of the Chinese peasant followed the incessant rhythm of the seasons, century after century. As the snow melted, sparrows bathed in the first waters of the year. The mei hua blossomed in sheltered places. The peasant looked forward to the working phase of his own social cycle. With spring equinox the emperor ceremoniously "desanctified" thefields from their winter "interdiction." Tilling followed. The wild geese returned. The song of the skylark reached up to the clouds. The young sang of love to each other, andmarriages forbidden for the winter months were now celebrated.Then came the summer heat, the long day, the marching columns of ants on the dry ground, the stately cranes in the water, the grating cicadas in the trees, and the blooming peonies among the huts. There was the long anxious waiting for the rain as the hot winds from the distant desert blew the promising clouds from the skies. Then newlygathered clouds, welcomed rain, and smiling faces all around. The crops were saved.Soon the red dragonfly flew joyously at the coming of autumn. As the dew becameheavy and the moon full, the geese returned south, the crickets continued their ceaseless chirping, and the harvest sparrows blanketed the fields of ripening grain. Then theexciting but sweaty work of harvest, the threshing of grain outside the front doorways, the winnowing and casting of chaff to the winds. The grain was finally put away andthe fall festival celebrated. With the autumnal equinox the closed winter season set in.(For more details on the I Ching, the reader is referred to the excellent translations and notes by James Legge and Richard Wilhelm, and the lucid lectures by HellmutWilhelm. Full bibliographical information appears in the References.)The biting winds from the cold desert swept by the withered flowers, the fallen dried stalks and the yellow leaves stubbornly clinging to the bamboo, peasants huddled onmats of reed in their thatched huts and talked about the events of the past year, while the women mapped their plans for winter weaving. Until middle spring, this was the phase of relative quiescence. From this biphasic cycle of peasant life arose the fundamental conception of the universe in the Chinese mind. Affairs were grouped,accordingto their tendencies into two general categories. These corresponded to the season dominated by female work, namely the weaving during the closed winter months in thehuts, and to the season dominated by male work, namely the hard agricultural labor in the fields. Everything was divided into the two respective modalities of the yin andthe yang. Yin originally pertained to shade and yang to light.In later development, the terms became expanded to encompass the two cosmic principles. Yin stood for cold, softness, contraction, wetness, femininity, and the like. Yangstood for heat, hardness, expansion, dryness, masculinity, and the like.The opposition, alternation, and interaction of these two forces give rise to all phenomena in the universe, in a continuous advance and regression of the vital forces innature. Nothing remains static. Good fortune and ill are forever moving against each other according to cosmic rules. It is said that "When the sun reaches the meridian, itdeclines, and when the moon becomes full, it wanes." As Lao-tzu sums it up, "Reversal is the nature of the Tao." The art of good living lies in the ordering of one's life inharmony with the cosmological movements of the yin and the yang. This principle applies to specific problems at hand, as well as to the grand generalizations of universaltransformations. The simple interaction of the two influences is schematically represented by pairs of divided and/or undivided lines, representing the yin and yang,respectively. The four permutations are the next-higher yin-yang series consists of the eight trigrams of three lines each. According to legend, these were devised byEmperor Fu Hsi in 2852 B.C. A name was given to each trigram, symbolizing certain attributes and objects of nature in a state of continual transition. The eight trigrams areCH'IENK'UNCHEN',CANKENSUNLITUTDoubling of the three lines into six yields sixty-four possible combinations. These form the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching, which represent the sixty-four assemblagesof events to be described in this book. The array is supposed to be inclusive of all human situations in which a person might find himself.The yin-yang series can be expanded geometrically to provide an infinite progression, namely 128, 256, 512, 1024, ad infinitum. The originators of the I Ching judiciouslystopped at the practical limit of sixty-four. This number constitutes a classification sufficiently fine so as to provide useful types of situations, against which specific casescan be matched. Yet the subdivisions are not so numerous as to be too cumbersome for a single scheme. This convenient compromise makes the I Ching readily applicable by the average person to episodes encountered in his own life.In 1143 B.C., King Wen systematically organized the sixty-four hexagrams into the cohesive scheme as we know it today. To each hexagram he gave a name and a thematictext, called the T'uan. The T'uan presents a summary of the hexagram's chief attributes, their expected impact upon the person involved, and related advice. The King's son,the Duke of Chou, added the Yao, which is a set of succinct statements concerning the respective constituent lines. The lines represent the evolving behavioral events withinthe T'uan, which result from the movements of the_ vital yin-yang forces of nature under the conditions of the hexagram. At times, a leitmotiv is carried throughout the six passages of the Yao. But frequently the relevancy of the meaning of one line to that of the next, or even of the T nal' itself, is not quite clear.Many other additions were made to the basic text over the next 1500 years. Thousands of scholars, philosophers, and men of action have extended the range of meaningsand applications of the original T' 11 a 11 and Yao. The most important of these commentaries is the Ten Wings. This has been ascribed to Confucius (551-479 B.c.),although much of it was undoubtedly the work of others. Another significant addition is the eight apocrypha, or Wei, which have been prepared during the late ChouDynasty (1150-249 B.c.) and the early Han (206 B.C.-220 A.D.). Thus, over a millennium of thought has gone into the development of the full meaning of the I Ching. Thecontributors have included those who have shaped the philosophy of the Chinese people. Its completion paralleled the cultural maturation of China. It is comprehensive andmany-sided, containing colorful metaphors, wise advice, practical guidelines, pithy folk sayings, intellectual verses, subtle phraseologies, and speculative ideas.Because of its multifaceted character the 1 Ching found important uses in a variety of ways. One of the earliest was a reference manual for prophecies. A person interested inhis future fortunes would follow standard ceremonial procedures for coming up with an appropriate number, from one to sixty-four, in answer to his question. The two popular techniques of the day were the sorting of forty-nine yarrow stalks and the tossing of three coins. He then looked up the oracular message in the correspondingsection of the text.It is to be noted that no prophet, priest, or oracle is required in the exercise. The person approached the I Ching not for the advice of a human intermediary but for the senseof the universal movement itself. He attempted to call forth, through the medium of the yarrow stalks or coins, the hexagram pointing out the appropriate direction for his behavior. The pronounced prophecy is a direct response to a question addressed to the universe itself. Since no human intervention is involved, the principal questionconcerning the validity of the prophecy is the correspondence mechanism between the seeker's future situation and the issuance of the correct hexagram.The Chinese themselves have never attempted to explain in the scientific sense how this correspondence takes place. They take it for granted that everything in the universeis interrelated, that there are general trends and cycles, and that universal assimilation of minor perturbances results in harmonious equilibrium. It has been said that "if Imove my hand to the right, everything in the universe also moves." So when a question is ceremoniously posed, the universe responds. It is only natural to do so.At any given moment, everything fits into the particular pattern of the moment. The fate of the seeker is thus inextricably bound with the cosmic interplay of the yin and theyang. If the suppliant is unfeigned, the I Ching will inform him as to the human situation in which he will find himself, through the medium of the ritual stalks or coins. TheI Ching further assures him that fate is not an awesome fixedness. Considerable latitude exists for personal accommodation and interstitial flexibility. The predictions aretherefore accompanied with useful advice regarding proper responses to the auguries on the part of the subject.The divinational aspects of the I Ching do not concern us in this book. They are mentioned purely for historical background. What is of immediate interest is the other equally common usage. Since the sixty-four hexagrams and their supporting literature constitute a comprehensive description of human sentiments and motivations, the textalso became a valuable synopsis for meditations on human relationships. It formed the basis of statecraft for many a prime minister of earlier dynasties. It provided the precepts for success and tranquillity. It became a much consulted manual on ethics. It was the source of many proverbs that have guided the lives of the Chinese from theearliest times to this very day. The directness of the I Ching's application to modern man, as well as the universality of its ideas, is indicated by the wide assortment of worldwide quotations used in this book to illustrate its contents.