The object of this blog is a book. A talking book. A book much favoured by Carl Jung. A book translated from the original chinese characters into german by Richard Wilhelm, and subsequently rendered into english by Cary F. Baynes. Here's a french version.
Here's what Hellmut Wilhelm, Richard Wilhelm's son, has to say at the beginning of his Preface to the Third Edition.
It is with delight and not without a certain pride that I see this translation of the Book of Changes presented in a new edition. The fact of its widespread and continuing acceptance stands as a justification of my father's conviction, the propagation of which he took as his calling, that the overwhelming importance of the book within the history and the system of Chinese thought would be borne out when tested against general, and not only specifically Chinese, human conditions and against general, and not only specifically Chinese, processes of the human mind.
Here's what Carl Jung says.
Since I am not a Sinologue, a foreword to the Book of Changes from my hand must be a testimonial of my individual experience with this great and singular book. It also affords me a welcome opportunity to pay tribute again to the memory of my late friend, Richard Wilhelm. He himself was profoundly aware of the cultural significance of the I Ching, a version unrivalled in the West.
A talking book. "Ah, you mean an oracle," said a friend of mine.
Here's Carl Jung again.
In order to understand what such a book is all about, it is imperative to cast off certain prejudices of the Western mind. It is a curious fact that such a gifted and intelligent people as the Chinese never developed what we call science. Our science, however, is based upon the principle of causality, and causality is considered to be an axiomatic truth. But a great change in our standpoint is setting in. What Kant's Critique of Pure Reason failed to do, is being accomplished by modern physics. The axioms of causality are being shaken to their foundations: we know now that what we term natural laws are merely statistical truths and thus must necessarily allow for exceptions. We have not sufficiently taken into account as yet that we need the laboratory with its incisive restrictions in order to demonstrate the invariable validity of natural law. If we leave things to nature, we see a very different picture: every process is partially or totally interfered with by chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception.
Ah yes, wordy nonsense to say nothing much very slowly... Because the world, as we know, works itself out according to laws, and if we were Gods we would see the whole mechanism, right down to our every thought, developing inexorably from what came before...
Here's Jung again.
The Chinese mind, as I see it at work in the I Ching, seems to bee exclusively preoccupied with the chance aspects of events. What we call coincidence seems to be the chief concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed. We must admit that there is something to be said for the immense importance of chance. An incalculable amount of human effort is directed to combating and restricting the nuisance and danger represented by chance.
Well, chance is chance. Exceptions to the rule merely prove the rule.
The manner in which the I Ching tends to look upon reality seems to disfavour our causalistic procedures. The moment under actual observation appears to the ancient Chinese view more of a chance hit than a clearly defined result of concurring causal chain processes. The matter of interest seems to be the configuration formed by chance events in the moment of observation, and not at all the hypothetical reasons that seemingly account for the coincidence. While the Western mind carefully sifts, weighs, selects, classifies, isolates, the Chinese picture of the moment encompasses everything down to the minutest nonsensical detail, because all of the ingredients make up the observed moment.
Well, you can agree or disagree, or take sides, chose one over the other.
The Structure of the I Ching
...is very simple. We start with lines. They can be a yang line.
No, I mean a simple, unbroken, horizontal line.
I've lost you, haven't I? Religious mumbo jumbo emanating from a no doubt worthy society but irrelevant to your every day concerns.
(yin is a broken line --- ---)
(You throw your coins or your yarrow stalks, or roll your dice and end up with six lines, one above the other, like this:
There are sixty four possible combinations of broken and unbroken lines. These are the sixty four hexagrams of the I Ching.)
Yes, it's nonsense. Divination. Dungeons and Dragons without the rococo gothic edges, mumbo jumbo of the highest order.
Here's Cary F. Baynes's (the translator's) opinion of the I Ching.
Of far greater significance than the use of the Book of Changes as an oracle is its other use, namely, as a book of wisdom. Lao-tse [writer of the Tao Te Ching] knew this book, and some of his profoundest aphorisms were inspired by it. Indeed his whole thought is permeated with its teachings. Confucius too knew the Book of Changes and devoted himself to reflection upon it. He probably wrote down some of his interpretative comments and imparted others to his pupils in oral teaching. The Book of Changes as edited and annotated by Confucius is the version that has come down to our time.
When Was it Written?
In Chinese literature four holy men are cited as the authors of the Book of Changes, namely, Fu Hsi, King Wen, the Duke of Chou, and Confucius. Fu Hsi is a legendary figure representing the era of hunting and fishing and of the invention of cooking. The fact that he is designated as the inventor of the linear signs of the Book of Changes means that they have been held to be of such antiquity that they antedate historical memory.
Here's Fu Hsi.
Yes, yes. Ancient ancient history, our past before we knew of past present and future. Or when we first started grappling with such concepts, after all, the english translation of the chinese title I Ching is The Book of Changes.
Change. The one constant. A roman emperor (or was it Solomon?)asked a philosopher (or an aide, or an astrologer, or a friend) to come up with a single phrase which would be true at all times, to be inscribed on a medal which the emperor could wear around his neck and refer to in times of need. The philosopher, or aide, or astrologer, or friend came up with the following:
This, too, must pass
The Book of Changes
So, enough preamble. Let's throw our coins and see what the I Ching offers today.
(Or you can use pennies, or cents.)
But...if I throw the coins, won't the I Ching only speak to me? Well, it will speak with relevance to me....or will it? Enough words, let's throw the coins.
Po / Splitting Apart
(A quick note to say that the hexagram (six lines) is seen as made up of two three-line sets; one below and one above. In this case, Po is made up of the two tetragrams: K'UN (below) -- THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH and KEN (above) -- KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN.
For each hexagram there is judgement an image, and an extrapolation from each to explain what was (or might have been) meant. There are famous commentaries on these judgements and images, notably by the Duke of Chou...and some lines move...
SPLITTING APART. It does not further one to go anywhere.
The mountain rests on the earth:
The image of SPLITTING APART.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.
But, you see, I had a moving fifth (second from top) line, so my broken fifth became an unbroken fifth, which creates a whole new hexagram... Because moving lines (it depends on whether you get all three coins the same--I did one time, at the fifth line)...so, a moving line means the first hexagram is WHERE YOU IS AT, and the second hexagram is WHERE YOU IS GOING. But not me, oh no. Not you, not any of us.
Because this is all mystical nonsense, remember? Jung was crazy, and so was Richard Wilhelm for thinking his translation meant anything more than the addition of some dusty, and wrong-headed, thinking to our canon of Books Which Meant Something But Don't Any More.
So the following extended analysis of hexagram number twenty, Kuan / Contemplation (View) refers to nothing and no one outside the fantasies of those whose heads haven't been screwed on appropriately.
20. Kuan / Contemplation (View)
above SUN -- THE GENTLE, WIND
below K'UN -- THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH
CONTEMPLATION. The ablution has been made,
But not yet the offering.
Full of trust they look up to him.
The sacrificial ritual in China began with an ablution and a libation by which the Deity was invoked, after which the sacrifice was offered. The moment of time between these two ceremonies is the most sacred of all, the moment of deepest inner concentration. If piety is sincere and expressive of real faith, the contemplation of it has a transforming and awe-inspiring effect on those who witness it.
Thus also in nature a holy seriousness is to be seen in the fact that natural occurrences are uniformly subject to law. Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man [or woman] who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects. This requires that power of inner concentration which religious contemplation develops in great men strong in faith. It enables them to apprehend the mysterious and divine laws of life, and by means of profoundest
"I mean, it's a loud of pseudo nonsense bollocks, right? I mean ,come on!"
...inner concentration they give expression to these laws in their own persons. Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing and dominating others without their being aware of how it happens.
("Hasn't he finished yet? It's like church, only more boring." "For this very scenario, my friend, a wise person invented the BACK button.")
(Cough! Splutter! Those terrible twenty-first century attention spans!)
The wind blows over the earth:
The image of CONTEMPLATION.
Thus the kings of old visited the regions of the world,
Contemplated the people,
And gave them instruction.
When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power. These two occurrences find confirmation in the hexagram. The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could,
Who is the ruler? You? Or are you the ruled? Or do such roles have no meaning these days?
...in the first place, survey his [or her] realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed.
But we don't believe in that, do we? We don't believe in the ruler and the ruled. We don't believe in Leaders and The Lead. Certainly not in despots who decide what will be done and what won't be done. Too much power in one human's paws...
All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality. On the one hand, such a man [or woman] will have a view of the real sentiments
(I'm annoyed at having to add [or woman]...really, the feminist revolution is barely begun, ,sisters. Before all else, the freedom of the female from male superiority complexes. Or is it all written in our D.N.A. Well, thank the goddesses that we don't have men ruling over us...
of the great mass of humanity and therefore cannot be deceived; on the other, she will impress the people so profoundly, by her mere existence and by the impact of her personality, that they will be swayed by her as the grass by the wind.
Enough of this nonsense, which I enjoyed writing and I hope you enjoyed reading.