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Category Archives: I Ching

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 ordinary; it’s just how the world works.

And… those same books can also leave me with an ugly little blob of negative reactions: an unsavoury case of comparisonitis, with symptoms of ‘it’s not fair,’ inferiority, and ‘impostor syndrome’. Let me explain…

Moss was very ill as a child, almost died, and feels this has left him with some unique ‘world-bridging’ qualities. It seems he routinely has prophetic dreams – those are the ordinary ones for him. (Then there are all the dreams where he is visited by sages and spirit guides.) When he sits down to contemplate a decision, a hawk drops a feather into his lap. All the random encounters he has on his journeys lead to profound and meaningful conversations. And so on. Robert Moss is special.

Me? Really not special at all. I was robustly healthy as a child – missed less than a week of school in total. The huge majority of my dreams are along the lines of ‘I can’t find the classroom!’ or ‘We have more tins of soup than I thought.’ When I sit down outdoors to contemplate, I get half-eaten by the bugs from hell. And random encounters on journeys? Well…

In June, I travelled by train to visit my brother. It’s a long-ish train journey there, with time to think; I spent it contemplating my reading for the week, 36 unchanging, and re-reading Sidewalk Oracles (and getting back in touch with my inner negativity-blob).

Waiting on the train platform at the start of my journey home, I met a friendly young man who came over to start a conversation. We had the ‘where are you headed?’ exchange, and then he eagerly told me all about the top-of-the-range, brand new Mercedes he was just purchasing and having delivered to his home so he would be the very first person to drive it (and would never again have to go near a train). He was open, kind and generous with his time, leaving me with a warm glow as I boarded the train – and the blob twitching in wry amusement.

A few hours later, at another station, I walked along to the end of the platform to find a quiet bench to wait on. From a distance, I noticed someone had left some pennies behind, neatly laid out in a line along one of the slats of the bench.

bench with coins

Remembering the 6 coin method of casting, I thought I would walk up to the bench and read off the hexagram they ‘spelled’. There were actually 7 coins; I would start from the one nearest to me, and read 6 lines.

Here they are (click the photo for a larger version):

It’s not a very good photo, but the coins read tails-heads-tails, heads-heads-heads. Hexagram 36.

The coins some stranger decided to line up, for some unguessable reason, on that particular bench, on that particular platform of that station, on the day I happened to be travelling through, displayed my reading for the week: Brightness Hiding.

I realised that synchronicity, being guided, meaningful dreams… these are not about the person who receives them; they have nothing to do with the qualities of that individual, ‘special’ or otherwise. They’re a quality of the universe – what’s real. It’s just that sometimes the reality is easy to see, and sometimes it’s hidden.

A hidden light doesn’t cease to exist. When I can’t see it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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

Hexagram 43, Deciding

Hexagram 43, Deciding

Name and nature: the enigma of guai Hexagram 43 is called 夬, guai, which is generally understood to mean‘decision’ or ‘resoluteness’ or ‘breakthrough’. The oldest forms of the character show a hand holding up an object – a token of authority, perhaps, or an archer’s thumb ring. In some early versions of the character, it’s… Continue Reading

Borders and boundaries

Borders and boundaries

What is Jie 介 ? The character jie 介 occurs three times in the Yi: 16.2 ‘Boundaries of stone, Not for a whole day. Constancy, good fortune.’ 35.2 ‘Now advancing, now apprehensive. Constancy, good fortune. Accepting this armour blessing from your ancestral mother.’ 58.4 ‘Negotiating opening, not yet at rest. Containing the affliction brings rejoicing.’ As… Continue Reading

Divination is a relationship

Divination is a relationship

Talking with Yi is a conversation – and with regular readings, we develop a relationship with the oracle. We habitually talk about it as a person: ‘Yi’ rather than ‘the Yi’; something we can ‘get to know’ rather than just ‘learn’; something that speaks. (The roots of the word ‘oracle’ are in Latin orare, ‘to speak’. Oracles… Continue Reading

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