Should I apply for this job? Will my new relationship be happy? How should I deal with my bullying boss? Can I improve my finances? Our lives are complicated these days and we often feel stressed and insecure, demanding more of ourselves and our relationships than any generation before us. We want to be happy, but we also want our lives to be purposeful and to have spiritual meaning. So we are often faced with important challenges and look for good advice, not only about how things might turn out but also how best to deal with difficult situations in meaningful and ethical ways. The trouble is, we’ve become conditioned to looking for answers from other people: teachers, therapists, clairvoyants, the Internet… But there is a loving, unconditional and wise source of information and guidance much closer to home: our own higher minds, at the deepest level, know us better than anyone else and have all the knowledge that we need. Sometimes we access this in our dreams, waking up convinced that Someone is telling us Something. But dreams are fleeting, easily forgotten and difficult to interpret. The ancient Chinese devised a way of bringing out that wisdom deliberately into our waking consciousness. good answers to tough questions 4 The I Ching (or Book of Changes) is a set of oracles that anyone can easily learn to use for oneself. Its responses to our questions, whether practical or spiritual, are always astonishingly appropriate, offering guidance on the real factors underlying our situation and the proper way to approach them. And it is head and shoulders above virtually all other forms of divination in going even further, suggesting the likely outcomes of our decisions too. The I Ching is the oldest book in continuous publication in the world and is used by millions of people. Its essential philosophy is that our human lives have rhythms and seasons just as nature does, governed by subtle energies that we are usually quite unconscious of. However, in our deepest minds we understand these energies and, because our physical and psychic senses pick up a huge amount of information, at these inner levels we know what’s really going on and how the tides of our lives are turning. Here’s an example. A friend was having no success with her writing despite several positive comments from others. good answers to tough questions1After years of effort she was thinking of giving up, but consulted the I Ching with the question, “How will my work develop in the next year?” This is one of those situations where our ‘fate’ seems out of our own hands. Yes, we may believe wholeheartedly in our work but there are so many unknown factors beyond our control, like the demand for that work and contacting the right people at the right time. But the oracle knows that every life has a rhythm and a meaning. The book’s response was a chapter called ‘Possession In Great Measure’, one of the most favourable in the set. It describes a propitious time when “power is expressed…” leading to personal wealth. In particular, the book advised that “giving to the people” would bring a rise in status; this could only be interpreted as encouragement to keep writing and offering it for publication. (There was much more in the reading, relating to the spiritual growth we achieve by determinedly following the right path…) Well, my friend did keep going and, thanks to an out-of-the-blue meeting that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen at the time, her novel was published within a year. How did a four thousand year old Chinese book know that? Of course, it didn’t. But somehow, somewhere in the deepest mind where it is connected with every other mind, my friend knew it. The I Ching was just a method to bring that awareness out into the open. good answers to tough questions3Carl Jung believed that using the book is a special case of synchronicity. A consultation links the unconscious mind and all its wisdom with our waking awareness when we deliberately carry out some random physical act which the I Ching is designed to interpret. The common method is to toss three coins. This results in four possible combinations of heads and tails, each corresponding to a type of energy, represented by a graphic line. The process is repeated to give six such lines, called a ‘hexagram’, and each possible hexagram has a chapter of the book devoted to it. The skill then is to interpret those lines, guided by the commentaries on their meanings in the book. The first proper western translation was made by Richard Wilhelm in the early twentieth century, and was published in English with a Foreword by Jung in 1951. Some of the language is quite esoteric and symbolic, so several more modern translations have appeared since, though few of them seem to capture the original spirit and depth of the book. With over thirty years’ experience of using the I Ching, I am still knocked out by its accuracy and spiritual guidance. It deserves to be demystified and available to everyone. Nigel Peace is the author of Lighting The Path (ISBN 978-1-907203-26-8, also an eBook), a down-to-earth guide to the I Ching: how to form the question, various methods of consultation and how to interpret the answers, including many true examples of readings as well as a comprehensive glossary of the book’s phrases. He has also written on dreams and synchronicity. His website is © Nigel Peace, 2014 1900 x 800 This article and many others can be found in Edition30 of More to Life. Click here to flick through the pages.