Chinese divination and its text-based divination system lend themselves to empirical practices and experiences and, consequently, to transmission from one generation to the next. Changing historical and political contexts altered and contributed to the separation of divinatory practices and the philosophical texts based on them. These texts, the Yijing or Classic of Changes, borrowing the words from David Zeitlyn “is notoriously opaque and hard to interpret”, and “is extremely ancient, diverse in its origins, unsystematic, and subject to radically different readings and understandings”, said by Richard Smith . This unique divinatory system, with its often cryptic utterances, left ample room for interpretation. The art of divination is to interpret the same text for different individuals facing different situations, both in the ancient and modern world.
In line with David Zeitlyn, who says that “we need to study divination in action and we need case studies rather than abstract accounts,”, this study examines the study of divination in Yijing, empirical practices, and case studies in a modern setting. In particular, it focuses on the extent to which key elements of texts and divinatory words emerge from empirical practices and how texts have been and are used as part of the dynamic interaction of text and divinatory experience in modern China.