I Ching - The Book of Changes or The Classic of Changes

The root meaning of I Ching means 'change'. It is a study on how to predict the future. The study is compiled into a book and joins the philosophies of Confucius and Tao. It has a history that dates back to 5000 years ago. I Ching originated in China.

Taoism was founded by Lao Tzu approximately 600 BC. No one knows anything about Lao Tzu except that he wrote a small book called Tao Te Ching which talks about his beliefs which comprises of tales and legends. The meaning of Tao Te Ching is 'the way and the power'; the book forms the basis of Taoism.

I Ching is made up of 64 readings. Every chapter has a differing six line hexagram and includes advice and commentaries on the various archetypal lives of people. A Chinese Emperor, Fu Xi, again a legendary figure who is said to have lived about 5000-8000 years ago brought this book about The legend has it that he created the 'line symbol system' of the eight trigrams (Gua) and the yin/yang system, the foundation of the I Ching. The concept of the trigrams lines was taken from the shell of a mysterious tortoise. He interpreted the meaning of the eight trigram symbol as representing 'reality'. It is to be noted that when one studies the I Ching as philosophy, one should read it according to the current systems of the tradition.

Confucius (Kung Fu-tze) studied I Ching and wrote his commentary on it which, even today, is present in the book as a portion of the original text. Since the last 2000 years, the philosophy of Confucius overrules all aspects in the I Ching book. His teaching give importance to relationships in all walks of a man's life. These include family, social, government and even spiritual relationships. The I Ching book advices its readers to keep to the Confucius type of ideal relationships. Still, the core of the book is Taoism.

The belief of the Chinese philosophy is that mankind is a part of the whole universe and therefore, his thoughts can affect and bring changes in his future. According to I Ching, all the forces of the universe interact with each other and are represented in the 64 hexagrams in all combinations.

The 'reality' in the hexagrams is also said to be categorized. This includes the five elements and is called the 'five element phase' or 'five states of change (Wu Hsing)'. The five elements are fire, wood, water, metal and earth. These five elements are said to have repeating patterns (or cycles). Our body parts, the natural world and the universe are all sharing the energy pattern of the same origin and are divided into phases. Yin and Yang move in the cycle of change and Qi (or chi) faces five phases of growth of life, for example, the birth of a child to old age and death, a small plant to a big tree whose seed returns to the ground, and so on.