Formulating Your Query

The first and most important step in consulting the I Ching is deciding on the question you want to ask. Here are some basic guidelines for appropriate I Ching questions:

  • Do not ask yes/no questions.
  • Do not ask either/or questions.
  • Do not ask the I Ching to predict the future, although you can ask the I Ching how the future is likely to unfold if you make a specific choice.
  • Don't ask the I Ching for help violating God's Laws.
  • Don't ask questions that make assumptions.
  • Don't ask questions that have obvious answers.
  • Don't repeat questions just because you didn't like the first answer.
  • Don't ask the I Ching for guidance for other people.
  • Don't ask trivial questions.

We find that good I Ching questions often take one of the following forms:

  • How am I called to respond to X?
  • What do I need to learn from X?
  • How am I called to help X?
  • How am I called to move forward with respect to X?

Do not ask trivial questions. Ask about situations with which you are truly struggling. Carl Jung, who studied the I Ching extensively, describes these situations as “having an element of impossibility.” There seems to be no way out. In such situations, according to Jung, “archetypal dreams are likely to occur which point out a possible line of advance one would never have thought of oneself. It is this kind of situation that constellates the archetype with the greatest regularity.” (Synchronicity by Carl Jung).

Once you have a question, write it down in your notebook. Your Ego probably won't like the answer and will try to convince you that you really asked something else. Best to have written proof.