Is it wrong to study the I Ching?


Full Question

I can understand the Church’s condemnation of fortune-telling and astrology, but isn’t the I Ching all right? I mean, it’s a Taoist holy book.

Answer

While study of Taoism or other religions can be worthwhile, one must draw the line at practicing them, especially when such practice directly violates Church teaching. And divination, such as using the I Ching as an oracle, is always forbidden.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead, or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums ["channelers"] all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (CCC 2116)

If you examine your motives for consulting the I Ching, you will notice that you employ it during times of anxiety or uncertainty. It is at just those times that we need to call upon the Lord, as the Catechism says, "putting ourselves confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it" (CCC 2115).

 


Terrye Newkirk