Jung and I Ching
In his introduction to the English version of I Ching made by one of his
acquaintance*, Jung admits having
practiced the oracle 30 years before meeting Richard Wilhelm, the German translator of the book. Jung was
interested in the method of exploration of the unconscious. He said:
Pa-kua, the eight trigrams which form the basis
of I Ching.
For more than thirty years I have interested myself in this oracle technique, or method of exploring the unconscious, for it has seemed to me of uncommon significance. I was already fairly
familiar with the I Ching when I first met Wilhelm in the early nineteen twenties; he confirmed for me then what I already knew, and taught me many things more. (Foreword to the I Ching, I Ching,
Using the oracle with his patients in psychotherapy Jung could remember a great deal of meaningful answers. He recalled the story of a patient stuck between ambivalent feelings related to a girl
he wanted to ask out (actually the patient suffered from a mother complex). The response of I Ching was hexagram 44, entitled Coming to Meet, which worn saying: One should not marry such a maiden.
But how this book manages to give us such inspired answers, asked himself Jung? And he answered: ...A certain
curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is
a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance. (Foreword to the I Ching...
Fu Hsi is the creator of the pa-kua (eight trigrams). He is depicted as a head sitting on a mountain, showing
the trigram chart
This principle matches the curious mode of functioning of the ancient Chinese mind. Again Jung:
The Chinese mind, as I see it at work in the I Ching, seems to be exclusively preoccupied with the chance aspect of events. What we call coincidence seems to be the chief
concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed. (Foreword to the I Ching...)
In other words: ...Whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him the hexagram
was the exponent of the moment in which it was cast. (Foreword to the I Ching...)
Psyche and matter are not separated in fact, nor are the inner and outer worlds. In concordance with the synchronicity
principle, the psychic events and those happening in the outside world may have an acausal, almost simultaneous appearance, a so-called coincidence, and this is why one can use even the ancient method
of consulting the oracle to cure neurosis.
Finally: The ancient Chinese mind contemplates the cosmos in a way comparable to that of the modern physicist, who cannot deny
that his model of the world is a decidedly psychophysical structure. The psychophisical event includes the observer just as much as the reality underlying the I Ching comprises subjective,
i.e., psychic conditions in the totality of the momentary situation. (Foreword to the I Ching...)
As for the practice of I Ching, Jung offers a sample on how to
handle the oracle and interpret its answers in his substantial introduction to the book.*
Treating of Jung and I Ching, and the usage of I Ching in dream analysis and Jungian psychotherapy:
-> Jung and I Ching (PDF) -
-> I Ching and Psychotherapy (PDF) - click here.
-> Example of Using I Ching in Dream Interpretation (PDF) -
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* The Wilhelm/Baynes edition is the English translation supervised by Jung. You may buy it online from Amazon.com - here's the link: https://amzn.to/2LU0Cbz.
Understanding the I Ching by Hellmut Wilhelm explains the main features of the book. You may order it from Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/2ExGExx.