Friday, February 09, 2007

Did the Yi speak or not?

Yi students, experts, masters, and scholars are aware that whenever we ask the Yi a question, there will always be a hexagram formed from a casting, no matter who divines. Perhaps what is disconcerting is that not many diviners wished to discern if the Yi had answered the question. Similar to answers from divinities obtained through mediums, it is vital that the Yi speaks to a diviner otherwise there is no actual prognostication, no matter who interprets the so called ‘answer’ – since the question was not answered by the Yi.

It seems that few would question whether the Yi has spoken or not - based on a false notion and assumption - that the Yi speaks to any diviner. ‘Not so!’, said the ancients. (There will be another entry on this.)

Divine messages coming through corrupted mediums will equally be unclear or appear diluted and no devotee or disciple can know for sure if the divinities had spoken or not. It is a dilemma not many wished to face in reality. They rather hide behind the pretext that the Yi or divinities have actually spoken, interpret the answer or message and move on with their lives.

Only when things go awry will they stop and think, it could be a bit too late then, and they lay the blame on this or that. One is aware of how mediums can get corrupted, but dare not venture a guess as to how Yi diviners lose the way. Carl Jung had proffered a better understanding in his foreword to Wilhelm’s translation. (See later.)

At times, it can be quite obvious to the discerning that the Yi did not speak at all. If the Yi has actually spoken, the answer can be clear as day …….. (On second thoughts, Yi students should learn how to discern if the Yi had spoken or not.)

If divinations posted by Professor Sam Crane and yours truly are not good enough examples of how the Yi speaks to diviners, we can refer to a Zhouyi divination done more than two millennia ago:

(The leaders of the army of Jin are debating whether to cross the He and engage Chu. Part of the force, under the command of Zhizi has crossed.)

Zhuangzi of Zhi said, "This army is in great peril. The case is that indicated in the change of the diagram Shi into Lin. [On Shi] it is said, ‘A host must be led forth according to the rules of service. If these be not good, there will be evil.’ When the commanders all observe their proper harmony, the rules are good; if they oppose one another, they are not. [The change of the lower trigram of Shi into that of Lin indicates] the separation of the host producing weakness; it is the stopping up of a stream so as to form a marsh. The rules of service are turned into each one’s taking his own way. Hence the words: ‘The rules become not good.’ They are, as it were, dried up. The full stream is dried up; it is stopped and cannot have its course. Consequently evil must ensue. Lin [moreover] is the name for what does not proceed. When a commander does not follow the orders of his leader, what greater want of on-going could there be? And it is the case we now have. If we do meet the enemy, we are sure to be defeated, and the calamity will be owing to Zhizi. Though he should now escape, yet, on his return to Jin, great evil will await him."
Duke Xuan, 12th Year -- 596 B.C. (Legge, p. 312, col. 11 & p. 317, col. 2)

Shi is the Chinese name for Hexagram 7 / The Army and Lin is Hexagram 19 / Approach which meant that the first line in Shi changed. The prognostication is clear as day after the interpretation. Study it well, and you may learn something on how to discern true oracles.

Carl Jung in his foreword (xxxix) noted:
The I Ching does not offer itself with proofs and results; it does not vaunt itself, nor is it easy to approach. Like a part of nature, it waits until it is discovered. It offers neither facts nor power, but for lovers of self-knowledge, of wisdom – if there be such – it seems to be the right book. To one person its spirit appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night. Let it go forth into the world for the benefit of those who can discern its meaning.

Richard Wilhelm in his introduction (liv) to his translation of the Book of Changes had indicated that: All individuals are not equally fitted to consult the oracle. It requires a clear and tranquil mind, receptive to the cosmic influences hidden in the humble divining stalks. But it seems quite a number of Yi aficionados do not agree to that line of thought. As one understands it, the Yi also spoke to Wilhelm, and he certainly knew his Yi studies.

If the Yi had spoken to you previously, but no longer do so, one is sure you can return to the Light, some day. Hopefully you will not give up as easily as I have seen others. Drop in from time to time and you may get some hints and encouragement from this fellow student of the Yi and the Way.



Luis Andrade said...

Nice post, Allan. Steve Marshall wrote something similar a few months ago. I could not find it in his archive to share with you but it was a very nice post too.

I have certainly done as you suggested in the other comment, sitting down and just ask the Yi what's going on. And it tells me.

I've had a few cases where the Yi has refused to talk to me, even mocking me with an answer that was 180 degrees in the opposite direction of a correct, common sense one. That's the key, I believe. There are things that should not be asked because it talks about one's lack of common sense and the Yi knows it. We are transparent to it.

Some other times, the Yi has spoken to me about things I wasn't asking about but in the end were more important to me than the question at hand. I'm sure this has happened to you too.



Allan said...

Luis, I happened to read that entry in Biroco before Steve Marshall took it down. Indeed, it was a very good post on this particular aspect of Yi studies. Steve was articulate and knowledgeable, as usual, not only of Yi studies but also on how Western Yi aficionados do things and their depth of knowledge.

If the nagging feeling goes away after your question and answer session with the Yi, deeply ponder the prognostication. There could be an omen or perhaps not. Cross my fingers for you.

Frivolous questions usually get nonsensical answers – that is why one does not asked any. There is no point in estranging one’s relationship with the Yi. If the Yi does not speak, the obtained hexagrams can never be used. Any attempts to interpret such ‘answers’ could end up with empty hearts and befuddled minds.