Following my exploration of the I Ching in the recent series of posts (list below), I’ve begun to examine its guidance from the perspective of what I know to be true after a lifetime’s immersion in the mystical arts.
One of the authors I have come to trust is Brian Browne Walker. Brian is the author of several contemporary translations of the I Ching, Tao te Ching, The Art of War and his own work: Wie wu Wei Ching. His writings are entirely sympathetic to the ancient tradition, while providing an easier daily access to its undoubted wisdom.
We have busy lives, and, often, little time to contemplate how we should start each day, or how we should react (or not react) to a given situation. Brian Brown Walker’s response was to create a ‘pocket version’ of the I Ching to run as an App on mobile phones.
This App is simplicity itself to use, and allows the choice of dropping your own coins (see previous post) or tapping the App’s own coins. The results are ‘randomised’ into the equivalent reading. A small extra charge gets you the further guidance of the Wei wu Wei Ching, an addition translated text whose title translates as ‘Action through inaction’… something that captured my attention, as it was deeply relevant to my current state of mind and internal study.
It’s a concept we are not used to in the west. The idea of doing through not-doing requires a willingness to explore a deeper understanding of our place in the scheme of things. As individuals or societies, we can choose to act or not, when faced with a difficult choice. There are traditional and tribal methods of reaction, but they may not suit the person who is working to find a more harmonic relationship with their world – the world, for there is such thing as a world without its observer…
Each morning, I use the pocket App, above, to generate a view of the opportunities and challenges ahead. Initially, I approached this with skepticism, but, like generations of others, I’ve been astonished at how precisely the I Ching fits its guidance into the specific issues of my life.
On the day of writing this post, my reading was: No 3 – Chun. “Difficulty at the Beginning’. The literal meaning of Chun is a blade of grass pushing gently up through the soil, but meeting an obstacle. Its message is that patience and gentle perseverance is the course of action to take.
The startling part of the reading came from the secondary text provided by the Wei wu Wei Ching, which said:
To realize the Way
you must die and stay dead
and go on living. With one mighty blow,
sever the attachments of mind
and self and dwell in
The idea of ‘dying and staying dead’ is a profound one–if we understand what it refers to. There is a stage in mystical development where we must become dead to the person we were; must leave behind the parts of it that have become old. This act is a metamorphosis, much as the caterpillar undergoes when it spins the cocoon around itself and dissolves; awakening to find its chemical ‘soup’ has been transformed into one of the most beautiful creatures on Earth.
“You must die and stay dead… and go on living”. It couldn’t be clearer. We must make the effort to separate what has been outgrown from a vital core whose components we may not even know. We need to trust… We must trust that the ‘soup’ into which we dissolve will contain, along with the nurturing world around us, the material and forces to re-form us into a more powerful, honest and precise human being, fit to carry out that part of the world’s evolution, grand or simple, that has been allocated to us.
The effect this reading has is dependent on where we are in our life’s journey. It can be interpreted as a simple stage or a major point of transition. Only they who ‘cast the coins’ can know.
The text is not mine to quote freely, but one of the closing sentiments from this part of the book of ‘Action through Inaction’ is:
before there were
ten thousand entanglements, now
there is undifferentiated
If we truly seek, what more could we ask?
Other parts of this series of posts on the I Ching:
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.
The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.