The Wisdom of the I Ching or Book of Changes

I Ching - Book of Changes for spiritual growthDuring my spiritual awakening, more than 30 years ago, I received ongoing guidance from the I Ching or Book of Changes, which is an ancient Chinese text originally used as an oracle and moral manual of sorts.

In truth, it’s a profound cosmological text blending the wisdom of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism that goes beyond any fortune-telling method by bringing the consultant to the present moment. For me, it was a wonderful road map to start living a life of self-awareness.

I owe it much of the knowledge I gained while embarking on my initial exploration of Consciousness for 3-4 years in almost complete isolation, and I still use it when I want to delve deeply into any issue without the limitations of my own ideas. Let me give you a brief overview, in case you’re not familiar with it.

It belongs to a type of divination known as cleromancy, where objects are cast to produce a seemingly random outcome based on the synchronicity of divine will. In this case, 3 coins are used to produce 6 numbers between 6 and 9 that represent the different lines of a hexagram or stack of 6 lines. (Yarrow stalks can also be used, but that method is more complicated.)

One side of each coin is yin or 2 while the other side is yang or 3. When they’re cast, they yield yin or soft, weak lines, and yang or firm, strong lines. Each line can be either stable or mutable, which determines if and how the hexagram changes. Number 8 is stable and firm, drawn as a straight line; 7 is stable and soft, drawn as a broken line; 6 is a soft (broken) mutable line; and 9 is a firm (straight) mutable line.

Each hexagram describes a certain situation and each line points to a particular aspect in the situation. If there are no mutable lines, then only the description, the “judgment,” and the image of the hexagram  are explored as a whole. If there are mutable lines, then the description of these particular lines is also taken into account.

They’re significant in themselves but also indicate a change in the hexagram that turns it into a new hexagram. This change must be explored as well, as a modification or outcome of the first that brings a new situation. It’s similar to making a choice in life that leads to other choices and outcomes, or how a given event creates other situations within a family, group, community, country, and so on.

Life is Fluid & Ever Changing

Change at every level is the nature of life, and this is why the Book of Changes is much deeper and more complex than just a divination tool. It contains 64 hexagrams, each shaped with 2 distinct 3-line stacks (trigrams) symbolizing different elements or attributes of nature: Heaven (the Creative), Earth (the Receptive), Thunder (the Arousing), Water (the Abysmal), Mountain (Keeping Still), Wind (the Gentle), Fire (the Clinging), and Lake (the Joyous).

Their combination creates an image, which conveys the symbolic meaning of the hexagram as a whole. I won’t go into further detail here, but these also relate to the 5 elements, 4 seasons, 12 directions, the organization of family and society, as well as more cosmological aspects to provide guidance when making decisions.

The I Ching doesn’t tell you what to do, but it brings to your awareness the possibilities of each moment and of the choices you make. At the same time, it shows you how impermanent things are—how yin gives way to yang and yang to yin, in an eternal, playful dance of polarities.

I think this is its greatest gift. It helps you understand that change is the essential quality of life, guiding you to be flexible and surrender to what is meant to happen as it will, while also addressing your inherent resistance to change and how it causes misfortune and suffering. It’s like receiving direct teachings from ancient, wise sages to uncover your hidden motivations. :-)

The initial hexagrams in the Book are “The Creative, Heaven” (all yang, unbroken lines) and “The Receptive, Earth” (all yin, broken lines), since these are the forces that get the play of Consciousness (or Tao) going, producing everything else. However, the last hexagrams are “After Completion” (Water above Fire) and “Before Completion” (Fire above Water).

I find this particularly interesting, because they represent the transitions we must go through before and after any significant change. “After Completion” cautions us to pay close attention to the details, in anticipation of unexpected changes, and “Before Completion” signals that every ending is really a new beginning, since nothing can ever remain the same.

Life is a play of Consciousness, constantly expanding into its own eternity through all the modifications and transformations it appears to undergo. You are a spark of Consciousness, therefore experiencing innumerable changes as you seek happiness and peace as well. So contact me today to learn to manage and navigate all the challenges of life by removing your resistance and gaining greater spiritual freedom!

© 2021 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.

Tell me what YOU think! Post your comment below...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.