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Some new tools for Yijing divination

hilary

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Here -
http://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/friends/Yijing-ideas-and-tools.pdf
- is a pdf that Joel Benson has sent me and kindly allowed me to share here. It contains several new ideas for simple, portable and satisfying ways to consult - with yarrow stalks, coins, tokens or even a small card spinner. All the methods respect the probabilities of traditional coins or stalks. You may find it interesting - especially if you prefer physical to virtual casting and want something portable and quiet.

As he mentions at the end, he has a US Etsy shop selling his inventions. Currently it's US-only... if you'd like delivery elsewhere, could you post here so he can get an idea of demand.
 

Liselle

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What a lovely and creative variety of tools! A number of those would help with the mental strain involved in any manual method, to keep track of the casting as you're doing it, and avoiding mistakes. (It's what keeps me doing computerized castings.)

Thank you, Joel :).
 

AnswerQuestMan

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Yi Jing Tools

Lisa:

Thank you for the kind words. I guess I'm in a sense "old school" in that I most enjoy the use of physical Yi Jing divination objects. Computer programs and I Phone Apps are very impressive and they do really facilitate the process of Yi Jing divination. But, for me, the greatest satisfaction comes from manipulating physical things to achieve demonstrably random access to the Yi Jing.

When I use a computer to generate a random result, I always wonder at the back of my mind if the algorithm that is used is truly random or if it is merely an approximation of randomness. For me, there's nothing like shuffling ritual objects while concentrating on a question and then selecting single objects in random arrangements with the certainty that each choice of a particular object is truly random and in a synchronous sense is correct for me at that instant of time.

I also enjoy the process of building the hexagram over time as opposed to obtaining the complete hexagram at the push of a button. So I feel computer tools, as presently implemented, do not sufficiently connect me with the physical process of divination. Of course, I'm sure my opinion will change when computers advance sufficiently to provide Yi Jing divination within the context of a virtual reality.

With all of that said, I think the use of computers is definitely the wave of the future for Yi Jing divination and may eventually supplant the use of physical tools. And even though I like physical tools, I don't enjoy the distraction of numerical calculations and hexagram conversions that are required for some elements of physical divination. So I created a few simple tools and methods to remove these incidental distractions and, as you say, avoid errors; leaving the mind free to focus with confidence on the question at hand.

I don't feel any of my ideas are in any sense essential to the divination process, but for me they add a simplicity and an efficiency that enhance my enjoyment of the process.

Again, thank you for your kind comments.

Joel
 
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svenrus

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https://www.etsy.com/dk-en/shop/AnswerQuest?ref=search_shop_redirect

Thanks for any new portals to the I. At the time of the ancients even yarrowdivination was brand new in contrast to the far-back-in-time-turtleshelldivination.
Many years ago I made random-programs in the Basic-Language and during the years found that those weren't that random at all. Well, it can be discussed WHAT (...) randomization is but at that time I concluded that the computer played too much of a role in it to be "natural random".
But, thanks for the initiative Joel. I love news.
 

Liselle

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Many years ago I made random-programs in the Basic-Language and during the years found that those weren't that random at all. Well, it can be discussed WHAT (...) randomization is but at that time I concluded that the computer played too much of a role in it to be "natural random".

Yes, I've heard that, too. Some computer randomizers are better than others, apparently. The yarrow stalks, etc., may not be completely random, either, though. Each stalk is a bit different, so your fingers might gravitate to the bumps on a particular one or two.

Also wonder how much it matters. Do we get similar-quality messages from Yi regardless of stalks, coins, various quantities of marbles, different computer algorithms...?

That's a perception thing, I guess. I've used marbles as well as a few different computer casting programs, and haven't personally noticed that I was getting dramatically better or worse readings from any of them. Don't know about others' experiences.
 

AnswerQuestMan

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Replying to both Lisa and Svenrus, I agree that the real issue for an effective Yi Jing divination is probably not the degree to which you approach a truly random selection result, whatever that may mean. I think effective use of the Yi Jing requires a trust in whatever divination method you do employ and a willingness to let your mind fully consider the information that is obtained.

So I think human perception and belief are probably the keys to effective use of the Yi Jing. For me, physical tools help focus my mind, so that works best for me, without regard to the absolute degree of randomness or whether different mathematical probabilities for yarrow or tossed coin systems affect the result.

I read that someone has developed a device that uses the decay of a radioactive element to define a truly random event, at least according to modern physics. I doubt that any such device would be any more effective for the Yi Jing than throwing coins or accessing a computer program with a pseudo-randomizer.

I can't speak with authority on this subject, but this is what I believe.
 

AnswerQuestMan

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Not So New Yi Jing Tools

Quote from cjgait: "This is what I've used for years."

I'm not sure what "this" refers to, but I assume it references each and every one of the seven ideas summarized in the memo. All I can say is: Wow! It's finally happened- another human being as smart as I am!

All kidding aside, actually I'm not surprised. The noted seven ideas are pretty simple and occurred to me without much thought. What amazed me is that these ideas were never expressed in all the books and email threads I've read concerning the Yi Jing.

I mean, the books alone stretch over decades and report some problems and issues that are resolved by these simple solutions, but don't suggest any of the solutions. I admit I wondered how could there be a system of divination operating for three thousand years without someone slapping their forehead and coming up with these simple solutions, particularly after the Rule of 16 was developed.

One of the reasons I published these ideas is to see if anyone pushes back and says all these things have long been known.

I must admit, another thing that caused me to publish these ideas is I noted a long expired fifty-year old patent was obtained by an actor calling himself Khigh Alx Dhiegh who wrote the book "The Eleventh Wing: An Exposition of the Dynamics of the I Ching for Now" (1973). He obtained the patent for a pretty complex and large machine that he developed to achieve the functions of the paper tools disclosed in my memo.

Needless to say, I was very interested to see that fifty years ago Dhiegh addressed precisely the same issues that independently occurred to me in more recent times. However, his solution involved a machine that was just too expensive to manufacture and his I Ching-Dex machine as he called it was never commercialized beyond a few prototypes. If he had only come up with my cheap laminated paper solutions fifty years ago, we would probably all have these things in our divination kits to this day.

But now I think most people are using computers and smart phones to access the Yi Jing, so simple ideas regarding un-powered divination aids are probably out-of-date for most users in our modern computer age. Still, I'm glad these ideas are now published in this forum so they are on the table, if only as a historical reference.

Thanks cjgait for the note. So for now the list of inventors is: Dhiegh, cjgait and Benson in order of date of discovery.
 

AnswerQuestMan

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Whoops. I just noticed cjgait's message contains a link to a random hexagram generator. So now I understand the "this" that he refers to is the random generator and not the new Yi Jing tools that are the original subject of this thread. I apologize for my misunderstanding and long-winded response to a nonexistent issue. This is what I get for responding to a message before having my first cup of coffee for the day.

So the list of inventors for the functions of the laminated paper tools is reduced to Dhiegh and Benson and cjgait's reported long use of computer methods for divination confirms my belief that physical tools are probably of decreasing use and importance for the Yi Jing; once again proving what we all know, things change.

Darn it. I feel like a buggy whip manufacturer in the age of the automobile. I think I'll have another cup of coffee.
 

cjgait

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Yes, Khigh Alx Dhiegh was a fascinating character. He usually played villains, in Hawaii 5-0 for instance. I have a signed copy of his copy, one of my most treasured items in my Yi Jing collection.

As you have clarified, yes, I'm one of the computer types. In fact I have the whole process semi-automated. When I do Yi Dao Morning Reading I get a gua by using Random.org, then plug those numbers into a spreadsheet which runs the Nan Jing method on them to select one specific text. That is the text I use for the reading and I also look it up in the Jiao Shi Yi Lin (Garden of Changes). Today's was 33-29, for instance, but using Nan Jing that gives us only 33, line 6 to read in the Yi and 33-29 in the Garden of Changes (a verse I haven't translated yet, with some historical references, so I'll be hitting it later in the afternoon).
 

AnswerQuestMan

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I agree, Khigh Alx Dheigh was a very interesting guy. His I Ching-Dex patent is also interesting. I was very pleased when I found out my thinking paralleled his, albeit fifty years later.

Thanks for sharing information regarding how you access the Yi Jing. My problem is that I conducted my investigation of the Yi Jing by reading texts that deal with physical systems for divination. My thinking was that focusing on this material would help me understand the historical basis for the Yi Jing, but in the process of looking at just physical systems I see that I ignored what has been happening more recently with computer methods. As a result, I ended up thinking about improving physical systems of divination that are already more or less out-of-date.

I will need to take some time to get up to speed concerning the computer technology that people are now using. I have a background in electrical engineering and computer programming, so this shouldn't be too difficult. Usually my bias is to use the latest technology, but my narrow focus here prevented me from appreciating this technology.

Thanks for your help in getting me to return to the 21st century.
 

hilary

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Confession - my favourite way of casting a hexagram is still with a quite tangible string of beads. I still find them quicker and easier than opening a program/ app/ webpage and clicking buttons. I'll record the reading digitally - my memory is good enough to remember the hexagram as I cast it, but that's about as far as it stretches - but digital casting still feels clunky.
 

cjgait

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Coins, Shells, Stalks and Digits

Well, I actually reason that the electronic method is closer to using a turtle shell. After all, the growth patterns of a turtle's shell are as random as the atmospheric noise that Random.org uses to generate its integers. On the few occasions that I do use a physical method I use coins. They are the more traditional method. The yarrow stalks as used now are based on 'reverse engineering' the yarrow process as found in the Great Treatise by the great Song scholar Zhu Xi. The coins go back a lot further, perhaps the Han.

I do find it interesting to think about the early days though, and particularly the evolution of divination from the yes/no/repeat approach of the Shang Dynasty in China and the Urim and Thummim in the West to the mathematical manipulations of the yarrow under the Zhou and later (though the Zhou did continue to use bones and shells for divination). I think the main factor for the bone and shell method passing was two-fold: Time and resources. People no longer wanted to spend a week smoothing a tortoise shell for a question when they could simply use the yarrow. Also I think the Shang and Zhou did so many tortoise shell divinations that they used up the available tortoises in the kingdom and it's tributary nations.
 

AnswerQuestMan

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As I read your recent emails I'm starting to think I have no real basis for guessing what proportion of Yi Jing users favor computer methods or physical methods for casting the Yi Jing. Hilary's point is well taken, convenient physical artifacts might still be preferred for casting.

It would be interesting to do a study of Clarity Yi Jing users and find out their favored methods for casting the Yi Jing. Now that I'm on this topic, it would also be interesting to find out how many people worldwide use the Yi Jing on a regular basis and what they use for casting and divination. I wonder if there are a million or a hundred million users worldwide.

I don't know of any international organization that would keep track of this. It would be an interesting statistic. I understand a significant number of Chinese citizens are believed to practice the Yi Jing, but I have also read that the Chinese government outlawed this practice years ago as contrary to their preferred modern way of doing things.

Too bad there is no way at present to make every Yi Jing user on the planet a member of Clarity and maybe then get a handle on how the Yi Jing is generally applied and how it affects people's lives everywhere. Sorry, I'm wasting bandwidth with idle speculation. Speculation concluded.

Now I'm going to think about empty turtle shells, as I have one here to view. Interesting to think ancient turtle shell divinations might have stressed the Asian turtle population. Okay, that' s enough. I've got to get another interest.
 
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svenrus

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It would be interesting to do a study of Clarity Yi Jing users and find out their favored methods for casting the Yi Jing.

I guess this should be done in another statistical-programmed thread. I started using the coins and still randomly do. Then the yarrows and for the last year or so the dice.

I still guess there is a huge difference between manually to consult the I and letting a digital program doing so. Shortly to discuss this matter seems impossibly for me but it's something like: Is it the computer or me asking ?
 

AnswerQuestMan

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Question: Is it the computer or me asking?

Interesting question. Computers as they exist today are not conscious. They do not think like human beings. They only follow the instructions of their programs at incredibly high speed. For a computer a second would seem an eternity, so it is good that they are not conscious, because if they were they would go mad waiting for what would seem eons for a human to respond. To a computer, a human being would move so slowly that he/she would seem frozen in time.

Anyway, the human mind expresses the question. The computer has no part in this. When the human hits the "compute" button, the computer just follows its program to generate random numbers and derive from those numbers a hexagram. So the computer is in essence just a fancy and very fast random number generator that looks up the hexagram in the blink of an eye, presumably while the human is slowly thinking of the question.

Of course, the universe must hear the question and synchronously feed back a response imprinted in the random numbers as the computer generates them. I'm guessing there is no limit to the Universe's speed in doing that. The computer could also use it's database to print out stored information regarding the selected hexagram, without any thought or conscious interpretation. So in that way the computer would operate like a reference text.

So the human asks a question and uses the computer as a device such as a die, spinner or yarrow sticks to find an appropriate hexagram. The computer is just a very fast tool. I'm guessing the speed of the computer is not a problem if the human takes time to concentrate on the question before hitting the compute button.

That's my opinion based on what I've read regarding the operation of the Yi Jing.

The thing that troubles me is traditionally a divination ritual is said to require considerable thought to focus on a question. The use of a computer may reduce the human thinking time to less than is required for an effective divination. But as far as I know no one has been able to figure out just how much time a person must concentrate on a question in order to obtain an effective response from the Oracle or Universe.

I'm guessing the Oracle uses massive parallel processing and operates at least as fast as any computer, so I'll bet getting the question to the Oracle is not the real issue. But failing to think hard about the problem and failing to spend considerable time thinking about the Oracle's response could reduce the accuracy of whatever insight is obtained from the divination. I'm just parroting what I have read on this subject.

That's my input. And thanks for the link to an article concerning random numbers. I'll look at this.

Joel
 
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svenrus

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Hi Joel,

The computer is like the yarrowstalks, coins and so on a medium. I agree that there shouldn't be the great difference in that way between HOW one generates the outcome ie. 6-7-8-9 to build up the hexagram and IN WHICH WAY ONES ATTITUDE ie concentrating on the question in matter before asking the oracle.
And maybe it isn't the medium that has importance here, I mean in China You can (or could) consult a streetdiviner asking him, and he would then do the ritual with what ever medium he preferred, yarrow, coins, grains.... And here, again, I could ask: Is it the streetdiviner or me asking ?

I'm probably like You just a pupil to this whole I Ching-thing, still after around thirty years asking about how this whole thing should be understood; how I can relate to ancestors (spirits) like I've heard theese ancient chinese consulting the I did, when in fact I've grown up relating to God.
Sometimes I'm asking myself if this is just another hobby/interest/mindpuzzle to me and how serious I realy take it. To be honest: I know less about the I than I obviously sometimes pretend to do. 99% guessing and shooting in the dark for possible logical answers.
No, the computation of the random I'll let stay open; just that using a computer seems a little too constructed in my personal point of view.
 
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Brendon

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creative set of tools just looking forward to explore more divination in I ching community.
 

Brendon

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quiet a good research, this tools looks impressive lets see how it would help the people to explore ultimate divination.
 

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