I Ching commentaries

These are some of the most helpful I Ching books available, especially when you're just setting out to get to know the I Ching - though definitely not only then! They are complete commentaries on the I Ching, every hexagram and every line, so that you never need be left wondering what to make of the ancient imagery.

Many of these books are actually sold as 'translations'. They're not! A translation gives you the real words of the oracle, difficult imagery and all. And if you want to have real contact with the I Ching itself, then you definitely need a real translation. Sometimes it is good to spend time wondering what to make of the ancient image you've been given. But a really good commentary can be a wonderful support and guide.

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The Everyday I Ching

Sarah Dening
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This is my top recommended commentary. I've lost count of the number of people who've told me how helpful it was to them - and especially, what a relief it was to turn to an I Ching book that really made sense to them, personally. And for myself - I've taken extensive notes from the whole book so I can refer to them quickly on the computer!

I'm not sure what makes this book so especially good. Perhaps it's Sarah Dening's wide-ranging experience using the I Ching in her work as a psychotherapist. Her work isn't just unusually clear and helpful, it's also - in my opinion - unusually true to the spirit of the I Ching.

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A Guide to the I Ching

Carol Anthony
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This is a complete commentary, with extensive notes on every line, all based on personal experience. It would probably be of most benefit to people who use the I Ching in the same way as the author: without a question in mind, as a starting point for meditation. This has the advantage of not limiting the I Ching to a topic of her own choice, but the disadvantage that it is very hard for her to be surprised by it when she decides, after she has seen the answer, what it is talking about. Perhaps this is why the feeling I get from her book is that the I Ching says much the same thing 64 times. She believes that the I Ching in its entirety is a monolithic rule-book for life; I believe that, in use, the I Ching responds to the unique moment, and that the different hexagrams give completely different, mutually exclusive advice. Well, we have a different approach!

Despite my personal preferences, I know that this book has stood the test of time. Many people find Carol Anthony's work on the I Ching to be the most profound and useful there is: just visit Amazon and read those enthusiastic reviews!

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The I Ching Made Easy

Roderic Sorrell, Amy Max Sorrell
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There are a great many books available that purport to make the I Ching easy, 'instant' or learnable in 11 minutes - the question is whether what results is really still the I Ching. The I Ching is a book of life - and as 'easy' as that is; why would you want to 'make it' something different? So I have to admit that I'm prejudiced against any book with a title like this. And yet...

...I've developed a great respect for this book. I find I turn to it suprisingly often for its fresh, clear perspective. It's definitely the best of the 'instant' I Ching books by far.

It provides an easy method of consultation that always creates precisely one moving line, and replaces most of the original text with simple advice. Unusually, though, it does retain much of the original imagery. What's more, both the introduction and the translation/simplification reveal a genuine knowledge of the I Ching. The hexagrams are interspersed with real-life readings, showing how the I Ching works in practice.

This is a good, simple introduction to the I Ching. It also works extremely well as a commentary you can use alongside a complete translation. It's a good starting point for the cautious beginner, but even if you're an experienced diviner you might still find this interesting. (Well, I do!) There's good material on the trigrams, for instance, and a great introduction to the role of the different line positions.

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