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You are here: Home > I Ching > Introduction

What is I-ching (Book of Changes)?

    Topics:
    > History of I-ching - click here
    > The content of the Book - click
    here.
    > Philosophy of change in I-ching - click
    here

I-ching is one of the classical (ching ) Chinese books dating back to Fu Hsi and the Yin Dynasty, about 2900 BCE. It was used mainly as divination means, that is, a device to predict future events.

The book escaped the arson of books ordered by emperor Ch'in Shih-huang-ti, in 213 AD.

Richard Wilhelm
Richard Wilhelm, the famous German translator and commentator of the Book.
Known initially as the Chou-I (the Changes of Chou - dynasty) the I-ching is translated usually by Book of Changes, ("Book" may be taken here for "Classic" or "Scripture", that is, something old and much venerated).

The book is a collection of 64 short essays assigned to 64 figures formed each of 6 continuous (____) and/or broken lines (__  __). These figures are called hexagrams.

Each hexagram corresponds to a specific life situation, therefore when we consult the Book as oracle it leads us to a more or less personal event which may or may not further develop in time.

  • I-ching in the West

I-ching was thoroughly studied and translated into German by Richard Wilhelm, a Protestant missionary in China. This version is the most known and appreciated although it is connected to the Confucian approach and Christian ethics.

James Legge
James Legge - his translation is more accurate as it is not so much influenced by the Confucian tradition
Another translation of importance is signed by James Legge. In contrast with Wilhelm's, Lege's translation is more accurate and it is recommend for the beginners and experts who consult the Book for predicting the future.

Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist studied the Book with much interest in connection with his theory of archetypes.

Jung also doesn't confine himself to the scholarly examination of I-ching, but resort frequently to its services as a divination tool. To this effect, he wrote an extremely interesting essay concerning the way the divinatory process works in I-ching , in which he makes an analogy to his synchronicity theory.

Jung also inspired the English version of Wilhelm's translation made by one of his adepts.

  • I-ching Today

Today we have a lot of English versions of I-ching. Most of them follow the Wilhelm's translation style - others are free adaptations. There are also a few versions which don't follow the Wilhelm's or Legge's directions, but draw from the new discoveries regarding the original Chinese text. They are mainly interested in the language of the Book.

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