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You vs Yi? What if the reading feels wrong?

youvsyiIt’s not uncommon to have the experience of a reading confirming what you already know – even if you hadn’t quite acknowledged that you knew it.

But what when the reading simply goes against what you feel is right? You’re drawn to do something, you’re excited about doing it, your intention’s taking shape… and you ask Yi, and get some unspeakably negative answer. Or – this happened to me a few days ago and got me thinking about this – you particularly don’t want to have to do something, it feels all wrong, but Yi is unmistakably telling you it’s the right thing to do.


So I have a couple of questions about this. First, what’s happening? It’s quite normal for readings to confirm our deep knowing, and thoroughly disconcerting when they go against it. (Or maybe only appear to go against it?)

And second, how to respond? Of course, what we quite often do is to ignore the reading and do what we wanted anyway. We might come up with reasons why this reading doesn’t quite count, or doesn’t quite mean what it says, or quietly ‘forget’ it.

This may surprise you, but I actually feel that this is a good thing. We don’t, after all, consult with Yi so it can tell us what to do. It’s more… so we can be changed – become more aligned with deep reality, live more fluently, something like that. And going against a reading and getting into a nasty situation as a result (can we have a show of hands for people who’ve done that?) has to be part of the experience. It means you’re living your own life.

On the other hand, of course, this does seem perverse – not to mention disrespectful. We also don’t consult Yi so it can encourage us in our own convictions and make us feel better about doing what we planned on doing anyway – at least, I hope I don’t…

But wait.

What actually draws us to consult – why do readings happen at all? I think if you scratch the surface of the intention of a reading, you find a desire. Not necessarily a desire for a particular answer or outcome – though there’s always that, too – but a need to be answered. We want to feel held inside the container of conversation with the oracle – and we want to be encouraged and blessed in our ventures, to experience alignment and harmony, and to know we belong where we are. Somewhere under the surface of ‘Tell me what I want to hear!’ is a deep hunger for spiritual nourishment. It’s that hunger that pulls the whole reading experience into being: it impels you to ask, and draws the Yi to answer.

Now, that might sound as though the oracle were basically inert, until human desire starts things moving. But I think we know from experience that this isn’t really what happens. I quite often find a desire or call to consult simply ‘arising’ in me, apparently out of nowhere. I respond to the call, and cast a reading – and who can say what started this moving? Not I.

A reading is an upwelling of awareness and presence. You can experience that as the potent, benevolent presence of the oracle speaking to you – something that never gets less breathtaking – and as the growth of your own insight and understanding, carried on the same rising tide of presence.

A conversation I quite often have with beginners goes something like this,

Beginner: ‘When I read what it says, I get this really strong, clear feeling it’s saying this – but I’m not very good at readings, so perhaps I’m getting it wrong, so I’ve asked on the forum and read sixteen different commentaries, and the I Ching is really confusing…’

Me: ‘That really strong, clear feeling? That’s your reading happening.’

In that situation, when your understanding rises to meet and meld with the answer, it’s relatively easy to see that the whole ‘you vs Yi’ thing is an illusion: there’s just one emergent awareness. But what when Yi says one thing and your inner self says something completely different?

First, I think you need to recognise that a reading is still happening. Your hunger for connection is still active, still drawing out a single rising awareness and presence. It’s just that this awareness has layers – and they’re a long way apart, not quite ‘talking to one another’ yet.

So instead of the kneejerk response (well, my kneejerk response) of finding ways to distance yourself from the reading, you need to get more present to the whole process – to think about what you’re asking, and why, and what you really sought from the answer.

Bottom line: the answer may feel completely wrong, but it isn’t. The answer may feel alienating, but in fact you have connected with the oracle and you have an answer from Yi – of course this is a blessing; what else could it possibly be? You don’t have to understand or agree with what it says for that to be true. Maybe ask –  what if this answer were kind and benevolent – how could that be?

All of which, you know, doesn’t mean you have to ‘obey’ the reading. I actually asked Yi what it would mean to go against such a reading, and received 28.2.3 to 45. We’d be stepping outside the embrace of the ‘reading container’, acting absolutely independently, investing everything in living out our own story. And this means both living to the full – because we’re connecting with our own rejuvenated will and desire, which might just be revitalised by having a reading go against it so clearly – and also complete isolation and bringing the roof crashing down on our own heads. Which shouldn’t, on the whole, be a surprise.



(As you may have guessed, there’s another reading behind this post – that’s how it can go from initial bafflement to such emphatic confidence. Here’s the question I asked:

When an answer goes against instinct, or desire, or what we ‘know’, what then? What would be a good guideline for responding to such readings?

I think I’ll update this post later with the answer I received. Perhaps you can guess it?)

8 responses to You vs Yi? What if the reading feels wrong?

  1. Y ears ago, if the answer didn’t suit me, or give me the guidance I need, I would simply throw the coins again, asking to explain. This usually worked. But in recent years, I find the reading is more often than not, right … on some level. I am not looking for Yi to tell me what to do… I am simply looking for guidance and to get “unstuck”, which I am a lot, in the grip of overwhelm.

  2. Thank you for this post. I have had the beginner experience you talk about. Part of why I have stayed away from the forum for awhile. Don’t get me wrong. I love the forum but many times left more confused. Working on just staying in the “container”. Thanks again

  3. ‘Right on some level‘ is about the size of it, I think. Generally a level I’m not on at all…

    As for the beginner experience… if I could just teach everyone confidence in their own immediate, intuitive understanding of their reading, I could retire happy 😉 .

  4. I couldn’t resist ~ I asked the oracle, “What did you tell Hilary regarding answers that go against instinct or desire?”

    It came back with to 24, which I read as:

    “Become Still and you will know what to do.”

  5. Quote “It’s more… so we can be changed – become more aligned with deep reality,”

    Quote “I quite often find a desire or call to consult simply ‘arising’ in me, apparently out of nowhere. I respond to the call, and cast a reading – and who can say what started this moving? Not I.”

    And therein is the key. “Something simply arising in me” We are aware of the subconscious mind but we do not generally give it any credit. I would go farther than speaking of a subconscious, but even a superconscious. If we do not recognize it, it tends to go even deeper into hiding. We think we make our own decisions, but we do not. At least not with the conscious mind. And it is the call of the subconscious that makes us aware of a need for a greater understanding of our reality. And when we recognize that, and throw the coins, we allow the superconscious to have a more conscious control in our lives. And eventually, that superconsciousness becomes more prevalent in our lives and comes out of its place of hiding. Hence we become the “superior man.” And eventually, if our path be true and consistent, become the oracle ourselves, melding the various levels of mind. We teach the message, we don’t just seek it, although we continue to do that as well. It is from the depths of our being that questions come, though we think it is our own everyday consciousness. In thinking that, we engage in hubris. Hence the deeper parts of our mind remain hidden and frozen and we remain oblivious to who we really are, and how we fit into the way of the tao, which is the way of sacrifice, and yet at the same time, great blessing, as we find the way that is meant for us. We give up the illusion that the conscious mind does it all, and give credit where credit is due, in the depths of our soul.

  6. Gene – yes, you’re pointing to something important here – the ‘melding’ that happens. Also, I am always very wary of the idea of someone ‘becoming’ the oracle or outgrowing divination – I suppose it’s like anyone claiming to be enlightened or a spiritual master, best met with a certain scepticism…

    I couldn’t resist ~ I asked the oracle, “What did you tell Hilary regarding answers that go against instinct or desire?”

    It came back with to 24, which I read as:

    “Become Still and you will know what to do.”

    Well, I can hardly argue with that – but I must admit that isn’t how Yi put it when I asked. Though the 24 is connected, I suppose.

    I will go on a fishing expedition on the corresponding forum thread, just to see if anyone wants to guess…

  7. I don’t think we ever outgrow the need for seeking a deeper “union” with the superconscious. Enlightenment is a relative thing. We can all be enlightened on certain subjects, but that doesn’t mean we know it all. The I Ching grows ever deeper as we do. Hexagram twenty tells us about it. As in Hexagram one we must climb the six steps to heaven. But as hexagram 29 tells us we cannot go to the next step until we have completed the lessons on the lower step. The average person on the street is totally unaware of this. They think if they have a college degree they have “got it.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. So we walk around as automatons, and have no clue where we are or what we are doing. The I Ching is a deep subject, (Hexagram 48). And we have no clue where the bottom is. Our rope does not go all the way to the bottom. There is no end to learning. Unfortunately there is too much truth to the old saying, “We get too soon old, and too late wise.”

  8. That’s a good description, thank you. I appreciate the concept of enlightenment as a relative thing, and not ‘now you stop learning’.

    Couldn’t agree more about not knowing where the bottom is, either…

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