...life can be translucent

Easy ways to get into the reviewing habit

So your readings represent a priceless resource, and reviewing them is an extremely good idea. Of course, you’re more likely to get the opportunity to do so if your reading is recorded somewhere you can find it.

Not brain surgery, I know. But it’s remarkable how often readings do get scrawled on the back of an envelope, or just cast online and not recorded at all. So then Yi has answered the question… but after a while, no-one can quite remember what it said. (Possibly the only thing worse than a lost reading is a partly-remembered one. Can you piece it together, or do you ask Yi the same question again?)

Of course, you may not want to record every reading. I know people who’ve evolved (over the decades) to such complete familiarity and friendship with Yi that they no longer feel the need to record readings at all. And if you’ve left a part of your life behind, then leaving the readings connected with it behind as well might make a certain kind of sense. But until then, an I Ching journal is a very good idea.

My first reading journals were big hardback notebooks, where I would scrawl page after splotchy page of notes. They’re not all that useful to me nowadays, and not just because deciphering my handwriting requires concentration. What they lack is an index, so I could look at all the times I received hexagram 15 in 1999, or whatever. Six of them sit in a drawer, and I don’t tend to get them out much.

R.L. Wing’s I Ching Workbook offers a very well thought-out system to index readings. There are blank pages at the back of the book for a ‘hexagram journal’, but more importantly, there are columns in the text itself for you to record when you received the hexagram unchanging, what hexagrams it’s changed to, and the date and subject of the reading when you received each changing line. Some people have worked their way through many copies of this book!

Nowadays, of course, we have digital options. Even if you’re more comfortable recording your readings on paper, you might still consider indexing them on your computer, so you can search them quickly and easily. If you just note down date and hexagrams in a word-processing document, you can use ‘Find’ to run through every instance of a particular hexagram (or keyword, or moving line number…).

Of course, you can do even better. There are free ‘dendritic’ organisers that could have been designed for storing readings: my favourite is Keynote, which allows you to create your own templates for readings, and review a clickable list of search results. And, of course, there is I Ching software that actually was designed for casting and storing readings (just like those oracle bones). The best of the bunch at present is San Shan Yi Jing: you can read my review of it here.

I have to admit I don’t use San Shan myself: I never got used to navigating around its user interface. Nowadays my readings all go into the same organiser program that I run the rest of my life from, so I can move freely between readings and other notes and resources.

How do you record your readings and make them accessible? Please add a comment!

6 responses to Easy ways to get into the reviewing habit

  1. I kind of like to leave my Yi notes in a random pile. I dont like to keep an orderly notebook. I like the odd pile of scraps, other side of computer printouts, scrawls on the backs of cashier recipts, etc. I keep them in a big pile with about 7 translations all stacked on a yellow carpet. Then, when I go through to do a review, it’s like a suspensful story coming to life…you know…’will i be able to find the reading that came after that???’ ….and…’isn’t there a 61 to 30 that came after that somewhere in here???” There is a sense of suspense in piecing everything together that brings the deeper life behind these readings to the surface.

    In fact, I just went through a review. I had put my books away for a while, feeling a lack of ‘chi’ with the Yi. I went back to my pile of scraps, and all of a sudden understood a reading that had utterly perplexed me several months ago. I was stunned by the fresh understanding. With the new understanding in my mind, I asked the Yi if I was finally ‘getting’ it, and got hex 50 as a reply.

    And, interestingly so, feel my ‘Yi Chi’ back and flowing.

    somehow, I wonder if I would have ‘gotten’ it, if it all my notes were in an order. Something about the mess helps me make connections.

    but maybe that’s just my style.

    ; )

  2. Thanks for the comment! That’s exactly the kind I was hoping for – something completely different.

    Mind you, I’m not convinced you really know what a mess is. A mess is when one reading’s on your desk somewhere, two are on the floor next to it (as the floor is an ideal place for keeping things, since nothing can fall off it), one is on the back of the shopping list that’s probably in the car somewhere, one might be on that piece of paper wedged under the wobbly dining table, several are almost certainly being used as bookmarks in one or other of your few thousand books, and an indefinite number have been chewed up for bedding by the mice behind the bookcase.

  3. I manage to fit about 500 hexagrams on one sheet of paper, in straight little rows and columns, so if I need to go back for one because I’ve forgotten which moving lines it had, I can usually find it.

    My life’s history on a couple sheets of paper!!

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).