A Comparison 3 I Ching Websites

The I Ching (易经) can be very intimidating to the uninitiated. With the large range of divination methods and copious amount of online advice it is all too easy for someone’s attention to be focused on the authenticity of the technique instead of the interpretation of the message. Luckily we live in an age where almost anything can be automated or digitized, and there are a number of online I Ching tools out there, some well designed for the curious but unpracticed. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the I Ching online websites, comparing the results they give to a common question, and looking at some of the features they offer.

Yi_Chinese_character_for_change_used_for_I_Ching

Before going any further let me state unequivocally that when consulting the I Ching the entire process is important,  and this is in no way an endorsement of using online tools for the I Ching. In my own experiences with the Book of Changes I cannot even recall how many times I have been told not to take the easy path, especially when it meant avoiding effort. What these website represent is a lowering of the entry barrier, a reasonable option when first beginning to explore this book of ancient wisdom.

Part 1: The Websites

Website 1: Eclectic Energies

Translation used:
The Essential I Ching: The oracle, concise and to the point, by Ewald Berkers

Highlights:
Simulates virtual coin toss
Allows coin results to be selected individually
Can design hexagrams

Comment:
I think this is a great site for anyone trying to learn about divination with the I Ching. The step-by-step of clicking through each coin toss instead of hiding it behind programming code slows the process down and feels more like a simulation than an automated reading. Being able to design a hexagram or choose the coin toss outcomes could be a good way of double checking one’s own method to see if the results agree.

Website 2: I Ching Online

Translation used:
The I Ching or Book of Changes, original German translation by Richard Wilhelm, English translation  by Cary F. Baynes

Highlights:
Can type in a question to be answered
Simulates virtual coin toss
Allows coin results to be selected individually

Comment:
Very similar to Eclectic Energies, and has a nice translation. The only issue I have with this site is that it keeps opening new windows every time the user takes an action.

Website 3: Fly Trap Interactive

Translation used:
Not stated

Highlights:
Can type in a question to be answered
Reading allows for selection of changing lines

Comment:
Much more of an automated reading than the first two sites. This online I Ching does display the hexagrams generated, which is a better reference than just the reading itself.

CMOC_Treasures_of_Ancient_China_exhibit_-_Fragment_of_Xiping_stone_classics,_detail

Part 2: The Question

In order to compare the different readings generated by the three websites they will each be asked the same question. Even though the first site does not allow a question to be entered this is not the important part, the I Ching is obviously not set up as a digital interface so it more important to have a clear question in one’s mind, than to type it into a box for entering text. For the purposes of this article my question will be worded vaguely, but relates to a situation I was seriously considering consulting the book about. Hopefully the lack of context will not be distracting, the question is loosely put and could easily apply to anyone.

The question is:

Should I give my honest opinion?

In each case the websites virtual coin toss is used when available. The full reading is given below with no interpretation by the author of this post.

Part 3: The Reading

Website 1: Eclectic Energies

33. Withdrawal

Line 1:
Withdrawing the tail from danger.
No use going to the goal that is there.

Withdrawing partly, to get out of danger. In this situation of being only partially involved, it is not possible to achieve an aim.

Line 6:
Fertile withdrawal.
Without disadvantage.

Withdrawing creates a fertile situation. The withdrawal is not causing any problems.

Hexagram is changing to:

49. Change

Change.
When the day is over, there will be confidence.
A foundation for progress.
It is beneficial to persist.
Aversion goes away.

There is a change. It takes some time to adjust, but then it’ll be clear that things have changed for the better. Just hold on. Initial aversion to it will go away.

Website 2: I Ching Online

61 – Sixty-One*

Chung Fu / Inner Truth
The gentle Wind ripples the Lake’s surface:
The Superior Person finds common ground between points of contention, wearing away rigid perspectives that would lead to fatal error.

Pigs and fishes.
You may cross to the far shore.
Great fortune if you stay on course.

SITUATION ANALYSIS:
The subject of this hexagram discovers a key to Tranquility by first gaining insight into his own nature, then turning that vision outward.
By resolving inner conflicts and being at peace with himself, he learns to gain insight into others.
In effect, he enters another, sees with the other’s eyes, listens with the other’s ears, feels with the other’s heart.
He then returns to his own center, with new perspective and understanding.

*This site also has changing lines and transformed hex that can be selected on different tabs, but no guidance is given on which applies to the reading, so only the cast hex is reproduced here.

Website 3: Fly Trap Interactive

41. Sun – Decrease*

The Judgement
Decrease combined with sincerity
Brings about supreme good fortune
Without blame.
One may be persevering in this.
It furthers one to undertake something.
How is this to be carried out?
One may use two small bowls for the sacrifice.

The Image
At the foot of the mountain, the lake:
The image of Decrease.
Thus the superior man controls his anger
And restrains his instincts.

*This site also gives a large amount of information on the changing lines, easier for interpretation provided the person can recognize which are the changing lines.

Part 4: Opinion

From a purely usability perspective Electic Energies remains my favorite site. The readings I received from both that site and I Ching Online were both intuitively satisfying, but only Electic Energies corresponded to later consultations done manually with yarrow stalks. As a website it is much less distracting, and while it is clear that the intent is to sell the particular translation used, the website has a lot of useful information and uses no hard sell.

As applicable to the situation the first two reading offer very sound advice, albeit opposing. The third is perhaps more vague, or could require more contemplation. What is a person to make of getting opposite advice from the same source? That is a question that will come up often when working with the Book of Changes, and this is why it is preferable to do a hands on casting. The oracle is there for guidance, but not take make life easier for those seeking advice, and certainly not to take responsibility from the individual. For many people using the I Ching evokes strong attachment to the ancient history that comes along with it. This should not be a reason to reject online versions though. There is no reason that someone with a pure intent cannot use modern technology to expose this source of wisdom to a wider audience, and help bring clarity into more people’s lives.

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