The I Ching, also known as the “Book of Changes” and as the “Classic of Changes” and as “Zhouyi,” is one of the most ancient of the Chinese classic texts.
However, Western cultures seem to only regard the I Ching as a decision making tool when in fact it is the very heart of ancient Chinese wisdom and philosophy.
The book contains a system of divination or method of fortune-telling using a collection of 64 hexagrams. Each hexagram would have a stack of six horizontal lines some unbroken and some with a gap in the center. Every hexagram would have a deep meaning or significance attached to it.
Each line of a hexagram completed with these methods is either stable (young) or changing (old); therefore, there are four possible variations for each line, consistent with the cycle of change from yin to yang and back again:
Old yin (yin changing into yang), which has the number 6 and symbol –X–
Young yang (unchanging yang), which has the number 7 and symbol ——
Young yin (unchanging yin), which has the number 8 and symbol — —
Old yang (yang changing into yin), which has the number 9 and symbol –O–
Once a hexagram is created, each line would be interpreted as either changing (old) or unchanging (young). Old yin is perceived as more powerful than young yin, and old yang is more powerful than young yang. Any line in a hexagram that is old (“changing”) adds additional significance to that hexagram.
I Ching is also known as “Yi Jing.” “Yi” as a verb that stands for “to change” or replace one thing with another thing, and is also an adjective that stands for “simple and easy.” “Jing” implies something that is permanent, unchanging, and something written that is of classic origin. The meaning behind this book runs quite deep. There are three concepts that it contains:
1. Simplicity – there is one law or power behind everything.
2. Variability – the constant change that surrounds us.
3. Persistency – those laws, aspects and effects that never change.
The Traditional View of the I Ching
More recently, the I Ching has been mainly used as a method of fortune telling, yet historically it has also been a major source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom in China for millennia.
According to tradition, the I Ching was written by the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi who, according to one source, reigned (or lived?) 115 years from 2953 B. C. to 2838 B. C. The details of his life are engulfed in legend and mystery, while the actual origin of the I Ching may have been a divination method used in prehistoric times, at least as far back as 5000 B. C.
According to legend, Fu Hsi was blessed with the knowledge of the eight (8) triagrams which are eight (8) three-lined hexagrams representing heaven, wind, water, mountain, earth, thunder, fire, and lake. By the time another ruler of legendary status began residing over China from 2194 B. C. until 2149 B. C. the (8) triagrams allegedly changed into the sixty-four (64) hexagrams as documented in the scripture Lian Shan.
Sometime between 1099 B. C. and 1050 B. C., King Wen and the Duke of Chou added various commentaries to this ancient text. During the period of 722 B. C. until 481 B. C. Confucius was assumed (according to tradition) to have written the “Shi Yi” or “Ten Wings” which is a compilation of further explanations on the I Ching. During the Western Han Dynasty around 200 B. C., Shi Yi was also called, “Yi Zhuan” or “Commentary on the I Ching.” In the meantime, “Zhou Yi” or “Changes of Zhou” was also added.
Modernist View of the History of the I Ching
Considerable research into the Shang and Zhou dynasty (1122 B. C. – 256 B. C.) oracle bones, Zhou bronze inscriptions and other evidence revealed that rather than being the work of one or several legendary or historical figures, the core divinatory text is presently considered to be an accumulation of Western Zhou divinatory concepts. Even the traditional idea that Confucius wrote the Shi Yi was doubted by 11th century A. D. scholar, Ouyang Xiu after a close analysis of the text, and today’s scholars attribute most of them to the more recent Warring States period of 403 or 475 B. C. to 256 or 221 B. C. with some parts originating as late as the Western Han period of 206 B. C. to 220 A. D.
During the 1970’s, Chinese excavators found complete Han dynasty tombs in Mawangdui close to Changsha, Hunan province. One of the tombs contained the Mawangdui Silk Texts, a second century B. C. adaptation of the I Ching, the “Dao De Jing” and similar texts. This variation of the I Ching was created from an archaic text version for the use of its Han patron.
As has come to pass with many other archaic esoteric teachings, the I Ching also found its way into modern society and throughout the Western world. The I Ching is now adopted by various practitioners to be applied to the many difficulties of today’s society. It is now practiced in a similar way as the Tarot, astrology, numerology, palmistry and other related fortune telling methods.
Many fine pieces of jewelry based on the I Ching have also been fashioned in the form of silver and gold pendants depicting a “Yin Yang” symbol in the middle with eight (8) triagrams around the sides with “What was will be again, what happened will happen again. There’s nothing new under the sun.” written in Hebrew all around its eight (8) sided outer edge.
Sacred geometry illustrates the unity of life in our world like no other field of study can. The sacred geometry symbol, Flower of Life, for instance, adorned churches, cathedrals, temples and pyramids for centuries with its amazing beauty, while bridging all manner of religions, cultures and times. There seems to be something deeply natural, spiritual and aesthetically pleasing about the Flower of Life, for example. From both a mystical and analytical direction of approach, the concepts of sacred geometry have always been quite fascinating. This subject is ancient, vast and versatile. Nearly all classic artwork and architecture is based on it. Sacred geometry can be either taught for scientific reasons or enjoyed for its mystical and spiritual enrichment.
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