The perils of deconstructing oneself to consult the Yijing

In a recent spat of comments to one of Hilary Barrett’s posts, Ewald had this to say:

Emotions very much depend on what someone is keeping in their unconscious, which makes people not see situations as they really are.

“If something “feels” wrong, most of the time, it is.”
I think that there is so often “without fault” in the Yi, because people way too quickly are let to believe by their superegos that something is “wrong.”

Ewald’s opinions are some of those I pay attention to. Specially because he writes so much about matters of the self, the ego, and the Yijing. For the above, my reply is: No, not really.

That POV detaches the querent/subject from the whole and that, IMO, is an illusion. I’m not saying we are open books, even to ourselves, but we are books, nevertheless, and we can be read and be anotated. Intent, for all intents and purposes (pun intended), is a conscious decision focused on a purpose. The so called “superego” isn’t separate from the self nor should it be seen as an evil sidekick with its own agenda. There’s only one agenda and that is the agenda of the self. Efforts have been made to invent parts that make a whole, to comprehend it and explicate it, but the self is much bigger than the sum of its perceived parts. If a subject would embark into a minimalistic approach to his own destiny, separating and segregating the parts that make his “self,” as if watching from above to a discussion panel around the table of his mind, then all hope of finding his integrated whole will be lost. If “something feels wrong” means that one of your senses–one of those usually dismissed as belonging to the sidekick…–is working as it should. Ignoring them is done at your own peril.

Now, ’emotions’ are reactions, yes, but the question is, reactions to what? IMO, they are reactions to stimuli. Said stimulus can be conveyed to the self by any, some, or all of our available senses and they form our intent. How can emotions be relegated to the plane of the unconscious when they are in the forefront of our actions? Emotions are not formed, in an obscure back room of our minds, by a third party named “unconscious.” Some emotions are limbic, hardwired into our selves, like the love one feels for his/her child. The stimulus for that emotion is the mere presence of the child. It is limbic because it is what holds a species together; it is existential. Without it, any species would perish.

Yes, a Yi answer can be that stimuli and it does affect our selves by, in many instances, rewiring our emotions and thus our intent. It is one of the important reasons it should be used sparingly. in the Shujing (Book II, The Counsels of the Great Yu), there’s a good piece of advise that, IMO, should be heard and applied:

Yü said, ‘Submit the meritorious ministers one by one to the trial of divination, and let the favouring indication be followed.’ The Tî replied, ‘(According to the rules for) the regulation of divination, one should first make up his mind, and afterwards refer (his judgment) to the great tortoise-shell. My mind (in this matter) was determined in the first place; I consulted and deliberated with all (my ministers and people), and they were of one accord with me. The spirits signified their assent, and the tortoise-shell and divining stalks concurred. Divination, when fortunate, should not be repeated.

These were people that lived and breathed though divination and knew the perils of using it haphazardly in important decisions. The temptation is always there but discipline should be part of the practice.

When it is said that:

“the Yi is primarily about the intent in situations. Emotions are reactions to that and the Yi is not primarily about those reactions”

The order of those factors does affect the result of the equation. Futhermore, there’s a contradiction in it. Intent and emotions go together, in tandem; they are a polarity. One feeds the other. Now, in order to manipulate one or the other, and thus steer your life, first you must see them as part of the whole. The “self” is the whole and you can only play your instrument effectively by using all the available strings, not selectively deconstructing it and giving some parts arbitrary priority over others. A symphony is not a single note.

As I said before, the Yijing is holistic. For that I mean that all goes into it and all is contemplated by it. That includes, but is not limited to, intent, emotions and situations. Situation is hereby defined as those slices of reality that affect us directly and, in this case, prompt us to consult the oracle. As such, a ‘situation’ is made up, in great part, by the polarity of emotion and intent. (Those paying attention, within the framework of the Yijing, will note that both definitions apply conceptually to yin and yang.) External factors do affect the outcome of that “slice of reality” that is the personal situation. However, by defining the Yijing as holistic, we can see the whole of it: the slice by itself, where it fits in the whole and how can both be adjusted to make them fit together. Of course, what I’m describing is the ultimate ideal use of the Yijing. Very few, and I don’t count myself among them, can reach that level of holistic integration.


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