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What If Your I Ching Reading Seems Not Right?

iching 3It’s not unprecedented to have the experience of a reading affirming what you definitely know – regardless of the possibility that you haven’t exactly recognized that you knew it.

Be that as it may, what do you do when the reading essentially conflicts with what you feel is correct? You’re attracted to accomplish something, you’re amped up for doing it, your expectation’s coming to fruition… and you ask Yi, and get some unspeakably negative answer. On the other hand – this transpired a couple days prior and made them consider this – you especially would prefer not to need to accomplish something, it feels all wrong, however Yi is unmistakably letting you know it’s the proper thing to do.

So I have a couple of questions about this. First, what’s happening? It’s quite normal for readings to confirm our deep knowing, and thoroughly disconcerting when they go against it. (Or maybe only appear to go against it?)

And second, how to respond? Of course, what we quite often do is to ignore the reading and do what we wanted anyway. We might come up with reasons why this reading doesn’t quite count, or doesn’t quite mean what it says, or quietly ‘forget’ it.

This may surprise you, but I actually feel that this is a good thing. We don’t, after all, consult with Yi so it can tell us what to do. It’s more… so we can be changed – become more aligned with deep reality, live more fluently, something like that. And going against a reading and getting into a nasty situation as a result (can we have a show of hands for people who’ve done that?) has to be part of the experience. It means you’re living your own life.

On the other hand, of course, this does seem perverse – not to mention disrespectful. We also don’t consult Yi so it can encourage us in our own convictions and make us feel better about doing what we planned on doing anyway – at least, I hope I don’t…

But wait.

iching 1 featuredWhat actually draws us to consult – why do readings happen at all? I think if you scratch the surface of the intention of a reading, you find a desire. Not necessarily a desire for a particular answer or outcome – though there’s always that, too – but a need to be answered. We want to feel held inside the container of conversation with the oracle – and we want to be encouraged and blessed in our ventures, to experience alignment and harmony, and to know we belong where we are. Somewhere under the surface of ‘Tell me what I want to hear!’ is a deep hunger for spiritual nourishment. It’s that hunger that pulls the whole reading experience into being: it impels you to ask, and draws the Yi to answer.

Now, that might sound as though the oracle were basically inert, until human desire starts things moving. But I think we know from experience that this isn’t really what happens. I quite often find a desire or call to consult simply ‘arising’ in me, apparently out of nowhere. I respond to the call, and cast a reading – and who can say what started this moving? Not I.

A reading is an upwelling of awareness and presence. You can experience that as the potent, benevolent presence of the oracle speaking to you – something that never gets less breathtaking – and as the growth of your own insight and understanding, carried on the same rising tide of presence.

A conversation I quite often have with beginners goes something like this,

Beginner: ‘When I read what it says, I get this really strong, clear feeling it’s saying this – but I’m not very good at readings, so perhaps I’m getting it wrong, so I’ve asked on the forum and read sixteen different commentaries, and the I Ching is really confusing…’

Me: ‘That really strong, clear feeling? That’s your reading happening.’

In that situation, when your understanding rises to meet and meld with the answer, it’s relatively easy to see that the whole ‘you vs Yi’ thing is an illusion: there’s just one emergent awareness. But what when Yi says one thing and your inner self says something completely different?

First, I think you need to recognise that a reading is still happening. Your hunger for connection is still active, still drawing out a single rising awareness and presence. It’s just that this awareness has layers – and they’re a long way apart, not quite ‘talking to one another’ yet.

So instead of the kneejerk response (well, my kneejerk response) of finding ways to distance yourself from the reading, you need to get more present to the whole process – to think about what you’re asking, and why, and what you really sought from the answer.

Asian businesswoman looking at laptop

Bottom line: the answer may feel completely wrong, but it isn’t. The answer may feel alienating, but in fact you have connected with the oracle and you have an answer from Yi – of course this is a blessing; what else could it possibly be? You don’t have to understand or agree with what it says for that to be true. Maybe ask –  what if this answer were kind and benevolent – how could that be?

All of which, you know, doesn’t mean you have to ‘obey’ the reading. I actually asked Yi what it would mean to go against such a reading, and received 28.2.3 to 45. We’d be stepping outside the embrace of the ‘reading container’, acting absolutely independently, investing everything in living out our own story. And this means both living to the full – because we’re connecting with our own rejuvenated will and desire, which might just be revitalised by having a reading go against it so clearly – and also complete isolation and bringing the roof crashing down on our own heads. Which shouldn’t, on the whole, be a surprise.

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