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Studying the I Ching with Anandamayi – Part 7: the spiral of criticism

8.3 (8 > 39)

8 - Distribution39 - Uncertainty


One has established relations with unpleasant people.

One of the most dreaded lines of the I Ching is 8.3. In some comments it refers to wrong people (Wilhelm-Baynes), in others to non-people (Hilary Barrett)  or unpleasant (disreputable) people (Taoscopy).


Six in the third place means:
You hold together with the wrong people.


What is generally understood is that we are confronted to evil people. It seems like we should be very careful when dealing with these persons and if possible shun them. Richard Wilhelm recommends:

Maintaining sociability without intimacy is the only right attitude toward such people

However, when practicing the I Ching, it can happen that we get this reading for something else than people. For example this thread at onlineclarity is about housing. We could elaborate that a house is non-people, but how can we interpret this? The question was:

“What advice for me re timing to buy a house “

In the background description, we can see that the poster describes difficulties with the landlord. At the end of the thread, the advice came to be wary of buying a house for wrong motives.

So, some can see this advice as an encouragement to leave because the landlord would be this kind of unpleasant people. Others can see it as a warning against leaving for wrong motives. And naturally there are other interpretations, for example that the new house would be unpleasant.

So, what is remarkable in this reading, is much less the interpretation that we can make, but the fact that the comment led us to point at the landlord and label him as unpleasant. Without even knowing more background. Someone in the thread also suggested suspicion against the estate agent, who could possibly be the wrong person. This line is as such a perpetual source of suspicion and embarrassment. Fortunately, Sri Ma Anandamayi can rescue us.



To listen to discourses on God or Truth is certainly beneficial, provided one does not allow oneself to be moved by a spirit of fault-finding or disparagement, should there be differences of outlook to one’s own. To find fault with others creates obstacles for everyone all around : for him who criticises, for him who is blamed, as well as for those who listen to the criticism. Whereas, what is said in a spirit of appreciation is fruitful to everybody. For only where there is no question of regarding anything as inferior or blameworthy (asat) can one call it Satsang – a play upon words: Sat means True Being, the Good; satsang the company of the good, and also a religious gathering. Asal, the opposite of sat, means non-being, wrong, evil. Therefore to find fault (asat) in a religious meeting (saiang) is a contradiction in terms.)

source, part TWO

What is described here is the spiral of criticism. This is similar to Jesus’ saying:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7:3-5, NIV

Please note that Jesus recommends working on our own flaws first before dealing with others. This is precisely the lesson of the hexagram 39, as taught by Confucius.

To explain the problem in my own words: if you say something bad about someone, then you in turn will be subject to criticism. And the people who will criticize you will also be subject to criticism. This is the never-ending spiral of criticism and what the line 3 of the hexagram 8 is warning us against. Therefore, analyzing the aforementioned thread at onlineclarity led us to be suspicious of the original poster, of the landlord and of the estate agent.  Then we can in turn criticize who has been suspicious, thus offering ourselves to open criticism.

Now, it can be necessary to exert some criticism. For example if one of your good friends is a singer and can’t sing correctly, you’ll want to help your friend by saying the truth. When asked about this the I Ching commented:

2.3 (2 > 15)

2 - Obedience15 - Decency


One takes only the necessary to carry out their task.

Now, how can we interpret the 8.3 comment from above? Simply put, this poster had no reason to leave this house, other than being critical about the landlord. Who are the unpleasant people? And what if we were leaving this question unanswered?

Studying the I Ching with Anandamayi – Part 6: the empty basket

54.6 (54 > 38)

54 - Assistance38 - Misunderstanding

Before I even started making Taoscopy’s comments, I had some knowledge of the I Ching. Among the lines that I thought I was understanding very well is 54.6.


The woman holds the basket, but there are no fruits in it.
The man stabs the sheep, but no blood flows.
Nothing that acts to further.

So, this is about requesting for a service without payment, or asking a question when you already know the answer, things that are arranged beforehand. It’s all about falsity.

As we can see in the classical comments, the basket has no fruits, and the sheep is already dead. This can also be related to Jesus’ withering of the fig tree. What can be more clear than this line? Why should we ponder even more about it?

When I have started writing Taoscopy’s comments, the oracle had a few surprises for me. This is one of them.

Others wait until one has finished to prepare before returning.

How can I explain this comment? Until recently, I couldn’t, or at least not very well. We can say that the comment is not so pessimistic, because of 58.5, it would be dangerous to talk about misfortune here. Also, we can, with difficulty, admit that “one is preparing a lie”, so it would show a situation where someone wants to come back after a dispute and is waiting for an acceptable lie to do so.

Can Sri Ma Anandamayi teach us something about this line? Judge by yourself.



Sri Ma Anandamayi and her group of devotees were at Tarapeeth, to celebrate a religious ritual for Tara Devi, one of the Hindu goddesses who are a manifestation of Durga.

Here is what Sri Gurupriya Didi writes about this visit (page 14):

In the course of the conversation, Shachi Dada said “Ma, a dead body is arriving today.” Ma said “I have heard that unless a dead body arrives here, Tara Ma cannot have bhoga (enjoyment). In truth, unless what is impermanent and unreal is not finished the true substance cannot be offered to Ma’s bhoga.”

Here, a few explanations are necessary. During the churning of the ocean by the Hindu gods, a deadly poison was produced and Shiva swallowed it. Then the goddess Durga assumed the form of Tara to heal Shiva. So, Tara is the goddess who is curing the poison, and naturally poison is related to death and lies. What is impermanent and unreal is a lie, it’s our body, we think that the material world exists because of Maya, the great illusion.

Thus, we need to understand 54.6 as that the lies need to finish, so that truth can appear. So, truth (one) waits until others have finished to lie (prepare) before returning.

Ma concludes:

She continued, smiling, “How can that which is permanent and true be offered as bhoga? It is only to make a point that such statement is made.”




43.5: Bad herb gone good

The Yi Jing comments have been made by humans, and as such they carry their lot of misunderstandings and mistakes. I have pointed already that mantic formulas like “Fortune” and “Misfortune” contradict the comments of 16.1 and 58.5. But there are also more subtle errors. 43.5 is one of them.

43.5 (43 > 34)

43 - Revelation34 - Concentration


Others return because one didn’t want to continue.

This comment on the situation has been made by consulting the I Ching. As you can see there is no mention of good or bad here. Thus, it made me ponder whether that 43.5 was always describing a bad herb, or if it could also describe something good returning.

Here is Richard Wilhelm’s comment, translated in English by Cary F. Baynes:


In dealing with weeds,
Firm resolution is necessary.
Walking in the middle
Remains free of blame.

Weeds always grow back again and are difficult to exterminate.

What is interesting here, is that weeds are mentioned, so the advice is to exterminate them with a firm resolution. What is even more interesting is that Richard Wilhelm adds:

So too the struggle against an inferior man in a high position demands firm resolution.

The man in in a high position is deemed “inferior”. And thus it seems to be a bad thing that this man always come back to pester us like a weed.

Let’s now examine what James Legge had to say about this line:

The fifth line, undivided, shows (the small men like) a bed of purslain, which ought to be uprooted with the utmost determination.

Purslain? Ha ha. It must be a very bad weed. Out of curiosity, I have googled purslain to discover what it was. Here is an excerpt of the Wikipedia entry:

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable.[6] It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.[1][7] The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a saladstir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.

And then, about nutrition:

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular[13]) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Studies have found that purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin Avitamin Cvitamin E (alpha-tocopherol),[14]vitamin Bcarotenoids), and dietary minerals such as magnesiumcalciumpotassium, and iron.


The purslain contains low fat, vitamin C, and omega-3, it is an excellent vegetable food! So, why would you uproot with the utmost determination such a wonderful plant?




Style and Content

I was consulting the oracle about the attitude that consists of considering only the style without looking at the content. Then, after a few readings I didn’t get fully, the oracle answered this:

22.1 (22 > 52)

22 - Reservation52 - Stop


One is trusted to succeed without help.

It represents a situation when style does not matter. If we ponder about it, we can think of the hexagram 22 as representing style, and the hexagram 52 representing content: the mountain is a pile of content.

Interpreting multiple lines: the answer is in your heart

In a recent post, I have explained that after obtaining the comment of 1.1.6 > 28, I was puzzled because I could not interpret it simply with the changing lines. I have changed my mind about that.

[1 > 28]

1 - Evolution28 - Abandonment


1 > 28 – Abandoning their disputes

One asks their opponents to seek an agreement.

The formation

1 – Evolution

Changing to obtain quality work.

1.1 – Inexperience – One is still too weak to act.

1.6 – One is getting into bothers.

In the making

28 – Abandonment

One goes on their own if necessary. Stick to the essential.

How is it possible to understand “One asks their opponents to seek an agreement” from the lines 1 and 6? In fact it is very simple. The line 1 represents weakness to act, and the line 6 represents too much action. They conflict each other, you cannot be too weak to act and too strong at the same time.  Thus the oracle comment, that the dispute needs to be abandoned.

Here we can interpret the comment by examining the structure of the hexagram, a method that I have learned by reading Richard Wilhelm’s book, but have not practiced much.

So, are the transitional sequences necessary? As far as I can tell the transitional sequences do not conflict with the understanding of the situation. They bring a lot more information, but they are not enough to understand the situation fully. Example:


[1 > 26]

1 - Evolution26 - Checking


To succeed, the reforms must not be too shocking.

The formation

1 – Evolution

Changing to obtain quality work.

1.4 – One can confront the problems.

1.5 – One has understood the needs of the times.

In the making

26 – Checking

See that everything is alright. In this way one will find the invisible problems.

The comment on the situation is that “To succeed, the reforms must not be too shocking”. We find a shock nowhere in the line comments. The only shock that we can see here is that the upper nuclear trigram of the resulting hexagram is Tchen (Thunder).

If we examine the transitional sequences we find no shock, except maybe the comment about 14.4:

Raising Transitional Sequence


1.4 – One can confront the problems.

9.5 – One must help others more so that they accept to share.

Descending Transitional Sequence


1.5 – One has understood the needs of the times.

14.4 – One does not shift away to provoke others.

It is also very difficult to elaborate about reforms. To go further we can examine the Fan Yao (derived hexagram). When 9.5 becomes 26 then the Fan Yao of 9.5 is 26.5, when 1.4 becomes 9 then the Fan Yao of 1.4 is 9.4. So let see the Fan Yao for each transitional sequence:

Fan Yao Descending Return


26.5 – One waits until the youngest return to repair.

9.4 – One needs help, and is sincere. Someone will come.

Fan Yao Ascending Return


26.4 – Controlling the other’s aggressivity by yielding.

14.5 – All are accepted but one will move away from those who are asking too much.

As we can see, it is very difficult to say whether these comments are related or not to the situation. However, in this case, the ascending Fan Yao sequence seems more understandable.

I have also googled this situation and found this thread where the comment on the situation matches perfectly, because the inquirer was looking for a job in a different sector, so we can see how the recruiter wonders if this person will adapt to the new job.


It is very difficult to interpret multiple lines, even 2, because there are so many techniques. We can try using the pivot method, we can ask follow-up questions, we can study the structure, we can look at the transitional sequences and at the Fan Yao, and I am not citing all of them. Fortunately, there is something about consulting the I Ching,  an old advice coming with the hexagram 29:

If you are sincere, you have success in your heart,
And whatever you do succeeds.

— Wilhelm/Baynes

And I have noticed that I could find comments on the situation by using the changing lines but also by reading at the transitional sequences: it’s all about inspiration.