Unborn I Ching, or the Book of Transformations


In his seminal work on this ancient Chinese oracle, Inner Structure of the I Ching, Lama Govinda also refers to it as the “Book of Transformations”; he also states:

This book was not written with the intention to reveal our fate or to deny our free will, but rather to help us to decide our way from the present into the future, on the basis of generally prevailing laws. These laws are not meant to determine the future, but are indications which are stable enough to direct our course of action. (emphasis mine)

In the same spirit, the Unborn I Ching is not so much a crystal-ball that predicts and determines the future, but rather an expedient mind-tool that highlights principles that do not predetermine the future, but that help to invoke the course of proper ACTION in the prevailing and shifting winds of samsara. In order to become spiritually mature and illumined in the Unborn, this undertaking follows the classical approach of the “Great Work” of awakening to our True-Nature that guides and thus conforms one to the Unborn Will. As Lama Govinda has posited, “illumination does not mean omniscience”, rather it means that one has overcome ignorance (avidya) born out of the dark illusions of the body consciousness; Unborn Light has now become the all-prevailing principle. The prominent position of this series is that one is guided by this Light. Utilizing the Unborn I Ching one has access to inner truths that have guided sincere and worthy adepts throughout the millennia. It’s as if one draws nourishment from a deep-cistern that is constantly being replenished by the Unborn Spirit of the Primordials.

The Primordial Mentor:

Being awake and alert and wisely following the Unborn I Ching’s counsel, one is invoking the guidance of the Primordial Tathagatas, referred to in this series as the Primordial Mentor. This Primordial Mentor is speaking directly through the Unborn I Ching; It will generally ignore baseless and “superficial questions”, ones that are mired in mere curiosity or intellectual and analytical reasoning. In light of this it is puerile to attempt to squeeze the Primordial Mentor’s guidance into the narrow confinement of one’s own artificial frame of reference and questioning. Questions are answered but in no way, shape, or form that would compromise Its core-principles in the Unborn. The Primordial Mentor assures us that the Unborn I Ching serves as a manual for self-transcendence, a means of developing and fine-tuning one’s own innate inner-resources that can best respond to all forthcoming circumstances and predicaments. In true fashion this develops into an alchemy of mastery over all samsaric-elements via the Self-Transformation of our innate wholeness in the Unborn. By now it should become clear that this enterprise has nothing whatsoever to do with the neediness of your lesser-self. No weather-forecasts of “getting what you want” but rather discerning the best course of ACTION that fully embodies the Great-Work of the Superior will  of the Noble Ones.

The Tortoise and the Esoteric Art of the Yi Jing (I Ching)

Legend has it that the Yi Jing is perhaps the oldest known book in the world. Some claim that it is even derived from an oracle-system known as the Tortoise Oracle. The diviner would either read the markings on the back of the tortoise, or would heat the shell in a fire and then read the associated cracks that would appear. The greatest tale describes how around 3000 BC, the Emperor Fu-shi (Fu xi) was once meditating by the Yellow River when an aged tortoise slowly emerged from the water and revealed to him the trigrams of the I Ching. The following image depicts his eightfold trigram:


Later, these eight trigrams were paired in what formed the 64 hexagrams of the Yi Jing System.

It was then widely spread that in the year 1143 BC King Wen developed his own eightfold trigram:


His own system differed from Fu-shi’s in that it represented the cyclic order of the cosmos and how these cyclic-dimensions interact with one another. Fu-shi’s system focused exclusively upon the dynamics of polar-opposites, all based on the notion of Yin (broken line) and Yang (solid line) and how they interacted. King Wen’s trigrams and their respective associative 64 hexagrams are what constitute the traditional system of Yi Jing today. His system, too, depicts the Yin and Yang and how they represent the negative and positive dualisms that exist in the cyclic created order of things.

Returning to the tortoise motif, it is believed that the retraction of the tortoises head into its shell constitutes a conscious intent of “turning-inwards” and therefore represents an advanced spiritual state. This tortoise motif will be an accompanying image throughout our own series on the Unborn I Ching and will be represented as such:


The Lankavatarian-Dhyani Buddha Connection:

Back in February of 2013 there was a blog post here entitled The Year of the Black Naga. It depicted at the time how we had entered into the Year of the Black Water Snake, which translates for us Lankavatarians here in Unborn Mind Zen as the mystical Naga/Dragon which is a rich symbol depicting a most auspicious Protector of the Buddhadharma. For Taoists, the snake is well-known for its vibrant cultivation of Primordial-Qi Energy which becomes activated throughout the chakra-system as the spiral movement of the Great Kundalini, or Serpent Energy. For Taoists many times this serpentine-like energy becomes intertwined with the symbol of the tortoise, which represents longevity. The following depicts this theme, although the head of the tortoise is dragon/naga like:


This suitably depicts the merging of Wisdom and Primordial Qi. As we know from past blog posts here, this is indeed a True Alchemy of Mastery over the samsaric elements via the Self-Transformation of our innate wholeness in the Unborn. We have also seen how the Five Dhyani Buddhas serve as a catalyst in this spiritual enterprise as they transmute the negative energies of the five-skandhas into the Clear Light of the Tathagatas. The blog post, The Mandala of the Five Dhyanī Buddhas, depicts these respective transmutations. In Unborn I Ching these Five Tathagatas serve a similar function in that they make up the Six Trigrams that constitute the core of this particular I Ching-system; the following is a representation of this singular trigramic pattern:


Vairochana (Chinese Variable, Sky)
Ratnasambhava (Chinese Variable, Earth)
Amitabha (Chinese Variable, Fire)
Akshobhya (Chinese Variable, Water)
Amoghasiddhi (Chinese Variable, Mountain)
The Chinese Variable is Lightning and is here constituted as the Qi Factor

In this system 36 Hexagrams are formed, for example:

The Celestial Dragon Mind

hex 1

Of course, this unique version of the I Ching is not intended to be a new form of literal translation of this august ancient text, but rather it is a new visioning that reflects the core principles found within Unborn Mind Zen. As such it represents a spiritual language that is esoterically expressed in these symbols. In this fashion, it is hoped that the Unborn I Ching will help to empower those aspiring adepts who are inclined towards and attuned with our mystical tradition to grow ever deeper (through the guidance of the Primordial Mentor) in the ways of the Unborn.

Kind regards,



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3 Responses to Unborn I Ching, or the Book of Transformations

  1. n. yeti says:

    It perhaps should be noted that when the tortoise retracts its head, there will be an audible hiss. This is the breath being expelled from the body and may be interpreted esoterically as the end/beginning of a cycle, or as death itself — “the” great opportunity for liberation.

    Good to see you back.

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