Tag Archives: I Ching

I-Ching Party: Year of the Monkey

Monkey2016Happy Year of the Monkey!

Tonight, by the Chinese lunar calendar, it is New Year’s Eve.  Everyone born this coming year is suppose to have the Monkey traits of being quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart. 

According to Western Astrology, from January 20th to February 18th is sign of Aquarius and children born during this time are suppose to be witty, clever, humanitarian, inventive and original. 

Sounds like an Aquarian Monkey may be fun.  Of course there are more complicated readings of these signs, but those are the positive ones.  They are nonsense of course, but fun nonsense.

At my home, to extend the bright lights of Christmas, in late January and February we have decorated for the Chinese New Year and today had an I-Ching party.  Below are worksheets I made to help people in asking direction from the I-Ching.  The top is the empty sheet and below it is a sample completed sheet. If you are interested in how to use the I-Ching, ask me in the comments and I will expound on how to use these worksheets in another post.

Throwing the I-Ching with all our guests was all very good fun, for as I wrote here, the I Ching can act like tofu.

Happy New Year Folks!

I-Ching Worksheet Final

I-Ching Worksheet Final sample

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Tattoos & Real Meaning


I enjoy suturing, not only for the joy of practicing the skill (minor, though it may be), but also for the chance to talk to the patient. One of my recent patients, about 30 years-old, sported the above tattoo. And as I wrote here, since I am one of those people who does not hesitate to ask a stranger about their tattoos and I knew what his tattoo meant, I said to my patient, “So, you are into the I Ching, I see.”

“Huh”, he replied.

“Your tattoo!” I said, “Why do you have that tattoo?”

“Oh, that is from GI Joe.” he said as I tilted my head in puzzlement.

You see, I was not in the USA in the 1980s, so I missed both the GI Joe comics and the GI Joe TV shows and thus never saw the GI Joe Ninja warrior who had this tattoo as the mark of his Ninja clan.

To my patient, this tattoo meant power, stealth, bravery and more. To me, it was ChiChi, the 63rd hexagram of the I Ching; water over fire; “The superior man ponders danger and takes precautions against it.” It brought back memories of my acupuncture teacher in Japan, of learning the divination method in China and much more. (see this post)

Well, I will let you read on your own about the I Ching or Snake Eyes (the GI Joe guy), but the point of this post is to illustrate the obvious:  “meaning” changes and “real meaning” is fictional.


My patient was excited to learn about the ancient meaning of his tattoo, and I was excited to learn about his meaning — one apparently embraced by many young men who grew up on GI Joe.

Question to reader:  So, what do you think about the “real” meaning of something?



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The I-Ching and Tofu

I-ChingDo you believe in the I-Ching?
32% of readers do (March 2013)
Poll Below !

After graduating from Oriental Medical School in Osaka, Japan, I took up an apprenticeship with one of the most famous Oriental Medical Doctors in my home town of Kyoto.  My teacher was very successful, highly respected and well-loved by his patients.  Though he was 40 years my elder, we became good friends and shared hours in conversation like college friends.

His favorite conversation was on the philosophy surrounding the I-Ching.  The I-Ching is an ancient classic Chinese text of divination — an oracle, a guidebook.  To access the divination, one throws coins or sticks to decide which of its 64 chapters to read and how to read them. Each chapter was based on one of 64 hexagrams derived from Ying Yang philosophy and is meant to help one answer questions he or she has in their life.  People spend lifetimes studying the text and it has been used for millennium to answer difficult questions.

Mapo TofuMy teacher lived and breathed the I-Ching. His enthusiasm was contagious. We would talk about it on our long strolls in Japanese gardens or even at Geisha parties to which he’d invite me.

He explained to me that to benefit from the I-Ching, one reads the vague passages with an open heart. Another friend likened it to Tofu — it has no flavor of its own but picks up the flavor of those who read it.

I read the I Ching for about 2 years, and often threw coins and contemplated the text. But it was difficult for me. I was a Westerner and had not been immersed since a child in this culture.  Thus the philosophy behind it was more intellectually inspiring and less emotionally stirring. I can’t say I made any amazingly good decisions using the I Ching, but the time spent was fun.

i-ching-coinsI’ve seen many Christians read their Bible in a similar way:  When troubled, the open it  up and read — looking for guidance, strength, insight or inspiration.  People do this other literature too.   My experience has told me that no god speaks through text, there is not magic.  Well, unless one understands that our minds are complex, we are not who we think we are and a text can act as tofu, drawing in a hidden flavor of many ourselves, helping us to see life more fully.  Heck — that is magic, eh?


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