A Note on Principles
Some of the principles described here do not exactly originate from the I Ching, but they can help explain briefly what makes the I Ching work. While there is more mystery to the I Ching than the mind can comprehend, these principles provide us a first step as to how we can connect with the I Ching’s wisdom.
The unexpected turns in our life often surprise us: like thinking of a friend you haven’t seen for the longest time from whom you would get an out-of-the-blue call later; or perhaps just being where you are in a particular moment, which turns out to be the right place at right time, moving you to make major life decisions.
These events are what Carl Jung called synchronicity or meaningful coincidences. According to Jung, synchronicity can happen when you do the I Ching, because the question you ask, and the coins you randomly cast, and the hexagram you get are all different events that would later come up with an exact insight or connection that corresponds or answers your question.
Synchronicity is always at work in the I Ching, and it never fails to fascinate those who seek it for answers.
British sinologist Joseph Needham once explained that Correlative Thinking is the way Chinese think. Instead of analyzing or predicting based on logic, Chinese thinking is about finding correlations of seemingly separate or different events. Often, this is about correlating the natural or cosmic phenomena with a person’s dynamic within oneself or with other people.
This is how it works in the I Ching. For example, when the element of fire comes as an insight, it may correlate with either person’s light or bright knowing (against a dark situation), or with what rages or burns, or with warmth and welcome. This fire can represent the person’s emotions, thoughts, interaction with others, or consequences of his/her decisions.
When the I Ching is properly used and understood, it brings what Dutch I Ching translator Rudolf Ritsema referred to as Shen Ming, a “bright spirit that is creative, clear seeing, and connected.”
In today’s terms, we call this intuition, or both the ability and the experience of inner knowing, of being divinely guided. Some may not believe in spirit, but there is a generous share of experiencing “lightbulb,” “aha!” and “eureka” moments of discovering new ideas or unseen connections. It can also mean silent epiphanies that bring serene and calm assurance of answered prayers or simply stumbling upon a sign that most of us want to get first if we are to pursue a particular decision.
Such experiences attest to a state of clarity and certainty that seems to guide us in times of crossroads or dark situations when we are too clueless and helpless. The I Ching, after all, is such a timeless tool that helps as an illuminating guidance.
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