I Ching
Ancient Chinese Book of Change / Wisdom. Oracle of 64 Hexagrams, Yin Yang, Karl Jung, Causation, Chance, Free Will & Determinism


'The I Ching (also called The Book of Changes) dates to approximately 3000 B.C.E. This famous oracular book is one of the oldest sacred texts in the world.

The book was traditionally written by the legendary Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi (2953-2838 B.C.). It is possible that the the I Ching originated from a prehistoric divination technique which dates back as far as 5000 B.C.'

(James Legge, Sacred Books of the East, vol. 16, 1899)

* To read the complete I Ching online see:

The I Ching: Oracle of 64 Hexagrams

'The Book of Changes was a collection of linear signs to be used as oracles.

The oracle is one of 64 different hexagrams. The hexagram itself is composed of two trigrams, each consisting of three lines. Those lines are either straight (or Yang) or broken (Yin).

The Yang lines look like: ------
The Yin lines look like: -- --

The eight trigrams were conceived as images of all that happens in heaven and on earth. At the same time, they were held to he in a state of continual transition, one changing into another, just as transition from one phenomenon to another is continually taking place in the physical world. Here we have the fundamental concept of the Book of Changes. The eight trigrams are symbols standing for changing transitional states.

These eight images came to have manifold meanings. They represented certain processes in nature corresponding with their inherent character.

A brief survey of these eight symbols that form the basis of the Book of Changes yields the following classification:

Symbol Name Attribute Image Family Relationship
Ch'ien Creative strong heaven father
K'un the Receptive devoted, yielding earth mother
Chên the Arousing inciting, movement thunder first son
K'an the Abysmal dangerous water second son
Kên Keeping Still resting mountain third son
Sun the Gentle penetrating wind, wood first daughter
Li the Clinging light-giving fire second daughter
Tui the Joyous joyful lake third daughter

In order to achieve a still greater multiplicity, these eight images were combined with one another, whereby a total of sixty-four signs was obtained. Each of these sixty-four signs consists of six lines, either positive or negative. Each line is thought of as capable of change, and whenever a line changes, there is a change also of the situation represented by the given hexagram.'


Book of Change / Wisdom

'Of far greater significance than the use of the I Ching as an oracle, is its other use as a book of wisdom. Laotsu knew this book, and some of his profoundest aphorisms were inspired by it. Indeed, his whole thought is permeated with its teachings. Confucius too knew the Book of Changes and devoted himself to reflection upon it.

If we inquire as to the philosophy that pervades the book, we can confine ourselves to a few basically important concepts. The underlying idea of the whole is the idea of change. It is related in the Analects that Confucius, standing by a river, said:

"Everything flows on and on like this river, without pause, day and night." (Confucius)

This expresses the idea of change. He who has perceived the meaning of change fixes his attention no longer on transitory individual things but on the immutable, eternal law at work in all change. This law is the tao of Lao-tsu, the course of things, the principle of the one in the many.

The second theme fundamental to the Book of Changes is its theory of ideas. The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as of states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse, as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an "image," that is, of an idea in the unseen world. Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in a world beyond our sense perception.

This theory of ideas is applied in a twofold sense. The Book of Changes shows the images of events and also the unfolding of conditions in statu nascendi. Thus, in discerning with its help the seeds of things to come, we learn to foresee the future as well as to understand the past. In this way the images on which the hexagrams are based serve as patterns for timely action in the situations indicated.

Not only is adaptation to the course of nature thus made possible, but in the Great Commentary (pt. II, chap. II), an interesting attempt is made to trace back the origin of all the practices and inventions of civilization to such ideas and archetypal images. Whether or not the hypothesis can be made to apply in all specific instances, the basic concept contains a truth.

The third element fundamental to the Book of Changes are the judgments. The judgments clothe the images in words, as it were; they indicate whether a given action will bring good fortune or misfortune, remorse or humiliation. The judgments make it possible for a man to make a decision to desist from a course of action indicated by the situation of the moment but harmful in the long run. In this way he makes himself independent of the tyranny of events.

In its judgments, and in the interpretations attached to it from the time of Confucius on the Book of Changes opens to the reader the richest treasure of Chinese wisdom; at the same time it affords him a comprehensive view of the varieties of human experience, enabling him thereby to shape his life of his own sovereign will into an organic whole and so to direct it that it comes into accord with the ultimate tao lying at the root of all that exists.


Trigrams & Yin And Yang

'The basic component of the I Ching is a three lined symbol called the Trigram. Each of the three lines in a trigram can either be straight or broken. A straight line symbolizes Yang: A broken line stands for Yin.

Yang ______________

Yin _____ _____

Meaning much more than just female/male, Yin-Yang are the Chinese terms for the basic polarities of the Universe. Yang is time, light, strong. Yin is space, dark, weak. Yang is the direction upwards, Yin downwards. Yang is the closed circle, Yin is the open angle. Yang is clockwise, Yin counter-clockwise. Yang is hard, resistant and tense, Yin is soft, yielding and relaxed.

By the use of the two kinds of lines each trigram also has yin and yang. Eight Yin-Yang combinations are possible with three components. The trigrams thereby depict the eight types of consciousness (actually 7 consciousness + 1 Awareness). The eight trigrams are basic symbols of Eastern philosophy. They are found everywhere throughout the Orient. They are even depicted on the flag of South Korea. Each of the eight trigrams has an inner structure, image, motivation and essence as shown in the following chart:


Study of the trigrams can help you to understand Awareness and your states of consciousness. But the trigrams alone can not help you with existential decisions and choices. This requires the doubling of the trigrams into inner and outer worlds wherein six lines are used to create the Hexagram. The I Ching book is made up of the 64 possible Hexagrams and commentary on each Hexagram.


Karl Jung and the I Ching
Causation, Chance, Necessary Connection, Free Will & Determinism, Dynamic Unity of Reality

The following is an excerpt written by the pychoanalyst Karl Jung as an introduction to the I Ching.

'In order to understand what such a book is all about, it is imperative to cast off certain prejudices of the Western mind. it is a curious fact that such a gifted and intelligent people as the Chinese has never developed what we call science. Our science, however, is based upon the principle of causality, and causality is considered to be an axiomatic truth. But a great change in our standpoint is setting in. What Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason failed to do, is being accomplished by modern physics.

The axioms of causality are being shaken to their foundations: we know now that what we term natural laws are merely statistical truths and thus must necessarily allow for exceptions. We have not sufficiently taken into account as yet that we need the laboratory with its incisive restrictions in order to demonstrate the invariable validity of natural law. If we leave things to nature, we see a very different picture: every process is partially or totally interfered with by chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception.

The Chinese mind, as I see it at work in the I Ching, seems to be exclusively preoccupied with the chance aspect of events. What we call coincidence seems to be the chief concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed. We must admit that there is something to be said for the immense importance of chance. An incalculable amount of human effort is directed to combating and restricting the nuisance or danger represented by chance. Theoretical considerations of cause and effect often look pale and dusty in comparison to the practical results of chance. It is all very well to say that the crystal of quartz is a hexagonal prism. The statement is quite true in so far as an ideal crystal is envisaged. But in nature one finds no two crystals exactly alike, although all are unmistakably hexagonal. The actual form, however, seems to appeal more to the Chinese sage than the ideal one. The jumble of natural laws constituting empirical reality holds more significance for him than a causal explanation of events that, moreover, must usually be separated from one another in order to be properly dealt with.

In other words, whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him the hexagram was the exponent of the moment in which it was cast - even more so than the hours of the clock or the divisions of the calendar could be - inasmuch as the hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin. This assumption involves a certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity,2 a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers.' (Karl Jung)


Pa Kua

In Chinese, "Pa" means eight and "Kua" means changes. Pa-Kua, the art of the "Eight Changes", is thus a complete knowledge helping us through the ever changing situations of our daily life.

The Eight Changes

The Eight Changes are the basis of the original Chinese knowledge. The I-Ching,
the most ancient book of Chinese knowledge, uses this concept as a starting point in to
its multiplication and formation of the 64 Hexagrams.

The study of the Eight Changes gives us an understanding of events and people
we encounter in our daily life. It helps us look in to our past, understand it, and therefore
helps us guide ourselves into the future.
The popular saying "those who forget their past are bound to repeat their mistakes in the future"
is a clear summary of how the knowledge of the Eight Changes helps us navigate our future.

Used as a system of classification of our ever-changing surroundings, the Eight Changes clarifies our
understanding of the universe and its influences on our daily lives.







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I Ching: The Book of Change / Wisdom. Ancient Chinese Oracle Text, Hexagram, Meanings, Interpretation, Chance, Causation, Determinism, Free Will, Karl Jung

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