I Ching as the Model of the Psyche

Here the more energetic hexagrams of the I Ching can be seen as representing the extended model of the psyche, while the more static hexagrams would better correspond to Jung's classical, simpler model of the psyche.

I Ching as the Model of the Psyche

by Ivan Dugic

Abstract

One aspect of the Book of Changes or I Ching is the symbolical representation of the dynamic of the psyche, which also includes the model of the psyche seen, not so from the structural mandala-aspect, as from the dynamical transformational aspect. Here the more energetic hexagrams of the I Ching can be seen as representing the extended model of the psyche, while the more static hexagrams would better correspond to Jung's classical, simpler model of the psyche, which - like in physics - can be seen as the low-energetic approximation of the extended model. From the other side, the intriguing correspondence with the M-theory in contemporary physics (which - like the I Ching and the new Jerusalem - consists of the six parts: the six different theories that represent the same transcendental totality given from different perspectives) suggest that each of the six lines in the hexagram represents the whole psyche seen from different aspects and especially different times. Therefore our models must be taken with reserve.

Introduction

In this essay I would treat the I Ching as the symbolical picturing of the dynamic of the psyche - exactly as the model of the psyche seen, not so from the structural mandala-aspect, as from the dynamical transformational aspect. Here the more energetic hexagrams better express the extended model of the psyche, while the more static hexagrams better correspond to Jung's classical model of the psyche.

From the other side, the intriguing correspondence with the M-theory in contemporary physics, which - like the I Ching and the cubic new Jerusalem - consists of the six parts, the six different theories which represents six different views on the same underlying structure, suggest that each of the six lines in the hexagram represents the whole psyche seen from different perspectives and - in the first place - times. Therefore our models must be taken only to some degree, particularly because of the I Ching's holistic character, where our models are only parts or aspects of its organic wholeness.

Here is especially interesting a comparison with the new Jerusalem, which as a three-dimensional mandala symbolizes the overall integration of the psyche: “there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1). However, here - differently to the I Ching! - the transformation begins not from the earth, but from the heaven, here placed in the center of the mandala. Also the new Jerusalem, been in the heaven, is above the earthly reality, and therefore without darkness. Therefore the empirical individuation process can be seen as a mirror-image in the dark water of the psyche of the transformation of the heavenly mandala approaching toward the earth symbolizing conscious part of the psyche. Or, more exactly, here the extended individuation process in the individual psyche can be seen as caused by the approaching of the new Jerusalem from heaven toward the high mountain, which would symbolize the integrated conscious part of the psyche that must be strong enough for this total integration of the psyche. In difference to the heavenly mandala, where the transformation comes from its center (from the center of the heaven), in the mirrored empirical mandala - like in the I Ching - the transformation would come from the center of the earth. Moreover, this seems not to be the only mirroring present in the I Ching, since the mirroring is also present in the reverse counting of its transformations or changes, as well as in the double reversal of the world's parts, where the north is placed in the south (with the south in the north), while the east is in the west and vice versa.

In this work I will use the edition of the I Ching prepared by Richard Wilhelm: I Ching or Book of Changes (Wilhelm, 1950), which includes commentaries based on the explanations of his old Chinese teacher, the venerable sage Lao Nai-hsuan.

Jung’s Classical Model of the Psyche

Jung's model of the psyche, which can be also called the classical or standard model of the psyche, is characterized with four psychological functions. This model can be schematically pictured with the Self in the middle (but extending overall), and the main function placed above in the area of the conscious part of the psyche. Beside the most differentiated function there are two auxiliary functions, which are only partially conscious. Opposed to the main or superior function there is also the archaic or inferior function, which is contaminated with the unconscious contents and therefore not capable of conscious use.

In difference to Jung's classical model of the psyche - with four psychological functions representing four principle of consciousness: thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation – the hexagrams of the I Ching have six elements represented with six lines. Since the first and last line are, as Wilhelm expressed it, outside the time, they represent the still unconscious part of the psyche - its chthonic and spiritual part. Therefore we can draw these connections:

the sixth line – the upper heavenly area, represented with the sage outside the world: the spiritual part of the psyche;

the fifth line – the lower heavenly area, represented with the king or prince: the main, most differentiated psychological function;

the fourth line – the upper human area, represented with the minister: the first, more differentiated auxiliary function,

the third line – the lower human area of the transitional character: the second auxiliary function;

the second line – the upper earthly area, sometimes symbolized with the official in the country, sometimes with the wife: the archaic function; and

the first line – the lower earthly area: the chthonic part of the psyche.

However, we must be always aware that this basic scheme represents only the underlying static structure of the psyche, which in most cases - because of the transformations present in the hexagrams and expressed with their changeable lines - is more or less changed. So, for example, in the hexagram 36, Ming I (Darkening of the Light) the shadow aspect of the psyche, represented with the evil tyrant Chou Hsin appears in the first changeable line and ascends toward the top sixth line, where the activated archetypal shadow of the mana-personality (the changeable top line) causes:

Not light but darkness,

First he climbed up to heaven,

Then he plunged into the depths of the earth.

Here the shadow of the old man, after the inflation that made impossible its integration, sinks in the inactive, unconscious state again. In a still not integrated psyche this potential unconscious state of the archetypal old man, together with his shadow, would be contained in the depths of the earth, in the I Ching corresponding to the first static (not activated) line.

To acquire a clearer picture of the standard model of the psyche, we would now turn to the next, 37th hexagram: Chia Jen, The Family (The Clan), since it represents an enduring and stable state of the self-contained community: “The Family shows the laws operative within the household that, transferred to outside life, keep the state and the world in order. The influence that goes out from within the family is represented by the symbol of the wind created by fire” (Wilhelm, 1950, p. 143). Here the lines of the hexagram represent the members of the family:

The strong line at the top represents the father, the lowest the son. The strong line in the fifth place represents the husband, the yielding second line the wife. On the other hand, the two strong lines in the fifth and the third place represent two brothers, and the two weak lines correlated with them in the fourth and the second place stand for their respective wives. (ibid.)

Since in The Family “each individual line has the character according with its place” and “all the connections and relationships within the family find their appropriate expression,” we can take this hexagram as representing the wholeness of the psyche in a relatively stable state.

In this organically growing community the distanced introverted sage connected with the sixth changeable line has returned to the world and taken an active part in it: “The fact that a strong line occupies the sixth place – where a weak line might be expected – indicates very clearly the strong leadership that must come from the head of the family. The line is to be considered here not in its quality as the sixth but … as the top line” (ibid.). Therefore here this strong outer line can be also seen as the persona of the integrated psyche:

His work commands respects.

In the end good fortune comes.

Here the persona can also extend on the strong fifth line (the husband), which represents the main psychological function also responsible for the representation of the family in the communication with the outside world:

As a king he approaches his family.

Fear not. Good fortune.

Wilhelm comments a king as “the symbol of a fatherly man … richly endowed in mind,” which is also a good description of the integrated main function, as well as the persona, characterized with the trustworthiness and wise decisions. Therefore, in difference to his earlier, not so reliable state coming from the contamination with the archaic contents, here is the assertion: “Fear not. Good fortune”. The process of growing, especially when conscious, brings cyclically to certain dissociation of the psyche. (We can here even speak of the fragmentation of the psyche caused by the activated archaic complexes, which can dissociate even the most differentiated parts of the psyche.)

Contrary to the fifth strong line, the second weak line - the wife - which in our context symbolizes the anima, as well as the archaic function - must be confined in the interior world of the psyche, and kept apart from an interfering into the outer world. This is especially the case with the changeable second line, symbolizing the activated, but still not integrated anima:

She should not follow her whims.

She must attend within to the food.

Perseverance brings good fortune.

As Wilhelm formulated: "Her [ the anima ] place is within (second line), while that of the husband [ the ego ] is without (fifth line). It is in accord with the great laws of nature that husband and wife take their proper places” (ibid., pp. 143-4).

In this hexagram the dynamical, changeable first line is completely isolated from the interference into the outside (as well as inside) world:

Firm seclusion within the family.

Remorse disappears.

This line, which represents the chthonic part of the archaic psyche, can also include the deepest part of the anima complex, particularly the mother archetype. Than the fifth and sixth line – the persona and the main most differentiated function – would correspond to the father archetype, which would also represent the collective consciousness.

The old archaic Chinese text, coming from the psychic state of mystical participation, does not differentiate between the interior psychic world and the outer world, particularly between the family as the psyche in its completeness and the real family in the outer world. This is especially present in the comment of Richard Wilhelm (or is here better to say, of the old Chinese sage Lao Nai-hsuan) which, in difference to the old text, has strong patriarchal coloration:

The wife must always be guided by the will of the master of the house, be he father, husband, or grown son. Her place is within house. There, without having to look for them, she has great and important duties. She must attend to the nourishment of her family and the food for the sacrifice. In this way she becomes the center of the social and religious life of the family, and her perseverance in this position brings good fortune to the whole house. (ibid., p. 145)

However, this text more or less correctly describes the duties and the proper area for the anima, which functions as the medium between the conscious part of the psyche and its deeper collective archetypal layers.

The third line in the Chinese concept is connected with the younger brother, which in our context represents the second less differentiated auxiliary function. Therefore its active, changeable state goes too far. In difference to the lower second line, representing the archaic undifferentiated function, as well as the anima, which in the second line, through introversion, must attend within to the food for the whole family (for the whole psychic structure) - in the third active line a situation is not so clear. Here the second auxiliary function would be confined only to some degree, where the severity would be lesser fault than toleration:

When tempers flare up in the family,

Too great severity brings remorse.

Good fortune nonetheless.

When woman and child dally and laugh,

It leads in the end to humiliation.

The Extended Model of the Psyche

Hence even in this self-contained unity the third line seems to be the most critical or unstable, it brings in question the third line as the second auxiliary function. It seems that the third line would better correspond to the archaic function connected with the anima, and also with the Self (“woman and child”), where in their activated archaic state “woman and child dally and laugh.” That is exactly the case in the extended model of the psyche, which will be analyzed in this second part. From the other side, since the second auxiliary function is closer to conscious personality than the archaic function, here the archaic contents would cause much more disturbances.

Contrary to it, the yielding forth line, the wife of the older brother, which in the classical model of the psyche represents the first more differentiated auxiliary function is, even in its active changeable state, characterized as:

She is the treasure of the house.

Great good fortune.

Wilhelm’s comment of this line calls in mind Jung’s observations about the first auxiliary function as the irreplaceable corrective for the main psychological function:

It is upon the woman of the house that the well-being of the family depends. Well-being prevails when expenditures and income are soundly balanced. This leads to great good fortune. In the sphere of public life, this line refers to the faithful steward whose measures further the general welfare. (ibid., p. 146)

To summarize, comparing the lines of the hexagrams in the I Ching with the Jung's classical model of the psyche, we have these relations:

6. the extracted and integrated part of the collective psyche (the sage distanced from the world, the wise old man, and also the collective consciousness); in some hexagrams - as in our case, in the hexagram of The Family - it can symbolize the integrated and enlarged persona, which may be called the persona of the personal Self; contrary to it in some hexagrams this line represents not yet integrated (spiritual but archaic) part of the collective unconscious;

5. the main most differentiated function, and also the ego (the husband, also the older brother);

4. the first auxiliary function (the wife of the older brother);

3. the second auxiliary function (the younger brother, while in activated state the line is represented with woman and child which symbolize autonomic complexes not liable to conscious control);

2. the archaic function (in activated state - a woman, the activated anima complex; in a stable unstirred, unchangeable state - the wife of the husband in the fifth line, also the wife of the younger brother); and

1. the deepest still inactive unconscious part of the collective psyche (the firm seclusion within the family).

But - in difference to Jung's classical model of the psyche - in many hexagrams of the I Ching the three lower lines (symbolizing the inferior man) are in corresponding relationship with the three upper lines (the superior man):

Lines occupying analogous places in the lower and the upper trigram sometimes have an especially close relationship of correspondence. As a rule, firm lines correspond with yielding lines only, and vice versa. The following lines, provided that they differ in kind, correspond: the first and the fourth, the second and the fifth, the third and the top line. Of these, the most important are the two central lines in the second and the fifth line, which stand in the correct relationship of official to ruler, son to father, wife to husband. (ibid., p. 361)

To fulfill these requirements we must transform Jung’s classical model of the psyche through the differentiation of the psychological functions on the superior and inferior parts. But this differentiation, as represented in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertari from 13th century BC, would give eight, not six parts. Thus in the tomb of Nefertari we have the bull and the seven cows placed in four columns and two rows. But it seems that this psychological structure represents only the beginning of further differentiation, which can be concluded, for example, from the golden mask of Tutankhamun (14th century BC), that is, from its necklace with twelve concentric parts in symbolical colors. On that also point the twelve colored foundations of the new Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation, as well as the astrological system - which Jung characterized as the most ancient and most extensive model of the psyche - where the differentiation of the four psychological functions, symbolized with the four elements, are extended into the twelve signs of the zodiac.

These parallels have also risen the question: Why is the I Ching confined on the six parts? Is it simplified to be accessible to the conscious analysis? Or because - in difference to the astrological model and the new Jerusalem - the I Ching does not represent the complete model of the psyche?

In that context I would start with the amazing similarity between the forces in modern physics with the psychological functions in Jung's model of the psyche: gravitation - intuition, electromagnetic - feeling, weak - thinking, and strong force - sensation function. In correspondence to the material area (where, above the energetic level of our familiar world, first comes to the integration or merging of weak and electromagnetic force into the electroweak force) in the extended individuation process would first come to the integration of the rational functions of thinking and feeling. (On the next stage, on the still higher energies, then comes to the integration of the strong with the electroweak force, which would correspond the integration of sensation with thinking and feeling, while on the last stage would finally come to the integration of the psychological function of intuition.) From that perspective the sixfold model of the I Ching would include only the first integration level, where came to the merging of the two auxiliary functions into one function - together with the differentiation of this threefold psychic structure into its superior and inferior parts. Therefore this extended model of the psyche - in difference to Jung's classical model - fulfills the corresponding relationships between the lines of the upper and lower trigrams:

6. the extracted, superior part of the archaic function, the distanced sage - the integrated part of the Self; it can be also the persona of the extended and integrated ego, or even the persona of the personal Self;

5. the superior part of the main function; the ego; also the part of the persona;

4. the superior part of the auxiliary functions; the boundary of the ego and anima;

3. the archaic function; the part of the anima;

2. the inferior part of the main function; the part of the anima;

1. the inferior part of the auxiliary functions - the most archaic part of the collective unconscious.

It is only a schematic, simplified presentation, thus the anima as the intermediary complex can also appear in the remaining lines of the hexagrams, especially in emotional states.

Speaking about the completeness of the sixfold model of the I Ching, we must say that the sixfold structure is also present in the six planes of the new Jerusalem, which as a three-dimensional mandala represents the tendency toward the integration of the psyche in its wholeness - hence “there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1). This cubic model of the psyche is on the periphery even founded on the eros principle, differentiated into the twelve parts made of differently colored precious stones - while its transparent interior would better correspond to the logos principle. Here - in difference to the I Ching - the transformation begins not from the earth, but from the heaven which is here in the center. Because - in difference to the I Ching - the heavenly Jerusalem is without darkness and above the earthly reality, it is only the potential ideal structure, a gift of God. Therefore the empirical individuation process can be seen as a mirror-image of the heavenly mandala in the dark water of psyche. While in the heavenly mandala transformation comes from its center, from the center of the heaven - in the mirrored empirical mandala, like in the I Ching, the transformation begins from the center of the earth.

Also, from the intriguing correspondence with the M-theory (which - like the I Ching and the new Jerusalem - consists of the six parts, the six different theories: the five string theories together with the supergravity, which M-theory unites in a single theoretical framework) can be concluded that each of the six lines in the I Ching would represent the whole psyche seen from different aspects, especially from different times (where, with the extension of the individuation process, each of the six lines would also extend toward the wholeness of the psyche).

As an illustration of the extended model of the psyche and its dynamism, I would here take the hexagram 54, Kuei Mei (The Marrying Maiden), since it is strongly dominated by the eros principle. Here even the integration of the superior part of the main function, represented with the weak dynamical fifth line, requires utmost modesty and simplicity:

The sovereign I gave his daughter in marriage.

The embroidered garments of the princess

Were not as gorgeous as those of the servingmaid.

This is a fulfillment of the decision of the sovereign I from the hexagram 11, T’ai (Peace), also the weak changeable fifth line (six in the fifth place):

The sovereign I gives his daughter in marriage.

This brings blessing and supreme good fortune.

Wilhelm explains: “The sovereign I is T’ang, the Completer. By his decree the imperial princesses, although higher in rank than their husbands, had to obey them like all other wives. Here too we are shown a truly modest union of high and low that brings happiness and blessing” (ibid., p. 51).

While the strong second line represents the husband, the yielding fifth line symbolizes the wife. Psychologically, this coming of the anima on the place of the main function would cause an inflation of the psyche, which therefore must be hold in check with the higher authority, the old wise man as the representative of the Self. Here the anima, despite been integrated in the fifth line, is connected with the nuclear trigram Tui, that is, with the second, third and forth line.

The eros principle, which extends the standard model of the psyche, is even more present in the hexagram 54, Kuei Mei (The Marrying Maiden). Here the activation of the most archaic parts of the psyche transform the marrying maiden, first into “a concubine” (the first line), and then – even worse - in the third line into the slave; while the forth line brings to the late marriage, the fifth line finally transforms the feminine element into the princess. Here, even more than in the earlier hexagram, the exaltation of the eros principle is hold in check and transformed with the modesty and simplicity.

In the hexagram 37, Chia Jen (The Family, The Clan), the integration of the eros principle was achieved in the fourth line: “She is the treasure of the house. Great good fortune.” In Jung's classical model of the psyche this correspond to the first auxiliary function, while the strong fifth line ( “As a king he approaches his family. Fear not. Good fortune.”) represents the main or superior function, as well as the persona (still in formation), which extends into the sixth line, where it is completely structured (“His work commands respects. In the end good fortune comes.”).

In difference to the hexagram 37, Chia Jen (The Family, The Clan), the hexagram 54, Kuei Mei (The Marrying Maiden), can be taken as the representation of the extended model of the psyche. This structure, been embedded in the eros principle, is very sensitive. This is also the case with the superior part of the main function represented with the fifth line, which require utmost modesty and simplicity; therefore its inferior part, representing its shadow part, must be transformed on an introverted way: “A one-eyed man who is able to see. The perseverance of a solitary man furthers.” The third line, representing the lowest place of the maiden, corresponds to the archaic function: “The marrying maiden as the slave. She marries as a concubine.”

Here the concluding sentence: “The moon that is nearly fool brings good fortune,” of the weak dynamic fifth line, corresponding to the superior part of the main function, as well as to the ego-complex, again points on modesty and delicacy.

Also the dark changing sixth line, corresponding to the extracted superior part of the archaic function (the third line), is here completely open of the unpredictable eros principle. The outer intermediary complex is here completely emptied: “The woman holds the basket, but there are no fruits in it. The man stabs the sheep, but no blood flows.”

Conclusion

One aspect of the Book of Changes or I Ching is the symbolical representation of the dynamic of the psyche, which also includes the model of the psyche seen, not so from the structural mandala-aspect, as from the dynamical transformational aspect. Here the more energetic hexagrams of the I Ching can be seen as representing the extended model of the psyche, while the more static hexagrams would better correspond to the more simple Jung's classical model of the psyche, which - like in physics - can be seen as the low-energetic approximation of the extended model. From the other side, the intriguing correspondence with the M-theory in contemporary physics (which - like the I Ching and the new Jerusalem - consists of the six parts: the six different theories that represent the same transcendental totality given from different perspectives) suggest that each of the six lines in the hexagram represents the whole psyche seen from different aspects and especially different times. Therefore our models must be taken with reserve.

© Ivan Dugic 2004.

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References

Wilhelm, Richard, trans. (1950) I Ching or Book of Changes. London: Arkana, Penguin Group, 1989.