Change is the end result of all true learning.
The logical way for this book to flow seemed for me
for a long time to begin with an explanation of the world-view
which the Zhouyi emerged from, followed by a description of yin and yang
and the trigrams and their various sequences, finally moving on
to the logistics of doing a reading.
But, asking the opinion of a friend who’s a beginner
to the I Ching what he thought of this, I was taken aback when he said
without hesitation that he wasn’t interested in all that; at least not initially.
It’s surprisingly easy to forget what it’s like to be an absolute beginner at something,
but this reminded me that I’d been exactly the same when I first started using the
Book of Changes. I lived with the inspiration of the Zhouyi for years before
I became curious enough to explore its underlying precepts further.
So, I turned Becoming Visionary upside down and saved all that for this, the last chapter.
Deeply profound concepts are necessarily greatly summarized here, with the faith that
you’ll feel inspired to more deeply explore those which particularly awaken your interest.
So...to start with, how is the profoundly mysterious, subtle and detailed world of the Zhouyi,
with its sixty-four gua and their four thousand and ninety-six possibilities created?
The interaction between the eight trigrams of earth, thunder, water, lake,
mountain, fire, wood/wind and heaven form the root of the Book of Changes:
These eight core energies are, therefore,
a crucial key to unfolding a deeper understanding.
The gua as they appear in the arrangement above can also
be seen as a personal, and universal, journey towards liberation.
the turning of a life: journey towards liberation
This journey begins with kun as the first stage
of seeing through prescribed ways of viewing the world,
to a deeper level; becoming receptive to the primal essence
permeating all existence and non-existence.
Earth has all her lines open, or ‘broken’, indicting pure receptivity.
Doubled, kun is response
If you don't yet have a deck of gua cards and want to get started straight away,
here's how to do a traditional coin reading. It’s well worthwhile to learn, as
using it gives you a vast increase in the breadth and subtlety of feedback,
with a grand total of four thousand and ninety six possible responses.
For a beginner the lines, with their values and changes, can seem
daunting. The essence, though, is simple; it’s just a case of learning
a way of seeing, a new language ~ one composed of only eight
root ‘words’ (the eight gua), made of just two root ‘letters’:
yin, represented as
...and yang, represented as
You’ll need three coins, preferably three of a kind: three pennies work fine,
although bigger coins can be easier to make out. Though not essential,
it’s a good idea to start by washing your coins and creating a small pouch
for them to keep them separate from your money and dedicated to divination.
Decide which side of your coins represents yang, holding the heavenly value of three,
and which side is yin, with the earthly value of two. Don’t ‘change sides’ once
you’ve made your choice; this’ll just lead to unnecessary confusion.
Hold the coins, and your intent, until energy begins to gather
in your hands: if you can’t feel this, imagine it.
Then shake the coins and drop them onto your cleared space.
You’ll do this five more times, noting which line you get after
each throw. The values become lines in this way:
As with a plant, grow your gua from the ground up, the first
line being the bottom-most one, and the sixth line the uppermost.
After each drop of the coins, draw the lines received,
marking any 2+2+2 or 3+3+3 lines with a dot.
Write down the line values next to each line so you
can check them if necessary until you’re totally confident.
When all six lines are noted down, look up the three
lower lines, or ‘inner gua’ and top three lines, or ‘outer gua’
in the key below, and see what they form together.
If using an interpretation in the ‘King Wen’ order (the sequence
which begins with the six unbroken lines of heaven) which virtually
all I Ching books use), simply look up your gua with their key instead,
If no lines are ‘changing’, just read the information given for the gua as a whole.
If there are changing lines, read the specific guidance they give, as well as
the general gua information. Then ‘build’ another gua, with each changing yin
line transformed into an unchanging yang line, and each changing
yang line transformed into an unchanging yin:
For example, replenishment, with the first, third and fourth lines changing, becomes joy.
If a second gua is received due to having one or more changing lines,
it’s just the general information about it that is relevant, not any of its lines
(though to read the sequence of the lines within any gua can help in understanding its flow).
A reading with no changing lines can suggest that the situation in question is more straightforward,
whereas one with many changing lines can indicate there are more issues involved.
If the guidance given is not to your liking, don’t just ask the same question
again hoping for a ‘better’ answer. The Zhouyi won’t just tell you what you want to hear!
However, if you feel confused about what you’re being shown, you can do another reading
requesting elucidation about the first. Or ask about the issue from a different angle, or do an open
reading about it. But keep your sense of humour (sometimes the first casualty of searching for
one’s spiritual path!) You could also bear in mind the Zhouyi’s astute guidance on this:
Penetrating reflection must not be pushed too far, lest it cripple
the power of decision. After a matter has been thoroughly pondered,
it is essential to form a decision and to act. Repeated deliberation
brings fresh doubts and scruples, and thereby humiliation,
because one shows oneself unable to act.
Sometimes it can help to simply shift one’s focus so that,
rather than oneself and one’s actions and decisions being centre
of attention, one becomes aware of, and thankful for, the beauty
and wonder of the world; of simply being alive.
© shenpen chökyi 2013-2014