I-ching Methods and Meaning
 

 

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Everything you need to know about I-ching - history, philosophy, structure, content and method of consultation

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Oracle or tool of predicting future events

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You are here: Home > I Ching > Definition

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 B. C. It was used as oracle, consulted by the sovereigns and princes.

The Book escaped the arson of books ordered by the first Chinese emperor in 213 A. D. 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 Hexagrams.

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...

  • 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 version is made upon the suggestion of Carl Jung , the well-known 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 its answers.

  • Usage of the Book

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

I-ching coin picture
  • 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.

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