As we’ve mentioned before on our website, our clients don’t just get in touch with us to book appointments, but also to gain a deeper understanding of the schools of thought that inform our practices.

We recently introduced the concept of the I Ching in one of our blog posts, and since then we’ve had some interest in expanding upon what this is from our clients. We found that a deeper explanation was contained in a recent email response we sent to a client who was interested in learning more. So, we’ve repurposed that response as our newest blog post. Read on to find out more.

In one single, simple sentence, what exactly is the I Ching?

Albert Einstein famously said that “if you cannot explain your subject to your four year old grandson, then you do not know that subject.”

Clearly there is a lot of wisdom in Einstein’s comment, however, not all subjects are accessible via a one sentence overview, particularly when there is a practical, hands-on aspect to that subject.

This question reminds me of the ancient Indian folk-tale (1) where a group of blind men encountered an elephant and individually begin patting it down with their hands in an attempt to get an idea of what they are dealing with through their sense of touch. Later on, the men begin to discuss their individual elephant experiences. The first man, who had touched the tail, remarked that it was just like a rope, Then the man who had been exploring a leg, declared that it was more like a tree. The man who had explored an ear, commented that it was like a sheet of leather that might have been delivered to a cobbler’s shop or to a book- binder. The complexity of those experiences is a fitting metaphor for a creature like an elephant, or equally, for an ancient Confucian literary classic!

We discussed the relation to Carl Jung in our first post on the I Ching, had he left any accounts of how he used the I Ching when he applied it to analysing his psycho-therapeutic clients?

As far as Jung’s collected works are concerned, there does not appear to be any significant section on the I Ching or Jung’s use of it with patients. However, Jung’s well known preface to the Richard Wilhelm edition of the I Ching, tells us quite a bit about Jung’s knowledge of the text.

Separate from that, Maria Louise Von Franz, who at one time was the Director of the Jung Institute in Zurich, in various books has given us several snippets of information on Jung and the I Ching, including Jung’s assertion that not only are numbers archetypes but are “the basic building blocks of matter and the psyche.” (2)

To understand the I Ching is a complex and oftentimes individual experience. There are many different interpretations of the text across cultures and generations, however many seem to base their understanding of the text and its subsequent influence on them as moralistic in nature. The I Ching can be a source of guidance for the reader, however reaching this understanding and guidance is not always simple – as are many of the best things in life!

Brian Fleming has studied the I Ching for decades, and has been around to see the changes in interpretation and experience of the text over time. Therefore, he is well placed to answer your questions on the text, help aid your understanding of it, or simply to discuss your own findings. You can contact Brian here, and keep an eye on our blog for future posts discussing the I Ching here.

(1) Penzer N.M. The Ocean Of story. Soma Deva,s Katha sarit Sagara
Privately printed in 10 volumes for subscribers, London 1924.

(2) Franz. Von, Maria Louise. “Number and Time London rider 1970.