In her book, The I Ching and You, Diana Ffarington Hook writes that asking questions relating to health are always difficult to answer. However she says that it is possible to diagnose correctly and that one should ask, What is Wrong? And then, What is the Cure? She says to look at what body parts the trigram refers to which will give you an idea of where the problem is or where the cure may be effected. The cause and the cure are not necessarily in the same place and that you may get an indication of the problem by studying the position of the moving line(s).
The charts below are useful for questions about health, describing the attributes associated with the lines and trigrams.
Suppose you are dealing with a situation where you feel that you are at a standstill. Look up hexagram number 12, Standstill. Read over all the lines which I have called phases. Notice that if you had cast the coins and actually received the hexagram for Standstill and had all the lines changed this would have turned into hexagram 11, Peace.
Look at the chart for all the hexagrams and their opposites that shows what a hexagram transforms to if all the lines changed using a synchronistic method of consultation. Take the meaning to heart and see what happens if you act on the advice, rather than the more passive mode of asking the I Ching “what is . . .?” My idea is, why not act upon the I Ching philosophy the way one might by going to a therapist or doctor for help? You can decide what situation you want to be in rather than at a standstill and see what lines to emphasize to act or not act upon that will lead to a different situation. Be open to change. Of course, any hexagram can change into any other hexagram. Yes, the I Ching was the original computer. To give just one example: Suppose you are in a state of standstill (#12) but you would like to be experiencing some enthusiasm (#16) instead.
In order to get out of the Standstill and move to a situation of Enthusiasm the top two lines would need to be acted upon. Focus on the meaning of those lines and then see if you can bring about those changes to allow enthusiasm to happen. Use this same method for any of the 64 situations.
While creating the chart for the hexagrams of opposites when all lines are in movement I noticed a few things that caught my interest and something to ponder when choosing a change. Here are a few examples:
• If all the lines of hexagram 7, The Army, change, the new hexagram becomes Friendship.
• Hexagram 53, Development/Gradual Progress, speaks about the steps towards marriage. When all the lines change we get hexagram 54, The Marrying Maiden which is also about marriage but about the second wife
• Approach, hexagram 19 and Retreat, hexagram 33 are opposites.
• Conflict, hexagram 6, when lived out to the fullest becomes Darkness, hexagram 36.
Not all these transitions are equal in arresting my attention but some are worth noting.
The I Ching Prescriptions are a different way of working with the I Ching. Many people wonder how could anyone take seriously an answer to a question arrived at by tossing coins. For this reason they decide that the I Ching is not for them. You don’t have to believe in synchronicity. You don’t have to take the time to understand the poetic symbolic language of the I Ching. When people dismiss the I Ching because it relies on random chance they miss out on the philosophy imbedded within it. A philosophy, based on nature that has survived for thousands of years has a message worth pondering.
I wrote this book for people who are not drawn to the more complex translations that often require one to read the responses like one would a dream. Not everyone responds to symbolic language. I wanted to make the Prescriptions direct and easy to use, just like taking a pill might be. I don’t know how an aspirin works. I just know that it does. This does not mean I do not appreciate all the other I Ching interpretations. I get benefit from them. I love symbols, poetry and symbolic language. If I didn’t I would not have been consulting the I Ching for so many years.
How the I Ching Prescriptions are Formulated:
These I Ching prescriptions are not intended to be a replacement for any of the many I Ching interpretations in publication. Forty years ago there was very little I Ching interpretation available. It was Carl Jung’s forward in Richard Wilhelm’s translation that first hooked me into the I Ching and remains my favorite version. However I frequently read several different interpretations of I Ching and benefit from various other perspectives. Because consulting the philosophy of I Ching is a subjective experience for the individual asking the question, I find all interpretations interesting.
While I have been studying and consulting the I Ching for over forty years, I cannot read Chinese so I rely on and am inspired by other translations and interpretations. They are all slightly different, depending on the subjective viewpoint of the writer. I pondered and absorbed meaning from these texts by distilling into a condensed essence a small script that has meaning for each of the 64 situations that the hexagrams describe.
If you are new to the I Ching, you might begin with one interpretation that you find relevant and then go on to read others.
How is the Prescription Method Different?
I have been involved with the I Ching for so long because it works. Synchronicity happens. So why have I created a different method in tandem with my practice of throwing the coins and relying on “chance” for my I ching answers?
First I need to give some background as to how I arrived at creating the prescriptions. If one is using the I Ching as a tool for divination one consults the I Ching by asking a question and then relies on the synchronicity of casting the coins or yarrow sticks. Because the Chinese language is not linear but pictorial I felt that giving the work images to ponder, along with linear text, was a broader experience for the meaning of the text however subjective that may be.
While I am working on the images for my graphic interpretation, I Ching Meditations, I experience each hexagram as a whole, with the 6 lines as one continual process. When I am creating an image for each line I focus on one hexagram at a time. It is as if I had asked the I Ching a question and received all changing lines. I absorbed the meaning of each line as it related to the hexagram as a whole in a different way than when I asked a question and then read only the lines that changed.
The effect of creating illustrations for interpreting the meaning makes the experience of the I Ching more intense. As I live with a hexagram for a long time I become aware of the organic movement within the six lines contained within each situation. This process led me to the idea of choosing a situation for I Ching guidance rather than to only rely on the synchronistic method. I have read a number of I Ching articles on how to use the I Ching where the writer says to read only the lines that are changing for guidance. So I’m proposing a concept here with a different approach that goes against the traditional directions for consulting the I Ching. As an example of the organic movement from one phase to another within the changing lines, take a look at the images in hexagram 10.
Choose Your Changes
When consulting the I Ching as a prescription, instead of asking a question in the traditional coin throwing approach, decide what issue in your life that you either want to deal with or are now involved in.
• Pick your prescription. Look at the list of the 64 Prescriptions in the image sbelow. Decide what prescription you need. Look up the prescription distillation in this book, read it and see how the advice applies to your life.
• Each I Ching prescription has seven parts to it; the general meaning at the top and the six phases written from the bottom up. These lines are written on top of the image of a tinted color of the trigrams that create the hexagram.
• There are seven paragraphs of counsel for each hexagram prescription that can be used — one for each day of the week. Focus on or meditate on the prescription you have chosen. Keep a record over the next seven days as you follow each step. Write down what happens for you in the process.
I arrived at the colors associated with each trigram from the book, I Ching, The Classic Chinese Oracle of Change translated by Rudolf Ritsema and Stephen Karcher, published by Barnes & Noble in 1995. However when I did research for this book I noticed that some other I Ching authors didn’t associate the same colors with some of the trigrams. I found black, yellow and blood red attributed to The Receptive Earth; Thunder was both green and yellow; Wind/Wood were both scarlet and white, and Abysmal Water both black and blood red. For the sake of time and effort I will continue to use the colors from my original source.
As I have been putting this book together the effect of seeing the trigrams in color has caused me to view the hexagrams more as what they are — two trigrams interacting with each other. I’m used to seeing these six lines in black on white, defining the lines as one statement. Whereas when I view the hexagrams with both colors, I get an additional hint of meaning, reminding me of the meaning of the trigrams contained within each hexagram.