The I Ching (pronounced ‘yee jing’) is one of the oldest of the 5 Chinese Classics. Literally translated it means “Classic of Changes” or “Book of Changes”. The I Ching has occupied scholars throughout time, even to present day. Much of the Chinese cultural history has been inspired by the I Ching. Both Chinese philosophies Confucianism and Taoism have deep roots that extend from this very book.
It is one of the oldest surviving books in the world. Being over 3,000 years old it has been the basis for divination practice for centuries. In fact, it is one of the oldest forms of divination. The I Ching is a collection of practical wisdom, pertaining to every conceivable situation.
Even now, in present day, the I Ching remains the most popular spiritual resource and oracle in Asian countries. Western countries in Europe and the Americas now beginning to see the spiritual power of the I Ching as it provides detailed insights for those who study the I Ching. The I Ching is quite possibly the most credible, but certainly the oldest oracles available to study.
An overview of I-Ching
I-Ching is a book of divination and wisdom in ancient times. It is a product of a seasoned wisdom beginning from thousand of years ago. The two branches of Chinese philosophy known as Taoism and Confucianism have their shared roots from this ageless classic known as – The book of changes. Moreover, amongst all Confucian classics it is only I-Ching that escaped the burning of books under the ruler named Chin Shih Huang Ti.
All of the most valued Chinese cultural history as well as its view of the Holy Trinity, heaven, man, earth, balance and harmony, positive and negative energies, fortune and misfortune and the theories of Yin and Yang were all derived from the versions of text and commands of the 64 hexagrams of I-Ching.
Each of the I-Ching’s hexagrams is made up of 6 lines where one is placed above the other. These lines can either be broken or unbroken. Broken lines are the yin while the unbroken lines are the yang. Moreover, the lines can either be changing or unchanging which means; the broken yin line can simply change into unbroken yang line and around. Hence, the key to completely understand the texts of the I-Ching is to correctly understand the placement of the broken lines and unbroken lines in view of the other.
There are 8 probable patterns of broken and unbroken lines when it is arranged in sets of 3 lines. When it is arranged in sets of 6 lines, there will be approximately 64 probable combinations of broken and unbroken lines. Each of the 8 Trigrams signifies different meaning. Also, their positioning contains suggestions of both bad and good luck.
On the other hand, the I-Ching hexagrams convey ideas and symbols of nature, individual and society. I-Ching provides wisdom, warning and specific forecast to those who consult before deciding on something significant. Also, the hexagrams offer advice on behavior, attitudes and timing on particular question being asked. On certain event, it suggests preparation and uncovers misfortunes concealed in seemingly good fortune. Furthermore, good and bad conditions are also revealed including the associated challenges.
The 6 lines of the I-Ching’s hexagrams are consists of 3 elements known as symbol, event and judgment. The readings of these elements are based directly to the specific question being asked. Hence, questions must be very specific during the consultation.
Respectively, hexagram has 4 trigrams. Each trigram have symbol, attribute and characteristic that are related to the 5 elements which are water, fire, wood, earth and metal. The composition of each of the hexagram contains 2 primary trigrams and 2 nuclear trigrams.
The 2 primary trigrams have top three lines and bottom three lines while the two nuclear trigrams have lines 2, 3 & 4 (from the bottom) and lines 3,4 & 5 (from the bottom). The primary trigrams shows the condition of the situation being asked while the nuclear trigrams shows the forecasts in precise facts for nuances of the foreseen good and bad luck.
Philosophy Of I Ching
As with other divination, like the Tarot, this is a way to obtain guidance about our current situations and possible future events. The true power in any divination practice is to connect with spirits and unseen powers. Spirits and powers that our conscious selves refuse or are unable to acknowledge.
Connecting with these unseen powers with openness allows them to guide us to our unconscious wisdom we hid deep within our minds. The I Ching is a way of communicating and seeing solutions that are otherwise missed by our conscious selves.
You will need to understand why you must follow the I Ching (Tao). You will also need to understand the forces in your life (Yin and Yang). Lastly, you will need to achieve The Absolute (T’ai Chi)
Tao is basically the philosophy of the nature of life, the universe and the profound unity of both to each other. It is a thought process that humans must follow a path to join that unity, rather than cause disturbances in it.
The interdependence of all things creates opposing forces. You cannot have day without night, nor cold without warmth. Day and night as well as cold and hot are in a constant state of flux; one ebbing towards the other and vice versus. They will meet for a moment and one will gradually over take the other for a period of time, allowing the other force to be dominant for a time.
Taoist philosophers observed that in nature the ebb and flow happen without premeditation, without instruction and without effort. It just happens. The plant seeds fall to the ground. The seed grows. It needs not to be shown or told how to take nourishment from the Earth, or how to become an adult plant and produce seeds of its own. It just happens. The process happens by the natural forces that are applied to it, thru an effort of its own.
To truly understand the interdependence you can come to understand the meaning of your life and about what place you have in the universe. Understanding that we must allow opposing forces to exert themselves, will allow our situations unfold as they should, rather than disturbing the balance and unity that is ever present.
Chi is believed to be the primal substance that animates the universe. Chi is a mysterious force. Chi is the force that set the world and everything in it into motion, the life energy contained within matter. Chi is also the force that sustains all things once they are created.
Certain individuals have the ability to emit this form of energy from their bodies. They are known as chi kung masters. Their entire lives are devoted to developing this ability to omit chi.
In western cultures chi is often recognized as bio-energy.
Yang & Yin
Understanding Yang and Yin you will begin to understand a balanced and unbalanced life. Quite possibly begin to understand why you are living one or the other.
Yin is typically thought of as a feminine force; nurturing, reflective, receptive, mutable, contracting and yielding in character.
Yang is typically considered to be the masculine force — active, intellectual, creative, expansive and dominant force.
Although Yin and Yang are opposites, they are complementary to each other. Through their interactions with each other, they are the forces responsible for the constant change we see in the world.
All things with any kind of life force go through stages if you will; birth, growth, decent, death and rebirth. Each stage displays significant patterns of change. What creates change, is forces applied to the life force and the balance or lack thereof between opposing forces; Yang and Yin.
As an example of simple displays of Yang and Yin, day gives way to night; summer will turn to winter. We can see this pattern very clearly and obviously. With a mathematical precision we know that within 24 hours we will experience a period of dark and light, and that within a 12 month period we will also experience both warmth and cold. All opposing forces in predictable balance.
Because the forces do not change they are considered “universal law”. Through careful attention paid to Yin and Yang you will realize that all living things have these forces applied to them. All things are governed by Yin and Yang.
When life is harmonious and you follow this path, you are living in accordance with the Tao and you can achieve T’ai Chi, the absolute.
Tai chi chuan, usually referred to as tai chi, is an eastern fluid meditative activity based on the philosophic principles of T’a Chi. However, we are not talking about the exercise per se, we are talking about the principles of the philosophy.
Yielding in the face of aggression is the basis for T’ai Chi. By yielding to aggression, you overcome the unyielding. In other words, to win you must lose. Giving way to the aggression is a way to ward off and neutralize it.
When you embrace this concept you begin to the circulation of Ch’I, the life force within.
As in T’ai Chi Ch’aun the mind and body become one fluid state, bringing the opposing forces of Yin and Yang into perfect alignment achieving absolute balance. When you allow the fluid state of mind and body by yielding to aggression or negative forces in your life, you are allowing balance to be created without your disturbance of those forces.
Structure of I Ching
Hexagrams in the I Ching are broken and unbroken lines that represent Yin and Yang. Each hexagram is made up of 6 “lines”. The Hexagrams are always made as well as read from bottom to top, and each line is either Yin or Yang. There are 64 different hexagrams. Each hexagram has its own oracular meaning as well as each line has its own meaning.
Each hexagram is further understood to contain 2 Trigrams, with three lines each. They are known as the “Above” and “Below”. The “above” indicates the “outer” aspects of your situation. The “below” indicates the “inner” aspects of your situation. There are 8 possible Trigrams in the I Ching, again each has its own meaning
Nuclear hexagrams indicate hidden potentials. Nuclear Hexagrams are made from trigrams made up of lines 2,3,4 and 3,4,5.
All Hexagrams contains at least one perhaps 2 ruling lines. Most commonly, line 5 is the ruling line, however because they are dynamic and represent favorable qualities, lines other than 5 may take precedence.
Consulting the I Ching
Asking Your Question
You should consider your questions thoughtfully. Your goal is to achieve balance in your life, not the life of others. Your C’ai is yours it does not live within others.
Clear your mind of distractions. Reflect on your thoughts and feeling about your situation before you consult the I Ching Oracle. Focus on how you will be affected in a situation. Focus on what aspects or forces will be in play. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how you are to receive this situation and behave towards it in the most balanced way.
Approach the I Ching with an attitude of openness and respect.
Some things you should never ask:
A question on the behalf of someone else
Ambiguous questions. This will give you ambiguous answers.
The timing of specific events. This is not the intention of the I Ching
The ancient, perhaps more authentic method is to use 50 yarrow stalks, however this is more complicated and not as widely used as throwing 3 coins, 6 times.
Whichever method you use the intention is the same. The random falling of coins or the natural division of the stalks will reflect the nature of your question.
Focus on your question and cast your stalks or coins.
Reading The Hexagrams
Both coins and yarrow stalks provide 4096 possible readings.
There are 3 main parts of a reading; the first Hexagram, the ruling lines, and the second hexagram.
This hexagram will give you’re the basics of the situation. Some advice will be presented here as well. In some readings, because one or more lines may change from Yin to Yang, the first hexagram becomes a second hexagram.
Interpreting the changing lines should be read from bottom to top. These lines indicate the changing of the situation. If, after reading the lines, you find the ruling line in contradiction to the first hexagram advice, the ruling line takes precedent.
The Second Hexagram
This is the advice for the future of the situation or how it will develop.
Consider carefully the advice the I Ching has given you. You have consulted the Oracle so that you can achieve balance. Allow your unconscious to connect with the meaning of your reading. Bring forth those meanings discovered and allow the forces to balance themselves without your disturbance to them.