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Blog post: Foundations: trusting the oracle

hilary

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Foundations: trusting the oracle

ancient wall at Machu Picchu
When I teach the Yijing Foundations Class – which I’ll be doing again in September – I concentrate on the few really necessary basics for good readings:

  • ways to relate to all the imagery (words and trigrams)
  • understanding the structure of a reading (primary, relating, lines positions)
    and also
  • knowing what you’re asking

I know these are ‘foundations’ because I’ve seen over the years how missing any one of them will create confusion and frustration, and stymie the whole process of building a good relationship with the oracle.

But… I’ve been thinking lately about the other foundations, the ones that don’t fit so easily on a syllabus (though I hope they’re still conveyed through all the reading practice we do!). These foundations aren’t knowledge, nor even skills, but habits of mind.

I think it all comes down to trusting the oracle. Only… what does that mean, in practice?

Respect​


Trusting an oracle means respecting it as an oracle, not some kind of random, Rorschach blot test. That is, knowing that it has something specific to say to you, and being willing to pay attention to its whole message.

I believe you show respect to an oracle through the quality of attention you pay it. This needs to be full, true, non-selective attention, and that means reading what it says. Skipping over the oracle’s words in favour of the commentary (or forum replies or trigram associations or what you ‘know it means’) is not respect. (More on this here – about the Yi not being a skip.)

Confidence​


The Chinese word fu 孚 – as in the name of Hexagram 61, Inner Truth – means truth, trust and confidence: all the ingredients of rapport and relationship. Sometimes, all that’s missing from a reading is confidence.

So often, I hear people say,

‘As soon as I read it, it made me think of…’
or
Oh, that’s exactly like…’
or
‘It feels as though it’s telling me…’

‘…but I’m not an expert, I’m not sure – I might have got it all wrong.’

No. No, you have not ‘got it wrong’. That ‘oh!‘ moment of recognition is the reading. It feels as though it’s speaking to you directly because it’s speaking to you directly, because that’s how oracles work.

You can’t get this wrong, and there is no ‘expert’, in print or online or in person, who can tell you otherwise, because this is the oracle speaking to you, not to them.

They might tell you, from their experience, that this hexagram or line normally means something else, or that 3,000 years ago it meant something else. That’s valuable information for you to remember for future readings – which has nothing to do with this moment of connection between you and Yi.

Sometimes the moment of recognition is like a lightning bolt, unmissable; sometimes it’s more of a tiny spark that needs nurturing and breathing space. (This is another good reason not to read too much of the translator’s commentary: it might smother your spark.)

In other words, trusting the oracle is also a matter of trusting yourself. A reading doesn’t exist between the covers of a book; it happens when you read.

Patience​


What when there’s no lightning bolt, not even much of a spark – nothing doing?

For some people, this never happens, but most of us will feel ‘stuck’ on a reading from time to time. It’s very tempting in such moments to jump straight to browsing commentaries, or friendly forum people who can tell you, ‘this line means this‘. And these will help – sometimes, they’ll provide just what you need to unlock your own understanding.

The key, though, is learning to stop saying, ‘I don’t get it,’ and start saying, ‘I don’t get it yet ‘. Then you can go for a walk, or cook supper, or sleep on it, and let the meaning emerge. ‘Aha’ can also happen slowly. The little word ‘yet’ makes all the difference in the world – and it can be the only difference between my approach to a reading and someone who’s ‘stuck’.

Openness​


This is the trickiest aspect of respect, I think: openness to the oracle’s response, whatever it says.

To awaken this kind of respect, I think it helps to conceive of Yi as a separate being, a ‘person’ in its own right. Even if you actually believe that the oracle is the voice of some layer or aspect of your own consciousness, you have to let it say things that you – your conscious self – would never have said.

And then you have to be willing to let yourself be guided, and change your plans. To start now, even though you’d feel more comfortable with an extra month’s research – or not to start now, but go back to the drawing board instead. To spend money on the risky proposition – or not to buy the super-shiny object available for a limited time only; to start the scary conversation – or not send the email you’ve been writing in your head for days.

Sometimes this will mean going against other people’s advice, or against ‘common sense’. It will often appear quite inexplicable to onlookers. Two provisos, though:

First, you have to be very sure that you’re responding to what the oracle is actually saying, not just what you wish it had said. (Though in fact, once you’ve experienced both a real ‘aha’ moment and wishful-thinking interpretation – and I think we’ve all done both – it’s not so hard to tell the difference…)

And second, the Yi was never intended to be the only guide to a decision: it doesn’t replace research, expert advice – or even common sense.

In practice, if you approach every reading with this degree of respect – knowing what difference it could make – it’s likely to mean you do fewer readings! If you know you intend to do (or not do) something, if you know that it’s the right choice for you, you won’t consult. Not because you’re worried about what Yi might say, but because you aren’t.

More Foundations​


I’ll be running the Yijing Foundations Class later this year, starting in September. It’s designed to include everything you need for fluent readings – the skills to engage with imagery, the knowledge of the structure, clarity about what you’re asking, and all the reading practice you need to build up your confidence.

See this page for more information and the full syllabus – and if you’re interested, please sign up there so I can keep you posted.
 

dfreed

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So often, I hear people say, ‘It feels as though it’s telling me…’
Thanks Hilary.

As a visual artist, I collect different photos and images. My collection is quite varied, from abstract modern to aboriginal, from photography to sculpture .... from cartoon-like figures to Renaissance paintings ....

I once asked myself, what is it about these particular, quite varied examples of art and creativity that makes me want to collect them?

The only answer I could come up with is that they all produce or elicit a response in me that I call my 'inner smile'.

It is not a 'smile' that is just about joy or happiness - it's not just a 'happy face'. Instead it's more of a sense of inner joy, or an inner recognition, or hightened interest which these particular images spark in me.

The same is often true with the Yi: I may be working through a certain query or question, and I have an 'ah-ha' moment, that lets me understand the Yi's response.

It need not always be joyful, nor profound, nor all-encompassing - and it doesn't always involve all the hexagrams or trigrams, or all the words, or all the images ... (though it might included any or all of these) ...

... it's just an "ah-ha, I get it" moment of understand or connection.
 
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Trojina

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And then you have to be willing to let yourself be guided, and change your plans. To start now, even though you’d feel more comfortable with an extra month’s research – or not to start now, but go back to the drawing board instead. To spend money on the risky proposition – or not to buy the super-shiny object available for a limited time only; to start the scary conversation – or not send the email you’ve been writing in your head for days.


I also think you have to be willing to ignore what you think it says and do what you planned or wanted. We don't exactly want oracle obedience do we. If I talk to a good friend whose advice I value I'd still have the option of not obeying and that would be okay. It's okay to do a cast and not do what you think it says.
Sometimes you might know the friend is right, it's right advice but you want to do it the hard way and that's okay.


It's awful when people over complicate life by asking about everything and never going with what they feel or think. If that happens they just lost their magic tortoise, their own power, their own trust in themselves. This is why I'm not very sold on a strong 'trust the oracle' message. I think it's good to practice doing things without Yi if one is getting Yi dependent.

Also with any question I'll know there are a billion people who never heard of Yi who will be making better decisions than I do with the benefit of Yi. They may be more in touch with the world or themselves or have greater vision. It's better to develop trust in oneself and one's hunches, instincts and so on than become dependent on Yi. However Yi can help develop self trust also as you said, hearing the oracle does involve trusting how the answer comes at you/feels to you.

I have many reservations about questions asking how to handle other people since it doesn't seem fair on the other since the other isn't even part of it. It's like bypassing the actual person to talk over their head and then almost become puppet master rather than actually relate to the person. But that's by the by.



And second, the Yi was never intended to be the only guide to a decision: it doesn’t replace research, expert advice – or even common sense.

Sometimes this will mean going against other people’s advice, or against ‘common sense’. It will often appear quite inexplicable to onlookers.

The 'common sense' thing is difficult to talk about possibly because it's not an adequate word to fully express what's meant so it can look like a contradiction.

'use common sense'
'be prepared to go against common sense'

Your 2 statements about common sense might look contradictory. I've found when talking about this it's tricky because yes there are times readings go against common sense but it's good to trust it anyway. But on the other hand you don't want to completely abandon all rational thought in favour of a Yi answer. That kind of 'trusting the oracle' amounts to disaster from what I've seen. So there's several different kinds of 'common sense' here.

In practice, if you approach every reading with this degree of respect – knowing what difference it could make – it’s likely to mean you do fewer readings! If you know you intend to do (or not do) something, if you know that it’s the right choice for you, you won’t consult. Not because you’re worried about what Yi might say, but because you aren’t.

Yes I think it's true you do fewer readings once you give your intent due respect or space within the dialogue. Recognising what you want rather than heading straight to Yi can make you realise 'actually I really want to do this, I don't want or need to check if it's okay with Yi.

Seems to me very important a person keeps on doing things and buying things and talking to people without consulting the I Ching. This keeps faith in your own undiluted choices strong and healthy. In some ways Yi could be like having those little training wheels on kid's bicycles. The idea is one day they will ride without them. I don't think it's totally like that because we do get great wisdom and teaching from Yi almost as a by product even with mundane questions.



I believe you show respect to an oracle through the quality of attention you pay it. This needs to be full, true, non-selective attention, and that means reading what it says. Skipping over the oracle’s words in favour of the commentary (or forum replies or trigram associations or what you ‘know it means’) is not respect.

To awaken this kind of respect, I think it helps to conceive of Yi as a separate being, a ‘person’ in its own right.


Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that Yi is an intelligence in it's own right and that is what you are consulting. What kind of intelligence or 'person' is another matter, I don't know if it's the ultimate source of wisdom or anything like that but it is a source of wisdom, with it's own character perhaps. It answers you you don't create the answer, well except in the sense your part is the creating of the interpretation.


Another thing I have recently noticed and been surprised at is sometimes Yi's priority/value system/angle of perspective that is evidenced in a particular answer really is not the same as mine at all and this can change things a lot. Several times now when I have asked about an argument Yi has just described precisely what the argument was about and just that, not the underlying tensions or anything. I was expecting something more psychological about what happened and Yi's said

'well, she thought you could park there but it wasn't practical as it wasn't available but she insisted you could and so this was all about a struggle over strategy with a parking space that didn't exist and you had to find another'.

I thought the argument had deeper roots and Yi would get more psychological but it really stuck with the parking issue and the miscommunication and the strategic details of it. So that changed how I saw the whole argument.


If I was talking to someone who had given me that response after I had talked about the argument I'd say

'Really ? I told you about this awful argument that I thought was absolutely terrible and you are telling me what happened with the parking,, what factor led to what factor, there was no space where she said there was.....oh...oh well hmmm'


This was new for me and I've been consulting a long time, I just noticed a difference in the conversation that I can't quite convey however the conversations do change and evolve and one is surprised it's not quite the same person you thought you were talking to, if that makes sense.
 
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hilary

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It need not always be joyful, nor profound, nor all-encompassing - and it doesn't always involve all the hexagrams or trigrams, or all the words, or all the images ... (though it might included any or all of these) ...

... it's just an "ah-ha, I get it" moment of understand or connection.
Yes, that's the one I'm talking about.

And it reminds me that there's another potential contradiction here: respecting the oracle means paying attention to the whole reading, not deliberately ignoring the bits that don't jump out at you; respecting the oracle also means honouring your own immediate response, which is often to some bit that jumps out at you and doesn't involve the whole reading.

Ah well. I contain multitudes, or something.
I also think you have to be willing to ignore what you think it says and do what you planned or wanted.
Yes... though if your plan/want was that strong to start with, why ask?

There's the ancient habit of announcing one's intention to the oracle: 'We shall invade the western barbarians!' - but I'm pretty sure the idea there was that if the oracle said, 'Only if you want to be ignominiously defeated' you changed your mind.

As for 'obeying' the oracle, or asking its permission - I do agree that no-one should do that, it feels completely wrong. But it's not really about that, is it? You see a warning sign that reads, 'Please keep car doors and windows closed when driving through the lion enclosure,' and you do so, but not because you feel obliged to obey the sign.
'use common sense'
'be prepared to go against common sense'

Your 2 statements about common sense might look contradictory.

They were meant to be ;)

But on the other hand you don't want to completely abandon all rational thought in favour of a Yi answer.
True, not completely, but... consulting a magic talking book isn't exactly rational in the first place, is it? By which I don't mean that we're all cuckoo, only that much of the point of consulting is to go beyond what's rationally available. You wouldn't want to abandon your Yi answer in favour of rational thought, either.

Several times now when I have asked about an argument Yi has just described precisely what the argument was about and just that, not the underlying tensions or anything.
That reminds me of an example in one of Diana ffarington-Hook's books, where someone asked 'Why did I fall?' expecting some kind of message about the deep psychological significance of it all, and got an answer that basically said 'because your feet went out from under you' - 52.2, I think.
 

Trojina

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Yes... though if your plan/want was that strong to start with, why ask?

It might not be strong, you may just ask and then decide not to listen for whatever reason. One has to always feel that is an okay option. However this is also linked with the fact there's a lot of readings we don't understand anyway. No use acting on a reading in a way you don't especially want if you aren't sure what it's saying anyway. And of course sureness doesn't occur with every reading. I don't think I consult for instructions anyway but more of looking to see how the land lies..

They were meant to be ;)

I didn't pick up on that, you seemed to be speaking quite separately of each. The common sense you can put aside in favour of the reading is different to the common sense whereby you don't actually need to ask 'what will happen if I open the curtains ?'.


By which I don't mean that we're all cuckoo, only that much of the point of consulting is to go beyond what's rationally available.

True, the point is to go beyond the rational. I forget that consulting Yi isn't generally seen as rational.



You wouldn't want to abandon your Yi answer in favour of rational thought, either.
Actually sometimes that seems the best thing to do if you don't understand it anyway. At least I think that when reading other people's readings here sometimes. I don't entirely abandon Yi answers but sometimes I will just put them to one side if they don't make sense and I have to make a decision. Of course I also think one has to give answers time to percolate. Ahem of course some people just 'forget', rather than 'abandon' the answer and go steaming on ahead with their plan anyway ;) Remember how many 'forgotten' readings there are, well submerged if forgotten. Also think of how many times we ask the same question over time forgetting we already had an answer. One can see that with the Resonance Journal where I have become aware of asking similar questions over long periods of time and each time I ask I think it's a new thought but it isn't.
 
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dfreed

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Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


... or maybe some or only one of these multitudes? (Not what ol' Walt had in mind I think!)

it reminds me that there's another potential contradiction here: .... paying attention to the whole reading, (or only) to some bit that jumps out at you and doesn't involve the whole reading.
Yes.

Though perhaps not exactly the same, this 'whole vs. bits' notion reminds me (again) of the divination examples from the Zuo Commentary. Here even casts with multiple moving lines (6s and 9s) were distilled down to only one hexagram statement or only one line statement, and not multiples of these. And only this one 'bit' of text was considered in the reading (along with the trigrams and gua names, etc.).

And ... this 'whole vs. bits' notion also reminds me of how we work with the Yi: do we including only a few bits - a few ways of working with it - maybe only looking at the trigrams, or only looking at the text?

Or do we look at everything (or a lot) - lines, text, trigrams, line pathways, shadow / seasonal / ideal hexagrams, etc?

Even with this latter, more 'inclusive' method, I believe we still need to distill down the information we get into digestable or bite-sized bits, in order for us to understand and make use of them.

This is personal: how each of us resolves this contradiction.

Best, D
 

Liselle

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Several times now when I have asked about an argument Yi has just described precisely what the argument was about and just that, not the underlying tensions or anything.
I've had similar things happen and have learned to keep it in mind as a possibility. Now I often manage to find it amusing and even a relief. "There's not a lot to say here, maybe it can be less fraught?," I sort of hear Yi saying, something like that.

But also, as I think Hilary's tried to explain with line pathways etc., sometimes there's more in the context. I had a pretty good example of that - at least it's how it seemed to me - which I put in WikiWing, about my broken washing machine. It was fascinating, and a lot of my frustration melted away when I saw how Yi wasn't only saying, "Things break, idiot." ( :lol: )

(Disclaimer: this is not, of course, part of Foundations. And it's not as if I needed it in order to call the apartment manager and have the washer replaced. But I still really liked the information.)

Experience where the shadow and ideal lines seem helpful:
My washing machine had been acting up for some time, occasionally stopping in the middle of a cycle and just sitting there. I'd wonder what to do; Yi would say to let it alone. That had always worked - eventually it would start back up, finish the cycle, and then work normally for a while.

This time, not so simple. Its new trick is not performing various parts of the cycle, for instance, it'll fill and drain, but not spin. "What makes this time different?," I asked. 19.4 to 54

19.4 (Hatcher): 'Complete commitment / Without mistakes'. Maybe it's truly, completely broken now.

More explanation:
Shadow line 46.4: 'The king makes offerings on Mount Qi. Good fortune, no mistake.' I'd gotten used to it fixing itself if I made offerings (letting it alone when it stopped), and figured it would continue that way forever, like the endurance of the sacred mountain (46.4 zhi 32). Not anymore.

Ideal line 59.4: 'Dispersing your flock, From the source, good fortune. Dispersing gains the hilltop, No barbarian has occasion to think of this.' Freeman Crouch (paperback, very nice Kindle edition) says, "Consider a novel approach to incentives and rewards." Novel approach, a.k.a. a workaround.

Combining the two: re-conceive of the previous solution as a successful but temporary workaround - worth doing, but in 46 it's always just one step up a mountain, after all. I wasn't actually winning (59.4 zhi 6).
 

Trojina

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The point was not really that I was frustrated with Yi's answer and so needed to go digging around for something deeper, the point was, the import of the answer, what made it different was that it was only talking about what the argument was about. The idea that the argument could actually just have been about what the argument was about was quite novel to me in that context.


Now I often manage to find it amusing and even a relief. "There's not a lot to say here, maybe it can be less fraught?," I sort of hear Yi saying, something like that.

Yes relief, although as ever Yi's answer is not the entire picture just as anyone's answer is not the entire picture but Yi's perspective on this was refreshing.

When I said this

'Really ? I told you about this awful argument that I thought was absolutely terrible and you are telling me what happened with the parking,, what factor led to what factor, there was no space where she said there was.....oh...oh well hmmm'
...that's not frustration it's surprise at how I was answered. I think you're reading frustration in where that wasn't what I meant.


I'm afraid I really don't think the 'Ideal' has validity as a concept and I'm doubtful about the Shadow let alone the 'shadow lines' ? Shadow lines are I presume the corresponding line in the shadow or ideal ? That's way too far removed to be considered surely ? Especially so since the shadow and ideal aren't true 'hexagrams of context' at all. That is they aren't manifestly intrinsically there in the reading the way the line path or change patterns are. Karcher just invented them. I don't follow your reasoning with this wiki example, also we don't know what happened or what the solution was.


Anyway I think if I had gone digging around too deep beneath my answer it would have been like avoiding the answer really. Favouring hexagrams of context over and above the actual answer is a mistake IMO.

Why did 19.4 mean

19.4 (Hatcher): 'Complete commitment / Without mistakes'. Maybe it's truly, completely broken now.
As a reader the washing machine example is too shrouded in mystery to make sense. I don't know if you got it to work or not or what you did about it. Maybe it's just backdrop to the answer....I don't understand it anyway.
 
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Liselle

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The point was not really that I was frustrated with Yi's answer and so needed to go digging around for something deeper,
Trojina said:
When I said this

...that's not frustration it's surprise at how I was answered. I think you're reading frustration in where that wasn't what I meant.
Sorry, not clear, I was more frustrated with the washing machine than with Yi. 19.4 (moving line) told me pretty clearly that it was really broken. It was similar (not the same, just similar) to yours in that "Yep, it's broken" was a statement of fact that I found a bit taciturn.

(Added - I do see some "Yi can't win" here. I wanted confirmation that it was really broken (or not), but when I got that very straightforwardly I wasn't satisfied and went looking for more. Happily found it, but still. If Yi was a person it'd probably wring my neck.)

I'm afraid I really don't think the 'Ideal' has validity as a concept and I'm doubtful about the Shadow let alone the 'shadow lines' ? Shadow lines are I presume the corresponding line in the shadow or ideal ? That's way too far removed to be considered surely ?
Definitely experimental. I've found them (including the lines) really helpful, often enough to pay attention. There are also plenty of times I don't get anything from them, but that's true of primary-relating-moving lines, too (we just don't always understand every reading, as you said).

I think, tentatively, that I might be inclined to put more weight on the times it's helpful, and figure that not seeing anything other times isn't proof there's nothing to see. But none of this is anywhere close to settled. I think Bradford said he thought the authors made meaning with fan yaos when it was "convenient" (I think he used that exact word), vs. I think Hilary has said she thinks there's meaning in pretty much everything, and I think that goes along pretty well with the 11uc she got when asking "How were you made?" (Granted unchangingness can be tricky to interpret.)

As a reader the washing machine example is too shrouded in mystery to make sense. I don't know if you got it to work or not or what you did about it. Maybe it's just backdrop to the answer....I don't understand it anyway.
It was definitely broken. The apartment manager replaced it. Have edited WikiWing to make that more clear, I hope - thanks for pointing out it wasn't. (The OP is the worst judge, at least this one :lol: ...)

Added: here's the edit so you don't have to change pages:
(Edited for clarity: it was really, truly broken. I had it replaced with a new washer. I interpreted Bradford's 19.4 to mean, "the washing machine completely committed itself to being broken," in contrast to what had been happening before, which was that it would act up, but eventually finish its cycle and work normally for a while.)


Especially so since the shadow and ideal aren't true 'hexagrams of context' at all. That is they aren't manifestly intrinsically there in the reading the way the line path or change patterns are. Karcher just invented them.
I see what you mean, but I think the Shadow might be pretty intrinsic, being the Sequence from the other end. I know you question the Sequence itself, though, and I'm nowhere near equipped to discuss that.

The Ideal... I absolutely see what you mean. I really must sit down someday and try to understand the meaning of those early/late heaven arrangement thingamabobs, just on their own, but whether that would clear up the Ideal, I don't know. However - I've seen the Ideal make a good deal of sense in readings, which is important.

Does knowing the washer was really broken and got replaced help you with the rest of it? That's important to me because this whole example is right at the top of my list as far as lyrical "speaking" of shadow, ideal, and their lines. If I'm not getting that across, either I have to rewrite it more or accept that I can't and take it out of WikiWing. (I really don't want to put incomprehensible stuff in WW! Absolutely not what it's for.)
 
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my_key

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I think it all comes down to trusting the oracle.......
Before we can trust the oracle we have to be able to trust in ourself. when we are able to do that we free ourselves from just engaging with robotic responses to what Yi has advised. Without trust and a discerning nature which allows us to make interpretations that are right for us then we can easily become a mindless follower.
Trusting an oracle means respecting it as an oracle, not some kind of random, Rorschach blot test.
As in all relationships or communication respect and honesty are key in ensuring the quality is the best it can be. Honesty and respect breed authenticity. Yi can only be authentic in relation to the information it provides. The least we can do is mirror that.
You can’t get this wrong, and there is no ‘expert’, in print or online or in person, who can tell you otherwise, because this is the oracle speaking to you, not to them.
When we trust, are honest and respectful, and bathe ourselves in the authenticity that Yi offers then we receive the message that is meant for us. The message may not make full sense or be the message that we wanted to hear but it is our message and our message alone. Not understanding every last detail of the message or having it tell us something we don't want to hear is just something our ego is going to have to learn to accomodate.

As you say, Hilary, our experience is integral in growing our relationship with Yi and each new consultation is like stepping into a sparkling spa which is nurturing and invigorating if we allow it to be so.
What when there’s no lightning bolt, not even much of a spark – nothing doing?
Stuckness or lacking of a spark is the starting point for not being stuck. After sitting in that chair, maybe even glued to it, the only direction we can take are towards being un-stuck or closer to engaging with that 'lightening bolt'. You are right that the sacrifice we have to make to unstick ourselves in these situations is our impatience.
First, you have to be very sure that you’re responding to what the oracle is actually saying, not just what you wish it had said.

And second, the Yi was never intended to be the only guide to a decision: it doesn’t replace research, expert advice – or even common sense.
Openness to any reading is a state of being. If we carry a generally closed demeanour then it may be more difficult to follow through in a direction that the reading is giving us. Of course, seeing through all of the filters that we may apply to the reading; then trusting the message we have ascertained and being confident in our own ability to be discerning are all equally important in ensuring that we go down a road that suits us. Sometimes the reading may point us towards 'Gracelands' but if we do not want to take this route in a direct way then we can always go round the houses on a route that we think is right. That's called learning and that, fundamentally, is what the Yi promotes. It empowers.

The more we engage with Yi based in trust, honesty and respect then the more we will get from that relationship. For that reason I really hope that your Foundations Course is well supported.

Best wishes
 

dfreed

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... important to me because this whole example is right at the top of my list as far as lyrical "speaking" of shadow, ideal, and their lines.

In these times of information overload we can access dozens and even hundreds of English Yijing translations and probably nearly as many ways of working with, interpreting, and understanding the Yi.

I am reminded of something that a Yi author (perhaps Margaret Pearson?) wrote: she was describing when she first learned about the Yi. She unknowingly, built the hexagrams incorrectly - meaning that she built (created) them from the top down, and not from the bottom up - as most of us do.

But despite this 'mistaken' way of creating hexagrams (and readings), she found the responses helpful and insightful - so much so that she continued studying the Yi (and even ended up writing a book it!)

My point is, that despite how she was creating her hexagrams / responses (e.g. the wrong way), she likely still had the key ingredients Hilary describes above: respect, confidence, patience and (ta-da!) openness!

And this leads me to a mythic tale I once heard (or just made up):
Once upon a time there was a young woman who wanted to learn the Yijing. The only book she had available to her (because she lived on a magical island that did not have the internet) was one that taught her that the 'correct' and accurate way of casting a reading was to create one hexagram, and from there she should come up with two other hexagrams - the Shadow and Ideal (and the book had instructions for how to do this) ...
... and with only these three hexagrams - and the descriptions of the hexagrams that the book provided her, she got very accurate and helpful interpretations from the Yi:
* Received hexagram: the situation; Shadow: how not to approach, nor see, nor deal with the sitation; and the Ideal: the best way to approach and see the situation! (Which reminds me - this could be describing a Tarot spread!)
... and with each passing day, her respect for the Yi grew, and she continued to develop confidence, patience and openness in her relationship with the Yi!
The End​

PS - I have never heard of Shadow or Ideal 'lines', only hexagrams? That doesn't mean you shouldn't treat them with respect and openness, only that they are new to me. D.
 
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Trojina

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Does knowing the washer was really broken and got replaced help you with the rest of it? That's important to me because this whole example is right at the top of my list as far as lyrical "speaking" of shadow, ideal, and their lines. If I'm not getting that across, either I have to rewrite it more or accept that I can't and take it out of WikiWing. (I really don't want to put incomprehensible stuff in WW! Absolutely not what it's for.)


It helps somewhat with 19.4 but I can't see any basis for 'shadow lines', where is that idea from, is it a new invention ?

I mean we have the Shadow, okay, the Ideal, worse, but then you are extending the concept to shadow lines ? I think we can go as far as Shadow and Ideal (if we really must) but not go to shadow and ideal lines surely ? It seems very flimsy to pirouette from 19.4 to those lines.

To me those lines don't illuminate the answer any more than any random answer would. It strikes me more that your brain is doing the connecting up of dots but it might have done that anyway with any other random lines. It's inventive and if it makes sense to you that's enough and it may make sense to others but I don't think shadow lines are even a thing are they ?
 

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It helps somewhat with 19.4 but I can't see any basis for 'shadow lines', where is that idea from, is it a new invention ?
[...]
I don't think shadow lines are even a thing are they ?
I guess I figure if paired lines and fan yaos are things, then shadow lines can be things just as easily. Who knows, though.

Not sure what to do with my example. It makes splendid, lovely sense to me (lol), but it doesn't to you, which could be either bad explaining or nonsensical interpretation, and I don't know which.
 

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Not sure what to do with my example. It makes splendid, lovely sense to me (lol), but it doesn't to you, which could be either bad explaining or nonsensical interpretation, and I don't know which.

Just highly idiosyncratic interpretation I think. So sorry for me it's the 'nonsensical interpretation' option, well I wouldn't have put it in quite those words :D no offence of course

And of course if I doubt the validity of the shadow and the ideal as concepts I will doubt using the shadow/ideal lines even more.
 

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Also think of how many times we ask the same question over time forgetting we already had an answer. One can see that with the Resonance Journal where I have become aware of asking similar questions over long periods of time and each time I ask I think it's a new thought but it isn't.
Er, yes. Like the time I used 'Cast history' and found I'd had the exact same reading once before... when asking pretty much the exact same question. It's a good job Yi is patient, on the whole.
 

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And ... this 'whole vs. bits' notion also reminds me of how we work with the Yi: do we including only a few bits - a few ways of working with it - maybe only looking at the trigrams, or only looking at the text?

Or do we look at everything (or a lot) - lines, text, trigrams, line pathways, shadow / seasonal / ideal hexagrams, etc?

Even with this latter, more 'inclusive' method, I believe we still need to distill down the information we get into digestable or bite-sized bits, in order for us to understand and make use of them.

This is personal: how each of us resolves this contradiction.
It is... and at the same time, I think there are some basic principles - where 'respecting the oracle' means 'not ignoring what it says'. Probably the key distinction is not allowing oneself to be selective with the basic answer, to make it say something convenient.

The answer includes structure and words, so you don't get to decide to ignore one or the other of those. The words come in sentences and tell stories, so you don't get to pick out the words that appeal to you and ignore the sentences and stories. Otherwise, you might as well be sticking a pin in a random page in the dictionary.

At the opposite extreme...
Anyway I think if I had gone digging around too deep beneath my answer it would have been like avoiding the answer really.
... exactly. Jumping over the basic answer to 'extras' is also a kind of selectivity.
Before we can trust the oracle we have to be able to trust in ourself. when we are able to do that we free ourselves from just engaging with robotic responses to what Yi has advised.
Yes.
Stuckness or lacking of a spark is the starting point for not being stuck.
Also yes. (And I think I will steal this and quote it.)

On a different note -
I guess I figure if paired lines and fan yaos are things, then shadow lines can be things just as easily.
- also yes, why not? As far as I know, Karcher has never suggested this, but this is all a realm of play and experimentation, trying things with readings and seeing what helps.

(Question: if you have shadow lines, should 1.1 correspond to 64.1, or 64.6??)
 

dfreed

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where 'respecting the oracle' means 'not ignoring what it says'.
I suspect that we may be way more in agreement here than not, and as you said, "... respecting the oracle also means honoring your own immediate response".

I don't know if I'm contradicting you, but I don't see anything wrong (or disrespectful, etc.) if I were to do a reading and the 'response' came to me via one quick glace at the Hexgram's name, or by just looking at the trigrams (and how I decided to interpret or understand them) ...

... especially if this kind of response (however limited it might seem to others) 'clubs me over the head' with its appropriateness, or it gives me exactly what I needed to hear about a particular situation.

Or ... perhaps you mean that even with these 'flash' insights, etc. we shouldn't overlook what else the Yi might be telling us: ex. if I'm a judge at the county fair that I don't just pick Apple Pie as the winner without at least tasting all the other pie entries.

What do you think?

(And to be clear, I'm not proposing that we should always expect these 'flash' answers/insights from the Yi! I am (almost) always more inclusive in what I look at - but still, often something does jump out / stand out as being especially relevant or meaningful for me.)

********
When you mention "not allowing oneself to be selective with the basic answer" ... I am reminded of the Nanjing Rules, which narrow the Yi's response (with multiple moving lines) down to only one - or at most two - hexagram or line statements.

It's not my cup of tea - but it certainly seems to be an example of only looking at one part of the Yi's response. However, these sort of 'rules' are used by many people, including Alfred Huang (I think?) - and as I mentioned, we find this 'narrowing' in the Zuo Commentary divination examples.

Best, D
 
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Liselle

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(Question: if you have shadow lines, should 1.1 correspond to 64.1, or 64.6??)
Oh - good question - I wouldn't have thought about 64.6, just because the Shadow isn't a turn-upside-down thing. But 64.1 and 64.6 aren't light-years apart - in both you're getting ahead of yourself in different ways, soaking your tail in line 1 and your head in line 6. So maybe whatever tale could be told about 1.1 and 64.1 as each other's shadow lines could also be told about 1.1 and 64.6 without sounding completely ridiculous.

(later - forgot to ask this - where did your 64.6 idea come from? All I can think of is if you're working backwards in the sequence, that includes the lines, too, is that it?)

1.1
'Dragon underwater – don’t act.'
64.1
'Soaking your tail,
Shame.'
64.6
'Being true and confident in drinking wine.
Not a mistake.
Soaking your head,
Being true and confident, losing your grip on that.
Will try to work through it by babbling to myself (sorry)... let's see, 1.1 is asleep because it's the absolute beginning, Creation starts out hibernating. 64 is a beginning, too, but one with the entire sequence behind it, 63 in particular. It's beginning again.

As the obvious-but-wrong way to think (yours) or a "negative screen" (Karcher's), 64.1 seems easier to confuse with 1.1. If you cast 1.1, you might have the false sense that you have to keep going rightnow (because 1 and 64 are both about beginning), and 64.1 describes the outcome of that - you fought a needed pause and ended up in trouble. Another way might be that both say not to proceed - in 1.1 because it's time to sleep; in 64.1 because you're not prepared. Sleeping and using fox sense are both ways of preparing, maybe? Needed prerequisites?

If you cast 64.1, you've just crossed a river and might think it's obviously time to rest. But circumstances catch up with you and you end up in a new river without having noticed what you need to notice, nor having anything prepared other than your blanket and pillow.

64.6 - I can see over-celebrating as a seemingly-reasonable but wrong response to crossing a river and forgetting there's more ahead, but I have a harder time seeing it as a counterpoint to sleeping. (Maybe unless you're a teenager avoiding bedtime, but I'm not sure 1 and 64 are meant like that.) And I have trouble seeing it the other way around. Yi: "Go ahead and celebrate, just not too much." Querent: "Well, I'll just go to sleep, then."

(Vs. how it might be if 64.1 and 1.1 are shadow lines - Yi: "Don't rush into the river without preparing!" (cast line 64.1) Querent: "But I don't want to prepare, I want to take a nap.")

This is hard to get in the abstract! I'm thinking of your 20 and 45 example in the mini-course. What helped that pop out is that in real life there was an actual gathering.

The Ideal lines would have to fit in...
1.1
'Dragon underwater – don’t act.'
52.1
'Stilling your feet,
No mistake.
Ever-flowing constancy bears fruit.'
52.6
'Great-hearted stilling.
Good fortune.'
1.1, the dragon who's correctly asleep, adhering to the natural cycle, sleeping because it's time to sleep. If the Ideal is the most effective way to think about that, it sounds more like 52.1 to me. "Ever-flowing constancy" = going along with nature. Accepting a natural cycle that imposes itself on you could be great-hearted (generous), I suppose, but I have a harder time seeing it (she says, weakly).

Karcher says shifting your thinking to the ideal brings out the positive side of the shadow spontaneously. I've seen that work, especially after getting it through my head that Ideal means "effective," not necessarily "happy," which is how a terrible awful hexagram can be an Ideal - but I'm stuck with this one. "52.1 allows 64.1 to happen." Maybe stilling your feet when it's proper to do so helps you recognize 64.1's problems and avoid them?

Another good question - 52.1 might be 1.1's ideal line, but why would you need it? If your cast line says, "Don't act," why do you need something else to say, "Still your feet"?

<Other person's example moved to Yi Academy - privacy violation>

(I don't think this answered Hilary's question very well, but my brain is 🥴. Also, I am quite prepared to have said something dumb or missed something obvious. Here is a :duh: in advance.)
 
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dfreed

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Cast line 1.1: 'Dragon underwater – don’t act.'
Shadow line 64.1: 'Soaking your tail, Shame.'
Ideal line 52.1: 'Stilling your feet, No mistake. Ever-flowing constancy bears fruit.'

The Ideal/Shadow hexagrams are not something I've used in a long while, but as I understand them:

1.1: the situation is not 'ripe' for action, perhaps some of what you need to know has not yet been revealed and is still hidden 'under-water' (by emotion, fear, sadness?).

52.1: how you should Ideally look at and approach this situation: this is not just about 'not acting' (non-activity); you need to go beyond this: stop figeting (still your feet), and become 'still' in other ways - in your heart, mind, emotions ....

And in doing this, the "negative screen" of the Shadow, 64.1 is lifted (and the positive side of the shadow is revealed): you no longer need to worry about any mis-steps (tail soaking) you do, nor feel shame about your actions (or thoughts, or emotions ...)!

Is that close to how you are seeing this?

And even though - out of respect - we don't want to overlook anything the Yi is telling us, if all you had to work with, and all you knew were the Ideal / Shadow, then I'm thinking this is perhaps a pretty good way of seeing things.

D
 
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Trojina

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One would think that if 52.1 were the ideal way to approach the situation then 52.1 would have been cast !

If 52.1 is the ideal way to act then what's 1.1 meant to be now ? I mean 1.1 was the answer cast so where does that fit in if now 52.1 is the way to go ideally ? What's 1.1 now then, what's it's role ? It was the actual answer after all

Ah but the word 'ideal' here is not what it seems. It does not refer to anything 'ideal' at all....Liselle writes


Karcher says shifting your thinking to the ideal brings out the positive side of the shadow spontaneously.

Not having read Karcher's definition of the Ideal I'm taking it from you that it's not meaning 'ideal' as in 'this is how to ideally act' as that would be nonsensical because your actual answer is that. I mean it would be highly ironic in this blog about respecting the oracle etc if we came to the conclusion that the answer was somehow not the answer and that 'the Ideal' was in fact the ideal way to act. That would be silly. But it's not that. The Ideal is in fact the way to bring out the positive side of the Shadow ?

The Shadow, Karcher's invented name for this, is as I understand it not like the way we may think of the shadow in psychology or anything like that. It is here, in Karcher's definition, just the way we may be automatically tempted to tackle things. Although perhaps there is 'automatic' behaviour inherent in 'the shadow' as we might think of in psychology. The Ideal then is not the 'ideal way to do things' but the positive aspects of the Shadow ?


I think I have watched H's video on this (somewhere ?) and I don't think I got much about the Ideal from there really, I got the impression it was a rather sketchy concept. However am I correct in thinking it would be incorrect to assume 'the Ideal' means the ideal way to act ? Hope so because if it does it just made the actual answer, the primary hexagram redundant. Again ironic in the context of this blog about reading what the answer actually says.
 

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the Shadow isn't a turn-upside-down thing
Well, you could say it's one giant turn-upside-down thing, turning the whole Sequence upside down. (I can't think of any reason to turn anything upside down for the Ideal, though.) Your approach, trying it out with examples and example readings, is the only way to explore, and it seems to be working better for you so far if you stay the right way up. As it were.

Trojina - I feel awkward having people refer to my ideas of Karcher's ideas. Better to go to the horse's mouth to avoid playing Chinese whispers. And yes, valid point about not losing the original reading. The same applies to any 'extra' tool: change patterns, line pathways, nuclears, fancy trigram stuff. Any of it can help, or can become a giant rabbit-hole.
 

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Trojina - I feel awkward having people refer to my ideas of Karcher's ideas.

But you are quite happy for people to use the ideas on your videos etc about Karcher's ideas ? Why would you feel awkward about the Ideal but not awkward about discussing your thoughts on change patterns or line paths ? Not that those are exclusively his I suppose, at least the line paths aren't. Is it that the Ideal and the Shadow are exclusively his ? I discuss change patterns without reference to Karcher, they can be seen by anyone. Even if Karcher bought them to attention again we don't have to refer to him every time any more than we refer to Bradford each time we talk about the fan yao so I don't get why you can't talk about it what is meant by 'the Ideal'.



I simply can't read Karcher's prose anyway and am not keen to download it . It can't be that hard to summarise can it ? Liselle ? One sentence ? I think if it's not defined here people are going to get the idea that the 'Ideal' is the ideal answer which would be daft because there'd be no point in casting an answer and then saying 'oh but ideally you'd do this' based on a completely different hexagram you don't know how you got to and didn't cast.

I looked in the 'hexagrams of context' in wikiwing and it's not in there. I wonder why it is included in wiki if there is no real explanation of it anywhere in wiki ? Perhaps I missed it.


So what is the significance of the 'Ideal' in a nutshell. Easy to summarise the Shadow but what is the Ideal ? It can't surely be 'what to ideally do' as I've said that renders the actual answer impotent !


In any case there's no point in talking about the Ideal here if no one knows what it is, how you get to it or what it means ! If one doesn't know how to even find the Ideal should one even use it ?

The same applies to any 'extra' tool: change patterns, line pathways, nuclears, fancy trigram stuff. Any of it can help, or can become a giant rabbit-hole.

Mostly these aren't 'tools', we don't hold them as separate units of being and apply them to something outside of themselves as we do with tools, they already are intrinsically part of the reading not outside it. A trigram is not a tool nor is a change pattern. This doesn't apply with the Shadow/Ideal which is an idea, an hypothesis with no particular obvious inherent rationale for existing. That's why if we are going to have a discussion about it we need to know what it is in plain language. Karcher's language is not plain and I have no wish to download it. So does anyone know ? I find it hard to believe that no one can explain what it is here in their own words ? You must know Liselle given that you use it ?


I can summarise what a change pattern is in a sentence so what's the problem with doing that for the Ideal and why would it be 'awkward' to do so ?
 
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Also yes. (And I think I will steal this and quote it.)
Life is just one huge bucket of plagarism, I fancy. I hold no copyright to this and think I probably nicked it from someone who said it to me once anyway. So go ahead and spread the word.
 

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But you are quite happy for people to use the ideas on your videos etc about Karcher's ideas ? Why would you feel awkward about the Ideal but not awkward about discussing your thoughts on change patterns or line paths ?
Reasonable questions. I suppose it's because we're trying to define and evaluate it, and for that it would be good to be sure we're actually talking about Karcher's idea, not Hilary's impression of Karcher's idea.

Quoting from his pdf -

The Ideal and the Shadow form a pair of figures that let you grasp the ideal potential of the situation and a necessary transformative potential that is, for the moment, shadowed and unavailable but will manifest spontaneously if you do not seek it out.

and
a special and quite effective way to see what we should and should not be doing, practically rather than morally, at a given moment along with what we might achieve directly and what we can achieve only by renouncing our desires for it.

So Ideal = 'ideal potential of the situation' and probably also 'what we might achieve directly'.

Personal thought: we probably won't get far with the Ideal without fully digesting the difference between the two trigram arrangements first. I tend to think of the Before Heaven arrangement as the product of people's desire to have everything well-ordered and comprehensible, so I'm never going to be exactly captivated by the idea of using it to build a hexagram.
 

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Ah, crossed post bu re -reading


Well, you could say it's one giant turn-upside-down thing, turning the whole Sequence upside down. (I can't think of any reason to turn anything upside down for the Ideal, though.)

You don't see any reason for the Ideal. It isn't an intrinsic part of the primary hexagram cast like nuclears or change patterns. As you see no reason for the Ideal you can't explain how to use it is what you meant hence referring me to Karcher.

But why does the Ideal have it's own section in wikiwing then ? If people just look it the Ideal) up somewhere without knowing what it is or how to get to it themselves and then mistakenly think 'oh this is how to ideally act'.....(which would be crazy) they just completely abandoned the answer they got. That is not respecting the answer they got but escaping from it.

You usually do a good job of translating Karcher's ideas it into something useable. You can't do this here because it appears to involve running away from the answer, disregarding the answer for no good discernible reason.

So Ideal = 'ideal potential of the situation' and probably also 'what we might achieve directly'.

So just taking 1 as an example, not using the lines for now, if you cast 1 you can achieve 52 indirectly and 52 is the ideal potential of 1. Hmmm no this is not a useful concept to me, it wouldn't be without further understanding of how this is calculated, where it issues from.

Personal thought: we probably won't get far with the Ideal without fully digesting the difference between the two trigram arrangements first. I tend to think of the Before Heaven arrangement as the product of people's desire to have everything well-ordered and comprehensible, so I'm never going to be exactly captivated by the idea of using it to build a hexagram.

Yes and there I am well out of my depth and if it's not clear where the Ideal issues from it doesn't seem a great idea to encourage it's use. I mean it having it's own section in wiki gives it a credibility it really doesn't have as compared to the other hexagrams of context.
 

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I simply can't read Karcher's prose anyway and am not keen to download it .
Mixed feelings. I sympathize with your point, really I do, but it's tricky to reject things while at the same time not reading them. Bradford isn't easy to read, either, yet it's good we do. Etc.

My best suggestion is read Karcher's pdf (it's quite short) and read Hilary's - go back and forth between them, even. Most important - look at examples while doing so.

That's a splendid way to go through Foundations, even. It's a different experience stepping through it very methodically with a couple of examples at hand, making literal or mental notes. Obviously you're past Foundations, but I was startled to hear in Brad's interview that he read through Hilary's beginner's course once in a while.
[01:00:24.670] - Bradford
So it's important to the old-timer to really stay open, to keep that beginner's mind. And sometimes
[01:00:40.690] - Hilary
How do you do that?
[01:00:42.790] - Bradford
Well, for instance, I probably twice in the last 10 years, I have made an attempt to forget everything I
know and take your beginners' course. I mean, twice I've done that - the free beginners' course - just to
really start over.
Or look at a new book as if I didn't know anything. And it's challenging because it's
easy for me to scoff at other theories - you know, being being something of a cynic, you know,
definitely a skeptic. You know, it's important for me to to try and keep beginner's mind when looking
at new ideas legitimately. At least then I can scoff at them legitimately
 

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Where has this tic of hitting the wrong key and posting before I'm ready come from lately? Harumph. Hang on.
 

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Anyway, the Ideal, and examples.
Personal thought: we probably won't get far with the Ideal without fully digesting the difference between the two trigram arrangements first.
Agreed.

I tend to think of the Before Heaven arrangement as the product of people's desire to have everything well-ordered and comprehensible,
Ooh, a digestive aid! Thanks!

so I'm never going to be exactly captivated by the idea of using it to build a hexagram.
Holding this in suspension, I suppose, since I haven't done step 1 yet.

Shadow and Ideal lines - please understand how naively I did this. It was nothing more than thinking, "Well, we use fan yaos and paired lines and even the lines from nuclear stories (which I haven't spent much time with yet), so maybe all such lines are useful!" And then I tried it and found them helpful.
 
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Liselle

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One would think that if 52.1 were the ideal way to approach the situation then 52.1 would have been cast !

If 52.1 is the ideal way to act then what's 1.1 meant to be now ? I mean 1.1 was the answer cast so where does that fit in if now 52.1 is the way to go ideally ? What's 1.1 now then, what's it's role ? It was the actual answer after all
I think this is the hardest part of the whole thing, followed by being able to see two distinct sides of the shadow.

The ideal does not replace the primary hexagram, and the "ideal line" doesn't replace the cast line. It's another angle. It might be sort of, vaguely, akin to what Hilary says about the yin pattern:
In practice, the yin change pattern is often going to read as advice.
[...]
The yin pattern may often work as advice, but it isn’t a replacement for
the advice in the reading. (Creating change in the realm of Biting
Through is not always necessarily quite the same thing as creating
change by Biting Through.) Rather than taking the yin pattern as an
alternative to your reading’s advice, you need to find how it interacts
with and complements it.

May we look at my washer example again?
 

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