For those who think of themselves as secular, rational, and scientific, the Yijing seems to be a work of “awesome obscurity,” full of unfamiliar symbols and cryptic sayings, and reflecting a worldview sometimes described as “mystical” or “prelogical.” And for those of a more religious disposition, the lack of a cosmology based on the willful actions of a god or gods seems equally puzzling. In either case the Changes appears to be little more than a series of briefly annotated broken and solid lines that have no meanings except for those arbitrarily imposed on them by centuries of often-conflicting Chinese commentaries.
Yet there is logic to the work, which, for at least three thousand years, China’s greatest minds have sought to fathom and articulate. Into the twentieth century, the Yijing occupied a central place in Chinese culture, from the realms of philosophy, religion, art, and literature to those of politics and social life. Thinkers of every intellectual persuasion found inspiration in the language, symbolism, and imagery of the Changes. The work also inspired many impressive artistic and