Drawing From The Well- An Introduction to The Book of Changes

This week’s blog post is about the ancient Taoist/Chinese art of Divination- the mystic oracle known as the I Ching, The Book of Changes.

Reiki school graduate and U Arts professor Jennifer Goettner tells us the story of how she found it, how it helped her, and how it might help you too.

Enter Jenny: It always tickles me to inform people, with a completely straight face, that “I was raised by wolves.” Now I’ve always been blessed with a deep appreciation for metaphor, which has brought a greater sense of meaning to my life. I’ve come to believe that parables often present themselves to us within the context of our everyday lives, and not just in the pages of ancient books.

For me, the discovery of a link between the two (ancient and present) narratives can be life-transforming. Human beings have lived through struggles similar to our own for thousands of years.

So, yes, I was ‘raised by wolves’. What I mean by this statement is that I was raised to be wild, untamed, even violent. I received virtually no useful discipline as a child. I may have been beaten, but I do not use the word discipline to describe these acts, as they did not serve a ‘socializing’ purpose for me. Raised by wolves, I went into the world and although others found me beautiful, I was also dangerous.

I didn’t want to hurt people, but I did anyway. It was in my nature, because my nature was wild. I had little understanding of the power that I wielded, and so I had very little sense of the responsibility this entailed.

For many years I lived my life as a kind of ‘spiritual orphan’, and felt doomed to a life of pain. Until one fateful day, a friend introduced me to the I Ching. All of a sudden, at the age of thirty-three, I was receiving life guidance, and all I had to do was ask. It was the ‘good stuff’ too – ancient wisdom (tried and true) was there to guide lil’ ol’ me.

The wisdom of the I Ching is accessed through a process of divination – the book tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it. The oracle is not a device for ‘fortune telling’, but it is instead a kind of ‘fortune finding’ tool. The wisdom comes to us from two distinct spiritual lineages – Taoist and Confucian.

The Taoist aspect offers me a kind of mother-wisdom, as I learn to recognize and appreciate the lessons offered in nature. The Confucian aspect provides a stern but loving father-figure to teach me how to behave in sticky social situations.

For me, these two (dualistic) perspectives fit neatly into the concept of Yin and Yang energy and their masculine and feminine characteristics. I have learned much from the I Ching about the nature of these phenomena. I am now able to use this knowledge to make the adjustments necessary for regaining balance – within the context of everyday life.

I may be preaching to the choir when I say that it is our perspective on life’s events, rather than the events themselves, which determines our state of well-being. As we cultivate this awareness, we strengthen our ability to decide for ourselves precisely what will become of us. This is where the I Ching can be of great use. It provides a vantage point from which to consider our role in life’s events.

The roles we play in life are not newly-cast, and we need not grope in the dark when it comes to our spiritual growth. We can learn from the poetic wisdom of the past, and break free from our habitual patterns of behavior. I know in my heart that these things I say are true. It would bring me so much pleasure to share this amazing book with YOU!

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