Monday, January 30, 2012

I Consult I Ching

Following on from Anne S's comment in my previous post, I found an I Ching reader on-line. It invites you to ask it a question so I asked 'How can I improve how much I do?'

What it did then seemed complicated and involved tossing a virtual coin six times and then decrypting the resulting code of heads and tails by using instructions and sayings from I Ching.

The answer it gave was as follows:

Cast Hexagram:

9 - Nine

Hsiao Ch'u / Gentle Restraint

Winds of change high in the Heavens:
Air currents carry the weather.
Dense clouds blow in from the West, but still no rain.
The Superior Person fine tunes the image he presents to the world.

Small successes.


No matter what you do, the fruit of your labors never seems to ripen.
Your reward remains just out of reach.
Men have gone mad from such anticipation.
Don't lose your balance lunging for the brass ring.
While the Fates continue to restrain you, go them one better and display a self-generated restraint and grace.
Look for the humor in the situation.

As Anne says it is like consulting a wise sage - and gives me an idea of how the ancient gave advice.

It strikes me as timeless. I am sure the same sort of opaque guidance was given by the Oracle at Delphi, the divination bones of the Ancient Chinese and those who consult shamans and astrologers everywhere.

This morning I can see what the point of this is too. Its function is not to tell the future or actually give an answer, but encourage the punter to step back and reflect. To consult the oracle the king had to send a messenger up a mountain in southern Greece; to extract an answer from a divination bone the bone had to be heated and cracked, and wait while those cracks were interpreted. I am sure it calmed the commander contemplating battle and could give a king either confidence or a chance to reconsider.
Perhaps the longer and more arduous the journey the better, because it is the journey that counts. Likewise, the astrologer has to gaze at the stars, and then consult tables, and the fortune teller in the tent takes her time to gaze into crystal balls or deal cards. The punter waits, and then after the response comes he still has to work out what it means. As he does he is reflecting and doing nothing. In Tao terms I guess this is a result in itself.

So the phrases I have decided to take with me today are:

The Superior Person fine tunes the image he presents to the world.
Small successes.

Don't lose your balance lunging for the brass ring.
While the Fates continue to restrain you, go them one better and display a self-generated restraint and grace.
Look for the humor in the situation.

I shall edit, celebrate small improvements (rather than aim for the large brass rings), avoid facebook ... and laugh. That sounds very good to me.


Blogger Anne S said...

I recommend purchasing the Richard Wilhelm version, translated by Cary F Baynes. It has a forward by C G Jung. It is regarded as the best version which all others try to emulate.

It's quite poetic and I like the strange imagery of the line interpretations.

It's easy to consult the book with just three coins. They are thrown 6 times and deliver a line number based on how many heads or tails show up.

The values are as follows:
heads = 3
tails = 2

Thus the combinations are calculated thus:
3 x 3 heads = 9 (a moviing line) expressed as an unbroken line —o-
2 x 2 heads, 1 x 1 tails = 8 (expressed as a broken line - -
2 x 2 tails, 1 x 1 head = 7 (expressed as an unbroken line —
3 x 3 tails = 6 (a moving line )expressed as a broken line -x-

As you can see when throwing the coins six times you draw a hexagram.
Hexagram 9 - Hsiao Ch'u - The Taming Power of the Small (as it's named in the Wilhelm)

7- or 9 -o-
7- or 9 -o-
8- - or 6 -x-
7- or 9 -o-
7- or 9 -o-
7- or 9 -o-

Moving lines a (9 or 6), which basically represent yin (9) & yang (6), are very important in that they provide more detail of your present situation and lead to a further hexagram (moving lines change into their opposites) that will illuminate the situation further as regards the future. Where they are placed in the hexagram is important as well. A 9 in the fifth place is almost always very favourable.

Hexagrams are drawn from the bottom to the top and are comprised of 2 trigrams.

The trigrams represent different aspects of the natural world and are arranged as a family group with mother, father, sons and daughters in equal numbers ie 4 males and 4 females, making a total of 8 trigrams. The hexagram above is made up of Sun (oldest daughter, gentle wind) above Ch'ien (father, heaven) hence the taming power of the small.

This is becoming an essay so I'll stop here, but I hope it encourages you to try the book. I prefer it to the online versions, though I do use them if I haven't got the book handy.

It sounds complicated, but once you get used to using it everything comes clear. I've been consulting the I Ching for over 40 years, so I regard it as an old friend.

Mon Jan 30, 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you Anne, I shall get this! It sounds very interesting, and I appreciate very much the link with the past.

Mon Jan 30, 11:41:00 am  
Blogger Sue Guiney said...

I used to use the I Ching all the time. Thanks for reminding me about it, and for the reference to the on-line site.

Mon Jan 30, 01:12:00 pm  
Blogger marly youmans said...

So is what you are about to do different from what you would have done, Clare?

Mon Jan 30, 01:44:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

And I had never heard of it since Anne mentioned it!

Mon Jan 30, 07:34:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

And Marly...not terribly different to be honest. I think the celebrating of small improvements is the main thing.

Mon Jan 30, 07:36:00 pm  
Blogger Anne S said...

Surprisingly, the I Ching has a sense of humour and does not tolerate being importuned. If you try asking it the same question over and over again, it basically tells you to go away by giving you the Hexagram 4, Youthful Folly where the "sage" states:

"Youthful Folly has success
It is not I who seek the young fool
The young fool seeks me
At the first oracle I inform him
If he asks two or three times, it is importunity
If he importunes , I give him no information
Perseverence furthers"

Tue Jan 31, 02:18:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Oh, wonderful! That's so funny, Anne. But how does it know?

Tue Jan 31, 08:44:00 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

It just does. I told you it's uncanny.

Tue Jan 31, 08:54:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I've just consulted it for today's little dilemma, and its advice was:

This is thoroughly a matter of the heart.
If everything you attempt, no matter how carefully planned, ends in disarray, then examine your motives.
They are the cause of your predicament.
It isn't that your motives aren't pure -- even the best intentions will fail under these circumstances.
What stymies you in this situation is that you have a motive at all.
Free yourself of all expectations, release any tenuous grip you may have, and roll with it.
This is totally out of your control.
There are higher powers and more elements affecting the outcome of this situation than you can imagine.
Get out of their way.

I have interpreted this as 'Go with your gut instinct'. So I shall. Very reassuring. Thanks for introducing me to this, Anne!

Tue Jan 31, 08:57:00 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

Yes, it forces you to make up your mind if you are undecided on which way to go. A lot of the time it says to do nothing, go with the flow so to speak. And it's generally right.

Tue Jan 31, 09:05:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, I tend to be a little impetuous, so I think Ching will do me some good!

Tue Jan 31, 10:50:00 am  
Blogger marly youmans said...

So long as there is celebrating, then...

Fri Feb 10, 04:31:00 am  

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