Book II of the Richard Wilhelm’s translation contains the technical aspects of Yi studies. Since it discussed the Ten Wings, Cosmos, Fate, Yin Yang and Tao amongst other technical knowledge, one only began to study Book II ‘The Material’ after a decade or more of studying the Yi. Of course one could be a slow learner, but I wholeheartedly agree with Steve Marshall who has advised Yi students in his Yijing Dao site that they should only read Book II after ten years of studies. Students who are not similarly prepared and had jumped into these technical aspects early may get ‘drown’ in the deep end of the pool.
The deep thoughts and commentary of the wise and the ancients including Confucius, made up the Ten Wings. If we study the material too early, we could be deluged with too much information. If we do not study their thoughts and commentary, we may not be able to deepen our studies. Therefore it would be wise to take things one step at a time, progress at a leisure pace, since the Yi and Tao are there forever waiting for the right persons.
‘If you love self knowledge and/or wisdom, the Yi is the right book. To one person its spirit appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night.’ [Carl Jung] According to Richard Wilhelm, if you want to speak to the Book of Changes, you need to be fit to consult the oracle. 'It requires a clear and tranquil mind, receptive to the cosmic influences hidden in the humble divining stalks', he added.
To those who disagree with these two renowned Western fellows of the Yi and to those who believe that the Book of Changes speaks to anyone who questions and/or cast the tools – yarrow, coins, or whatever – perhaps the following paragraph can throw some light to the understanding of the two respected gentlemen, ancients, and the wise down the ages.
The transformation of things and the fitting together of them depend upon the changes. Stimulation of them and setting them in motion depend upon continuity. The spirituality and clarity depend upon the right man. Silent fulfillment, confidence that needs no words, depend upon virtuous conduct.
[Da Zhuan / The Great Treatise. Pg 324 W/B]
If we seek an oracle from the Book of Changes, it will depend upon the prognostications and expected changes. The diviner stimulates the changes via casting and sets them in motion by acting on the oracles. This ensures continuity. The higher spiritual levels and the understanding of deeper meanings – omens and/or heaven’s secrets - depend upon the right person. (Also refer to the Chung Yung – Doctrine of the Mean and the Hui Ming Ching.) (Did you notice the subtle difference between oracles from the Yi and those of the Meihua Yi Shu?)
Only those who cultivate proper conduct and virtues would achieve clarity, and sincerity in the Yi. Therefore the silent fulfillment, confidence that needs no words – cheerfully waiting for the expected outcome.
Even if we accord a better rendition of what the ancients and wise said, how many Yi aficionados can sincerely follow the changes? ‘Actions speak louder than words’, could be what the Yi looks for in a sincere student. After all, which teacher really likes his students, who came to seek help in the first place, to ignore his teachings and guidance, time and time again?
If you keep teasing and testing the Yi’s patience, you could be lucky to get a whack on the head. Unlucky, if the Yi no longer speaks.
If the Yi does not speak to you, close the Book put it back on the top shelf and put up a sign at the front door, ‘No consultations!’ Do whatever you please for say six months. Reread the Yi after that. When you feel that you are ready, try asking the Yi again. Your fallow mind could be more receptive to what the Yi says if it speaks. And do not forget the follow up actions, this time.
These are the times when my relatives and friends including the Daoist will ask, ‘Why don’t you charge a fee for these deep thoughts?’
Yes, there are people who do that in the web – pay USD 20 before you can open a PDF file to access one of their writings on Tao and/or neidan practice. While I was really needy when they made the well meaning suggestion, who would want to pay to hear a jack of all trades speak? If one can do something for the Yi and Tao, does one really need rewards for such actions?