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Dear catholic.com visitors: This Catholic Answers website, with all its free resources, is the world’s largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. We receive no funding from the institutional Church and rely entirely on your generosity to sustain this website with trustworthy, accessible content. If every visitor this month donated $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. If you’ve never made a gift, now is the time. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar this week only. Thanks and God bless.

Is it wrong to study the I Ching?

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).

 

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