Yi Jing -

World's Oldest Surviving Book



Written more than 5,000 years ago, Yi Jing (易经) also known as I Ching or Book of Changes, is perhaps the world’s oldest surviving book.

Having some understanding of what the book says will help you appreciate the Chinese culture and mindset.

The book is profound. It is, nevertheless, very difficult to read and comprehend, as it uses hexagrams, as well as very succint and symbolic language to put the messages across.  

When it was first discovered, the book contained only symbols. Thanks to people like King Wen who deciphered the symbols and expanded the book to make it more comprehensible and applicable.  

It is generally believed that the accompanying commentaries and notes that guide the reading were written by Confucius, although this view has become controversial in recent years.


Foremost of Chinese Classics

I ching is the foremost of all Chinese classics. Almost all schools of thought in China find their origin in the book.  

For thousands of years, the book's impact on the intellects and social elites in China was clear. It was said that, “if you do not know I Ching, you are not fit to be a Prime Minister!”  Works of the wisest men of Chinese, from Laozi, Confucius to Sun Tzu, are all influenced by the book in one way or another. 

It has also heavy impact on the ordinary people. The beliefs of yijing is so deeply rooted in the culture. Most Chinese think and behave the ways it teaches without knowing. It is in the food they eat, the lingo they use, and the ways they view the world.   

Almost all disciplines of studies in China refer to iching in one way or another.  If you study Chinese medicine, for example, you will need to have basic knowledge of the book. You can even use the Gua (trigrams) in I Ching to explain the structure of DNA and chemical elements. 

Let’s familiarize ourselves with some of the basic concepts of this book.

For simplicity, we focus on only two subject matters of the book:

Ying yang

Yin and yang are two sides of dualism, like the tail and the head of a coin. If the tail is yin, the head is yang. They exist alongside one another. The head cannot exist without the tail, and the tail cannot exist without the head.

The same phenomenon is found in everything in this world, in which you can always find yin and yang. How yin and yang work, and how a balance can be achieved between them, is a major theme of yijing.

Read more about yin yang.

Man in the Universe

From the I Ching's perspective, man is only a tiny part of the universe.

To maximize your being, before seeking what you want, you should be aware of the position that you're in. Doing the very same thing in a different context, i.e. under different circumstances and at different time and with different people, can produce very different results.

The 64 hexagrams of the books explains the various situations that you could be in, and how you could handle them wisely.

Read more about man and universe, from the perspective of I Ching.

Influence on Business mindset

I Ching's impact on the Chinese mindset is far-reaching and all-emcompassing. This could explain why the behavior of Chinese can now be orderly, and now fluid.


Read more about Impact of iching and I Ching for business

Read more on Chinese culture.

Read more on Chinese mindset.

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