The Yi Jing (I Ching) is one of, if not the, most important classical text to come out of China. Passed down through oral traditions for thousands of years, it was eventually recorded in writing preserving a mathematical and philosophical system of divination created by an enlightened ancient culture. Through study of the Yi Jing it is possible to glimpse through a window in time in order to understand the levels of profound comprehension that China’s ancient ancestors had reached. Far from primitive people with little understanding of the world they lived within, the ancient Chinese clearly understood more about the wider cosmos than we do now. Through the creation of the Yi Jing they had recorded a way to fathom the various vibrational frequencies which make up the fabric of existence and then divine exactly how these different frequencies interplay with one another to create our experience of the passage of time.
The Eight Gua and Change
The Yi Jing is comprised of eight key symbols known as trigrams or Gua. These eight key symbols are formed of combinations of either solid or broken lines representing the two great poles of Yang and Yin. It is through the study of these eight Gua that the nature of change is understood. These eight key symbols appear throughout Chinese culture and history on their architecture, classical paintings and within philosophical texts demonstrating the widespread study of the Yi Jing throughout the ages.
Understanding the Gua and how they inter-relate to one another is a way into understanding the underlying energy of both Qi and life itself, change. If used alongside the internal arts it can become a powerful way of penetrating through to deeper levels of comprehension. More than just a tool of divination, the Yi Jing is a tradition of ‘understanding’.
The general process for learning the use of the Yi Jing is as follows:
- Learning to understand the underlying philosophy and theory of the Yi Jing. This involves understanding its formation, the interactions of Yin and Yang and its connection to the flow of Ming which affects each and every one of us throughout the course of our daily lives.
- Learning to use the classical yarrow stalks method for finding the Gua pertinent to the reading you are taking.
- Learning how to read the Yi Jing using the acquired method of consulting the book to read King Wen and the Duke of Chou’s commentaries. Once you have managed to understand Yi Jing usage to this stage you have completed the acquired method of using the Yi Jing.
- Learning to intuitively divine an understanding of the nature of change through delving deep enough into the Yi Jing symbols that they begin to permeate through to the core of your consciousness.
Within Lotus Nei Gong, many of our student’s study and use the Yi Jing alongside their other practices. Some do this to enrich their understanding of Daoism in general, some to seek guidance on life-course decisions and others to help them penetrate deeper into the theory that underpins arts such as Nei Gong, Chinese medicine and Baguazhang.