From a Diary of a Jungian Coach # 12
During the Corona pandemic I attended a six-month seminar on C.G Jung and Buddhism. Jung’s collaboration with Richard Wilhelm (a German sinologist) on the German translations of The I Ching; or Book of Changes, and The Secret of the Golden Flower, his trip to India, and his collaboration with his client and friend Wolfgang Pauli (Nobel prize winner for developing Quantum Theory) all contributed to the crystallization of his concepts about the human psyche which were developed beyond Freud’s theory on neurosis and hysteria.
The fact that our world, our lives, and our psychodynamics are all based on two opposing elements which both contradict each other and compensate for each other (scientifically proven through the particle vs. wave quantum theory) enabled Jung to conceptualize the Anima & Animus paradigm, the Ego-Self reciprocity, and to arrive at the therapeutic principle of “the compensatory function.”
In this diary page I would like to share with you my personal experiences with the amazing The I Ching; or Book of Changes – an ancient Chinese method of foreseeing future events and providing clarity for current ones. At the very beginning of my report, I wish to stress that I am less interested in my life’s future events. By the age of 70 I understand that any attempt to control our lives is merely an illusion. Life has its own rules and surprises and we must learn how to surrender and adapt to what comes – which includes pleasurable and horrible experiences.
In my I-Ching explorations I am merely interested in the feminine and masculine states of mind and the levels of psychic investment with which I cope with, determine, and experience my life’s events.
According to the Chinese wisdom of the I-Ching, existential issues which are translated into decisions and acts are merely a function of our feminine and masculine energies. When one energy fulfills itself, the opposing energy will begin to emerge and start a compensating process. This insight struck me deeply. Since the wisdom of the I-Ching is presented through graphical lines and symbolic and metaphoric texts, it enabled me to acquire it gradually.
The comprehension of this symbolic language requires patience, curiosity, and a great deal of courage to accept the unexpected. Let’s face it, when we approach an existential question relating to our personal lives, we do have a hidden optimistic bias. We seldom predict tragedies for ourselves, and those who do are often labeled paranoid or pessimistic. Before I share with you a question that I posed to the I-Ching, I’d like to explain two of the I-Ching principles.
- The masculine energy in the I-Ching is displayed as a solid black line. To me, it resembles a phallus. The feminine energy is shown graphically as a broken line with a narrow white space in the center which, to me, resembles the female The I-Ching instructs us to present a question and then throw three identical coins six times each while registering. For each throw, the masculine and feminine qualities qualities are represented by the sides of the coins that land upward and are recorded. There are three throws for the present and three for the future. As the coins have two sides, tails is attributed to the masculine energy while heads is attributed to the feminine energy. For each throw of three coins, one will obtain a combination where either the masculine or the feminine energy is dominant. Three throws in a row create a Masculine or Feminine or a combined graphical symbol (combined of straight or broken lines) and this is where an immense creativity enters the picture. Those line combinations are called “Hexagrams” (meaning a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines – each one feminine or masculine). The symbol on the upper left hexagram is attributed to the mother Earth – meaning the full and complete feminine principle. The lower right hexagram symbol is attributed to the heavenly spiritual sky and represents the pure masculine principle. The symbol which is attributed to a mountain (2nd from upper left) displays a combination of masculine and feminine qualities – it is feminine as the mountain is indeed a container, yet it has masculine qualities as it is high and structured. The lake (2nd from bottom from right) represents another combination of masculine and feminine principles. Water represents emotions, which are attributed to the feminine. But unlike the ocean, the lake has boundaries, which are attributed to the masculine.
- The final calculations of the total throws of coins lead you to a metaphoric text. Here again, as is typical of an oracle or foretelling texts, one is required to decipher symbols and written wisdom within the context of the question that was presented. For me, the real challenge is to get away from my prior agendas and be open to what the I-Ching wishes me to reflect upon.
So now here is the presented question I recently posed: “Should I move back to live in Tel Aviv – the big metropolis – and quit living in the mountain forests up north in the Galilee?”