Here is a cautionary tale about involving Yi in decision making, how this can get you tied up in an endless series of unpromising readings, and the tremendously simple way to avoid this.
Why is this a cautionary tale? Well, because I’ve managed to act out the full story twice in the past couple of weeks . That brought the pattern into excruciatingly clear focus for me, so I thought it worth sharing.
The story goes like this:
Prologue: decide, with guidance and encouragement from Yi, to make a certain change. Clarity prevails; all is well.
Chapters 1-5: Work out all the various ways I could do this. Ask about each one, and get a series of readings ranging from the unenthusiastic (eg 36.1) to the downright horrible (42.6).
Chapter 6: Finally, in exasperated perplexity, ask Yi, ‘So how am I supposed to do this?’ – and receive a perfectly clear and simple answer.
Chapter 7: Reflect quietly on this answer.
Chapter 8: Come up with a way of making the change that resonates with that answer. Ask Yi about that. Get a ringing confirmation from Yi that has distinct overtones of ‘at last!’ and ‘relief!’
You might have thought I’d have learned to skip chapters 1-5 by now. I’ve been practising and teaching and helping people with ways to hear the true question for a long, long time. Well… maybe it’s easier to hear for other people, or maybe it’s harder to hear when my mind, convinced that there’s a lot to work out here, has already taken off at a brisk gallop though the specifics of ‘how’.
So the moral of the cautionary tale is this: ask the simplest, most open question first, before you ask about specific options. This may seem redundant, because you (I mean ‘I’) may think you (/I) already know all the possible options, so you (/I – please take this as read…) could speed things along by asking about them directly. But no, this does not speed anything along, except maybe a cycle of frenetic tail-chasing. Whereas if you first allow Yi to speak to you about the true nature of the undertaking, then you gain a deep understanding within which you can become aware of the best option. Then you can go straight to that – which actually does save time, muddle and tail-hairs.
Now you have the (not very complicated) moral of the story, you don’t really need the cautionary tale itself. But you might enjoy it anyway – it includes some classic Yi moments – and it’s also a way for me to let you know what’s coming next from Clarity. Here goes…
I’ve decided to include all the courses and learning materials I offer, now and in future, under the Change Circle roof. That means raising the price for Change Circle – which brings up the question of what to do about WikiWing, which was never supposed to be a ‘premium’ offer, but a giant collaborative community undertaking. No-one should ever be priced out of that.
And at the same time, I was turning over in my mind the question of how or whether I could ask for some kind of financial contribution from members of the free forum – without charging everyone, which I’m absolutely not interested in doing. I asked a series of questions about options without getting very far. Presently, looking at other forums for ideas, I came across the idea of a ‘supporter’ membership which is basically its own reward, though it comes with a few forum ‘perks’, like the right to use a signature or store more private messages. Asked about that; received an answer that suggested ‘almost there, not quite…’
Brainwave: what about adding WikiWing access to this ‘supporter’ membership? In reply to that I had 62.2.6 – ugh. I’d gone from ‘almost there’ to ‘completely missing the mark’. How did that happen?
At which point, in some exasperation, I asked,
‘Then what is the right thing to do with WikiWing? (Because in future I don’t want to limit access to people who are paying the higher price to be part of Change Circle, that’s absolutely not the original vision for the thing…)’
Yi answered with Hexagram 16, unchanging.
So – back to that original vision: this space where we all pool our experiences with each hexagram and line, and write an evolving new ‘Wing’ based on present-day divination experience. Something never possible before the internet connected our vast diversity of humanity and gave us the opportunity to connect and co-operate.
And then it dawned on me how spectacularly I would be missing the point if I made an offer along the lines of, ‘Become a supporter and get some sort of forum perks – er, how about access to the bookmarking plugin? – oh, and also access to WikiWing.’
Next question to Yi:
‘What about just offering WikiWing access on its own? So the offer is simply “become a contributor to WikiWing”?’
‘A thing of beauty coming
Brings reward and praise, good fortune.’
I don’t know about you, but that answer has a distinct feeling of ‘finally, she’s got it!’ The whole thing really does come together beautifully and naturally – unlike the cobbled-together set of forum perks I was contemplating before. If you’d like to contribute to Clarity, that’s probably because you value what the I Ching Community creates: the pooling of insights and experiences, the shared exploration and learning. Which means you’re already a natural WikiWing contributor. There’s nothing for me to ‘put together’, because it’s already a whole.
So that’s what I decided to do – not such a difficult decision after all – and here is the thread to introduce this ‘thing of beauty coming’ (!).
But what brought me to this point was the previous question – not asking ‘what if I do this? what about that?’ but being completely open in asking, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
A little further along the line, I had another – erm… – opportunity to learn the moral of the tale. I was working out how to price things, and this time the ‘brainwave’ was to introduce ‘pay what you want’ (pwyw) pricing – which is exactly what it sounds like: usually the seller sets a minimum payment, and you can pay that, or whatever you choose.
‘How about using pwyw for WikiWing membership?’
I like that! The implicit question mark (‘pushing upward? where to?’) is a good fit, because I don’t know where this could lead. However, it also nudged me on, and a little later found myself asking – reluctantly, because this wasn’t my original idea at all,
‘And what about using it for Change Circle, too?’
Yi said 41.2.5 to 42: Decrease, its Increase, the blessing of offering,
‘Constancy bears fruit,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Not decreasing, increasing it.’
‘Maybe increased by ten paired tortoise shells,
Nothing is capable of going against this.
From the source, good fortune.’
So how to go about this? And I set off on a string of readings which I will not bore you with here, asking about what kind of minimum to set and whether to have a ‘recommended’ price, and if so, what? – and so on. I went quite systematically and logically round all the possibilities, and received answers that ranged from ‘meh’ to ‘nope‘. What had happened to that beautiful 41 to 42 reading, and how was I supposed to get there?
So once again, four ‘how about this…?’ readings later, frustration brought me to the question I needed to ask in the first place:
‘Then how am I supposed to go about Pay What You Want?’
‘Release. The southwest is fruitful.
With no place to go,
To turn round and come back is good fortune.
With a direction to go,
Daybreak, good fortune.’
A classic of Yi-wit at my expense; I did my best to be amused.
Once I got thinking about the answer, it was eloquent on many levels. Release: this has to be truly what you want. If there is a ‘recommended price’ that I’m implying you ‘should’ pay, then there are still knots and tangles involved. Choosing the path that accords with my direction: what am I aiming for here, and what will help?
And also – what I was asking was basically, ‘How do I get to that 41 zhi 42 reading?’ – so it’s really not very surprising to receive the preceding hexagram in the Sequence in answer.
So I sat with Hexagram 40, read it and inhabited the feel of it, asked one more ‘how about this?’ question in harmony with that, and received another clear and unambiguous ‘Yes! At last!’ answer. (This one is 22.214.171.124 to 8. Everything about it is a beautiful reflection of how natural and simple ‘pay what you want’ can be.)
Moral (maybe if I repeat myself enough I’ll remember this for next time…): when asking Yi’s help with a decision, ask the simplest, most open question first. Something like, ‘What’s the best way to do this?’ is fine. Absorb this answer into your thinking; use it to think up options. Then, if you even need to, ask about those.