09/09/2014 04:02 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

The I Ching of Magic and Enlightenment

"The I Ching is the shortest path to two of the deepest of human desires."

It was one of those monsoons that infrequently strike Southern California and the rain was torrential and unrelenting. It pounded on the roof comfortingly. The courtyard outside was filled with dancing fairies, as my grandmother used to call them, where the huge raindrops plopped into standing water.

"You will note," continued Master Khigh Alx Dhiegh, "that I do not say the only path, for there are certainly numerous paths, some more direct than others, some more authentic than others, but numerous that lead to these same deep-seated longings. However, there are few paths that lead to both. And none that do so as directly, authentically and simply."

I had learned that I absorbed his lessons better if I didn't look at him. His face was so expressive that it distracted me terribly. He could not speak more than a few sentences without hinting at a self-mockery that underlay his perception. "Don't you know the story of the master who used to say, 'After my first enlightenment, I never stopped laughing?'" he loved to say. I was altogether too serious and he worked on me constantly to appreciate the vastness of the humor of the universe.

"The first of those deep desires is magic. The longing to participate in the transformation of things is fundamental to human nature. The dream of being at one with the supernatural is part of the waking life of all humanity. The I Ching allows every single person in the world to communicate directly with Spirit. Without any training or special knowledge, anyone may consult the Oracle and receive an answer directly from the World Soul. The act of divination, in other words, is magic itself. And the I Ching, because it mirrors the very essence of change, allows people to pierce the veil of time in order to anticipate the future and sow the seeds of good fortune. This is high magic, indeed, to be able to participate in the grand process of universal transformation rather than merely being the recipient of fate."

This was a different way of talking about the I Ching than I was used to hearing. But now that it was put like this, I recognized that it was just this aspect of the I Ching that first drew me to it. I had sensed the sacredness of consulting the Oracle and the sheer magical nature of its reply.

"The second of those deep longings is, of course, enlightenment. Here, too, the I Ching provides the most direct path to awakening to the One Mind. As has long been recognized, the mind of the diviner comes to mirror the mind of the Oracle, which encompasses all things and reaches through all times. In particular, it is the quiescent state of the Oracle's mind, before it has received a question, that the diviner quickly comes to emulate. This still point of open awareness, this open potential of Being, that is ever-ready to respond to need--this is the enlightened mind and can be transmitted directly to the diviner through contact with the Oracle."

His words were like dancing fairies on the standing water of my mind.

(Excerpted from the forthcoming book In the Oneness of Time: The Education of a Diviner by William Douglas Horden)

William Douglas Horden is co-author of The Toltec I Ching: 64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World. Click here for sample chapters, reviews and ordering information.