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It takes too long!

Here’s a story I’ve heard, with variations, several times;

“The I Ching? Yes, I did try that when I was in college… yes, it was fascinating, I’d almost forgotten…

These days? I draw a card, maybe tarot, maybe another oracle deck, and look up the meaning in the book. I don’t use the I Ching any more, it takes so long…”

And on the one hand, these people are absolutely right. When you want just a quick message or insight, a swift renewal of your sense of connection with the reality beyond the routine, then the I Ching isn’t an obvious place to go.

True, an experienced diviner can get the essentials from a reading almost instantly, but the same experienced diviner will go away with the awareness that there is loads more to discover, and it would really be a waste – a discourtesy to the source that’s offering you so much, in a way – not to come back later and explore more.

So compared with simply drawing a single card or a rune, looking up its meaning in the book, and taking a few key phrases or images away with you – yes, the I Ching takes too long. (And yes, I know there are I Ching card decks – but I’d regard those as another option you could use instead of the I Ching. A single hexagram and a meaning from a book is not the essence of what it offers.)

It’s not as if these people were in search of a ‘quick fix’, impatient types who don’t want to spend time on spiritual work. Quite the opposite. So what is happening here?

I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with mental boxes. Divination is in one; practices that naturally take time – like meditation, or journalling, or even talking with one’s coach – are in another. The I Ching gets put in the divination box, where it vanishes from sight amongst all those quicker methods.

For people who’ve got to know the I Ching, those mental boxes are comprehensively Dispersed. We cast a hexagram for a swift, sure reconnection, which might unfold into a long conversation with the oracle as a coach and spiritual mentor; our reading journals merge quietly into dream and personal journal; our daily awareness is woven through with the imagery of readings.

4 responses to It takes too long!

  1. Our culture teaches us that the Wisdom Road is short and simple and easily travelled. Enlightenment is painlessly and quickly obtained from your nearest BIG BOX STORE (Wal-Mart has “INSTANT KARMA ERASER*tm*” and “PERFECT WISDOM (never screw up again!)*tm*” ON SALE NOW! (some assembly required)JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!) If I could just “get with the program” and “do it” without all this messy and non-productive contemplation, I would have so much more time and money to PRODUCE and buy more TOYS&STUFF and then I could buy a really BIG HOUSE to keep all my TOYS&STUFF in and then I could get a second JOB so I could get a better CREDIT RATING and BUY a REALLY EXCITING STOCK PORTFOLIO to ensure my future as a CONSUMER so I can buy more TOYS&STUFF and then buy a SECOND HOUSE in an undeveloped, unpolluted (for now), rural (for now), scenic (for now) area with a comfortable climate(for now), to keep the new TOYS&STUFF and escape the pollution and overcrowding and undesirable elements that my previous CONSUMING created, as well as proving that I AM A PRODUCTIVE AND DESERVING AND MORE-SPECIAL-THAN-YOU INDIVIDUAL and an EXEMPLARY CITIZEN (you should be more like me) bibblebabbleyadayadaiamrantingblurp……. Can you say: “Patience, Grasshopper.”?

  2. Indeed. There’s plenty of that about – and I do hear, occasionally, from people who looked at my free I Ching course and decided it was too time-consuming. If you can get a car instantly on credit, why not inner peace?

    But what I’m talking about in this post is something different. People who understand that spiritual practice means daily work, and who are actually doing it. It’s just that they don’t conceive of divination as part of that work.

  3. My husband gave me a copy of the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching on our 1st date in the early 90’s. I liked it very much and figured (since it was short and simple) that after a month or two of study, I would have a good understanding of the teachings in it. There was a time where I thought I was rather bright and quick to catch on. In concert with my pre-teen son, the study of the Tao relieved me of my delusions in this respect. After a couple years of study, I began to conceive of questions that concerned being able to live the Tao while doing all the things one must to keep body and soul intact and take care of responsibilities (like kids and loved ones and community etc… Runes synchronicitously (is that a word?) appeared in my life as an oracle to help me bridge these two worlds (dimensions, realities, Self and self???). One of the how-to books (by Ralph Blum) suggested using another oracle (such as the I Ching) to illuminate the ambiguity of the Runes, but I wasn’t ready to tackle a new teacher. I was confused enough! A few years later, while surfing the net, I found a computerized version of the I Ching Oracle and bought it. I found it interesting, but wished to get deeper with it in terms of Real reality, not just virtual. Five years later, while still hanging out with the Tao and Runes, a book club I belonged to had a sale on The Complete I Ching by Taoist Master Huang. So I bought it , tried to read it and had to put it down. I needed more information to even start. To cut to the chase, while “surfing” again, I found your website,in 2007. I signed up for the free beginner’s course, and got my boost into the inner space of I Ching. So, my oracles are something to help me bridge the gap between Spirit and my Life, to help me learn to practice spiritual principles while living an ordinary life. The studies and divination enhance each other, clarifying, guiding and helping me find Home when I get lost. Speaking for myself, it takes up no more “time” to practice with divination than without. Thanks for everything and your guidance especially.

  4. Thank you for sharing that! That’s exactly how I want to help. 🙂

    “…my oracles are something to help me bridge the gap between Spirit and my Life, to help me learn to practice spiritual principles while living an ordinary life.”

    The same for me. It’s a wonderful thing to devote time to spiritual awareness, go on a retreat for instance (and maybe take an oracle with you), but I think a lot of the point of divination is to bring the qualities and awareness of the retreat right into the thick of things.

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