I Ching: throwing coins to follow your path

Not quite Hansel and Gretel but almost…  The I Ching [Yi (E) Jing] is also known as the Book of Changes. It is likely written in 2000-3000 BC and is one of the bases for Daoism. I find it a wonderful help in guiding me through some of life’s questions. It is meant to assist you on your path so you can be in tune with your own nature. It is really and truly wonderful

The Daoist ideal is to have crystal-clear perception that enables you to move naturally at the right time. Wasting no effort, and having clarity. Wu Wei – the art of ‘doing without action’ or doing nothing yet accomplishing everything. It means to be so in touch with our environment and the people in it that our actions flow naturally from the situation – go with the flow. That was very hard for me to learn (coming from a make-it-work sense of life in NYC) and it literally took me 1.5 years of living in Hawaii to learn it. I remember the moment I got that lesson with absolute clearly! Now the wu-wei skill is in my tool belt and I love it!

The I Ching is not meant to answer questions of ‘what is going to happen,’ but rather ‘do I have your blessing?’ Other questions include: ‘what is my path?’, ‘where am I going’, ‘how can I get there’, ‘how can I deal with these obstacles’ and, ‘is this the right way?’ Think of Alice in Wonderland – she was practicing wu wei while sitting on the tree stump and she found her path with the help of her own sages.

There are various ways to perform a reading. Traditionally it is done with a container of hand-shaved bamboo sticks in varying lengths – the PhD students in our school created their own, they are quite nice and charged with their energy. You can also use 3 coins or an app on a smartphone (I like the Iphone app I Ching by Brian Browne Walker). Really anything you use and put your energy power into will serve you.

I am including steps on how to perform a reading and resources on how to interpret it. At first it may seem like a lot, keep with it and you will get it. There is a process to the I Ching and if you find yourself reading this article then it has likely shown up at a perfect time to help guide you in your life. Enjoy!

Starting: it is good to practice with coins to get in touch with your spirit and open the doors of the sages. Find a comfy spot, get 3 quarters, a pen and paper, and have these three websites handy- they are used to see what the structure is and to interpret the reading:

To figure out the Structure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching

For the Interpretations:http://deoxy.org/iching (in-depth)
http://www.psychic-revelation.com/reference/i_l/i_ching/i_ching_interpretation.html (condensed)

How to perform a toss: Contemplate a question or situation. The contemplation is really where the work is. Try to be as specific as you can on the question – try to ask about seeing your path within the situation. Do not ask a yes/no question. Take your time and breathe.

Throw three coins at the same time. The coins have points, which will add up to a number which will create a single line of the hexagram. Heads (or Yang) is given a count of 3 and (Tails or Yin) is given a count of 2. Each time you throw three coins, you count the numeric value of the coins together. There are four possible number combinations that make up the four lines. These appear as follows:

6 (Yin + Yin + Yin or 2+2+2)      – –   a broken changing line (old Yin -> Yang)

8 (Yang+Yang+Yin or 3+3+2)     – –    a broken non-changing line (Yin)

9 (Yang+Yang+Yang or 3+3+3)  __  a straight changing line (old Yang -> Yin)

7 (Yin+Yin+Yang or 2+2+3)        __     a straight non-changing line (Yang)

Throw the three coins six times and write the value, starting with the bottom line and working to the top. (Ie: 7, 9, 9, 6, 8, 8 —with 7 being the first of the toss). These numbers form the trigrams which form the hexagrams. With pen and paper: write a check mark next to the 6s and 9s, this will serve as a reminder that it is a changing line. Start at the bottom (first toss): next to each 6 or 8 write two hash-marks (a yin – – line), next to each 7 or 9 write a straight yang line (__). If you have tossed a 6 or 9 then you will write another set of lines besides the original for your second reading. For every 6 you will rewrite the – – (yin) to a __ (yang). For every 9 you will rewrite the __ (yang) to a – – (yin). For every 7 or 8 keep the original line and put it next to the original.

The reading is created from two trigrams which will form a hexagram which will give you the interpretation of the question. The eight possible trigrams are:

A hexagram is made up of six lines, constructed from two trigrams which in the case above reads like this: yang (7), yang (9), yang (9), yin (6), yin (8), yin (8). The trigrams for this reading are: heaven on bottom, earth on top and the hexagram is read as: earth (3 yin) over/heaven (3 yang) #11 T’ai /Peace.

When there are changing lines (6 or 9), you are directed to create and read a second hexagram as well. The young or non-changing lines stay the same and the changing line will change into the opposite (- – to __ or __ to – -) to create a second hexagram, a furthering of the interpretation. In this case, the second and third toss are 9s and will change from an old yang to a yin, and the 6 will change from an old yin to a yang. It will look like this: yang, yin, yin, yang, yin yin: Thunder over Thunder, # 51: Chên / The Arousing.

Using the websites: Use the Wiki website first to match the trigrams, creating a hexagram. You can find what you need under the heading Structure. Remember, in this case the first reading was earth over heaven and the second reading was thunder over thunder – you will see on the site that they correspond to #11 and #51 respectively.

Next, check the interpretation on the deoxy site to see what the hexagram means.  Psychic Revelation is also good but gives limited information and is good for a quick double-check. This is another interesting site with art incorporated. It is good to learn the hexagrams and the various interpretations they can have. It is a life-practice. I like Deoxy as it gives the full description of the interpretation as well as the meaning of the lines. The lines are very important in the I Ching. Each one means something very different and they are crucial to the reading. If you have a changing line in a hexagram (6 to 8 or 9 to 7), you will read only those lines that change. The first line is the one at the bottom (in this case it was 7).

Next, read the second hexagram. The second hexagram shows a furthering part of the lesson. There are no lines to read – the second hexagram is already the manifestation of the changing of the lines.

Contemplate the interpretation, write it in a journal, and see where your path takes you. See if you follow the path and what happens, or if you do not and what happens. It is quite interesting. Best to you on your journey! Have fun, don’t stress. <3



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