I-ching Methods and Meaning header

What is I-ching (Book of Changes)?

I-ching is one of the classical Chinese books (ching), dating back to Fu Hsi and the Yin Dynasty, about 2900 BC. It was used as oracle, at the disposal of the sovereigns and princes.

The Book escaped the arson of books ordered by the first Chinese emperor in 213 AD because it was consulted by him. This proves its great popularity and recognition.

Known also as the Chou-I (the Changes of Chou), the name "I-ching" may be also translated as Book of Changes, that is, a work dealing with the permanent changes in nature and human society as well.

  • Content of the Book

I-ching is a collection of short essays assigned to 64 lineal figures consisting of six continuous (____) and/or broken (__  __) lines. These figures are called These lines may be assigned the well-known symbols of yin and yang.

Hexagram 31 picture
Hexagram 31, Hsien, Influence (Wooing)

Each Hexagram has a title and offers a prognostication and/or advice in order to avoid difficult life events or human interaction. Read more...

  • Usage of the Book

Whenever you need to know if a project will succeed or fail you may consult the I-ching oracle. There are two different methods of consultation. The answer of the oracle must be interpreted by a professional diviner, well trained in the art of deciphering its meaning. Read more...

  • I-ching in the West

Richard Wilhelm picture
Richard Wilhelm, the famous German translator and commentator of the Book, inspired the Wilhelm/Baynes English version
One of the first translations of the I-ching in English was made by James Legge.

Richard Wilhelm, a Protestant missionary in China, translated the book into German under the direct guidance of a Confucian master, Lao Nai Hsuan.

" I am indebted to him - Wilhelm wrote - not only for a deeper understanding. . . but also because he first opened my mind to the wonders of the Book of Changes. Under his experienced guidance I wandered entranced through this strange and yet familiar world. The translation of the text was made after detailed discussion." (R. Wilhelm, Introduction to the I-ching, Wilhelm/Baynes version, Princeton University Press, 1977.)

This is the most known and referred  version.

The Wilhelm/Baynes English version is made upon the request of Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist. Jung himself used the oracle and wrote a valuable introduction to the English version explaining how it works and the method of interpreting the answers.

  • I-ching 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 Wilhelm's or Legge's directions, but draw from the scientific interest in the book history and meaning.

I-ching applications may be found online. Thus we can consult the book without having to handle one of the methods, with coins or yarrow stalk. Read more...

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Updated:   Monday, October 30, 2017

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