Note to reader: if you intend to have a I Ching reading, please read this part very carefully, as this is part of your preparation before a reading. If you have more questions, you can refer to Commonly Asked Questions. You can also contact me here.
Questions to Ask
The questions you can ask must be emotionally significant to you, according to Dutch translator Rudolph Ritsema. Add to that, I’d say they can also be spiritually, philosophically and practically significant – questions that you deeply desire to seek answers, understand, and shape the way you perceive and live your life. Because of this reason, you are more eager to listen to what the I Ching has to say, and to find meaning in its message, which in turn makes the I Ching’s message clear and exact.
At first, you’ll might ask questions that seem too vague or confused. As a reader, one of my roles is to help you in this first crucial step of shaping your question. Like the work of a sculptor, I chip the unnecessary and confusing parts and let the form of your true question come out.
About Yes-or-No Question
A lot of people ask: “Can I ask a yes-or-no question?” Some readers would say this is a wrong or confusing question. In my practice, however, I always tell people that the I Ching answers beyond the yes-or-no. Often, we want black-and-white answers, and we seem to forget that there’s always a yin and yang – black on white and white on black. The function of the I Ching is to help you see all sides, the yes and the no in your situation, whatever concern you’re asking, and empower you to decide based on that wholeness-oriented insight.
Questions Not to Ask
Some readers would say there are questions improper to ask. I Ching reader and teacher Hilary Barrett says questions about financial, legal, or medical concerns are trickier to ask. Diana ffarington Hook discourages questions about money. I understand their point, for questions like these could entail a wrong understanding, which can be more detrimental than helpful.
In my understanding, however, I think the questions we cannot ask the I Ching are the ones that come from a problematic intention – that is, intentions that veer away from natural harmony. I won’t say they are moralistically bad or wrong, but they are more unskillful, in Buddhist terms. Unskillful means they won’t exactly work to harmonize many aspects within you, around you, and in between. These are:
- Questions that intend to HURT/HARM others: Obviously, this one need no further explanation. We all know the Golden Rule. No one takes pleasure in being hurt or harmed by others. So we don’t want to do the same.
- Trivial questions: What to wear or what to eat are things quite common and important in our daily lives, but they become trivial if we ask them solely for capricious reasons, for the sake of liking and disliking them.
- Either/or questions: To ask in this manner: “Should I do this or should I do that instead?” leads your inquiry to more confusion than clarity. When you get an answer, you’ll have a big trouble of telling which particular action I Ching tells you to do, because the question you ask is muddled up by contradicting options. As a reader, I’m here to help you shape your question much clearer, focusing on what you really intend to ask.
- Questions asked on behalf of others. When you seek the I Ching, you can only ask questions for yourself, because that is what you intend to ask. The manner and content of your asking may differ from what other people intend for themselves. We don’t want others doing personal things on our behalf, especially without our permission.
- Questions about other people’s action or decision: At times we want to know what others will do because ultimately we want to know if it is an advantage to us. This sounds selfish and one-way. Again, we can only ask about our action or decision, and how they affect others. Or we can ask instead how to understand other people’s action or decision and how it can affect us, so as to help us take a harmonious action.
- Questions about other people’s thought or feeling: Some people like to ask this questions (often for one’s own favor) to feel good or to be less anxious of what would others would say to them, or do in favor of them. Again, these areas are beyond your control and personal concern. Instead, ask only about your own thoughts and feelings.
- Questions about the future: Some people think the I Ching can be predictive of the future. But many I Ching practitioners think the opposite. A question like “Would I get what I really want this coming year?” sounds fatalistic – whether the answer is a yes or a no, the seeker has already lost the power to shape his/her choices, and make the best personal decision out of his/her best understanding and capacities. The I Ching facilitates our ability to be always in harmony, leads us to profound joy and proactive solutions, and brings back our responsibility to create and co-create our possibilities.
What if I don’t have a question?
In my practice, the I Ching speaks to people with intent and openness to connect with the insight, even without a particular question. With such intention, the reading has helped them sort and string together the details they needed to see as a bigger picture, reexamine their situation and bring them the necessary insights to take the right course of action and adapt a new way of understanding.
What if I have a question, but I don’t want to reveal it?
As a reader, I will still help you shape your question. I will also guide you on how to properly write your question down by anonymizing it. For example your question may sound like: “What is the best action to take so I can understand this particular person who have done this thing to me that I don’t like?” An anonymized question helps you to have a record of your reading that you can later reexamine and contemplate.
I always ask permission from the seeker if they want to reveal their questions or not. Either way, with the right attitude and proper asking, the I Ching will still speak answers to the seeker, clear and exact.