The other day I wrote an entry in my Spanish blog about this. I’d like to translate it so there are no ambiguities regarding how I feel about this:
One of the bad things about the Web is that one becomes a mercenary reader–well, we should not blame the Web entirely, deep down, all of us are mercenary readers… Much to read and little time to do it. What is worst is that all of this subtracts from whatever time we have to write our own stuff. Where did the month of April go? It isn’t lack of ideas but, one cannot read and write at the same time. Perhaps you can take notes about something you are reading, but write, write, it is an exclusive acitivity. Days go by and weeks are compressed in hours.
Something I wanted to write for a while has to do with one of the great classics in human history, the I Ching. (If perhaps you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what the I Ching is and why it is considered a “classic”, don’t be lazy and search for information) What I wanted to comment about, and make clear, is what the book it is not: A system that lends itself, or caves in, to dogmatism. (in the first definition of the word: 1 : positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant) Of course, the bad thing is that there will always be someone that believes he found the key and the truth behind the I Ching and will teach “his/her version”, what he/she understands as truth. The danger is not for himself–each one of us understands the I Ching in a very personal way–but for those that are formed through the teachings of those that see things this way and wrap them in dogmas that do not exist.
For those that may want to get closer to the I Ching I have some advise: if you really want to objectively learn, find your own materials, read at your discretion, use it and form your own conclusions. If after a few years of studying and using the I Ching (I repeat, “a few years”) you believe to have reached the limits of your comprehension and need to advance in your studies, it is always possible to find somebody that has more experience and other points of view to share. Try to stay away from those that call themselves “Masters of the I Ching”, in any language. Those, in and by themselves, do not exist. Those that name themselves “Masters”, from the very first moment, are throwing out the window the humbleness needed to comprehend something about the I Ching.
With a little shame, since it can be interpreted as lack of modesty to mention years of study and experience, and to assert what I’m sharing, I must say that after some 33 years of study and constant use of the I Ching, and having a whole library dedicated to it, I still feel like an infant regarding my understanding of the vastness of this classic. Yes, I can talk and write extensively about it; explain as many techniques are used to consult the I Ching; how to personally interpret answers to consultaions; explain rules and temporal parameters; what kind of philosophies have been born and formed based on it; etc., etc., but, erudition, in the case of the I Ching, it is not synonymous with “Mastery.” The same way it applies to me, it applies to all.
To the beginners: be advised and avoid falling in dogmatic traps.
Just before some smart-assed commentator throws the “dogmatic” ball back at me for asserting things that can be construed as such, let me clarity that my only “dogma” is to eradicate them all and invite each and every one of you to form your own, independent opinions about the Yijing, sans “Masters.” If that can indeed be construed as “dogmatic”, so be it.