Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The Chinese Book of Change - The I Ching (pronounced Yee Jing) - is one of the most ancient books in existence - some of it is 3000 years old. It is not about archaic religious beliefs, nor about fortune telling, or simple tribal convictions. Rather it is a profound study of change as it occurs in human life and the universe as understood by Chinese thinkers. Within the great Chaos or the Unexpected that is a basic fact of life and the universe, there also exists the push toward Order. The interaction between these two great processes brings about patterns and cycles. These, impinging on our life we know as Change. Our life is constantly confronted by the Unexpected. The shifting events and opportunities of our life may lift us up or cast us down. The I Ching presents skilful ways of riding these currents, and surfing the waves of such changes? The I Ching does this by giving responses to questions that in their simplicity help us to clarify decisions and calm emotions in meeting our life situations or making important decisions.
Apart from being a book of wisdom in the ancient Chinese tradition, the I Ching was also consulted on questions of state, warfare and personal decision making. It is this aspect of it which is presented here. Consulting the I Ching does not present us with statements of what will happen as a fated future. The wisdom behind the book does not see the future as unalterably fixed, but rather like a constantly shifting flux similar to the seasons, with which we can interact. What we receive in a consultation is like a conversation with a wise and experienced friend, who through their experience might point out that if we take our present course within the situation as it stands, the results might be in a direction we do not wish - but if we are patient circumstances could change, then we can act more forcefully and effectively.
One of the most astonishing features of the responses we can gain from the I Ching when it is couched in modern language such as the present interpretation, is the manner in which it so often says exactly what our situation is and what we face. This aids confidence and clear thinking in regard to the problem or situation we face. Therefore a consultation with the I Ching is more a way of defining ones action and thinking than an aspirin for worries about the future. We are helped by its use to be creators of our own future, and to find satisfaction and harmony within the world.
Great and simple men and women have consulted the I Ching over the centuries. Carl Jung, the great Swiss Psychiatrist, not only wrote the forward to the first European translation, but also used it in his work. Statesmen and lay people have found in it advice on meeting the ever changing faces of opportunity and adversity. It is a magnificent aid to clarifying ones goals or seeing a different viewpoint of the situation, no matter whether it is business or romance we are dealing with. It can be a simple wise guide to whether today is the right time to ask the important question, seek love, or make the business move. The response we get is often astounding, mentioning our problem as if it were known. This new interpretation in modern concepts and language opens the I Ching for everyone's consultation.
Consulting The Oracle
The very beginning of consulting the oracle of the I Ching is to define a question. This should be with one single issue in mind, and not be several questions in one. So it might be a question like - ‘What should I guard against in this issue?’ - ‘Which direction should I take?’ - “What sort of relationship can I expect from my new lover?’
An example of how not to frame a question by asking several questions in one would be - ‘Will the relationship with my new boyfriend work, or if not should I go back to my husband, or should I simply concentrate on my job?’
The traditional manner of consulting the I Ching was to throw a bundle of yarrow sticks. This was a very long and ritualistic process, and the modern equivalent is to use three coins. The coins are thrown six times. Each throw, through its combination of odd or even sides - head or tails - yields a particular result, called a LINE. The line can either be an unbroken horizontal line, or a horizontal line with a break in the centre.
This gives a yes or no, negative or positive response. The unbroken line representing a yes, and the broken a negative or no. But with the addition of further lines these basic receptive or active lines create a variety of possible responses.
The lines build from the bottom up to form a Hexagram, which is a mixture of broken
and unbroken lines, such as this -
There are sixty-four possible configurations of the hexagrams, and each hexagram represents a process in nature or human nature - such as growth, discharge, or ending.
Some throws (details explained later) create what is called a Moving or Changing Line. This means that although, for example, an unbroken line is indicated, the line will transform into a broken line. What happens is that although one ends with a particular hexagram made up of whatever the original lines indicated happen to be, a second or transformed hexagram can also be created in some consultations.
Therefore, if lines two and three (starting from the bottom) of the above hexagram were changing lines, the transformed hexagram would look like this.
When the hexagram has no moving lines, the response to the query is the text connected with the one hexagram. If the response to the query has a hexagram with changing lines, then the original hexagram is consulted, and added to this comes the text for the changing lines AND the transformed hexagram. The moving line comments and transformed hexagram are seen as qualifications to the original hexagram or a summing up of the situation. This can be thought of as something like the first hexagram saying ‘Yes this has excellent possibilities’ - then the moving lines and transformed hexagram might add ‘But be careful of making any big changes at the moment, as it is good only for building up what already exists.’ Richard Wilhelm who did one of the first European translations says that the transformed hexagram is the final situation portrayed by the response.
Three coins are thrown six times. Each throw generates one line in the hexagram starting from the bottom and working upwards.
Traditionally the coins used were the Chinese coins with a hole in the centre, marked on one side and blank on the other. The marked side is considered as ‘heads’ or positive, and the blank side as ‘tails’ or negative.
Each ‘heads’ counts as two - each ‘tails’ counts as three. The total is then added to give a score. So three coins each landing as ‘heads’ would give a score of six. Three coins landing as ‘tails’ would give a score of nine. One coin landing as ‘heads’ and the other two coins landing as ‘tails’, gives a score of eight.
Any even score, such as 6 or 8, gives a broken line. Any score that is odd such as 7 or 9, gives an unbroken line.
Lastly - any score of 6 or 9 gives what is called a changing or moving line also, as explained above.
3 heads = 6 = a broken line (Broken line)
which changes to a firm line (Unbroken).
3 tails = 9 = a firm line (Unbroken line)
which changes to a broken line (Broken line).
2 heads and 1 tail = 7 a firm line (Unbroken line) that does not change.
2 tails and 1 head = 8 a broken line (Broken line) that does not change.
Whatever the response, one can explore the question further by shifting the framing of the question - in other words try out different approaches to the problem or situation involved in the question. Therefore the I Ching offers a system that enables you to clarify your approach to your question - whether that is about a relationship, a business venture, or even your personal growth. This is a wonderful means of defining decisions, and thinking out the finer points of any situation. For in the end, the responses from the I Ching act as a stimulus to your own thoughts and feelings. In some issues you need to consult the oracle of the I Ching a number of times to clarify what is the most rewarding direction. This is like having a conversation in which you defines an issue by asking further questions.
So, if you asked a question such as – “Can I go ahead with this project in the city of Boston?” The response might be that there would be a lot of resistance to ones business. Therefore one could ask if the business project could go well in another city, or with a different set of parameters.
(source - http://www.dreamhawk.com/introchi.htm)