“The Tao is hidden, and has no name;
The Tao produced One;
One produced Two;
Two produced Three;
Three produced all things.”
Tao Te Ching
Most of our understanding about the psychology in Western culture has been the result of approximately 100 years of research and study. But where did the foundations for studying human behaviour originate from? What did our prominent psychologists base their findings on?
Essentially, our modern understanding of human behaviour stems from science that originated in China thousands of years ago. In fact, it is believed the first “book” in China reflected an ancient system built around a set of codes called the i-Ching, and written by a mythical figure.
According to Chinese mythology, China was originally ruled by three mythical sovereigns. “Heavenly King” Fu Xi (the first ruler) is believed to have developed the i-Ching, which became China’s Oracle. We know it the “Book of Changes”. While Fu Xi was mythical, the i-Ching became very real. It evolved over four dynasties to become the basis of China’s two key philosophies, Taoism and Confucianism. These two philosophies have widely influenced modern daily living, providing a strong base for Chinese medicine, astronomy, yoga, feng shui, meditation and even martial arts, all of which can be found in use within families and relationships, not to mention our military, government and legal systems. In fact, some very famous people throughout history have been influenced by the i-Ching over the centuries, including Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and even economist Maynard Keynes, to name but a few.
The i-Ching is based on the idea that everything in our natural world flows from a dynamic balance of opposites and that the nature of time changes as a result of this flow. Within this there is an immovable, ultimate path for each of us to follow and is represented as “opposites” within the i-Ching known as “Yin” and “Yang”, key elements which symbolize the perpetual interplay of Yin and Yang, night and day, male and female.
The i-Ching also related energy to matter through five elements. The Hexagrams of time (and energy), interplay with the five elements of place (and matter): wood, fire, earth, metal and water. According to the i-Ching we are born from energy to matter, and in so doing take on varying qualities of the first four elements … and it is this combination that defines our differences as individuals … and provides the foundation for understanding how we engage as individuals within our relationships. The i-Ching described the universe as being in constant flux, allowing us the choice to live in resonance with this flux by understanding it and following our path within it, or to be in a constant battle against it.
According to Roger Hamilton “while western culture became rooted in a Newtonian world based on cause-and-effect (until the advent of general relativity and quantum mechanics), Chinese culture has always focused on states of change, where nothing is static and where we experience entirely different realities in the context of our state of change at any moment in time”.