In my young days I would read Hermann Hesse. I thought that he had discovered the secret of life and laid it down in his “Glasperlenspiel”. But as hard as I read his books, I only found elusive traces of some hidden secret and him being suicidal didn’t really help. I laid Hesse aside to go on with my life.
In 2006, I reread all his books, to see if age had brought me closer to him. Ninon Ausländer’s (his third wife) biography shed more light on Hermann’s life as did visits at the sites of his life. I practically live around the corner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting any closer to his secrets. There is one single conclusion that I drew from his work: if you want to look at life, you won’t get around looking at your own, as presuming as it may be considered by others. In that sense his narcissism was justified.
There is a secret…
That’s when I picked up once again on Hesse’s mention of the I Ching and set out to learn it. I discovered Richard Wilhelm and found Swiss Sinologist Georg Zimmermann who had translated and updated the I Ching. For quite a few months I immersed myself in his writings and edited his work for publication.
The I Ching is my wealth and support in daily living. It would be misappropriating its qualities if I called it a book of oracles. It rather gives a clear assessment of the present situation that it is brought to by the knowledgeable user. When otherwise I am left to my own devices in making decisions, the I Ching is an invaluable help in bringing out my understanding of deep structures and holds them up to me like a mirror.
The I Ching also known as the Book of Changes, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. The text of the I Ching is a set of oracular statements represented by 64 sets of six lines each called hexagrams. Each hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines, each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the center). With six such lines stacked from bottom to top there are 64 possible combinations. The solid line represents yang, the creative principle. The open line represents yin, the receptive principle.
When a hexagram is cast, each yin and yang line will be either moving (that is, changing), or fixed (unchanging). A second hexagram is created by changing moving lines to their opposite. These are referred to in the text by the numbers six through nine as follows:
- Nine is old yang, an unbroken line
—θ—changing into yin, a broken line
- Eight is young yin, a broken line
— —without change;
- Seven is young yang, an unbroken line
- Six is old yin, a broken line
—X—changing into yang, an unbroken line
To each hexagram there is a text like a four line poem and interpretations of ancient scholars and there are short texts to each line of the 64 hexagrams. A good I Ching author will also add his own knowledge to these lines, explaining the pictures they use.
What’s in it…
The hexagram that is cast by using a system of throwing three coins may have one or several moving lines. The original hexagram text is read to interpret the present situation, the lowermost moving line will give details. This line is then changed into its opposite and another hexagram results. This process is repeated for each moving line that was cast. These resulting hexagrams shed light on the tendencies in the present situations, where they could lead to. In most cases, decisions can be taken accordingly.
It’s easy to learn to cast the coins. Using the I Ching book is not difficult. However, it does not make much sense for people who haven’t got the burning desire to be clear within themselves.