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lindsay

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A few days ago Hilary wrote a fine little piece in her blog suggesting frequent users of the Yi might benefit from slowing down and being more thoughtful and deliberate with their readings. It’s no secret Hilary advocates taking full advantage of the entire I Ching, chasing down the ancient Zhou chicken with all Ten Wings flapping, in as many editions and translations and languages as possible. No effort should be spared with upper and lower trigrams, hexagram pairs, fan yao, inner and outer nuclear trigrams, moving lines, dragon gates, river crossings, steps of change, mirror images, inverse gua, and more hexagram sequences than you can shake a jade baton at. And let’s not forget the symbols, etymologies, metaphors, historical references, Manwangdui MS variants, the Book of Songs, the Classic of Documents, ancient Chinese mythology, religious rites and holidays, jokes and puns. And of course, being a professional diviner for many years, how can Hilary ignore the thousands of past readings and hundreds of related stories, all dutifully recorded, fully indexed, and instantly accessible at a touch? Put all this together – and you have a reasonably thorough reading. More could be done, of course…

Well, I’m a busy person, and I’ve never liked spending more than fifteen minutes on a reading. I believe there are many things in the world worthy of great personal effort, laser-sharp focus, extended cogitation, and dogged patience – and the I Ching isn’t one of them. Most of the time I need a quick answer, the boss is calling, the plane is leaving, the pot is boiling. No time to don my silken ceremonial robes, no time to kow-tow one-hundred times before the god of good fortune, no time to count the gnarly yarrow wands in deep meditation, no time to review vast tomes of learned commentary. I need the answer now!

I travel a lot, and my motto (stolen from a pop song nobody remembers) is “Keep it light enough to travel.” The only workaday Yi I allow myself fits snugly in an overstuffed suitcase. I prefer short texts. I believe two theories make this approach nearly respectable:

(1) The “Put on Your Blinkers” theory. Not long ago Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink,” in which he explored scientific evidence for the existence of a lightning-fast evaluation and decision mechanism built into the oldest part of our nervous systems. This ancient system, possibly intended as a survival advantage, instantly analyzes situations as a whole and comes to snap conclusions that are as often as correct as those coming from extended reasoning and analysis. People have always wanted to trust their first impressions, and Gladwell explains why they should. My contention is you know everything necessary about a reading within the first ten seconds of looking at the text, sometimes even before.

(2) The “Pearl in the Oyster” theory. My second defense for rapid readings views them as specs of grit that lodge in the back of consciousness like grains of sand in an oyster. Over time they develop into pearls. Very often the immediate meaning of a reading is not apparent. Only later, when the situation has developed or your viewpoint shifted, does the full meaning become clear. No amount of analysis or research can hasten this process, which seems completely natural and leads to those “a-ha!” moments we value so much.

Quick reading depends on using text optimized for instant comprehension.

(1) My favorite is a tiny paperback commentary called “The Aquarian Book of Change” by Patricia E. West, Ph.D. It’s sadly out of print, but if you ever see a copy, grab it. It is the ultimate distillation of the Wilhelm school, fits in a small pocket, and – tiny as it is – still offers 18 blank pages at the end as an I Ching diary.

(2) Thomas Cleary published a large bookcase full of Chinese translations over the years, but his masterpiece (in my hurried opinion) is “I Ching: The Book of Change,” a nice translation of the traditional Yi with most of the Wings included. This book is about the size of an iPod or MP3 player, and gives you as much of the Yi as books twenty times its size.

(3) If you want to get a feel for the ancient Chinese text, you can’t do better quicker than look at Gregory C. Richter’s “I Ching / Yi Jing: Transcription, Gloss, Translation,” a first-class interlinear translation showing you where the text comes from, word for word. Richter is a professor, linguist, and scholar – and it’s a shame his work is so rarely mentioned. Maybe it’s because he’s giving it away free on the internet at http://www2.truman.edu/~grichter/translations/yjnew.pdf. The book is only 128 pages long - 64 if you print it double-sided.

(4) A recent favorite is Tom Christensen’s jaunty version of the Zhouyi at http://www.rightreading.com/yi-jing/yi-jing-all-entries.htm. I think Christensen captures the spirit of the original Yi better than scholars like Kunst or Rutt. His version is so compressed it comes close to being a series of sound bites – but it works pretty well for quickie divinations.

Well, gotta go. If you know of any short versions of the I Ching you think are good, I’d love to hear about them. Any other time-saving tips appreciated.

Lindsay
 

stevev

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I often don't even ...

read the words anymore, just the label will do. And who wants to go through the trival excercise of counting the numbers and looking up the tables, just point and click. Of course there are times when serious comtemplation is called for, but it isn't called for all the time.
 

dobro p

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I've never liked the Thomas Cleary Yi much, but that Gregory Richter version you linked to is ace. Thanks.
 

ewald

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Indeed, I like it concise too. I want to know the basics of my reading within a minute.

I don't like many of the commentaries to the Zhouyi core I have seen. They contain all kinds of information that is not relevant to my reading. That includes the wings. I think the Image is more often than not no better than an example to the hexagram, and isn't general enough to be useful.

So my translation and commentary, that I hope to put online before the end of this year, will be concise. The commentary consists only of a few sentences for each hexagram line, just an explanation of the line text. In my view exactly what you need, and not more.
 

dobro p

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Just checked out Christensen's. It's pretty useless compared to the full Yi. Subjective impressionism is no substitute for the real thing. I mean think about it a minute. The Yi is *already* brief. Why look for something shorter? Come on... :)
 

willowfox

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I think Christensen captures the spirit of the original Yi better than scholars like Kunst or Rutt.

I am sorry but I disagree, I don't think it has any spirit, or anything else for that matter.
 

autumn

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Good advice for 90% of people most of the time. Bad advice for people developing an addiction to divination because of an obsessive (anxious, not secure) attachment to a lover.
 

autumn

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And the reason why is because they can't hear the 15 minute reading, so they do another, and then another. It doesn't matter if the reading is, "yes Mr.or Ms. Wonderful loves you and will be at your doorstep tomorrow", or "you are screwed", they don't hear it because their anxiety is overwhelming. It's a symptom of insecure attachments in romantic relationships in general. That's why Hilary said just do one and keep focusing on it until you hear it.
 

sparhawk

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A few days ago Hilary wrote a fine little piece in her blog suggesting frequent users of the Yi might benefit from slowing down and being more thoughtful and deliberate with their readings. It’s no secret Hilary advocates taking full advantage of the entire I Ching, chasing down the ancient Zhou chicken with all Ten Wings flapping, in as many editions and translations and languages as possible. No effort should be spared with upper and lower trigrams, hexagram pairs, fan yao, inner and outer nuclear trigrams, moving lines, dragon gates, river crossings, steps of change, mirror images, inverse gua, and more hexagram sequences than you can shake a jade baton at. And let’s not forget the symbols, etymologies, metaphors, historical references, Manwangdui MS variants, the Book of Songs, the Classic of Documents, ancient Chinese mythology, religious rites and holidays, jokes and puns. And of course, being a professional diviner for many years, how can Hilary ignore the thousands of past readings and hundreds of related stories, all dutifully recorded, fully indexed, and instantly accessible at a touch? Put all this together – and you have a reasonably thorough reading. More could be done, of course…
Do I smell sarcasm, Lindsay? :D

This ancient system, possibly intended as a survival advantage, instantly analyzes situations as a whole and comes to snap conclusions that are as often as correct as those coming from extended reasoning and analysis.
I doubt it, it takes a long time to crack tortoise shells and ox scapulas, not to mention carving all those readings onto them... Of course, everthing went "back to the fast technological future hell" when somebody figured out how to use coins for divination and democratized the Yi...

My contention is you know everything necessary about a reading within the first ten seconds of looking at the text, sometimes even before.
Can't argue with that... Furthermore, that Pearl theory is spot on. :)

L
 

lindsay

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Well, Dobro and Willowfox, your reaction to Christensen doesn’t surprise me. I still have a few friends who think the best restaurants are the ones that pile the most food on your plate. You guys should check out the Ritsema and Sabbadini Eranos I Ching – it’s the SUV of the Yi world, 4 inches thick, with a generous helping of (empty) words.

Autumn, you’re quite right the emphasis of Hilary’s blog was on I Ching addiction. I am poking fun at something different, a kind of prolix rabbinical exegesis of the Yi much loved by certain people in the highest circles of Clarity. I suppose such effulgence has a beauty of its own, provided you have a lot of spare time and an endless imagination.

My only point is one need not dawdle over the Yi to use it well. A classic haiku is as much a poem as “Orlando Furioso”. Granted this isn’t much of a point, compared to profundities regularly served up by the likes of Chris Lofting, but I’d hate to see new readers crippled by an inferiority complex because they are not spending half the day interpreting the Yi.

Ewald, I agree with you 100% and I can’t wait to see your new translation. Last year I toyed with presenting some of my own work on a website – I was going to call it “The Just-Enough I Ching.” Fortunately, that fever passed.

Lindsay
 
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bruce_g

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Lindsay, man, you still crack me up.

I'm with you all the way on the brief text essence and rapid flash of insight approach, rather than having every single detail written and agonized over to extract the message.
 

Trojina

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Mmm yes reading that blog entry of Hilarys she says telling the addicted user to quit and put the Yi away for a while is about as much use as a 'chocolate teapot', hence shes giving the advice to slow down and look deeper. Mmm I'm cynical that would actually work with someone who is getting hooked on asking obsessively, I think stopping altogether for a while works better.

I have noticed the compulsive asker of romantic questions is often not at all in contact with the 'beloved'. In these cases asking the Yi serves to keep the reality of the 'relationship' alive for the querant when absolutely nothing else would because the beloved is not in their lives in anyway.

Theres been times and still can be when I'll slip into silly compulsive asking, always of course over 'love'. When ones in that state, you're in the grip of the fantasy of the desired outcome and NOTHING but nothing will come between you and that. For me the solution has to be put the book away for a while.

I've seen it here a million times where someones been given a very in depth reading on their love anguish by more than person and they say "wow amazing thanks so much x is out of my system and I'm much calmer", only to return next day to ask "but is X the one ?"
 

Trojina

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Re the academic stuff, mythology etc etc..one can read it and just let it sink in to add to ones existing understanding of a hex or line, like another layer of knowledge you might access if you like. Its still enriching isn't it ?
 

autumn

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A time to every purpose under heaven

So true about the whole meaning of the reading not being clear until later. When I consult now, I do so for minor questions with the express purpose of learning. When I see how the situation turns out, then I understand much more what was being communicated to me in the reading. Last night, for example, I decided I wanted to win Barney tickets that were being given away on the radio. (Shut up). I had to sit at the computer to listen to the station. There was no reason to consult to find out if I would win, and in fact, I thought before doing it that it probably spoils the fun to know if you will win beforehand, but I did anyway, just to see what reading I would get. 60.5 (19). Focusing on the reading took less than a minute.

I wasn't quite sure what that meant, because it didn't seem to indicate either winning or losing, so I didn't dwell on it. The DJ said that he'd give away the tickets after six, but by six-forty-five, I hadn't heard anything. So I called the radio station. The DJ said he'd forgotten to give the tickets away, and because he'd forgotten and noone else had called to remind him, he gave them to me. :) :) :)

Then, the reading became super- clear. In a situation like that, I had no need for a single shred of extra information about 60.5. One line- Sweet limitation bring goods fortune, was good enough. I had no idea what it meant before the night was over, and then when it was over, I knew.

But other times, you need to go deeper. The i-ching has such potential to heal when it is needed to heal, but it is passive, wholly dependent on the creative energy of the consultant to decide to use it that way. To every season turn- when it is the season for ceremonial robes, don them. When it isn't, don't worry. I can't see how it's a matter of factionalism.
 

sparhawk

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Last night, for example, I decided I wanted to win Barney tickets that were being given away on the radio. (Shut up).
Please tell me Barney is a rock star I don't know about and you are not talking about the purple dinosaur... :D

Just in case you are feeling withdrawal symptoms, just imagine me in a big purple suit intoning:

I love you You love me
we're a happy family
with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you.
won't you say you love me too


Sorry, these kind of things are like fruit to this fly... :D

L
 

sparhawk

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Aaarrggghhh!!! NOOOOO!! My eyes!!!

I've two teenagers and been through the painful the Barney "phase"... Still recovering...

:D
 

ewald

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My site has a limitation on the number of readings you can do per day. Some people did more than a hundred readings in succession before I had it.
 

rosada

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Delightful read Linsay!
I hope you will reconsider your "Just-Enough" book. Hmmm... nother idea for a title: how about,
" I Ching Lite, or ItCHING.. the version that just scratches the surface."
 
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bruce_g

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ewald said:
My site has a limitation on the number of readings you can do per day. Some people did more than a hundred readings in succession before I had it.
Ewald, which is your site? I wasn't aware you had yours uploaded already.

During cycles when I have more time on my hands, I consult the Yi more often, in addition to consulting and interpreting for friends. As Autumn mentioned, I too mostly consult to learn the way Yi and things that happen work and turn out. I don't think there's a better way to learn hexagram meanings than by this sort of personal involvement and experience with it. That's why I don't always agree with the idea that one should only consult this or that many times, even when first starting out. Yes, the compulsive habitual asking of the same question most often leads to nowhere, but if someone has a teachable mind and continually finds useable answers, or if their primary interest is learning how "things" work, according to the Yi, than it is like school. You wouldn't say to a student, only go to class once a week or once a day. It depends on the reason someone makes their frequent inquiries, and on their ability to absorb their readings.
 

lindsay

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Autumn, thank you so much for the graphics. What a blast from the past! Now I know who I'm going to be for Halloween! I'm tired of my King Wen costume anyway.

Ewald, did you say the "Wilhelm/Barney" translation? I'll bet that's a short one!
 

lindsay

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Rosada, it took me about 30 minutes to get your "ItChing" joke - but it was definitely LOL material. You are a very funny lady.
 

mudpie

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Quit poking fun at Barney! Enjoy the concert, Autumn, once kids reach the age of 5 or 6, he's already too fruity for their fly.

Did anyone ever see the
Simple I Ching: Brief Cosmic Solutions To Your Problems in Minutes ?

Laugh if you must, but it was the first one I ever used, about 20 years ago, and the responses I got were so right on the money that I was hooked from then on.
It has no Lines, only simple sentences for each hexagram. I doubt the sentences are accurately related to the original text, but it still amazes me when I think back to responses I got back then and how the sentences applied so accurately to what I needed to know

ewald, I love your site, (and love the energy exercises), and the instant, fingertip access to every hex. I have used it for a long time as a quick reference. BUt I dont throw the virtual coins...so it wasnt ME doing the hundred plus readings!
 

dobro p

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"I'm tired of my King Wen costume anyway."

grin

Lindsay, I'm starting to see your point about 'instant' Yi readings. I mean, instant coffee's clearly superior to the real thing, right? And of course fast food is way better than any homecooking you might come across. Ditto sex - foreplay's such a bore; quickies rule.

I wonder why I never noticed this before...
 

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