The Book of Changes
The I Ching or Yi Jing (易經), also known as the Book of Changes or Classic of Changes, is an ancient Chinese treatise on divination and one of the first Chinese classics. Throughout the Warring States and early imperial periods (500–200 BC), the I Ching evolved from a divination manual to a cosmology text with a series of philosophical commentary known as the “Ten Wings.” After becoming one of the Five Classics in the second century B.C., the I Ching was the subject of scholarly commentaries and the basis for divination practices throughout the Far East for centuries, and eventually played a significant role in shaping Western understanding of East Asian philosophical thought.
As a literature for divination, the I Ching is employed for an ancient Chinese form of cleromancy known as I Ching divination, in which bundles of yarrow stalks are manipulated to produce sets of six seemingly random numbers between 6 and 9. Each of the 64 potential sets corresponds to an I Ching hexagram that may be looked up. The arrangement of the hexagrams is known as the King Wen sequence. The interpretation of the I Ching’s readings has been continuously contested and studied for centuries. Many interpreters have used the text symbolically, frequently to provide moral decision-making counsel in accordance with Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. The hexagrams themselves have frequently acquired cosmological importance and been compared to numerous other traditional names for change processes, such as Yin and Yang and Wu Xing (also known as the 5 Elements).