Sunday, July 11, 2010

Carl Jung and the I Ching

Ultimately, when one starts unwinding the various threads that compose our paranormal tapestry, we eventually arrive at possibly one of the oldest and certainly the most extensive divination systems ever created - the I Ching. Developed in bronze age China during the Shang dynasty, it was the oracle of the Chou people. It's early history has all the inevitable attending mythology one might assume of any antiquity, but not all of it is necessarily expected.

"For example, according to legend, the early Chou ministery Hung Yao had a face and body completely covered by hair. This became plausible after archeologists discovered Neolithic skeletons of a hairy race in a cave of about 15,000 B.C."
- Ralph Abraham - from Commentaries on the I Ching, 1972.

Is this our first indication of the Yeti? Then again:

"Another version also involving tortoise shells describes descendents of the “many Fu”—an ancient clan of female diviners—who read the shells of live turtles. According to the legend, they became the queens and royalty of the Shang Dynasty—which had been considered mythical until archeological evidence proving its existence was unearthed in 1899. Some say Lao Tzu, the enlightened forefather of Taoism and the author of the Tao Te Ching, was a descendent of this clan."

Ah, of witches and queens. But, keep the name Lao Tzu in mind; it'll resurface in my next post. And, about those tortoise shells:

"But little by little they came to the conclusion that it was the quality of the moment more than the goodwill of the gods that was important and that created the cracks. Their pragmatic side led them progressively to do without the intervention of the gods. They ceased to perform expensive sacrifices and created a new ceremonial, using tortoise shells on which they apply firebrands. For the Chinese, the tortoise is a living form at the image of the universe. Who could, better than her, answer the interrogations of men on the quality of time? These shells were then carefully stored and archived. To remember their interpretations, the seers, becoming scribes, carved little signs beside the cracks. It is these signs which gave birth to the ideograms of the Chinese writing. They observed, thanks to their archives – hundreds of thousands of tortoise shells have been recently found – that the same cracks reappeared with similar meanings. So, starting from empiric data, a very structured system was developed, which became, after centuries of trial and error, the I Ching that we know today. "

And, it was this very concept, "the quality of the moment" that a millennium or two later, in the 20th century, reverberated in one man's mind, leading him to an explosive metaphysical hypothesis that still rocks our world... both the scientific-paranormal and the psycho-scientific. The man was Carl Jung. His concept: Synchronicity. F. David Peat wrote in his illuminating Synchronicity, The Bridge Between Mind & Matter (one of my bibles in the 1980's):

"In 1929, while lecturing to a group of students, Jung said, 'Synchronicism is the prejudice of the East, causality is the modern prejudice of the West". A year later, during a memorial address on the death of Richard Wilhelm, the noted student of Chinese thought, Jung expanded on the original remark,: 'The science of the I Ching, indeed, is not based on the causality principle, but on a principle (hitherto unnamed because not met with us) which I have tentatively called the synchronistic principle.'...Five years later, Jung appears to have used the term "synchronicity" for the first time. 'Tao can be anything, I use another word to designate it, but it is poor enough. I call it synchronicity.'"

For any serious student of the paranormal, it is crucial to understand the relationship between that terribly occult mechanism of divination - the oracle - and Jung's concept of synchronicity. To that end, I recommend another one of my bibles of the 80's: Marie-Louise Von Franz's On Divination and Synchronicity - The Psychology of Meaningful Chance. In the end, that word, "meaningful", is where the doors of mechanistic science slam shut and the psycho-paranormal world begins. Ah, but there are cracks at the perimeters of the mightiest of doors... and Carl Jung is whispering through each and every one of them.

1 comment:

  1. I have recently been reading a series of novels in which the main character touches upon the fact that Eastern philosophy predates the modern concept of quantum physics - those cracks at the perimenters of our doors.