Will Judge Kavanaugh Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court?

The I Ching Weighs In.

It seems the whole country is now caught up with this burning question, one that should be resolved with the Senate vote on Saturday. The nomination process – intensified by the recent allegations that Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault at least once when he was in high school – has divided Americans so deeply that it seems like everyone has taken a side and dug in.

Full disclosure: I, too, have taken a side. I want this nomination to go down in flames, and what he may have done to Christine Blasey Ford and other young women is only a small part of my rationale.

Regarding the allegations, I agree with the Democrats that the FBI investigation was probably insufficient, and with the Republicans that without corroborating evidence, this really is an instance of he said, she said.

Instead, I’m concerned about adding another conservative vote to the court that will tip the balance. And I’m especially concerned that he appears to advocate for greater powers for the President, as well as immunity from prosecution when that person is in office, and I’m thinking that is probably why he landed on the short list for this nomination to begin with. He wasn’t on the previous two lists of potential nominees given to Trump, but now with the Mueller investigation closing in, Trump needs a defender more than ever.

I also hated his comportment during last Thursday’s public hearings – how he ranted and interrupted the Democratic senators, how he denigrated the whole process while loudly proclaiming his unequivocal innocence. He even tried to deny he was much of a teen drinker, even though such a confession would probably have been viewed as fairly benign in these circumstances. To me, he came off as a bully, and a dishonest one at that.

Given this bias, I’m sure some of you would expect me to announce that the I Ching affirmed my heartfelt, almost desperate, wish regarding the outcome of Kavanaugh’s nomination. But this is what makes the oracle so great: it is not a mirror of your thoughts or wishes, and the process for casting a reading does not seem to be subject to unconscious manipulation.

While it is true that some readings are so puzzling that you can project your desired meaning upon the text, the reading I received for this question allowed for no doubt or tricky interpretation: Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

My questions:

What is the likelihood that the Senate will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court?

What is the likelihood that the Senate will vote to not confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court?

The I Ching readings:

Will Kavanaugh be confirmed? Hexagram 16 (title: “Enthusiasm”*) changing to Hexagram 2 (“The Receptive”). Generally, Hex 16 discusses favorable conditions and energy moving in the seeker’s direction. There was 1 change line, in the fourth position. A part of the original text of that line reads: “One’s will is bold enough to fulfill great aims.” Another reads: “Great accumulation obtained.” However, the line does advise the reader to not be “suspicious.” That could either be interpreted as a warning to me that he won’t be as damaging to the court as I think he’ll be, or an advisory to Kavanaugh that allaying suspicion – both his and the liberal public’s – will be one of his challenges as he settles into the court. Instead, his charge will be to gather others, to seek out connections and work to the greater good. Hex 2 is pure yin, symbolizing Earth, and heavenly manifestation of events on Earth initiated through the action of Heaven, while also indicating that friends will be won and lost.

Will Kavanaugh not be confirmed? Hexagram 52 (title: “Keeping Still”). Does that say it all? This position is a non-starter.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967).  (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.).  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.



Interview on XM Radio

Last week I was honored to be a guest on Dr. Bernard Beitman’s “Connecting with Coincidence” radio show which will be aired with affiliates over the XM Broadcast Network. Among other topics, I describe how the I Ching can support decision making that is in sync with the unique confluence of factors that are at play at the moment you are asking your question.

Check it out:…/…/ccbb20170615ep25emmarykaylandan

How Can the I Ching Help You Make the Right Decisions in the New Year?

Happy New Year everyone! Regardless of your political bent, you are probably expecting that the new Trump administration will shake at least a few things up in the U.S. and world in 2017 and beyond — changes you may dread or eagerly anticipate, or any of the complicated emotions in between.

For the New Year, I thought of asking the I Ching for an overarching “lay of the land” prognostication of what’s in store, but then thought better of it. As I discuss on my Using the I Ching page, such “weather reading” questions can be very difficult to interpret because they are not grounded in a topic. When you receive a reading such as: “Establishing the New, Supreme good fortune. Prosperous and smooth,” * what does it refer to? Relations with Russia? The repeal and replacement of Obamacare? End of the Syrian conflict?

You get my drift.

Instead, I thought it time to leave politics aside and blog about something useful for a change. In other words, for the New Year, I want to demonstrate how the I Ching really can be a valuable guide for making personal decisions by discussing a recent example from my own life.

Last summer I was laid off my job. Since that time, I, an introvert by nature, have had to crawl way outside my comfort zone to apply for jobs, go on interviews, reach out to people I hardly know for advice and ideas, attend workshops, join new organizations, and confront roomfuls of strangers. Losing my job was also the impetus for going more public with my 35-year I Ching practice and, hence, founding Decision Point.

So the decision that confronted me one recent day was whether or not to go to a local networking event. As this one was hosted by a local Chamber of Commerce with the focus on business ownership, I would need to present myself not so much as a person seeking her next opportunity in research project management, but rather as the owner of Decision Point.

I was terrified at the prospect, and not only because I’m an introvert. I felt this Chamber event was probably the wrong venue for my I Ching consultation business because other attendees would probably be “straight” business people who wouldn’t be receptive to an oracular system such as the I Ching, even though it has been venerated in China as a philosophical system for, literally, millennia. If this were California, I might find a receptive audience, but certainly not in the outer suburbs of Boston.

But the inclination to go kept nagging me, so naturally I decided to put the question to the I Ching during the morning of the event. My questions were:

What is wisdom of…

  1. Attending the networking event this evening?
  2. Not attending?

Even though I do tell my clients that the I Ching is very capable of not supporting their ego’s position on a decision or stance, over the years the oracle has generally supported me in my desire to stay home from events, especially if I’m not going to know anyone there.

Not this time.

For going, I received the hexagram indicating standstill (or stagnation) changing to the hexagram for progress. And, what’s more, this “progress” was probably the best I could have received for this question, because it refers to progress specifically relating to being promoted in a professional or political — as opposed to romantic, family, or spiritual — setting. Moreover, the reading changed into this progress from a stagnant state of affairs, which certainly described my “progress” thus far in promoting Decision Point.

By contrast, for staying home I received the hexagram for shock, changing to that for avoidable conflict. If I stayed home the I Ching was telling me I could unnecessarily be exposing myself to some danger and contention.

This interpretation — unlike many — was a no-brainer.

So, still uncertain, I went.

At first, it was what I expected: a bunch of people in business attire talking among themselves. It didn’t seem like meeting anyone would be easy. So I sat myself down at the bar, alone, and began eating some pizza, while two men carried on an animated conversation next to me. But, after a bit, one of them left, and the other turned to me. We started talking, and he critiqued my business card. Then his wife came over and she, as it turned out, regularly attends a local holistic center where I’d been meaning to introduce myself. She sees a psychic there, and knows the owner well. So that conversation was off and running.

Then she flagged down another woman, who owns a day spa. After discussing the I Ching with her a bit, I could tell she was very receptive to the idea of introducing it to her clients. I took her card, and subsequently followed up with her, which resulted in a meeting where I provided her a demonstration of how the I Ching works. She was impressed, and I will probably participate in some sort of spa day for women in the New Year!

Without the I Ching’s push, I probably would never have attended this event—but I came out of it with four connections, a presentation opportunity, and possibly at least one job! Because it reads the “seeds” of upcoming events, the I Ching can guide us in making the “right” decision, i.e., the one that will yield the most beneficial (or ethical) result among the options available.

The I Ching can help you make the right decisions in the New Year as well! Contact me today to set up a phone or Skype meeting.

The I Ching readings:

To make these blogs more immediately digestible, I provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation.

Wisdom of attending the networking event: Hexagram 12 (title: “Standstill” **) changing to Hexagram 35 (“Progress”). There was 1 change line, in the fifth position.

 Wisdom of not attending the networking event: Hex 51 (“The Arousing [Shock, Thunder]”) changing to Hex 6 (“Conflict”). There were 4 change lines, in the first, second, fifth, and sixth positions.

*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

** Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

My Readings of Election Results Were Inaccurate: Why?

Of course I need to own up to this. Both of the predictions I made concerning election results, based on I Ching readings, were wrong. I inaccurately predicted that Kelly Ayotte would hold onto her Senate seat in New Hampshire and, most notably, I wrote in my most recent blog that Hillary Clinton would take the presidency.

Does this mean the I Ching is not such a reliable tool for prognostication after all?

Based on the fact I have received mostly valuable guidance from the I Ching for both myself as well as friends and clients over the past 35 years on all kinds of topics, I still trust in its timeless wisdom and capacity to give sincere people the answers they need to successfully navigate life and make the best decisions possible.

So, what happened?

Readings express probabilities, not declarations of fact. First of all, we really don’t know how the I Ching works. Chinese philosophers have posited that the I Ching faithfully represents in microcosmic form the organization and functioning of their three-part cosmos of Heaven, Earth, and Man. As such, it touches the seeds of future or unseen events that exist in the heavenly realm, and can relate them through readings.

However, the answers given in readings are probabilities; there is still a degree of indeterminacy in how events will actually manifest. To give an obvious example, weather reports are not always accurate, especially during times when numerous factors (e.g., geographic features, pressure systems, temperature, wind and water currents) are converging to influence atmospheric conditions.

In the case of the Ayotte–Maggie Hassan contest, this race was decided by 1,000 votes. So there was indeterminacy in the heavenly seeds of this situation, which was reflected in the fact that both candidates received so-so readings when I asked about their likelihood of winning. The I Ching’s “final answer” to the question of Ayotte, however, probably provided the ultimate clue: “Misfortune comes.” * But I didn’t interpret this to mean she would definitely lose this election because the hexagram obtained in this reading generally refers to a longer time span, and Hassan’s reading indicated some stagnancy. In other words, this election turned out to be too close to accurately predict.

But I don’t have such a handy excuse for missing the outcome of the Clinton–Trump contest.

Interpretations can be tricky. There’s a reason why the I Ching hasn’t caught on like Tarot cards or runes in the U.S., even though I would argue it can be much more specific and, hence, accurate. It’s complex, and challenging to interpret. In addition, after spending years in relationship with this ancient oracle, I have discerned (dare I say) a personality that does favor certain questions and situations over others, and can deliver different responses at different times or to different people who are inquiring about pretty much the same situation. (As a quick example, it is so weary of being asked about my relationship with my wayward boyfriend that it is now basically refusing to answer these questions directly, and instead is telling me to start spending that energy cultivating my spiritual self!)

The I Ching’s responses to the likelihood of Clinton winning and the likelihood of Trump winning were both positive. As my question did not specifically state “electoral college,” this symmetry could have reflected the fact that Clinton won the popular vote while Trump won the electoral college. However, I must admit I had a dog in this fight; I did want Clinton to win. So, because her reading more directly addressed the matter of strength, I quickly interpreted that to mean she would be the winner because I wanted it to be so.

But, Trump actually had the “better” reading. If my client, whose life I was not invested in or had knowledge about, had received these two readings about a course of action she was considering, I would have steered her in the direction of the Trump reading. For, though the reading began with a declaration of “Decrease,” ** it contained two very propitious messages. The first indicated that Trump would be able to overcome his shortcomings with help and support; the second pronounced “supreme good fortune.” These messages provided the bridge to the final outcome of “The Creative.” This is the first archetypal situation presented in the I Ching, and it represents no less than the original generative power of Heaven.

Clinton’s reading, on the other hand, started with the baked-in warning that one can too easily overplay their great strength. But I misinterpreted the specific message that she would “not blindly proceed further with force and strength” to mean she would be able to accept victory graciously, and be kind to her opponent. The final outcome was “Peace,” which promises “Good fortune.” Here, if my own biases toward this election had not clouded my judgment, I would have recalled that usually this hexagram indicates rather tepid success, i.e., nothing compared to The Creative, whose judgment consists solely of Heaven’s four primary attributes: “Sublime/initiative,” “Prosperous/smooth,” “Favorable/beneficial,” “Steadfast/upright.”

As I stated in my last blog, usually the appearance of The Creative indicates great potentiality, but the rubber has not yet met the road. However, as I mention above, the I Ching can express itself differently in different situations. Here, clearly, it was expressing that the way was open for Trump to take the presidency. The force of Heaven was at his back.

So, what have I learned? When The Creative appears in other readings, especially as an outcome springing from positive change lines, I will take greater notice. This is another reason I love the I Ching; there are no masters of this ancient, wise oracle, only students.

The I Ching readings:

Once again, the readings I received when asking about the election were the following:

Likelihood that Trump will win the election: Hexagram 41 (title: “Decrease”) changing to Hexagram 1 (“The Creative”). There were 3 change lines, in the third, fourth, and fifth positions.

 Likelihood that Clinton will win the election: Hex 34 (“The Power of the Great”) changing to Hex 11 (“Peace”). There was 1 change line, in the fourth position.

*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

**Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I use those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English because they are apt to be most familiar to readers. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

OK, Who Will Win the Presidential Election?

After asking the I Ching to predict the outcome of each presidential debate, I certainly could not pass up consulting the oracle on the Question That Actually Matters.

Who is going to win this thing?

While Hillary Clinton is ahead in most polls, this lead is certainly not enough to assure a blow-out — and many states, including key ones such as Florida, remain in a statistical dead heat. Meanwhile Donald Trump is making a last-ditch effort to peel off voters in traditional Democratic strongholds, such as Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and his supporters everywhere seem more dug-in than ever in their indefatigable support for his populist candidacy.

In its response to my questions about the outcome of the third debate, the I Ching had predicted that Clinton would not emerge with a key mandate and, sure enough, she did not. While she made some modest gains in the polls following her debate performance, those were wiped out when FBI Director James Comey dropped his bombshell a little over a week later that agents had discovered new emails that might be “pertinent” to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. As poll numbers tightened between the two candidates, suddenly, it seemed, Clinton had an actual chance of losing.

So, concerning the outcome of this hard-fought election, here were my questions, which I posed to the I Ching on the evening of Monday, November 7 (the night before the election):

What is the likelihood that…

  1. Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the U.S.?
  2. Donald Trump will be elected President of the U.S.?

While both readings were rather propitious, I’m going to commit myself here and say that the I Ching is predicting a Clinton victory. I say this because Trump’s reading concerned decrease and the importance of taking a humble stance, while Clinton’s reading talked about enlightened power coming into its own.

Trump’s first hexagram (see below) “signifies either decreasing or losing.”* Actually, according to the I Ching, this state of affairs isn’t as bleak as it sounds, for this decrease concerns diminishing one’s material concerns and entanglements to augment a focus on spiritual growth. One of the I Ching’s core philosophies, in fact, is, “What is excessive should be decreased.” A person accomplishes this by remaining “steadfast and upright” and making simple offerings. The specific guidance given in this reading via the three change lines was that Trump could find himself alone following the election, but this will afford him the opportunity to forge new relationships that will help him heal afflictions suffered during the campaign. Finally, he is being advised that if he can assume a “modest” stance, he will be able to win the loyalty and trust of others, and experience “supreme good fortune” in advancing his affairs. If, however, he adopts a stance of “conceit,” he will be dragged down.

The second (“destination”) hexagram obtained in this reading is that of pure yang, i.e., generative, creative energy. However, it is still all potentiality; the rubber has not yet met the road. Trump may well lose the election but he still will have a stellar opportunity to exert his influence in bold new directions if he can adopt a modest, conciliatory tone and sincerely endeavor to serve others. Sounds like a tall order for Trump, but you never know.

Clinton, on the other hand, received a hexagram that signifies “great strength,” representing “a positive advance for further achievement.” Recognizing, however, that such a strong person can too easily let such power go to his or her head, the I Ching includes in its judgment that it’s “Favorable to be steadfast and upright”; one most definitely should not become “too self-willed and opinionated.” This point is further emphasized in the specific guidance in this reading. Even though the querent is very strong, he or she should also employ “righteousness” when vanquishing the inferior element; relying on strength alone will bring “danger and regret.” The image accompanying this reading is a hedge that “falls apart,” enabling a wagon to move forward without employing further force.

The destination hexagram continues this theme of enlightened leadership. Here, the image is of Heaven and Earth coming together and moving in communion, and bringing peace and prosperity. It is also symbolized by spring, the season when life renews itself. “The little is departing,/ The great is arriving./ Good fortune./ Prosperous and smooth.”

So, to sum up: By giving a reading that discusses power and leadership (which certainly is consonant with being President of the United States), the I Ching is predicting that Hillary Clinton will carry this election. However, she must not gloat over her victory, but seek to promote peace and healing as soon as possible. Trump, on the other hand, may lose the election but can win another way: by allowing new connections to help him transform this humbling experience into creative, action-oriented ways for being of service.

The I Ching readings:To make these blogs more immediately digestible, I provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation.

Likelihood that Trump will win the election: Hexagram 41 (title: “Decrease”*) changing to Hexagram 1 (“The Creative”). There were 3 change lines, in the third, fourth, and fifth positions.

 Likelihood that Clinton will win the election: Hex 34 (“The Power of the Great”) changing to Hex 11 (“Peace”). There was 1 change line, in the fourth position.

*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Here comes the third and final presidential debate: How will they do?

Now that it appears Donald Trump is sinking like a stone in most polls and is blaming this drop on the fact that the U.S. system for electing candidates is “rigged,” what will happen in tonight’s debate?

Even with scandals mounting, the I Ching accurately predicted that Trump would not completely bomb out after the last debate; he would be able to return to his base of ardent supporters, many of whom claimed he had won. However, the damage to his campaign caused by recent damaging allegations — and his response to them — is very real, which was also reflected in the reading before the last debate. The prevailing image referring to this sorry state of affairs was of a bed that was being split apart. This reading could actually be interpreted on multiple levels: in addition to indicating weakness in his campaign, the I Ching could also be making a more literal reference to the effect of his sex scandal; the oracle is very capable of literally applying its symbolism when delivering its judgments!

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, continues to be dogged by accusations of dishonesty and pay-to-play, as more emails from her campaign are leaked to the press. This perhaps explains why the I Ching predicted she would not emerge unequivocally triumphant after the second debate. Instead, the oracle predicted she would need to “wait” for a final outcome.

So, with so much blood in the water, what will happen tonight?

With Clinton leading in the polls (and Trump unlikely to catch up), I decided that a question that directly addresses their performance tonight would be more meaningful than using the polls as a proxy measure. However, because I did attain some rather surprising results, I did ask a follow-up about how the performance would affect each candidate’s standing in the polls.

Concerning this third and final debate, here were my initial questions:

What is the likely outcome of…

  1. Trump’s debate performance tonight?
  2. Clinton’s debate performance tonight?

And the follow-up questions were:

What is the probability that the performance will…

  1. Increase Trump’s standing in the polls?
  2. Increase Clinton’s standing in the polls?

Outcome of Trump’s debate performance and impact on his standing in the polls: The reading was not as bad as you might expect. Apparently he has given no small amount of thought to how he will answer Chris Wallace’s questions, which promise to focus more on issues such as immigration and less on past misdeeds, and Trump will attempt to demonstrate that he is running for president because he is concerned for the country, and not just because he is interested in surpassing even his tall standards for self-aggrandizement. However, the reading did indicate that this “pivot” could be too-little, too-late. He is isolated now; the moment when he could really have gained momentum has probably passed him by. Nevertheless, his performance will impress some folks, and serve to consolidate his base, and perhaps a few others.

As for the impact of this performance on poll numbers, the I Ching prognosticates that no real progress will be gained. He will suffer a little humiliation but may preserve some personal dignity in that he will feel he did not compromise his values or identity to pursue elusive poll numbers. The end result is that he will continue to shine among his supporters, but will continue to experience a waning of broader-based support.

Outcome of Clinton’s debate performance and impact on her standing in the polls: She did not receive the stellar reading you might expect. In fact, she attained the same hexagram (see below) that Trump attained last week, the one that talks about the bed splitting apart. Her past has yielded a fractured base of support, and her performance will not succeed in winning over critical observers to her camp — probably because she will pick some unnecessary fights with Trump in the course of the debate. While she may end the debate with an inspirational message that will engender some support among the already converted, the overall result will leave a sour taste with many voters.

Given this rather disappointing performance, her ability to move much in the polls will be constricted, and she will have no one to blame but herself. However, there is evidence that she will accept the reality that she won’t be able to expand her base much, and instead will focus on demonstrating her strength to her current supporters — a stance that will not cost her the lead.

So, to sum up: Trump will perform better than expected, Clinton will perform worse, but the outcome of this debate is not likely to move poll numbers by much.

The I Ching readings: To make this blog more immediately digestible, I decided to provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation. I think I’ll do this for all future blogs unless a compelling reason emerges to again combine the two.

Outcome of Trump’s debate performance: Hexagram 20 (title: “Contemplation [View]”*) changing to Hexagram 45 (“Gathering Together [Massing]”). There were 2 change lines, in the fourth and sixth positions.

Impact on his standing in the polls: Hex 22 (“Grace”) changing to Hex 55 (“Abundance [Fullness]”). There was 1 change line, in the fifth position.

Outcome of Clinton’s debate performance: Hex 23 (“Splitting Apart”) changing to Hex 6 (“Conflict”). There were 3 change lines, the second, fourth, and fifth positions.

Impact on her standing in the polls: Hex 60 (“Limitation”) changing to Hex 11 (“Peace”). There were 2 change lines, in the third and fifth positions.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Who Will Win the 2nd Presidential Debate?

They’re calling this one a do-or-die event for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

After the leaked Access Hollywood audio revealed that Trump refers to women as sex objects — no! — and admits to assaulting those he finds “beautiful” (while they “let me do it” because he’s a “star”), some Republican lawmakers are reportedly finally abandoning ship, perhaps fearing for their own political lives. Meanwhile his hardcore supporters continue to stand by him, dismissing the banter with host Billy Bush as “locker room talk.” Indeed, is this really so surprising?

Maybe it’s the admission of the aggression piece, but somehow it appears Trump will not get away with this one. There is no doubt that this story is gaining more traction, and some are even clamoring for his resignation. Of course he is refusing, so observers are now saying that he needs to land an outstanding debate performance on Oct. 9 if he is going to have any chance of preserving a viable campaign that will enable him to at least lose with dignity.

Clinton, meanwhile, is facing some trouble of her own. The leaked emails (presumably belonging to her campaign chairman, John Podesta) also seem to confirm suspicions that Clinton is not truthful to constituents, holding “public and private positions” on issues, such as trade.

What does the I Ching have to say about the upcoming debate?

Before the first debate, I had asked the I Ching to comment on how the “mainstream” press (e.g., the CBS and NBC networks) would rate each candidate’s performance. From this remove of almost two weeks, the reading seemed to come out somewhat stronger for Trump’s performance than what was actually observed, and it downplayed the impact of Clinton’s masterful attacks, including her late salvo regarding Trump’s demeaning treatment of the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado.

But I think I asked the wrong question — a very common mistake to make with the I Ching. In its attempts to maintain “objectivity,” mainstream network coverage does tend to regress to the mean, i.e., sometimes under- or overemphasizing key points to present a balanced view. So the press said that Trump made some convincing points during the first 20 minutes or so, and then Clinton outmaneuvered him from then on. So the I Ching did predict that Trump would be seen as somewhat ineffectual and Clinton would be seen as commanding.

However, the most interesting reading was the I Ching’s response to whether there would be no clear winner. While strong, Clinton did not blow Trump out of the water in the last debate. But the I Ching predicted that the debate would stoke a revolution where more and more people will become engaged with how to “abolish the old and bring about the new” in our country’s leadership and practices, and how to ensure that the “wrong person” doesn’t ascend to power.

Sound familiar?

This time, I decided to use a more objective measure of the impact of the Oct. 9 debate: the polls. So, concerning this second debate, here were my three questions:

As demonstrated by most polls, what is the likelihood that…

  1. Donald Trump will be judged the “winner” of the Oct. 9 debate?
  2. Hillary Clinton will be judged the “winner” of the Oct. 9 debate?
  3. There will be no clear “winner”?

Likelihood that Trump is the winner: The reading was Hexagram 23 (title: “Splitting Apart”*) changing to Hexagram 62 (“Preponderance of the Small”). There were 3 change lines, in the third, fourth, and sixth positions.

Hex 23 is all about decay. There are various images in the text: wood falling away from a carving, a bed being split apart. The third and fourth change lines in this reading address this splitting process. The third line indicates that the querent (in this case, Trump) may be able to withstand some assaults (perhaps at the beginning of the debate) by disavowing current connections with certain people or reporting. However, as the event wears on, the situation described in the fourth line will manifest: the decay worsens. “Falling away: the skin of the bed. Calamity is near at hand.”** The sixth line mentions a “large fruit” that “has not been eaten.” This could indicate Trump will miss a crucial opportunity. The result is that “He ends up not being employed.”

Hex 62 is about birds staying close to the nest. After the debate, Trump will find he cannot accomplish “great things.” He will need to hunker down with his supporters (“the nest”) so he can cut his losses, and perhaps consider what “little affairs” can be accomplished to prevent an election-day blowout and restore his brand, if not his reputation. The I Ching, through this hexagram, indicates that his efforts along this vein can be modestly successful. The text says, “Not appropriate to ascend, appropriate to descend. Great good fortune.” This could also be an indication that Trump will continue to take the low road in his attacks on his opponent.

Likelihood that Clinton is the winner: The reading was Hex 46 (“Pushing Upward”) changing to Hex 5 (“Waiting [Nourishment]”) with 2 change lines in the first and fifth positions.

Prevailing images of Hex 46 are those of wood breaking through the ground and growing out of the earth and also the rising sun. The I Ching is saying that Clinton’s performance in this debate will establish her ascendancy as the preferred candidate, a position the change lines affirm. The first says: “With confidence, growing upward. Great good fortune.” And the fifth adds: “Being steadfast and upright: good fortune. Ascending step by step.” However, the resulting hexagram is Waiting, indicating that the bounce in the polls may not be immediate, even while success is near.

Likelihood there is no clear winner: The reading was Hex 39 (“Obstruction”) changing to Hex 15 (“Modesty”) with 1 change line in the fifth position.

This position will be hard to hold, given the candidates’ performances in this debate. However, some Trump supporters will continue to press the point, and their main comfort will be that they are not alone: “Great hardship. Friends come.” Finally, in trying to justify such a position, they will end up being humbled. However, the I Ching does not consider this a bad thing because “It is the Tao of Heaven to decrease the full and increase the humble…[and] It is the Tao of humans to dislike the full and love the humble.” Trump supporters could ultimately receive some measure of reward for their loyalty: sympathy from the larger electorate and, perhaps most important, attention to their concerns.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

**Passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.