The I Ching

The I Ching, or Book of Changes, is a book that is often considered to be Taoism "Bible", however it is perhaps best understood as a guidebook for understanding circumstance and situations. It offers allegorical stories of place and action giving the reader a sense of the forces of yin and yang at work around us.

In its use, the I Ching pertains to geological and geographic circumstance as well as socio-political action. In practicing such forms of human betterment like Tai Chi, it also provides an intellectual complement to the physical movements.

While following the I Ching will assist in one's "spiritual development" one can consider this to be the development of a sense of appropriate action given conditions in which one might find one self. In time, one comes to gain insight into the variety of conditions of human life and action and acquires a sense of higher principles that are found in the practice of Tai Chi, and other similar forms living.

Carl Jung offers commentary on the I Ching in The Richard Wilhem translation, one of the most commonly used versions in the "western" world. The use and practice of the I Ching involves one of two methods of consultation; the yarrow stalks or the coins. One "throws" the stalks or coins to acquire a "reading" of the six lines of the hexagram. Readings hexagrams is referred to by many as "Oracular" where one constructs the hexagram of yin or yang lines, stable or moving.

For example, throwing the 3 coins 6 times today gave # 47: K'un (Opression)

3 tails
3 heads
2 tails
K'an -water - pit - danger
2 heads
3 heads
3 heads
Tui -marsh - lake - pleased satisfaction

Together these trigrams give rise to

Based upon the composition of the set of lines, one of 64 possible parables is given with possible "movement" or transformation in another hexagram (Van Over, 1971) of the I Ching are presented with the Judgment, the commentary, the Great Symbolism and Lines (followed by Legge's Notes). The judgment states the situation and proper action (if any), followed by commentary. The great symbolism shows the importance and essential elements present. The lines are descriptive of the possible moving expressions.

The hexagrams are also considered to be comprised of an "inner" and "outer" trigram, identifying the two principles elements of the basic eight. With variations of solid and broken lines there are 8 trigrams from the three lines of yin or yang.

Chien Chen K'an KenK'un Sun Li Tui

Through meditation upon and consideration of the parables, their properties, and their powers, one can learn to recognise such formations in daily life. Practicing Tai Chi also involves learning the powers of the trigrams, of the basic eight elements as they can also be combined in more complex forms of movement, interacting with various circumstances or situations.


Van Over, S. (1971) Preface to i ching: (James Legge trans.) New York: New American Library.