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The joy of ROQs and making sense

The joy of ROQs and making sense

ROQs, as you may know if you came to June’s ‘Connecting with Imagery’ workshop, are Really Obvious Questions. They’re the simplest, most child-like questions you can think of:

  • what’s this?
  • what do you do with one?
  • what’s it like?

These are the key to getting unstuck at pretty much any stage of a reading.

Making sense is a process

In the course of discussions in the I Ching Community recently, a member said that if something is bewildering, surely that’s the same thing as it making no sense?

Well, no, not necessarily. Bewilderment is a state, one with which lovers of the Yijing tend to become intimately familiar. Making sense is a process.

As such, it takes time, and requires a willingness to start from bewilderment and ask questions. When you start asking, you’re saying,

‘OK, there’s an answer out there, it’s just that I don’t know it yet.’

And then you’re creating the opening with your question, carving out a space where answers can show up. If you want to watch tadpoles grow into frogs, dig a pond; if you want to watch sense being made, ask some questions.

You can lob ROQs at…

Your question

Understanding your reading starts with understanding your question: knowing what you’re really asking in your heart. So to draw this out, you can ask yourself,

  • what do I want?
  • what do I need?
  • why’s that important? (and, once you have an answer, why’s that important?)
  • what difference will it make to know the answer to that?

The reading’s structure

If your reading has changing lines, you need to get a sense of how the two hexagrams might fit together – and if you have multiple lines, you need to fathom how they work together, too. Asking questions about these things allows the answers to surface:

  • If there were a [relating hexagram] aspect of [primary hexagram], what might it be?
  • What if you approached [primary] in a [relating] way – what would that look like?
  • What might this hexagram look like from a line 3 perspective?

(For some of those questions to make sense, you need a bit of background knowledge about the structure, or some familiarity with the individual hexagrams. It does all get much easier, though, after you’ve tried it with a few dozen examples. The main thing is to start asking questions.)

Individual images

These are questions anyone can ask and answer. Occasionally (as with terms like ‘feudal lords’ or ‘purple knee bands’) you can tell you’re going to have to do some research to find the answer – but often, you’ve known the answer since you were about 3 years old.

  • What’s a horse?
  • What’s it like to cross a river?
  • What difference does it make to have feudal lords?

How the imagery applies to your question

Tip: only ask these after you’ve dug into the imagery in its own terms.

  • If there were a ‘horse’ in this situation, what might it be?
  • That feeling of the current pulling at my legs as I wade across – what does it remind me of?
  • If Prince Ji were in my shoes, what would he do?

The whole reading

…because the whole reason to divine in the first place is to make a difference, and it’s surprisingly easy to let readings drift past and leave us unchanged. Try asking…

  • What do I know now?
  • What don’t I know now? (because sometimes the main effect of a reading is to challenge what we thought we knew!)
  • What’s changed?
water splashing as a rock's thrown in

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