Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Explaining the Value of the Yarrow Method Probabilities

In the Yi Fa Society, we advocate the use of two methods for I Ching casting (aside from various non-casting practices, like the Plum Blossom method).  These are the "Four Staves" method I designed and explain in The Magician's I Ching,  and the Yarrow Stalk method that has long been used in tradition for casting the I Ching.   Here is a video explaining a simple way to use this method:

The other common method, the "3 coin" method, is not recommended.  That is because the probabilities of that method are different from those of the Yarrow Method, or from the Four Staves method (which uses the same probabilities as the Yarrow, but with a simpler faster process).

Some advocates of the '3 coin' method actually suggest that the probabilities in this method are 'more balanced', because there is an equal chance of getting a stable Yin or Yang, or a changing Yin or Yang, whereas in the Yarrow Method (or Four Staves) there's a 1/16 chance of getting a Yin changing to Yang, a 3/16 chance of a Yang changing to Yin, a 5/16 chance of a stable Yang, and a 7/16 chance of getting a stable Yin.

However, these probabilities mean that not only is the Yarrow method in fact balanced, it also better reflects the nature of Change in the Universe. It is a more accurate method.

In the Yarrow method, you have a 50/50 chance of either a solid (Yang) or a broken (Yin) line. What changes, however, is that it is more likely that the solid line will be a changing line, and more likely that the broken line will be stable.

Yin is the "weak" or "soft" force.
Yang the "hard" or "strong" force.

Now, it is more likely for something soft or weak to be STABLE.
It is more likely for something strong or hard to be unstable.

That which is strong is likely to weaken.
That which is soft is likely to endure.

It is more common in Time and Space for things that are strong to become things that are weak, and less likely for things that are weak to become strong.
That is the nature of entropy.

All of this put together creates the perfect balance of the fully accurate perspective on the nature of the probabilities of change.

On a final note: this is not to say that the 3 coin method, or indeed other methods, are completely 'wrong' or not usable.  The I Ching is a system of measurement (to measure Change according to Space and Time).  You can measure something with a meter stick, or a measuring tape, or a GPS-assisted program.  What varies is the overall degree of accuracy of the measurement.

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