Yi helps in the ways we need…
An obvious example: as a business owner, my days are full of ‘What if I try this?’ questions as I look for the best way forward: there are always decisions to be made. (What to buy, what to sell, what to learn, what strategy to choose, what to concentrate on now… and so on.) Someone who worked for a bigger organisation, implementing other people’s decisions, wouldn’t ask many ‘What about…?’ questions, but they might have a lot of questions about office politics.
A less obvious example: the other day a client described how she appreciates Yi for ‘helping you understand yourself’. For her, that’s at the heart of what Yi does and how it helps, but I realised it’s not the kind of thing I often ask (though when I do, it helps), maybe because I’m more of an introvert to start with.
So how Yi helps depends partly on what demands your way of life makes on you, and partly on where you feel you need most help. I find the biggest gap in my confidence/ competence, where I find Yi helps me most, comes in social relationships. I’d imagine that someone blessed with superb social instincts and ‘people skills’ wouldn’t need to ask half the ‘relationship’ questions I do. (And in fact, looking back through past readings, I can see quite a few questions I probably wouldn’t need to ask now, because of what I’ve learned over the years – from experience and from Yi.)
How to help
An example from many years ago: suddenly finding that the person I’d be spending the next 40 minutes with had been recently bereaved. This was before I’d lost anyone myself; I didn’t even know the person that well; I had no clue how to be or what to say. I asked Yi, and received Hexagram 31, Influence, with no changing lines.
This is one of those beautiful examples of Yi giving an unchanging hexagram when you most need a simple answer. I read the Image of 31 –
‘Above the mountain is a lake. Influence.
Noble one accepts people with emptiness.’
– and imagined the solid mountain creating a secure space for the lake. I spent a very quiet 40 minutes, holding space, accepting, and this was the right way to be.
Seeing another perspective
One of the greatest gifts Yi offers is the different perspective. We have our own way of seeing, the stories we’re telling ourselves or the metaphors we’re thinking in, and then Yi shows us the world in a new way, as we’d never imagined it could be. That can happen with every kind of reading, but I cherish it especially when I’m asking about someone else: it’ll get me out of my own head, and show me what’s important to the other person and what they need.
For example… there was the time I’d managed to anger and upset someone I was working with on a shared project. (Forgive the absolute vagueness of these examples – they’re all about real people, so I’m doing my best to protect their identities.) I came home and wondered whether I should a) leave well alone, not make it any worse, and hope it blew over before I next saw them or b) send a card with an apology. I thought I should probably reach out, but I wasn’t at all sure (this was one relationship where I seemed to get it all wrong, all the time), so I asked Yi, ‘What about sending a card?’
Yi gave me Hexagram 45, Gathering, changing at line 4 to 8, Seeking Union.
‘Great good fortune, no mistake.’
I sent the card, of course. But the reading also helped me know what to write in the card: 45.4 is said to have great good fortune because it is like a minister serving a higher cause, not its own agenda. I wrote a simple apology and thanks for all this person does for the project we’re both devoted to: in other words, in the spirit of Hexagram 45, shifting the focus away from personal friction and towards the bigger shared cause. Card and message were warmly received, and the relationship was mended. (In fact, it’s been good ever since.)
Let Yi make a difference
Something you may notice about these examples: they’re going to make an immediate difference to how I act. As a rule of thumb, the readings when Yi doesn’t help are the ones that aren’t going to make a difference for you. That’s so obvious as to be tautological, but also strangely easy to miss in the heat of the moment. For example, approximately 100% of the ever-popular ‘How does he feel about me?’ readings fall into this category. (More on this in my post of advice for relationship readings.) A Yijing reading isn’t going to resolve the tension and create confidence here; only a human conversation can do that.
No… Yi is here to help when you’re heading into a conversation you don’t know how to handle, or when you can’t understand what’s going on, and you can’t ask the other person. Yi can show you the perspective you couldn’t imagine.
Recognising the limits
On a more depressing note, Yi’s gift of showing me things I couldn’t imagine is also immensely helpful when the other person’s actively hostile. Obviously you don’t want to approach a reading with the assumption that the other person has bad intentions: that way lies wild misinterpretation. But I have more or less the opposite problem: I naturally assume that everyone wants friendliness and co-operation and one another’s good, because really, what else makes sense?
And so there I was, late at night, tying myself in knots writing and rewriting emails, trying to extend olive branches and build bridges after a nasty row. I asked Yi how I was doing and received Hexagram 44 with line 4 changing.
‘In this basket, no fish.
Rising up, pitfall.’
It dawned on me gradually that the ongoing, mutually-beneficial relationship I was trying so hard to build had never been available at all, because the other person involved never had the smallest intention of creating it, only of outmanoeuvering me – which they’d done, comprehensively. With that realisation, I could let it go and sleep well.
In fact, Hexagram 44’s powerful woman who cannot be married has carried that ‘Relationship not available here, move along!’ message for me a few times now. 44.3, for example –
‘Thighs without flesh,
Moving awkwardly now.
No great mistake.’
– when I was struggling not to upset someone. This, said Yi, was a bit like Yu the Great struggling to manage the floods – it wasn’t that I’d done anything very wrong, this was just hard.
The reading I’m most grateful for
I’ve given examples of Yi helping me be more helpful, and helping me to mend a friendship, and giving me peace of mind when there wasn’t anything I could do. The reading I’m most grateful for, though, is none of these – or all of them.
This is from twelve years ago, when my Mum was seriously ill in hospital and I was being kept busy fetching and carrying and so on. I did all she asked, but with the constant awareness of a great logjam where compassion and caring should have flowed. Probably the logjam was made of Baggage – just the normal resentments and undiscussed stuff that any mother and adult daughter might have, but in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time.
I wasn’t particularly thinking about any of that at the time of this reading, though – only about her prognosis. I managed not to ask for that, and instead asked, ‘How can I best prepare for the coming weeks and months with Mum?’
Yi gave me Hexagram 45 with the first line changing, going to 17, Following:
‘There is truth and confidence, but no completion.
Then disorder, then gathering.
Like a call, one clasp of the hands brings laughter.
Do not worry.
Going on, no mistake.’
It’s hard to explain exactly what that line gave me. I recognised the lack of completion, having no idea how this might end. (Mum’s illness was supposed to be treatable and not to affect life expectancy, so nobody said she might die – it was just that I could see that none of the treatments was working.) And I could absolutely recognise ‘disorder’: I felt completely scattered, unable to get myself together at all. And then on that same day, Mum suddenly started holding my hand – ‘like a call‘ – and I began to feel the stirrings of warmth and compassion. Don’t worry, Yi told me, don’t complicate this, just Follow those simple impulses as they arise.
From my journal the following day (Mum was in the nearby cottage hospital at the time):
‘Mum called this morning and asked for me to come over and give her a shower. I did. And compassion and caring flowed naturally, just as Yi promised.
If I just give to her, as much as she needs – how very, very simple that could be.’
And it was. The Baggage, it turned out, did not need to be unpacked all over the hospital to allow us to enjoy this simple relationship. Mum died within a month of the reading, and because Yi had opened the way, I could spend that last month experiencing and acting with love. I’ll always be grateful.