Welcome to I Ching Consulting!

Guqin Solo

Welcome to I Ching Consulting! I am offering I Ching Readings and lifestyle advice for all those who feel positive about the age-old Daoist Way of Wisdom, which was neither a religion nor a philosophy.

Listen to the Guqin Solo to get into the contemplative mood required for receiving your unique gift of an I Ching Reading that helps you make your decision!

Read the Consulting FAQ to know what an I Ching Consulting session is all about.

Draw Inspiration from the I Ching

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

There is nothing constant in the universe. All ebb and flow, and every shape that’s born bears in its womb the seeds of change.

—Ovid, Metamorphoses

Just as with the Bible, a literal presentation of the text of the age-old I Ching would result in a too narrow grasp of the wisdom book; this can at times be quite misleading.

Second, please consider that we are living in a modern society today, and our thinking has switched from a moralizing mode, so typical for former centuries, to a functional mode.

With the expression ‘functional mode’ I mean that we today are more inclined to locate moralistic reasoning within ‘religious’ sectarian opinions and find it rather unfit for a person who is spiritually awake, whereas we more easily welcome an empirical approach to life that is based on scientific evidence and human experience.  For when we divine, we are doing nothing else than involving our heart or subconscious mind in our decision-making process!

The I Ching has a clear and natural approach to morality, which means it does not embody a ‘moralizing’ approach. Taoism is based upon natural or genuine morality which can be expressed in what has been termed the ‘golden rule’ of not doing to others what you don’t want others do to you.

For example, the I Ching has nothing against wealth, but it is not enamored with poverty either; it recommends to remain simple and to see that our efforts should surpass a mere striving for comfort, as comfort alone cannot give  meaning to our lives. However, this does not mean that the I Ching suggests us to stay out of the world or to retire in the mountains. Not at all. The art of living the I Ching teaches is to stay in the world without becoming entangled with the world.

The I Ching doesn’t divide life in black and white, as our media so often do. The idea that a ‘punishing’ destiny is looming or that there is a revengeful God are not in accordance with the philosophical approach of the old wisdom book.

Also, as my own interpretation of the I Ching focuses on leadership, the art of leading others through properly leading self, it is essential to start with a positive mindset, rather than a fatalistic and superstitious one.

We are far beyond the times when people were consulting fortune tellers; today serious astrologers, numerologists, cartomancers, and life consultants are changing their consultancy style from ‘predictive’ to ‘psychological.’

All learning is gradual, and when it involves a change of basic behaviors, it is incremental. This means that evolving ‘from chaos to coherence’ will not be possible overnight. It’s a slow and gradual process; it starts with building awareness of ‘what is’ in order to move toward a different way of seeing the world.

Leadership I Ching 2020

‘Leadership I Ching 2020: Your Daily Companion for Practical Guidance (5th Edition, 2020)’ is a scholarly yet practical edition of the I Ching both for beginners and seasoned practitioners. The special focus of this divination guide is upon leadership, self-leadership and leading others.

The central concern of the author is to help the reader understand the I Ching from a point of view of decision-making, and as an aid to decision-making. In this sense, the ‘oracle book’ becomes an effective guide for taking action, which can mean bold action, nonaction or retreat. The wisdom is to arrive at right action, in whatever form it has to be carried out.

The difference between the Eastern and the Western approach to leadership is obvious. In the West, only going forward with a project is considered as the correct action to take. Notions such as nonaction or retreat are easily connoted with character weakness or procrastination.

However, such a limited approach can lead one into an impasse and can even potentially be dangerous. This is why the integrated approach developed from timeless wisdom makes much more sense, for it engages one to develop a flexible attitude.

The book comes with a practical guideline how to easily make divinations, it explains the base structure of the I Ching and why it works, and it includes a complete interpretation of all 64 hexagrams.

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Audiobook consisting of 75 MP3 audio files, 6 hours 24 min., and 1 PDF, 409 pages, in one ZIP Archive (535 MB Download). Direct Download.



12 Characteristics of the Daoist Sage

‘12 Characteristics of the Daoist Sage’ is a short and quite original essay on what makes the character of an ancient Daoist sage. I namely found 12 distinct characteristics that the sage assumes, some of them being outright contrary to common characteristics of people in our time and society. They are:














The sage is adaptable, he is mentally flexible. He does not insist upon a certain direction to take, in whatever he does. He goes with the flow, he is creatively ‘undirected’ and ‘unintentional’ for he does not believe in what nowadays is called a ‘purposeful life.’ He questions that there is something like a single direction in life called ‘purpose’ or ‘ultimate goal’ or else, single focus. He adapts to circumstances as water adapts to the level of the landscape that it passes through.


Blitheness is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘casual and cheerful indifference.’ The sage is blithely in the sense that he is a joyful absentee from any kind of involvement in matters that lead to attachment and sorrow.


The stage is dispassionate, thereby avoiding emotional attachment, which leads to ego-inflation and dependence in relationships. The dispassionate nature of the sage, superficially looked at, can easily be mistaken for cynicism or deliberate ridicule, but is really different from these negative expressions.


The sage is genuine and original, while today in our modern world most people are imitative and artificial. To be genuine requires one to be disinterested in hero worship, to be adamant to not recognize anybody as ‘especially important’ as today the media cult around billionaires, movie stars and famous entrepreneurs indulges in it on a daily basis. It means to see the basic human in every man or woman, a down-to-earth regard that does not bother if one is a genius, and another a simple worker or craftsman. In resisting to be ‘impressed’ by a particular person, the sage is able to keep the necessary distance to other humans so that his genuineness does not suffer from any bias that results from the overestimation of human capabilities. 


The sage is indiscriminate. He does not have preferences, knowing that obsessive focus on ‘choosing’ distorts genuine non-involvement in human affairs and results in a biased view of reality. 


The sage is peaceful. He lives peacefully. He considers peace as the natural state of a human being who is spiritually awake and developed, as matter of respect for all life. Thus he avoids conflict, involvement in human affairs, entanglement with other people’s ‘purposeful’ living, or any action that would get him out of his center. Being peaceful, for the sage, means being centered in his own reality so as to not create waves of antagonism.


The sage is always prepared. This he has in common with the warrior, thereby being a warrior-sage. There is a greater difference between a warrior and a non-warrior (ordinary person) than between a sage and a warrior. While the sage is a warrior of peace, he does not blame a warrior of war for he knows that preparedness is an essential quality of a person who is wide-awake and spiritually focused.


The sage is self-sufficient. He leads a thrifty lifestyle, he is frugal. He knows that the secret of prosperity is to be found in a parsimonious attitude, an avoidance of waste of any kind. But he is also spiritually self-sufficient which means he will not adopt any ‘religion’ as most other people do, but remain unbaptized, uncircumcised, unchurched—preserving the integrality of both his body and mind.


The sage leads a sustainable life. All he does can brought forward over long strands of time without deteriorating. He intuitively knows about the functioning of living systems and systemic thinking. He therefore creates outcomes from his actions that are sustainable rather than subject to decay. That his away his actions are lasting over time and can be seen as lasting achievements after his transition to the higher dimension.


The sage is unassuming. He does not attract attention to himself. This is an outflow of his modesty. He does not think of himself as special, but as ordinary, he avoids all false pretense, being plain and honest, straightforward and direct in his relating to others and his lifestyle.


The sage defeats a spirit of competition. He does not compete and will not compete under any circumstances. He is sensitive enough to see the subtle roots of conflict in a competitive attitude, and the roots of even greater conflict in a competitive society. He knows that competition ultimately leads to spiritual impoverishment because the competitive lifestyle lacks a contemplative focus, being obsessed with an action focus that leads to the dispersement of grounding through a judgmental and superficial attitude.


The sage is unheroic, the contrary of a hero. He considers it a fundamental mistake in life to judge humans as being either heroes (winners) or followers (losers), then worshipping the first category and having pity with the second. From the sage’s point of view, this is sheer arrogance and an attitude that invites antagonism and conflict between people. Hero worship on a cultural, social level, as it is part and parcel of today’s postmodern culture, is considered by the sage as a cultural aberration from the path of nature which is not judging her creations in any way. The sage defeats being a hero himself by being unassuming, dispassionate, contemplative, humble, and uninvolved in human affairs other than his own plain and simple life. The sage knows that heroes define themselves by ‘having purpose in life,’ thereby being entangled by a mental concept or concepts, which acts counter to being genuine and free, creative and spontaneous, and childishly innocent which are qualities only the sage embodies.

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The Integral Way

‘The Integral Way’ is an introductory article on the subject of Integral Way Consulting which is a form of consulting directed by the spirit. The article addresses basic questions around ancient scholarly Daoism and the concept of the ‘Way’ as a developmental and philosophical idea.

The article also shows the difference between the ‘Integral Way’ to any kind of Western philosophical teachings, most of which are fragmented.

Here are some of the topics the article addresses:
—What is the Dao?
—The 7 Stages of Spiritual Development
—The 8 Principles of Daoism
—What is Integral Spirituality?
—What is Spiritual Sufficiency?
—Daoism and Wholeness
—Daoism and T’ai Chi Practice

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Audiobook consisting of 30 MP3 audio files, 61 min., and 1 PDF, 73 pages, in one ZIP Archive (213 MB Download). Direct Download.



The I Ching and HeartMath® Research

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

Now, let me explain how the recent, quite revolutionary HeartMath® Research both confirms and explains how our heart’s intuitive wisdom impacts upon life and creates reality. Honestly, I did not expect that once scientific research would prove all my intuitive insights to be true. But this has well been the case.

Stephen Covey reported in his book The 8th Habit (2004) that controlled double-blind scientific laboratory studies ‘are producing increasing evidence of the close relationship between body (physical), mind (thinking) and heart (feeling).’

—Stephen R. Covey, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, London: Simon & Schuster, 2004, 51.

Before I go more into detail using the original research report, let me outline here the quite far-reaching conclusions that Dr. Covey drew from it, calling it our four intelligences:

Our Physical intelligence (PQ);

Our Mental Intelligence (IQ);

Our Emotional Intelligence (EQ);

Our Spiritual Intelligence (SQ).

The IQ is our classical intelligence concept as affirmed by psychology and early brain research. It was widened in the 1970s by the understanding of ‘emotional intelligence’ or EQ.

—See for example Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, New York, Bantam Books, 1995.

Goleman writes in one of his later books, summarizing his many years of research on emotional intelligence that ‘for star performance in all jobs, in every field, emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities.’

—Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence, New York: Bantam Books, 1998, 31.

The intelligence of our body, namely our gut, and our spiritual intelligence have been discovered only recently. Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer write in their research report:

The human body is an incredible system—roughly 7 trillion cells with a mind-boggling level of physical and biochemical coordination necessary just to turn a page, cough, or drive a car. When you consider how little of it you have to think about, it becomes even more amazing. When was the last time you reminded your heart to beat, your lungs to expand and contract, or your digestive organs to secrete just the right chemicals at just the right time? These and a myriad of other processes are handled unconsciously for us every moment we live. Intelligence manages the whole system, much of it unconscious.

The notion that intelligence is a purely cerebral, aloof activity uncontaminated and unaffected by emotions has been shown in this and much other recent research to be an outdated and misguided myth.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence: The Power to Change Performance, Boulder Creek, CA: Planetary Publishing, 2004, 27-28, and 33.

What I was trying to point out in my own words, that is, that self-regulation is built in our body and mind system, and that peak performance is a result of inner peace is now confirmed by HeartMath® research.

These scientists have termed the inner state that is conducive to success ‘inner coherence.’ Based on this insight, they are talking about the need for inner leadership and internal self-management as the starting point of all highly effective leadership.

HeartMath® research confirms what ancient mystics knew, namely that the world is an ‘internally created phenomenon.’ We all live in a different world as we process the sensory data we receive according to our mental setup, our beliefs and our emotions to create what each of us experiences as ‘the world out there.’ The authors write in their report:

Creativity, decision-making, health and well-being all improve when mind and emotions are coherent and relatively noise-free.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence: The Power to Change Performance, Boulder Creek, CA: Planetary Publishing, 2004, 3.

From my several years of work experience as a corporate trainer in South-East Asia, I know that today organizations not just in Asia but everywhere in the world are challenged at a very high level. The mechanistic management solutions most executives have learnt and believed in are not working any longer because they disregarded the human element, which means the human being that has also an irrational side, and is emotional, rather than always rational.

Under the old leadership paradigm and before globalization, this was still quite workable, but with the networked world economy and the relocation of producing markets to virtually everywhere on the globe, the old model proves to be increasingly insufficient.

It is not surprising, then, that the authors summarize their research in these alarming terms:

In an age of chaos, emotional management or mismanagement is more important in determining the long-term success of an organization than product success or process improvements. This is as true of start-up firms that experience rapid success but are unprepared for its operational realities as it is for the massive older organization or institution affected by large-scale emotional turmoil and malaise of its workforce. It is also true that 80% of the Fortune 500 companies of 1970 have disappeared off the list.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence, 34.

This is why the individual learning experience assumes such importance. When executives and workers in a company are left alone to self-manage their emotions and learn new knowledge, they will fall back on old memories, those namely they had in school or even earlier.

Without conscious thought or choice, a person often avoids learning environments and challenges because of unpleasant feelings imbedded in neural tracks in our brains during earlier learning experiences.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence, 34-35.

What this research also revealed is that the cognitive capacities of employees become far more sharp and effective as emotions become balanced, understood and integrated. If organizations continue to leave people alone and without professional support in handling their emotional conflicts and challenges, they will not be able to help their staff handle the enormous stress that today is part of organizational life everywhere on the globe. Abundant research delivered the proof that millions of people today are maladapted to handle the stress of life in our modern consumer societies, both at work and at home.

—See, for example, Hans Selye, The Stress of Life, Revised Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978/1984, with many references.

Hans Selye was the first researcher who found that not all forms of stress are harmful. He even asserted that some basic level of stress is needed for advancing in life; in other words, our emotional system can cope with stress if stress levels remain within reasonable boundaries.

According to HeartMath® research it depends on the person’s ability to handle their individual ‘stress response.’

In so doing, a person skilled in self-management can actually take stress as an opportunity for personal growth.

Thus chaos is not the problem, but how long we need to build inner coherence!

Research on emotional intelligence has shown that the most successful people in life are the ones who have learned to manage their emotional reactiveness, neutralizing or transforming negative emotions in the process of gaining a new richness of experience.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence, 43-44.

This research also demonstrated that when the electrical patterns of the brain synchronize with the rhythmic patterns of the heart people operate with greater physiological coherence, resulting in increased conscious awareness and greater intelligence.

The ability to self-generate feelings such as care, appreciation, and compassion is key to greater brain efficiency, enhanced learning, and a more emotionally balanced life. This is one reason why heart intelligence is such a powerful metaphor for increasing personal and organizational effectiveness.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence, 45-46.

One of the most cutting-edge findings of this research is that, contrary to traditional neuroscience, people can learn to ‘rewire’ neural tracks that inhibit learning, growth, and emotional maturity, and that are necessary for achieving success. The brain has shown to have an enormous plasticity for those processes of rewiring neural networks and for changing preferred neuronal pathways that were laid down in early childhood.

This fact alone opens enormous possibilities for assisting us with mind and brain changing tools targeting at not only boosting our performance level but changing our self-understanding in virtually limitless ways. We need to stop blaming our emotional nature for mismanaged emotions and start to see the heart for what it is—the source of our core power intelligence!

This is so much the more important as, although the heart and brain each radiate electrical frequencies, the amplitude of the heart’s signal is 40 to 60 times stronger than that of the brain!

A mind or organization without heart is scattered, impulsive, and easily distracted. Emotions and organizations without the intelligent balance that comes from the heart create flash fires of instability and waste, causing people to stay locked in self-justified mental loops, missing a heart intelligent perspective that could offer deeper understanding. Incoherences rules. People leave. Groups operating only on instinct arising from gut feelings and often based in fear stay constrained in modalities that imprison the spirit and age prematurely. The heart puts first things first, from the 7 trillion cells it nourishes to the life it sustains to the vitality it ensures—intuitive, intelligent, businesslike; core, fundamental; the first priority.

—Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, From Chaos to Coherence, 51, 55. The results measured after implementing this research are staggering. They included reductions of 65% in tension, 87% in fatigue, 65% in anger, and 44% in intentions to leave the company.

Now let me explain how HeartMath®  Research proved the divinatory method of cognition right. The old science of divination knew that there is an intelligence of our heart and that the heart emits vibrations into the universe that have an impact upon all of life and living!

This age-old insight, however, was denied or declared ‘epiphenomenal’ during the phase of positivistic science, from the time of Bacon and Galileo until the upcoming of systems research in the 1940s.

Both the systems view of life and HeartMath® Research now clearly confirm the fact that when we are focused internally, and in a state of inner coherence, we have the ability to lucidly plunge in a state of cognition that is highly aware of where we are steering and thus how our current thoughts and projects will develop on the timeline into the future!

While most people are not consciously aware of these patterns of lucid cognition, they can use divination, the I Ching, the Tarot, the Runes or any other method to help them in their decision-making. Fact is that it’s not the divinatory method as such that somehow ‘knows’ our future, but our own heart’s lucid cognitive intelligence!

Throughout this book, for the interpretation of the 64 hexagrams, I have used the expression ‘build inner coherence’ for indicating that the situation requires you to seek your focused state, to make peace with yourself, overcome any fears, face your future positively, and plunge into that state of lucid cognition that, if not immediately, so the hours and days following your reading, will signal you the way to go, and thus to act properly, so that everybody involved in the situation is benefited.

—See Peter Fritz Walter, The Leadership I Ching: Your Daily Companion for Practical Guidance (2015).

The I Ching and Modern Science

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

The I Ching may well be the oldest book on the planet. Like the Bible, the Book of Changes was a co-operative effort spanning many centuries.

R. L. Wing, in his I Ching interpretation, makes the assumption that the deepest ideas conveyed in the I Ching were handed down orally from the elders of nomadic Siberian tribes. These early sages were great observers of nature; they looked at the stars and tides, plants and animals, and the cycles of all natural events. They also made out the patterns of social life, government, warfare, and the rules pertaining to the welfare of the family.

Contrary to Western philosophers who thought of the cosmos as a static arrangement of atoms, ancient Chinese scholars put their focus on the organic and systemic nature of the universe; they looked at how things change in nature, and how structures organically emerge.

Their idea of nature was of a fluid, ever-evolving organism in which everything is connected: an interconnected system of relations, which is exactly what cutting-edge systems research now reveals to us, thereby rectifying hundreds of years of speculative, and largely superfluous, philosophy.

—See Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (2014).

They then condensed their insights into the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. It is quite astonishing to see that those sages had an acute awareness of the hidden parallelism between agricultural cycles, social patterns, courtly manners, warfare strategies, cosmic events, and the practice of self-cultivation.

The authorship of the I Ching is attributed to the legendary Fu Hsi, who ruled China during the third millennium B.C. He is said to have created the arrangement of the initial eight trigrams that are at the basis of all the sixty-four hexagrams.

Another influential author and commentator of the I Ching was King Wen, the founder of the Chou Dynasty (1150-249 B.C.). He is said to have written his commentary on the I Ching during the time of his imprisonment under the tyrant Chou Hsin. The legend goes that a dream had revealed to him a hexagram displayed on the wall of his cell, upon which he began to describe his mental images in words.

After he was rescued from prison, King Wen took the throne, and his son, the Duke of Chou, completed his father’s work by writing complete commentaries on all the lines of each hexagram.

At that time, and even later in ancient China, all great scholars were devoting much time and energy to study the I Ching and write their own commentaries for it. Among them are Lao Tzu, Mencius, Mo Tzu, Chu Hsi, and Chuang Tzu. Confucius (551-479 B.C.) made the perhaps most important contribution, known as the Ten Wings, which is a collection of philosophical essays on the I Ching.

Confucius was among the first philosophers who considered the potential of the I Ching for self-development, and especially the development of leadership qualities.

The anecdote goes that he consulted the I Ching so often during his later years that he had worn out three times the leather thongs holding together the parchment upon which it was written.

Another important I Ching scholar was Carl Jung. He came across Richard Wilhelm’s celebrated translation for which he later wrote an important Foreword. Jung saw in the I Ching a brilliant mind map of human nature and cosmic order, and the cosmic memory of archetypal forces which he named as the ‘collective unconscious.’

R.L. Wing writes in The I Ching Workbook (1984) that the search for a solution to the mystery underlying the constant motion and change in the universe has spawned both the science of physics and the earlier science of metaphysics.

There is a line going through all the impending change in the cosmos; it could be called a developmental energy, or creational principle that the old Chinese called the Tao.

Modern science has revealed it through quantum mechanics and calls it the Quantum Field or Quantum Vacuum. While this technical expression suggests that within this field, there is nothingness, the exact contrary is true.

As Ervin Laszlo put it in his book Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything (2004), it’s actually a plenum. What the old Chinese called ch’i and in the West used to be called pneuma or ether, is now considered as obsolete by modern physics in the sense of a secondary mover.

As Einstein put it, the field nature explains sufficiently why electrons are entangled even over huge distances and why there can be ‘spooky motion at a distance,‘ as a result.

But the very core of the I Ching is the principle of polarity which is an underlying reality in all of nature. The old Chinese called it the dualism of ying and yang. 

All the hexagrams in the I Ching are reflections of these polar yet complementary energies. Carl Jung, known to have studied and worked with the I Ching for many years, actually explained its working with synchronicity or meaningful coincidence.

When you throw the coins, the way they fall has meaning; it’s not a random event.

The resulting hexagram reflects the content of your subconscious mind which knows what the outcome of the situation will be, so the I Ching, as any other divination device, actually projects the content of your subconscious mind. As we often today are afraid of change, we can learn to become more change-friendly if we often consult the I Ching and follow its advice. The good news is that the I Ching will always counsel you to change in a non-hurtful, smooth and predictable manner, so that the change is intelligent and harmonious.

Following the I Ching you thereby become more flexible in your overall approach to life and to problem-solving.

In this sense, the I Ching is not just a manual for fortune telling, nor a substitute for your intuition!

The I Ching and Morality

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

The I Ching never is moralistic. It has nothing against wealth, nor is it enamored with poverty. It recommends to remain basically simple and to see that our efforts should surpass a mere striving for comfort, as comfort alone cannot give a sense to our lives. However, this does not mean that the I Ching recommends us to stay out of the world or to retire in the forests. Not at all. The art of living the I Ching teaches is to stay in the world without becoming entangled with the world.

The I Ching teaches to focus upon what we are interested in, what we consider as our mission. As a result, the I Ching does not recommend a fatalistic, procrastinating attitude but encourages personal growth.

I would say, after years of experience in divining, that the wisdom book shows us the difference between greed and commitment, as for building commitment, we have to warp against over-commitment in the form of greed. When you are merely greedy, and your base intention is just to amass more riches, when you are lacking a more outgoing commitment to your profession or activity, then the I Ching will disadvise you to proceed.

What is greed? Let us have a closer look. There is no doubt that the powerful motor of capitalism is greed.

Greed is an effective drive because it is fed by emotional flow. However, greed is not for this reason a natural human characteristic; it is rather a compensation longing for material goods that comes about through the repression of our natural desires. To put it shortly: prohibit sex and you will breed greed in people! Greed is a longing for pleasure, and constant pleasure, and it compensates for the prohibited natural body pleasure. Greed is not just a sort of hunger for wealth. What’s wrong with hunger for wealth? What’s wrong with being clean, comfortable, joyful, wealthy and powerful? Greed is not that.

Webster’s dictionary defines greed as ‘excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness’ and it thus bears an element of excess in it. Interestingly, in the Western culture where materialism has come about in the first place, greed is judged very severely as negative and destructive by the Bible.

Does that mean that every Western businessman who follows and practices Christian religion will be caught in a deep conscience split? I think that this would be a misunderstanding of what greed is. In Buddhism, there is perhaps no single other characteristic that is so harshly judged as destructive for human development as greed. And yet I have never seen a Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese businessman who was in the least bothered with being strongly focused upon acquiring wealth and social status.

I think that when we talk about greed, we really talk about excessiveness. Following the Eastern principle of balance and harmony in all doing, which is recognized as one of the fundamental life principles in Chinese philosophy, we would not need to blacklist greed because it would be held as a signal for negative growth because of its excessiveness.

This makes much more sense in my opinion than the moralistic judgment against greed that is to be found in Christian faith, in Buddhism and in Islam regarding greed.

In fact, moralistic judgments have barely a rational basis, as they are often arbitrary. But it makes sense to avoid behavior that, because of its excessiveness, brings about strife, conflict and backlashes in all ways.

To be more correct on the meaning of words, we could then conclude that a free economy is not based upon greed, but upon the natural striving for comfort and wealth, which is just another form of striving for pleasure, but that capitalism in its extreme form is well based upon greed.

Such a position gives us headway out of the dichotomy capitalism-communism and a new landscape in which we may build an economic system for the future that is based upon the pleasure principle, and that avoids to breed greed in the first place through a naturally permissive education.

When you look at permissive cultures, you very seldom find greed among people, whereas for example in the very repressive Protestant or even Calvinistic culture, you find greed very strongly developed in people while paradoxically, the religious dogma harshly condemns it. Needless to say that this produces a schizoid split in conscience that more or less strongly marks this kind of culture. These people are not very agreeable to have around; their lips are tightly closed or even perversely distorted, and they tend to do exactly the opposite of what they are preaching.

An intelligent society must avoid moralism as it’s against human nature, and bring about a human being that is whole as much as possible; this is so because fragmentation brings strife, conflict and violence in human society and in the long run perverts the human nature.

Now, after this somewhat scholarly explanation, you may want to ask what in fact you can do, in your life, to avoid greed and still develop commitment and a healthy focus upon the acquisition of wealth using positive growth cycles as a motor?

The answer is in the question. When you follow the principle of balance and harmony, you will avoid greed because you are aware of the fact that greed produces hurt, and you don’t want and need hurt for yourself, your family, your friends or your business partners. If you really wish the best for all people you are in touch with, and you go for what Buddha called The Middle Way, you can’t be greedy. Your natural striving for wealth, status and power will come to a standstill in the moment you see that it produces hurt, short-term or long-term, to any creature. You will apply what the I Ching calls self-restraint, and what I call standstill as one of the three main directions in human behavior.

Example. You may stay longer and longer in the office in order to maximize your revenues, but there will be a moment you have to acknowledge that you see your children only at weekends for a few hours, and you become aware that a child needs a father as a human being and not as walking money purse.

You don’t need anybody to tell you that, you know it, and you will know it when the moment arises. And then you may ponder the standstill option or even the backward option, as the forward option then would clearly reveal as destructive for the wellbeing of your family and in the long run for yourself as well.

In the education of your children, when you are too strongly focused on eradicating greed in your child, you will create conflict in your child’s mind. This conflict is actually counter-productive to your goal and will make your child still more greedy. There is only one effective way to avoid children becoming greedy; it is to raise them permissively and thus to ensure they have real opportunities to live our their emotions.

At the same time, you need yourself to not be a bunch of greed for you teach by example— we all do! You cannot bring about qualities in your children that you do not yourself cultivate. And yet, most parents try to do exactly that, and later wonder why they are so ineffective with their educational measures.

Educating your child means in the first place educating yourself. This is actually true for all leadership. The best and most effective way of leading others is by leading self, by being yourself, by incarnating the example.

The I Ching and Emotions

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

The I Ching has often been found to be too Confucian in its overall attitude toward life. However, we should be careful using such statements. The I Ching has existed long before Confucius, and when scholars state that the I Ching was Confucian in some way, they speak about the interpretation of the wisdom book, not about the original text that is written in a poetic language.

While it is true that Confucian philosophy puts high stress upon restraining emotions, I cannot make out this bias in the original text of the I Ching. But again, excess should in any case be avoided. To repeat what I said above,being excessively emotionalwould run counter to the I Ching’s general stress upon balance and harmony.

With this general knowledge in mind, let us see how the I Ching’s stance would be regarding anger, the quintessential hot emotion. Let me first clarify that anger surely is not a negative emotion, as so many religions and philosophies declare. Anger shows us where we do not bestow enough latitude upon ourselves. We may respect others, and the whole world, but often we lack self-respect.

The I Ching does not advise against emotions, but it recommends to stay centered despite of emotions. Even in the midst of my anger, I can make sure to not insult anybody, and to guard against over-reacting. And perhaps most importantly, I can accept my anger and refuse to fight against it. In situations of anger, when I asked the I Ching what to do, it recommended to simply leave the place and change the environment. And the anger was gone on the spot when I had turned my back to the place where I had been angry.

When you see that anger signals us a certain change in behavior, in attitude, or in direction, you see that it is actually a very useful emotion.

The I Ching, when you ask it for help in a situation of anger, will not advice you to handle your anger well: it will directly go to the cause and look at what in the first place caused your anger.

And it will tell you what you should do to change the situation so that further anger is avoided. And here you can see how fundamentally different the I Ching is when you compare it with religious scriptures such as the Torah, the Bible or the Koran.

In these scriptures, anger is invariably declared to be a very destructive emotion and the only thing these books do about it is to admonish us to not be angry. But that is stupid because it not only is ineffective, but it completely disregards the higher logic of life that has given us emotions with a purpose, and with a good reason: all our hot emotions are signals that trigger change!

Much to the contrary to religious texts, I argue that the lack of emotions is worse than the presence of emotions. I mean with lack of emotions, boredom. Boredom is the worst that can happen to you.

It is worse than imprisonment, malady and death. It is a real plague. Boredom is the result of losing your soul or being disconnected from your soul. It is an absolutely unnatural condition, while I know that most young people today think that it was a normal condition of modern life. It may be a normal condition of modern life, but this only proves that modern life is a perversion of real life. In real life, there is no boredom.

The I Ching does not talk explicitly about boredom. It does not use that word. And when you think about it, there might be a reason for it.

The I Ching seems to handle boredom in The Undeveloped One (4), a hexagram that concerns education and self-education.

The guiding advice of this hexagram is:

Go ahead to enlighten undeveloped ones, but it should be the undeveloped one who makes the request, not the teacher. He should approach with sincerity. (Id., 238)

The 4th line reads:

Stubborn and ignorant, one is helpless. (Id., 241)

The I Ching holds education in high regard. It seems to suggest that every true and lasting success if based upon proper education, and that education means a constant effort and commitment to learning.

Many parents experience their adolescent children being bored, and see daily how destructive this condition is for their children, and even for the whole family.

That this happens is in most cases not the fault of teachers but of highly boring curricula. And boring curricula, in turn, are the outcome of a lack of care, of commitment from the side of politicians and policy makers; they show a deep lack of creativity. Most schools are not the fruit of love and care for children, but the inevitable result of child neglect. Education is always given the last priority in budget considerations, while it is of the first and foremost importance for the future of society.

If you are in this position as a parent, you should try all to help your children lead more meaningful existences. To leave it over to schools and school administration boards to educate your children shows more than all that you neglect your children, that you imprison them in institutions that have no regard for the soul of the child, and his or her individual destiny.

To revolt against it does not lead to alternatives as long as parents don’t stick together and pressure politicians and educational authorities to take action for changing things positively in the future. To make your children’s lives more meaningful implies first of all that you make your own life more meaningful, and that then you share as much as possible of your meaningful life with your children.

You may have plenty of money but your day-to-day reality may look devoid of meaningful moments and appear dull and repetitive. I have known children of artists who were quite poor but who shared with their children truly meaningful existences. I found the children invariably to be mature, happy, autonomous and intelligent, and they were very gentle and considerate in their relationships with others.

It seems to me today that there is nothing more important in life than our soul being nourished with meaning. Nothing in our materialistic modern societies can compensate for our collective lack of meaning as a culture. Where are the cultural and religious foundations that give us meaning? It seems that we have lost them, or that anyway, when they seemed to exist in the past, they may have been a part of a rather oppressive cultural system?

I found meaning in my own life only after rejecting many of the false beliefs that I saw the majority of my colleagues in school and university were holding. They believed in a one-pointed form of success that consisted of becoming wealthy, having a family, and a secure job. That was it. When I was bored in my class as a law practitioner, and instead learnt English, my colleagues looked at me strangely and asked me, flabbergasted:

—Why the hell are you learning English? What is this good for? Are you not interested to spend your life where you were born?

I replied that under the circumstances I was not sure where I was going to spend my life, where I was going to find a meaningful profession, as I knew that the law profession was not what I really liked. I further told them that I was doing a masters degree in European Integration for a career in the European Community, and they found me ‘crazy.’

And indeed, I did not know what I really wanted, in my younger years, and I had to wait for many years to pass to have clarity in this respect. Believe it or not, only twenty years later I got an idea what I wanted, and only thirty years later I began to realize it. Perhaps I went the hard way, or, as an astrologer once put it, I had to slow down my spin and become more single-focused. That was very hard for me as I was interested in so many things.

And yet, simply looking at what I liked to do in school, I could have seen very early what it was. But I did all and everything to look away from myself, took others as examples, wanting to be like this famous artist or that interesting writer, or again wanted to live like a saint, or a Gandhi, or engage in philanthropy, or change the world as a revolutionary. And when sitting at the piano, I just wanted to mesmerize my audience with sounds they have never heard before.

Astrology helped me tremendously on my way from the periphery to my center, my true being, avoiding the pitfalls of certain karmic conditions that made me overlook myself constantly.

I was reading books about overcoming the ego, and yet I had no ego, and thus all these books were not written for me. I needed twenty years to find out that I was hardly ever thinking of myself and that others, and their lives, had a much too important place in my life. I was in fact concerned too much about others instead about myself, while I realized that most people were spinning in the opposite sense. They only had themselves in mind, and others were for them something to keep up with, at best.

I would not say that per se, when you are rich, you are more at pains to realize meaning in your life. To say that poor people have a richer life on a soul-level is a nice illusion that I was holding for many years. I think that this dream alleviated me the pain to accept that human life on earth is ingrained with misery.

The problem with being poor is that when I work too hard to join both ends, I have no time for myself. The problem with being rich is that when I have too much time for myself, and for maintaining comfort and safety on a daily level, I am too much concerned about myself and life may appear to me as a mere reflection of myself. And then I miss meaning because I reduce life to what appears to be my own boundaries, the bounds of my ego. I then also tend to exclude others from my ego-centered world, or give them a place at the periphery only, instead of letting their soul-being penetrate and enrich me.

I do not say that when we are rich, we are per se more materialistic, while this is a tenor that goes through almost all religious scriptures. I believe rather in the contrary and my life experience confirmed me in that view. The moment I had sold the bothersome family property and put the money in the bank, I felt free of all sorrow and began to eventually focus on what I felt was giving meaning to my life. Never before had I felt such a deep inner peace! I was beginning to pray every day for guidance to engage in the profession I was really talented for, and to enrich other people’s lives with my gifts and talents.

In my experience, tabula rasa thinking, the idea that you can start from page zero, does not really bring progress. When you create without a foundation, you risk to be off-track, off-soul, so to say. Tradition is not a trap, but a pool, a pool for creative development. This is, for example, how Maurice Béjart, the famous French choreographer, described his artistic paradigm.

Béjart, being known as a culture-destroyer, was in reality a culture-builder. He was very conscious of the tradition he was building his art upon, and he admired it and studied it with incredible diligence and unending commitment.

He was, like Picasso, a master in the tradition that had born him to be what he was. But he went beyond that mastership and explored into the unknown. This requires not only a lot of courage, but also a lot of modesty. You are not sure you will be the star because you create novelty. You build a new universe and you cannot know who or what will be the center of that universe. It’s perhaps not you, the creator of it, but a star that is better qualified than you to parent and develop what you have given birth to? This is what life teaches us, and when you consider this reality, you might be humbled.

When you study the biographies of creators, you see that they gravitated around their mission as planets gravitate around the sun. They might have done little jobs for joining ends, but you will not see a painter ending up as a car manufacturer or a pilot. And if he does, you can be sure that the painter in him was not really gifted for his art, because otherwise he would have been more committed to his art than just ‘getting a job.’

I believe that what we are naturally gifted for is like a magnetic field that attracts all that is needed for realizing that gift. But of course, you can use your willpower also for halting when you’ve made half of the way, jumping from a bridge and destroying not only your mission, but also yourself. Human history abounds of this kind of stories, and that again might humble us to acknowledge that nothing is given over to fulfillment when it is not cared for, but taken for granted. This is one of the pitfalls wealth might represent for you. You may begin taking things for granted, success for granted, fulfilled love for granted, and happiness for granted. And then you are off-the-road again and life will teach you that instead of being at an advanced stage of development, you are again in the starting holes.

My mother having been suicidal early in her youth, was not less suicidal once she inherited the family fortune and was rich and comfortable. She was not happy before, and she was not happy thereafter. She had not learnt to be happy. She had taken all and everything for granted, and yet was longing for one single true and fulfilled relationship with a man. But life did not give it to her, probably because she did herself not really commit to this longing.

Truly, life is more beautiful and more exciting when we are hungry, and the most part of the magic is gone when we are satiated! It might be more difficult to attract your soul mate when your thoughts are constantly gravitating around trivial matters, or when you are absorbed in your worries and lose a lot of energy because of sorrow.

Tabula rasa thinking means that you cut off the Ariadne thread that led you to the point where you are now, and try instead to explore the labyrinth of life without a guide. It’s more difficult, and there is a certain chance that you do something that is not really connected with your soul.

The I Ching teaches that every true progress is gradual. Gradual progress means that we build upon what we built before, and so forth.

One step after the other, one brick upon another. No matter how slow we are, as long as we remain focused and committed, we do make progress.

Life Patterns and the I Ching

Audio Narrated by Peter Fritz Walter

The Reflection Pattern

You may know that old parable of looking at a glass of water as half-full, or as half-empty.

You fill a glass half with water, and then contemplate that strange kind of object. Then you wonder about how you should see that object, as a glass half-filled or as a glass half-unfilled, as a glass half-happy or as a glass half-unhappy, as a glass half-useful and half-useless, and so on and so forth. Needless to mention that positive-minded people tend to see that glass as half-filled, whereas negative-minded people tend to make the glass down as half-empty.

We learn from this simple experiment that reality is not to be taken for granted, and rather depends on our way of looking at it!

Or to speak with quantum physics: reality is creatively interacting with the one observing it. Light can be seen as a wave or as a particle. Einstein found this already at the beginning of the 20th century, and before the establishment of what today we use to call quantum physics.

When I see life as order, I tend to see order in all-that-is, whatever occurs to me. When I consider life as nothing but chaos, I tend to make out chaos in the cosmos, and accordingly I experience my own life as chaotic. My internal belief system thus conditions my perception. This explains why reality is far from being the same for all of us. Why do I perceive life so differently from you? Because our perception of reality is a result of the reality we live in and that we have created by our mind.

Is that tautological? It is. Because reality is tautological. If I interact with processes by observing processes, if I change flow by flowing myself, if I let the universe dance to my music by dancing with the universe, then, for heaven’s sake, I must admit that I have no reason to complain for I am responsible for my world!

Then I become aware that all I see is the result of my choice. I want to see roses. So I see roses. I want to see garbage, so I see garbage. I want to see happy children, so I see happy children. I want to see abuse, so I see abuse.

I want to be different, so I see difference everywhere, while difference per se is not a value, but only in relationship to something that is same. If I want to be different for any price, I am just a naughty child who likes to put every toy upside down, to have the clown vomit and the woman her pants down. I want to be conformist, so I see sameness everywhere and all life seems to me carved from one and the same wood. Then, when I see what really appears to be a difference, I tend to argue:

—These two things are not really different, they only appear to be different. In reality, they are same. Their difference is so small that it can be neglected.

However, when I see that I am limited, I cannot but practice modesty, according to Modesty (15), as I will abhor faking to be all-powerful which is the way of the worldly and political forces in place. I will then recognize with ease that I simply harvest what I sow, and this without regret, without sorrow, without a bitter taste on my tongue.

I throw a handful of sand against the wind and wipe my eyes as a result. Like a toddler playing on the beach. That is how the sage evaluates reality. By direct perception as well as trial-and-error.

When I look in the eyes of a small child, I perceive what is true and what is not true. This truth is so strong that it penetrates in my heart and changes things forever.

When I judge life, I cannot perceive the responsiveness of the universe. When I judge, I implicitly have a measure to base my judgment upon. What is this measure other than the length of a fantasy ruler?

Can we know how high the next mountain is that nature creates, or how high the next wave is at the beach when there is heavy sea? Can we know how far the cricket will jump? Approximately yes. But not exactly.

By the same token, all truth is approximate and not exact. In hindsight we can measure all. But that means to measure death! We cannot measure life because that would mean to know exactly the details of things to come. All divinations are approximations. There are good reasons to put away with all fortune telling as it is as approximate as living is. When I live without inquiring into the nature of future events, I am accepting the approximate nature of things, and I live more carefree than when divining all day long. Wallenstein can tell a story. He was not a happy man. Nor was Nostradamus.

When I really understand the nature of living, I see that there are no dreams that eternally have to remain dreams, but that every dream is the creative contemplation of a future reality.

The Karma Pattern

When I see that not values, which are creations of the mind, but dynamic exchanges with all-that-is, which are intuitive dialogues with the universe, bring me closer to perceiving reality more objectively, and less with putting my personal stink, I will avoid values.

If you admit or not that the universe is responsive, you will experience karma, the dynamic feedback created by action, a stone or rose thrown back to you.

Please note that the notion of karma is not a creation of Hinduism, but a reality in a universe that communicates in an organic multi-vectorial manner.

Karma means action, nothing more and nothing less, and it is part of all religions, because it is part of our dynamic and responsive universe. Hinduism has the merit to have put a very peculiar stress upon karma, and for good reasons. But when I know to dialogue with the universe in a dynamic manner, such as the universe itself dialogues with us, I can handle karma creatively and do not need to be trapped by it. As the proverb says: For the sage, karma means liberation.

In the West, the notion of karma has been largely misunderstood. It is often taken as a religious theory related to Hinduism or Buddhism. As if the Western part of the globe obeyed to different laws or could abide by different cosmic rules!

To repeat it, karma, literally in Sanskrit means action; it simply means cause-and-effect, or in the terminology of modern systems theory, karma is the law of a responsive, feedback-looping system. I shout in the forest, in a canyon. I hear my voice resonating in space. You can also say that karma is the natural condition in a responsive universe. I kill life and thus raise chances that I am myself killed, because I set an action of that kind, and create a negative resonance. All actions create a resonance according to their nature. I nurture life by being kind and taking care of others, or feedback to them their beauty, their strength, their originality. I support others in the realization of their original nature.

Then, I create a karma of positive resonance that supports me in realizing my own original nature.

There is no god, no savior and no punishment. There are no wrong acts, no right acts. There is karma only, feedback given by the universe.

By observing that feedback and recognizing its nature, positive or negative, I can evaluate the outcome of my actions. There is no other way.

You can’t do that by thinking about your behavior.

Thought is circular and inbound within my own continuum. I cannot abstract from my thought and become an observer-thinker, despite the fact that great sages such as Krishnamurti told us we could develop this ability.

Let’s assume I have not reached that stage of development and thus am still caught in the ego-based structure. Then I have the option to observe the nature of my actions by evaluating the feedback they create in the universe. In being careful and observing what happens around you before you take any major action, you can avoid fatal mistakes and setbacks and act in accordance with the steering power of the universe. This power is of a higher intelligence, and considers not only your actions but the actions of all other humans, of all other beings, and even the actions of natural forces.

How does a particular action you are going to take fit in the universe? What kind of waves will it create? What kind of responses will it trigger? All this can be evaluated before the action is taken. And the I Ching has been created precisely for assisting us in that quest.

Once you understand this, you will agree that to take blind actions is foolish behavior. And yet, most people, especially in the modern world, take blind actions all the time, and even think that it was normal human behavior. It is ignorant human behavior.

Educating children to take blind actions is irresponsible education, or no education at all.

Most Western people will reply that it was through a set of firm behavior rules, so-called ‘morally correct behavior’ that positive karma could be created.

However, moral correctness is on the same line as political correctness. It is totally volatile as moral rules are volatile and change from country to country and in some countries even from village to village, and they change over time as well, and they change when economic conditions change. Hence, morality is a fiction; moralism has been seen throughout human history as one of the most sordid ways to blindfold the masses and keep them from educating themselves about the universal laws and rules that really regulate action and reaction.

How much morally correct behavior triggered wars and genocide all over human history! How many massacres have been committed in the name of well-sounding moralistic slogans, how many millions of people were killed for politically and morally correct principles!?

When I maintain a rigid principle-ridden mindset, I act from an arrogantly fixated ego position. By contrast, when I am humble and flexible, I do not overestimate the powers of my ego and instead rely on the intelligence of the universe to help me finetune my actions.

Then I remain open for help and support and admit that I need help and support in the first place. The universe sends help, but only to those who are open to receive it.

Action Patterns

As already mentioned, the I Ching teaches flexibility as a foremost value for constructive and positive action, action that creates good and beneficial karma for self and others. When I am flexible, I am ready to go not only forward, but at times also backward, and once in a while, I am even putting things on hold, a movement that I call standstill.

Note that I consider standing still, in this dynamic system of positive and constructive action, as a movement. Just as nonaction, from the same perspective, is a form of action, standstill is a form of movement. It is the movement that avoids wrong action by standing still. Wrong action is action that brings about strife, tension, or hurt, to others and, as a karmic reaction, to self as a karmic boomerang.

The I Ching teaches a gradual interplay of different movements, such as, for example, moving forward, standing still for some time, and then moving forward again. This is depending on the lines you receive, and it also depends on the structure and hierarchy of the particular hexagram you are contemplating.

Let us first consider the more clear-cut divinations, those that show an unambiguous move in either of the three directions. Moving forward is clearly expressed by hexagrams such as Progress (35), Rising (46) or Gradual Progress (53). Moving backward is advised by Retreat (33), and this unconditionally as all six lines recommend to retreat from the condition in question, and differ only by the fact that such retreat is more comfortable and easy or less comfortable and bothersome.

Standstill is clearly advised by Keeping Still (52), and here, like in Retreat (33), the different lines only inform about the easiness or uneasiness of the halt, but they do not recommend any movement other than standstill.

Thus, when you get any line of Retreat (33) or the hexagram without lines, this is a clear indication that you are advised to take a distance from the action or endeavor, or relationship, you intend to engage in, or intend to continue engaging in. The same is true for Keeping Still (52). All the lines indicate standstill as the right action for that moment.

Note that it is difficult to know how long a particular hexagram is valid. I do not think that the I Ching invariably advises to retreat from a certain action forever, but in most cases just for a certain time. It is only through repeated divinations that you may get to know the reason why you should retreat and how long, or else if you should definitely stop action for that particular purpose. All advice on divination that says I Ching readings to be valid for either three months or six months is a matter of personal opinion, not to be found in any serious interpretation of the Book of Changes.

I have had situations where the reading was valid for just one day, as the next day a new cycle set in that was foretold by a totally different reading later that same day. This, by the way, is true for all divinatory practices. Books on the interpretation of the Tarot that say a particular reading is valid for six months are expressing personal experience at best, if they are not just repeating the balderdash they themselves learnt from others.

In truth, there is absolutely no rule that says that a certain divination is valid for one minute, for one day or for one lifetime. This is exactly the uncertainty factor in all divination.

You may know all in advance, but you will not know the time when events set in. I have had readings where an event set in the next day, and I had readings where an event never set in, probably because I was heeding the advice and changed the parameters of my behavior in time.

There is a subtle interplay between your intuition and the I Ching. You know intuitively when you should consult the book again. To disregard your intuition and wait six months for the next reading is foolish.

The universe communicates you not only the nature of your karma, but also the time when you should consult the I Ching again. Of course, you may return too often to divination, and for reasons of stress or fear.

And when you consult the I Ching in a negative mood, you may get a negative reading. But then the I Ching will tell you what’s wrong with you. It will tell you that you lack decisiveness, that you need to put first things first, that you should be firm in following your original purpose, that you worry too much, that you should be persistent or that you should advance despite your anxiety. Or it may tell you to meditate and put things on hold for a moment, to free your mind and get new creative inspirations, or to consult a friend or expert for finding the solution. Or it may advise you to do things in cooperation with others, and not single-handedly.

As a beginner, you should first become familiar with the idea of action being naturally threefold, and not consisting only of marching forward. When you look at human history, you see that our old-fashioned and somehow extremely violent tradition has created evil, sorrow and misery by ignoring the simple fact that action is three-directional. Marching forward was seen as the only right action.

In a way, marching forward can be seen as the identifier of the total madness that is so characteristic for patriarchy. And the madness of today’s worldwide consumer culture is the logical historical and psychological follow-up of patriarchy with its ignorance of systemliteracy.

We can see the three base movements equally in the way the I Ching entered the soil of Western culture. There was first a forward movement, during Antiquity, then a long retreat during the Dark Age, and then a period of standstill. The I Ching could be discovered by a wider range of people only after the horror regime of the Church had found its end, thus from about the Renaissance. When the Church declared the I Ching, together with so many other jewels of human wisdom as diabolic knowledge, we can clearly see a phase of Retreat (33). But for various reasons, the I Ching became popular in Western culture only within the new age movement, from the second half of the 20th century.

Today, the I Ching is clearly again in a forward movement, in Western culture. From the Renaissance until today, the I Ching was going through a period of Keeping Still (52). It could be consulted without danger, but was given attention only by a small range of Western scholars, among them the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) who found that the I Ching implicitly uses the binary code that today is used in every computer.

In the near future, during the Aquarius Age, the I Ching will receive an honorable and important position within a greater range of wisdom devices that are constantly reaching wider circles among the educated classes of international society, and foremost the young generations, which is one of the main reasons why I wrote this book.

Three Phases of Action

Action is what I call forward movement within a positioning that sees action together with nonaction and retreat as one of the three phases of action. After having introduced the notion of three base movements in the previous paragraph, let me now have a regard on the various phases within the forward movement.

The I Ching deals with action in most hexagrams. As already mentioned, there are only a few hexagrams that recommend action through and through, while most are mixed in the sense that within a course of action, diligent attention and careful inspection is recommended to avoid excess, and a setback or failure as a result of overacting.

Let me explain this using Yang/Creative Energy/The Active Principle (1) as an example. The first line of this very powerful hexagram that consists of six yang lines recommends nonaction.

The second line recommends to seek advice. The third line predicts danger, but says there will be no harm. The forth line, eventually, sets action completely free and the fifth line predicts great success. However, the top line is a quintessential example for excess and is generally interpreted as a painful setback through an arrogant and inflexible attitude, or a rigidly forward-moving behavior.

Let me now give a few examples for hexagrams that end in a positive 6th line. I think it is important to consider that not after every culmination point follows a negative spiral. Such a conclusion would be a misunderstanding of the I Ching. Flexibly intelligent action uses the time after completion, as hexagram 63 teaches us, for securing what has been achieved, and for rest and meditation.

It is short-sighted to interpret the I Ching as a set of patterns that ‘predict the future.’ The truth is that no future can ever be ‘predicted’ because every moment a different thought and emotional pattern can be put forward that changes the present state of events, thereby changing the future by changing the present. The future is but an extrapolation of a vibrational pattern set in the present. When I change the present pattern, logically the future pattern will be different as well. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, a particular reading can be superseded in a day, an hour or a week, but not in any time intervals determined in advance.

Life is infinitely flexible. After a thunderstorm, a hurricane or an earthquake, there may be a certain level of destruction, but it’s not the end of the world. Nothing in nature can cause the end of nature—except human ignorance and willfulness. This is an unwritten law pervading all living in the cosmos.

The first example of a hexagram that ends in a positive 6th line is Great Harvest/Abundance (14), which is called by some I Ching experts as the most lucky of all hexagrams. Here, the 6th line simply reads in Hua-Ching Ni’s interpretation: ‘Heavenly blessing. Good fortune. No problem.’

—Hua-Ching Ni, I Ching, The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth (1999), p. 295.

Another example is Modesty/Humility/Moderation (15) where the 6th line reads:

He uses modesty instead of aggression with outsiders to correct the confusion within his territory. (Id., 300)

Other examples are:

Obstacle/Adversity/Obstruction (12);

Advancing/Going Forward/Progress (19);

Contemplation/Stocktaking/Reflection (20);

Adornment/Beauty/Grace (22)

Great Potential/Creative Energy/Great Power (26);

Nourishment/Nutrition/Self-Cultivation (27);

Critical Mass/Great Excess/Imbalance (28);

Mutual Attraction/Wooing/Marriage (31);

Retreat/Withdrawal/Going Backward (33);

Family/The Clan/Group Life (37);

Contradiction/Opposition/Disharmony (38);

Obstruction/Obstacle/Difficulty (39);

Dissolution of the Problem/Release/Liberation (40);

Sacrifice/Decrease/Reduce the Excessive (41);

The Well/Water Hole/Reaching the Water (48);

Revolution/Reformation/Groundbreaking Change (49);

Cauldron/Harmonization/Stability (50);

Gradual Progress/Positive Development (53).

In all these hexagrams, the 6th line is positive and constructive. Now, if almost one third of all hexagrams of the I Ching give a positive reading for the 6th line, it cannot be said, as some scholars erroneously do, that the 6th line in every hexagram of the I Ching invariably predicts misfortune.

Non-Action vs. Bold Action

Nonaction is action, Lao-tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching. And this wisdom is part of the I Ching as well. You can find nonaction in the I Ching in two different ways:

As a general standstill, as indicated by Keeping Still (52);

As a tactical standstill, as part of various action-hexagrams:

The 1st line in Yang (1);

The 1st line in Dispute (6);

The 6th line in Small Accumulation (9);

The 1st line in Great Harvest (14);

The 1st line in Great Potential (26);

The 4th line in Fire (30);

The 3rd line in Mutual Attraction (31);

The 1st line in Power of the Great (34);

The 1st line in Resolution (43);

The 4th line in Contact (44);

The 5th line in Adversity (47);

The 3rd line in Revolution (49);

The 3rd line in Gradual Progress (53);

The 1st line in Before Crossing the Water (64).

As mentioned earlier, when nonaction appears as a line in an otherwise dynamic hexagram, and contrary to the general advice given in Keeping Still (52), interpretation is needed.

Typically, one of these critical lines is drawn together with other lines of the same hexagram. When this happens, a temporary halt is indicated or the line can be said to indicate a very careful way to proceed. If the line is drawn as a single answer without any other line, this means that indeed nonaction is the best for a certain time.

The time-span cannot be predicted, as I pointed out earlier, but from a systemic point of view I would argue that the time-span of rest or nonaction indicated by Keeping Still (52) is certainly more extended as the one indicated by any of the lines that recommend a temporary halt. That is all I can say on the time matter.

For all those who are caught in the erroneous belief the I Ching was but a textbook on Confucianism, and that it did not favor any form of bold and spontaneous action, let me advance the following arguments to put things in the correct light:

The I Ching is much older than Confucian thinking;

Confucius is said to have studied the I Ching most diligently and never pretended to have developed any knowledge or system that superseded or surpassed the wisdom of the I Ching;

The I Ching contains a number of lines that advise bold and massive action, and to prove my point, I will line them up in full detail here, and exhaustively so:

The 4th line of Yang (1);

The 5th line of Yin (2);

The 4th line of Difficult Begin (3);

The 1st line of Peace (11);

The 6th line of Obstacle (12);

The 2nd line of Great Harvest (14);

The 2nd line of Modesty (15);

The 2nd line in Advancing (19);

The 5th line of Return (24);

The 1st line of Innocence (25);

The 6th line of Great Potential (26);

The 6th line of Nourishment (27);

The 1st and 2nd lines of Fire (30);

The 2nd line of Power of the Great (34);

The 3rd line of Success (35);

The 6th line of Contradiction (38);

The 1st, 2nd and 6th lines of Dissolution of the Problem (40);

The 5th line of Sacrifice (41);

The 1st, 2nd and 5th lines of Benefit (42);

The 2nd, 4th and 5th lines of Congregation (45);

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th lines of Rising (46);

The 4th, 5th and 6th lines of The Well (48);

The 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th lines of Revolution (49);

The 5th and 6th lines of Cauldron (50);

The 2nd, 4th and 6th lines of Gradual Progress (53);

The 1st line of The Maiden (54);

The 1st, 4th and 5th lines of Peak (55);

The 5th line of The Wanderer (56);

The 5th line of Gentle Wind (57);

The 1st and 2nd lines of Joyousness (58);

The 1st line of Scattered (59);

The 5th line of Inner Truth (61);

The 5th line of Before Crossing the Water (64).

If more than half of all hexagrams of the I Ching recommend unbridled action in one or several lines, the opinion sometimes expressed in the literature that the wisdom book was an action-breaker and led people to procrastination seems to be unfounded. In fact, having studied and practiced both the Tarot and the I Ching for almost thirty years, I find the Tarot more difficult to interpret because it uses psychological archetypes for describing circumstances. By contrast, the language of the I Ching is rather precise, and its advice to the point.

It is perhaps more difficult to get to bold action when using the Tarot for divination as this is the case with the I Ching. Let’s not forget that in the past, in China, many great generals have used the I Ching for war strategy and for gathering precise information about when and how to advance or retreat the army in order to win the battle.

After all, what the I Ching definitely cannot do is to act for you! There is a moment when you have to cease reflecting and start acting. And in that moment, the I Ching has to be laid aside.

Huainanse: Lehren der alten Weisen

Der vorliegende Band ist eine Sammlung von Auszügen aus einem recht umfangreichen Weisheitsbuch des alten China. Die Nummerierung der einzelnen Strophen oder Weisheitssprüche wurde der Übersichtlichkeit halber hinzugefügt, ist aber im Original nicht erhalten. Dies gilt natürlich auch für die kunstvolle Anreicherung des Textes mit chinesischer Kalligraphie und Landschaftsmalerei im poetischen Stil des alten China.

Desweiteren wurden manche Strophen des Buches, die im Original aufeinander folgen, in einem Paragraph zusammengefügt, weil sie inhaltlich zusammen gehören. Man mag mir diese Freiheit verzeihen, aber sie dient dem Lesen des Textes in moderner Sprache, und dies umso mehr, als die chinesische Sprache von jedweder Sprache des Westens fundamental abweicht, da sie kontextuell ist und multiple, wenn nicht gar sehr verschiedene Übersetzungen rechtfertigt. 

Andererseits enthält das Buch aber auch viele Strophen, die einfach Wiederholungen sind, oder es werden Bemerkungen in manchen Strophen gemacht, die völlig ausserhalb des Kontextes stehen. Das mag seinen Grund darin haben, dass dieses alte Buch über die Kunst der Staatsführung nicht nur einen Autor hat, sondern dass viele daran mitgewirkt haben.

Während man beim Dao De King (Tao Te King), welches ich in deutscher Übersetzung bereits veröffentlicht habe, daran zweifeln mag, ob es wirklich nur von Laotse verfasst wurde—und die philologische Forschung ist denn heute überwiegend der Meinung dass auch das Dao De Ging von einer Mehrzahl von Autoren verfasst wurde—so kamen solche Zweifel beim Huainanse gar nicht erst auf. Es wurde von einer Anzahl von daoistischen Gelehrten verfasst, die im Dienst des Königs von Huainan standen, einem kleinen Fürstentum im China der Han Dynastie, im zweiten Jahrhundert vor unserer Zeitrechnung.

Der König war Kunst und Literatur sehr ergeben und sein Hof war ein beispielhafter kultureller Schauplatz, als acht daoistische Meister mit diesen Lehren auftraten.

Obwohl es einem schnell klar wird beim Lesen dieses Textes, dass diese Schriftsteller stark beeinflusst waren von den Klassikern von Laotse und Tschungtse bis hin zu Konfuzius, so ist der Fokus des vorliegenden Werkes doch ein recht anderer, denn es geht hier einzig allein um Staatsführung, Sozialpolitik, und politische Strategie, und nicht um allgemeine Philosophie im Sinne von Laotse oder Tschungtse, oder Ethik und Moral im Sinne der konfuzianischen Lehre.

Zu beachten ist weiterhin, dass die Werke von Laotse und Tschungtse von den bürgerkriegsartigen Zuständen des beginnenden Feudalismus geprägt waren, während die Meister von Huainan in einer Zeit der Rekonstruktion lebten, nachdem für einige Hundert Jahre Bürgerkrieg geherrscht hatte im ganzen China. Daher fällt auf, dass diese Lehren und Einsichten viel mehr positives Denken und viel weniger Zynismus enthalten, als die der Taoisten, die in turbulenten Zeiten ihre Bücher schrieben.

Ganz wie andere taoistische Schriften, so dient auch das vorliegende Buch der Kontemplation, und wurde nicht mit dem Ziel verfasst, eine jedwede Ideologie zu propagieren.

Obwohl der Fokus des Werks auf der Kunst der Staatsführung liegt, so wird dieses Thema doch sehr breit behandelt, denn es geht um so verschiedene Fragen wie Organisation und Management, Beziehungen zwischen Menschen, und solchen zwischen Beamten und Bürgern, Erziehung, Wirtschaft, Bräuche, Tierhaltung bis hin zu ethischen Fragen, die den Herrscher und seine Minister anbetreffen.

Es fällt auf, dass die Verfasser des Buches eine Vision vom Staat haben, die erstaunlich pluralistisch anmutet, obwohl ich nicht der Meinung anderer Übersetzer bin, dass dies eine ‘egalitäre’ Vision war. Es wird doch sehr deutlich gemacht im Text, dass Egalität kein Prinzip von Regierung sein kann, weil Gleiche nicht über Gleiche regieren können, und also Ungleichheit der Bürger die Voraussetzung für jedes geordnete Staatswesen ist. Dazu gehört auch, dass es eine soziale Hierarchie gibt, welche sich in der hierarchischen Struktur der Regierung selbst widerspiegelt.

Weiterhin fällt auf, dass die Autoren das Ideal eines geordneten und fortschrittlichen Staatswesens herausstellen und von degenerierten, unordentlichen und dekadenten Gesellschaften abzugrenzen suchen. Dies mag man durchaus als verschiedene Stufen in der Entwicklung des menschlichen Bewusstseins ansehen.

Ganz besonders wird herausgestellt, dass in allen Fragen der Staatsführung Wert gelegt werden muss auf Ausgeglichenheit und Harmonie, wie dies auch für den menschlichen Körper gilt, und die Interaktion von Menschen mit ihrer natürlichen Umwelt. Negativ stellen die Autoren Aggressivität und Habgier als die menschlichen Schwächen dar, die der Integrität des Staatswesens am schädlichsten sind.

Das umfangreiche Werk enthält Gedanken über Krieg und Frieden, Staat und Gesellschaft, und Weisheit. In der vorliegenden Ausgabe wurden die speziellen Anmerkungen zur Kriegsführung ausgelassen, da sie meiner Meinung nach viel prägnanter von Sun Tsu in seinem Buch von der Kunst der Kriegsführung ausgeführt wurden. Auch von den Weisheitssprüchen wurden nur einige wenige hier eingefügt, da sie sehr an das Dao De Ging erinnern, dort aber weitaus besser und prägnanter formuliert wurden.

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