studies the Book of Changes in great depth must consider all three paths: numbers, reason, and symbols. They have to pay attention to the fact that divination is only the last element in the fourfold path of the sages. As Xunzi said: "Those who make good use of the Book of Changes do not consult the oracle." The Book of Changes characteristically supports the yang while suppressing the yin, and of encouraging the gentleman while warning the rascal. If persons or things are not right, one should not inappropriately use divination. In the eyes of Confucius, there was a difference in significance between the explanation of the text and the consultation of the oracle. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Confucius venerated the explanations:

            As mentioned above, the Book of Changes has four functions. Confucius, unlike most other people who were satisfied with its divinatory aspect, placed his emphasis on the textual explanation. Gu Yanwu said:

            The reason a sage studies the Book of Changes is not to contravene harmonious speech and practice, nor may symbols and numbers be the main interest in the book.

            The "Yao" section of the book copied on silk, which says: "Shangshu (Book of History) has many omissions, while Zhouyi has none," confirms Gu's argument, "I do not focus mainly on its utility, but on the totality of the Book of Changes. "Divination" is only instrumental. "I do not focus on its utility" shows Confucius' noble attitude.

  2. The humanist thought revealed in the "Ten Wings" written by Confucius:

            Confucius is in some way the ideological author of the Book of Changes. He had written the Ten Wings basing his work on his predecessors' "Hexagram" and "Lines.". He supplemented them with his personal observations and experiences of the things in the natural world. Through thoughtful discernment he annotated them, giving them new content. In other words, he transformed the way of the gods and the way of heaven into the human way. He specifically emphasized education in the humanities as a model for people to settle down and get on with life's pursuit, as well as a model of behavior for rites, music, punishment, government, for drinking and eating, and for both men and women. Just as, according to the History of Lu, he had corrected the Spring and Autumn Annals, he "stealthily" gave the Book of Changes a new meaning. By doing so he removed the mysterious veil that the Book of Changes served only a divinatory purpose in the primeval religion. Following the august ruler Fuxi and the two sages King Wen and Duke Zhou, Confucius used the way of heaven in the Book of Changes to talk about human affairs. He exposed what was originally hidden and integrated the cosmos into human life. The saying that "the gentleman generously cherishes the material goods of the earth" signifies that although there are jade and gold in the land, he does not reject the virtuousness of the soil. It is like the great noise of the rousing thunder, which startles the person off guard by its sudden sound. He taught people to practice the art of "self-cultivation and self-examination with awe and wonder," and in the encounter of danger and challenges "to achieve self-fulfillment [blissfulness] through reverential fear." The aim of cultivation and reflection is not to discover someone else's faults, but to discover one's own. To reach happiness or self-fulfillment does not mean to succeed in beating the enemy. Instead it means to be even more cultivated, and to train oneself to master complicated changes, to assist others when they grope for stones to cross the river, and be able to break into laughter while one is still crying. This way of inner examination is precisely what produced students like Yanzi who did not make the same mistake twice, and Zengzi who reflected three times a day.

  3.         Although Confucius considered the hexagram and lines important, he had reservations about divination, yet he did not advocate its abolition.

        Confucius was most displeased with those who were only interested in the results of divination and used the Book of Changes to know the ultimate number, and to know good and bad fortune. For instance, in asking about a career, Confucius commented that those who obtain "flying dragons in the heavens," are happy, but when they obtain "hidden dragons," they feel distressed. They make no effort to discover the deeper meaning of the explanation of the hexagram and the lines, or to look for the reasons behind the meaning "flying" and "hidden." This is especially true of those who rely on divination for a living. They do not ask anything about the good or bad conduct of those who consult the oracle. As long as people are willing to pay, they will use their wisdom and offer sacrifices and divine on their behalf. They will help them turn danger into opportunity, or even go so far as to promise riches and fame. For Confucius, to deal with the Book of Changes in this way is neither positive nor complete. This greatly weakens the original value and meaning of the Book. Therefore Confucius propagated the idea of regarding virtue as superior to divination, as the elixir to heal the ills of the world. This concept of regarding virtue as superior to divination is related to Confucius’ concept of the "Mandate of Heaven."

The influence of Confucius' concept on the Mandate of Heaven

        According to Confucius, the Mandate of Heaven refers to the Order or Command of Heaven, and the order that a person's behavior must conform to the Mandate of Heaven. Confucius said: "To respect the Mandate of Heaven and to know it at the age of fifty." Under the Mandate of Heaven, all people possess the same merit, and there is no distinction between high and low rank. The Mandate bears a universal and eternal character. Simply speaking, the Mandate of Heaven makes a distinction between the mandate of virtue and the mandate of a person's destiny. The mandate of virtue refers to benevolence, righteousness, etiquette (rites), and wisdom, while the mandate of a person's destiny refers to whether or not to practice the way; it refers to the gain or loss of things, to a good or bad life and to the length of one’s life, etc. In the areas of morality, learning, and cultivation, effort corresponds to gain. The gentleman who tirelessly exerts himself undoubtedly will gain; it all depends on how much effort he exerts. Hence the Confucians propagate the idea of shouldering things positively. Regarding wealth and poverty, life and death, good and bad fortune, "there is a way of seeking it, and there is a mandate as to whether you can obtain it or not." To seek something in itself is not particularly beneficial to the consequence of obtaining it. However, not to seek means to face a situation with a negative and passive attitude. Consider virtuous conduct as the basis and mandate of destiny—this view is the same as found in the "Yao" section of the book copied on silk and quoted by Confucius:

        Regarding the Book of Changes, I ignore its divination; I only view its virtue and righteousness... I only seek its virtue. I share the same path of diviners but I have a different goal. The gentleman's virtuous conduct is not for seeking happiness, so he seldom makes sacrifices. His benevolence and righteousness are not for seeking good fortune; therefore he seldom consults the oracle. He puts sacrifices and oracles last.

        Confucius in his Ten Wings used the heavenly way to talk about human affairs, and he used human endeavors to control divination.

        I only seek its virtue... The gentleman's virtuous conduct is not for seeking happiness; ... benevolence and righteousness are not for seeking good fortune.

        The enlightened ruler … does not consult the oracle, but knows good fortune and bad fortune, and adapts to the changes of heaven and earth. This is what is meant by the way of the Book of Changes.

        Those who can judge things through knowledge and discernment have no need of divination. There is no sense in divining about those objective realities that already exist and cannot be remedied. One, who occasionally consults the oracle and obtains results, must still see whether the divination actually conforms to that person’s situation. No one must think that divination can change adversity. This interpretation of Confucius is not without factual support.

The core of life is to seek for self-fulfillment (blissfulness), and one holds the rein to achieving it

        Zuo Zhuan reports that in the eleventh year of Duke Huan, Mo Ao of the feudal state Chu planned to wage war on four states including Yun. Mo was irresolute and indecisive. This is clearly indicative of his weakness and incompetence. Dou Lian carefully explained the situation to him, but Mo still insisted on consulting the oracle. Thereupon Dou Lian shouted: "Divination is for resolving doubt; if there is no doubt, then why divine!" The function of divination is to offer some suggestions to resolve doubts, but it cannot satisfy one's wish to win a war. Irresoluteness and indecision will become obstacles to sending troops to the battlefield. Luckily, Dou Lian insisted on his point of view. Eventually the oracle was not consulted, and they defeated the army of Yun in Pu. This demonstrates that those who have a grasp of the situation do not need to consult the oracle. Confucius agreed with this. He had control of his own future; he was aware of his responsibility; he knew what he should and should not do. He had no need for divination, to waste time praying for happiness, to offer sacrifices, or consult the oracle. He also understood there were objective situations that could not be changed, such as the sun setting in the western hills, or the impossibility of finding a solution after trying all paths. This is clear from his explanation of the Li Hexagram 93: "How can one wish to hold the light of the setting sun for long?" or "When the sun stands at midday, it begins to set; when the moon is full, it begins to wane." This is an inevitable phenomenon. In the same line of reason, "One who lives must die." Decline and death are an inevitable consequence of human life. When a person has reached the end of his/her life, no power can change the outcome. "One cannot counteract immense strength; one cannot reverse the course of the sun." It is unthinkable that Confucius did not understand this. The Li Hexagram 93 uses time and day for an analogy, using the image of the oblique glow of the setting sun. For the nation, this signifies the decline after having reached the apex of power. For human being, this refers to the evening of one's life. This is inevitable; one cannot change an adverse situation and live a long life simply by consulting the oracle and praying for happiness. Following the example of Confucius who knew clearly that the moment of death was near but who continued to "study until the lid was laid on his coffin," one should continue to do what one can do, and calmly face things that cannot be changed. One’s whole life starts from below and ascends to things above. "The gentleman hopes for wisdom; the sage hopes for nobility and the nobleman hopes for heaven." Confucius ceaselessly upheld the mandate of virtue, which was precisely the application of the way of heaven in his life, which he had learned from "The Hexagram."

        Along the same line, those who are ordinarily rebellious and do not follow the way will normally encounter misfortune and chastisement. This view is also found in Confucius’ explanation of a statement in Li Hexagram 94: "Things coming up suddenly and abruptly, flame up, die down, and are thrown away." Confucius said, "Things coming up suddenly and abruptly cannot be explained."

        On this issue, Confucius says, "a subject killing his ruler, or a son killing his father" is not something that happens all of a sudden; "it is a gradual process." It is like "several layers of frost turning into ice." If you tread on a thin layer of frost, it is the precursor of thick ice in the open country during winter. Confucius did not pity those killed, nor did he exonerate the disciples of criminals and rebellious officials. He did not side with violent rulers, but we cannot fault him for serving the ruler. He did not shirk his responsibility on behalf of the transgressors either, and allow the Book of Changes to be considered as a seditious book. What the Book does, is to teach people to discern early on, to eradicate the root of evil so that they can avoid disaster. Those who make mistakes cannot rely on a lucky hexagram or a request to the gods and ghosts to avoid disaster. In the fifteenth year of Duke Xi, Zuo Zhuan recorded that Han Jian said: "Were the failures of our ancestor rulers predictable? The geomancer Su consulted the oracle, but he did not benefit from it." The Book of Odes says:

        The evil common people experience does not fall from heaven. When they meet, they talk a lot thoughtlessly; when they are apart they treat each other as enemies and speak evil of each other. The strong subjective opinions all originate from man.

        This unchangeable fate and decline of virtue are the consequence of human deeds. "Bad fortune and good fortune do not come of themselves. They are caused by human beings." How can divination solve bad fortune people create for themselves? Confucius said: "When the tortoise-oracle knows it, following it will do no harm; not following it will bring no gain." This is what Confucius learned from his predecessors’ experience.

The attitude towards fate fosters doubt

        The section entitled "Yao" of the book copied on silk records: "The gentlemen of later time doubted Confucius." Confucius assumed that worldly people would misinterpret his way of explaining a person’s moral destiny, hence he would cause "doubt." In his opinion, when one has carried out his responsibility in accordance with the mandate of virtue, and obtains good fortune, this is considered a "correct mandate." Likewise, if one does evil and reaps bad fortune, this is also a "correct mandate."

        If one's virtue is not pure yet that one reaches happiness and a good destiny, this is good fortune. Good fortune is not happiness. What is not virtue cannot be considered harmony; harmony does not make good fortune.

        With this kind of reasoning, it is difficult to explain why in the past his good student Yanzi who loved to study, unfortunately died young. Also, Youzi who was handsome was very ill. This is a kind of "variable." Confucius himself was upright, but could not avoid the danger in Chen Cai, and there has been nothing like the encirclement by the men of Kuang in this generation. Obviously there are unfair retributions in the mandate of virtue and the mandate of happiness. Even Zhuzi maintained that: "Even Heaven sometimes deviates from the correct mandate." But Confucius agreed with the correct mandate and said: "one cannot doubt the constant because of the variable." People did not understand why Confucius did not use a human method to change the situation when he could have done so. He just rested his life's lot in the mandate of heaven. Even when he occasionally consulted the oracle it was "to ask about bad fortune, not good fortune." In the eyes of the sophisticated, Confucius is strange, even stranger than a diviner. They think of him as either self-destructive or weak and stupid!

        It is difficult to tell if people at that time believed in predestination. Mencius says: "This is nothing but fate; we must peacefully accept it as the norm." Confucians adopt only a passive and submissive attitude towards an unexpected outcome of gain and loss, prosperity or adversity. One can be assured that the Confucians would not be similar to the diviners of later times, or as the geomancer who strongly covets the help of the gods and spirits to change a person’s destiny in his/her favor. Nor would they ever think of harming the purity and severity of the mandate of virtue for any gain and loss in life. Confucius’ disciples were aware of their master’s stand. Confucius' biography records his encirclement in Chen Cai: "He was immobilized and was left without food. His followers became ill. There was nothing they could do." Confucius queried: "My way is not evil. Why then am I in such a predicament?"… Yanxi said… "Posterity will see the gentleman!" When Confucius heard this he smiled and said, "How correct this is!"….

        Although worldly people may ignore Confucius, posterity will not fail to remember the man. Zhuangzi said: "Men see the extraordinary man as extraordinary, but in the eyes of heaven he is seen as ordinary." These were consoling words for Confucius.

        Confucius started from below and arrived at what is above. He strove earnestly and unceasingly for virtue. In the past he had suffered countless disappointments and frustration. When he had to choose between wealth and poverty, a low and high rank, he maintained: "Being wealthy and having a high rank while not being righteous is like floating clouds for me." "Gain or loss not achieved according to the way means going nowhere." In his old age, it was absolutely impossible for him to lower himself and turn to a diviner to plead for happiness or inquire about trifling matters regarding gain and loss, prosperity and adversity. Worldly people usually measure the status and the worth of people by their wealth. This is extremely shortsighted. For more knowledgeable and enlightened people there are higher ideals and purposes. This is why the words and person of Confucius will never be forgotten.

To acknowledge that one has not reached perfection and has committed errors

        Confucius once said: "The writer of the Book of Changes experienced sorrow and distress." This makes the study of the Book of Changes different from other subjects of study. It is not only a means to enhance one's knowledge about self-cultivation, but also it is the summing up of a life's experience…. History has many omissions and blank spaces; we can only surmise what difficulties Confucius had experienced. King Wen was imprisoned at Youli and Duke Zhou was defamed by rumors. Would Confucius suffer any less than they? Would Confucius, who was one of the three sages who commented on the Book of Changes, lag in any way behind them? That was the reason that he loved the Book of Changes when he was old. In his old age, Confucius was completely absorbed in the Book of Changes and in the revision of the Ten Wings. There are two recorded instances of Confucius’ appreciation of the Book of Changes: "Grant me a few more years so that I may continue to study the Book of Changes at the age of fifty, and I shall, perhaps, be free from major errors," and "If this is so, then by knowing the Book of Changes I can become more perfect."

        I believe that Confucius made these two statements when he was about sixty years old. All the events occurred before he was 56 or 57 years old. As Cui Shi said: "Does the one who has not yet reached the age of fifty know his destiny?" He had to wait until he was old and totally absorbed in the Book of Changes and able to appreciate it, and when he could recollect the events of his entire life. Then he/she suddenly feels like Zhu Boyu, who at the age of fifty regarded his past 49 years as lost. People with little life experience can hardly understand Confucius' feeling of regret for coming to know the Book of Changes, so late. Confucius regretted it because when he experienced violent changes in life, he did not have the opportunity to be enlightened by the logic of the Book of Changes knowing how to dissipate and expand good and bad fortune, and knowing how and when to advance and retreat, and how to survive and avoid downfall. He regretted not having been able to study the Book of Changes a few years earlier. Confucius was much absorbed in the Book of Changes when he was able to appreciate it, and he was so much absorbed that "he placed it on the mat wherever he dwelled and carried it with him when he traveled." Integrating his life experience with the knowledge of the Book of Changes, he had an experience that he never had had before. "One would not make a major error" and "with the Book of Changes one can reach perfection" are humble and bitter words in seeing the way but not being able to reach the goal.

        The Chinese word "bin" according to Shuowen means having both accomplishment and substance. Accomplishment and substance, action and inaction, to be and to do, all imply uniting theory and practice. Confucius regretted that "he learned only when the time had passed" does not mean that before fifty he knew a lot about divination. In fact it means that he was deeply inspired by the way of advancing and retreating, taking and leaving, confronting the need of changing the world, and walking into the path of the future mentioned in the Book of Changes, to summarize one’s life experiences, and learn how things can be done with greater perfection. He had experienced four great calamities: "felling trees in Song, being held up by flood in Wei, being poverty-stricken in Shang Zhou, and being in danger in Chen Cai." He had petitioned more than seventy rulers but all had refused his entreaty. It is only with all these adverse experiences that he could be considered "as having made no major behavioral errors" according to the Book of Changes. Nevertheless, all these affairs happened after he was 56, before he cherished the Book of Changes for revealing the truth of the mandate of life. This shows exactly that he is like our generation, with the same shortcomings: "it is difficult to know the matter beforehand, and easy to criticize it afterwards."


        According to what was discussed above, we can see that "the sage is similar to ourselves." Confucius had no magical power or special ability of knowing the future. In facing everyday gain and loss, preference and avoidance, he did not simply rely on consulting the oracle to obtain an answer. Instead he made a reasonable judgment about right and wrong based on his knowledge, his analytical powers, and his conscience. We can see his wisdom from his evaluation of people and things in the past and present recorded in the Analects, from his judgment in the Spring and Autumn Annals, and his appreciation and criticism in the Book of Odes. Confucius' achievement started from below and ascended to what is above. His way is to build up the moral character of the person, to start from ordinary and simple things, and not to seek for things that are peculiar, hidden, or extraordinary. He does not go beyond the categories of heaven and earth, the rulers, parents, people, and things. That is why in my humble opinion Confucius' intention and interest in studying the Book of Changes deals more with seeing virtue as superior to divination. So, on the surface, the opinions of Zigong and Confucius may seem different, but in fact they are basically the same with only minor differences.

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