Monday, December 31, 2007

It's Kinda Like the Eight Ball
"Understanding The I-Ching"
by Hellmut and Richard Wilhelm

In keeping with my curiosity about Eastern philosophy, the I Ching, or Book of Changes, seemed a logical read. I read another book on the I Ching that I'll not blog, because this one give more of an encompassing view of the I Ching.

The I Ching, or "Book of Changes", is an ancient text that is consulted by tossing yarrow stalks (now coins, using heads or tails to count) that gives advice on life and situations that arise. The responses can be as varied and ambiguous as "Lends grace to the beard on his chin" to "Graceful and moist, constant perseverance brings good fortune." Sounds like fortune cookies, and the responses could even mimic that of the general horoscope, but the I Ching is supposed to go deeper than that.

So deep that some people, like Richard Wilhelm, spend their entire life studying the I Ching and it's responses. Luckily some of his lectures were collected and edited by his son so that people like me, who are just curious, can check it out without the commitment of reading the source text.

While I'm not that into tossing coins in a random fashion and following the advice that corresponds to their numbers, the philosophy and the background of the I Ching is much more my style. I like the messages, I like that there are 64 hexagrams, and that combined they encompass any and every change in the chaotic world. Essentially, the I Ching takes the chaos of the universe and orders it into 64 interrelated categories. It's a fascinating thing to see, and just another extension of the worldview that everything is connected, to which I would very much like to believe.

I've heard Taoism is a major precursor to the I Ching, and I think I'll be looking into that much more in the coming months. It's a fun journey, I highly recommend it. Write me when you get there.

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