Ching

It is well worth studying I Ching (The Book of Changes) if only as a practical lesson on how vague and obscure you can be in your predictions and still get away with it. I Ching (pronounced Eeh Jeng, so look condescending if anyone calls it 'eye ching') is thought to be the oldest surviving book in the world, at 2000 years old, which just goes to show that people have been bluffing for a very long time.

It is based on 64 hexagrams (an arrangement of six broken or unbroken lines) which go under such enlightening names as 'Keeping Still, Mountain', or 'The Corners of the Mouth'. Each has a judgement

- a series of ambiguous, contradictory and downright confusing sayings that sound like the bits of homespun philosophy that you get in Kung-Fu films.

For example, say you ask the I Ching "Should I get married" it might reply "The Clinging. Perseverance furthers. It brings success. Care ofthe cow brings good fortune."

That's what you'd get if you picked hexagram 30 helpfully named The Clinging Fire. You might think you were doing better if you got hexagram 51 The Arousal, until you read the judgement: "Shock brings success, Shock comes - oh, oh.,laughingwords

- ha, ha!, The shock terrifies for a hundred miles, And he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice."

The advantage with I Ching is that unlike Tarot or Astrology where it would be bad form to look up a meaning in a book, you are expected to consult the Book of Changes, so you need not commit much to memory.

Each judgement in the book is explained by a commentary which if possible is slightly more confusing than the judgement. It could have been invented by a bluffer.

Of course, you let the querent read the judgement and the commentary himself. When they get to something like "Six in the fifth place means dense clouds No rain from our western territory, The Prince shoots and hits him who is in the cave" you will be begged to say what it means and can let your interpretative powers have full rein.

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