Through a Jungian Lens

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Book Of Changes and Synchronicity

with 8 comments

I-Ching - a synchronistic science

I got my first copy of the I-Ching about 40 years ago and I have had some opportunity to delve into it over the years, more out of curiosity than out of need. I found this image at the “jungquotes” site and decided to compare it to my text from 1969 and found two other versions. The version isn’t that important in my opinion, for finding value in the I-Ching.  Since I have had a particular interest in the I-Ching (Book of Changes) and the yin-yang symbol at the centre of the this image which is a pa kua (a circle containing the eight trigrams), I was intrigued when this image showed up in my e-mail inbox this morning.  Of course it sent me to get my copy of the book off the shelf (1), as well as to check out what Wikipedia had to say (reference here).

Before going further, I want to comment about the solid and broken lines. Solid lines represent the male (yang) principle, and the broken lines represent the female (yin) principle. There are eight trigrams which can be paired so as to create sixty-four hexagrams. A person can use three coins which are cast (thrown) six times in order to create a “response” to a question. The first throw provides the bottom line and each succeeding throw builds the hexagram upwards. If one gives a value of 2 to “heads” and a value of 3 to “tails” and then adds up the value of the three coins, one is able to determine whether the line is solid or broken, masculine or feminine. The even numbers s 6 and 8 yield a broken line, a feminine line. The odd numbers 7 and 9 yield a solid line, a masculine line.

I decided to try using an online I-Ching divination service (Hexagram 19 – lin) as well as to cast my own hexagram using coins (Hexagram 41 – sun) in order to answer a particular question with regards to further education and training. The basic result was that this was indeed an auspicious time, but also that downsizing or “focusing” on less would be needed if the project is to be successful.

This is where synchronicity comes into play. I have not fully decided to again return to studies for yet another degree and certificate, but I have begun to cut back on those things that would draw too much of my attention, downsizing my life so-to-speak. There are more things to be considered without relying on a “divination” tool such as the I-Ching.  Yet what is striking to me was how this casting of coins has provided an “echo” of what is already being said, done, understood.

I am interested in what my readers have to say about the I-Ching and any “synchronistic” readings they may have experienced. Please add your voices here.

(1. Legge, James (1964). I Ching: Book of Changes, With introduction and study guide by Ch’u Chai and Winberg Chai. New York: Citadel Press. 19th century translation.)


8 Responses

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  1. I recall Jung’s direct view on Eastern symbols and such were better or perhaps only really useful for a mind raised in the East. Viz. if you are a Westerner, you should stick with ‘western things’ as the collective is more approachable in the culture of you youth. I don’t recall if he thought Westerners studying Eastern things was a ‘waste of time’ per se. It is curious lots of Jungians are fond of the East and seem antipathic to ‘The West’. Like rejecting their roots.


    May 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    • Jung, the Dali Lama and others do urge us to not abandon our roots, but they both remind us that it isn’t an “either-or” situation or choice. Rather, it is about opening oneself up to hear, see, smell, taste, feel and think outside of the narrow confines of our collective, cultural boxes. It is not about rejecting, but about adding.


      June 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

  2. I have been working with the I Ching as as artist and for personal counsel for the past 40 years and more often than not when I ask a question I get a response that is a reflection of the situation – as you say, an echo. This synchronicity, while it does not always give me the magic solution I am looking for is what keeps me hooked into this amazing “book.”

    Adele Aldridge

    May 31, 2012 at 6:07 am

    • Hi Adele. I don’t actually look for “magic solutions” but I do look at what I have “found” which is a projection, which then allows me to bring it back to my “self” and ask what is it that I have projected that seems to be a magical solution. Wherever there is magic, there is a hidden part of self that is on display. That said, yes, it is an amazing book. 🙂


      June 5, 2012 at 8:56 am

  3. Jung is very, very clear that interpretations of the “I Ching,” and for that matter other alleged prophetic methods, e.g., astrology, are based on projection. The I Ching does not provided the answers, our psyche provides the responses. This is from Jung’s Forward to the I Ching:

    “These four hexagrams are in the main consistent as regards theme (vessel, pit, well); and as regards intellectual content they seem to be meaningful. Had a human being made such replies, I should, as a psychiatrist, have had to pronounce him of sound mind, at least on the basis of the material presented. Indeed, I should not have been able to discover anything delirious, idiotic, or schizophrenic in the four answers. In view of the I Ching’s extreme age and its Chinese origin, I cannot consider its archaic, symbolic, and flowery language abnormal. On the contrary, I should have had to congratulate this hypothetical person on the extent of his insight into my unexpressed state of doubt. On the other hand, any person of clever and versatile mind can turn the whole thing around and show how I have projected my subjective contents into the symbolism of the hexagrams. Such a critique, though catastrophic from the standpoint of Western rationality, does no harm to the function of the I Ching. On the contrary, the Chinese sage would smilingly tell me: “Don’t you see how useful the I Ching is in making you project your hitherto unrealized thoughts into its abstruse symbolism? You could have written your foreword without ever realizing what an avalanche of misunderstanding might be released by it.”

    John Ferric

    May 31, 2012 at 8:50 am

    • Agreed, John, it is based on projection – and that is a good thing for becoming aware of it allows us to look inward with a sense that we are not just rummaging around in a haystack looking for something we have no inkling of in terms of aspect. And that is the value of the I Ching, Tarot and other projective tools.


      June 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

  4. One of my Jungian instructors used the Tarot for the same reasons – a projection tool. He thought it more apt for the Western Mind.


    June 3, 2012 at 8:16 am

    • Some use sand trays, drawings and other expressive modes to bring life to projections so that they can be given a voice to which we can respond. Thanks for mentioning the use of Tarot.


      June 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

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