Jung, the I Ching and Synchronicity


“I first met Richard Wilhelm at Count Keyserling’s during a meeting of the “School of Wisdom” in Darmstadt. That was in the early twenties. In 1923 we invited him to Zurich and he spoke on the I Ching (or Yi Jing) at the Psychology Club.

Even before meeting him I had been interested in Oriental philosophy, and around 1920 had begun experimenting with the I Ching. One summer in Bollingen I resolved to make an all-out attack on the riddle of this book. Instead of traditional stalks of yarrow required by the classical method, I cut myself a bunch of reeds. I would sit for hours on the ground beneath the hundred-year-old pear tree, the I Ching beside me, practicing the technique by referring the resultant oracles to one another in an interplay of questions and answers. All sorts of undeniably remarkable results emerged-meaningful connections with my own thought processes which I could not explain to myself…

During the whole of those summer holidays I was preoccupied with the question: Are the I Ching’s answers meaningful or not? If they are, how does the connection between the psychic and the physical sequence of events come about? Time and again I encountered amazing coincidences which seemed to suggest the idea of an acausal parallelism (a synchronicity, as I later called it). So fascinated was I by these experiments that I altogether forgot to take notes, which I afterward greatly regretted. Later, however, when I often used to carry out the experiment with my patients, it became quite clear that a significant number of answers did indeed hit the mark.

I remember, for example, the case of a young man with a strong mother complex. He wanted to marry, and had made the acquaintance of a seemingly suitable girl. However, he felt uncertain, fearing that under the influence of his complex he might once more find himself in the power of an overwhelming mother. I conducted the experiment with him. The text of his hexagram read: ‘The maiden is powerful. One should not marry such a maiden.’ “

Memories, Dreams and Reflections
Pages 373-374


 

From The I Ching, translated by Richard Wilhelm
This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from within and below. Of its own accord the female principle comes to meet the male. It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences.


above: CH’IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN
below: SUN THE GENTLE, WIND
THE JUDGMENT

COMING TO MEET.
The maiden is powerful.
One should not marry such a maiden.

THE IMAGE

Under heaven, wind:
The image of COMING TO MEET.


 

Links:
Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching

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