Hippies and the I Ching. Peace, Love & GroovIChingness? (Part Four)


Note: You may benefit from reading the first three parts to this I Ching series before reading this forth addition. Click here to read part one,  part two. part three.

Over the years the I Ching has gotten a bad rap. Many people put it in the same category as fortune-telling where you would go and see some one who would do a reading for you and tell you about your future. While this is true, that people did indeed use it for the purpose of profit of others’ fortunes, the truth is the I Ching was meant for one’s own personal wisdom. For one’s own personal counsel where there would be no need to seek out someone else to help you understand the laws of nature and change, you could ascertain them yourself if you understood how to use the book.

Tie Dye I Ching

In the 60’s the hippies got ahold of the I Ching and it became associated with…”the counter- culture generation that never wanted to accomplish anything worthwhile, a generation of misfits, of dropouts and nonconformists”. Certainly anyone who had intentions of making something of themselves in life and achieving grand goals, wouldn’t be caught dead reading such an esoteric, useless book that seemed to assure certain people that it was fine to have absolutely NO ambition in life! Now don’t get me wrong I actually loved the hippie culture and I believe it brought a needed course correction and exploratory flare to the stiffness and over regimented style of the 50’s.

But then something quite extra ordinary started taking place. CEO’s, business people, musicians even scientists, started to embrace the I Ching wisdom for their own personal and professional needs. Musician George Harrison, who composed the Beatles song While My Guitar Gently Weeps, recalls he “picked up a book at random, [the I Ching] opened it, saw “gently weeps”, then laid the book down again and started the song”. Actor Mark Rylance revealed that he used the I Ching in 1987 when making a crucial career choice between the National Theatre and Steven Spielberg. He chose the theatre, and has never looked back.

So the I Ching was recognized for being a useful helper and a tool for guidance on many levels. Click here if you would like to read a a partial list of known people the I Ching has influenced at one time or another. 

I personally never knew any of what I speak of above regarding the I Ching and who used it or why they used it, when I first started using it. Then again, I was 16 at the time. I was first introduced to it when I was 14, my martial arts instructor would read pieces of hexagrams such as, “#3 Difficulty at the Beginning, #4 Youthful Folly, #6 Conflict, #16 Enthusiasm or#18 Work on What Has Been Spoiled” to name a few. This was to help us in our martial arts training to become better practitioners of the art and skill. It might as well have been written in a different language at that time, I really didn’t understand much of it. With time however, and further usage, reflection and meditation I started to gain a better awareness of it’s wisdom. Without a doubt reading the I Ching and consulting it in times I needed clarity in certain situations helped me out personally in innumerable ways.

Now I take groups of people to the very home of where the I Ching was born…China. Each year I take interested seekers to the Taoist Wudang Mountains where we study the I Ching and they get to learn how to consult the book for their own use. We also practice Tai Chi and meditation with the Chinese masters on Wudang Mountain. The sight seeing and the wonderful organic food we get to eat are a bonus. You can learn more about the trips I lead here —-> Mastering the Tao Nature Within

~ Terry J. Hodgkinson Sifu

Below is the forth part regarding Carl Gustav Jung’s foreword in the Wilhelm/Baynes addition of the I Ching. Enjoy. Please leave comments or questions. Thank you.

Carl Jung Synchronicity

“Although this procedure is well within the premises of Taoist philosophy, it appears exceedingly odd to us. However, not even the strangeness of insane delusions or of primitive superstition has ever shocked me. I have always tried to remain unbiased and curious — rerum novarum cupidus. Why not venture a dialogue with an ancient book that purports to be animated? There can be no harm in it, and the reader may watch a psychological procedure that has been carried out time and again throughout the millennia of Chinese civilization, representing to a Confucius or a Lao-tse both a supreme expression of spiritual authority and a philosophical enigma. I made use of the coin method, and the answer obtained was hexagram 50, Ting, THE CALDRON.

In accordance with the way my question was phrased, the text of the hexagram must be regarded as though the I Ching itself were the speaking person. Thus it describes itself as a caldron, that is, as a ritual vessel containing cooked food. Here the food is to be understood as spiritual nourishment. Wilhelm says about this:

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.

Keeping to our hypothesis, we must conclude that the I Ching is here testifying concerning itself.

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.[5] In my hexagram the “spiritual agencies” have given the emphasis of a nine to the lines in the second and in the third place. The text says:

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.09.43 PM

Thus the I Ching says of itself: “I contain (spiritual) nourishment.” Since a share in something great always arouses envy, the chorus of the envious[6] is part of the picture. The envious want to rob the I Ching of its great possession, that is, they seek to rob it of meaning, or to destroy its meaning. But their enmity is in vain. Its richness of meaning is assured; that is, it is convinced of its positive achievements, which no one can take away. The text continues:

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.10.11 PM
Thus the I Ching says of itself: “I contain (spiritual) nourishment.” Since a share in something great always arouses envy, the chorus of the envious[6] is part of the picture. The envious want to rob the I Ching of its great possession, that is, they seek to rob it of meaning, or to destroy its meaning. But their enmity is in vain. Its richness of meaning is assured; that is, it is convinced of its positive achievements, which no one can take away. The text continues:

The handle is the part by which the ting can be grasped. Thus it signifies the concept  one has of the I Ching (the ting). In the course of time this concept has apparently changed, so that today we can no longer grasp the I Ching. Thus “one is impeded in his way of life.” We are no longer supported by the wise counsel and deep insight of the oracle; therefore we no longer find our way through the mazes of fate and the obscurities of our own natures. The fat of the pheasant, that is, the best and richest part of a good dish, is no longer eaten. But when the thirsty earth finally receives rain again, that is, when this state of want has been overcome, “remorse,” that is, sorrow over the loss of wisdom, is ended, and then comes the longed-for opportunity. Wilhelm comments: “This describes a man who, in a highly evolved civilization, finds himself in a place where no one notices or recognizes him. This is a severe block to his effectiveness.” The I Ching is complaining, as it were, that its excellent qualities go unrecognized and hence lie fallow. It comforts itself with the hope that it is about to regain recognition.

The answer given in these two salient lines to the question I put to the I Ching requires no particular subtlety of interpretation, no artifices, no unusual knowledge. Anyone with a little common sense can understand the meaning of the answer; it is the answer of one who has a good opinion of himself, but whose value is neither generally recognized nor even widely known. The answering subject has an interesting notion of itself: it looks upon itself as a vessel in which sacrificial offerings are brought to the gods, ritual food for their nourishment. It conceives of itself as a cult utensil serving to provide spiritual nourishment for the unconscious elements or forces (“spiritual agencies”) that have been projected as gods — in other words, to give these forces the attention they need in order to play their part in the life of the individual. Indeed, this is the original meaning of the word religio – a careful observation and taking account of (from relegere) the numinous.

The method of the I Ching does indeed take into account the hidden individual quality in things and men, and in one’s own unconscious self as well. I have questioned the I Ching as one questions a person whom one is about to introduce to friends: one asks whether or not it will be agreeable to him. 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,[9] and above all at the English translation. This seems a perfectly understandable reaction, such as one could expect also from a person in a similar situation.

But how has this reaction come about? Because I threw three small coins into the air and let them fall, roll, and come to rest, heads up or tails up as the case might be. This odd fact that a reaction that makes sense arises out of a technique seemingly excluding all sense from the outset, is the great achievement of the I Ching. The instance I have just given is not unique; meaningful answers are the rule. Western sinologues and distinguished Chinese scholars have been at pains to inform me that the I Ching is a collection of obsolete “magic spells.” In the course of these conversations my informant has sometimes admitted having consulted the oracle through a fortune teller, usually a Taoist priest. This could be “only nonsense” of course. But oddly enough, the answer received apparently coincided with the questioner’s psychological blind spot remarkably well”…. TO BE CONTINUED – – Carl Gustav Jung



About Terry Hodgkinson

Terry J. Hodgkinson is a MindFit consultant. He owns Positive Changes Hypnotherapy and Meditation Centre in Toronto, Canada. As a corporate trainer, keynote speaker and retreat leader he enjoys his work so much that he calls it his passion. In 2009 Terry's book, Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja - Walking the Path of Enlightenment was published. *For information on Terry's international retreats visit: www.TaoJourneys.com *Book Terry for your next event visit: www.TerryHodgkinson.ca *Martial arts training visit: www.ChungFuMartialArts.com
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.