Clarifications about Taoscopy

Published: Saturday, 17 April 2021

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

I have recently stumbled upon this forum post at onlineclarity.co.uk. The people there made some very disparaging comments about Taoscopy, so I thought that further clarification is necessary. First, I will explain how I made Taoscopy then I'll answer to their attacks, because they went far beyond criticism.

The making of Taoscopy

The genesis

In 2010 I wanted to make a Yi Jing app. And to make such app I needed comments naturally. Since I had learned the I Ching by studying Richard Wilhelm's book (I had also read some of Da Liu and James Legge's works), I had planned to use these comments in my app. Thus, I asked for permission to the French and English publishers of Wilhelm's Yi Jing book. The English publisher answered that they had no time for that and I should contact them again in a few months and the French publisher didn't answer until I told them that I was considering other options, and then they replied that they had lost my email.

In the meantime I had prepared a few comments on my own. Comments which were greatly different from what is Taoscopy nowadays. They would be more illustrations of what a situation can represent, based on books or movies. For example in James Clavell's Shogun there is a scene where Toranaga asks his son to bring him the head of his grand-children, and it turns out that it was just a loyalty test. So I would have used that scene to represent 14.3.

So, since it was not possible to get Wilhelm's text in a legal way, and since I was unable to translate Chinese, I had to resort to making my own comments. And this is what I did, and naturally these were very clumsy and mere plagiarism or paraphrase of Wilhelm's comments. I didn't consider other options because at that time, to me, Wilhelm was the truth.

However, I am programmer, and I while I am not the best coder out there, far from it, I always validate my works, one way or another. In computer school I had learned that a program can be proved and I liked that part very much. When I learned the I Ching later I would consult the oracle to validate my analysis. As I was writing a driver for a sound card, I consulted and received:

27.3 (27 > 22)
27.3 (27 > 22) - THE Î HEXAGRAM.

The third line, divided, shows one acting contrary to the method of nourishing. However firm he may be, there will be evil. For ten years let him not take any action, (for) it will not be in any way advantageous.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
27.3 (27 > 22) - I, l’alimentation

Ī : 1. Entretenir, soutenir ; 2. Menton, côté de la bouche ; 3. Profond.

Celui qui agit mal dans la recherche de son entretien déchoira certainement. En dix ans, il ne fera rien qui lui soit avantageux. (Litt. : qu’il ne fasse rien.)

Il rencontrera de grands obstacles.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
27.3 (27 > 22) - Se priver de nourriture

On néglige son approvisionnement.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
27.3 (27 > 22) - Ellátás

Elhanyagolja az ellátást.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex

Wilhelm comments:

Normally a person either provides his own means of nourishment or is supported in a proper way by those whose duty and privilege it is to provide for him. If, owing to weakness of spirit, a man cannot support himself, a feeling of uneasiness comes over him; this is because in shirking the proper way of obtaining a living, he accepts support as a favor from those in higher place. This is unworthy, for he is deviating from his true nature. Kept up indefinitely, this course leads to misfortune. 

After pondering, it turned out that the software I was going to write would use the computer's clock when it could have let the card use its own clock. So, overtime, validating my decisions with the I Ching has become very important to me, and I could not envision writing my own comments without validating them.

The validation of the comments

This is where things did not turn so well for me. At first, I was happily validating the comments I had made, making some changes here and there. The oracle had advised me against publishing examples from song, books and movies so I reluctantly discarded them and moved on. Then it came to hexagram 59 line 4, I was almost done with the comments and the oracle refused to validate my text. I asked a dozen times, maybe more and it was always no.

Naturaly I was shocked because I thought that I knew 59.4 very well. After pondering over this situation for a while, I told the oracle: "You will make the comments", and the oracle agreed.

The making of the first comments

Because I had studied the I Ching for a while, I had my own ideas of what a comment should or should not be, specifically:

  • they should not contradict each other
  • they should not contain mantic formulas such as fortune or misfortune
  • they should be gender neutral and avoid sexism

I also asked the oracle to give me a different text than Wilhelm so I would not be accused of plagiarism. This part has succeeded so well that I have been accused of everything but that. So, we did the titles first, then the comments for each hexagram and line, and it took me about 5 years. Some comments have been made in 10 minutes and other comments in a few weeks. In parallel I published my app and made this site and its companion yijing-oracle.com where I manage not only taoscopy but also the public domain translations that you find on this site and in the app.

Multiline comments

After making the comments for the 64 hexagrams and each of their lines, it turned out that I made, still with the oracle, the comments for all the 4096 situations. It would have taken a lot of time to make them by consulting the I Ching so I resorted more on what people refer as channeling, which is a kind of meditation where the text appears to you. This is very error-prone, and I lose the possibility to validate them, since it would slow down the process, but I have been able to make 16 to 32 comments per day, which is a lot more than if I had consulted. Afterwards I have also translated them in English and that took more time and effort than getting the comments themselves.

Criticism

In 2015 I joined onlineclarity forums, and presented my work there, and while some users have been nice to me, many reactions were cold or hostile toward me and my work. In September 2015 I left their forum in a move that was largely approved and encouraged by that community.

Since then, whenever taoscopy is mentioned on their forums, disparaging comments are made. This is why I have decided to give some clarifications, from my point of view.

Two ways of consulting the Yi Jing

In order to understand the issue, one must understand that there are two categories of Yi Jing practicioners. The first consist of those who rely on the Chinese text, and the other group, which I am part of consist of those who rely on the oracle.  When I started making the comments with the oracle, I had prepared several books to help me, and mainly Wilhelm's book. The oracle commented about that:

17.2 (17 > 58)
17.2 (17 > 58) - THE SUI HEXAGRAM.

The second line, divided, shows us one who cleaves to the little boy, and lets go the man of age and experience.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
17.2 (17 > 58) - Letting a golden opportunity pass

When one accepts the least, they forego the best.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
17.2 (17 > 58) - Letting a golden opportunity pass

When one accepts the least, they forego the best.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
17.2 (17 > 58) - Sui, suivre

Sūi : 1. Respect, soumission, conformité à ce qui doit être ; 2. Complaisance ; 3. Fidélité au devoir ; 4. Conséquemment, en ce cas.

S’il fréquente les jeunes gens et laisse de côté les gens âgés (et sages), il n’est pas digne qu’on ait des rapports avec lui.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
17.2 (17 > 58) - Laisser passer une occasion en or

Quand on accepte le moins bien, on renonce au meilleur.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
17.2 (17 > 58) - Irányítani

Ha valaki beéri kevesebbel, elszalasztja a legjobbat.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex

And I understood immediately that Wilhelm was the little boy when the oracle was the strong man.

If one clings to the little boy, One loses the strong man.

First criticism: Taoscopy is not the Yi Jing

So, at onlineclarity I have been told that my work is not even the Yi Jing since the Yi Jing is a book and only what is based on the text of this book is the Yi Jing. In a way, this point is valid, however when I consulted the Yi Jing to make the text I used Wilhelm's translation so it still has something to do with the Yi Jing.

Second criticism: the text is incomprehensible

This is pure bad faith, why should I even answer to that? I understand that my translation skills are not perfect, and that some of the text needs to be reworked however this is not a valid argument to me. It was said about this line:

When the feeding stops, everyone gets organized to exit.

These are simple English words and the meaning if that when people run out of supplies they leave to get some. You can disagree or not with this sentence, or say that it is not related to 57.2, but you cannot claim that it is incomprehensible.

For other comments than 57.2, this claim is more consistent. For example the old version of 62.3 was difficult to understand. As I already said, I asked the oracle that no contradiction should appear in the text. One important line here is 58.6: Sincerity toward disintegrating influences is dangerous. which contradicts directly 62.3: If one is not extremely careful,
Somebody may come up from behind and strike him. So, in the first versions of taoscopy I've obtained a convoluted comment that would work around these difficulties:

One asks the most able to assess the repairs.

This comment is perfectly valid but requires some thought. Since someone is going to strike you from behind if you are not careful, you need some preparation beforehand, and this is done with communication. Even though it is still difficult to handle and I asked the oracle to revert to a more understandable version.

Third criticism: Taoscopy is misleading

This comes in addition to the claim that the text is incomprehensible. My stance about this is very simple: trust no one but the oracle. Develop a relationship of trust with the oracle and validate your judgments with the oracle. Lets suppose you are on a desert island with no Yi Jing book but the method. There, you could consult and learn step by step, even write your own comments. That would take a lot of time and effort but you could do it. You would point at things and consult, then write down what happened. Maybe your text would mention coconuts rather than melons but the ideas would still be there.

So, if you have any doubt consult the Yi Jing, and if there is an error in taoscopy it will be pointed at. I do not claim that this work is perfect, there are some typos left, and it may have still mistakes.

Personally I find the mantic formulas (fortune, misfortune) in the classical text to be very misleading. Some situations are supposedly good while others are bad, and it is not the case at all. Every situation depicted in the I Ching can be good or bad, or both, it all depends on the context.

When consulting the oracle, there is always and there will always be room for uncertainty. Some things are not to be revealed, and while you can ask any question, you won't get answers about everything, and even if you get them you won't be able to interpret them. It never ceases to amaze me how realistic and deterministic some Yi Jing practicioners are.

Fourth criticism: I am obsessive and borderline insane

Well, this one goes beyond criticism and is a personal attack. When I joined onlineclarity forums, my idea was to present my work to the Yi Jing "authorities" that were dwelling there and listen if they would have some remarks about how I could improve my work. In fact I got none of that. I was accused to be insane among other things (like for example, posting there for SEO). They did not tell me: "this comment is ok but that one is not", they rejected all of my work. This aggressiveness did not stop even after I left their forums, but continues each time the word taoscopy is mentioned there.

As for my mental health it has its highs and lows, like everyone else, when I joined onlineclarity I was coming out of a severe depression and it may have affected my behaviour at some point, but that's not what I would call insanity.

You forgot to mention that the voice(s) in his head told him to do this: specifically to correct the mistakes present since Yi's writing... then acted quite dodgy when confronted on his claims.

I usually avoid speaking about my spiritual experiences, and naturally this person is taking advantage of that by interpreting it the way he wants. I don't have to answer to this kind of confrontation, there is an oracle for that.

There is a point that I will make clear nonetheless concerning my spiritual life: I consider that the Yi Jing's oracle is God, so when you consult the oracle you are talking to God, I have also studied Sri Ma Anandamayi's teachings and She explained that everyone out there is God. So, when you are talking to me you are also talking to God, and me too, I am talking to God because both of us are God as well as every living being. We all share the same soul, and this is this soul that is answering to us through the oracle.

Conclusion

We have determined here that communication is not my strong point.What amazed me is that these persons directly attacked the comments without examining them seriously. Why examining them seriously when they have been deemed not serious? They want to attack my credibility but it is them who act dodgy by doing so.

Here is an example thread from the time I was posting on these forums:

Will LAE (= the ones who left Syriza and made a new party) win the majority in the elections?
50.6 > 32


They will return to help Syriza (their friends).

50.6 (50 > 32)
50.6 (50 > 32) - THE TING HEXAGRAM.

The sixth line, undivided, shows the caldron with rings of jade. There will be great good for- tune, and all action taken will be in every way advantageous.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
50.6 (50 > 32) - Returning to one' s former position

One can resume work to help one's friends.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
50.6 (50 > 32) - Returning to one' s former position

One can resume work to help one's friends.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
50.6 (50 > 32) - T’ing, le chaudron

T’ing : chaudron à trois pieds, vase du sacrifice, sacrifice.
 

Un chaudron aux anneaux de jade représente une grande prospérité, pour qui tout est avantage. Elle arrive quand le fort et le faible observent la mesure.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
50.6 (50 > 32) - Retrouver son poste

On peut reprendre le travail pour aider ses amis.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex
50.6 (50 > 32) - Bevonás

Visszatér a munkához hogy segítsen társainak.

Bing DeepL Google Yandex

It is quite amusing because the answer I gave is spot on and yet, I failed to interpret it correctly. Here is the outcome:

Will LAE (= the ones who left Syriza and made a new party) win the majority in the elections?
50.6 > 32

(the most intriguing answer!) NO. The situation is beyond changing (50). They didn't win the
majority (far from, they didn't even get into parliament). So they wouldn't have a chance at
changing anything at all, and the situation goes on as it was (32).

So, they literally had to return to work. Naturally I have never been given credit for this on these forums.

On the other hand I would like to say that onlineclarity forums are a very valuable tool, because they provide a situation with a background, the hexagram and often the outcome, so it is very useful when validating comments. The owner, Hilary Barrett is a decent person, but also makes this site for a living, as she sells Yi Jing lessons and her own translation of the Chinese text. These persons attacking me are friends of her and probably have seen me as a competitor so they went full aggressive on me without restraint. It would be like if you open a shop and a street merchant comes into your shop and starts selling his good from there. So, that was an awkward situation, that could have been resolved in a more peaceful way though. I thought that her forum was a Yi Jing forum open to everyone and not a promotion tool for her business. When I realized my mistake it was too late.

This is all I wanted to say about this, so that you can be aware of what is awaiting you if you ever go there and mention taoscopy in a thread. I do not wish to have taoscopy mentioned on their forums, I have a new account there but use it only occasionally to make searches and sometimes send private messages and I do not plan to post there ever again.

The text will go its own way, if you don't like it is then change it as it is public domain. It is by all means much better than the classical text, even though it is not perfect. When I reflect upon this, I realize that the classical text has been done in a similar way than taoscopy: they have consulted many oracles, then wrote down what happened, and finally have organized their results into a book. But after 700 years people have forgotten that it all came from the oracle and have deemed the text to be sacred and stopped improving it.

So, I'll repeat it one last time: when in doubt, consult the oracle.

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