The I-Ching, or Yi-Jing (pronounced ee-ching) variously known as the Chinese Oracle of Change, Classic of Changes, the Book of Changes or the Zhouyi, derives from an ancient Shamanic system of divination used for accessing guidance from the divine creative principal known as “The Tao,” or “The Way.” The Tao can be thought of as the living flow of universal consciousness, that when directly addressed in the form of questions, can greatly expand our intuitive awareness of the elemental forces which influence our everyday existence.
Through this process of awareness, we become more attuned to the information and energy necessary to bring our lives into harmony with the larger patterns of nature, therefore increasing our potential to improve the health, happiness and prosperity of ourselves, others and our surrounding environment.
Consulting the I-Ching consists of making hexagrams (卦 guà) through a process of randomization such as tossing coins, throwing and counting sticks, or drawing coloured stones from a bag. These methods have been practiced and refined over thousands of years to help us more directly attune our feelings to the Tao and bypass the sort of persistent, ego-driven mental static which can interfere with the accuracy of the reading.
The randomization process produces a total set of six vertical lines stacked one upon the other, which consist of two trigrams split into three lines each. Counted from bottom to top, the first three are the inner trigram which reflect the inner (personal) aspect of the changes that are occurring. The second three are the outer (external) situation. Each trigram possesses its own individual meaning and symbolism.
There are eight possible trigrams which can be created from the randomisation process. Collectively they are referred to as bagua (八卦).
The combination of inner and outer trigrams is determined by a chart such as the one below (inner = horizontal, outer = verticle), which guides the formation of an initial (primary) hexagram. From this primary hexagram a second (relating) hexagram is derived with stable yin and yang lines remaining the same, and transforming yin and yang lines changing into their opposites.
In each of the six individual places there can be only one of four types of line, a stable yin line, a stable yang line, a transforming yin line or a transforming yin line. The Taoist concepts represented by the symbolism of the taijitu (太極圖) or yin and yang are crucial for ascribing these qualities of stability or transformation to individual lines and determining how the lines interrelate with one another within the hexagram as a whole.
Nine is transforming yang, consists of an unbroken line (—θ—) changing into yin, a broken line (— —);
Eight is stable yin, a broken line (— —) without change;
Seven is stable yang, an unbroken line (———) without change;
Six is transforming yin, a broken line (—X—) changing into yang, an unbroken line (——).
The relating hexagram forms a single figure which refers to one character from within the set of of sixty-four divinatory characters, each with its own name, number and specific oracular instructions which are referred to within an I-Ching text by the numbers six through nine.
Answers are interpreted from hexagrams based on the way that interactions between individual lines, trigrams and hexagrams as a whole, are able to mirror any situation under question. Accordingly, they serve as a symbolic expression of the unconscious (spiritual) forces shaping issues in our lives and how they relate directly to our process of personal evolution.
Hexagram 11 is named (tài), "Pervading". Other variations include "peace" and "greatness". Its inner trigram is ☰ (乾 qián) force = (天) heaven, and its outer trigram is ☷ (坤 kūn) field = (地) earth.