I have finally begun work on Volume two of I Ching Meditations which begins with hexagram seventeen, Following.
It is somewhat embarrassing to say that I have been working on this project for the past forty-three years. I had the hubris to think when I started illustrating a line by line interpretation of the I Ching that it would take me no more than five years. Volume One was completed at the end of 2012. This year found me moving again which is a of time-consuming hell process.
Besides the packing and then unpacking, because I moved out of state there were a host of other tedious paper work and tasks to deal with. Finally that was done and I was ready to attack hexagram seventeen. I couldn’t do it. I was tired. Oddly enough I found that I wasn’t too tired for other tasks, even those involving the I Ching. I turned to working on the paintings of the Chinese Characters that I began in October of 2011.
I had a crisis of doubt. It felt like a crisis of my soul. I began to think, do I really want to continue with this task that I began so many years ago? Who cares anyway? I had never in all those years considered not completing the work – or at least die trying.
I was so disturbed and surprised by my thought of giving up working on my art and words for I Ching Meditations that I did what I usually do and consulted the I Ching. I didn’t even know what question to ask and wrote, Comment on my crisis. Tell me!
I received hexagram 27, Providing Nourishment with the first line changing the hexagram to 23, Splitting Apart. As usual, the I Ching reflects just what is. The Wilhelm interpretation of I Ching says in the first line of Providing Nourishment, You let your magic tortoise go, and look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping. Misfortune. . . . The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment.”
Next I looked at what I had written for this line in my book, I Ching Prescriptions. I prescribed, Do not envy others who appear to have more than you. Don’t leave things up to chance. Take control. Be self-reliant.
Letting my magic tortoise go (the I Ching itself) leads to Splitting Apart. Of course! That was what I was contemplating – letting go of the I Ching – Splitting apart from my magic tortoise. The tortoise is one of the oldest images associated with the I Ching which originated from tortoise shells that were heated until it cracked. The cracks were then interpreted with meaning and used as divination.
A smack in the face from the I Ching, reminding me that that letting go of my work, the magic tortoise that lives on air, led to Splitting Apart, woke me up. I asked another question. Can I get my magic tortoise back? With another throw of the coins the response was, hexagram 20, Contemplation with the last line changing to Hexagram 8, Union. Perfect!
The hexagram for contemplation refers to the tower which has a wide view from where it sits and can be seen as a landmark from a distance. Wilhelm refers to sacrificial rituals to involve the Deity – moments that require deep inner concentration. If piety is sincere and expressive of real faith, the contemplation of it has a transforming and awe-inspiring effect on those who witness it. . . .Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects. This requires that power of inner concentration which religious contemplation develops in great men strong in faith. It enables them to apprehend the mysterious and divine laws of life, and by means of profoundest inner concentration they give expression to these laws in their own persons.
Well this certainly reflected what I was trying to do all these years and what I needed to do to continue. The top line of Contemplation that changed talks about being liberated from one’s ego.
So that did it! The I Ching told me that if I concentrated on my work on the I Ching – contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe – I would be in Union once again.
So I didn’t give up but that doesn’t mean that I instantly solved my work resistance. While I don’t find the meaning of Following difficult to understand I wasn’t inspired to find an image to represent what Following meant to me.
Line 5 in Following says that every one must have something to follow that serves as a lodestar. He who follows with conviction the beautiful and the good may feel himself strengthened by this saying.
It struck me that of course the loadstar that I have been following for so long is the I Ching. This is so obvious I was blind to see it. I decided that I had to write about Following in terms of what I am following.
Another problem arose. In working on the I Ching all these years I have found that I get stopped by worrying about what other I Ching devotees will think or judge about what I’m doing. Other devotees tend to think that the I Ching belongs to them and their own personal perspective. I worried that if I wrote about my own following in the I Ching as following the I Ching, someone would have a critical judgment about this. I can’t help it. Those self-judgments happen so I asked the I Ching another question.
What does I Ching have to say about me using I Ching as my lodestar in the hexagram for Following?
The answer I got was hexagram 40, Deliverance, with the top line changing to hexagram 64, Before Completion. Perfect! Wilhelm interprets the last line of Deliverance: The prince shoots a hawk on a high wall. He kills it. Everything serves to further. . . . The hawk on a high wall is the symbol of a powerful inferior (myself) in a high position who is hindering the deliverance.
So that’s where I am with Following. Stay tuned.
I am in the habit of consulting the I Ching every morning get my I Ching Prescription for the day. Yesterday I received hexagram 28, Preponderance of the Great with all lines changing to hexagram 27, Providing Nourishment. To get all changing lines is an event in itself with the probability of that happening being rare.
Hexagram 28, Lake over Wind & Wood and is about structure being overloaded. Wilhelm says:
“The weight of the great is excessive. The load is too heavy for the strength of the supports. The ridgepole on which the whole roof rests, sags to the breaking point, because its supporting ends are too weak for the load they bear. . .”
In my own Prescription I warn, “You are in over your head. . .”
I am constantly feeling over loaded which is a situation I have no one to blame but myself. Like many of my I Ching readings, or dreams, I often find the meaning after I let it sink in during the day. In this case, aside from the fact that I was impressed with the fact that all six lines changed, I didn’t think of anything specific. I was happy to see that I would be able to enjoy Providing Nourishment after moving through the entire hexagram.
What transpired for the day? I had just installed a new rendering plug-in for one of my graphic programs. I had watched the demo and couldn’t wait to try it. I went through all the instructions to get it to work and proceeded to test it out with an image. The demo promised all kinds of magic and I was eager. Without going into minute by minute details, my day was consumed by things not working. The render not only took hours and was never finished, it locked up all my other programs that I had to force quit. I wasn’t thinking about hexagram 28 as I was tearing my hair out and frustrated. Then, by chance later in the day a person I barely know stopped by. I was at my computer and lamented about my problem. He immediately pinpointed what the problem was. Apparently the rendering plugin needs a huge amount of memory and was slowed down because of the over load on my system. Overload! Get it! And my system, I thought, had plenty of memory. So I gave up and went to the kitchen and baked myself a peach and almond cobbler. Providing nourishment. I also feel that if I post about this I Ching sequence of events I will be providing some nourishment to this blog.
I sure would love to know if/when other people get all changing lines.
I would like to share a double synchronicity. I call it double because engaging the I Ching in the first place is an act synchronicity. Over a period of time spanning several weeks, I had asked for counsel concerning two different relationships that were not going well. In the first case I was feeling rejected and did not know how to handle the situation or what was happening in the mind of the person in question.
In the second situation I felt worn down by a long string of hopeless miscommunications that were going no where. In my old age my new mantra is: “Time is more precious than diamonds.” And the latter series of communications felt like the diamonds were regressing back to coal.
The responses I got for both relationships; one asking what was going on with the other person and the second question, how should I handle my discontent with this person? My feeling was that I simply did not want to bother with the coals, or dying embers of what I thought had been.
For the friend who was ignoring me I received hexagram 30, The Clinging Fire with three lines that changed to hexagram 41, Decrease. I interpreted this to mean that the fire had gone out between us. In my own I Ching Prescriptions, the second line advised me to make some art. That is always good advice for me no matter what the circumstances. The other two lines (see below) helped me to simply accept what is and not fret about it.
When I was pondering how to handle the unsatisfying relationship with the other party I threw the coins and got the same result. I knew this was right for me; that I should just accept what is and allow the relationship to decrease without feeling guilty. I like my own advice and Wilhelm hit the mark in the 3rd line where he says:
Here the end of the day has come. The light of the setting sun calls to mind the fact that life is transitory and conditional. Caught in this external bondage, men are usually robbed of their inner freedom as well. The sense of the transitoriness of life impels them to uninhibited revelry in order to enjoy life while it lasts, or else they yield to melancholy and spoil the precious time by lamenting the approach of old age. Both attitudes are wrong. To the superior man it makes no difference whether death comes early or late. He cultivates himself, awaits his allotted time, and in this way secures his fate.
Of course what struck me most about the response I received from my questions, asked about different people at different times, gave the exact same answer. In my mind, the relationships were so different in content and feeling, yet the answer was the same. I am always in awe of the odds of how synchronicity happens with the I Ching and is what has kept me going back for guidance for so many years.
Yes, the fire had gone out of both relationships and the I Ching’s wonderful way of pointing to accepting “the transitoriness of life” helped me to accept what is and not waste the preciousness of time by any kind of lamenting.
I begin with another complaint about how it has has been taking me too long to get back to focusing on my “real” work on I Ching Meditations. While I am unpacked and settled in, after upgrading one of my software programs I ran into problems. Dealing with tech support makes me crazy. I had to contact two different companies and while these support people are all “nice,” they do the support via email and this back and forth with files and text messages takes forever. I have had support from other companies at times when they go into my files from their computer and solve the whole thing in a few minutes. And in this case a phone call would have saved days.
After making a lot of screen shots and back and forth emails, I got an answer that required me to go into all my files, move things around and generally focus on a tedious process that I resist like crazy. After a lot of resistance I set aside a bulk of time to deal with the problem and then, while finally facing my computer screen to tackle the problem, I fell into deep resistance once again.
I have a desk top mini program simply called, I Ching, created by Giacomo Tufano which I wrote about previously.
I consult I Ching every morning, asking what my prescription is for the day. I like to do this with coins and write it on my daily appointment calendar. I tend to use Tufano’s program when I am frustrated by something and happen to be sitting in front of my computer. It’s free and easy and sitting right here. I was all set to delve into my files that needed to be cleaned up – not that I really understood what I was doing but had to start. I don’t know if any one else gets into these resistant issues like this. I know I have to do something and just don’t feel like it. The one thing that comes to mind that I can compare this resistance to is when I want to swim, am stepping into the water and it feels cold. I know that I will warm up once I start to swim, but taking the plunge is something I put off. As I am standing in the water I am fully aware how ridiculous this is because I do love to swim. And I know I will eventually warm up. I just hate being in cold water. That expression, “taking the plunge” applies to the task I was facing and dreading.
So . . . in my avoidance mode, standing in the cold water, I sighed – a deep sigh – and decided to consult the Tufano I Ching because it just sits there on my desktop, is easy to use and truth is, was another way to not “take the plunge.” My words to myself as I clicked on Tufano’s I Ching program, along with my deep sigh were, Help me do this!
I knew that by going to my desktop I Ching that I was just prolonging my agony and resistance even more. The response I got from the desktop app prompted me to tell of this experience here. The response was hexagram 45, Gathering Together, changing to #31, Influence. See the screen shot below.
Tufano’s 3rd line:
“The third SIX, divided, shows its subject striving after union and seeming to sigh, yet no where finding any advantage. If he go forward, he will not err, though there may be some small cause for regret.”
This made me laugh out loud. “Sighing,” the key word of my truth.
I checked Wilhem’s interpretation. Here. His third line also talks about sighs which is probably where Tufano got it from.
“Gathering together amid sighs. Nothing that would further. Going is without blame. Slight humiliation.”
Then I looked up what I wrote for my I Ching Prescriptions for that third line of hexagram 45. I wrote that when fist joining a group I may feel like an outsider and that I won’t belong. I should align myself with the leader of the group. Well that’s true as well. I feel very much like an outsider trying to fix technical program issues. And going to tech support is my effort to align and solve the problem.