The I Ching throws and seduces, amazing philologists and scientists. In resisting to reductionism, it inspires the most fertile theories in various domains.
This former divinatory system dives into the heart of Chinese thought, and regains a vision of the world of an astonishing modernity, at a time a pre-scientific intuition of information theories, and an operational pattern of complex systems modelisation. Yet it contains presumably some other unpublished potentialities, unheard of reach at this present state of our scientific knowledge.
- "Yi" designates a chameleon or maybe a sun eclipse, and means changes, or the metamorphosis of the Ying and Yang in their reciprocal and cyclic interaction.
- "King", etymologically the weft of a cloth, symbolizes that which doesnot change. It means "rule" and names the five classical books.
Translated as "Book of Changes" the two ideograms used for "I Ching" indicate its purposes : universal Laws of Transformations.
The character "Zhou":
Because it was formerly called Zhou Yi, or "Changes (of the dynasty) of Zhou", I Ching is also called in China "I Ching Zhou Yi."
YIN means Ubac, dark side of the hill, where forms some clouds.
YANG means Adret, luminous side of the hill, where the sun shines.
"A Yin, a Yang, here is the Tao."
This famous aphorism of the confucean "Great commentary" of the I Ching, expresses non-permanence as the real nature of things.
There are narrow parallelisms between the I Ching and the former Chinese philosophy and chronobiology (Feng Shui).
Taoist triad "Earth - Man - Sky" metaphorically assigns Man's place at the jonction of Sky and Earth, his right place.
Syncretism between the YinYang and the Five Elements (Wu-Hsing) theories, Feng Shui (or Chineses chronbiology) is the natural science of cyclic interaction of cosmic and telluric rythms with human being, and is used to regulate urbanism or health disorders to prevent sickness and dysharmony, in restoring order between man with his environment.
_ On the left the Tcheng cycle or generation cycle (the health side). On the right the Ko cycle or destruction cycle (the pathological side)_
Colors key : in red, Fire element ; in yellow, Earth ; in grey, Metal ; in blak, Water ; in blue-green, Wood
In the West, some acupuncturists such as Jean Lavier have made evident the narrow parrallelism between the I Ching structure and interrelated energizing chanels in living systems, thanks to comparative methods and philology of the I Ching and former treaties of acupuncture ( such as the Nei-Ting Su Wen).
Clinical research in biomedical science has otherwise confirmed some traditional data of traditional acupuncture.
Ginseng and green tea (Yunnan Tuocha) have entered into the western pharmacopeia. Chinese chronobiology inspired a new discipline, chronopharmacology. The enigma of acupuncture analgesia was solved in discovering endorphins (or neuroenkephalins), morphinomimetics naturally secreted by the brain, when stimulating the points of analgesia.
The science of cycles also permits the arranging of space, conceive the architecture, shaping the landscape, in the respect of the environment, with the practice of Chinese Geomancy, that is also at the origin of our modern compass.
In the XVII th. century Leibniz noticed the strong analogy between the I Ching with his binary system, and also that "his mysterious hexagrams show something analogical to the Creation"
(in his essay on the natural theology of the Chinese people).
Although the idea of creation was an exotic idea in former China, coming late from India at the VI th. century, there is really an isomorphism (a bijection) between the I ching system and the binary numbers between 0 and 63.
The I Ching, as a protosystemic model, opens to the ideas of regulation, interaction, and complexity theories (information, chaos patterns, auto-organization theory).
Archaeological discoveries in China, from Shang oracle bones to the Mawangdui manuscript (I Ching on silk), open also an immense perspective, pretext to a fascinating journey between the oral and the written, chamanism and religion, artistic and cultural exchanges with India, Greece on the Silk Road.
In the same way, some comparative works crossing over cultures get new light, in confronting the logic of the I Ching to our classic greek philosophy, thus in the recent "Process or Creation", a French book by François Julien.
There would be therefore two interpretative traditions of the I Ching(s) ; one is scientific, the other is magic (see "Acts of Symposium of Cordoba : Science and Conscience, the two readings of the universe").
Confucean tradition was alternately choosing one or else of these two antithetic readings, while neo-taoist philophers Wang Bi and Wang Fuzhi insisted at contrary on the single nature of the Changes.
Some written fragments engraved on oracle bones are identical to formulas of Zhou Yi book (direct ancestor of the I Ching). All the Chinese thought, oscillating between magic and science of more than three millenniums, is supported by the divinatory rationalism of the I Ching, from his origin in the bronze age to the "Shamans to the Book."