The Book of Changes known to the West as I Ching or Yijing is a revered ancient Chinese Classic. The text handed down to posterity is the Book of Changes of the Zhou Dynasty called the Zhouyi in short. Not many Chinese nowadays can read this classic because it is in classical Chinese. Even if they are able to read the Yi, what is written can prove too profound for their understanding?
Therefore if you ever meet those Chinese educated in the East and tell them that you study the Yijing, they will be impressed. They will be amazed to know that you also read the four Confucian Books and the remaining four ancient Classics. (Ha, probably even the Daoist immortals will be impressed!) This speaks volumes for good translators of the recent past who translated these books and classics into French, German, English, Spanish and various other languages to enable the world to learn about ancient Chinese culture.
Of these four books and five classics, the most difficult to read and understand is the Book of Changes. The Chinese has read and use it for more than three millennia and few down the ages can fully grasp its meaning. Even the great sage Confucius at seventy years of age exclaimed that he needed more years to understand the Yi. Not only is the Yi a book of wisdom, the classic is also used for divination.
How to phrase a question for divination is what we will discuss in this entry.
After having read the classic for some years, we may wish to consult the Oracle either out of curiosity or for guidance on some uncertainty arising from our minds. Once we have decided on what to ask, we will have to phrase and pose a question to the Oracle in our own language – be it Chinese, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and others. If the question is in Chinese, the Yi may understand no matter how it was phrased. However if the question is worded in other languages and is either lengthy or verbose then the Yi may face some trouble in answering it. If you have come across how Daoist heavenly immortals answered (English) questions in broken English you would understand that one is not joking.
Therefore one suggests that questions to the Yi should be unequivocal and brief, the simpler the better.
If clients come to seek our divination services they would have decided what they want to ask the Yi. Each diviner will have to use his or her own moral judgment to accept the types of questions to be asked. Some clients may reveal the reasons why they need an answer, while others could be secretive for various reasons. Therefore Yi diviners need to discuss with and guide clients on how to phrase their questions – the simpler, the better – and obtain the client’s agreement, where applicable, before putting it to the Yi.
Over the decades of consultation for self and others, questions put to the Yi had always been simple and unequivocal – no frills and thrills. After all who are we trying to impress? The Yi had also given simple and direct answers, most of time. Yes, there had been occasions in the past where the Yi did not speak – especially in 1994 / 95. I had to put the Book into ‘cold storage’ and let it gather dust over the months. Apparently, the censure of divinities in 1994 for revealing too much secrets to devotees and disciples during the Asian Bull Run in 1993 and the temporary restrictions on revelations took time to put into place. (The Yi spoke on the matter.) If you had divined during that period, perhaps the Yi may not have spoken to you too.
After that episode, we seemed to understand each other better, consequently whenever the Yi wanted to reveal something of importance, one gets a nagging feeling for days on end. The feeling would not go away, until one sits down, opened the log book and writes down my simplest question : I Ching, What is happening?
With the casting of the yarrow stalks, the Omens will then be foretold. All these omens or heaven’s secrets had unfolded and the last one was on the bombing of trains in Europe and England by Muslim terrorists disguised as tourists. (There were previous entries on this omen.)
It proves that the simplest of questions can still get very accurate answers from the Yi.
The Creative Heaven knows through the easy and The Receptive Earth can do things through the simple. [Dazhuan / The Great Treatise] By asking simple, easy and unequivocal questions, are Yi diviners not learning how to emulate Heaven and Earth?