Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Divination for awareness

You could say that the first objective of divination is to be more aware – have more insight, connect intuitively with the way, be more completely present. That would be true for any reading, even if it’s not the first goal that comes to mind. It’s especially, true, though, of readings done as a regular practice, whether or not you ‘have a question’. I do tend to come back to this theme from time to time ;) , I know – but then, there’s something remarkable about divining simply as an awareness practice, and without any objective of your own in mind. You’re letting yourself be tuned in to other dimensions of experience, or enrolling for a course of intensive study with your life as the syllabus. True, this enrollment will inevitably mean learning at the feet of Prof. Hindsight from time to time. But for the most part it keeps you from falling asleep in your daily routine. I find that if I fall out of the habit of weekly readings, life tends to go on auto-pilot; eventually, I wake up and realise I’m not going anywhere. When I’m in closer contact with Yi, experience is deeper, richer and more intense. Of course, divination isn’t essential to any of this. There are probably at least as many ways of staying awake as there are people on the planet; talking with an oracle is just one of those resilient old ways. And – also ‘of course’ – enhanced awareness is only one of many reasons to adopt a regular reading practice. For instance…

  • you build your experience of individual hexagrams and lines; with a few examples, you get a sense of the inner quality of a line or hexagram – its ‘time’. This is not something you can get from books.
  • you develop a sense of relationship with Yi and with your own intuition, so you can recognise moments of insight rather than second-guessing them. (Another thing that’s more easily learned than taught.)
  • and you get help in staying – more or less – on your path. Not that readings alone can do this: the oracle speaks quite softly, for the most part, and is easily drowned out by highly-charged emotions, or choices already made. But it is a constant corrective and reality check.

I’m not – of course – suggesting that weekly readings as awareness practice is a one-size-fits-all solution, the ‘Right Way’ to divine. Only that it can be useful, and in particular, that it’s worth getting past the fear of ‘consulting too much’ to try it. Yes, it’s possible to sabotage your conversation with Yi by asking too much (and/or listening too little), but no, you can’t ‘offend’ the oracle or wear it out. And yes, there are enlightened people who don’t need to seek guidance, but it absolutely does not follow that you ‘shouldn’t need this by now.’ I suppose what I’m actually, respectfully, suggesting, is that the advice that ‘You shouldn’t consult the I Ching unless it’s for something really important, when you’re absolutely sure you need it,’ is about as useful as saying that, ‘You shouldn’t look at that map until you’re absolutely sure you’re lost’…

9 Responses to “Divination for awareness”

  1. Eric Says:

    I find that those moments when I’m open and unattached to a particular outcome or objective to be the most satisfying. If I’m prepared to receive (and prepared for an occasional surprise!) I get more out of the experience and I allow myself the time to revisit the oracle’s response. Thanks for your post.


  2. Hilary Says:

  3. Topal Says:

    “But it is a constant corrective and reality check.”

    Yes indeedy. I make know bones about admitting I really need the ‘ole IC at the moment. Hex 3 comes to mind. Is it line 3 that gives the idea of without sufficient planning – a guide – you can become lost? This is very true after a relationship break up or shock of any kind where your mind/body matrix is completely shot and your inner compass is damaged (or has a design fault ;0) this is where the Yi can instruct and guide very successfully if you can learn to quiet those raging emotions (see it, want it give it to me now) whatever mental, emotional, physical desire that may be.

    Once you’ve actually applied what you have been taught via the Yi I personally think that it enhances the responses. Almost like it augments the conduit. Just like the teacher knows that the Student has made the knowledge his own and is ready for the next stage of understanding. This would make sense to me somehow. When you learn something or break out of a habit you have “re-wired” the brain and actually does physically change the neuronal networks. Therefore, at some strange level it may be that the Yi picks up on that in some way. There is an exchange that is quite mathematical as well as beautiful. Probably the same thing.

  4. Hilary Says:

    Once you’ve actually applied what you have been taught via the Yi I personally think that it enhances the responses. Almost like it augments the conduit.

    That makes lots of sense to me – thinking of it in terms of the health and capacity of the conduit works really well. (Wait… we know a hexagram about that, don’t we? ;) ) It also describes what happens in the opposite case: with lots of questioning and no application, the conduit atrophies.

  5. pikey Says:

    once a week readings are something that i need to do once again to recieve some clarity for decisions and to give a balanced approached to certain situations.


  6. Glenroy Wolfsen Says:

    For me it is usually once a day – sometimes less – sometimes it is with NO specific question so that I may be “shown” or echoed to what I must need to see. There are on-going themes regarding people I am in relationships of various kinds with. It shows me things about my own character in those relationships – and things about the other persons character – and sometimes things about the unit, the “us”, of me and those characters what is more than the sum of its parts. And it is almost always a corrective – sometimes an affirmation – sometimes a meditation – sometimes an insight – but always an awakening from the myopia and sleep that characterizes my “attachment” to the conditoinal and conditioned – the out of balance fragment that I am, and the fact that I am not “I AM” usually. I am usually someone else playing “me” – and the YiJing beings “me” out to see myself in the momuments it erects before my face. These hyroglyphs of intellegence lift me to “view” the life I am scripting and allow me to make choices so that I can cause my life rather than let me of from effect of come other cause only.

  7. Gene Says:

    The regular use of the I Ching for spiritual growth, I submit, is the highest and best use of the I Ching. Through it we learn the nature of the universe and its secrets. We unlock our deepest hidden secrets in the dark side of ourselves. (See hexagram 57) We learn our own and general psychology, and about our deepest fears and wishes. It is said in hexagram 17 that the follower of the I Ching, (the King) is offered Mount Chi. In otherwords is offered the highest gift available, the gift of truly knowing ones own self. Line 1 of hexagram 19 tells us that when we approach the wisdom of the I Ching in good faith, it in turn approaches us. Line 3 promises that if we approach in good faith, the relationship will be comfortable, and line four promises that the teaching will eventually be complete, with no steps left out. Hexagram 25 line one tells us that our interaction with the I Ching must be one of innocence, with no ulterior motives.

    An entire book could be written about this. There is no line in the I ching that does not give us counsel about ourselves and our relationship with the I Ching. We just must be able to interpret the symbols, and understand the allegory.


  8. Hilary Says:

    Glenroy, I know exactly what you mean by the ‘waking up’ effect of readings. Sometimes gently, sometimes with copious amounts of cold water.


    “An entire book could be written about this.”

    Undoubtedly. I think this one’s for you. ;)

  9. What are weekly readings good for? | Answers I Ching blog Says:

    [...] I see this is a theme I come back to quite a bit. For instance here’s a post from 2008 about divination for awareness, and this more recent post that mentions a couple of weekly [...]

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