… all still from Harmen.
Laws 5 and 6 –
If you cling to the answer you will lose the solution.
The symbolic replies from the Yijing can invite you to endless lingering in the field of metaphors, chewing on every possible piece of information that might or might not be meaningful to you. Many users are afraid that they might overlook something in the answer, as if under each insight another insight is hidden which they must uncover. There is no use in wrenching the answer of the Yijing. Once you have what you need you have to decide your next step and move on. Therefore, “if you cling to the answer you will lose the solution”.
There is no text in the Yijing.
The words are not important, and although it can be very rewarding to look at the original Chinese text from a historical and philological point of view, you should not be carried away by the endless sea of possibilities that such an undertaking can give. What the Yijing gives you when you use the book are images, an overview, a situation, an idea – not words. Therefore, “there is no text in the Yijing”.
I think these are laws 5 and 5a, really – and my response to them is a typical ‘Well… yes and no.’
It is possible to set up camp in that field of metaphors, or set yourself adrift in the sea of possibilities, and explore connections – and the breadth and depth of these connections is such that this can go on indefinitely, without ever doing or changing anything in response to the reading.
However, in my experience that’s a pretty rare and unusual problem. Far more people are inclined to move on and forget the reading too soon, not allowing time to be changed by it.
It may be that some readings can be used as telegrams: they convey their information, and then you hurry off to act on it, discarding the telegram as you go. But the thing is that there is, in fact, a power to spark off personal change right here in the midst of the ‘field of metaphors’. To be changed by a reading, you generally need to inhabit it for a while and let it reshape your understanding. Some of the ways this is happening will be apparent to you; some probably won’t.
So it’s good, I find, to keep the reading with you as you move on: not to depart the real world and move into the field of metaphors, but also not to discard the reading quick and run back into the world of plans and action.
Actually, this is connected with law 9 –
The Yijing does not solve your problems.
I think this is an obvious one. “I have consulted the Yijing and the answer was great. I really understood it. But nothing has changed!” Of course not. The process of change only starts with the Yijing, it will not be accomplished by the Yijing. Using the Yijing means hard work and put in a lot of honesty. So kick your butt and live the answer of the Yi. The Yijing is only a book. Therefore, “the Yijing does not solve your problems”.
Yes, it’s obvious, in the same way that it’s obvious that no amount of positive visualisation will bring about any real-world change until you go do something different. (That is, not quite so obvious that it doesn’t need saying.) And yet… there is more to the Yijing than a message-delivery mechanism; the act and experience of divination has its own ways of changing people – a kind of re-tuning, re-aligning effect – that goes beyond what we can consciously understand in a reading.
I have relatively little to say about the remaining laws, but I’ll include them for the sake of completeness.
I would like to engrave law 7 in gold, set it to symphonic music with a Mahlerian-scale orchestra, and project it in fifty-foot high letters onto the sides of buildings:
When you read the text of the Yijing: read the text of the Yijing.
Many times when I ask one of my students to cite a text from the Yijing they do not give me the text from the Yijing but the commentary from the translator. Most people do not work with the Yijing, they work with the translator’s explanation of the Yijing. I find this a strange practice – it’s like driving a car but having Hyacinth Bucket – excuse me, Bouquet – sitting next to you giving you directions while you are perfectly capable of driving yourself. I was very surprised when I heard someone say that beginners should start with the translator’s commentary, after all, he said, that’s what all beginners do. I would say, only read the commentary once you have grasped the meaning of the text yourself. If you make it a habit to immediately go to the commentary, instead of contemplating on the actual text of the Yijing you will never learn to appreciate the direct and illuminating answers that the book can give you. The commentary is just what it says: commentary. It does not hold the answer of the Yijing, and many times the commentary can clash with your actual situation, leaving you more baffled than if you would have taken the time to listen to what the Yi has to say. Therefore, “when you read the text of the Yijing: read the text of the Yijing”.
If you want change nothing will change.
Often the Yijing is consulted when a situation is not as we desire it to be. We want change, we want things to be different. But this need can conflict with what the situation, or yourself, really needs. When you consult the Yijing and have interpreted the answer, the need for change should be gone: instead, you should be aware of the necessity of change, or the want of it, and how it can be accomplished in the most natural way, without forcing it. If you need change you will most likely not be willing to wait for it and let it flow into your circumstances. If you can accept your current situation and if you can see how you got there, change will not be a necessity but a simple part of the flow you are in. Therefore, “if you want change nothing will change”.
…seems related to law 4: the more you require that things should be a certain way, or that the world should operate in a certain way (for instance, that change should happen through your agency), the less likely you are to hear the answer. And the less you hear the answer, the less likely you are to be in tune with the way of things.
Law 10 –
The Yijing exists to make itself unneeded.
The Yijing is not only a book, it is also a principle. What it shows you is like the air that you are breathing: you are in it, you use it, you need it, but most of the time you cannot see it. Once you are aware of the principle you don’t need a tool to make it visible anymore: when you know how to operate the TV you will hardly consult the manual anymore. The Yijing is a learning aid to help you see the underlying principle that weaves the chaotic structure that we experience. But learning aids are not meant to be used all the time. When you have learned the principle you can discard the tool. Therefore, “the Yijing exists to make itself unneeded”.
Maybe – I don’t know. Ask me about this again in at least fifty years’ time.
(I’ll probably say, ‘What’s that, dear? Oh… maybe about half-past two?’)