I Ching


The contemplation today:


I consulted the ancient oracle again today, as I do once or twice a year when my intuition calls for it.

I first learned about this ancient oracle many years ago …. a gift from my first teacher of yoga and many other things in Life. (Thank you, Gail)

She introduced us to “throwing the Ching” with pennies. I had no idea what this was all about at the time.  But as I researched and learned more about it, I was amazed at the potential for a single moment to actually reveal what is unseen. Why not? Does not each “moment” contain all of the information of the “whole”?

As stated in the forward:

“In the exploration of the unconscious we come upon very strange things, from which a rationalist turns away with horror, claiming afterward that he did not see anything. The irrational fullness of life has taught me never to discard anything, even when it goes against all our theories (so short-lived at best) or otherwise admits of no immediate explanation.” Forward by C.G. Jung, on The I Ching translation by Richard Wilhelm

Today, this consultation with the oracle felt necessary ….. who knows why.

So after blessing my 3 pennies and allowing the contemplation question to arise, I threw my pennies 6 times for the hexagram to be revealed, and carefully wrote down the symbolic representation of each result. I then consulted the text and here’s what what seen in the moment:

I Ching Hexagram 17 – Sui / Following

  • Above Tui the Joyous, Lake
  • Below Chen the Arousing, Thunder


The trigram Tui, the Joyous, whose attribute is gladness, is above; Chen, the Arousing, which has the attribute of movement, is below. Joy in movement induces following. The Joyous is the youngest daughter, while the Arousing is the eldest son. An older man defers to a young girl and shows her consideration. By this he moves her to follow him.


Following has supreme success. Perseverance furthers. No blame.

Judgement Commentary

In order to obtain a following one must first know how to adapt oneself. If a man would rule he must first learn to serve, for only in this way does he secure from those below him the joyous assent that is necessary if they are to follow him. If he has to obtain a following by force or cunning, by conspiracy or by creating faction, he invariably arouses resistance, which obstructs willing adherence. But even joyous movement can lead to evil consequences, hence the added stipulation, Perseverance furthers, that is, consistency in doing right, together with No blame. Just as we should not ask others to follow us unless this condition is fulfilled, so it is only under this condition that we can in turn follow others without coming to harm. The thought of obtaining a following through adaptation to the demands of the time is a great and significant idea; this is why the appended judgment is so favorable.

The Image

Thunder in the middle of the lake: The image of Following. Thus the superior man at nightfall goes indoors for rest and recuperation.

Image Commentary

In the autumn electricity withdraws into the earth again and rests. Here it is the thunder in the middle of the lake that serves as the image, thunder in its winter rest, not thunder in motion. The idea of following in the sense of adaptation to the demands of the time grows out of this image. Thunder in the middle of the lake indicates times of darkness and rest. Similarly, a superior man, after being tirelessly active all day, allows himself rest and recuperation at night. No situation can become favorable until one is able to adapt to it and does not wear himself out with mistaken resistance.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: The standard is changing. Perseverance brings good fortune. To go out of the door in company produces deeds.

There are exceptional conditions in which the relation between leader and followers changes. It is implicit in the idea of following and adaptation that if one wants to lead others, one must remain accessible and responsive to the views of those under him. At the same time, however, he must have firm principles, so that he does not vacillate where there is only a question of current opinion. Once we are ready to listen to the opinions of others, we must not associate exclusively with people who share our views or with members of our own party; instead, we must go out and mingle freely with all sorts of people, friends or foes. That is the only way to achieve something.

Six in the second place means: If one clings to the little boy one loses the strong man.

In friendships and close relationships an individual must make a careful choice. He surrounds himself either with good or with bad company; he cannot have both at once. If he throws himself away on unworthy friends he loses connection with people of intellectual power who could further him in the good.

Nine in the fourth place means: Following creates success. Perseverance brings misfortune. To go one’s way with sincerity brings clarity. How could there be blame in this?

It often happens, when a man exerts a certain amount of influence, that he obtains a following by condescension toward inferiors. But the people who attach themselves to him are not honest in their intentions. They seek personal advantage and try to make themselves indispensable through flattery and subservience. If one becomes accustomed to such satellites and cannot do without them, it brings misfortune. Only when a man is completely free from his ego, and intent, by conviction, upon what is right and essential, does he acquire the clarity that enables him to see through such people, and become free of blame.

So ….. it seems there will be much growth in finding my place in relationship between leader/follower??


Some further reflection on the Image Commentaries……

THUNDER: The shock of continuing thunder brings fear and trembling. The superior man is always filled with reverence at the manifestation of God; he sets his life in order and searches his heart, lest it harbor any secret opposition to the will of God. Thus reverence is the foundation of true culture.

LAKE: A lake evaporates upward and thus gradually dries up; but when two lakes are joined they do not dry up so readily, for one replenishes the other. It is the same in the field of knowledge. Knowledge should be a refreshing and vitalizing force. It becomes so only through stimulating intercourse with congenial friends with whom one holds discussion and practices application of the truths of life. In this way learning becomes many-sided and takes on a cheerful lightness, whereas there is always something ponderous and one-sided about the learning of the self-taught.

The I Ching is not magic; it is science that we don’t understand.”  Terence McKenna

(Featured Image: Seated woman 1940 Willem de Kooning)