The I Ching’s Message through Carl Gustav Jung and for Contemporary Times
“Obsolete” is what the I Ching called the ego. Relatedly, the I Ching sees the dawn of the era of enlightenment upon us. It seems. Read on and decide for yourself what the hexagrams’ messages for our times are.
Jung asked the I Ching
"Thus it occurred to me that it might interest the uninitiated reader to see the I Ching at work. For this purpose I made an experiment strictly in accordance with the Chinese conception: I personified the book in a sense, asking its judgment about its present situation, i.e., my intention to present it to the Western mind.
I made use of the coin method, and the answer obtained was hexagram 50, Ting, THE CALDRON.
The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilization, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state. . . . Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. . . . The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility.
In answer the I Ching tells me of its religious significance, of the fact that at present it is unknown and misjudged, of its hope of being restored to a place of honor -- this last obviously with a sidelong glance at my as yet unwritten foreword, and above all at the English translation.
When any of the lines of a given hexagram have the value of six or nine, it means that they are specially emphasized and hence important in the interpretation." [indicated with a star (‘*’) below]
-Carl G Jung's Foreword to Richard Wilhelm's "The I Ching-Book of Changes."
I Asked the I Ching
When I asked what it message is for contemporary times, the hexagrams I obtained, using the coin method, are:
1. Hexagram 51, Ch’en, Shock
2. Hexagram 49, Ko, Revolution
In that order. According to the procedure given in the book I used, two hexagrams were obtained as a result of values of six and nine found on lines three (value 9), four (value 6) and five (value 9).
The possible source of error is in the assignment of values between six to nine, to the each line, as there was some ambiguity in the instruction found in the book used.
For those who are familiar with the procedure, the results of the coin toss, in the order they were tossed, are: HTT, HHT, TTT, HHH, TTT and HHT, with ‘H’ representing heads and ‘T’ representing tails. Since I am a novice with the practice of consulting the I Ching, corrections, for example, the correct hexagram numbers, from readers via comments are most welcome.
A Take On Hexagram 51
What I believe it is saying is that in these contemporary times, there are more and more people becoming spiritually aware and enlightened. This is a very encouraging message. Yet we need to be vigilant with our practices, as mentioned, “Hell and heaven do exist in the world [sic] they are both created in people’s minds.” (paragraph 5 of the hexagram 51’s text body). Given the encouragement nonetheless we can continue praying for those who still have not gotten in touch with the God that is within and through all that exist, which some call Consciousness or Presence.
The subsequent paragraphs have been copied from the hardcopy book, “I Ching”, published by Synergy Boos International, as I have not been able to obtain Wilhelm’s version as of the time of my writing this article. The message of the I Ching is left for the reader to discern. As mentioned by Jung, although the question is for all of humanity during contemporary times, the words in the I Ching can also address the individual concern of the reader.
A Revolution of Enlightenment
This seems to be what hexagram 49, Revolution, is seeing as forthcoming, as mentioned on paragraph 1 of the text body:
“Revolution means riddance. The reason for riddance is obsolescence. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is lake, joyous and below is fire luminous; joy is based on illumination, while illumination controls joy. In joy, there should be no delusion; in illumination, there should be no obscurity. Producing joy from within illumination, having illumination within joy, therefore it is called revolution.” [The underlining is mine.]
An Important Note
As you read through the hexagrams presented, please remember to read in humility and wonder, as if listening to the words of a gentle, venerable sage.
“Hexagram 51, Ch’en, Shock
Shock brings success.
Shock comes-oh, oh!
Laughing words-ha, ha!
The shock terrifies for a hundred miles,
And he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice.
Thunder repeated; the image of Shock.
Thus in fear and trembling
The superior man sets his life in order
And examines himself.
() Nine at the beginning means:
Shock comes-oh, oh!
Then follow laughing words-ha, ha!
Six in the second place means:
Shock comes bringing danger.
A hundred thousand times
You lose your treasures
And must climb the nine hills
Do not go in pursuit of them.
After seven days you will get them back.
*Six in the third place means:
Shock comes and makes one distraught.
If shock spurs to action
One remains free of misfortune.
*Nine in the fourth place means:
Shock is mired.
*Six in the fifth place means:
Shock goes hither and thither:
However, nothing at all is lost.
Yet there are things to be done.
Six at the top:
Shock brings ruin and terrified gazing around.
Going ahead brings misfortune.
If it has not yet touched one’s own body
But has reached one’s neighbor first,
There is no blame.
One’s comrades have something to talk about.
Thunder is movement, action, represented as thunder. In the body of the hexagram, one yang is born below two yins, symbolizing the presence of movement within stillness. Here two thunders combine: From this action you arrive at that action, from that action you produce this action-a thousand actions, myriad acts, are all this one action; therefore it is called thunder.
This hexagram represents acting so as to proceed on the Path, warily practicing introspection; it follows on the previous hexagram revolution. Revolution involves gaining joy through illumination, refining metal by fire, removing old impurities. Removing old impurities does not mean forgetting things, forgetting the body, extinguishing the mind, and stopping thoughts; it is necessary to remove impurities in the midst of action in order to accomplish the task. This is because the Tao is alive, in movement; it is neither material nor void.
We use worldly realities to practice the reality of the Tao, and use human affairs to cultivate celestial virtues; both striving and nonstriving, comprehending essence and comprehending life, the endless work all must be done in the midst of activity. Therefore there is a path of development in thunder.
However, there is inner activity and outer activity. Inner activity means the movement of inward thoughts, outer activity means the activity of affairs that come up. Inner activity is the realm of self, outer activity is in the realm of other. If inner activity is genuine, outward activity will also be genuine; if inner activity is artificial, outward activity will also be artificial. Superior people are careful about what they do not see, wary about what they do not hear; this means being careful and wary about inner activity. If there is no random activity within, there will naturally be genuine activity. The movement of genuine activity may go on all the time without causing any disturbance; using this to deal with external activity, one responds without minding. Therefore “when thunder comes, there is alarm, then laughter.”
The coming of thunder means that within stillness there is suddenly movement; alarm followed by laughter means initial carefulness and subsequent ease. One moment of goodness in people’s minds, and the mind of Tao appears; this is heaven. One moment of evil in the mind, and the human mentality acts; this is hell. Hell and heaven do exist in the world they are both created in people’s minds. It is the good and evil, falsehood and truth of thoughts, which distinguish them.
When you have thoughts, if you can practice introspection, gradually eliminating bad thoughts and gradually producing good thoughts, after a long time of consistency thought after thought all return to correct orientation, so that the mind of Tao is ever-present, the human mentality does not arise: Filled with living energy the real self sits peacefully in the center, tranquil and unperturbed, yet sensitive and effective. Whatever comes up, you are cheerful and calm, responding with good humor, not minding at all-even if “thunder startles for a hundred miles,” still you “don’t lose spoon and wine.”
A spoon is for eating; wine represents find drink. When thunder peals over a hundred miles, it is very loud, and can easily rattle people, if you don’t lose your marbles when this happens, this means the vicissitudes of circumstance aren’t able to disturb your balance. Because superior people are wary of inner activity, they do not fear outward activity.
Being wary of inner activity means nurturing the energy; not fearing outward activity means not agitating the energy. If one can inwardly nurture energy and outwardly not agitate energy, acting when the time is for action, not acting when the time is for inaction, accompanying the “thunder,” going along with the time, myriad actions are all genuine activity there is no impediment in action. Herein lies the developmental quality of thunder.”
“Hexagram 49, Ko, Revolution
Revolution. On your own day
You are believe.
Furthering through perseverance.
Fire in the lake: the image of Revolution.
Thus the superior man
Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.
Nine at the beginning means:
Wrapped in the hide of a yellow cow.
Six in the second place means:
When one’s own day comes, one may create revolution.
Starting brings good fortune. No blame.
*Nine in the third place means:
Starting brings misfortune.
Perseverance brings danger.
When talk of revolution has gone the rounds three times,
One may commit himself,
And men will believe him.
*Nine in the fourth place means:
Remorse disappears. Men believe him.
Changing the form of government brings good fortune.
*() Nine in the fifth place means:
The great man changes like a tiger,
Even before he** questions the oracle
He is believed.
Six at the top means:
The superior man changes like a panther.
The inferior man molts in the face.
Starting brings misfortune.
To remain persevering brings good fortune.
Revolution means riddance. The reason for riddance is obsolescence. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is lake, joyous, and below is fire luminous; joy is based on illumination, while illumination controls joy. In joy, there should be no delusion; in illumination, there should be no obscurity. Producing joy from within illumination, having illumination within joy, therefore it is called revolution.
In the image of the hexagram, lake is metal, associated with the west: fire is associated with the south. Refining metal by fire, when metal meets fire it produces brightness and is melted down; when fire meets metal it goes into storage and returns to the root. This too is the meeting of revolution.
This hexagram represents refining yin energy; it follows on the previous hexagram exhaustion, in exhaustion, joy is produced from the midst of danger; this is how to take the true yang in water to get out of danger. However, even if you take the true yang in water, if you cannot restore the true yin in fire, the gold elixir will not crystallize, and you will not attain joy. So this path of producing joy from illumination is indispensible. Producing joy from within illumination is the working of refining yin energy. Refining yin energy means refining one’ own personal desires to become unselfish.
Humans are the most conscious of beings, born with the true energy of the patterns of yin and yang of heaven and earth. When they are first born, they unconsciously follow the laws of the lord; completely good with no evil, the true essence is bright and clear, the open awareness unobscured. Emotions do not stick in their hearts, wealth and poverty do not disturb their minds. Wild beasts cannot harm them, weapons cannot get at them, water and fire cannot overcome them, life and death cannot burden them. When hungry, they simply eat; when cold, they just put on clothes without thought or reflection; their capacity is originally clear.
Then when people reach the age of sixteen, yang culminates producing yin; as they deal with things based on acquired conditioning, they develop characteristic temperaments and intellectual knowledge. At this point, only sages of superior wisdom granted by nature, when they are not opposing nature in the primal state and when they serve nature in the temporal state, are able to preserve primal reality and not be damaged by acquired conditioning. Among mediocre and lesser people, rare are they who are not ruled and manipulated by acquired conditioning; after this, a hundred anxieties confuse their minds, myriad affairs belabor their bodies they take the artificial to be real, abandon the true and enter the false. As the days and years go by, they become estranged by habit from what is close by nature, and the quality of clarity is damaged. The new piles up and becomes old, the pure becomes defiled. This is where the pollution of obsolescence and defilement comes from.
If we look into the source of pollution of obsolescence, stagnation, and defilement, we see it all comes from having a self. Once one has a self, an ego, the mind of Tao is obscured and the human mentality arises. Conscious of what one should not be conscious of, enjoying what one should not enjoy, one goes to any lengths following personal desires. So revolution simply means overthrowing the ignorance of the self to restore illumination. But if one wants to overthrow the ignorance of the self, it is necessary that the self first be understood.
Once the self is understood, one can be sincere in revolution, and the ignorance of self can be overthrown. Therefore, in the path of revolution “the sun of the self is truth.” The sun is an image of illumination, understanding; truth means sincerity. If one does not understand, one cannot be sincere; if one can understand, one will be sincere. With understanding and sincerity, as the first though is truthful, one will be able to overthrow and revolutionize the self. Therefore revolution contains a path of creativity and development.
However, though revolution is creative and developmental, it is necessary that revolution is correct. If right and wrong are not differentiated and true and false are not distinguished, but all are overthrown together, and one enters into nihilistic quietism, this is not correct and so is not fruitful; and not being fruitful is not creative or developmental.
Only by correct revolution, conquering the ego and returning to propriety, getting rid of falsehood and maintaining truthfulness, burning away all the pollution of conditioning and bringing to light the true essence of the primal unified awareness, reaching this state, returning to the fundamental, integrating with natural principle, pure and clean without flaw, can the regret of having a self vanish.
This path is not hard to know; what is hard is to carry it out. It is simply a matter of people being able to be sincere in revolution.”
** - seems to be referring to Carl G Jung himself: “Even before he questions the oracle, he is believed.”
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