Joseph Murphy, a metaphysical author of the early twentieth century, combined the I Ching (aka : The Book of Changes), an ancient Chinese oracle, with the timeless wisdom of the Bible. The I Ching consists of 64 hexagrams. One throws coins or lots in order to derive a hexagram in response to one’s question. Murphy linked a biblical verse or idea with each hexagram.
Here I will dispense with Murphy’s philosophical rationale and simply offer you a sample of his oracular offerings. I asked a question about whether a certain relationship will be restored.
I received: Hexagram 50 with changing lines 1 and 5. The relating hexagram, which is derived from the changing lines, is hexagram 1.
I have reproduced, below, the commentary on this Hexagram (with moving lines) as described in the traditional I Ching, translated by R. Wilhelm. I place, alongside this reading, Joseph’s Murphy’s biblical rendition of the same hexagram.
In the traditional I Ching (see Wilhelm text below), hexagram 50 represents a caldron, which is a vessel that was used to cook food as offerings in a Temple, for ancestors, or at banquets. This hexagram points to the inner changes that need to be nourished in order for something good to be accomplished. The moving lines indicate (1) that something impure (causing stagnation) must be removed from the caldron; one may have to accept an inferior position (i.e. being a concubine) for the sake of a better future or result (i.e. represented by one’s son). In moving line (5), the caldron has jade handles, enabling a person to carry it correctly. This indicates readiness; the things in the caldron are cooked. The person carrying the caldron shows proper respect for the offering being made.
With respect to the question asked, the hexagram suggests that the relationship has led to inner transformation; or inner transformation is necessary for the relationship to go forward. With regard to the moving lines: a) There is some stagnation in the relationship; an obstacle needs to be removed. One must accept the inferior conditions, currently, for the sake of a future benefit. b) Eventually, inner changes, represented by cooked things inside of the caldron, will produce a readiness to move ahead again. Things will be cooked, prepared, and settled.
It is unclear whether the hexagram is to say that inner changes are the goal, to which the relationship has led, or whether the relationship will, in fact, be restored.
The relating hexagram is hexagram 1. This hexagram indicates new and vigorous beginnings. The inner changes, produced by hexagram 50, will completely renew the relationship or the person asking the question will be renewed — or both.
Joseph Murphy’s biblical I Ching relates the caldron image to two biblical verses: “Out of his nostrils goeth smoke as out of … a caldron” (Job 41:20) and “… the caldrons and the candlesticks … ” (Jeremiah 52:19). For Murphy, the caldron represents one’s subconscious mind, which is full of wisdom and intelligence. The smoke represents one’s spirit.
Murphy cites other pertinent biblical verses in explaining the changing lines. The first changing line cites this biblical verse: “This city is the caldron … I will bring you forth out of the midst of it” (Ezekiel 11:7). Here, “the city is your mind (caldron),” from which must be removed “negative patterns.” The changing line in the fifth place cites this biblical verse: “And two golden rings shalt thou make …” (Exodus 30:4). Here, the “ring is symbolic of love, peace, and unity with God. A ring, being a circle, is also a symbol of Infinity and of God’s love. In simple, everyday language, all it means is that you are now getting your conscious and subconscious mind to agree on harmony, health, peace, and right action. As you adhere to this procedure, you will, by the law of attraction, get others to aid and assist you in the realization of your heart’s desire.”
Murphy’s biblical I Ching offers a thought-provoking set of images for scriptural meditation. A more thorough analysis of his book would be required, in order to assess whether his biblical glosses correspond, in any substantial way, to the traditional interpretations of this Chinese oracle.
HERE ARE THE TEXTS OF THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE ICHING (WILHELM) AND MURPHY’S BIBLICAL ICHING
50. Ting / The Caldron
above LI THE CLINGING, FIRE
below SUN THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD
The six lines construct the image of Ting, THE CALDRON; at the bottom are the legs, over them the belly, then come the ears (handles), and at the top the carrying rings. At the same time, the image suggests the idea of nourishment. The ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked viands in the temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The heads of the family served the food from the ting into the bowls of the guests.
THE WELL 48 likewise has the secondary meaning of giving nourishment, but rather more in relation to the people. The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilization, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state. This hexagram and THE WELL are the only two in the Book of Changes that represent concrete, men-made objects. Yet here too the thought has its abstract connotation. Sun, below, is wood and wind; Li, above, is flame. Thus together they stand for the flame kindled by wood and wind, which likewise suggests the idea of preparing food.
THE CALDRON. Supreme good fortune.
While THE WELL relates to the social foundation of our life, and this foundation is likened to the water that serves to nourish growing wood, the present hexagram refers to the cultural superstructure of society. Here it is the wood that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit. All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order. Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be sacrificed to the divine. But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart from man. The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads to great good fortune and success.
Fire over wood:
The image of THE CALDRON.
Thus the superior man consolidates his fate
By making his position correct.
The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the fire burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.
Six at the beginning means:
A ting with legs upturned.
Furthers removal of stagnating stuff.
One takes a concubine for the sake of her son.
If a ting is turned upside down before being used, no harm is done-on the contrary, this clears it of refuse. A concubine’s position is lowly, but because she has a son she comes to be honored. These two metaphors express the idea that in a highly developed civilization, such as that indicated by this hexagram, every person of good will can in some way or other succeed. No matter how lowly he may be, provided he is ready to purify himself, he is accepted. He attains a station in which he can prove himself fruitful in accomplishment, and as a result he gains recognition.
Six in the fifth place means:
The ting has yellow handles, golden carrying rings.
Here we have, in a ruling position, a man who is approachable and modest in nature. As a result of this attitude he succeeds in finding strong and able helpers who complement and aid him in his work. Having achieved this attitude, which requires constant self-abnegation, it is important for him to hold to it and not to let himself be led astray.
50. TING/THE CALDRON Above: Li, the Clinging, Fire Below: Sun, the Gentle, Wind, Wood
The Judgment “Out of his nostrils goeth smoke as out of … a caldron” (Job 41:20). The caldron is another name for your deeper mind, which is full of wisdom, power, and love. The smoke coming out is your exaltation; the Spirit within you is God. You are inspired from on high and everything you do will prosper. The Image “ … the caldrons and the candlesticks … ” (Jeremiah 52:19).
It is said man is the candle of the Lord, symbolizing the fact that you are to shed your light (intelligence) in all phases of your life. Believe that God is guiding you and that Divine-right action governs you in all ways and the caldron (your subconscious mind) will then respond. From this, you will find harmony and peace in your life.
Six at the bottom: “ … This city is the caldron … I will bring you forth out of the midst of it” (Ezekiel 11:7). The city is your mind (caldron), and you must cleanse it regularly and systematically by giving yourself a transfusion of faith, confidence, love, joy, and goodwill. As you fill your mind with these qualities, you neutralize and wipe out all negative patterns in your subconscious mind (the caldron). The lower is always subject to the higher. You are on the way to great accomplishments and achievements.
Six in the fifth place: “And two golden rings shalt thou make …” (Exodus 30:4). Gold means power, purity; a clear sky and fair weather, a clean mental and emotional atmosphere. A ring is symbolic of love, peace, and unity with God. A ring, being a circle, is also a symbol of Infinity and of God’s love. In simple, everyday language, all it means is that you are now getting your conscious and subconscious mind to agree on harmony, health, peace, and right action. As you adhere to this procedure, you will, by the law of attraction, get others to aid and assist you in the realization of your heart’s desire.
Murphy Ph.D. D.D., Joseph. Secrets of the I Ching: Get What You Want in Every Situation Using the Classic Bookof Changes (p. 160). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.