The I Ching

When I was about 16 or 17, I came across the Chinese classic, I Ching (John Blofeld’s Book of Change) and used it often to try and obtain a clear sense of direction in my adolescent life.  I constructed a beautiful set of polished wood sticks (rather than the traditional yarrow stalks) and threw then to consult the oracle about life decisions.  Even with my youthful superficial understanding, I was astonished by how accurate and useful were most of the responses, particularly as I graduated to the full Wilhelm version.  Occasionally, I would be unable to grasp the obscure images and commentaries but I would sense that was caused by my own limitation or possibly issues with the translation.

Recently, after reading a number of the classic Taoist writings–Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu, etc.–I returned to the I Ching, possibly the oldest source of these strands of Chinese wisdom.  This time, rather than using it to guide my outer life, I read it as a source of inner guidance on how the Superior Man (note the sexist and elitist language) conducts himself.  Each of the hexagrams and the lines speaks to how we need to relate to our inner and outer worlds to achieve serenity and harmony within a ceaselessly changing universe.