The Yi Jing or I Ching




NEW BOOK by Cyrille Javary

After many years of research and writing, Cyrille Javary, together with Pierre Faure, his released a new commented translation of the Yi Jing in French. You can find out about it here:

Yi Jing, par Cyrille Javary et Pierre Faure


Here are links to Cyrille Javary's other books in French:

Les Rouages du Yi Jing

L'Unique trait de pinceau (foreward by Cyrille Javary)


Le Yi Jing

Dans la cité pourpre interdite



The Yi Jing is an Ancient Chinese decision making tool. I have translated a book, entitled Understanding the I Ching, by Cyrille Javary, which was published in June 1997 by Shambhala.

The I Ching, the famous Chinese oracle, has been consulted in one form or another since the Bronze Age, and people of every era have benefited from its timeless wisdom. Understanding the I Ching is a compact guide to the fascinating history and development of this text known as the "Classic of Changes"-with complete instructions for consulting and interpreting it. Cyrille Javary shows that the seemingly random act of "throwing the I Ching" is, in fact, a tool for skillfully revealing the qualities of the present moment-the patterns of energy and relationship, the great and subtle underlying themes, the hidden and apparent imperatives for action.


Introduction to the book: Understanding the I Ching

An article I wrote, The Key to the Yi Jing

The Centre Djohi, in Paris, offers courses about the Yi Jing.

Yi Jing links:

The Hexagram-8 Mailing List Home Page

Introduction to the book Understanding the I Ching

by Cyrille Javary, translated from French by Kirk McElhearn
(published by Shambhala Publications)


Buy from US - Buy from UK

For his long voyage into the hereafter, the Marquis of Dai brought with him the two most valuable books of his time: the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) and the Yi Jing (I Ching). When his tomb was discovered twenty-two centuries later, the books were still there, written in black ink on long bands of silk. These two books are still, as then, the two pillars of Chinese thought.

In spite of its mysterious depth, the master work of Taoism is familiar to us, if not entirely accessible. But the Yi Jing has remained in the abyss. Its symbols can be seen on the covers of the finest works of Chinese philosophy, but few authors do more than simply point out its importance as one of the foundations of Chinese thought. It is the Phantom of sinology. Yet the Yi Jing is not an insignificant text. The name of this, the great book of yin and yang, means The Classic of Change. Since the time when the Marquis of Dai lived (around 168 BCE), it has maintained a place in Chinese civilization unequaled by any other work. It would be difficult to find a text that holds the same importance in western civilization. The Bible holds a similar seniority, and some of the works of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers present fundamental ideas, but there is no one text that can combine both of these characteristics.

How could such a work have been ignored in the west for so long? The answer is simple: the Yi Jing is considered to be a work of divination. The book is said to be, "a means of understanding, even controlling, future events." One might as well call it a book of fortune telling, a superstitious relic of pre-logical thinking that could not interest any sensible person in the twentieth century.

Nevertheless, the Yi Jing has interested many people, and sensible people at that. The architect Ioeh Ming Pei, who designed the recent additions to the Louvre Museum in Paris, and in particular, the glass pyramids in its courtyard, as well as the main terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, has been a member of the French Academy of Beaux Arts since 1984. He ended his inception speech with a quote from the Classic of Changes. The Nobel prize winning biologist FranÁois Jacob, in an article entitled, "Linguistic models in biology", has suggested that his colleagues explore the Yi Jing in order to discover the principles they had not found in linguistics, and are needed to fully explain the process of genetic coding. Fritjof Capra has cited its relationship to modern physics, showing how the Yi Jing prefigured modern S-matrix theory. Mention should also be made of artists, such as the composer John Cage, or the choreographers Merce Cunningham and Carolyn Carlson, who have based many of their works on the ideas of change and chance events that they discovered in the Yi Jing.

One can not forget, of course, the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who saw in the Yi Jing the deepest example of his theory of archetypes, as well as a model for his ideas on synchronicity. But it is important not to neglect all those who use the Yi Jing to practically solve personal or professional problems. These people refine their decision making process by dint of the advice given in this amazingly active book of wisdom. In China, they can be counted by generations, while in the west, they are counted, without doubt, by millions. But we are deprived of the experiences of the former by their language, and of the latter by a certain sense of shame. Fortune telling! That is the general opinion of the Yi Jing. Because of this, it remains, as a certain nuclear physicist working at the CERN in Switzerland said, "a charming intellectual mistress, that we are ashamed to go out in public with."

The goal of this book is not to explain the Yi Jing to those who already know it, but to give those who are interested by it some new information (chapter 1), discuss its history and its importance in China (chapter 2), the current importance of its individual use (chapter 3), and the perspectives that it brings forth as far as chance is concerned (chapter 4).

The reader will also find, at the end of this volume, a glossary of the specific terms used in this book, and a brief description of the meaning that the Chinese generally give to each of the 64 hexagrams of the Classic of Changes.

There is also a glossary of terms relative to the Yi Jing, as well as a summary of the meanings of the 64 hexagrams.


Kirk McElhearn

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