How To Use The I Ching For Better Decisions

The I Ching

Using the I Ching provides insights that greatly help with decision making. Just be careful not to rely on it too much. You are always in charge of your life.

The I Ching Is About Dealing With Changes

The I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese divination text and one of the oldest philosophical books in existence. 

It’s been used for thousands of years as a tool for looking into future events and guidance. The I Ching is based on the idea that the universe is in a constant state of change. As such, it provides insight and understanding into those patterns and their underlying principles.

The text consists of a set of 64 hexagrams, each made up of six lines, either broken (yin) or unbroken (yang). These hexagrams are supposed to represent different combinations of yin and yang, which represent the dualities of existence, such as light and dark, male and female, active and passive.

To consult the I Ching, you would traditionally use a method of casting or drawing lots (sticks, coins, or in today’s world, random-number-generators) to produce a hexagram.

The resulting hexagram is then looked up in the I Ching text, and the associated commentary provides direction on the situation at hand.

Divination, Guidance, Insights And More

Like with any book, people come to it to gain insights and answers to many of life’s questions and challenges. The I Ching (Book of Changes) is no different. 

Below are some of the benefits derived from its writings.

Divination

People use it as a tool to look into the outcome of situations or questions in their lives. The process used to generate various hexagrams is believed to tap into a higher source or the natural order of the universe. Thus, many have found the I Ching to predict future events.

Personal Insight

However, the I Ching is not just a tool for fortune-telling; it is also considered a guide for ethical decision-making and personal development. The philosophical insights contained in its verses have influenced Chinese thought for centuries and continue to be studied and respected today. 

Comprehending Change

The core philosophy of the I Ching is that change is a constant and fundamental aspect of the universe. The hexagrams represent different states and transitions, giving you and me a better understanding of the cyclical nature of life and the inevitability of progression.

Decision-Making

Some turn to the I Ching to help make decisions during difficult or unclear times. The guidance offered is seen as a way to navigate choices and potential outcomes, offering a different perspective or highlighting aspects that may not be immediately apparent.

In another article, I wrote about how the I Ching can give valuable insight into the decision-making process, often positively influencing choices.

Psychological and Spiritual Exploration

Other users approach the I Ching as a tool for psychological or spiritual exploration. The symbols and archetypal imagery in the hexagrams can be interpreted in ways that explore inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences, thus providing a framework for self-discovery and growth.

Ultimately, the Book of Changes can be many things to different readers. It largely depends on the desires and intent of the user. Whether it be philosophy or deep-rooted insight that can provide a glimpse of the future, the I Ching carries something of value and practical worth.

More About Right Now, Than The Future

In the moment

While the I Ching is often considered a divination tool, I’ve found it’s not generally one for predicting the future in the literal sense. 

In other words, while readings can provide uncanny truths eerily close to future events, they lack precision.

Instead, I’ve seen it more commonly used as a tool for guidance and self-reflection about the present moment. 

The philosophy behind the I Ching is rooted in the idea of change and the dynamic interplay of opposites. Those aspects can affect the future, and in some instances should actions and events remain constant, a certain, predictable outcome becomes far more likely.

Frankly, rather than predicting a fixed future outcome, the I Ching encourages all of us to consider various aspects at play in our lives. When that is properly understood, we can make better-informed decisions, thereby adapting favorably to changing circumstances.

Many experts suggest that the hexagrams and their interpretations are reflections of the user’s inner state along with the broader patterns of change in the world.

Science And Psychology Have A Relationship With The I Ching

The sciences have been known to use the I Ching

While the I Ching is deeply rooted in thought and mysticism, its intriguing relationship with science lies in the parallels that can be drawn between its principles and certain scientific concepts.

One notable aspect of the I Ching is its emphasis on the concept of change and the dynamic interplay of opposing forces, known as the yin and yang. This concept bears a resemblance to the scientific understanding of dynamic systems and the interconnectedness of elements in nature. 

The I Ching’s hexagrams, composed of solid and broken lines representing yin and yang, can be seen as symbolic representations of the binary code that underlies modern computer science.

This connection has led some to draw parallels between the ancient divination system and the binary language of computers, highlighting an unexpected intersection between ancient wisdom and modern technology.

In the Journal of Urban Management, published in Science Direct, the editorial piece, A Rule-Based Interpretation Of The I Ching, argues that the 64 hexagrams can be indeed interpreted as a binary system, specifically the elementary cellular automata. This is significant as it shows potential applications for urban evolution. 

Simply, the paper demonstrated how the I Ching can be used to create models of cities and how those would grow and develop over time.

In the field of psychology, the I Ching has also captured the attention of those interested in the exploration of the human psyche and the unconscious mind.

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. He is known for his contributions to the field of psychology, particularly in the areas of the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the exploration of the depths of the human psyche. 

While he did not directly incorporate the I Ching into his psychological theories in the same way he did with concepts like the collective unconscious, his encounters with the I Ching influenced his understanding of synchronicity. This refers to meaningful coincidences that are not causally connected but share a symbolic resonance. 

Jung saw the I Ching as a tool that could manifest synchronistic events. He was particularly intrigued by the idea that the I Ching could provide meaningful guidance or reflections on one’s inner state through seemingly random processes.

Modern Psychology Uses The I Ching

Psychology uses I Ching

Over the years, there has been a growing interest in exploring diverse therapeutic approaches that incorporate spiritual and philosophical dimensions. In modern psychology, the I Ching has found a niche as a tool for self-reflection, contemplation, and accessing the unconscious mind.

One way the I Ching is employed in modern psychology is through a process known as “synchronicity.” 

The concept of synchronicity, introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung as briefly mentioned above, suggests there are meaningful coincidences that are not causally connected, but have personal significance.

In other words, the concept suggests that things do not just happen at random. The I Ching can provide explanation and insight into those happenings that are insightful to a person’s psychological well-being.

The I Ching is also utilized in therapeutic settings as a symbolic and metaphorical language to explore the complexities of the psyche.

Psychologists may encourage clients to cast hexagrams, where the results are used to stimulate discussion and gain a deeper understanding of unconscious processes. This process aligns with Jungian principles of active imagination and amplification, where symbols and images are explored to access unconscious material and foster psychological growth.

Ambiguity Is An Issue With The I Ching

While the I Ching carries centuries of wisdom and guidance, it’s not without criticism. One of the main critiques of the I Ching lies in its reliance on ambiguity and metaphor. 

The hexagrams and lines in the I Ching are often open to interpretation, leading to subjective readings that may vary widely depending on who reads the results. This inherent vagueness can be seen as a weakness, as it allows for a range of interpretations that might not always provide clear and practical guidance.

A few argue that individuals using the I Ching may fall victim to confirmation bias, interpreting the results in a way that confirms existing beliefs or desires, and not necessarily something factual.

Others say that the I Ching’s reliance on chance and randomness, such as the casting of coins, sticks, or random-number-generator to produce hexagrams, introduces an element of randomness that may discourage those seeking concrete answers or predictions. The idea of consulting an ancient text for guidance based on chance can be viewed as a superstitious practice by skeptics who prefer more empirical and rational approaches.

Despite these criticisms, the I Ching has endured through the ages, and its value lies in its ability to stimulate deep thought and introspection. 

The I Ching’s strength isn’t necessarily in its straightforward answers but in prompting us to explore our own thoughts and emotions.

Here Is How To Use The I Ching

Practicing the art of I Ching

The process of consulting the I Ching involves casting or selecting a set of hexagrams, which are composed of six stacked lines, either solid (yang) or broken (yin). Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use the I Ching.

Step 1: Acquire The Book of Changes (I Ching)

Get a copy of the I Ching book, Book of Changes. There are various translations available, such as the Wilhelm/Baynes translation or others. Make sure to choose one that appeals to you. 

How you feel about the text is important. 

I personally use James DeKorne’s free website. He meticulously crafted an excellent collection of interpretations in an easy-to-read layout. 

Step 2: Understand the Basics

Familiarize yourself with the concepts of yin and yang, trigrams, hexagrams, and the meanings associated with each. The I Ching is a rich and symbolic system, so having a basic understanding helps significantly.

When I first came across the I Ching, I read through the Book of Changes before doing any real casting. This very much helped and provided me with tremendous meaning to the hexagrams I received.

Step 3: Formulate Your Question

Clearly define the question or issue you want guidance on. However, open-ended questions often yield more insightful answers.

Something to consider as well. Oftentimes, knowing what question to ask is more valuable than the answer.

Step 4: Choose a Method of Casting

There are different methods for casting the I Ching, such as using yarrow sticks, coins, or a random number generator. The most common methods involve using three coins or a set of 50 yarrow sticks. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with.

Considering how impractical using, let alone gathering, 50 yarrow sticks is, the best options are 3 coins, or better yet, a random number generator. I use I Ching Online. It’s another free site that uses such a generator. I’ve been very satisfied with the results I’ve achieved. 

Nonetheless, here is how to do the coin and yarrow stick method.

A. Using Three Coins

1. Assign numerical values to the coins (heads = 3, tails = 2).

2. Toss the three coins six times, recording the results each time.

3. Convert the results into solid (yang) or broken (yin) lines. Heads might represent a solid line, while tails represent a broken line. Broken lines are considered “moving lines”, which means you should typically pay extra attention to them.

4. The results will add up to variations of 6,7,8 and 9, each representing a line in the hexagram.

For example:

Toss 6: 3,3,3 = 9 (Solid) Yang

Toss 5: 3,2,3 = 8 (Broken) Yin

Toss 4: 2,2,3 = 7 (Solid) Yang

Toss 3: 2,2,3 = 7 (Solid) Yang

Toss 2: 3,3,3 = 9 (Solid) Yang

Toss 1: 2,2,3 = 7 (Solid) Yang

Referencing the Book of Changes, in this case through James DeKorne’s site, the following hexagram is the result.

Hexagram 14 

Great Treasures

Possession in Great Measure. Supreme success.

The Image – Fire in heaven above. The image of Possession in Great Measure. Thus the superior man curbs evil and furthers good, and thereby obeys the benevolent will of heaven.

NOTE: In I Ching, the top line is actually Line 6, working its way down to the bottom line, making that Line 1.

  1. No relationship with what is harmful; There is no blame in this. If one remains conscious of difficulty, one remains without blame. (Bottom Line)
  2. A big wagon for loading. One may undertake something. No blame.
  3. A prince offers it to the Son of Heaven. A petty man cannot do this.
  4. He makes a difference between himself and his neighbor. No blame.
  5. He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified, has good fortune. (Changing Line)
  6. He is blessed by heaven. Good fortune. Nothing that does not further. (Top Line)

Line 5 is the changing line and the message to be focused upon. It reads He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified, has good fortune.  

That line turns solid, which becomes the following hexagram.

Hexagram 1

The Creative

The Creative, Works Sublime Success

The Image – The movement of heaven is full of power. Thus the superior man makes himself strong and untiring.

NOTE: Remember, the top line is Line 6, the bottom, Line 1.

  1. Hidden dragon. Do not act.
  2. Dragon appearing in the field. It furthers one to see the great man.
  3. All day long the superior man is creatively active. At nightfall, his mind is still beset with cares. Danger. No blame.
  4. Wavering flight over the depths. No blame.
  5. Flying dragon in the heavens. It furthers one to see the great man.
  6. Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent.

B. Using Yarrow Sticks

1. Hold a set of 50 yarrow sticks.

2. Focus on your question while shaking the sticks.

3. Cast the sticks and count them, separating them into groups of four.

4. Note the remainder for each group (0, 1, 2, or 3). These determine the lines.

Step 5: Build the Hexagram

Start from the bottom and build the hexagram by drawing or writing the lines according to your coin toss or yarrow stick results. Each hexagram is composed of six lines, forming a stacked structure.

Step 6: Consult the I Ching Text

Refer to your I Ching book and find the corresponding entry for the hexagram you’ve created. Read the associated text, considering the changing lines if there are any. The changing lines offer additional insights and nuances to the situation.

Step 7: Reflect on the Answer

Take time to think about the advice given by the I Ching. Consider how it relates to your question and circumstances.

The I Ching provides guidance, but it’s up to you to interpret and apply it to your situation.

Step 8: Repeat As Necessary

If your situation is complex or if you have additional questions, you can repeat the process. Some users consult the I Ching regularly for ongoing guidance.

Here Is An I Ching Example

Using the I Ching is like any other tool. If it’s used properly and is clearly understood, it can be extremely helpful. Here is an example demonstrating how the I Ching can assist you.

Let’s consider an example scenario where someone is facing a difficult decision related to their career. 

That person formulates a clear and focused question in their mind, such as, “What path should I take in my professional life?” This person uses the I Ching Online site and creates the following six-line hexagram.

Hexagram 28, Preponderance Of The Great

Preponderance of the Great

Reading the Book of Changes provides an interpretation that suggests the individual is in a position of great influence and should use their power wisely. It advises against arrogance or excessive pride and encourages this person to act with integrity and humility. 

The hexagram indicates that success will come from aligning oneself with the natural order of things and maintaining balance in their endeavors.

Lines 1 and 6 are moving (broken), which means, if acted upon, the situation can go a few different ways.

Line 1 reads:

Be sure to take care and plan carefully. Proper planning is often neglected when taking action. Such carelessness could cause many problems later.

If this advice is only heeded, the hexagram changes into the following:

Hexagram 43, Great Determination

This refers to a breakthrough, however it requires decisive action. Holding your ground, warding off negative tendencies or bad influences, goodness is assured.

Simultaneously, Line 6 reads:

Brave determination can lead one into deep water. Though it is careless to forge ahead while ignoring threats, sticking to your principles can seem more important than mere survival. There is no shame in this as long as you remain aware that plunging ahead on your own is risky, and perhaps quite dangerous. Nobody can blame such courage.

If this advice is only heeded, the hexagram changes into the following:

Hexagram 58, Joy

Joy

Joy comes into the world through gentle means but springs from a solid sense of self—the power of joy should not be underestimated. The enjoyment of learning and discovery, for example, has served as the inspiration for much progress. As such, that which brings joy into the world is also a source of much potential.

Lastly, if BOTH lines 1 and 6 are together followed, the hexagram changes to this one.

Hexagram 1, The Creative, Works Sublime Success

The Creative

So long as your goals are in alignment with the greater good, positive actions taken with good timing will meet with high success. It’s an excellent time to take action and be a leader. However, success turns to failure if strength turns to arrogance. 

Enjoy The Journey That Is The I Ching

The beauty of life.

Learning to use the I Ching can be a deeply enriching and enjoyable experience, similar to a personal odyssey that unfolds with each consultation. 

At the outset, the I Ching may seem enigmatic and mysterious, its symbols and hexagrams holding layers of meaning waiting to be unraveled.

However, the I Ching encourages a patient and contemplative approach. Its lessons often unfold gradually, requiring reflection and introspection. As you come to understand the Book of Changes, you may find that the process itself becomes a form of mindfulness.

This can bring more focus on the moment, rather than on the past and future.

One of the joys of learning the I Ching is the personal growth it can provide.

The wisdom gleaned from its readings can serve as a compass, aiding in the navigation of life’s twists and turns. It can become a trusted companion, offering insights that assist you in making decisions.

However, the I Ching and the Book of Changes is still just a tool.

Just as Feng Shui can help to create a serene, healthy, and prosperous environment, the I Ching can help to ease confusion and help bring about clarity.

Learning the I Ching is more of a journey into self-awareness, personal growth, and a deeper connection with a profound wisdom.

Until the next time, cheers.

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