what is the Zhouyi?
Since you’ve come this far, you may have at least some idea
of what you’re looking into...but if not, welcome to the deeply
mystical, yet mysteriously approachable, world of the Zhouyi!
Also known as the I Ching, Yi Jing or Book of Changes, this oracle is
one of the worlds’s most revered and ancient books, originating in China
around five thousand years ago. Richard Wilhelm, who published a much-
respected interpretation of the I Ching in the 1920’s, said this about it:
Nearly all that is greatest and most significant in the three thousand years
of Chinese cultural history has either taken its inspiration from this book, or has
exerted an influence on the interpretation of its text. Therefore it may safely be said
that the wisdom of thousands of years has gone into the making of the I Ching.
Reading this, one is left in no doubts as to the honourable lineage
of this venerated tome… but could be forgiven for imagining
that it might not exactly be an engaging page-turner.
This Book is so worthy that even the word ‘book’ begins with a capital;
it sounds like something one probably should read, but which one just
might not get around to because it sounds a bit too much like hard work.
One could not, without interacting with it ~ for it requires this
mutual exchange rather than to merely be 'read’ ~ imagine
its profundity, its humour, its relevance, its very aliveness.
For those with whom it resonates, there is the spark
of recognition experienced when meeting a kindred spirit
and feeling a meeting of hearts and minds.
The analogy could be made to a bolt of lightning
travelling towards the Earth which, as revealed with
high-speed photography, meets a reciprocating ‘streamer’
of lightning emanating from the ground, resulting in a double-ended,
super-charged bridge of energised light connecting Heaven and Earth.
Similarly, where the spirit of the Zhouyi finds
resonance in the spirit of one who connects with it, the
potential for great insight and transformation is actualised.
This is all the more striking when one considers the great
age of the Book and its origins in a very different world.
The I Ching can transcend all of these perceived
barriers of language, culture, space and time, for
it speaks heart to heart, and has a profound
ability to transform itself throughout the
ages, effortlessly harmonising itself to
the ever-evolving needs of humanity.
In this critical time of powerful
transition, as the very future of
the Earth and all her beings
hangs in the balance, such
in living our truth is
But what’s it actually like to live with this guidance?
Imagine having a really close, loving friend who is always there for you
to give you counsel about anything which concerns or confuses you in your life.
That you know that the wisdom they share with you ~ whether gentle, shocking,
humorous or awe-inspiring ~ is always for your highest good and, as the friendship
deepens, it connects you ever more strongly with your own inner truth.
That, through this, you begin to become empowered to create
Heaven on Earth in your own unique way, day by day.
For me, at least, this is how it feels.
how the Zhouyi is formed
A mandala of the sixty-four gua enfolding the sixty-four gua
The backbone of the Zhouyi is its sixty-four arrangements
of six lines known as hexagrams, but more traditionally
referred to as accomplished gua ~ or simply gua.
This sequence of the sixty-four gua begins with zero, response,
as the pure female energy of the Goddess, earth, reaching completion
with the Godly, masculine energy of heaven as sixty-three, creation.
The sixty-four gua manifest when the eight, three-lined trigrams,
or primary gua of earth, thunder, water, lake, mountain,
fire, wood/wind and heaven (below) are paired with
one another in all possible ways.
Bear in mind that, though the number of the gua will change depending
on the sequence it's in, its meaning always remains constant: lake-over-earth
always embodies the same energy, whether numbered ‘three’ or ‘forty-five’.
Some of the gua names are traditional, while others express what I personally
feel to be their essence. Where the theme is more challenging, I’ve tried to
show the way through in the name, i.e.water-over-mountain, traditionally
named obstruction becomes overcoming obstructions.
This is because the Zhouyi is all about showing us
'the way through' in order that we can navigate our way out
of darkness, difficulty and stagnation, back to the light of living
in grace and harmony with the earth and all her beings once more.
© shenpen chökyi 2013-2016