I-Ching and Tai Chi

Throwing the sticks… not literally, is the process of meditatively using “Yarrow Stalks” to dive deep into the sub-conscious of cause and effect and emerge with a morsel, a pearl of wisdom. Before I began my study of Tai Chi (1968), four sisters took me into a room, handed me some foraged sticks and the Book of Changes (I-Ching). “Sit,” I was told, and they gave me precise instructions on what to do to get a “reading”.

Trusting that all would be revealed in the end, I complied. First, I had to breath and center inward before beginning. It took about a half-hour to complete the repetitive process of separating, counting, laying down the sticks in specific order, over and over before it was completed. They explained and helped me convert the numbers into lines which corresponded to chapters in the book.

Staring at them with a somewhat blank look when I finished reading my outcome they asked, “Do you have any questions?” I thought, SURE DO… What just happened; but replied, “No.” Somehow, I figured that with practice, over time, I would understand.

I practiced throwing the sticks almost every day for a year after that encounter, until I realized that it was a pathway into my deepest archives. Throwing the Sticks and reading the text was offering me insights as to the potential of the moment, and from that point of insight the changing that can occur. The lines, broken for yin and solid for yang, stacked in a myriad of trigrammatic possibilities, were simultaneously predictable and ever changing.

CHANGE a prominent factor in the practice of the Tai Chi form. Each posture is a shape that, when in the fullness of Yang or emptiness of Yin, changes into the next. Yet predictable in shape and what follows, letting go into the experience, being precisely and fully in the moment of the energy of the shape, one must also let go into the next. Always seeing/feeling/sensing what “is”, allowing the moment to reveal newness in observation as you repeat the form over and over is directly relative to the repetitive mechanics of using the sticks. Both are pathways to deep vulnerability, being present, and reflecting on letting go into life’s experience as clearly as possible.

Peace and love,
Master Young