Ask an Expert: What is the I Ching?

By Brian Donohue 01/08/15

Today's question is on how the ancient Chinese practice of I Ching can help guide decisions in recovery.


Because my head is so often cloudy from drinking and other stuff I use, I am looking for a way to guide myself and the decisions I have to make. Someone mentioned the I Ching.  Anyone on your panel have any ideas about this?

Brian Donohue: Once you do away with the silliness about the ancient Chinese oracle’s ability to “tell the future,” the I Ching becomes an extraordinary support to recovery and self-insight. The future, after all, is most likely a vast illusion; and if it isn’t, it certainly is not a script of pre-determination, but a quantum field of possibility. 

A resource like the I Ching exists to help us achieve a self-determined future that harmonizes with our moment, our circumstances, personality, relationships – the complex set of dynamics that makes up what the Chinese called, at a microcosmic level, one’s tao. 

I have used the I Ching in my personal counseling practice, and the benefits have been consistently gratifying. As Jung recognized and recorded in his original Foreword to the famous Wilhelm translation of the oracle, the I Ching is a superbly clear mirror of the living psyche. For those wishing to undertake a complete study of the oracle, I would recommend the seminars and publications of the I Ching Institute, which is led by two of my own teachers, Carol Anthony and Hanna Moog. It is obviously best by far that you encounter this resource in a personal setting; but I can be reached via my contact page to discuss remote sessions.



Brian Donohue has an MA degree from Long Island University in clinical psychology, and has worked in private practice as a therapist with a loosely Jungian perspective and as a meditation teacher. He has worked with depressed people, anxious people, and people undergoing major life changes, challenges, and crises. See   Full Bio.

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