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Jung and I Ching

In his introduction to the English version of I Ching made by one of his acquaintance, Jung admits having

pa kua
Pa-kua, the eight trigrams which form the basis
of  I Ching
.
practiced the oracle 30 years before meeting Richard Wilhelm, the German translator of the book. He was interested in the method of exploration of the unconscious. He said:

    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).

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.

Fu Hsi the creator of 8 trigrams
Fu Hsi is the creator of the 8 trigrams. He is depicted like a head sitting on a mountain with the trigrams chart before him
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.

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.

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.

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 way 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 microphysical 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.

As for the practice of I Ching, Jung offers a sample of how to handle the oracle in his substantial introduction to the book. You may download his introductory study from here.

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    Online Resources:
    -> More information about I Ching (content, philosophy, practice, a work-in-progress English version, and more) may be found here.

    -> Information about Jung's experience with the I Ching and his meeting with Richard Wilhelm (the German translator of the Book) may be found in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections , the chapter entitled Richard Wilhelm. You may buy this book from our Amazon bookstore by clicking the following link: http://astore.amazon.com/freudandpsychoan/detail/0679723951/184-3412057-8104421

    -> The Wilhelm/Baynes version of the Book including the introductory study wrote by Jung may be purchased from our Amazon bookstore: http://astore.amazon.com/freudandpsychoan/detail/069109750X

    -> You may study I Ching online by taking our email course intended for beginners - click here to learn more.

    -> A paper showing how one may use I Ching when dealing with dreams may be ordered from our paperstore here.


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