The I Ching
What is The I Ching?
Through the oracle of the I Ching (pronounced Ē-Ching) comes the historical
practice of Feng Shui.
Oracles were common in many civilizations of antiquity. In China, the use of bones
as oracles dates as far back as the Shang Dynasty, 1600 BC - 1046 BC. Even
earlier, there is evidence that a more sophisticated sage, Fu Hsi, 3300 BC, was
using birth years and symbols (now associated with the I Ching) to aid in the safety
and well-being of one’s home. His system was called the Ba Gua. There is
speculation that this practice was in effect for 100’s of years before the evidence we
have proving dates. How did such primitive peoples come up with such an intricate
"All great religions have in essence two functions: to be receptive to
that which enhances life and to repel that which diminishes life. In
the I Ching, the great attribute of Heaven and Earth is to bestow life,
hence the "movement of the world" is to be positively stimulated
because it enhances life. The second function of the I Ching is
restraining the people from wrong-doing". Charles San,
Jan. 1, 1973, from the preface for I Ching, Book of Changes,
translated by James Legge, (NY: Causeway Books, 1973)
It was not until King Wu of Zhou (1046 BC-1043 BC) that it began to take form. In 1143, Wen Wang first
compiled all these ancient symbols into a concise system. It was then called Yi Jing. Confucius, in 550 BC,
gave comprehension to the Yi Jing (now called I Ching). Through this transition of the I Ching and from the
work of Master Yang Yun Song from the Tang Dynasty, the Form School of Feng Shui evolved
Ancient sages, through their symbols, taught mankind how to fish, grow plants, use tools and animals, and
build homes. These symbols were used for behavior, conduct and personal ethics.
The I Ching has been compared to the reflection of a miniature universe, therefore the wisdom of the I Ching
is applicable to events in the past and future and one can learn about Dimensional travel as well, by
pondering the hexagram of the question.
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The I Ching is based on 8 primary Trigrams (3 lines), and all possible combinations, of course, present 64
physical characteristics, colors, situations and even attitudes. As in family relationships with 8 strong people
with distinct personalities, personalities are combined, and a new personality is formed.
Throughout China's regions of cultural influence (including Korea, Japan and Vietnam), scholars have added
comments and interpretation to this work. The I Ching has also attracted the interest of many thinkers in the
The turtle shell oracle is probably the earliest record of fortune telling. The diviner would apply heat to a piece
of a turtle shell (sometimes with a hot poker), and interpret the resulting cracks. The cracks were sometimes
annotated with inscriptions, the oldest Chinese writings that have been discovered. This oracle predated the
earliest versions of the Zhou Yi (dated from about 1100 BC) by hundreds of years.
The famous mathematical Lo Shu Magic Square comes from the legend of Lo Shu, found in China in a book
entitled Yih King. According to Chinese traditions, the river Lo flooded and brought a tortoise to the water
surface. This tortoise had the Lo Shu squares ‘magically drawn’ on its back, thus making it a legendary
creature. The reason it is called ‘magic square’ is because of its unique placement and numbers found on the
turtle’s back. The total in any direction will add up to 15. Feng Shui formulas and charts are based on this
configuration. From there also, came a working base for the trigrams of the I Ching.
From its mythological origins in prehistory and the earliest dates of recorded history in China, the I Ching has
been present in the succession of philosophers, scholars and rulers. The I Ching has been called the main
source of Chinese culture and has influenced mathematics, science, medicine, martial arts, philosophy, history,
literature, art, ethics, military affairs and religion.
Joseph Campbell describes the I Ching as an encyclopedia of oracles, based on a mythic view of the universe
that is fundamental to all Chinese thought; (Campbell, 1962)
George Harrison of the Beatles read the I Ching and decided he should surrender to chance. Following this, in
his words, he picked up a book at random, opened it, saw 'gently weeps,' then laid the book down again and
started the song (While My Guitar Gently Weeps).
The song Chapter 24 from Pink Floyd's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, written by Syd Barrett
features lyrics adapted from the Book of Changes.
The song Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun; is also based on the I Ching.
Hermann Hesse's novel ;The Glass Bead Game; (1943) is mainly concerned with the principles of the I Ching.
Niels Bohr included the Tai Chi symbol in his coat of arms, when knighted, to reflect his appreciation for the I
Ching's use of probabilistic concepts in its handling of physical, social, and psychological phenomena.
Carl Jung developed his theory of synchronicity based upon the I Ching.
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