I Ching

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The I Ching (Wade-Giles), "Yì Jīng" (Pinyin), also known as the Book of Changes, Classic of Changes; and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts.[1] The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or the West African Ifá system; in Western cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose.

The standard text originated from the ancient text (古文經) transmitted by Fei Zhi (费直, c. 50 BC-10 AD) of the Han Dynasty. During the Han Dynasty this version competed with the bowdlerised new text (今文經) version transmitted by Tian He at the beginning of the Western Han. However, by the time of the Tang Dynasty the ancient text version, which survived Qin’s book-burning by being preserved amongst the peasantry, became the accepted norm among Chinese scholars.

The earliest extant version of the text, written on bamboo slips, albeit incomplete, is the Chujian Zhouyi, and dates to the latter half of the Warring States period (mid 4th to early 3rd century BC), and certainly cannot be later than 223 BC, when Chu was conquered by Qin. It is essentially the same as the standard text, except for a few significant variora.

During the Warring States period, the text was re-interpreted as a system of cosmology and philosophy that subsequently became intrinsic to Chinese culture. It centred on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.

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