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The future of the Yijing?

The future of the Yijing?

My publishers have asked me to come up with a short introduction outlining the history of the Yi. So – wanting to do a good, thorough job – I have started by reading Richard J. Smith’s The I Ching: a biography. It’s a fascinating book, very readable, and it’s given me much more insight into the tradition and influence of the Yi through the millennia.

And… here’s its final paragraph, listing all the things he can imagine might happen to the Yi in future:

What, then, does the future hold for the Yijing, both domestically and internationally? No one can answer this question with certainty, of course, but it will probably continue to serve as a source of inspiration for creative thinkers, East and West, as it has for many hundreds of years. It will also continue to be studied by Chinese scholars as a foundational cultural document, with possible practical applications in the modern world. And it will no doubt continue to be translated by foreigners eager to understand and transmit its arcane wisdom for scholarly purposes or commercial gain. Perhaps most important, it will continue to offer us new opportunities for the comparative study of the lives of great religious books – how they came to be born, how they evolved, and how they traveled across space and time. By engaging in such comparisons we will not only learn more about other cultures; we will also assuredly learn more about ourselves.

And there ends this nice, erudite book. The Yi can be an artistic and cultural inspiration, or an object of commercial or scholarly interest, especially for comparative studies.

Can anyone here think of anything else it might be? Maybe even some other way it could help us learn more about ourselves?

Good grief.

The well in the valley

The well in the valley

Hexagram 48 line 6 says, ‘The well gathers, Don’t cover it. There is truth and confidence, Good fortune from the source.’ Bradford Hatcher, who has dug more wells than your average Yijing scholar, suggests that this is an artesian well, one where the water rises spontaneously. That certainly fits with my experience of the line,… Continue Reading

When Yi says ‘me’

When Yi says ‘me’

By and large, we know what sort of thing we expect Yi to say (though not, heaven knows, what it will say): ‘Here’s what you’re doing’ or ‘here’s what would happen’ or ‘here’s how to cope with that’ – something along those lines, describing or advising. Only every now and then – just eleven times, in… Continue Reading

‘If, then’

‘If, then’

Possibly the most Frequently Asked Question about interpreting readings: ‘This line says one thing, but that one says the opposite! How can I make sense of the reading when it contradicts itself?’ It happens a lot: you ask how to go about something, and one hexagram says it’s fruitful to cross the great river, and… Continue Reading

Hexagram 27, Nourishment

Name and Nature The name of Hexagram 27 translates literally not as ‘Nourishment’ but as ‘Jaws’ – not something we call it, because shark. But it does help to remember that it’s not specifically about nourishment (of whatever kind), but rather about the framework that makes nourishment possible. Just looking at the shape of the… Continue Reading

What’s wrong with carting corpses, anyway?

Simple Two lines in Hexagram 7, the Army, talk about carting corpses: line 3: ‘Perhaps the army carts corpses. Pitfall.’ and line 5: ‘The fields have game Fruitful to speak of capture: No mistake. When the elder son leads the army, And younger son carts corpses: Constancy, pitfall.’ The core meaning is surely intuitively obvious:… Continue Reading

The noises of Hexagram 37, line 3

The noises of Hexagram 37, line 3

Line 3 of Hexagram 37, People in the Home, is full of noise and emotion: ‘People in the home scold and scold, Regrets, danger: good fortune. Wife and child giggle and giggle. In the end, shame.’ What’s the story behind this? Traditional interpretation… Read any traditional translation – Wilhelm/Baynes, Lynn, or Tuck Chang – and… Continue Reading

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