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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.

4 responses to The future of the Yijing?

  1. I think that to understand that ending you must also understand Richard and where he stands. I had a similar opinion about his Fathoming the Cosmos book, back in 2010, in which I ended up having a really nice email exchange with him. PM me.

    • Will do. I have plenty of respect for people who study Yi without using it for divination – starting with Legge and going on from there. I’d be lost without them. But for the duration of that paragraph, at least, he rather seems to have forgotten that Yi’s an oracle and has conversations with people. A slightly comical oversight.

  2. Maybe it doesn’t need to be anymore in the future than it has been in the past.Humankind’s social, cultural, economic and individual needs will be ever changing. The Yi will remain a constancy of wisdom outlining the avenues of change and the roads around, behind, through, over and under the change situationWhatever we project onto the Yi as it’s future use says more about us and our hopes and fears for the future than it does about the Yi world.

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