Our Method

The Bean Method

Originally the Rice Method was used for divination. Rice is the staple food in China, and can be found in every household. People more often employ rice rather than yarrow stalks to divine. I disfavor rice as its tiny size is difficult to count so I prefer to use beans. Any kind of bean is suitable except round ones, because they will roll on the table. My favorite is pinto beans. Their size, shape, and color are almost perfect. The bean reminds me of a Chinese exhortation:

“Plant melons and you get melons;
Sow beans and you get beans.”

Acquiring the UPPER and LOWER TRIGRAMS (PRIMARY GUA)Prepare a bowl of beans, about a quarter pound (100 grams), and cast away broken ones.

Step 1: Grab a handful of beans and place them on the table in front of you. This represents the TAI CHI before it differentiates into Heaven and Earth.

Step 2: Divide the pile randomly into two groups, one at the top (representing Heaven), and one at the bottom (representing Earth).

If you wish, you may follow tradition and divide the pile into two piles, one on the left (Heaven), and one on the right (Earth).

Step 3: Using either your right or left hand, take four beans from the Earth pile, and put them in front of you on either the right or the left side of the table in a group.Step 4: Take another four beans from the pile, and group them with the first four.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 many times, setting aside 2 sets of 4 beans at a time. Note: I use four beans because that’s an easy number to count with no mistakes. We mentally combine each group of four twice to represent the eight TRIGRAMS or PRIMARY GUA (4 x 2 = 8).

Step 6: At last there will be eight or fewer beans remaining on the table. The number of beans indicates the number of your UPPER TRIGRAM, according to FU XI‘s EARLIER HEAVEN ARRANGEMENT of the eight PRIMARY TRIGRAMS (GUA).

Step 7: Repeat steps 1 to 6 to obtain the LOWER TRIGRAM (GUA).

(linear representation)


Acquiring the CHANGING LINEStep 1: Repeat the first three steps for obtaining the UPPER TRIGRAM.

Step 2: This time, rather than taking 4 beans out of the pile at a time, take out six beans, representing the six lines of a HEXAGRAM, at a time and put them on either to the right or to the left. Six is used here to represent the individual lines (YAO) of an HEXAGRAM (ACCOMPLISHED GUA). Note: the word GUA is used for both the three-line TRIGRAM and the six-line HEXAGRAM.

Step 3: Repeat the 2nd step many times until at last there will be six or fewer beans remaining on the table. The number of beans remaining indicates the number of your CHANGING LINE or YAO counted from the bottom line upward to the top (bottom line is 1, top line is 6).

You should now have two
TRIGRAMS or PRIMARY GUA (UPPER and LOWER) combined to make one ACCOMPLISHED HEXAGRAM or GUA, with one MOVING LINE. Now take these results and find the corresponding reading located in The Complete I Ching – or sign up for free as a Basic Member and obtain your reading online, compliments of I Ching Mastery. Just follow the sign up link below.

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