Any belief, whether it is a self-made system or is bestowed upon us from above, can be taken as a religious view, for how does one define religion except as a system which sets upon humans a certain lifestyle to follow. The definition might seem vague at the least, but to define religion is becoming increasingly difficult, as more and more new sources of religious believes emerge. In all sense of the world, there is a message, however it may or may not be from an omnipotent, invisible God; it can be from a messiah or a man who has been raised to the level of a Messiah by his/her followers, as is the case of Buddha. [1: END NOTES Connelly, Paul. Definition of Religion and Relates Terms. 1996. 23rd March 2012 .]
The same has been the fate of many of the philosophers who have presented a framework for how to live one's life. One such philosophical work that will be discussed in this paper is the philosophy of I-Ching or Yi Jing. Although the text is rooted in antiquity, there have been an impact on it through the various interpretations had been presented. Two of these interpretations that would be discussed in this paper would include those that have been presented by the Classical Text and Aleister Crowley. A comparative study will be then conducted of the two schools of thoughts, but before that can be done, it is important to take into account, firstly, a historical background of what the philosophy of I-Ching composes of.
I-Ching: A Historical Background:
The I Ching has been known by many names in history, like Yi Jing or The Book of Changes, and its roots can be traced to antiquity. The principles of I Ching have been practiced for almost "three or four millennia" in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, only to later even invade the Western Philosophical sphere. [2: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon. Diviation Practices: I Ching - Part One. n.d. 24th March 2012 .]
The impact of the philosophy and upon the philosophy itself is a question whose pursuit can only lead to ensure the importance and the significance of the text. I Ching has been defined as the "seasoned wisdom of thousands of years" and has even been linked to the origins of the "two branches of Chinese philosophy, Confucianism and Taoism." In fact, Confucian held the text in great respect, and wrote a total of ten commentaries. It has been said that the work I is "a reflection of the universe in miniature" It has then also been used to define "ease and simplicity' change and transformation, and invariability," in which the relationship with the cosmic is "based on the assumption that all that happens in the universe, natural and human, is a continuous whole, like a chain of natural sequences." [3: Wilhelm, Richard. Introduction. n.d. 23rd March 2012 .] [4: Manuel B. Dy, Jr. The Chinese view of Time: A Passage to Eternity. n.d. 24th March 2012 .] [5: Ch'u Chai, Winberg Chai. I Ching - Book of Changes. Trans. James Legge. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.] [6: Manuel B. Dy, Jr. The Chinese view of Time: A Passage to Eternity. n.d. 24th March 2012 .]
The importance of the text itself lies in what it has to offer in the form of secrets and teachings of Lao-tse, and of his pupils, many of the concepts which would latter form the Confucian tradition as axioms. It will not be wrong to claim then that this text has been a well of knowledge for many of the fields, including "science and statecraft" and it was for this reason alone that it was the only text that survived during the reign of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti and the burning of all Confucian text during his time. [7: Wilhelm, Richard. Introduction. n.d. 23rd March 2012 .]
The text in itself is an ancient oracle, which sought to mirrors what is contained in our DNA or what the text defines as the Inner Truth. The philosophy is based on the fact that the knowledge contained in our DNA is sacred and has the strength to tell us about ourselves in relation with the Cosmos. This knowledge is not something whose access can be made possible through the rational course, a much accepted doctrine in the Western philosophy; in fact the translation and understanding of this knowledge is only possible through "commonsense," which through disuse can be disabled, and would thus require the assistance of an I Ching oracle. [8: Moog, Carol K. Anthony and Hanna. The I Ching Oracle, as Defined by Itself. n.d. 24th March 2012 .]
The universal appeal of this philosophical work has resulted in it becoming the origin point of many occult doctrines, both in the Western and Eastern Hemisphere. The starting point of these doctrines can be traced to the Ch'in and Han dynasties when this natural philosophy was converted into a more formalistic and rigid nature. This ultimately led to an "increasingly hairsplitting cabalistic speculations" which surrounded the text and teachings of the Book of Changes. [9: Wilhelm, Richard. Introduction. n.d. 23rd March 2012 .]
The main question however that the text sought to answer is "How can humans live in harmony with the Cosmos?," which is in direct relation to the two belief that the human's are good and that only through being in sync with nature, can we find harmony with the Cosmos. This harmony is then the guiding light for humans on how they should live their lives. [10: Moog, Carol K. Anthony and Hanna. The I Ching Oracle, as Defined by Itself. n.d. 24th March 2012 .]
The text basically is made up of 64 hexagrams, and employs 8 trigrams, consisting of both solid and broken lines. These combinations represent the Inner Truth and the yin yang patterns, with the solid lines representing the yang or male principle, while the broken lines representing the yin or female principle. [11: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon. Diviation Practices: I Ching - Part One. n.d. 24th March 2012 .]
I Ching from the point-of-view of a Classical Understanding:
There is agreement on the fact that the origins of this oracle text lie in and around 1000 BCE, which coincides with the early Chou dynasty. The earliest commentaries on the text, "Shuo-Kua" states that the creation of the I Ching can be credited to the ancient sages, whose observations of how the world functions and what principles may lead to success. The certainty with which these principles can be predicted and applied, lies in the fact that such principles are a part of the nature of things itself, and therefore and inherent. It is just this guidance that I Ching provides so that the people may align their own activities with the course of nature and thus attain harmony and peace. [12: Kirkland, Russell. "The I Ching, Yin-Yang, and the "Five Forces." n.d. 25th March 2012 .]
The evolution of I Ching from simply a tool for the diviners -- employed in royal courts only - to a philosophical school of thought was much slow in its evolution and development, and didn't take place until the 5th century BCE. It was only in the Eastern Chou dynasty that the first anonymous commentaries on this text began to appear and during the Han dynasty were incorporated as the "wings" of I Ching. However, research has shown that they were not a product of "one continuous tradition, but rather of different traditions," which can be divided into the following, [13: Ibid]
1. The Shuo-kua and possibly the Wen-yen ("Wings" 7 and 8), consisting of narrow technical interpretations, can be called the product of a "technical school," as there is a great probability that they were the domain of the diviners at the Chou court. They are considered to be dated to "no later than the 5th century BCE, and might be as early as the 7th century." [14: Ibid]
2. The T'uan-chuan and Hsiao-hsiang-chuan ("Wings" 1, 2, and 4), are part of the "commentary school," dating to around 5th century BCE.
3. The Ta-chuan ("Wing" 6), are considered to the derivation of a "philosophical school," belonging to the 6th -- 3rd centuries, and it is in this time and period that we first catch the glimpses of Confucianism and Taoism make an appearance.
As can be seen through this evolutionary distribution of the I Ching, that at the very beginning it was nothing more than a divination tool for the royal courts and nobles, and it is this which would remain as the focus of this paper.
In a traditional sense, the I Ching is composed in a table form, with the hexagram divided into two parts, forming the x and y coordinates, and each of the 64 hexagrams is assigned in number and a meaning corresponding to that number. The prediction is the result of…