This topic’s been discussed more than once at the I Ching Community, where I Ching beginners very often show up asking questions like,
‘What does he feel about me?’
Goodness knows this is an absolutely normal, human thing to want to ask – but anyone who’s watched a few of these threads will know that this line of questioning just doesn’t work well.
By which I don’t mean it ‘doesn’t work’ in the narrow sense of not giving accurate answers. A reading that ‘works’, in my experience, isn’t just one that relays information: it goes to work on the querent’s mind and heart. Whatever your question, somehow you emerge from the process a little more clear-sighted, a bit more in touch, a little more authentic. And more often than not, when the I Ching is used as an instrument to focus on someone else’s feelings (almost as if you had to know his before you could have permission to feel your own), this doesn’t happen.
And yet… there’s no rule to say you ‘can’t’ ask about other people, and in fact there are times when doing so does work, beautifully. The oracle’s response takes hold of the querent’s vision and understanding, and re-shapes them to fit with reality. (If you’ve had many conversations with an oracle, you’ll know what I mean by this ‘re-shaping’ experience. It’s very hard to put into words, but there is a distinct sensation of having your mind adjusted and retuned somehow.)
What makes the difference? In the first place, as with any reading, it’s a willingness to hear any answer. That’s a simple prerequisite to any kind of divination.
Secondly, I think it’s important to have some desire or intention to work with the reading in some way – which I suppose you could describe as a willingness to change, either within the relationship or in a decision about it. (It’s quite possible to ask a question out of a desire to avoid changing or working on anything…)
These things – the readiness to listen and respond – tend to translate into a readiness to ask bigger questions. Probably not,
“Why did it take him 13 minutes to reply to my text message?”
“What does he want from me?”
“What does he need from me?”
Those are two questions – often powered by real altruism – that can lead to tremendous personal clarity, especially if they’re asked along with “What do I want from him?” and “What do I need from him?”
I’d welcome your thoughts on this. When does it work well to ask about another person’s feelings? Maybe for a parent asking about a child? To prevent misunderstanding in business negotiations, or fill in for the missing body language when you’re exchanging emails? What’s your experience?