In our review of interdimensional communication tools, we've so far looked at the pendulum and muscle testing. These are powerful tools that I use every day, but they also have the disadvantage that they just give yes-no answers. In other words, the communication code is binary.
This is inconvenient when one faces a large number of alternatives. It can become very time-consuming to test all the possibilities of a long list of choices. At that point one wishes for an overall picture of a complete situation, or for a pointer in a specific direction. Also, the Higher Self may have an idea that doesn't even figure among our alternatives. That's when one needs a communication tool that transmits a complete idea or a concept in one fell swoop, in other words, we need a symbolic communication tool.
The I Ching1 provides exactly that. It's one of the oldest divining systems of mankind, going back at least 3000 years. The standard version we still use today is about 2000 years old. This shows that the desire to communicate with the Beyond is ancient, possibly as old as mankind. From what we can discern from the I Ching as well as from ancient Chinese texts, our questions have largely remained the same. Most often, we wish to know what luck we'll have in a given enterprise, or we'd like to know how a given love relationship will work out.
In the next section, I'll explain the overall logic of an I Ching consultation. It's important to get a general view, since the I Ching can quickly get very complex and can overwhelm a newcomer. If you wish a more detailed introduction, please go to the Yijing section of melkiades.ch and find the Help section. That introduction will furnish quite a bit more detail, as well as a free I Ching programme.
How a divining system works
A divining system has basically four parts: a question, fortune casting, a reading and an interpretation.
In the casting stage, one sets up an arbitrary condition. One can throw some dice or coins, one can shuffle and lay some cards, one can heat some bones and see how they crack (that was an ancient Chinese casting technique), or one could make some tea and examine how the tea-leaves arrange themselves spontaneously at the bottom of a cup. The expectation is that from our point of view, casting is entirely arbitrary, while from the point of view of the "other side", it should not be arbitrary. The "other side" is expected to impose some order on this event, and it is this order that ultimately provides the divining system's answer to the original question.
In the reading stage, one reduces the fall of the coins, etc., to a systematic code. For example, if you cast coins when interrogating the I Ching, the six falls of the coins will be recoded into six lines to form a hexagram. In tealeaf reading, the pattern of leaves left after pouring out the tea suggest similar-looking objects (like an apple, an axe, a ball or a candle) to the diviner. This coded element (the hexagram in the I Ching, or the object suggested in the tealeaf reading, etc.) then has a standard interpretations which the diviner keeps in some notes or has learned by heart.
During the interpretation stage, the diviner relates the standard interpretations to the questioner's original question.
How it's done with the I Ching
Let's see how this is done with the I Ching.
Since the 12th century, the most common way of casting the I Ching has been to throw three coins six times2. With each throw, one of four conditions is possible: three times head, two times head, two times tails, or three times tails. They are written down in the following way:
|Two heads and one tail: a simple yang line:||---------|
|Two tails and one head: a simple yin line:||---- ----|
|Three tails: a moving yang line:||----o----||(a line with an o in the middle)|
|Three heads: a moving yin line:||---- x ----||(a broken line with an x in the middle)|
If you throw the three coins six times and add each line on top of the preceding, you get a hexagram. This is the basic symbol of the standard I Ching. Not counting the difference between simple and moving lines, you can build up any of 64 possible hexagrams in this manner.
Reading and interpretation
Each of the 64 hexagrams has one central meaning. For example, hexagram 8 (left) represents union, holding together, grouping, alliance. In short, hexagram 8 shows the process of coming together. How did the ancient Chinese arrive at this meaning?
The hexagram is composed of two trigrams (below). The upper trigram represents water and the lower trigram represents the earth. What do you get when water collects on the surface of the earth? Puddles, a pond or a lake. In other words, the combination of the two trigrams suggests a union of streams flowing into a pool of water collected on the surface of the earth.
So suppose that you throw the I Ching while you hold in mind the question "What will be the effect of writing the Ascension Blog on my audience?" If you get hexagram 8, you will logically conclude that writing the blog will have an effect of bringing together people, just like water collects in a pool of water.
In other words, a supposedly arbitrary action like the throwing of three coins has resulted in an image that potentially bears a logical relationship to your question.
The entire rest of divining with the I Ching rests on this type of principle. Here we have only shown one relationship, the relationship between the basic meanings of the upper and lower trigrams. But many other aspects of the hexagram are also exploited. Important are for instance the moving lines which result from very decisive throws (three heads or three faces). They represent particularly salient aspects of the hexagram. Another frequent operation is the inversion of the hexagram, which suggests a wider context and a future potential for the given situation.
The hexagram seen as a process
One important aspect of hexagram interpretation is its line-to-line development. Each line has a particular meaning, and the meaning development from the bottom to the top line tends to follow a logical evolution.
Let's take an example. Hexagram 6 represents different types of arguing, a conflict or a lawsuit. The Wilhelm translation (one of the key translations of the I Ching) names this hexagram "Conflict".
In the first line from the bottom, the reader is shown the situation of a lowly person who has no chance of winning in any conflict. Here the advice is to simply forget the whole story. In the middle of the hexagram, there is advice to one who has tried to solve his problems with a conflict and who did not get very far. In the fifth line is shown a just arbiter who wisely decides in a conflict. Finally in line 6 we encounter the situation of someone "who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed. He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last" (Wilhelm translation).
You can see the logic behind this development. The conflict is seen as a process, from a barely noticeable beginning, through to a bitter-end conclusion. If you get a moving line along any one of these stations, this suggests that this condition might apply particularly to your situation. For example, if you have thrown hexagram 6, and your last line was a moving line resulting from three heads, you would get the "bitter-end" commentary. Whatever your original question may have been, the I Ching would tell you that you've gone too far. You may have won, but it was a hard-won victory and the violence of the action might turn against you and might pose further problems later on.
Of course, such an I Ching commentary could be total nonsense. Your question might have been, "How does my girlfriend feel about me?" while both of you are totally in love and all goes well. If you get moving line 6 with hexagram 6 in these circumstances, you might feel rather perturbed as you put the book away, and you might never consult the I Ching again. So we need to speak immediately about the three main types of errors that can occur with an I Ching consultation.
You may also remember that according to Melkiades, the probability of an error with the I Ching is relatively large. Melkiades told me, a bit to my own astonishment, that my own probability of an error with my computerized version of the I Ching is about 25%. On a three coin-casting system, Melkiades says that the probability may be as low as 15%. Your own probabilities may of course be different. But frankly, after 40 years of throwing the I Ching and after several years spent on building a computer version of this divining system, I was taken aback by this high probability of making an error.
Let's examine where the errors might occur.
Error 1: Concentration and inexperience
The first type of error is lack of concentration, tiredness, inexperience or lack of confidence. I will not do an I Ching consultation (or any other consultation) when I'm tired. Also, I remember that ten years ago, I got many more ill-fitting responses than now. My confidence has grown, even though I'm aware of the possibility of an error. Today I take great care when doing a consultation, and only when I am in great shape and fully concentrated.
Error 2: The "arbitrary" throw
The next type of problem might arise during the casting stage. If you throw your three coins high enough, they have an even chance of falling either heads-up or tails-up. Also, there is enough time for the Higher Self (or for some other power from the Beyond) to act on the fall of the coins.
But how does casting work with a computerized version of the I Ching? On a computer, arbitrary numbers are based, ultimately, on the instant that a key is pressed. This millisecond in our time universe is converted into either a single-line answer or into a whole hexagram. Is this way of casting truly "arbitrary"? Can a force from the Beyond act on the precise moment that a key is pressed and initiate a complex process for calculating the answer?
I am not sure. These are open questions that merit some further attention. I expect that in future examinations of the actual operation of the I Ching consultation process, we shall have to return to this question.
Error 3: The question - image relationship
Finally, it seems to me that the most serious limitation of the I Ching might well be its "circumscribed vocabulary". The I Ching distinguishes just 64 possible main meanings, which must be bent to respond to any question. Although 64 typical human situations is an interesting palette, it is still possible that some responses may be quite removed from the question, simply because the symbolic vocabulary doesn't include the most appropriate answer.
The only solution to this problem are other communication systems that either provide a direct image suggested by "the other side" (like lucid dreams), or that speak to us personally (like interactive meditations or channelling). In these cases, the Higher Self has a much larger panoply of possibilities for answering. You can find discussions of these options in the next chapters.
As an example for a divining system I have taken the one that I know best, which also happens to be the oldest documented system around, and one that has a powerful symbolic vocabulary. Furthermore, I deeply appreciate the excellent human insights and deep wisdom that are incorporated into the I Ching recommendations. I have learned much from the I Ching, and I hope to learn even more.
However there are other divining systems as well, such as the tarot, geomancy, or as we said, tealeaf reading. If you are a newcomer to the field and you'd like to choose a system, I'd suggest an intuitive approach. What feels right to you? What can you relate to?
The only recommendation that Melkiades and I would like to pass on to you is this: do it right. If you decide on a symbolic communication system, learn the system well. Even if you make errors, learn from them and reflect on them. That is the only thing that really counts as we try to improve communications with our Higher Self or entities in the Beyond.
1 The 19th century English transcription is "I Ching" and the modern transcription is "Yi-Jing". The Chinese pronunciation resembles "Yi-Jing". Most English texts still employ the "I Ching" form, but specialized texts increasingly use the modern transcription.
2 There is also an old and complicated method, the "yarrow stalk method". I cannot recommend this older method because it furnishes results with unequal probabilities for the four possible outcomes, while we obviously want equal probabilities. For more details, see the divination section of the Yijing section of the Melkiades.ch website (http://www.melkiades.ch/x/media/Help/03_Divination.html).
[Verification: Melkiades, do you agree with the text as it stands? Answer: agreed. Melkiades, can I put it on Internet? Answer: agreed.]
Last revision January 2016
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