Noble One’s Net

How does a group Yijing reading work?

Group reading: First attempt
Back in 2016, I had already attempted 3 separate group readings, with attendance ranging from 6 to about 15 people. In my third attempt, I held a breakout session in a big conference, and participants enlisted earlier that day. During the session, I tried teaching EACH of them to use the coin method, and I did the rounds just to make sure they are all getting the process. But, because doing the Yijing has its own time bubble, we forgot to notice that our allotted time was already up, and I still had to do the interpretation for half number of participants. Sadly, I had to cut off the session as we needed to go back to the plenary.

While my short Yijing session piqued curiosity and interest among the participants as they seemed to enjoy the entire process, the facilitator in me felt frustrated and dissatisfied. I could have corrected my mistakes. I could have done it much faster and more efficient. But my desire for a group of participants to have a hands-on Yijing experience and receive personalized interpretations all for a limited session time is akin to brute force. I don’t want anymore to repeat the same mistake in future group readings.

Great Vigour?
During a retreat I attended in 2017, my mentor asked me to share the Yijing to the group of retreatants. I only had 1 hour to do so (just like my first attempt). Again, there has to be a more efficient way to do a group reading. So to prepare the night before my session, I consulted the Yijing and I got Hexagram 34 Great Vigour, Line 3 changing. This particular text called my attention:

Hexagram 34, Line 3
Small people use vigour,
Noble one uses a net…*

Noble One’s Net
What does the “net” mean?, I asked myself. After just a few minutes meditating on the image of the net, I had the memory of fishermen in action near the shores of Zambales. From afar I saw them pulling together a huge net. Then, as if changing a new slide, the image of Jesus Christ appeared, with his apostles helping each other casting a huge net on the Sea of Galilee and pulling it out filled with fishes.

I suddenly thought of these fishes as multiple insights captured by one big net – a single hexagram. Yes, that’s the answer to my group reading!

Net = single cast hexagram
Fishes = insights captured for all in the group

(As I write this, I love to take note of the double meaning of the verb cast, in relation to both hexagram and net.)

So I don’t have to use too much vigour in trying to give everyone a reading. I was then a small people (or person), understandably too green on my first group reading attempt. But after this reading, I was ready.

Not Without Ritual
What I just need to do is to establish the flow of the session, which Hexagram 34 Image remark or Wise Action has also reminded me:

A noble one treads no path that is without ritual.

As a well-being facilitator, I was also trained in the art of ritual-making – of creating an engaging space and flow for people to experience a certain lesson. So I did what I’m already familiar doing. I created a ritual of sorts for a group reading: hopping on the boat (sharing Yijing basics), followed by casting the net on the open sea (doing the reading for the group) and then sorting the catch (interpretation and group sharing of insights).

The magic of ritual, as my mentor always tells me, lies in the dance of the planned and the unplanned – what the ritualist prepares and structures prior, and how they would surprisingly turn out. It’s like being prepared to be surprised. Or more aptly, getting ready for magic!

One Reading That Moves Them All
So part of the magic in this reinvented group session was to hear the retreatants’ feedback on one reading that moves them all (my cute allusion to Tolkien’s LOTR). Since that retreat, I have conducted several group readings, which later evolved into another version, Yijing Community Readings, which I’m trying to hold monthly (I’m going to write a separate post about this as well). Again and again, diverse people, orientations and needs don’t deter a Yijing insight to hit the same chords. Here’s how I summarize the spirit of their feedback:

Kahit para sa lahat, parang eksaktong para sa akin ang reading.
(Even if the reading is for everyone, as if it was exactly meant only for me)

This Noble One’s Net is one of my most useful achievements in my Yijing practice, born out of consulting the Yijing on how to do a reading. (which I call metareading). Again and again, a collective reading like this captures each participant in inexplicably insightful and personalized way.

If you’re ready for some group reading, don’t hesitate to message me here. Let’s do some exciting insight fishing in the Yijing’s wild and deep ocean!


*All translations from Hilary Barrett, I Ching: Walking your path, Creating your future (Arcturus, 2015)


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