This term means to observe images of phenomena or those of hexagrams. “Images” refer to the appearance of phenomena that can be seen, but have no fixed form. Images of nature, such as the sky or weather, represent the inherent features of humans and events and the laws governing their changes. People in ancient China created various systems of images such as hexagram images to describe images of natural phenomena. “Observing images” calls for closely examining images to understand the laws governing the movement of nature and society.
In ancient times when Fuxi ruled the world, he used to look up to observe the images in the sky, look down to study the laws of the earth, and look at birds and animals to examine the patterns on their feathers and furs that had adapted to the environment. Selecting things both near and far away from him, he created the hexagram images to reveal the mysterious yet brilliant mechanism of matters to differentiate the forms of all things. (The Book of Changes)
The sages created the system of eight trigrams and 64 hexagrams to observe hexagram images. Texts are attached to all hexagrams and hexagram lines to predict disasters or auspicious events, and changes thus occur through the interaction between what is hard and what is soft. (The Book of Changes)