...life can be translucent

Asking how he feels

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?”
but maybe,
“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?

46 responses to Asking how he feels

  1. I don’t find it ever really useful to ask about a persons feelings though i do occasionally . Seems a very roundabout way to get to what you need to know which is really what is the best way for me to approach/respond/meet or even avoid them. From that answer often you get an good clue about their feelings anyway. If i ask ‘how should i approach X” and get an answer like ‘very carefully’ or ‘don’t’ then I can surmise they’re not feeling too comfortable around me and far as I’m concerned thats all I need to know. After that I can talk to them if i want about why they feel anxious around me etc. I can’t think of any occasion so far where ‘how does s/he feel ?’ would have been a more helpful question than something like ‘whats my best approach to X’ .

  2. Mm. Could be that it’s often a case of, “I need to know that so I’ll know what best to do” – in which case it simplifies things a lot just to ask what best to do.

    But is there never an occasion when it works well to ask about another person’s needs/mindset/motives? How about – “I think this person is ordering from me with a fake card. What’s going on?”

  3. I don’t think it’s wrong or misguided to ask the oracle about another’s feelings – just so long as the querent (a great word, btw!) is prepared to learn about how she feels. The spirits at work behind the scenes love to point the querent back to herself.

    You see, I think one of our main obstacles to spiritual – and, by extension, relational – growth: We are often too outer-directed. That is, we want to know what’s going on outside us, more than what’s going on inside us.

    But what’s going on inside, is where the real stuff of revelation resides, I believe.

  4. (Agreeing whole-heartedly with what Eric says about outer and inner directedness.)

    Isn’t it so that the question “What does he feel about me?” is usually one in a romantic context? Then, the sort of answers the querent wants are “He loves me,” “He finds me attractive,” “He adores me,” “He loves me, but doesn’t want a relationship with me, because…,” “He doesn’t love me.” But the Yi isn’t really about romantic issues such as these, so the querent isn’t going to get a satisfying answer. When the querent approaches the people on the forum with the unsatisfying answer, she wants them to cast the incomprehensible answer into one of the above.

  5. Also agreeing wholeheartedly with the inner/outer-directedness. I was hinting at that in the post, with the way people seem to need to know what’s ‘out there’ before they can give themselves permission to look at ‘in here’. I’ve had quite a few conversations with prospective customers who analyse what he feels and wants at length and in depth, but can scarcely hear me when I ask what they feel or want. “I can’t want anything until I know it’s safe to want it.” Not an unusual way of thinking at all – in romantic situations or others.

    Isn’t it so that the question “What does he feel about me?” is usually one in a romantic context?
    Yes, but not exclusively – at least, asking Yi for insight into another person’s feelings/thoughts/needs is a broader topic. Think of a parent with an autistic child, or a businessman contacting a new potential partner, or trying to create rapport with someone who’s mentally ill in some way, or whose mind is for whatever reason beyond your comprehension. Or the example I suggested to Trojan – verifying if someone’s a thief.

    But the Yi isn’t really about romantic issues such as these
    Now you’ve utterly lost me. It’s an oracle; it’s ‘about’ what we ask it about. Romance, business, career, education, family, life purpose, why the computer broke down… How could it be any other way?

  6. I think in a sense I agree the Yi isn’t really ever particulary addressing romantic questions on our terms. How can it ? Most romantic questions are based on emptiness, neediness, narcissism…IOW its my perception they’re rarely really about love…which is why women especially are always wanting to know how he feels. Its not love for the man that comes into it but the sense of being loved in his eyes they want…which is perfectly understandable, I can’t say I’m above all that but I recognise in doing that, always looking to be given value by another will never bring peace, growth, fulfillment etc etc If most romantic questions are basically an ego trip seems the Yi will tend to address the futility of that ego trip rather than go down on its knees and say ‘yes John loves you ‘ etc I think that must be the reason why answers to romantic questions seem unreliable, nonsensical. As yet for example I’ve never seen an retrospective ‘aha’ moment for a romantic relationship question. Noone has ever said the Yi gave me xx and I married John and now I’m happy/unhappy ..I suspect they just moved right along to the next candidate or next divinitary paractise.
    I noticed that at some time or other most people do get caught in repeated obsessive Yi questioning re romance in a way they just don’t with Tarot or other things…not quite sure why that is. Where there is a real bond generally very few questions need to be asked because one knows in ones feelings and responses of the other.

    Anyway re the question about the fake card thing, I can’t see it helps at all to ask about their motives. My view is generally what is private to them will remain so, you only need to know how you need to interact with them so wouldn’t it be more useful to ask ‘what if i trust x’s card and so on ? If the answer indicates its not a good idea you can see on this occasion its not good for you to trust X but as to X’s motivations that his problem/business. I’m not saying its ‘wrong’ to ask about x’s motives I just don’t think the answers are clear if you step outside asking for guidance in your own life and start trying to travel into other peoples lives/minds..just seems like asking a question the hard way.

  7. I think you’re right about the fake card thing…

    (What actually happened was that I noticed the fraud – this character had stolen everything I offered under a series of fake names, including a couple of readings I would have given him for free if he’d asked… – and I blocked the IP, and then asked Yi for comment/confirmation and got 40.2. But I think I did go on to ask about what was going on in his head, just out of sheer baffled curiosity.)

    …but I also think that in general the desire to be able to get out of your own head and see the world as if through someone else’s eyes for a while isn’t a bad one. If it’s something we’d try to do without the oracle – eg trying to imagine what it’s like for my Mum-in-law to go blind, so I can listen to her better – then it makes sense to enlist Yi’s help, I think.

    I actually can think of many, many occasions when romantic relationship questions have been of real help to people. Not so much the ‘how does he feel about me?’ type, but then I tend to discourage people from asking those in the first place. I do think this is the hardest area to be of real help, but it can happen.

  8. Well it does seem a peculiar act to commit card fraud to get an I Ching reading..that is pretty strange I agree so now I’m wondering what the answer was when you asked what was happening in his head….except I wouldn’t be sure you’d actually got an answer to that question.

  9. What I found most strange was that he didn’t just get the reading emailed to him and vanish, he corresponded with me about it and thanked me. All the while knowing he was stealing it from me. Like making polite and friendly conversation while mugging someone, or something. Bizarre.

    I don’t have a record of the exact question I asked (this was many years ago), but it was something along the lines of, ‘What was going on in his head while he did this?’ Answer – 9.3:

    ‘A cart losing its wheel spokes.
    Husband and wife avert their eyes.’

    Some kind of mental split, one half of the mind not ‘looking at’ the other half?

  10. What comes to my mind is that it was someone who sort of knew you and was toying with you rather than a total stranger. The ‘man and wife’ bit makes me think of someone already known to you who couldn’t look straight at you…still very weird…an antagonist in the world of I Ching diviners lol…still maybe thats rather far fetched..but its very much around someone wanting to get one over on you, wanting to get what you have to give but wanting to feel one up at the same time…the foxes in 40.2 certainly fit

  11. Mm, hadn’t thought of that. He certainly knew me in the sense that he’d ‘bought’ (note inverted commas) everything else of mine – in fact, at one point I was wondering if he was genuine and thought he must be as he was an existing customer!

    Ah well. IP blocking is really useful.

  12. Or someone is spoofing someone else known to you from before… Another possibility is that you were hacked and private data is in the possession of the hacker. I suppose this person–let’s call it the ‘real’ one–contacted you with real information at some point. If the information is somehow different now (IP addresses, email, etc.), have you tried to contact him using the old information?

    Only guessing but it isn’t that far fetched.

    Luis Andrade’s last blog post..48.1 > 5, A matter of working with what’s available…

  13. No – there’s no ‘real’ customer involved. Just someone who ‘ordered’ everything over a period of months, under several fake names and with stolen/faked card details every time – identifiable as the same person by habits of spelling, use of similar fake addresses, and the same IP address. After I got a chargeback on one of these transactions, I noticed the similarities and quickly sent refunds on the lot before I could be hit with more chargebacks from the actual owners of the cards.

    So anyway… no, I’m not hacked, customer data was and is all safe – and in any case, I use payment systems that mean I never set eyes on anyone’s card details, as they’re all entered at Paypal or Worldpay. One less thing to worry about. Nonetheless, oddly enough, if they let a fake transaction through their system, I still bear the cost… heh…

  14. Since I Ching is about situations, not emotions, when wondering about what’s going on in a relationship I find it more useful to ask a question related to what characterizes the relationship — or something like that.

    Something I have given thought to in the past is that the issue of jealousy is not part of I Ching. Can you think of a place where that might be alluded to?

    Adele’s last blog post..Hexagram Five – Waiting

  15. IMHO, the Yi does not lend itself to easy definitions of what can or cannot answer because it represents the wholeness of existence. It is comprehensive in scope and holistic in its approach. Saying the “Yi is about situations, not emotions” is one of those instances. Emotions, like everything else, are part of the whole. The Yi will answer anything you question it with. The problem does not lie on the Yi answer but on the interpreter. If the querent/interpreter isn’t able to properly “read” other people’s emotions, specially those close to them, on his/her own, the Yi will be as obscure. People should listen more carefully to their own emotions. Denial and hopefulness abound. If something “feels” wrong, most of the time, it is.

    It is easier to focus on “situations” though.

    Luis Andrade’s last blog post..48.1 > 5, A matter of working with what’s available…

  16. what’s funny (okay to me) is that I misunderstood at first what this post was about — I thought “asking how he feels” meant asking the yi how he feels. I was taken aback when you said that was a common question! I thought it was quite odd of myself the time I asked it, but the answer made me so happy I will post it here.

    I was feeling anxious that I was misusing the yi, asking too many questions or about too trivial of matters, so I asked — ach, I can’t remember exactly but something like ‘What do I need to know about how you feel in this process, about my relationship with you?’–something like that.

    And the answer was one of my favorite lines of all, 61.2–>42

    ‘Calling crane in the shadows,
    Its young one responds in harmony.
    I have a beloved wine cup,
    I will share myself, simply pouring it out.’

    isn’t that lovely?

    knot’s last blog post..thanks

  17. Hi, You wrote something about how the oracle will re-focus our thoughts when we ask about another. I like the term “reframing” that came out of American therapeutic models–means what it sounds like–we put the question or concern into a different context, such that we are offered an opportunity to change perspective.

    And I do think it’s totally legit to ask about the feelings of another, especially in situations where the other person may be guarded or shy. It may be that the way we intend to work with the advice is to change our tactics or approach with that person to make for a more productive relationship. So many of us are cautious in our approach to others, that very often another might have no idea that we’re interested in them in some way–romantically or otherwise.

    chad http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reframing

  18. I think the Yi is primarily about the intent in situations. Emotions are reactions to that, and the Yi is not primarily about those reactions. Reactions to a 41 situation can be sadness, 29 fear, 34 anger, 12 frustration, to name just a few obvious ones. But emotional reactions are usually more complicated than that. There may or may not be disappointment or frustration with all the ones I mentioned. 42 may or may not be about love.
    Emotions very much depend on what someone is keeping in their unconscious, which makes people not see situations as they really are.

    “If something “feels” wrong, most of the time, it is.”
    I think that there is so often “without fault” in the Yi, because people way too quickly are let to believe by their superegos that something is “wrong.”

  19. To clarify the “intent in situations” thing:
    Intent is that which changes. The Yi being the “Book of Changes” is about intent. What changes are situations.

  20. LOL Knot , seems the Yi feels very sweet about you ! I think I have only asked the Yi once or twice about my relation to it as in ‘tell me about how I’m using/working with you’ got very apt answers both times. I think perhaps we should ask Yi how s/he feels more often as a guide to how we work with it

  21. My intention was to post my long reply to Ewald’s opinion here but alas, I don’t know what kind of formatting I can use for quotes, underlines, etc. So…, I created a post in my blog:


    Hilary, are there any coding rules we can use that apply to comments here? Do forum codes apply here?

    Luis Andrade’s last blog post..48.1 > 5, A matter of working with what’s available…

  22. Why is my previous comment “awaiting moderation”?

    I have no idea – there’s software to filter out spam comments (it gets about 20 a day), and you must have written something that got it excited. I’ll go find it in the queue…

    … there, done. And you can use simple html for formatting in the comments: links, ‘blockquote’, ’em’ and ‘strong’.

  23. Luis, it seems we have some very different views about these subjects!
    Last weekend I added a section to my website about the ego, the superego and the unconscious. In case you’d be interested, click on my name to go to my website, and on my website click on “Ego” in the top right corner.

  24. Indeed, we do, Ewald. Yes, I’ve read the notes in your site about the Ego and its siblings. That’s why I mentioned it in my blog post.

    IMO, what you write about is very compelling and certainly has a place in other hermeneutical contexts. Within the Yijing hermeneutics, I believe they are misplaced. BTW, I also disagree with Carol Anthony’s take on these issues and her usage of Freudian taxonomy and concepts in her effort to explicate and interpret the Yijing.

    Luis Andrade’s last blog post..48.1 > 5, A matter of working with what’s available…

  25. @knot – what a beautiful reply – possibly my favourite line in the book. And thanks also for the link to your blog. You’re using my kind of brush for your random sweepings 😉 .

    @Adele – I imagine many lines could talk about the workings or effects of jealousy. Maybe our use of words to subdivide the emotional spectrum is a bit like describing the colour spectrum, ie language- and culture-specific. Anyway… 27.1? (First one that comes to mind.)


    IMHO, the Yi does not lend itself to easy definitions of what can or cannot answer because it represents the wholeness of existence.

    IMNSHO, too. I don’t buy into any notion that the Yi is ‘not about’ something (anything).

    If the querent/interpreter isn’t able to properly “read” other people’s emotions, specially those close to them, on his/her own, the Yi will be as obscure.

    Yes, agreed. It’s possible to get a 100% accurate answer, so the oracle has ‘worked’ perfectly – but the reading doesn’t work at all, because we just don’t have the capacity to relate.

    @chad Thanks for the ‘reframing’ link. It’s certainly at least part of what happens.

    And I do think it’s totally legit to ask about the feelings of another, especially in situations where the other person may be guarded or shy. It may be that the way we intend to work with the advice is to change our tactics or approach with that person to make for a more productive relationship.

    Mm… though if the person is simply shy and doesn’t want us to know what goes on in their minds, it’s hard (for me) to imagine how it could be right to ask an oracle instead.

    I think how it works and whether it’s right all comes down to authenticity of intent – not something we can ever reliably see or judge in other people.

    I don’t know about the ego/superego part, but I agree about ‘without fault’/ ‘no mistake’. There are plenty of reasons why we might feel that something ‘must’ be wrong – my friends would laugh at me, my parents would be angry, I’m scared of change and the unknown… – when in the larger, more real world that Yi deals with it’s actually ‘no mistake’.

  26. “There are plenty of reasons why we might feel that something ‘must’ be wrong – my friends would laugh at me, my parents would be angry, I’m scared of change and the unknown… – when in the larger, more real world that Yi deals with it’s actually ‘no mistake’.”

    The word that you translate with “mistake,” also has as possible translations “blame,” “guilt,” “find fault.” Definetely the superego.

    Of the three reasons you mention, the first 2 are definetely thoughts coming from the superego. These fears illustrate very well how the superego actually enforces its rules. The third one, may very well also be (like in “curiosity killed the cat”), though it can also come from other areas of the ego. I’m not so sure it actually is, though, when I look at the list of Yi lines that have “without fault.”

  27. Hilary, can you tell which lines from the Yi correspond to these statements?

    “He loves me,”
    “He finds me attractive,”
    “He adores me,”
    “He loves me, but doesn’t want a relationship with me, because…,”
    “He doesn’t love me.”

  28. “I’m scared of change and the unknown… ”

    Ah, I now see why these kind of fears are not mixed into “without fault” in my translation. I have “Have confidence” and “Have trust” for those phrases that others translate with “be sincere” or “be true.”

    This distinguishes the superego and the trust issues.

  29. Hilary, can you tell which lines from the Yi correspond to these statements?

    “He loves me,”
    “He finds me attractive,”
    “He adores me,”
    “He loves me, but doesn’t want a relationship with me, because…,”
    “He doesn’t love me.”

    Heavens, no, of course I can’t. And if I hadn’t actually asked the questions and received the answer, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which hexagrams/lines can say these things, either:

    “Your new script will generate a 405 error” (9.3)
    “A connection in your motherboard melted, so you should get your computer sent off for repair right away.” (59.6)
    “This is how she feels about going blind.” (29)

    Though I could obviously suggest lines or hexagrams that might come up for each of your messages (11 for real love and 12 unchanging for the total absence thereof, for instance), lines don’t ‘correspond to’ answers in that way. The meaning is created in the moment of the reading, in the connection between querent and oracle. And I’ve never yet seen any signs that only certain meanings can be created.

  30. Serendipity… 🙂 Something interesting I came across just a moment ago while following a link to Hagop Sarkissian’s site from Manyul Im’s blog.. Look for “Rituals, intuitions and social magic: Emotions and automaticity in the Analects” in the “Papers” section.

    IV – Mind Reading
    Many will perhaps grant that intuitions, as outlined above, are reliable in familiar or ordinary circumstances. We are, after all, at an epistemic advantage when exacting highly particularized responses towards those we know well, since we are conversant with their individual histories and sensitive to their moods. On the other hand, much of our interactions involve persons whose histories and idiosyncrasies are relatively (if not completely) unknown. How reliable will our intuitions be in unusual situations? Even with an expansive emotional repertoire cultivated from diverse sources, our emotional stories may not ‘match’ those of strangers.
    This is a considerable objection. Indeed, Confucius seems implicitly aware of it, for throughout the Analects we find him hinting at a possible solution: mind reading. As noted at the outset, propriety requires emotional ‘presence’ to be considered virtuous. This suggests that our emotions are, to a large extent, transparent. As D’arms and Jacobson observe, “in normal human psychology… the relationship between feeling an emotion and expressing it – especially in involuntary behavior such as blushing, cringing, or crying – is exceedingly tight. Moreover, others are notoriously perceptive at sensing when we are inwardly amused by their plight or attempting to conceal our anger” (D’arms and Jacobson 2000, 77-78). Nicholas Humphrey describes the relationship as one of “contingent correlation” (Humphrey 1983, 43).(8)

    In several passages, Confucius directs attention to this transparency of emotions (1:3, 5:5, 5:10, 5:25, 6:16, and 8:4), and commands his disciples to remain attentive to axiological clues (2:10, 7:28, 9:24, 11:21, and 12:20). Hence, those who seek appropriateness (yi) “examine what is said, are keen observers of demeanour and are thoughtful in deferring to others” (12:20). By ‘mind reading,’ then, I mean nothing more than what we engage in everyday – inferring motives, meanings, and intentions from words, gestures and expressions. Virtuous conduct requires constant fine-tuning, and mind reading is indispensable in fine-tuning our interactions with others. Indeed, since ritual is itself a vehicle for expressing emotion, a sensitive practitioner of ritual will be effective at inferring the inner states of other advanced practitioners.

    (8) Some will object that emotional expression is, to a large extent, manageable. This is true. Nevertheless, it is hard to mask expressions entirely, for prior to exercising control there is often what is called a ‘microexpression,’ or the micromomentary occurrence of a characteristic emotional response, which is subsequently replaced by deliberate control. See Griffiths (1997, 53). These microexpressions go largely undetected, though they are inescapable to trained eyes, such as those belonging to the redoubtable Stanley Tomkins. For his story, and his relationship to Paul Ekman, see Gladwell (2002).

    It confirms that complex carbohydrates in the mornings have been good for my one neuron… 😀

    Luis Andrade’s last blog post..48.1 > 5, A matter of working with what’s available…

  31. But, Hilary, can you tell which lines from the Yi correspond to these situations?

    A situation where there is kind of a conflict, but the querant feels he hasn’t wanted to talk with the other person about what is the matter.

    A situation where the testing of a new built database system brings up some issues to be fixed.

    A situation where a new built database system seems to be working reliably.

    Some years ago, when I was making the webpages for my online Yijing consultation, I was making small adjustments to the layout to optimize it. For testing the page and see how it looked, I just threw the virtual coins. There was one hexagram in particular that came up all the time. Which one?

  32. Luis, glad to hear the neuron is doing so well, especially in the mornings.

    Ewald, no, I still don’t believe in lines that consistently ‘correspond to’ situations, shorn of the living connection between querent and oracle. But now you’ve stirred my curiosity for this guessing game. For adjustments to layout – 22? For database systems in general – 48? For conflict but not wanting to discuss it – 36?

    (And you see, if I’m completely wrong on all three, that just proves my point. 😉 )

  33. Hilary, I think with the situations (from the second set) you way easier had ideas about what lines or hexagrams they correspond to than with the romantic feelings, didn’t you? (judging by the curiosity you mention.)

    The meaning created in the moment of the reading, you talked about, is the meaning created by the *situation* of that moment. The romantic feelings do not have such meaning, because they do not really fit by themselves in the set of categories that the Zhouyi text is.

    This illustrates my point that the Yi text is a categorization of *situations*. It is *primarily* about situations. That doesn’t mean that emotions or romantic feelings cannot be found out through consultation of the Yi, but it’ll always be an indirect process.

    You were right about the adjustments for layout, it was indeed hex. 22 that came up all the time. The not wanting to discuss the issue from the conflict was 2.4 (enclosing is a sack) and 2.6 (dragons fighting in the open field).
    I think you took the two database system situations together, while they were two separate ones. Else, I’d think 48 would have been a good one (and I seem to remember having actually received it in such a context).
    – “Testing of a new built database system brings up some issues to be fixed” – 3.5 (difficulties that fertilize),
    – “New built database system seems to be working reliably” – 61.0 (inner trust).

  34. Well, I was pretty sure that in the first set you were describing a set of imaginary situations, while in the second you were talking about your own readings. Much easier to muster some curiosity about these – though you’ll recall I did come up with a couple of suggestions for set #1, to show willing.

    Emotions as contrasted with situations… I don’t see the contrast. In what way is an emotional condition – such as being in love, or being in conflict but not wanting to talk about it – not a ‘situation’ in its own right?

    Or to look at it another way, if Yi can describe an interface between query and database with 61, why couldn’t it also describe an interface between humans with 61? Or indeed an individual’s inner state of clarity?

    But these are pretty much academic/rhetorical questions for me, because I see Yi talking about emotions very directly and clearly, and also with tremendous subtlety, every day of the week.

  35. Wow…what a conversation! So many thoughts come to mind …

    I remember being newly infatuated with the I Ching nearly 28 years ago. All of my initial questions, asked in earnest desperation (hee), were about one HIM or another, or about why this or that friend was behaving so weirdly, or WTF was wrong with *me*?!

    Lots of the oracle’s responses, as I saw them then, made me say “Huh …?” — I skimmed the surface, rooting for an ANSWER. Something to TELL me WHAT TO DO! Heh.

    All these years later, I do know one thing: that our most pivotal, essential questions revolve around relation. One thing the Yi always does is present some aspect of a moment … a pattern … a habit … a cycle … The oracle answers us from its elemental “self” — always inviting us to look beyond our blinkers (blinders?), and into the quest behind the question. Nowadays, when am enquiring for myself, I don’t ask a question per se — I just “know” that the larger Wisdom “sees” into every nook and cranny I’m blind to, and into all my conundrums and contradictions, and straight to the core of what matters … I trust that the oracle makes sense, because it always has. It’s *me* who often doesn’t make sense … ;-D

    People who are new to divination in our culture tend to clump the I Ching in with other “parlour games” or fortune-telling media … Some folks just love to be told what to do, I suppose, and for some, it’s just a kind of silliness but they’ll give it a shot … I think that anyone who stays with the Yi (or any other oracular system) eventually becomes immersed in its depth, and comes to understand it as something profoundly different, singular, enigmatic … The Yi doesn’t mince words or fool around with reality. I truly revere the mystery of it …

    A question like “What does he think?” makes me giggle — ’cause of course we can’t know what another person thinks or feels … We can guess, speculate, ruminate, drive ourselves batty in our need to KNOW.

    I still find it difficult to write or speak about what the oracle “does.” When my mind gets tongue-tied, I re-read Carl Jung’s forward to Wilhelm’s translation … his thoughts on synchronicity.

    And always there’s the Sage, winking back at us … 😉

    Jaliya’s last blog post..Liberation isn’t easy (Hexagram 40)

  36. But, that first set consists of things some people very much want to know, when they ask the Yi what a person feels for them. I believe it happens quite a lot, that it’s right this that they want to know.

  37. Prompted by this discussion, I asked the Yi two questions today about a particular situation.

    Today I received an email from a business contact, asking to meet me. I won’t divulge the content, but I felt very uneasy about the way it was phrased.

    I would normally have asked a ‘What’s going on here’ kind of question, but I’d just been reading this thread, so I asked ‘What do these people want from me?’

    35 4 23


    What do they want FOR me?

    59 1 4 10

    A very interesting and illuminating reading – because I was asking about the other person’s point of view in the situation.

    Thank you!

  38. I imagine most people consult the I Ching because they want clarity on a particular issue and for whatever reason, they think the Ching might have the answer. If someone is asking “how does he feel about me”, whether the querent is shallow or self-absorbed or neurotic or just a normally well-adjusted human being who can’t make sense out of a relationship situation, then surely their question is legitimate and should be answerable through the I Ching. But often times in relationships, potential or otherwise, I think feelings may be mixed and there may not be a clear answer, such as “he’s attracted to you but isn’t ready to commit to anything long-term or exclusive. But Hilary, as you mentioned a while back, we should be able to ask ANYthing (although a few years ago you expressed doubts about whether I could get clear dietary advice to the Yi.

  39. Hello Chad, welcome back to the thread, 6 years later…

    If you’re saying that there are no rules about which questions can and can’t be asked, I agree completely. Nor can we ever say with confidence, ‘If you ask that, you certainly won’t get a clear answer.’ But when it comes to the ‘how does he feel’ question, I would say with perfect confidence, ‘If you ask that, you probably won’t get an answer that’s any help to you – let’s look for some other questions you might be asking that would work better.’

    One reason for that is as you say – there may not be a clear answer to be had. But I think there are more problems than that.

  40. Hi!
    I often ask about other people`s feelings or intentions but I find it is a very isolated and lonely process. Although I can learn from the answer, they cannot. It does help me approach the other person correctly, though. Another thing I have noticed is that the answer may be based on my perception of the other person. Deep down, we all know and the I-Ching helps uncover that perception. I do ask for myself and the other, as you stated. ~What does he feel about this~ followed by ~what do I feel about this~. At first I suspected the answer was filtered through me and did, in fact, refer to me, but then I realised it can be very different for both questions and usually makes total sense in the end.

    • That’s a very good point, that it feels isolated and lonely to be asking ‘What does he feel?’ So often this kind of questioning actually takes us away from connection/ relationship.

      These days I mostly prefer to ask about what I can do – ‘How to be?’ and ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What to remember the next time we talk about that?’ Those seem to nurture connection.

Leave a reply

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

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