Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Book of Change

The Book of Change, also known as the I Ching, is a book that’s over 5,000 years old. It is considered the oldest of the Chinese Classics according to Dr. Thomas Cleary who, in my opinion, is one of the best translators of classical texts on Taoism and Buddhism. Even though most will consider China the origin of The Book of Change, Wayne Chandler writes in The African Presence in Early Asia (one of my favorite books, edited by Runoko Rashidi and Ivan Van Sertima) that The Book of Change can be traced back to the ancient Ife of West Africa. It is said that the Ifa system of divination dates back to 20,000 B.C.E.

In 1675 German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Von Leibnez, after being introduced to The Book of Change, was able to confirm his system of binary mathematics, which became the basis of computer science. In 1953 Dr. James Watson and Francis Crick announced to the world their discovery of the genetic code, consisting of 64 binary triplet figures called DNA codons, which correspond directly to the 64 binary triplet hexagrams of The Book of Change. We have yet to fully understand how the use of the genetic code and the future development of information technology will change the world. All we can say is that The Book of Change laid the foundation for our future.

I consulted The Book of Change with a question when I decided to write this article, with the understanding that the answer is always directed to the one who is consulting. Nevertheless, I thought that I would share the results with you. I asked the question: what is love? The hexagram that turned up for me was number 15: Humility. Part of the answer to my question reads as follows: “When one is able to nurture and to submit, one governs oneself with strictness and responds to others with openness; the mind becomes increasingly humble, while the way becomes increasingly lofty-outwardly one is lacking, inwardly one has more than enough. Submitting to truth and according with people, one rests in the highest good and does not move. This is why the path of humility is beneficial”.

If you are interested in learning more about the I Ching - The Book of Change I will conduct a four week introduction workshop on “The Book of Change this Fall at the City College of New York’s Adult and Continuing Education (ACE) program. For more information call 212 650-7312 or visit

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