Customer Reviews: Complete I Ching
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on June 16, 1999
As an I-Ching author myself (Oracle of Changes I-Ching 1997), I have an exhaustive library of I-Ching books. Alfred Huang's is the latest addition to my collection, and by far the best. In fact, I believe it is the best I-Ching ever compiled.
It is translated from the original Chinese, but is much easier to understand than Wilhelm-Baynes and the other literal translations. The writing is poetic and conveys a personal warmth that makes the whole work engaging and easy to use. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Master Huang uses the ancient style of ideographs and proceeds to explicate the literal meaning of the graphical elements contained within each character.
This makes it possible even for a Westerner to see how the original Chinese character meant what it did, and how that relates to the text of the hexagram as a whole. This is only one outstanding feature that makes this version a must-have for anyone interested in an authentic I Ching experience.
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on February 1, 2001
I have had this book for two and a half years, and it was the first version of the I Ching I ever read. I am writing this review now, after reviewing and comparing quite a few other versions, to tell every person who loves the I Ching to get Master Alfred Huang's, which is by far the best of all, and to all newcomers to the I Ching to save money by buying this version, which is all they'll ever need.
To quote Master Huang, "Many Westerners know the I Ching, but they do not know the Tao of I". I means change; this book is about Changes, a master template to understand change and our place in it. There is no other I Ching I've read which so clearly expounds the Tao of I, the central yet difficult to discern theme of the I Ching. Many versions are limited to defining the meaning of each Hexagram in isolation, or dwell at length on the Yao (Line) texts, neglecting a thorough treatment of the situation expounded by the complete hexagram. Master Huang's Complete I Ching presents the text as a coherent, interrelated whole. The names of the hexagrams are carefully chosen to reflect this connection. The moving lines present the hexagram that will appear after the line changes from yin to yang or viceversa, making it easy to see what the progression of the situation will be. The text presents lots of additional reference information for each hexagram, useful for intermediate to advanced students. The Author also presents fascinating interpretations of the hexagrams based on references to the historical period when the I Ching is said to have been written. All this, compounded with a lucid, terse prose, make this book fascinating and easy to read (so you can keep going back to it time and again).
Master Huang mentions in his preface: "Sometimes when I have used English translations [of the I Ching] to divine, I have felt so depressed....When I use the Chinese text... there is always hope", and comments on his intention to recover this spirit in his translation. I believe he has attained this objective, and surpassed all other translators in presenting this greatest of Chinese classics for the western reader. Bravo, Master Huang! I Ching enthusiasts and newcomers, BUY THIS BOOK!
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on November 30, 1998
ALL of the English translations available have failed to achieve the open-endedness of this work. In the beginning of one's study of I Ching, one does not notice so much that the translation is actually muddying the waters. After many many years and digesting many situations, one comes to feel by intuition that the translations, especially Wilhelm, go completely off track at many points. For one thing, it is difficult to live in a world as delineated into "Superior Men" and "Inferior Men" as the Wilhelm translation has it. The terms are so absolute that thinking of one's fellows in them can actually CAUSE errors in action or perception when one is using the book as an oracle. Master Huang uses much less severe terms, which do not carry the harshness of many translations. He himself commented that his own experience with English translations used for oracles could depress him so badly he didn't want to try again! I agree completely from my own experience. This is just something one has to experience through many years to appreciate. The translation is EVERYTHING.
Master Huang's is the cleanest, clearest, least "contaminated" version available I think. "Neutral" might be a way to state this.
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on November 9, 1999
Because of his thorough understanding of the principles behind the words of the text of the I Ching, Master Huang makes the process of getting acquainted with the theory of changes a delight. Throughout the book, one is absorbed by the continuity, the pragmatic inner logic that binds the 64 hexagrams (or gua) into a flowing sequence. Master Huang's selection of names for the gua reflects his thoughtful insight into the way they follow each other. The Wilhelm-Baynes translation had made me think that the I Ching was the most abstruse and complicated oracle ever written, but thanks to Master Huang's work, the I Ching is now part of my daily life. To all newcomers to the I Ching I humbly recommend you read this book from beginning to end, one hexagram (or gua) every day, and then you will never get tired of going back to it. Many thanks are due to Master Huang for giving us a complete, definitive translation of the Book of Changes in these times of great change. His love of the text shines through in every word, and it makes the reader love the Book, too.
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on June 21, 2005
I have been a student of the I Ching for 5 years now, and in that time I've seen good translations and bad translations. This is, without a doubt, the best I've found yet, and I doubt I'll ever find one better than this.

For starters, Master Huang is very knowledgable. In addition to in-depth translations of each hexagram (gua) text, he includes translations of the hexagram (gua) names, the pictagrams used to describe them, as well as the translations of the hexagram names used in the Wilhelm and Blofeld translations. He gives in-depth information on each hexagram and their lines (yao), and true translations of their texts -- not just interpretations, as appear in many "translations".

Also included are Confuscious' commentaries, "The Ten Wings". Well, 8 of the 10 Wings are included -- I don't know why the other 2 were left out.

In a nutshell, Master Huang gives you all the information you could ask for on each of the hexagrams. Not only do you learn the message behind each hexagram and its lines, you also learn what the name means, what the pictagram represents, and how the lines define the message of the hexagram. He is also very respectful of the I Ching, and advises (very wisely I think) that those new to it only consult it for advice, and not for "What will happen if..." situations. Personally, I only use the I Ching for advice in difficult situations, though on rare occasions in the past have I asked for information concerning the outcome of a possible action.

I have only 1 misgiving, and it is that in addition to the yarrow stalk and coin toss methods, Master Huang provides an additional, alternate way to cast the I Ching so that only one line can possibly be in a state of change. This is done with the reasoning that multiple lines in change sometimes contradict each other. However, I would argue that such is life -- sometimes things occur that have both good and bad effects, or sometimes you find yourself in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. I feel that artificially limiting the number of moving lines is not right.

With that one misgiving aside, I recommend this translation and consider it to be, most likely, the best translation of the I Ching to date. If you only choose one translation, make it this one.
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on September 27, 2001
I confess, when I first purchased this book I was a little put off. I was new to the I Ching and I probably had the get answers quick mentality. I almost immediately put this book on the shelf. But I kept coming back to it in order to glean an in depth perspective. As I have grown in my studies of the Ching (only 8 months!!) and as I have applied its wisdom and answers to my current situations - I have realized just what a momumental task that Huang has accomplished. It goes without saying that this will be one of my prized versions. I now use it extensively because it gives accurate answers and provides appropriate background but it still very versatile for any situation. It's is a beautiful book, too. I recommend that you throw the dust jacket away. My binding was weak and may necessitate me purchasing another version, but oh well. I simply love this book. The prose and explanations are relevant and applicable. His value adds such as change patterns, et al are a great addition.
If you are new to the I Ching and getting your feet wet but want books of substance and endurance then The Complete I Ching is an excellent place to start and truthfully it will be the ONLY translation that you will need. I also recommend that you purchase Stephen Karcher's How to Use the I Ching and Sarah Denning's The Everyday I Ching. All three are a tour de force in your understanding and application of the I Ching's wisdom. If you really want your money's worth - get Karcher's I Ching kit since it has his book, yarrow stalks and coins.
If you wish to have one more resource, then I recommend R. L. Wing's I Ching Workbook as a means of understanding and visually seeing the patterns that affect your life.
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on March 16, 2005
I bought this book because I wanted to get closer to an original translation of the I-Ching. I found Alfred Huang's version very appealing, and I liked his occasional comments on the Taoist versus the Confucian view. But then I took another look at Kerson and Rosemary Huang's I-Ching (ISBN 0-89480-319-0), which goes to a pre-Confucian translation of the oracle based on recent archaelogical findings. Previously I found Kerson and Rosemary's images limiting, now I find them clear and poetic; but I had to read Alfred Huang's version to appreciate the difference. I'm giving it 4 stars because now that I've seen both, I feel they work best together.
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on November 25, 2004
Pretty much what has been said in other reviews are accurate. I want to say that there is a certain logic and flow to both Alfred Huang's writing and to the sequences of the hexagrams that I did not see in other texts. He also stresses that the core of I-Ching is not about divination but about coduct and sincerity. I never expected a book on divination could be so touching. Although it is probably out of character for Mr Huang to read reviews of his work, I hope that he does for the sake of knowing the lives he touched rather than for ego. It made me into a Taoist.
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on July 5, 2000
This book is not for those who seek a mere (and instant) answer for every divination and then continues with life. This is a handbook for spiritual development.
The book restores originality of I Ching context, with our minds given total freedom to interpret the texts. All 500 pages of divination pages exhibits every 'gua' (Hexagram) and its corresponding 'yao' (lines) as they are, with explanations limited only to their ancient Chinese context. It portrays the meaning of each figurative element of every ideograph, effects of relationship between two trigrams within each hexagram, sequencing logic of the guas, meaning of the decisions and Confucius' commentaries within their ancient social customs, and effects of progression and transformation of each yao from bottom to top, along with relationships between neighbouring yaos. Therefore, a deep meditative state of mind is required to fully understand the texts and relate them to our specific context of divination.
Every gua has a lot of wisdom to learn from, hence it is highly recommended to read the entire passages for every gua thoroughly. The clarity of Master Huang's translation enables us to further exploring and comparing different guas with lucid comprehension, for that the original nuances are explained faithfully. I even feel that it is a good habit to read the entire book even when we are not seeking divination. The more we know every gua in the same way we know more of each of our friends, the more we cultivate our spiritual understanding of life and its cyclical changes. Going forward, the farther we grow, we could eventually come to appreciate that I Ching is, afterall, a truly integrated oracle with thorough guides in many (if not most) aspects of life and spiritual building.
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on July 13, 2001
Alfred Huang's modern American prose and poetry translation of the I Ching is "the best" translation I've read. There are many enjoyable commentaries on the I Ching in English (e.g. Wu Wei's I Ching Wisdom) and there are older translations of the I Ching held in high esteem by western scholars (e.g. The Richard Wilhelm/Cary F. Baynes translation). But with Alfred Huang's translation, you get a pre-"cultural revolution" professor of Taoist philosophy translating the I Ching directly into English from ancient Chinese texts and modern Chinese commentaries/scholarship. This is much better than reading Cary F. Baynes' "English language" translation of Richard Wilhelm's "German translation" of Chinese texts -- which until Master Huang's translation was considered the "definitive" English-language translation available. The I Ching is comprised of four parts: 1) divinatory passages 2) history of the Zhou overthrow of the Shang dynasty 3) Duke of Zhou's commentary and 4) commentary by Confucius. Alfred Huang adds a "fifth" part: a scholarly and native-Chinese perspective on ancient and modern Chinese cultures. In those five parts of the Alfred Huang's translation of the I Ching one finds: 6) tons of practical Chinese philosophical meditations on living attuned to the laws of nature and humanity. Despite my praise for Huang's translation, I do have some questions or concerns! For example, in comparing his translation to "other translations in English," Alfred Huang relies almost exclusively on only two English-language translations by Wilhelm/Baynes and Bloefeld -- only dropping "James Legge's" name in a brief introductory cameo appearance. There is scant mention of the many other English-language translations available. For Master Huang to simply say I focus on only Wilhelm/Baynes and Bloefeld because they are "the best" in English is not convincing scholarship; it's merely a claim. His scholarship with the Chinese texts seems apparent, but I would like to see more comparisons with other English-language translations. Can some of the other translations into English spread light on the I Ching? My second reservation: how much is Alfred Huang's own commentary influenced by his immersion in Taoist and Confucian philosophy, and how does this chronologically undercut the purity of his translations? In other words, are we getting an anachronistic I Ching translation here -- i.e. a post Taoist-Confucian reading or rearticulation of the I Ching? (And why does Master Huang only use 5 of the 10 "Wings" of Confucius and not all 10 in his translation?) Despite these reservations, I can only applaud Alfred Huang's translation as masterful and definitive. Without having flipped a single coin or yarrow stalk, Master Huang's text has begun to transform my restless life into one of greater harmony. Of course, he would say it is not he who transforms, but the wisdom of the I Ching. Thank you Master Huang for making the I Ching more accessible to my daily life. I hope you translate the Tao Te Ching next. Xie Xie Ni Da Shi!
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