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YI JING (I-Ching)

Yi Jing literally means ‘The Book of Changes’. What the Vedas is to the Hindus, the Yi Jing is to the Chinese! Practically everything from the Chinese astrology, Feng Shui, miang xiang et al, all have their origins in the Yi Jing.

As it is a well known fact, change is the only constant force in the universe. The entire universe is made up of energies. We have given this force or energy many names-one of them being God! All living creatures are made up of this energy and thus we draw parlance from quantum physics that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It just changes from one form to another. Thus, all creatures, the soul, and even man made creations only change form, but cannot be annihilated.

Winter snow melts when the sun shines, watering and nourishing vegetation and thus follows spring. Spring gives way to summer. The blazing heat of the sun evaporates water and turns it into clouds, which decide to return to the earth as rain, further nurturing trees and plants. When trees are laden with overripe leaves, they soon turn yellow and fall, only to make space for new foliage in autumn. And once again, autumn transposes into winter. 

 “As above, so below”, said Lao Tzu the famous Chinese philosopher. Man has for centuries adjusted according to the laws of the universe and adapted himself to the various changes in seasons. The farmer ploughs, sows, cultivates and reaps according to the changing seasons. The universe operates according to the laws of nature. Whenever this law is defied, what results is an imbalance, out of which follows chaos, stress and conflict, ultimately culminating in decay. This decay or degeneration extends not only to living organisms, but also to thought processes, beliefs, systems and laws.

Where does the yi jing come into the picture?

Yi literally translates as ‘change’. Change but not death. Jing means classics. The fundamental principle of the yijing is again the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’, anima and animus. Yin and yang are merely the two sides of the same coin. Each is present in the other, each occurs after the other, just as day follows night and night follows day. The age old proverb, “Darker the night, closer the dawn”, fits here. Anything that has been stressed to its capacity has to regain its original position. This is the promise of the yijing!

Contrary to popular belief, yin is not weak and yang is not strong. This is only for representative purposes. Night, darkness, dampness, cold, stillness, the feminine are all considered yin and day, brightness, dryness, masculinity, movement are all considered yang. However, it is a fallacy to consider the masculine as strong and the feminine as weak. Each cannot exist without the other. Nature functions only when there is a balance, or rather nature restores semblance and balance whenever there is an imbalance.

It is said, heaven bestows, while earth receives. The rains rain on the parched earth, enabling the earth to be fertile and productive. Man proposes and the woman yields. Does it mean that only men or the masculine force should take the initiative? No! While one assumes leadership, the other co-operates. The word is ‘co’ and ‘operation’. Both operate as colleagues, as a company! This can be applied anywhere. The wise have always warned, “It takes two to clap!” in days of yore, it was the man who went out to win his bread, made decisions as he knew how much wealth he creates and will also know how to distribute that wealth. The woman kept house, cooked, raised children and educated them. Today, with women walking shoulder to shoulder with men, the equations have changed. However, the wisdom of the yi jing is more pronounced today. Expert marriage counselors today advise, “Never get angry together. When your partner is angry, you must allow them to vent their feelings.” These counsellors never say husband or wife, they only say ‘partner’, which means the person can be either a woman or a man!

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung was the one to coin the word anima and animus. According to Jung, a man possesses 70% of masculine qualities, 15% feminine and another 15% childlike traits. Similarly, a woman also possesses femininity, masculinity and childlike traits in the same proportion. When a man holds his infant close to his heart and kisses the child, isn’t he displaying his feminine, caring side? When a woman reprimands a deviant behavior in a child, isn’t she displaying the assertive masculine side of her nature? When men and women are joyous and display joy, they are reflecting the childlike nature within.

The anima and the animus, yin and the yang have their rudiments in the Hindu philosophy of Shiva and Shakti. While Shiva is the seed, the body, Shakti is the energy, the primordial life force that breathes life into the body and brings the seed to fruition!

You can apply this principle to any situation. In the polar region where the maximum sun’s rays do not reach, man brings warmth by lighting fire and wearing woolen clothes. The opposite can be told about tropical regions. Thus, nature only strives to strike a balance.

While weather, climatic conditions, farming etc are all rational principles, human behaviour, nature and events depend largely on the fickle human mind! And who can predict what the mind is capable of the next minute? 

In ancient China, yi jing was used as an oracle, many thousands of years ago and even today, the yi jing is a powerful tool to predict events. When we need answers, the universe gives the answers through certain omens. Thus, the Chinese and the Indians follow the same principle that the God is in you and me. Yi Jing is used as a tool to predict events where coins are dropped as ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ six times to ascertain the outcome of an event. Depending upon the number of ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ lines are drawn as solid, unbroken yang lines and broken yin lines. As coins are thrown 6 times, 6 lines are formed, divided into 2 sets of three lines each. Each set of three lines is called a ‘triagram, and 2 triagrams (6 lines) one on top of the other make a hexagram. Thus, a triagram or a hexagram contains broken or unbroken lines. An unbroken line is yang and a broken one is yin. 

A broken line can change into a solid line and vice-versa in the final hexagram and the changing lines portend the final outcome of the situation. When you know hwo life will treat you, won’t you be forewarned and armed too?

Who answers your queries?

Some call it nature, but the eastern philosophy says that it is your own subconscious mind answering you. Human mind and consciousness is the divine and holds all answers to life’s queries. It is akin to asking someone, “What would happen if you kill someone?” you need not ask the law-keepers or the lawyer. You have the answer. But, when the mind is stressed out with tensions, conflict and other’s opinions, it becomes clouded and reasoning is eclipsed.

This is the time outside forces like the coins etc are made use of. Ultimately, the coins and the lines reflect your condition, render the best advice and hint at the ultimate outcome of the situation. The answer is coming forth through you, as the yi is you and God is in you. When your reasons are clouded, you need external aid to guide you. 

The beauty of the Yi Jing is the kind of lessons it has to offer through the lines that are formed. “As above, so below can mean a wealth of things”. The conditions of heaven are reflected on earth. The clouds on the heavens descend as water on earth. It could mean children behave the way elders do by imitating the elders. The success and failures of future generations depend on the family heads of the former generations. What you eat will show on your health. Unhealthy food upsets the stomach. What you give you receive, what you sow, you reap.

It doesn’t mean that the strong has to forever be strong. The strong gains inner strength by lending its strength and power and submitting itself to the weak. The weak conquers by allowing itself to be subdued. Sometimes, what is needed in a situation is relenting to a force. By taming one’s inherent energies, one can conquer. What cannot be tamed by force, can be tamed by love and by yielding. Water collects at a basin!

When parents are opposed to the choice of their children’s partners, no amount of threats can deter the children. That’s the time the mother uses emotional blackmail and this at times works!

Also, one of the important lessons that the Yi Jing teaches is that the mighty powers have to descend like the vast sky that looks down at the earth and the clouds that move down to shower. In the absence of such a phenomenon what results is ‘stagnation’. When creativity is stifled, what follows is stagnation! The rational, tamed, dutiful, obedient and reasoning force has to give way to the irrational, untamed, unruly, spontaneous force.

A regimented system cannot sustain itself and life comes to a standstill, due to underlying tension and conflict. It is in giving only shall you receive.

The yi jing as a divination tool advises just this. It casts a ray of hope when a situation has worsened, or advises caution when a situation is at its best. Nature and the wisdom in the yi jing predict the outcome and help you to prepare for the battle ahead, armed with wisdom.


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