Thursday, July 05, 2012

A talk on omens and prophecies from the Book of Changes (Yijing)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am honored to see the number of illuminaries and some familiar faces attending the talk today. A warm welcome to everyone!

In this talk, I would touch on how omens from the Book of Changes (Yijing) can be obtained and what the ancients had indicated about them. Yi aficionados who are experts and scholars after understanding what has been said, can do further research on the subject matter, if they so wish. Therefore please lend me your ears and bear with me, lest you miss the forest for the trees. Again!

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of “Omen is a phenomenon supposed to portend good or evil; a prophetic sign”. The definition of prophecy, in the same dictionary is wider but for the purpose of this discussion: “Prophecy is a prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration.”

Based on these definitions, in my opinion, there is not much of a difference between an omen and a prophecy obtainable from this foremost ancient Chinese classic, the Book of Changes. The only real difference will be the time factor in their unfolding. For I had the good fortune to obtain word from Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, three decades ago, and from a Buddha, thirteen years later that the Yijing is indeed divine. And in between those years, in 1993 a Quanzhen Daoist celestial immortal by giving six cryptic messages indirectly taught me how to improve on my interpretation of Yijing prognostications and omens.

When I first started writing the blog, ‘A touch of ancients and the Zhouyi’, in 2005, a number of Yi aficionados had turned away in disgust after reading my thoughts on foreseeing and foretelling the future, and my claims to receiving omens and heaven’s secrets from the Book of Changes. After all, since they have never seen anyone having the ability to do so, how could my thoughts and claims be true? Yet I persevere and slowly managed to push back the tide of disbeliefs and ignorance with some encouragement from Steve Marshall who knows much about Yijing studies. Steve Marshall, as many of those attending this talk know, is the author of The Mandate of Heaven.

If Yi aficionados really want to learn the Book of Changes, sincerely follow its oracle guidance. Reread the classic, consult the oracle, ponder the prognostications, interpret them as far as possible and over time with perseverance, they would gradually improve their art and science of divination. As discussed in previous articles, it is my contention that the interpretation of prognostications and omens are repeatable and therefore testable. However, this would only become obvious through extended divination experience. And through extended divination experience, psychics excepted, Yi aficionados can raise their intuition levels. If they also happen to possess a touch of spiritual clarity (Shen Ming), obtainable via real neidan practice and deep contemplation, then their ability to obtain and interpret omens from the Yijing will improve by leaps and bounds.

If we do not improve our own art of Yi divination, it could prove difficult to understand the science of Yi divination. Without a sound knowledge of the art and science of divination, how can we ever hope to divine like a spirit like Zhuge Liang, Shao Yong, and Liu Bo Wen had done, and later to assist the gods?

Furthermore, without improving our art and science of divination, even when an omen is received from the Book of Changes, we and/or our peers would not have the ability to recognize it as such, or know how to interpret it. To provide more clarity on this statement, I present a real example below for your consideration.

Back in 2003, a lady from the US opened a forum thread each and every time she received a Yi prognostication seeking help for interpretations from her peers. Similar to her peers, she has or claimed to have studied the Book of Changes for a few decades. This went on for five or six times. Yet none of the interpretations given by her peers seemed to provide her much peace. She is a trained psychic by the way and her recurring dreams told her something very different from the proffered interpretations. Near the end, she was literally begging for help on what to do. That was when I decided to step in to alleviate her misery. I had to spend some time reading all of the Yi prognostications given to her and ponder over them. And thereafter in one post, I interpreted all of the five or six prognostications to her great satisfaction, since my interpretations tied up with her recurring dreams. From the prognostications and from extended experience, I had told her, she would be unemployed shortly, and should move out from the small town, where she was working, to the big city where she had been planning to move to. I told her she would become a flying dragon in the new place, a happy omen. (The moving fifth line of Qian prognostication) Since there was no further feedback from her, only lately did I realize the Book of Changes was right again. One of her recurring dreams had her walking under some scaffolding with construction workers busily working above. That was back in 2003. She was unemployed shortly after my interpretations and left for the big US city. If she have had invested in properties there and then, I reflected, she would become rich a few years later when property prices doubled or more in big US cities. Thus becoming a flying dragon in the heavens and achieving supreme success.

When the Yijing speaks, the prognostication or omen is true and if the interpretation is correct, the results can be foreseen, thereby making it clear as day. As long as the Yi speaks, an able interpreter can interpret the prognostication or omen correctly even if he or she is from a different era or oceans apart with the diviner. This means that my theory on the science of divination can be and has been tested many times and proved. My commentary on the first prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke by Zhuge Liang presented at the end of this talk, will also serves as an example to further support this contention.

But before we go into that, let us look at examples of global omens, the older ones published by me in Yijing forums before the predicted events occurred, and my thoughts. Also take note of the pseudonym used then, sounds familiar? For the great Zhuge Liang also known as Zhuge Kongming is my hero too.

1) An I Ching prediction on the Iraqi war in 2003 posted by me on the IChing_Yijing probably on 23rd April 2003(?).

In, "chuko_kungming" wrote:

Hi to everyone. This is my first post. Just joined the group (23rd April). Now on the Iraqi war and Iching predictions:

From the hexagram # 57 obtained by me in Feb 2003, the Iching indicated that the Iraqi war would start within 5 days of 15th March. And the war will be over by end April or first week of May 2003.

For the record:

US President George Bush declared deadline for Iraq to disarm by March 17th and ordered the attack on Iraq on March 19th (US time) / March 20th (Asian time). He declared end of attack and victory over Iraq on May 2nd, 2003.

2) If I have not read the accompanying notes made after the divination and days of pondering, I would probably not have remembered how the timing of the two events – the Iraq war and the end of it - was calculated. On the following page of my journal, I noticed that the Yi again insisted on this student asking a question. Similar to the above prognostication, it was another heaven’s secret or omen.

It came in the form of Hexagram 2 Kun and the accompanying notes containing my prediction and the subsequent unfolding filled up an entire foolscap page. (I no longer do this since I can log the unfolding in this blog.) This heaven’s secret or omen was published by me in the I Ching Community in the summer of 2003:

The ominous omen foretold of groups of Muslim terrorists acting as holiday makers or tourists bombing trains and national libraries in the US and Europe that summer.

During those few months there were substantial US intelligence reports online that terrorists were planning to bomb bridges and trains. Then it suddenly went all quiet.

In the summer of 2004, groups of Muslim terrorists bombed trains in Madrid, Spain.

In the summer of 2005, groups of Muslim terrorists bombed trains in London, England.

Almost three years after the publication of this omen, the then US President George Bush inexplicably revealed that a group of Muslim terrorists were arrested days before they could fly to the US to bomb the Library Tower that summer of 2003.

If the Book of Changes can give omens to this student and to the American lady, there is no reason whatsoever other Yi aficionados cannot obtain them. They either do not know the significance of the prognostication or they fail to interpret it properly. This gave me reason to previously rant about the foolishness of over reliance on the interpretations of incompetents - usually arising from their indolence -; since it may give cause for regrets. For without realizing it, diviners could suddenly find themselves facing impending disaster(s), financial or otherwise, as a more severe example. They may find out later, with regrets that the Book of Changes had actually forewarned them on those disasters which had unfolded accordingly.

The ignorant can be tolerated and taught, but even if Confucius is still alive, he would leave the indolent well alone. (Refer to the Analects)

And since I have mentioned the great ancient sage, let us take a look at what one of the four Confucian books say about omens from the Book of Changes.

In the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhong Yung) (XXIV), it is said:

It is characteristic of the most entire sincerity to be able to foreknow. When a nation or family is about to flourish, there are sure to be happy omens; and when it is about to perish, there are sure to be unlucky omens. Such events are seen in the milfoil and tortoise, and affect the movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness is about to come, the good shall certainly be foreknown by him, and the evil also. Therefore the individual possessed of the most complete sincerity is like a spirit (Shen).” [James Legge]

Without a proper understanding of the omens and prophecies obtainable from the Book of Changes by using milfoil also known as yarrow stalks to test it, the renown sinologist, James Legge went on to disparage the whole chapter on entire sincerity as absurd. He added, “The foreknowledge attributed to the Sage, - the mate of Heaven, - is only a guessing by means of augury, sorcery, and other follies.”

Perhaps many modern Yi scholars and aficionados, excluding those who follow the good examples of Carl Jung, and another renowned sinologist, Richard Wilhelm, would tend to agree with James Legge. They would also disbelieve in the possibility of foreknowing the future, and of anyone’s capability to obtain omens and prophecies using the Book of Changes as an Oracle instead of a Book of Wisdom. How could they know what the ancients taught is true or not without testing it through proper study and practice? Therefore one has to do all the work and present the omens in the World Wide Web before their unfolding for the entire online world to see, and to prove these indolent Yi aficionados wrong. If Yi aficionados can become real dragons, why be false ones and mislead Yi students?

For Yi aficionados to further appreciate the value and importance of the Book of Changes to the ancients we turn to another ancient Chinese classic, the Book of History (Shujing):
Of the Great Plan accredited to the Great Yu of the Xia Dynasty, in the section on the Settlement of doubts, it is said:

Officers having been chosen and appointed for divining by the tortoise shell and the milfoil stalks, they are charged to execute their duties. They will find rain, of clearing up, of cloudiness, of want of connection, and of crossing; and the inner and outer diagrams. ……. When you have doubts about any great matter, consult with your own mind; consult with your high ministers and officers; consult with the common people; consult the tortoise shell and divining stalks. If you, the shell, the stalks, the ministers and officers, and the common people, all agree about a course, this is what is called a great concord, and the result will be the welfare of your person and good fortune to your descendants.” [Book IV of the Book of Zhou - The Great Plan – James Legge, sacred-text]

If what is recorded in the Book of History is correct, officers have been chosen and appointed to consult the tortoise shell, and by milfoil the Book of Changes, since the beginning of the Xia Dynasty (21st century B.C.) until at least the end of the Zhou Dynasty (221 B.C.) These officers were known as Court historiographers during the Spring and Autumn era. The Zuo Zhuan contains several prognostications and omens obtained by these historiographers after consulting the Yijing. The Zuo Zhuan shows that even these professional historiographers have had made mistakes in their interpretation of omens.

Therefore we have to learn to improve our art and science of divination until we get it right, no matter how long it takes to obtain an omen, recognize it, and be able to make its interpretation clear as day. Just be diligent in our Yi studies and sincerely follow the guidance provided by the prognostication or omen and the Book of Changes would teach you more things since the student is able and ready.

If Yi aficionados happen to be ‘in tune with the music’ with omens and prophecies, let us learn together from the famous historical personage, Zhuge Liang. In his Ma Qian Ke or Quick predictions, comprising of fourteen prophecies, he had provided the means for Yi aficionados and those familiar with cryptic messages from Daoist celestial immortals to interpret the accompanying hexagrams and the verses respectively. The interpretation will stretch you to your limits, but there is no harm in trying since you can come away with more knowledge. If you can make the prophecy clear as day, then you are a worthy person and will be well nourished, and you can also nourish others.

If Yi aficionados can understand the rationale and the technique behind my following interpretation of the first prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke, I am sure the Book of Changes will give you more profound lessons in the years to come since you are more than ready. For example, my past few years’ lessons from the Yijing have been Heaven, Earth and Man, and how to make omens clear as day. And therefore my slight advantage as the great Carl Jung would say. But, you may hold a slight advantage over Chinese Yi aficionados in China, since their government has disallowed them access to this talk on omens and prophecies from the Yijing!

Since this talk is free of charge, no lunch will be provided. (That is no questions on omens and prophecies, and their timing will be fielded.)

Many thanks for staying tuned, ladies and gentlemen. May you become a real dragon!



Allan said...

Posting on behalf of Steve Moore:

Hi Allan,

Sorry not to have given you any feedback on this before, but at first I didn’t realise this was actually your preamble to the Ma Qian Ke interpretation. At least, I assume it is, though as there seems to be so little on the Ma Qian Ke I’m not entirely sure. That being the case, I don’t think I really have a lot to comment on here.

If you have any more to say on the subject, I’d be delighted to hear it. Failing that, though, I’ll go back to my translation of the Ma Qian Ke in due course and produce a revised edition, in which I’ll make the corrections you suggested, where I agree with them. I’m very grateful to you for these, and you’ll be credited for them.

I’ll also mention (and give the URL for your blog), that you’ve attempted to demonstrate how, regarding the first prophecy, the attached hexagram (no. 27) can be read as referring to the material contained in the predictive verse. In some ways, I think it’s a bit of a shame that you didn’t take up my offer of a collaboration (and perhaps somewhat bad form to edit my message so no one would know I’d made the offer) that would have allowed you to provide a commentary on the remaining thirteen prophecies, as this would have given you the opportunity to display your skill as a Yi interpreter, and would also have added to the literature on this fascinating text.

That said, though, whether you interpreted one or all of the hexagrams there’d still be problems with your approach from a scholarly viewpoint, as this would require you to explain, step by step, how and on what basis you’ve arrived at your conclusions, which you seem unwilling to do. It also has to be pointed out that any such interpretation is necessarily subjective, as a different, but similarly skilled interpreter might arrive at different conclusions, particularly if he began with a different set of premises to those that you seem to accept. For example, you appear to assume that the Ma Qian Ke is actually written by Zhuge Liang, and that the first prediction refers to his desire to ‘return to heaven’, which may well be true but, as you know, is open to different interpretations; however, your work depends on this premise and an analysis that didn’t might arrive at different conclusions. Similarly, it’s assumed that the hexagrams were actually added to the prophecies according to a systematic and logical method, and unless this can be demonstrated (which to my mind has not so far been done, there being no explanation for the fact that two prophecies are linked with the same hexagram), then the interpretation remains an exercise in speculation. This question of whether there actually is a system, and what it might be, is probably more interesting than a simple interpretation.

Anyway, I’m grateful for your interest, and I’ll certainly direct people to your work on this.

Best wishes,


Allan said...

I had previously not disclosed Steve’s offer of a co-authorship to me since I treat it as a private and confidential matter and had stated so in the posting on behalf of him on July 5th in the comments section on the First prophecy of Ma Qian Ke or ‘Quick Predictions’ by Zhuge Liang article. However since he is of the opinion that it is bad form not to disclose his offer in public, I will append it below:

However, if you should have any interest in commenting on the remaining prophecies, we could always consider producing a new, collaborative version of the work together, under both our names, where your “Yi-based” or “hexagram” commentary is integrated with the rest of the text. Right now, I can’t think of any other way of publishing that than on the web, but if the idea has any appeal, let me know.

Best wishes,


Allan said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your comments and welcome to the world of omens and prophecies. It is way different from scholarly work. How many scholars would really believe that Zhang Liang, the Daoist strategist of Liu Pang - the first Han Emperor - , has had met a celestial immortal who gave him some happy omens, as recorded in the Records of the Grand Historian? How many scholars know about or have recorded omens and prophecies, even if they happen to believe in them?

The number of global omens published by me in the blog and online elsewhere, and discussed in private with close friends and kin over the decades, before they had unfolded can probably fill a book. I no longer need to convince anybody including your good self of my skills. Neither would I disclose my self-taught method refined over the decades. Do readers of my blog need the method to understand the published omens? No. But if they happen to be non believers, it could be to their misfortune not to follow the guidance, if any, provided.

Omens and prophecies are meant for believers, down the ages. Take for example, the published ominous omen on the global financial crisis (fall of Lehman) before it unfolded where readers were advised to go into hiding. How many Yijing scholars know about this particular omen which uphold the reasons why both Confucius and Mencius have had advised the able to go into hiding? The eminent Chinese scholars-mentors of both Richard Wilhelm and James Legge seemed to have missed this too.

It had been already indicated to you much earlier that whoever attached the hexagrams to the Ma Qian Ke prophecies certainly had the required skills to determine and interpret omens and prophecies. If later interpreters had the same skills, all the fourteen prophecies would have been deciphered by now. Have you seen any completed ones so far? Did anyone criticize the bland commentary given by the Buddhist monk, Shou Yuan because of his laziness to do homework? From your preliminary translation, the answers are probably, no.

Omens from the Yijing can come from any hexagram, some repeatable. From extended experience and observations, omens from some particular hexagrams – for example Hexagram 62 Xiao Guo – provide fixed days for good and bad things to happen. (This type of timing cannot be revealed to avoid false claims of skills) Hexagram 29 Kan has always been ominous. (Refer to my various articles on both of them in the blog) Therefore keeping to your theory that since Hexagram 30 Li has been repeated in two prophecies, it would be incorrect for me to assume it was Zhuge Liang or someone as knowledgeable as him who had had attached the hexagrams does not hold water. It appears that you have no clue as to what you are saying.

It also appears that you do not quite understand my full commentary on the first prophecy of the Ma Qian Ke and what the Yijing had clearly indicated to him even with my several hints. Please reread it again to obtain more clarity.

Do not be too surprise if I tell you that I, and therefore my immediate family, knew about your offer before it was sent. I have already prepared a draft reply in the form of an article to explain why your offer cannot be accepted and for what reasons – still fine-tuning it – before I opened the mailbox and saw your latest mail. Now, the blogging of the article can wait. You do not have to believe in any of this. In my books, foresight and hindsight are like the distance between Heaven and Earth.

Also do not be surprised to find that the 11th prophecy has had already unfolded accordingly but no one in China or in the West has noticed or have it recorded in the Ma Qian Ke. You also do not have to believe this. I will not answer any questions on the unfolding of this 11th prophecy but I may blog it later, since it is a past event.

Good luck to your translation of the Ma Qian Ke.



Allan said...


Thank you for your kind offer of the co-authorship.

In the just published article ‘Guidance from the Yijing and the Guan Yin Oracle’ I have given the reasons why I cannot accept and have not accepted your open offer of a co-authorship in the translation of the Ma Qian Ke. Since your offer has been published here, I will append below the relevant paragraphs in the article for your attention:

"By observing recent events on the blog, including the (now published) open offer from Steve Moore to a co-authorship in the translation of the Ma Qian Ke, the two Yijing prognostications and this main theme from the Guan Yin oracle together are unfolding before my very eyes.

All three prognostications also relate to the prophecies of Zhuge Liang in his Ma Qian Ke, of which, by coincidence again, three prophecies therein have yet-to-unfold, for the following reasons:

While I can also read and interpret these yet-to-unfold prophecies of Zhuge Liang for my own knowledge, the interpretations cannot be explicitly revealed to the general public and institutions. For the writing of such explicit interpretations in the blog and/or in a book form tantamount to treading paths that do not accord to established order. (Similar to revealing undisclosed secrets on ancient Chinese meditation or neidan practices) The Junzi would rather walk than ride in a carriage, if it does not accord to his station in life and to his own nature. And the purpose of explicitly revealing omens and prophecies before they unfold for name and title is empty and worthless; especially if the published revelations of the yet-to-unfold prophecies bring harm, if any, to China. Again, this does not accord to established order."

Readers have been informed in the article that your offer has been published in this particular comment section. They were also informed that my interpretation of the yet-to-unfold 12th prophecy of the Ma Qian will appear in the form of cryptic messages, if published.

Please let me know should you decide not to allow me further use of your preliminary translation of the Ma Qian Ke in my blog so that I would not infringe your copyrights.