The I Ching or Book of Changes has been used as a method of divination for more than 5,000 years, and in spite of its venerable age, modern enthusiasts insist that it is the most sophisticated method of predicting future events ever devised. Querents approach the I Ching with such questions as "What does the future hold for me?" "Should I marry now?" and throw coins. Each coin is assigned a number, so the results of the tosses are totaled to find the corresponding hexagram to learn the answers to the inquiries. The "book" consists of 64 hexagrams, each comprising six broken or unbroken lines. Although the text accompanying the I Ching does not refer to the two primal cosmic principles—the yin and the yang—in essence, the philosophical premise of the I Ching does hold that the broken line and the unbroken line can represent any pair of polar opposites, such as male/female, light/dark, and so forth.

Those who believe in the wisdom of I Ching maintain that within the 64 sections there exist teachings for every possible situation that anyone will encounter throughout his or her life. Within the hexagrams are represented numerous archetypal situations in cater-gories such as "The Rise to Power," "Proper Relationships," "Negativity," and so forth. The hidden meanings of the hexagrams were divined by ancient Chinese sages who were in tune with the philosophy of the Tao, which views human beings as creatures of nature and teaches that instincts, feelings, and imagination should be allowed to have free reign. Taoism is in sharp contrast to Confucianism, which envisions humankind as rational and moral creatures who have responsibilities to their society. The essential philosophy of Taoism is that the natural world and the Tao are one.

Those who rely on the I Ching as their dependable window to the future explain that they find this method of divination to be superior to all others because, as its name implies, it recognizes the difficulty of focusing on events that have not yet occurred and it takes into account the likelihood of changes that may most certainly occur. In fact, the basic premise of I Ching is that every situation in the panorama of human events has within its context an inherent tendency to change. While some may despair and complain that the only thing constant in life is change, those who rely on I Ching agree—but remain confident that changes occur within cycles and that these cycles may be observed, predicted, and acted upon.


Carroll, Robert Todd. "I Ching." In The Skeptic's Dictionary.[Online] http://skepdic.com/iching.html. 9 March 2002.

Dening, Sarah. The Everyday I Ching. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

Seabrook, Myles. I Ching for Everyone. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1998.

Wilhelm, Helmut, Richard Helmut, and Irene Eber. Understanding the I Ching. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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