The I-Ching, Wilhelm Baynes
General impressions/ thoughts:
M – I was surprised that the book was so universal. I expected it to be personal, rather than global.
J – It addresses the ebb and flow of human experience as part of a bigger cycle.
E – I use it for daily guidance and it is spot on… It is a great reminder as to what I need to work on.
J – So let’s look at how the lines are defined and the hexagrams formed. We use three coins. It is the ‘odd’ coin that defines the line. So, a broken line would either be one of three coins being broken (for example, tails), or all of the lines being broken. Similarly, a solid line is defined by one of the three coins being solid (heads), or all of the coins being solid. The unique thing about all of the coins being solid or broken is that only one coin would need to go the other way for it to become the opposite line. These lines are called ‘changing’ lines, because they are poised to switch to their opposite.
I would like to go through and share how I experience each of the trigrams. The intention is to develop a connection to their meaning, intuitively. Creative/ Heaven – All solid lines. Receptive/ Earth – All broken lines. K’an the Abysmal Water – I see it as an island, visually, surrounded by water. Li the Clinging flame – the receptive surrounded by heaven – it even looks like a little light. Sun – the gentle Wind (which we know is not always gentle) – Two lines of heaven moving over the earth. Can you see it? Thunder – the creative under the earth – the lightning flash creates the thunder. K’en the mountain – two earth lines with heaven above. Can you see the mountain? And lastly, the lake. It is a piece of earth with heaven beneath it. When I look at it, I see a little lake.
Over time, you will start to understand the meaning of each of the trigrams and how they combine to form the hexagrams. In coming to find your connection with the book, realize that there are many images associated with the hexagrams – nature and the seasons, parts of the body, parts of a family, animals, elements, etc. It isn’t necessary that all of them make sense to you. Pick the images that you connect with, and use those. Mine are around the earth, but yours might be light and darkness, the body, etc.
J – So let’s talk about how to approach the ‘throwing’ of the I-Ching. I like to find a quiet spot and set the book down in front of me. I have three special coins that I use.
G – Rama recommended that we meditate prior to throwing the I-Ching, as it allows us to get our ego out of the way prior. It allows us to connect with the truth. Then, ask the question and read the results.
J – Yes. And also, if you ever feel that the answer is incorrect or doesn’t resonate, it is OK to disregard it.
G – Rama said that throwing it twice was a good way to make sure.
J – So, M, I want to make sure you know how to throw the coins. Do you have a question?
M – Yes. The question is, Is singing my path?
J – OK. Let’s meditate briefly, then proceed. (Silence)
J – Do you have your coins?
M – Yes.
J – One side (often the head) may feel more like a solid line. Do you have a sense which side is the solid and which is the broken line? Great. Then go ahead and throw the three coins for your first line.
G – And to confirm, we start with the lowest line and work our way up.
J – Correct.
You can go to the key in the back. The lower trigram is on the left and the upper trigram is across the top. The way I would describe this is “heaven under the mountain”, so we can see that corresponds to #26. I might also describe it as ‘solid, solid, solid, broken, broken, solid, with movement in the second and sixth.’ This means that the second and sixth lines are one coin change from becoming the opposite sign, so those are the changing lines that relate to the reading. The front of the book has the newer descriptions while the back has the older and somewhat more esoteric/poetic interpretations. Rama said he preferred the older imagery.
(We walked through the description and that of the changing lines.)
J – So my interpretation of this is that singing is absolutely your path, and that while you may be experiencing some setbacks right now, you are preparing for an even greater impact. The description indicates that this medium is how you will convey your spiritual or life’s message. Does this resonate?
M – Yes, very much so.
J – So let’s go back to general comments. Anything anyone would like to add?
M – I was pleasantly surprised how the book views darkness and opposition. They aren’t seen as something inherently negative, rather, we have ability to influence the outcome. Life balances it out, somehow, but it is not fixed or set.
J – Yes, it takes these things out of the personal realm and into a planetary ebb and flow, like the tides. We don’t judge the tide as positive or negative, it is just a part of life. So there will naturally be times of opposition and challenge, just as there will be of ease and progress.
M – I really liked the hexagram #34 – The Power of the Great. “Realizing the situation we compose ourselves – everything will right itself in time.” It’s very empowering advice. It gives us the ability to change our relationship to the situation.
E – I like the comment about flow. It has to do with a new beginning. Even in adversity, there is the seed of a positive outcome. Every situation has a possible benefit. We have to look closer -- is it ego? Respect it. Let it go. Every opportunity allows us to react or see it in different ways.
E – For me, #25 is my favorite hexagram – Innocence. “Turning back, one is free of guilt. Under heaven, all things attain the natural state of innocence… thus the kings of old fostered all beings.” Every human being has an innocence – be open and it will guide you to the truth. I really like that image and to be reminded of that.
J – You may find that during certain periods of your life, certain hexagrams recur. I’ve experienced that as lessons that I was trying to learn and they stopped coming up in my readings frequently when I finally gained some level of insight.
M – Another that resonated with me is #16 – Enthusiasm, because it mentions music. “Thus the ancient kinds made music, in order to honor merit, and offered it with splendor to the Supreme Deity…” and “from immemorial times the inspiring effect of the invisible sound that moves all hearts, and draws them together, has mystified mankind. Rulers have made use of this natural taste for music as something serious and holy, designed to purify the feelings (souls) of men.” That is so beautiful.
M – The fundamental idea of the I-Ching is that ‘to rule truly is to serve.’ This is true wisdom.
J – I also wanted to mention that there is a palpable silence that descends when reading this book. It is a simple entry into meditation. Rama recommended these books because there is light in them – we are tapping into the consciousness of the authors, who were touching a particular state of consciousness in their writing. We, in turn, can touch that consciousness in reading them.
G - Rama identified this version of the I-Ching, as well as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, as having the most light. Then he added the Last Incarnation, as an additional one. He saw that with his inner vision. In his Storing Power talk, he mentions it. It was an observation, not a judgment.
J – Our next book will The Way of Life, by Lao Tzu, Isherwood version – Saturday June 28th.