Monday, October 3, 2011

Synchronicity and I-Ching (2)

Asking the I-Ching is serious business in ancient China. It was interpreted as Divine Revelation. The Divine speaks through the I-Ching oracles. An oracle speaks through a chance event of arriving at anyone of the 64 hexagrams. The Divine is revealed through a hexagram with the aid of a combination of ancient texts called Zhou Yi (周易). The original method uses 49 yarrow stalks whereas the more common contemporary method uses three coins, or whatever simpler methods (the methods can be easily googled in the web, so I will not go into details here).

It has all the elements of being able to be interpreted in the light of synchronicity. The hexagram "revealed" is clearly a chance event. And it is not caused by the problem in the mind of the person asking the I-Ching. The I-Ching doesn't allow for a testing of statistical significance either, i.e. in all faithfulness, one asks I-Ching once with a particular problem and the I-Ching answers once, period. Repeated asking to evaluate the statistical significance of the answer is simply not allowed in the (belief) system. And it certainly will NOT be statistical significant if carried out this way. Furthermore, the state of being of statistical insignificance is a requirement of synchronicity.

From a purely scientific perspective, asking the I-Ching does look like a superstitious act. And Carl Jung had indeed queried his own intention when he was attracted to I-Ching and kept asking questions in the most faithful way ,i.e. not trying to test its statistical significance but to assume, correctly, it to be of no statistical significance and at the same time try to understand its meaning.

Why did Carl Jung find I-Ching oracles to be meaningful? Very interesting indeed, Jung noted, empirically, that when he asked I-Ching in the faithful way, he did get very meaningful answers from I-Ching ! He used it on some of his patients and was said to reveal meaningful answers too. And he got similar feedback from a Chinese scholar: who rationally considered I-Ching to be superstitious but admitted that he tried doing it the faithful way and got good meaningful answer! (Details please refer to his foreword to I-Ching.)

Jung's view again was that one's Collective Unconscious was activated, the archetype involved could variously be called God or whatever Divinity one preferred to name. Jung's perspective was psychological in nature: a Jungian psychology on spiritual or religious matters. The gist of the matter is faith. As it was said succinctly at the end of the popular movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍)":

The Divine will be revealed to the Faithful-at-heart (心誠則靈)!

Needless to say, I'm talking about the concept of faith and belief system here, rather than spreading superstition.

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