I spend a lot of time exploring and writing about the endless depths of Yijing readings. There are those little seeds of meaning hidden in the etymology of individual characters, the long resonances across the structure of the Sequence, the pictures to be painted with trigrams and stories to tell with nuclear hexagrams, the mythical allusions, the many layers of distinction between the cast hexagram and its pair, its complement, its shadow… – and all that just for the single hexagram, never mind the complex tapestries woven by changing lines. No wonder a single reading can provide more than enough to think about and use for a month (or two, or twelve).
However… this kind of very, very deep dive isn’t the only way we use Yi – not even the usual way – and perhaps it isn’t a ‘better’ way, either. We don’t have to understand everything that the reading is saying: we just need to understand one thing, and use it.
Anticipating an awkward meeting with feelings running high – advice?
Hexagram 21, Biting Through, changing at line 6 to 51, Shock
‘Shouldering a cangue so your ears disappear.
So I went into the meeting with the one idea of listen better and don’t respond to emotional reverberations by blocking things out. And that was what I needed. (Admittedly, I wouldn’t immediately associate 21.6 with a response to emotional extremes if I hadn’t given some thought in the past to its connection with Hexagram 51 – but that isn’t super-complex analysis, either.)
What if I take on this additional task?
28, Great Exceeding, changing at line 3 to 47, Confined
‘The ridgepole buckles.
Take it on, and you will buckle under the pressure. One look at the reading, one message: dismiss the idea.
Before another meeting, to find the way forward – advice for the group?
Hexagram 60, Measuring, unchanging
One idea: work out Measures sustainable for all. Make no agreements or rules that don’t accommodate human limits.
In each of those cases, taking that one thing from the reading was enough. Now the decision’s made, the meeting’s over, and Yi has made the difference. But even for ongoing situations, that ‘one thing’ is of great value –
A client is making a difficult request and I’m not sure how to respond. What to do?
19, Nearing, unchanging
This reminds me at once, irresistibly, of a dictionary definition of ‘client’ that Sean d’Souza often points to: ‘A client is one who comes under your care, guidance and protection.’ Now, this reading – appropriately enough for the hexagram! – is not at all ‘finished’, because the situation isn’t finished. I need to revisit the idea of ‘ending in the eighth month’, for one thing. But I already have my one guiding principle for the whole interaction.
These are not thorough, comprehensive readings – they’re incomplete, picking up on just a fragment of what Yi had to say. And… if we take that one thing and use it, that’s enough. We’ve done the reading, we’ve reconnected with the truth, and we’ve used it to change something. Divination happened.