I Ching

I Ching

Overview
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" (pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

), also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

. The book contains a divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 system comparable to Western geomancy
Geomancy
Geomancy is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand...

 or the West African Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

 system; in Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose.

Traditionally, the I Ching and its hexagrams were thought to pre-date recorded history, and based on traditional Chinese accounts, its origins trace back to the 3rd to the 2nd millennium BC.
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Encyclopedia
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" (pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

), also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

. The book contains a divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 system comparable to Western geomancy
Geomancy
Geomancy is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand...

 or the West African Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

 system; in Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose.

Traditionally, the I Ching and its hexagrams were thought to pre-date recorded history, and based on traditional Chinese accounts, its origins trace back to the 3rd to the 2nd millennium BC. Modern scholarship suggests that the earliest layer of the text may date from the end of the 2nd millennium BC, but place doubts on the mythological aspects in the traditional accounts. The oldest manuscript that has been found, albeit incomplete, dates back to the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

.

During the Warring States Period, the text was re-interpreted as a system of cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 that subsequently became intrinsic to Chinese culture. It centred on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.

The standard text originated from the ancient text (古文經) transmitted by Fei Zhi (费直, c. 50 BC-10 AD) of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. During the Han Dynasty this version competed with the bowdlerised new text (今文經) version transmitted by Tian He at the beginning of the Western Han. However, by the time of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 the ancient text version, which survived Qin
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

’s book-burning
Burning of books and burying of scholars
Burning of the books and burying of the scholars is a phrase that refers to a policy and a sequence of events in the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 206 BC. During these events, the Hundred Schools of Thought were pruned; legalism survived...

 by being preserved amongst the peasantry, became the accepted norm among Chinese scholars.

Traditional view


Traditionally it was believed that the principles of the I Ching originated with the mythical Fu Xi (伏羲 Fú Xī). In this respect he is seen as an early culture hero
Culture hero
A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group who changes the world through invention or discovery...

, one of the earliest legendary rulers of China (traditional dates 2800 BC-2737 BC), reputed to have had the 8 trigrams
Bagua (concept)
The bagua are eight diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken," representing yin or yang, respectively...

 (八卦 bā guà) revealed to him supernaturally. By the time of the legendary Yu
Yu the Great
Yu the Great , was a legendary ruler of Ancient China famed for his introduction of flood control, inaugurating dynastic rule in China by founding the Xia Dynasty, and for his upright moral character....

 (禹 ) 2194 BC – 2149 BC, the trigrams had supposedly been developed into 64 hexagrams (六十四卦 lìu shí sì gùa), which were recorded in the scripture Lian Shan (《連山》 Lián Shān; also called Lian Shan Yi). Lian Shan, meaning "continuous mountains" in Chinese, begins with the hexagram Bound (艮 gèn), which depicts a mountain (¦¦|) mounting on another and is believed to be the origin of the scripture's name.

After the traditionally recorded Xia Dynasty
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

 was overthrown by the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

, the hexagrams are said to have been re-deduced to form Gui Cang (《歸藏》 Gūi Cáng; also called Gui Cang Yi), and the hexagram responding (坤 kūn) became the first hexagram. Gui Cang may be literally translated into "return and be contained", which refers to earth as the first hexagram itself indicates. At the time of Shang's last king, Zhou Wang, King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou family name : Ji , Clan name : Zhou Personal name: Chang, known as Zhou Chang or Xibo Chang was the founder of the Zhou Dynasty and the first epic hero of Chinese history....

 is said to have deduced the hexagram and discovered that the hexagrams beginning with Initiating (乾 qián) revealed the rise of Zhou
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

. He then gave each hexagram a description regarding its own nature, thus Gua Ci (卦辭 guà cí, "Explanation of Hexagrams").

When King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhōu or King Wu of Chou was the first sovereign, or ruler of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1046-1043 BCE or 1049/45-1043. Various sources quoted that he died at the age of 93, 54 or 43. He was considered a just and able leader. Zhou Gong Dan was one of his...

, son of King Wen, toppled the Shang Dynasty, his brother Zhou Gong Dan is said to have created Yao Ci (爻辭 yáo cí, "Explanation of Horizontal Lines") to clarify the significance of each horizontal line in each hexagram. It was not until then that the whole context of I Ching was understood. Its philosophy heavily influenced the literature and government administration of the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 (1122 BC-256 BC).

Later, during the time of Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC-481 BC), Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 is traditionally said to have written the Shi Yi (十翼 shí yì, "Ten Wings"), a group of commentaries on the I Ching. By the time of Han Wu Di (漢武帝 Hàn Wǔ Dì) of the Western Han Dynasty (c. 200 BC), Shi Yi was often called Yi Zhuan (易傳 yì zhùan, "Commentary on the I Ching"). Together with the commentaries by Confucius, I Ching is also often referred to as Zhou Yi (周易 zhōu yì, "Changes of Zhou"). All later texts about Zhou Yi were explanations only, due to the classic's deep meaning.

Modernist view


In the past 50 years a "Modernist" history of the I Ching emerged based on research into Shang and Zhou dynasties' oracle bones, Zhou bronze inscriptions and other sources (Marshall 2001, Rutt 1996, Shaughnessy 1993, Smith 2008). In the 1970s, Chinese archaeologists discovered intact Han dynasty-era tombs in Mawangdui near Changsha, Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 province. One of the tombs contained the Mawangdui Silk Texts
Mawangdui Silk Texts
The Mawangdui Silk Texts are texts of Chinese philosophical and medical works written on silk and found at Mawangdui in China in 1973. They include some of the earliest attested manuscripts of existing texts such as the I Ching, two copies of the Tao Te Ching, one similar copy of Strategies of the...

, a 2nd century BC new text version of the I Ching, the Dao De Jing and other works, which are mostly similar yet in some ways diverge from the received, or traditional texts preserved historically. This version of the I Ching, despite its textual form, belongs to the same textual tradition as the standard text, which suggests it was prepared from an old text version for the use of its Han patron.

Rather than being the work of one or several legendary or historical figures, the core divinatory text is now thought to be an accretion of Western Zhou divinatory concepts. According to Daniel Woolf
Daniel Woolf
Daniel Robert Woolf is a British/Canadian historian. He is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, a position to which he was appointed in January 2009 and took up as of September 1, 2009...

, the text reached the form that we know it today at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. As for the Shi Yi commentaries traditionally attributed to Confucius, scholars from the time of the 11th century AD scholar Ouyang Xiu
Ouyang Xiu
Ouyang Xiu was a Chinese statesman, historian, essayist and poet of the Song Dynasty. He is also known by his courtesy name of Yongshu, and was also self nicknamed The Old Drunkard 醉翁, or Householder of the One of Six 六一居士 in his old age...

 onward have doubted this, based on textual analysis, and modern scholars date most of them to the Warring States period (475 BC-256 or 221 BC), with some sections perhaps being as late as the Western Han period (206 BC-9 AD).

Structure


The text of the I Ching is a set of oracular statements represented by 64 sets of six lines each called hexagrams
Hexagram (I Ching)
The I Ching book consists of 64 hexagrams.A hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines , where each line is either Yang , or Yin . The hexagram lines are traditionally counted from the bottom up, so the lowest line is considered line 1 while the top line is line 6...

(卦 guà). Each hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines (爻 yáo), each line is either Yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 (broken, an open line with a gap in the center). With six such lines stacked from bottom to top there are 26 or 64 possible combinations, and thus 64 hexagrams represented.

The hexagram diagram is composed of two three-line arrangements called trigrams (卦 guà). There are 23, hence 8, possible trigrams. The traditional view was that the hexagrams were a later development and resulted from combining the two trigrams. However, in the earliest relevant archaeological evidence, groups of numerical symbols on many Western Zhou bronzes and a very few Shang oracle bones, such groups already usually appear in sets of six. A few have been found in sets of three numbers, but these are somewhat later. Numerical sets greatly predate the groups of broken and unbroken lines, leading modern scholars to doubt the mythical early attributions of the hexagram system, (Shaugnessy 1993).

When a hexagram is cast using one of the traditional processes of divination with I Ching, each yin and yang line will be indicated as either moving (that is, changing), or fixed (unchanging). Sometimes called old lines, a second hexagram is created by changing moving lines to their opposite. These are referred to in the text by the numbers six through nine as follows:
  • Nine is old yang, an unbroken line (—θ—) changing into yin, a broken line (— —);
  • Eight is young yin, a broken line (— —) without change;
  • Seven is young yang, an unbroken line (———) without change;
  • Six is old yin, a broken line (—X—) changing into yang, an unbroken line (———).


The oldest method for casting the hexagrams, the yarrow stalk method, was gradually replaced during the Han Dynasty by the three coins method and the yarrow stalk method was lost. With the coin method, the probability of yin or yang is equal while with the recreated yarrow stalk method of Zhu Xi (1130–1200), the probability of old yang is three times greater than old yin.

There have been several arrangements of the trigrams and hexagrams over the ages. The bā gùa is a circular arrangement of the trigrams, traditionally printed on a mirror, or disk. According to legend, Fu Xi found the bā gùa on the scales of a tortoise's back. They function like a magic square with the four axes summing to the same value, using 0 and 1 to represent yin and yang: 000 + 111 = 101 + 010 = 011 + 100 = 110 + 001 = 111.

The King Wen sequence
King Wen sequence
The King Wen sequence is an arrangement of the sixty-four divination figures in 易經 Yì Jīng, the I Ching or Book of Changes. They are called hexagrams in English because each figure is composed of six 爻 yáo—broken or unbroken lines, that represent 陰 yin or 陽 yang respectively.The King Wen sequence...

 is the traditional (i.e. "classical") sequence of the hexagrams used in most contemporary editions of the I Ching.

Trigrams


The solid line represents yang, the creative principle. The open line represents yin, the receptive principle. These principles are also represented in a common circular symbol (☯), known as taijitu
Taijitu
Taijitu is a term which refers to a Chinese symbol for the concept of yin and yang...

 (太極圖), but more commonly known in the west as the yin-yang (陰陽) diagram, expressing the idea of complementarity of changes: when Yang is at top, Yin is increasing, and the reverse.

In the following lists, the trigrams and hexagrams are represented using a common textual convention, horizontally from left-to-right, using '|' for yang and '¦' for yin, rather than the traditional bottom-to-top. In a more modern usage, the numbers 0 and 1 can also be used to represent yin and yang, being read left-to-right. There are eight possible trigrams (八卦 bāguà):
Trigram Figure Binary Value Name Translation: Wilhelm Image in Nature (pp.l-li) Direction (p. 269) Family Relationship (p. 274) Body Part (p. 274) Attribute (p. 273) Stage/ State (pp.l-li) Animal (p. 273)
1 111
qián
the Creative, Force heaven, sky
northwest father head strong creative
horse
2 110
duì
the Joyous, Open swamp, marsh
west third daughter mouth pleasure tranquil (complete devotion)
sheep, goat
3 101
the Clinging, Radiance fire
south second daughter eye light-giving, dependence clinging, clarity, adaptable
pheasant
4 100
zhèn
the Arousing, Shake thunder
east first son foot inciting movement initiative
dragon
5 011
xùn
the Gentle, Ground wind
southeast first daughter thigh penetrating gentle entrance
fowl
6 010
kǎn
the Abysmal, Gorge  water
north second son ear dangerous in-motion
pig
7 001
gèn
Keeping Still, Bound mountain
northeast third son hand resting, stand-still completion
wolf, dog
8 000
kūn
the Receptive, Field earth
southwest mother belly devoted, yielding receptive
cow


The first 3 lines of the hexagram, called the lower trigram, are seen as the inner aspect of the change that is occurring. The upper trigram (the last three lines of the hexagram), is the outer aspect. The change described is thus the dynamic of the inner (personal) aspect relating to the outer (external) situation. Thus, hexagram 04 ¦|¦¦¦| Enveloping, is composed of the inner trigram ☵ Gorge, relating to the outer trigram ☶ Bound.

Hexagram lookup table


Upper →

Lower ↓


乾 Qián
Heaven


震 Zhèn
Thunder


坎 Kǎn
Water


艮 Gèn
Mountain


坤 Kūn
Earth


巽 Xùn
Wind


離 Lí
Flame


兌 Duì
Swamp


乾 Qián
Heaven
01 ䷀ 34 ䷡ 05 ䷄ 26 ䷙ 11 ䷊ 09 ䷈ 14 ䷍ 43 ䷪


震 Zhèn
Thunder
25 ䷘ 51 ䷲ 03 ䷂ 27 ䷚ 24 ䷗ 42 ䷩ 21 ䷔ 17 ䷐


坎 Kǎn
Water
06 ䷅ 40 ䷧ 29 ䷜ 04 ䷃ 07 ䷆ 59 ䷺ 64 ䷿ 47 ䷮


艮 Gèn
Mountain
33 ䷠ 62 ䷽ 39 ䷦ 52 ䷳ 15 ䷎ 53 ䷴ 56 ䷷ 31 ䷞


坤 Kūn
Earth
12 ䷋ 16 ䷏ 08 ䷇ 23 ䷖ 02 ䷁ 20 ䷓ 35 ䷢ 45 ䷬



巽 Xùn
Wind

44 ䷫ 32 ䷟ 48 ䷯ 18 ䷑ 46 ䷭ 57 ䷸ 50 ䷱ 28 ䷛



離 Lí
Flame

13 ䷌ 55 ䷶ 63 ䷾ 22 ䷕ 36 ䷣ 37 ䷤ 30 ䷝ 49 ䷰



兌 Duì
Swamp

10 ䷉ 54 ䷵ 60 ䷻ 41 ䷨ 19 ䷒ 61 ䷼ 38 ䷥ 58 ䷹

The hexagrams


The text of the I Ching describes each of the 64 hexagrams, and later scholars added commentaries and analyses of each one; these have been subsumed into the text comprising the I Ching.

In the table below, each hexagram's translation is accompanied by a form of R. Wilhelm translation (which is the source for the Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 names), followed by a retranslation.
Hexagram R. Wilhelm Modern Interpretation
01. ䷀ Force (乾 qián) The Creative Possessing Creative Power & Skill
02. ¦¦¦¦¦¦ ䷁ Field (坤 kūn) The Receptive Needing Knowledge & Skill; Do not force matters and go with the flow ,
03. Difficulty at the Beginning Sprouting
04. ¦ Youthful Folly Detained, Enveloped and Inexperienced ,
05. Waiting Uninvolvement (Wait for now), Nourishment
06. ¦ Conflict Engagement in Conflict
07. ¦ The Army Bringing Together, Teamwork
08. ¦¦¦¦ Holding Together Union
09. Small Taming Accumulating Resources
10. ¦ Treading (Conduct) Continuing with Alertness
11. Peace Pervading
12. ¦¦¦ Standstill Stagnation
13. Fellowship Fellowship, Partnership
14. ䷍ Great Possessing (大有 dà yǒu) Great Possession Independence, Freedom
15. ¦¦ Modesty Being Reserved, Refraining
16. ¦¦¦ Enthusiasm Inducement, New Stimulus
17. Following Following
18. ¦ ䷑ Corrupting (蠱 gǔ) Work on the Decayed Repairing
19. ¦¦¦¦ ䷒ Nearing (臨 lín) Approach Approaching Goal, Arriving
20. ¦¦¦¦ ䷓ Viewing (觀 guān) Contemplation The Withholding
21. Biting Through Deciding
22. Grace Embellishing
23. ¦¦¦¦¦ Splitting Apart Stripping, Flaying
24. Return Returning
25. Innocence Without Rashness
26. Great Taming Accumulating Wisdom
27. Mouth Corners Seeking Nourishment
28. ¦ ¦ ䷛ Great Exceeding (大過 dà guò) Great Preponderance Great Surpassing
29. ¦ The Abysmal Water Darkness, Gorge
30. The Clinging Clinging, Attachment
31. ¦¦ Influence Attraction
32. ¦ Duration Perseverance
Hexagram R. Wilhelm Modern Interpretation
33. ¦¦ ䷠ Retiring (遯 dùn) Retreat Withdrawing
34. ¦¦ ䷡ Great Invigorating (大壯 dà zhuàng) Great Power Great Boldness
35. ¦¦¦ Progress Expansion, Promotion
36. Darkening of the Light Brilliance Injured
37. The Family Family
38. ¦ Opposition Division, Divergence
39. ¦¦ Obstruction Halting, Hardship
40. ¦ Deliverance Liberation, Solution
41. ䷨ Diminishing (損 sǔn) Decrease Decrease
42. Increase Increase
43. Breakthrough Separation
44. ¦ Coming to Meet Encountering
45. ¦¦¦ ¦ ䷬ Clustering (萃 cuì) Gathering Together Association, Companionship
46. ¦ ¦¦¦ ䷭ Ascending (升 shēng) Pushing Upward Growing Upward
47. ¦ Oppression Exhaustion
48. ¦ ¦ ䷯ Welling (井 jǐng) The Well Replenishing, Renewal
49. Revolution Abolishing the Old
50. ¦ The Cauldron Establishing the New
51. Arousing Mobilizing
52. ¦¦ The Keeping Still Immobility
53. ¦¦ Development Auspicious Outlook, Infiltration
54. ¦¦ ䷵ Converting The Maiden (歸妹 guī mèi) The Marrying Maiden Marrying
55. Abundance Goal Reached, Ambition Achieved
56. ¦¦ ䷷ Sojourning (旅 lǚ) The Wanderer Travel
57. ¦ ¦ ䷸ Ground (巽 xùn) The Gentle Subtle Influence
58. ¦ ¦ ䷹ Open (兌 duì) The Joyous Overt Influence
59. ¦ Dispersion Dispersal
60. ¦ ䷻ Articulating (節 jié) Limitation Discipline
61. ¦¦ ䷼ Centre Confirming (中孚 zhōng fú) Inner Truth Staying Focused, Avoid Misrepresentation
62. ¦¦ ¦¦ ䷽ Small Exceeding (小過 xiǎo guò) Small Preponderance Small Surpassing
63. After Completion Completion
64. ¦ Before Completion Incompletion

Hexagram table references


The hexagrams, though, are mere mnemonics for the philosophical concepts embodied in each one. The philosophy centres around the ideas of balance through opposites and acceptance of change.

Unicode


I Ching trigrams were added to the Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 Standard in June, 1993 with the release of version 1.1. The other encoded I Ching symbols were added to the Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 Standard in April, 2003 with the release of version 4.0.

The symbols are spread out between Unicode blocks:
  • Miscellaneous Symbols (U+2600–U+26FF):
    • Monograms: U+268A (⚊) and U+268B (⚋)
    • Digrams: U+268C–U+268F (⚌ ⚍ ⚎ ⚏)
    • Trigrams: U+2630–U+2637 (☰ ☱ ☲ ☳ ☴ ☵ ☶ ☷)
  • Yijing Hexagram Symbols (U+4DC0–U+4DFF):
    • Hexagrams: U+4DC0–U+4DFF

There is an extension of the "Yi Jing" Unicode characters for the Tài Xuán Jīng
Tai Xuan Jing
The text Tài Xuán Jīng was composed by the Confucian writer Yáng Xióng . The first draft of this work was completed in 2BCE...

(: Cannon of Supreme Mystery) by 53 BC-18 AD), from U+1D300 through U+1D356. Their Chinese aliases most accurately reflect their interpretation; for example, the Chinese alias of code point U+1D300 (𝌀) is "rén", which translates into English as man and yet the English alias is "". Five additional digrams cover code points U+1D301 to U+1D305 (𝌁 𝌂 𝌃 𝌄 𝌅) and eighty–one tetragrams cover code points U+1D306 to U+1D356.

Implications of the title

() used as an adjective, means "easy" or "simple", whilst as a verb it indicates "change" or "the exchange or substitution of one thing for another". (jīng) here means "classic (i.e. text)". It is a post-Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 term later added to any text that had been officially canonised, hence the same character was later appropriated to translate the Sanskrit word 'sūtra
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

' into Chinese in reference to Buddhist scripture. In this sense the two concepts, in as much as they mean 'treatise,' 'great teaching,' or 'canonical scripture,' are equivalent.

The I Ching is a "reflection of the universe in miniature". The word "I" has three meanings: ease and simplicity, change and transformation, and invariability. Thus the three principles underlying the I Ching are the following:
  1. Simplicity - the root of the substance. The fundamental law underlying everything in the universe is utterly plain and simple, no matter how abstruse or complex some things may appear to be.
  2. Variability - the use of the substance. Everything in the universe is continually changing. By comprehending this one may realize the importance of flexibility in life and may thus cultivate the proper attitude for dealing with a multiplicity of diverse situations.
  3. Persistency - the essence of the substance. While everything in the universe seems to be changing, among the changing tides there is a persistent principle, a central rule, which does not vary with space and time.
— 易一名而含三義:易簡一也;變易二也;不易三也。 commented on by Zheng Xuan
Zheng Xuan
Zheng Xuan , courtesy name Kangcheng , was an influential Chinese commentator and Confucian scholar of the Han Dynasty. He was born in modern Weifang, Shandong, and was a student of Ma Rong.-See also:*Three Kingdoms...

 (鄭玄 zhèng xúan) in his writings Critique of I Ching (易贊 yì zàn) and Commentary on I Ching (易論 yì lùn) of Eastern Han Dynasty.

Philosophy


Yin and yang, whilst common expressions associated with many schools of classical Chinese culture, are especially associated with the Taoists.

Another view holds that the I Ching is primarily a Confucianist
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 ethical or philosophical document. This view is based upon the following:
  • The Wings or Appendices are attributed to Confucius.
  • The study of the I Ching was required as part of the Civil Service Exams in the period that these exams only studied Confucianist texts.
  • It is one of the Five Confucian Classics.
  • It does not appear in any surviving editions of the Daozang
    Daozang
    Daozang , meaning "Treasury of Dao" or "Daoist Canon", consists of around 1400 texts that were collected circa C.E. 400...

    .
  • The major commentaries were written by Confucianists, or Neo-Confucianists.
  • Taoist scripture avoids, even mocks, attempts at categorizing the world's myriad phenomena and forming a static philosophy. However, Taoist ritual frequently uses the eight trigrams, and they are fundamental for alchemical practice, both internal and external.
  • Wú wéi , is an important concept of Taoism with regard to understanding when to act and when not to act. The understanding is one of instinctive wisdom rather than exemplified by natural action, such as the planets orbiting the Sun; they do without doing — without ends or means, effort or error. Thus, understanding when and how to act is not knowledge in the sense of calculating the right time and way, what is free of toil and care does not hesitate and cannot falter. Action without action, is effortless action.


The fact that both Confucian and Taoist texts make reference to a pre-existing zhouyi suggests to some that it predates both, and is, therefore, at the heart of early Chinese philosophical thought, serving as a common ground for the Confucian and Taoist schools. Partly forgotten due to the rise of Chinese Buddhism during the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, the I Ching returned to the attention of scholars during the Song dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

. This was concomitant with the reassessment of Confucianism by Confucians in the light of Taoist and Buddhist metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

, and is known in the West as Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

. The book, unquestionably an ancient Chinese scripture, helped Song Confucian thinkers to synthesize Buddhist and Taoist cosmologies with Confucian and Mencian ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

. The end product was a new cosmogony
Cosmogony
Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

 that could be linked to the so-called "lost Tao" of Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 and Mencius
Mencius
Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who was arguably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.-Life:Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng , Shandong province, only thirty kilometres ...

.

Binary sequence


In his article Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire (1703) Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

 writes that he has found in the hexagrams a base for claiming the universality of the binary numeral system
Binary numeral system
The binary numeral system, or base-2 number system, represents numeric values using two symbols, 0 and 1. More specifically, the usual base-2 system is a positional notation with a radix of 2...

. He takes the layout of the combinatorial exercise found in the hexagrams to represent binary sequences, so that ¦¦¦¦¦¦ would correspond to the binary sequence 000000 and ¦¦¦¦¦| would be 000001, and so forth.

The binary arrangement of hexagrams is associated with the famous Chinese scholar and philosopher Shao Yung (a neo-Confucian and Taoist) in the 11th century. He displayed it in two different formats, a circle, and a rectangular block. Thus, he clearly understood the sequence represented a logical progression of values. However, while it is true that these sequences do represent the values 0 through 63 in a binary display, there is no evidence that Shao understood that the numbers could be used in computations such as addition or subtraction.

Richard S. Cook states that the I Ching demonstrated a relation between the golden ratio (aka the division in extreme and mean ratio) and "linear recurrence sequences" (the Fibonacci numbers are examples of "linear recurrence sequences") :


...the hexagram sequence, showing that its classification of binary sequences demonstrates knowledge of the convergence of certain linear recurrence sequences ... to division in extreme and mean ratio... that the complex hexagram sequence encapsulates a careful and ingenious demonstration of the LRS (linear recurrence sequences
Recurrence relation
In mathematics, a recurrence relation is an equation that recursively defines a sequence, once one or more initial terms are given: each further term of the sequence is defined as a function of the preceding terms....

)/DEMR (division in the extreme mean ratio relation
Golden ratio
In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.61803398874989...

), that this knowledge results from general combinatorial analysis, and is reflected in elements emphasized in ancient Chinese and Western mathematical traditions.


Divination


In China the I Ching had two distinct functions. The first was as a compendium and classic of ancient cosmic principles. The second function was that of divination text. As a divination text the world of the I Ching was that of the marketplace fortune teller and roadside oracle. These individuals served the illiterate peasantry. The educated Confucian elite in China were of an entirely different disposition. The future results of our actions were a function of our personal virtues. The Confucian literati actually had little use for the I Ching as a work of divination. In the collected works of the countless educated literati of ancient China there are actually few references to the I Ching as a divination text. Any eyewitness account of traditional Chinese society, such as S. Wells Williams The Middle Kingdom, and many others, can clarify this very basic distinction. Williams tells us of the I Ching, "The hundreds of fortune- tellers seen in the streets of Chinese towns, whose answers to their perplexed customers are more or less founded on these cabala, indicate their influence among the illiterate; while among scholars, who have long since conceded all divination to be vain..". (The Middle Kingdom, vol. 1, p. 632)

Symbolism


The Flag of South Korea
Flag of South Korea
The flag of South Korea, or Taegeukgi has three parts: a white background; a red and blue taegeuk in the centre; and four black trigrams, one in each corner of the flag...

 contains the Taiji symbol, or tàijítú, (yin and yang in dynamic balance, called taegeuk in Korean), representing the origin of all things in the universe. The taegeuk is surrounded by four of the eight trigrams, starting from top left and going clockwise: Heaven, Water, Earth, Fire. In addition, the Republic of Korea Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
The Republic of Korea Air Force is the air force of South Korea...

 aircraft roundel incorporates the Taiji in conjunction with the trigrams representing Heaven.

The flag of the Empire of Vietnam
Empire of Vietnam
The Empire of Vietnam was a short-lived puppet state of Imperial Japan governing the whole of Vietnam between March 11 and August 23, 1945.-History:...

 used the Li (Fire) trigram and was known as cờ quẻ Ly (Li trigram flag) because the trigram represents South. Its successor the Republic of Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 connected the middle lines, turning it into the Qián (Heaven) trigram. (see Flag of the Republic of Vietnam
Flag of the Republic of Vietnam
The flag of South Vietnam was designed by Emperor Thành Thái in 1890 and was revived by Emperor Bảo Đại in 1948. It was the flag of the former State of Vietnam from 1949 to 1955 and later of the Republic of Vietnam from 1955 until April 30, 1975 when the south unconditionally surrendered to the...

).

Influence


The I Ching has influenced countless Chinese philosophers, artists and even businesspeople throughout history. In more recent times, several Western artists and thinkers have used it in fields as diverse as psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, music, film, drama, dance, eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

, and fiction writing.

Prior to the Tokugawa period (1603–1868 AD) in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the I Ching was little known and used mostly for divination until Buddhist monks popularized the Chinese classic for its philosophical, cultural and political merits in other literate groups such as the samurai. The Hagakure
Hagakure
Hagakure , or is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo, former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of what is now the Saga prefecture in Japan...

, a collection of commentaries on the Way of the Warrior
Bushido
, meaning "Way of the Warrior-Knight", is a Japanese word which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and...

, cautions against mistaking it for a work of divination.

Commentary


Early Chinese civilization
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

, as with western civilization, accepted various pre-scientific explanations of natural events, and the I Ching has been cited as an example of this. As a manual of divination it interpreted natural events through readings based on symbols expressed in the trigrams and hexagrams. Thus any observation in nature could be interpreted as to its significance and cause. This might be compared to the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 practice of basing decisions on the state of animals' livers. While usually sympathetic to the claims of Chinese culture and science, Joseph Needham
Joseph Needham
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, CH, FRS, FBA , also known as Li Yuese , was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and as a fellow of the British...

, in his second volume of Science and Civilization in China (p. 311) stated: "Yet really they [Han dynasty scholars] would have been wiser to tie a millstone about the neck of the I Ching and cast it into the sea".

Abraham (1999) states that Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

' ten commentaries, called the Ten Wings, transformed the I Ching from a divination text into a "philosophical masterpiece". It was this form of the I Ching that inspired the post-Warring States Taoists. It has influenced Confucians and other philosophers and scientists ever since. However, Helmut Wilhelm in his Change/Eight Lectures on the I Ching, cautions: "It can no longer be said with certainty whether any of the material—and if any, how much—comes from Confucius' own hand".

Translations


  • Anthony, Carol K. and Moog, Hanna. (2002). I Ching: The Oracle of the Cosmic Way. Stow, MA: Anthony Publishing Company, Inc., ISBN 1-890764-00-0.
  • Balkin, Jack M. (2002). The Laws of Change: I Ching and the Philosophy of Life. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 0-8052-4199-X.
  • Barrett, Hilary. (2010). Walking your path, creating your future. London: Arcturus Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-84837-453-9.
  • Benson, Robert G. (2003). I Ching for a New Age: The Book of Answers for Changing Times. New York: Square One Publishers.
  • Blofeld, J.
    John Blofeld
    John Eaton Calthorpe Blofeld was a British writer on Asian thought and religion, especially Taoism and Chinese Buddhism.-Early life:Blofeld was born in London in 1913...

     (1965). The Book of Changes: A New Translation of the Ancient Chinese I Ching. New York: E. P. Dutton.
  • Chang, Tuck (2008). Unveiling The Mystery of I Ching. Taiwan: www.iching123.com.
  • Cornelius, J. Edward and Cornelius, Marlene (1998). Yî King: A Beastly Book of Changes, Red Flame: A Thelemic Research Journal, Issue 5. Aleister Crowley's notes and comments.
  • Huang, Alfred (1998). The Complete I Ching: the Definitive Translation From the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
  • Hua-Ching Ni (2nd ed. 1999). I Ching: The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth. Los Angeles: Seven Star Communications.
  • Karcher, Stephen (2002). I Ching: The Classic Chinese Oracle of Change: The First Complete Translation with Concordance. London: Vega Books. ISBN 1-84333-003-2. Multiple alternative translations.
  • Legge, James (1964). I Ching: Book of Changes, With introduction and study guide by Ch'u Chai and Winberg Chai. New York: Citadel Press. 19th century translation.
  • Pearson, Margaret (2011). The Original I Ching: An Authentic Translation of the Book of Changes. Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing
    Tuttle Publishing
    Tuttle Publishing, originally the Charles E. Tuttle Company, is a book publishing company that includes Tuttle, Periplus Editions, and Journey Editions...

    . ISBN 978-0-8048-4181-8. Removes gender-based yin/yang abstractions added by later Chinese commentators that do not exist in the original.
  • Shaughnessy, Edward L. (1996). I Ching, The Classic of Changes. Ballantine. New York: ISBN 0-345-36243-8. First English translation of the Mawangdui texts (c. 200 BC).
  • Wilhelm, Richard
    Richard Wilhelm
    Richard Wilhelm was a German sinologist, as well as theologian and missionary. He is best remembered for his translations of philosophical works from Chinese into German that in turn have been translated into other major languages of the world, including English...

     and Baynes, Cary (1967). The I Ching or Book of Changes, With foreword by Carl Jung
    Carl Jung
    Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

    . 3rd. ed., Bollingen Series XIX. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

     (1st ed. 1950). Very well respected.

  • Lynn, Richard J. (1994). The Classic of Changes, A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi
    Wang Bi
    Wang Bi , style name Fusi , was a Chinese neotaoist philosopher.-Biography:Wang Bi's most important works are commentaries on Laozi's Dao De Jing and the I Ching. The text of the Dao De Jing that appeared with his commentary was widely considered as the best copy of this work until the discovery of...

    . New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08294-0.
  • Wu Wei (revised 2005). I Ching, The Book Of Answers. Malibu, CA: Power Press. ISBN 0-943015-41-3.
  • Cheng Yi (1988, 2003). I Ching: The Book of Change, Trans. by Thomas Cleary. Boston, London: Shambhala Publications
    Shambhala Publications
    Shambhala Publications is an independent publishing company based in Boston, Massachusetts. According to the company, it specializes in "books that present creative and conscious ways of transforming the individual, the society, and the planet". Many of its books deal with Buddhism or related topics...

    . ISBN 1-59030-015-7.

See also

  • Ba gua
  • Yin and yang
    Yin and yang
    In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

  • Feng Shui
    Feng shui
    Feng shui ' is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu ....

  • Qi Men Dun Jia
    Qi Men Dun Jia
    Qi Men Dun Jia is an ancient form of divination from China, which is still in use in China, Taiwan, Singapore and the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia...

  • Da Liu Ren
    Da Liu Ren
    Da Liu Ren is a form of Chinese calendrical astrology dating from the later Warring States period.Along with the divination methods Qi Men Dun Jia 奇门遁甲 and Taiyi 太乙—collectively known as the "Three Styles" —Da Liu Ren is considered in China to be one of the highest forms of Chinese metaphysics.It...

  • T'ai chi ch'uan

External links


/ Wilhelm, Baynes “The I Ching or Book of Changes” (Association Française des Professeurs de Chinois)