I Ching Internet Resources

I Ching, Yijing, Book of Changes, Oracle of change, Zhou yi, Chou yi, Chou I, Hexagrams, Trigrams, Oracle, Yarrow, Divination.

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Chinese character "I" (Yee)What is "I Ching"?

Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of written history, legend has it that there lived a great Chinese sage known as Fu Hsi. He is credited with bringing the cooking of food to the Chinese people. He may have lived 10,000 (10,500?) years ago. A man of incredibly vast intellect, Fu Hsi, in an exquisite feat, drew forth from the Universe, over a period of time and in stages, a perfect model of itself, complete with all its conditions and elements of change - the sixty-four hexagrams that the Chinese call "kua". To form the sixty-four kua of the I Ching, Fu Hsi, it is said, surveyed the vast diversities and movements under heaven, saw the ways the movements met and became interrelated, saw the ways their courses were governed by eternal laws. He thought through the order of nature to its deepest core. He perceived the beginning of all things that lay unmoving in the beyond in the form of ideas that have yet to manifest themselves. He put himself in accord with those ideas and, in doing arrived at an understanding of fate. Writing did not exist at the time of Fu Hsi, so his teachings were handed down in the oral tradition, one generation faithfully teaching another, perhaps for several thousand years. Wen writing began in China five thousand years ago, about the year 3,000 BC, the I Ching teachings and answers were first recorded. Two thousand more years passed, during which time the I Ching and its teachings flourished and formed "The Book of Change" by its means of I Ching.

The I Ching is an intelligent and intuitive observation of how the dynamic of change unfolds in the events that surround the individual, the family and the community. I Ching symbols can be seen on the covers of the finest works of Chinese philosophy, but few authors do more than simply point out its importance as one of the foundations of Chinese thought. It is the Phantom of Sinology. Yet the I Ching is not an insignificant text. The name of this, the great book of yin and yang, means The Classic of Change. Since the time when the Marquis of Dai lived (around 168 BCE), it has maintained a place in Chinese civilisation unequalled by any other work. It would be difficult to find a text that holds the same importance in western civilisation. The Bible holds a similar seniority, and some of the works of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers present fundamental ideas, but there is no one text that can combine both of these characteristics.

I Ching is unquestionably one of the most important books in the world's literature. It is one of the first efforts of human mind to place itself within the universe. It sheds new light on many a secret hidden in the often puzzling modes of thought. Its origin goes back to mythical antiquity, and it has occupied the attention of the eminent scholars of China down to the present day and the interest in it has been spreading in the West. In philosophy, it make a stage in the development of human thought, while the I Ching has recently become very important in the understanding of certain cultural development in the Western world.

How could such a work have been ignored in modern science for so long? The I Ching is considered to be a work of divination. The book is said to be, "a means of understanding, even controlling, future events." One might as well call it a book of fortune telling, a superstitious relic of pre-logical thinking that could not interest any sensible person in the twentieth century. However, this seriously underestimates an ancient work that has evolved over several thousand years.

Nevertheless, the I Ching has interested many people, and sensible people at that. The architect Ioeh Ming Pei, who designed the recent additions to the Louvre Museum in Paris, and in particular, the glass pyramids in its courtyard, as well as the main terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, has been a member of the French Academy of Beaux Arts since 1984. He ended his inception speech with a quote from the Classic of Changes. The Nobel prize winning biologist Fran┴ois Jacob, in an article entitled, "Linguistic models in biology", has suggested that his colleagues explore the I Ching in order to discover the principles they had not found in linguistics, and are needed to fully explain the process of genetic coding. Fritjof Capra has cited its relationship to modern physics, showing how the I Ching prefigured modern S-matrix theory. Mention should also be made of artists, such as the composer John Cage, or the choreographers Merce Cunningham and Carolyn Carlson, who have based many of their works on the ideas of change and chance events that they discovered in the I Ching. One can not forget, of course, the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who saw in the I Ching the deepest example of his theory of archetypes, as well as a model for his ideas on synchronicity. But it is important not to neglect all those who use the I Ching to practically solve personal or professional problems. These people refine their decision making process by dint of the advice given in this amazingly active book of wisdom. In China, they can be counted by generations, while in the west, they are counted, without doubt, by millions. But we are deprived of the experiences of the former by their language, and of the latter by a certain sense of shame. Fortune telling! That is the general opinion of the I Ching. Because of this, it remains, as a certain nuclear physicist working at the CERN in Switzerland said, "a charming intellectual mistress, that we are ashamed to go out in public with."

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