raymond lo

I Ching and 2012

Released: May 04, 2013

Recently there are a lot of public concern about the doomsday theory on the date 21/12/2012. It gets more alarming with the release of the Hollywood film 2012. And in the movie John Cusack met a man in the Yellow Stone Park and this man claimed such doomsday prediction was found in the Bible, in the Mayan calendar and in the I Ching……

The relation between the I Ching and 2012 is publicized in a book called “The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching” written by Terence McKenna who died in 2000. In his book, he was inspired by the 64 Hexagram arrangements in King Wen’s I Ching ( Book of Change ). In the I Ching, King Wen has a special sequence in arranging the order of the 64 hexagrams, putting them in the order with Heaven (The Creative) and Earth (The Receptive) as first and second Hexgram, after going through 60 hexagrams arranged in 30 pairs, it ends with the final pairs Water on Fire ( After Completion) and Fire on Water ( Before Completion). This sequence is taken to represent different stage of development of the world from the beginning with Heaven and Earth to the end with Fire on Water.

Inspired by this sequence, McKenna assigned mathematical values to each of 384 lines (jao) of the 64 hexagram and he came up with a curve which he claimed is reflecting the timing of important world events. Every peak and bottom point of the curve seems co inside with an important stage in human civilization. He called this a Time Wave theory, and it seems if one translate the 384 lines of King Wen’s 64 Hexagrams into time, according to this theory, we will find the time interval between big events on earth. His most significant theory is that if he put the end date of the curve at 21/12/2012, then all the peak and bottom points of his curve match with significant events in human history. Hence he consider the date 21/12/2012 is the ending day when the curve reaches the bottom.

As such, the I Ching itself actually did not predict 2012, at best, one can only say it gives inspiration to McKenna to invent the Time wave theory. The original meaning of the last two Hexagrams – After Completion and Before Completion does not imply end of the world, to the contrary, it implies there is no ending, because the change is not yet completed. It is like many cyclical change in nature, when one year’s four season finished, another new year’s four season begins. So it is wrong and not fair to say the 2012 doomsday is predicted by I Ching.

Is there anything in the I Ching that can be associated with such end of world ideas? I think the most relevant could be the “Supreme World Order principles” invented by Shao Yong of Sung Dynasty. Shao Yong is an expert of I Ching and he invented a time counting system dividing time into Yuan, Huai, Yun, Shi.


1 Yuan = 12 Huai
    360 Yun (12 x 30 )
    4320 Shi (12 x 360 )
    129600 year (4320 x 30 )


Shao Yong also divided World Ages into 64 Stages, according to the 64 Hexagram. The sequence of the 64 Hexagrams he used is same as the order of King Wen, with Heaven and Earth at the beginning. But the number of years he assigned to each Stage is very long. For example –


Stage 1 - Heaven - Duration 60,000 Yuan 
(60,000 x 129600 =7776000000 years)
Planet Earth began
Stage 2 - Earth - Duration 3600 Yuan 
(3600 x 129600 = 466560000 years)
Ancient time
Stage 3 - Water on Thunder – Difficulty at beginning - Duration 1000 Yuan 
(1000 x 129600 = 129600000 years)
Continents and oceans are formed
Stage 4 - Mountain on Water – Mountain on Water – Duration 124 Yuan 
(124 x 129600 = 22749000 years)
Plants and vegetations
Stage 5 - Water on Heaven – Waiting – Duration 36 Yuan 
(36 x 129600 =6678600 years)
Creatures appeared
Stage 6 - Heaven on Water – Conflict – Duration 10 Yuan 
(10 x 129600 = 1296000 years)
Big flood
Stage 7 - Earth on Water – Army – Duration 5 Yuan 
(5 x 129600 = 648000 years)
Human appeared
Stage 8 - Water on Earth – Holding together – Duration 1 Yuan = 129600 years
Human civilization - Currently we are about middle of this stage
Stage 9 to Stage 57 - from Holding together to Wind - 50 Yuan = 6480000 years
Human civilization continues
Stage 58 - Lake - 5 Yuan – 648000 years
Decline of man
Stage 59 - Dispersion – 10 Yuan – 1296000 years
Big Flood
Stage 60 - Limitation – 36 Yuan – 4665600 years
Decline of species
Stage 61 - Inner Truth – 124 Yuan -16070400 years
Plants cannot grow
Stage 62 - Preponderance of the small – 1000 Yuan – 129600000 years
Sinking of continents
Stage 63 - After Completion – 3600 Yuan – 466560000 years
End of planet Earth
Stage 64 - Before completion – 60000 Yuan – 7776000000 years
End of Time
Total   129600 Yuan


In accordance with this system, we are currently about the middle of Stage 8, so there is about 60,000 years ahead of us before the change into the next Stage, and there are still many Stages ahead before end of human civilization and end of Earth. The underlying idea is similar to that of Time wave theory but he adopt a much bigger time cycle with much longer duration of time.

Besides classifying time into Yuan of 129600 years, Shao Yong also assign trigrams to each year. The year 2012 is represented by Trigram number 24 – Earth over Thunder – Return. This trigram carry the meaning of renewal, new phases begin.

The I Ching is also a tool for Divination and Oracle. It can be employed to find answers to questions. So I have also consulted the I Ching on the following question:
Will There Be Devastating Disaster to the Earth in 2012?

This question was consulted on 17th Nov. 2009, Day of Fire Tiger ( wood ), month of Wood Pig ( water ).

The following Hexagram came out – Mountain on Thunder (Corners of the Mouth ) change to Fire on Lake (Opposition )


C Tiger (Wood)
R Rat (Water)
  // I Snake ( Fire )
P Rooster ( Metal ) M Dog ( Earth )
  X Subject
M Dragon ( Earth )
C Rabbit ( Wood ) C Tiger ( Wood )
R Rat ( Water )
  / Object


Hexagram Family : Wind ( Wood )
C – Colleague        R – Resources        P- Power        M – Money        I= Intelligence

Interpretation :

  1. Planet Earth is Subject which is Earth element, is weak in the month of water and day of wood.
2. The 2nd line is active wood attacking the subject line Earth, the wood changes from Tiger to Rabbit, this is “Advance”, means the attack is serious. This is line of C, can be interpreted as people, ourselves , who brought about such attack on Earth. Perhaps is our wrong doing causing serious damage to nature.
3. The subject line is active producing P Metal to fight the C Wood, but the wood is strong with support from day and month. P could mean laws, government, regulations to fight global warming but is too weak to be effective.
4. The Earth element needs support from I ( Fire ), but Fire does not appear in the hexagram. The hidden Fire element Snake is on the 5th line, sitting under Water element, even it is on a wood day helping the Fire, but the season is Water suppressing fire. Hence the strength of I ( Fire ) is very weak. I ( intelligence ) can be interpreted as schemes to rescue the planet from further damage. And such rescue plan is weak and hard to take effect.
5. However, the hexagram shows the damage comes from C – Colleagues, which means we inflict the damage ourselves. So it seems the damage of global warming will intensify, but there is no sign of doomsday phenomenon like what portrayed in the movie 2012, such as collision with comet, solar storm, pole shift….etc.


Finally I cannot conclude without looking at the Four Pillars of the Day 21st December, 2012

Day Month Year
Yang Fire Yang Water Yang Water
Earth Dragon Water Rat Earth Dragon


It is year of Yang Water Dragon, Dragon is storage of water, as well as powerful Earth, Dragon year normally have more chance of Earthquake – one example is the Tangshan Earthquake in China in 1976 with serious casualty, this is year of Yang Fire Dragon.

The Yang water is fierce ocean water, especially it is very strong in the month of Rat in December. With double yang water on the Heavenly stem in clash against the Yang fire on this day, and on earthly branch double dragon make half combine with Rat to make big cycle of water, it is not surprising there will be earthquake and flooding during this month. In the year of Dragon and month of Rat, three shars is in South – SE3, S2 and SW1, and flying stars chart of this month has 5 and 3 in the SE. 3 is Earthquake, 5 is misfortune, so it is not surprising there could be flooding and earthquake in South and South east regions during December 2012, but there is no evidence to show it will be a global disaster.