Article 5. How Our New Version of the I Ching Was Written

by Carol K. Anthony and Hanna Moog

   Prior to 1998 it would have seemed preposterous to write a new version of the I Ching. I, Carol, personally felt a deep sense of gratitude to Richard Wilhelm for having brought this wonderful book to the West.* To write another seemed disloyal at the time.

   The thing that made us, Hanna and I, put the question to the oracle, “Are we meant to write a new version of the I Ching?” was the large body of new insights that came out of our use of the rtcm (the Retrospective-Three-Coin-Method) during the first six months that we began working together. We both noticed, on using this method, that the Sage frequently used the opportunity to correct a number of our previous views about what a hexagram could be addressing at a given time. Also, a hexagram could be pointing to one thing now, and an entirely different thing later. The insights, on occasion, completely blew away the meaning conventionally attributed to a hexagram. With these insights accumulating nearly daily, it became the obvious question to ask whether we were meant to write them into a new version. The answer received through the rtcm was an unequivocal “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

   On beginning this project, we were guided to follow a method that gave the Sage the maximum ability to “write” the book from an experiential viewpoint. That is, each day we worked on the hexagrams we received that were relevant to situations in our lives. Once we had developed the hexagram, we asked the Sage, “Do you want us to include in the text anything that was written in… (the Wilhelm, the Legge, the Alfred Huang, the Wu Jing-Nuan, or other well known translations, and even anything written in my Guide to the I Ching). Most often it said “No” to all of these, preferring us to ask what the Sage wanted to include in the hexagram and line texts.

   Once we understood what the Sage wanted (or did not want) to be included in the text, we always asked two questions: “Do we now understand it correctly,” and, “Is this all the Sage wants to say?” Sometimes the Sage corrected only one word that would give the reader a wrong impression. Sometimes whole sentences were to be removed. The Sage was very precise in making the text clear. We found through these questions that some words had too many connotations and were thus too “polluted” to use, or “too vague,” having a potential to mislead. Some words, such as “guilt” were to be recognized as having no Cosmic validity at all, because they were human inventions made to support the hierarchical ordering of society.

   The second question, “Is this all the Sage wants to say,” was asked when we thought that perhaps enough had been said. To our surprise, the answer was often “No.” It was not until after the book was complete that we could see that each hexagram had been given more than one “window of understanding” as to how the text was to be viewed. Being a lover of small books, I often felt resistance to the book’s growing so large, yet in the end I realized not only how wrong it would have been to impress my view upon the book in that way, but that each of these understandings addressed a particular issue that would be of help to the reader.

   One of the most interesting experiences in this process occurred on the day that we received Hexagram 5, Waiting, as the next hexagram we were to work on. Traditionally, this hexagram had counseled the person seeking advice to be patient and wait in the certainty that the help he needed would come. Following our method, we began asking, “Does the Sage want us to include the Wilhelm understanding?” “No.” As we went through all the other versions, we kept receiving, “No.” We then fielded hypotheses that came to mind. Each still received, “No.” When we had exhausted everything we could think of, we sat feeling quite dumb. Then it occurred to us to ask the Sage, “Help!” Almost immediately the question came to mind, “Is this hexagram about the Helpers waiting to be asked to help?” “Yes! Yes! Yes!” was the clear answer. This was to be the entire focus of the hexagram. No other hexagram, in writing this version, received such a complete reversal of its traditional meaning.

   A final point that we found interesting in this process was the fact that we were a year and a half into the project before we received Hexagrams 1 and 2. By that time we were ready to see that Hexagram 1 was speaking of the Cosmic Consciousness as the origin of all things, and Hexagram 2 as “all the things manifested into the forms we see as Nature.” This process, seen from our perspective today, nine years later, still astonishes us to think that such a book as this, with its nearly 700 pages, was written in just two years. There is simply no way we could have done this by relying entirely on our own minds and experiences. It was the product of our collaboration with the Sage that speaks through the I Ching.

   *Before Richard Wilhelm’s translation was published in Germany in 1924, more than five different translations of the I Ching had been made. These versions were little read outside the field of sinology. Even Wilhelm’s now famous translation languished unread until world-famous psychoanalyst, Carl G. Jung, wrote the Foreword to the English edition, calling the I Ching a mirror to the unconscious.