I Ching Exploratory Run 2/10
Note: See comments for my actual writings in response to I Ching Hexagram interpretations. This main post is for meta-reflection on the experiment.
No divination-related questions
Schelling Fence 1 (from first experiment): I will do no more than 10 I Ching experimental runs unless I can obtain at least 1 genuinely useful action or insight
To be considered useful, use of I Ching must lead to significant actions I was not otherwise planning to take, or to insights that seem valuable to others. These insights or actions must not be divination-related, and the method by which they were generated must be kept hidden.
I’ve heard advice that parts of answers that seem wrong or irrelevant should be ignored. Yet if the point of the I Ching is to bust you out of mental ruts, it seems like the most unlikely parts might be the most valuable. I will therefore take special care to treat these most challenging parts as if they were right.
Schelling Fence 2 (from this experiment): To be considered useful, I Ching work must spur effortful, off-of-butt activity on projects I’ve known are important but that I’ve neglected at least 6 weeks; produce genuinely novel ideas that in turn lead to effortful projects that I carry through to completion; or provide clarity on dilemmas in a way that lasts at least 6 weeks, and influences consequential decisions or significant daily time use. It should produce at least two of these three categories, and at least 4 examples. I will list these qualifying proofs in a falsifiable manner, and will not do more than 10 I Ching experimental runs until I have acquired sufficient evidence based on the first 10.
As I knew that I was going to post about this experiment publicly, and that to be useful I needed to take my results seriously as a guide to action, I found myself selecting for cautious questions: nothing too intimate, potentially disruptive, boring to write about, etc. In fact, I don’t usually take time to consider what sort of question to ask. Both the ask of question-selection and the filter imposed by this procedure seem themselves to be potentially valuable new forms of personal inquiry. After constructing the first form of the question, I continued to edit it until it seemed to strike the right balance between being open-ended and specific.
How should I prioritize my career-building projects?
I feel that this was more concretely productive than I expected. Certainly it is the most useful pure personal journaling I’ve ever done. Was the I Ching necessary, or would any arbitrary selection of self-help/wisdom literature work just as well? I am still dubious about how many of these “First Steps” and insights will prove concretely useful in the future. I also remain suspicious that personal journaling can be an addictive substitute for working directly on harder projects—a form of “pretending to actually try.” Adding this level of structure may only provide a more convincing illusion of actually being useful.
In order to feel more confident, I would want to see butt-out-of-chair outcomes. Will I actually contact other local community college programs and consider alternatives? Will I implement the “always check tests and homework for completion and calculator errors” rule I generated? Will I actually set aside more regular “joy time” than I’ve done for the last year, and if I do, will I actually find it more rewarding than the random “blowing off steam” activities that currently occupy most of my free time?
To hold myself accountable, I created a section in the Personal Growth Journal I founded due to this run of the experiment, in which I specify falsifiable tests of whether the First Steps generated by I Ching reflection are leading to genuine positive behavior change.
Approximate time to complete this document:
3 hours—is it worth the time?