...life can be translucent

Category Archives: I Ching Readings

Sample Yijing readings

Yi’s kindness

Yi’s kindness

It’s easy to become preoccupied with how beautiful, subtle and complex the Yijing is – there are endless layers and dimensions to discover – but more than anything, I keep coming back to its kindness.

For example, the readings I cast when a close friend had just been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I looked up the prognosis, of course, and found it was very poor.

What could I do to help? There must be something, surely? Could I somehow ‘lend’ her my time, energy and brain-power as she researched possible treatments? (This was probably not quite as ludicrously inflated an idea as it sounds, since her oncologists didn’t have any very strong recommendations. Though yes, quite ludicrous enough.)

What, if anything, would be a good response when she wanted to know how she had ‘manifested’ this? (Should I be trying to discredit that whole way of thinking before it caused her to doubt – or blame – herself?)

Yi’s first response to my first ‘How can I help?’ question was Hexagram 47, changing at line 3 to 28. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound like a kind answer:

‘Confined by stones,
Grasping at star thistles.
Entering into his house, does not see his wife.

That’s not a picture of anyone helping with anything.

In fact, I think it was a picture of me: walled in by my friend’s grim prognosis, grasping at ideas of ‘being useful’ – which was significantly less use than grasping at straws. What happens then? The closest support is not seen. Pitfall.

I went back to the drawing board and asked again: ‘What can I give her?’

(This is one of those questions that sounds the same, but isn’t. It would be hard to pinpoint a logical distinction between ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What can I give?’ but this was a new question because it came from a quite different place. Not, ‘There must be things I can do to help; I can think of several; which would be best?’ but ‘I have no idea – please show me.’)

Yi this time gave me Hexagram 20, Seeing, changing at lines 5 and 6 to 2, Earth. Seeing, with the qualities of Earth: being open, sensitive and responsive.

‘Seeing. Washing hands, and not making the offering.
There is truth and confidence like a presence.’

What could I do? Nothing. It wasn’t time to ‘do’, but to wash my hands and oh-so-busy mind clear of all that, and be present.

How to respond to the whole ‘manifesting my cancer’ idea?

‘Wind moves over the earth. Seeing.
The ancient kings studied the regions,
Saw the people,
And established their teachings.’

No need to adopt a position. Wait and see. (I waited, and saw that she was using the idea skilfully, as I might have known she would. I followed her lead.)

‘Seeing my own life.
The noble one is without mistake.’

Self-awareness was a very good place to start. Recognising my own kneejerk reactions, I could at least manage not to kick anyone with them.

‘Seeing their lives.
The noble one is without mistake.’

And the key, of course, most of all, was to See my friend. As she grappled with treatment decisions, I was able to witness her power and reflect it back to her – tell her that I knew what she chose would be right. (You probably had to know her to understand how true that was. Her way of knowing blazed like a sun.)

I re-read Sophie Sabbage’s The Cancer Whisperer (an extraordinary book), and came across this quotation:

“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

David Whyte

Some four months after this reading, my friend told me she’d realised that her ‘love language’ was quality time: that she knew she was loved when people gave her this. And a month after that, she was gone.

I hope this gives an idea of why I love this oracle. Would most people have known everything that reading had to say without needing an oracle to tell them? Very probably, yes. But I wasn’t there, I didn’t get it, and Yi was kind enough to help me. This is what it does.

great tree

A ‘cello-related reading

A ‘cello-related reading

I’ve left a longer gap between posts here than I intended, mostly because March has been very full of ’cello-y things. Still, there’s a reading from one of these that cast a new light on Hexagram 31 line 3 for me, so I can at least share that with you… The background: I’d signed up… Continue Reading

Getting started with my annual reading

Getting started with my annual reading
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series How Yi helps

What’s an annual reading for? Every year on my birthday, I cast a reading for the coming year. Not as a prediction – imagine the gloom and suspense if you spent a year under the shadow of 24.6! – but for guidance. Perhaps it’s a little like the people who choose a ‘word for the… Continue Reading

One way Yi helps

One way Yi helps
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series How Yi helps

One of the good things about our little rented home has always been the thick shield of trees that stands between us and the road. Great glossy green laurels, disappearing in late spring under huge white blossoms, blanketing the whole house in heavy scent. The slender, fragile-looking deciduous tree with delicate perfumed white flowers later… Continue Reading

Not being special

I love Robert Moss’s books; they’re inspiring, wise and lucid. He mirrors my understanding back to me – that we belong here, that life has meaning and the cosmos actively wants to communicate this to us. Also, he does this in a very practical, down-to-earth way: this communication, through dreams, oracles or signs, is quite… Continue Reading

Yi in 19th Century Japan

I’ve been browsing with growing fascination through the Takashima Ekidan. Published in 1893 in Tokyo, this is an English translation by Shigetake Sugiura of an original Yijing translation by Kaemon Takashima, a successful serial entrepreneur and respected diviner. (‘Eki’ is the Japanese name for the Yi, and I believe ‘dan’ means ‘monograph’.) It includes a… Continue Reading

Meeting the Yi lord

Meeting the Yi lord

Each year on my birthday, I ask Yi for guidance for the coming year. Then over the course of the year I revisit the reading, finding guidance and gleaning understanding as I go. At least, such is the theory. Last year’s reading, cast on 7th December 2015, was Hexagram 55, Abundance, changing at line 4… Continue Reading

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