I Ching

The I Ching is a classic book of Chinese philosophy. The book’s 64 poetic chapters describe archetypal images containing various mixtures of yin and yang.

Six lines (yao) representing either yin (a broken line) or yang (a solid line) create a unique graphic image (gua) for each chapter.   For example, to the left is the gua of the eleventh chapter, known as Tai (or peace).

All possible combinations of the two elements of yin and yang in six lines (or 2 raised to the 6th power) are encompassed in the I Ching’s 64 chapters.

Each chapter describes a typical condition in human experience (such as father, mother, mountain, thunder, peace) with a poetic verse pertaining to the gua as well as a complementary verse for each of the six yao.

The simple foundation verses, traditionally attributed to King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty, are known as the Zhou I. Related commentaries ascribed by tradition to Confucius are known as the Ten Wings.  Most modern Western translations of the I Ching include the Zhou I, some or all of the Ten Wings and often some of the author’s ideas and interpretations.

Usual I Ching practice involves ceremonial random selection of gua for purposes such as contemplation and divination. A timely connection between randomly chosen gua and the practitioner’s situation is commonly part of the expected result.

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