I Ching

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Fu Xi, as imagined by the Song painter Ma Lin (c. 1180-1256)
Page from a Song Dynasty (960-1279) printed book of the I Ching

I Ching (易經), also known as the Book of Changes (周易), is a Chinese classical text believed to have been written by Fu Xi (c. 2800 BC).


  • 君子終日乾乾
    • All day long the superior man is creatively active.
    • 1 The Creative
  • It is not I who seek the young fool;
    The young fool seeks me.
    • 4 Youthful Folly
  • To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.
    • 6 Conflict
  • An army must set forth in proper order.
    If the order is not good, misfortune threatens.
    • 7 The Army
  • The superior man falls back upon his inner worth
    In order to escape the difficulties.
    He does not permit himself to be honored with revenue.
    • 12 Standstill [Stagnation]
  • He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified,
    Has good fortune.
    • 14 Possession in Great Measure
  • No boasting of wealth before one's neighbor.
    • 15 Modesty
  • It is unlucky to sound off about happiness.
  • To go one's way with sincerity brings clarity.
    • 17 Following
  • Those above can ensure their position
    Only by giving generously to those below.
    • 23 Splitting Apart
  • The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity
    And many deeds of the past,
    In order to strengthen his character thereby.
    • 26 The Taming Power of the Great
  • If you are sincere, you have success in your heart,
    And whatever you do succeeds.
    • 29 The Abysmal (Water)
  • The great man, by perpetuating this brightness,
    Illumines the four quarters of the world.
    • 30 The Clinging, Fire
  • When tempers flare up in the family,
    Too great severity brings remorse.
    • 37 The Family [The Clan]
  • Thus the superior man controls his anger
    And restrains his instincts.
    • 41 Decrease
  • Thus the superior man:
    If he sees good, he imitates it;
    If he has faults, he rids himself of them.
    • 42 Increase
  • The superior man encourages the people at their work,
    And exhorts them to help one another.
    • 48 The Well
  • When one's own day comes, one may create revolution.
    • 49 Revolution (Molting)
  • Change proves true on the day it is finished.
    • 49 (translated by Thomas Cleary)
  • Thus in fear and trembling
    The superior man sets his life in order
    And examines himself.
    • 51 The Arousing (Shock, Thunder)
    • Translation by Thomas Clear:
      Cultured people practice self-examination with trepidation and fear.
  • Thus the superior man
    Understands the transitory
    In the light of the eternity of the end.
    • 54 The Marrying Maiden
  • The superior man discusses criminal cases
    In order to delay executions.
    • 61 Inner Truth
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.
    • 64 Before Completion

Quotes about the I Ching[edit]

  • The I Ching is the world's oldest guide to 'the virtuous life'.
  • The origins of astronomy can be found in the I Ching. Using the principle of astronomy, calendrical studies, and the I Ching to understand thoroughly the meaning of the unity of heaven and man is difficult. Nevertheless, we should study the I Ching little by little and fuse it with the principles of astronomy and calendrical studies. Then we can investigate the similarities in all things.
    • Nishikawa Joken (1648–1724), as quoted in Wai-Ming Ng The I Ching in Tokugawa Thought and Culture (2000), p. 139
  • Its name, The Book of Changes, is suggestive; and we find throughout its contents the vague idea of change replaced by the more definite one of "transformation," the key-word of alchemy ... "The diagrams," [Confucius] says again, "comprehend the profoundest secrets of the universe; and the power of exciting the various motions of the universe depends on their explanation; — the power to effect transmutation depends on the understanding of the diagrams of changes." Here, in a word, is the ... general object of Chinese students of alchemy.
  • The "Book of Changes" is regarded with almost universal reverence, both on account of its antiquity and also the unfathomable wisdom which is supposed to lie concealed under its mysterious symbols.

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