CHING(6) Games Manual CHING(6)
ching - the book of changes and other cookies
The I Ching or Book of Changes is an ancient Chinese oracle that has
been in use for centuries as a source of wisdom and advice.
The text of the oracle (as it is sometimes known) consists of sixty-
four hexagrams, each symbolized by a particular arrangement of six
straight (---) and broken (- -) lines. These lines have values ranging
from six through nine, with the even values indicating the broken
Each hexagram consists of two major sections. The Judgement relates
specifically to the matter at hand (For instance, "It furthers one to
have somewhere to go.") while the Image describes the general
attributes of the hexagram and how they apply to one's own life ("Thus
the superior man makes himself strong and untiring.").
When any of the lines has the value six or nine, it is a moving line;
for any such line there is an appended judgement which becomes signifi-
cant. Furthermore, the moving lines are inherently unstable and change
into their opposites; a second hexagram (and thus an additional judge-
ment) is formed.
Normally, one consults the oracle by fixing the desired question firmly
in mind and then casting a set of changes (lines) using yarrow-stalks
or tossed coins. The resulting hexagram will be the answer to the
Using an algorithm suggested by S. C. Johnson, this oracle simply
reads a question from the standard input (up to an EOF) and hashes the
individual characters in combination with the time of day, process ID
and any other magic numbers which happen to be lying around the system.
The resulting value is used as the seed of a random number generator
which drives a simulated coin-toss divination. The answer is then
piped through nroff for formatting and will appear on the standard out-
For those who wish to remain steadfast in the old traditions, the ora-
cle will also accept the results of a personal divination using, for
example, coins. To do this, cast the change and then type the result-
ing line values as an argument.
The impatient modern may prefer to settle for Chinese cookies; try for-
It furthers one to see the great man.
The great prince issues commands,
Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.
Waiting in the mud
Brings about the arrival of the enemy.
If one is not extremely careful,
Somebody may come up from behind and strike him.
16 February 1988 CHING(6)