I Ching Reading for 2024

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无妄 Wú wàng- No Delusion/ Without Falsehood / Innocence (25)

Following the celestial pivot of the Solstice, there is a return to the beginning. Thus, the next hexagram in the sequence is Wú wàng, which literally means “not any delusion”. Wú means “without any” and wàng means "untruthful, dishonest, insincere, or delusional”. Wilhelm translates Wú wàng as “Innocence”, alluding to a time reminiscent of childhood full of laughter without falsehood. Is it possible to return to a place of innocence?

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What happens to the innate, wide-eyed innocence of a child? As we mature, we acquire language and the names and words we learn refer to something, but they are not the thing in itself. This disconnect is confusing, at best, and is the source of delusion. We mistake language for the actuality of our existence. Objects are less problematic, but emotions and concepts provide difficulties. This is further complicated by the plethora of languages spoken and understood by humankind.

The coming year will be full of storm and stress, with the continuation of divisive politics including the election of a new U.S. president and Congress, financial and economic anxieties, war crimes, immigration policies, the ongoing pandemic, climate change, the rise of artificial intelligence, gender equality, racial discrimination, human rights, income inequality, overpopulation, and multiple sustainability concerns, just to name a few. So many “issues” have divided the country into opposing points of view. With nearly 5 billion people online contributing to an unfathomable array of networked information—quintillions of bytes produced each day – we are unfortunately no wiser with access to so much information. A lot of what is out there is agenda-driven bias, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and general mendacious mischief such as synthetic/artificial intelligence. How do we determine the truthfulness, the correctness of our points of view?

Have you contemplated the origin of thoughts? Where do they come from and, after hanging around for a while, where do they go? When a thought occurs, the brain assembles a vast amount of information from perceptions, impulses, feelings, memories, and, not insignificantly, the opinions of others. Mostly, thoughts are recycled or reused and reinterpreted from the collective thoughts provided by our teachers, parents, news outlets, history books, and mythology from the past.

This entire endeavor is inherently faulty since a human’s ability to perceive is limited. Our five senses only operate within certain parameters. For example, visible light occupies the wavelengths of ~380-740 nm, while the entire electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) encompasses wavelengths from 0.01 nanometers (1x10-11m) to over 1000 meters. The other senses likewise are limited in what is capable of being perceived by humans. What value is seeing when the vast majority of light energy is outside of our ability to see it?

Our memory is biased because we do not remember everything, and it is also selective in choosing only what we want to remember or are traumatized to remember. In addition, our memory is unreliable as a source of truth since we only have our unique point of view and do not/cannot know the details or participation of other people or other factors that were involved. Quite literally, our memory is a fiction replete with falsehood that our ego believes we “know.”

Adding to the mess within our minds is our inability to imagine the future. As I am sure most of you have learned by now, the future rarely turns out how we imagine it. Catastrophizing in an imagined future is a great sport, but reality is mostly kinder than that. Other factors allow us to appreciate the wonder of the enfolding, regardless of our attempts to influence the future. We create a fantasy in our minds and call it true, usually based on fear and past images. Let it be; these things will pass.

All these factors are interwoven in the Web of Maya in which we exist. This is the very definition of delusion. Since all thought is conditionally based upon language, meaning, bias, depth of knowledge, circumstance, memory, and ego, we should not be attached to our thoughts and opinions as absolutely correct.

The Decision

Without falsehood.
Sublimely prosperous and smooth.
Favorable to be steadfast and upright.
If one's intention is not truthful, there is trouble.
Unfavorable to have somewhere to go.

The Image

Under heaven thunder rolls:
All things attain the natural state of innocence.
Thus the kings of old,
Rich in virtue, and in harmony with the time,
Fostered and nourished all beings.

The structure of the hexagram is Thunder below and Heaven as the upper gua. Heaven above signifies strength and Thunder below implies movement. Strength and motion are auspicious, but only when this represents the natural state of Nature, a state totally free from untruthfulness, dishonesty, and insincerity. The hexagram is said to possess the four moral virtues, rendered by the formula: Yuan Heng Li Zhen/元亨利貞 (“what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm.”). Yuan Heng Li Zhen are the first words of the I Ching and are referred to in various places throughout the text. The Four Cardinal Principles are propriety (禮), righteousness (義), integrity (廉), and shame (恥). The cultivation of which brings one in natural alignment with the will of Heaven. The practice of this alignment is powerful and inherently endowed with success and myriad beings are nurtured. However, if one’s intention involves the spreading of falsehood, one should remain silent and not do anything.

Nine in the 5th place means:

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Use no medicine for an illness incurred through no fault of your own. It will pass of itself.

An unexpected or unwanted evil may occur through no fault of oneself and outside of one’s ability to overcome. If it does not originate in one's own nature or have a foothold there, one should not resort to external means to eradicate it but should quietly let nature take its course. Then change will come of itself. All doing contains within it, its undoing. Time and patience are required.

What the I Ching is suggesting is that in practicing the Four Virtues, one is in accord with the Tao. The Tao is beyond the understanding and actions of people and their thoughts and opinions. If one allows the unfolding of the natural order, things will find the golden mean, neither excess nor deficiency. On the other hand, our interference can easily create chaos and division.

Appreciating that everyone is subject to the madness of trying to make sense of the stress and storm, the wanting, the dissatisfaction and pain of life, this can give rise to Great Compassion. If we can avoid falsehood and understand the inherent delusion in our perceptions and opinions, we will return, in the new year, to a state of innocence. Perhaps, even laughter is possible.

In the words of my collegiate political science teacher, Howard Zinn:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”


  • Blofeld, John, I Ching The Book of Change, Penguin Putnam Inc., NY, NY (1965).
  • Cleary, Thomas (trans.), The Taoist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (2012)
  • Huang, Alfred (trans.), The Complete I Ching, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT (1998).
  • Legge, James (trans.), I Ching Book of Changes, University Books, New Hyde Park, NY (1964).
  • Ou-i, Chih-hsu (Thomas Cleary, trans.), The Buddhist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (1987)
  • Siu, R.G.H., The Portable Dragon, The Western Man’s Guide to the I Ching, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (1968).
  • Warzel, C,, “Nobody Knows What’s Happening Online Anymore”, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2023/12/internet-information-trends-virality-tracking/676888/
  • Wilhelm, Richard (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ (1950).

About the Author

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Skye Sturgeon, DAOM is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.

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