No Question? No Problem.

How can you ask the Yijing
if you don’t know what to ask?

“I Don’t Have A Question…”
Whenever I would invite friends to just shoot me a question for a Yijing reading, some of them would reply like this: I don’t have a question in mind. They would tell me that not having a special question has kept them from trying to get a reading. Even during actual reading sessions, some clients would tell me the same thing, and they would feel a bit off-guard, perhaps like a student who forgot to do homework.

Looking back, I think I failed to emphasize that they actually don’t need a question in getting a Yijing reading. It’s the same experience with the Tarot. As I correctly remember the first time, I didn’t ask a question, but the reader was able to interpret the cards. So the enigma is, why is there an issue in asking the right question? And how does Yijing work if there’s none to ask?

No Need For Question
If you’ve already read Yijing translations (and interpretations), you would often find that “asking a question” is a common instruction and a critical first step, since it is said to be required before getting quality answers from Yijing. But in one of his FB group posts, Yijing expert Harmen Mesker has argued otherwise:

There is no need for an ‘ideal question’ to make the Yi work for you. There isn’t even a need for a question. In early China they did not ask questions to their oracles (that is why there is not one single Chinese book from that time and later that addresses ‘asking the (right) question’), at the most they addressed situations or desired outcomes and wanted the oracle/ancestors to reflect on it.

lifted from Harmen’s post on The Open Order of the Hexagram FB Group

What Harmen argued here was discussed thoroughly by sinologist David Nivison (1989).1 Nivison argued that ancient diviners didn’t ask questions in consulting Shang Oracle Bones (a much more ancient precursor of Yijing). These oracular “charges”, as Nivison noted, were assumed by modern scholars as “questions” because of 3 mistakes:

  1. philological (or language) mistake, which assumes that a specific word indicates the charge as a question.
  2. philosophical mistake, which assumes that the diviner’s “intention” is to ask a question
  3. anthropological mistake, which assumes that people do divination only to seek and ask for information.

I suppose if we “correct” these mistakes in today’s Yijing practice, it means that in consulting the Yijing…

  1. you don’t need to write your inquiry in a question form
  2. you don’t need to be in a mindset to ask a question
  3. you don’t need to ask any questions to get an answer

Reading Without A Question
So no pressure in formulating a question. In the same post, Harmen assured his fellow Yijing users that…

The most important part is that you trust that you get what you need and that what you get will always be understandable [to] you.

lifted from Harmen’s post on The Open Order of the Hexagram FB Group

I have always told clients that they don’t need to formulate or ask a question. In fact, in many cases, I have adapted the approach of most Tarot readers by doing what most people call general reading, in which a Yijing reading doesn’t need a question, not even a hint. Instead, this reading is an open-ended exploration of answers, and I listen intuitively and contemplate on revealed insights. Yijing provides clear and exact insights just the same. What matters is the querent’s trust – your trust – to receive answers.

Life Areas
Nonetheless, to specifically focus on a reading without asking a question, I often ask for the client’s preferred life areas. In Feng Shui, these life areas are mapped out in the Bagua itself:

後天八卦 Houtian Bagua / Later Heaven Arrangement

While this represents a traditional map of major life areas, I have tried to group related life areas into their respective clusters:

Careercurrent profession, resignation, work, job descriptions, workplace, promotion, work dynamics, office politics, freelance, termination, career shift/change, tasks, productivity, work efficiency, career track,
Knowledgeeducation, information, spirituality, wisdom,
faith, learning, inner work, philosophy, studies,
research, thesis and dissertations, graduate school, training, workshop, intellect, understanding, contemplations, reflections, teaching, intellect,
Family parents, grandparents. relatives, clans, friends and friendships, household, custodians, partners, ancestors, platonic relationships,
Wealthmoney, finances, business, investments, expenses, abundance, prosperity, savings, profits, assets and liabilities, loans, sales, earnings, income,
Famereputation, leadership, position, politics, power, influence, legacy, self-growth, communication, character, values, acclaim, award, greatness, notoriety, virality,
Marriagelove life, relationships, dating, breakup, divorce,
sex and intimacy, sexuality, romance, spouses, prenup, engagement, soulmates, ideal partner, moving on, wedding, ideal partner, companionship, significant other,
Children &
art, artwork, creative process, child care, talents, skills, abilities, innovation, design, creative ideas, brainstorming, invention, play, games, music, fun, recreation, pleasure,
Helpful Peoplecommunity, travel, church, neighborhood, legal assistance, people’s opinion and/or advice, consultant, coaches, teachers, mentors, guides, social life,
Healthhealing, physical health, mental health, wellness, well-being, sickness/illness/disease, medical intervention, food and diet, pain, fitness, exercise, nutrition, diagnosis,

This is a growing list and it does not serve as a strict categorization. Rather, my purpose is to show you an easy way to pinpoint your life area, using the Bagua as a reference map. Instead of listing them all and getting lost in the jungle of choices, the Bagua serves as a sensible backbone of related life areas.

Case In Point
I recently reconnected with a client and old friend, and she decided to avail a chat reading session. She did not ask a question but instead chose to consult about her family’s health. We were out of touch for almost a decade, and I never from heard from her situation until this year. But with that singular information, my friend and I were totally surprised by the reading’s accuracy. It revealed the whole family dynamics, the conflicting health views of all family members, health issues hidden from each other, and the approach on how to resolve the distrust that almost worsened their conditions.

Obvious Benefits
Apparently, there are obvious benefits for clients when they get a reading either with no question or with a chosen life area. Some clients choose not to reveal it to prevent possible assumptions and bias. Other clients choose not to reveal their questions and instead they wait for how the reading can reveal any confirmation with little or no information at all. And it pays off because the synchronicity and surprise are so mind-blowing that it exactly validates what the client has in mind. For me, it almost always feels like I’m the one receiving the reading!

Another benefit is the simplicity of the inquiry. No need to think too much or too complicated about what to ask. It doesn’t even have to be a grand concern or major issue. Sometimes you will find yourself at the quiet point of your life that there is no need to ask and yet there is still a deep feeling to reflect and look back. A Yijing reading can respond to that.

You Can Still Ask
Though if you feel you still need to ask a proper question, feel free to do so. I can guide you on this, as the first step in my reading session is all about processing your inquiry. With that, I have also dedicated blog posts on how to prepare and create your questions for Yijing.

In the meantime, if you have a pressing need for some useful clarity, again you don’t need to ask a question. Don’t hesitate to send me your life area via email or via Messenger. I will send you back a one-sentence reading, free of charge.


1 David Nivison, et al. The “Question” Question, Early China, Vol. 14 (1989) Society for the Study of Early China


  1. Pingback: Asking the Yijing

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