The I Ching: The Cosmic Way

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The I Ching is a Chinese divination tool that has been around for thousands of years. It has such a rich history, and was written so long ago, that the translations are many and varied. One thing that is common, however, is that whatever your question, the I Ching will provide an answer.

Knowing what we know about the Chinese way, it’s not surprising that, like Yin and Yang, and Feng Shui, the I Ching is about causality and chance. Transformation is an enduring theme. I Ching means “Book of Changes,” which may actually limit the perception of what the process can do. It isn’t just a path to change but a way to transform, an inner shift. Typically, a reading reveals an outer action which leads to inner clarity.

The beauty of the I Ching is that it reveals patterns in the universe and underscores that everything is evolving, growing and changing. Although it seems chaotic, the pattern of the universe has an order and rhythm to it, which a reading will determine based on your inquiry. Carol Anthony, an I Ching expert, refers to the I Ching as the Sage, someone who informs us when we’re contradicting a cosmic pattern.

Using the I Ching requires a level of commitment and trust. Someone looking for a quick answer may be disappointed; someone who doesn’t reflect back may miss the nuanced message it gives. That’s because the I Ching, like many other divination tools, does not provide “yes” or “no” answers; it provides a message that requires thoughtful reflection.

How the I Ching works is by “throwing” coins, or pulling colored beads or buttons. For coins, any will do, although for us, we like to use old or replicated ancient Chinese coins because of the connection to its history. Using any of these methods will provide a pathway by which heaven communicates to humanity, providing divine insight into the issue you may be grappling with.

How a question or situation is phrased is a crucial part of accessing information. It won’t give you a definitive answer; instead, it offers options, different perspectives and new patterns to think about. Asking “Should I take this new job?” will be hard to answer, whereas “What is the energy around taking this new job?” will provide more insight. Because it is translated text, you might have to sit with the interpretation to find the message within. But if you’re in need of some direction, it’s a great resource to consider when making decisions.

Whatever method you use (coins, beads or buttons), they will reveal yin and yang lines that translate into trigrams, which are then added together to reveal a hexagram. The hexagram reveals a “number” (1 through 64). Reading about that number in an I Ching book will (hopefully) reveal a relevant message.

Using the I Ching can be eye opening. For example, you might be struggling with the next step in your career or in a relationship. You might be so emotionally involved that you don’t know, or can’t hear, guidance from yourself (your gut), or other spiritual realms. The I Ching can be a guide for you during those times.

Here’s a personal example of how it can work. Lisa asked about returning to a company for some consulting work. There was something “off,” so she checked in with the I Ching. The message was clear: seek other opportunities. A while later she heard that there was a company shake-up that affected the working environment, and being there surely would have affected her effectiveness and progress.

For us and our students, it has provided guidance on topics like relationships, moves, new jobs and new ventures. And the more you use it, the better (and easier) it becomes for you to decipher the messages. You begin to create a relationship.

You have many options if you’d like to start using the I Ching. Most I Ching books come with directions, or you can find virtual classes. For those of us who use it regularly, we have multiple books to reference. Depending on the situation, one book might “speak” to us more than others. And it is quite possible that a different book will resonate the next time.

With all that is going on, it seems the universe’s energy is shifting. If you are looking for some cosmic guidance, perhaps the I Ching can be a resource for you, too.

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