The “I Ching” – the “Book of Changes” – is one of the five canonical works that constituted the foundation of philosophical and scientific teaching in the culture of China. King Wen, an ancestor of the Chou Dynasty formulated this ancient Chinese wisdom far more than 3000 years ago. It preserved in the form of the 64 characters that we today call hexagrams (Hoefler, 1988, p.8). For, religious practice it was valuable because it helped to understand the peculiarities of relations between Yin and Yang, and it was a system of divination. Although, the “I Ching” has been used to tell the future, its real significance lies far deeper.
To understand this significance, firstly, it is necessary to analyze the formation of the name “I Ching” because covert nature of the phenomenon is always encrypted in its name. “Ching” is a Chinese character that translates as “Canonical Book”. Canonical in this case is synonymous with exemplary, in accordance with the canon, which is an old expression for the collection of Mystery books (such as Bible) that taught the Faith. “I” means “chameleon”, the lizard that can change the color of its skin depending on conditions such temperature fluctuation, hunger, fear or varying light. The chameleon is very similar to a human being, whose aura surrounding and protecting the astral body will change in color whenever a person undergoes changes (change of state of health) (Hoefler, 1988, p.8). The real mission of “I Ching” is to not only predict the future, but also help a person to develop his or her Faith. Moreover, it is concentrating on the state of human being’s aura. Therefore, “I Ching” is a way to get insight into one’s own life and change it for better. It is a guide, which offers a person direction in every conceivable situation: teaching, information, encouragement, advice, warning (Hoefler, 9).
Apart from great importance of “I Ching” in the life of every separate person, who believes in its power, this book is a great source of knowledge for eastern nations. Into the twentieth century, “I Ching” occupied a central place in Chinese culture, from the perspectives of philosophy, art, religion, and literature to those of politics and social life. Scientists found inspiration in the symbolism, language, and imagery of the “I Ching”. The book brought also many positive contributions in the field of literature by providing an analytical vocabulary, which serves in virtually area of elite and popular culture. In addition, Chinese scientists used “I Ching” – derived numerology, symbolism and mathematics to explain a wide range of natural phenomena and processes in the fields of physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, meteorology, medicine, and geology (Smith, 2012, p.2).
“I Ching” also helps to reveal the peculiarities of Chinese thought. Although, it may seem that this book, which was originally a book of oracles that answered “yes” or “no”, is able only to predict future, in fact, by these opposites it reveals the nature of Chinese philosophy. Chinese philosophy is a middle one between Buddhism and the philosophy of existence. Buddhism, which regards all existence as no more than illusion, and the philosophy of existence, which regards the existence as real behind the illusion of becoming are mixed together in Chinese thought and connected together by adding the element of time. It means that Chinese people believe that when two incompatible conditions meet in time, they become compatible by following each other in time, the one changing into other. This is the major idea of the Book of Changes: opposition and fellowship are produced together by time (Wilhelm, 1979, p.3).
To sum up, “I Ching” is not only a book that has a power to predict the future but also a book, which shows the way to improvement of Faith for every person, and a source, which reveals peculiarities of Chinese culture and helps to understand the nature of Chinese philosophy.