Taoism > Sources > I-ching
What is I-ching (Book of Changes)?
Chinese sovereigns and princes consulted the book on the most diverse issues, such as political, wealth, health, wars, the meaning of dreams, and so on. Its importance is also proved by its survival from the arson of books ordered by the Chinese emperor Ch'in Shih-huang-ti, in 213 AD
Tradition has attributed the creation of this unique book to Fu Hsi, the mythical ancestor, who invented many other useful things. It is said that he had been the witness of a miraculous phenomenon that put him in contact with the eight trigrams (pa-kua), forming the basic structure of the Book of Changes.
The legend says that while he was walking on the banks of the Yellow River, he saw a dragon coming out of waters and wearing on his back the signs of the eight trigrams that he copied by drawing them with his finger, on the sand.
It is all agreed that this book contains the essence of Chinese spiritual movements and that it has influenced everything that was consequently conceived. Nobody can deny its importance in the Taoism too.
I-ching is a collection of essays on 64 linear figures made up of six continuous or discontinuous lines. The continuous lines ______ represent the yang principle, and the discontinuous ones__ __, the yin principle.
The 64 hexagrams have titles like Creative (Yang), Difficulty at Beginning, Caldron, Marrying Maiden, Progress, Contemplation... that definitely describe typical situations.
Each hexagram also contains a Judgment (many times offering oracular predictions) and short texts explaining the significance of each individual line.
I-ching has always been used as an oracle. He is also consulted today whenever we need information about our projects and tips to help us achieve them.
There are two methods of consulting the oracle: with coins and snake stems. The coin method is the best known. Readmore...
He was a Christian missionary in China where he met Lao-nai Hsuan, a descendant of Confucian school, who effectively helped him to translate the book into German. More than a simple translation, Wilhelm also added his comments to the 64 hexagrams.
Carl Jung suggested the Cary F. Baynes English version, and it was also him who added a substantial introduction to this version, where he explained with examples the way the book works as oracle. This is the most important contribution to the explanation of the oracular practice to the western culture.
I-ching is together with yin-yang, Lao-tzu and Tao-te ching one of the most familiar Chinese keywords to the Western culture. The oracle is used even today despite the confusion concerning the interpretation of the answers.
Many translation are available in English but almost all of them are inaccurate - due to the difficulty of the old Chinese language - or just modern adaptation of the ancient text.
More online resources:
-> Foreword to the English Version by Carl Jung.
-> Carl Jung and I-ching here.
Copyright Way of Perfect Emptiness, 2017. All rights reserved.