If you are in the Atlanta, GA area, let’s meet to discuss the I Ching and share readings. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I get frustrated with my own mind at times. I can be happily working on some project, and then I get a barrage of thoughts pertaining to a perceived lack of life long accomplishments. It is quite debilitating.
My mind – my thoughts – turn sour and ruin it for me. I try to ignore them and keep moving. But these incessant thoughts of self-sabotage and doubt won’t be kept down. I will do everything I can think of that is productive and worthwhile, but it doesn’t matter to these thought patterns. So I presented the dilemma to the Yi in this way:
“Being nicer to myself”
Answer: Hexagram 12 / line 5
The lower trigram of earth tells me to take care of myself. It is about being open to possibilities. Ask inner questions. Answer them without judgement. There is an inner space for nurturing. Be serving of the inner needs. The first step is acceptance of the inner self, without question. Accept emotions, character, and actions without judgement. Find a calm attitude of acceptance – of any of the feelings whether they feel negative or not. But also, do not be a slave to emotions. Accept with a mothering, nurturing heart. There is also the possibility of being too passive, and not being able to take action. The passive inner, nurturing self, can abate stress, but it is not able to manifest in the outer world – or is too passive towards my thoughts about the outer world.
The outer trigram of heaven is deliberately focused on goals and accomplishments. It’s that voice of my father that life is all about ratios and incomes. It is in control. It wants to be seen and have recognition. Heaven also tells me to take the lead in my own thought processes. I am the ‘me’ behind my intentions. It is up to me to take the lead in directing thoughts, rather than allowing the concerns of heaven to dominate.
When nothing is working, when I am blocked in debilitating thought patterns, then it’s time to do something easy. Take a load off. Quit trying so hard. Go outside. When nothing is working – when my mind is going into a negative place – I am blocked – the inner and outer are not mingling. There are no people around – it is all in my mind. Keeping at it in the same way has no benefit. Don’t try and do big things. Get small. Do some stretching. Go outside. Look at the sun. Do something small and easy.
When there is a negative voice present that sabotages all attempts at progress, I lose empathy for myself. The outer – goal and accomplishment – overpowers the inner nurturing. All my best efforts come to nothing much. Don’t try the big ideas when things are blocked. Focus in on small details – the immediate – the mundane, even if it is uninspiring. Do the dishes. Go to the store. Do easy things.
It is up to me to recognize when dominant thoughts take over. I am blocked. This blocked place requires that I lessen thoughts and actions. It takes up too much energy. Only small things can be accomplished. It takes strength to realize this and to act accordingly. This will help to avoid further hardships. This is not the time to consider accomplishments, money, work, etc. Keep thoughts simple and small too. Don’t make it worse by considering challenging things. Recognize the place, the feeling of being blocked. Don’t try and figure it out. I can also recognize that the place of being blocked is part of a bigger cycle. There was flow and there will be flow again. Hold on during the blocked time. See it as an opportunity to do the small things.
Line 5: ‘Resting when blocked. Great person, good fortune. It is lost, it is lost! Tie it to the bushy mulberry.’
Line 5 is the place of the leader. Who else can be in charge of my thoughts but me? As long as I can consciously recognize the place of being blocked – when the overbearing tyrant voice takes the lead through its insistence that I have not, am not, will not ever do enough, then it’s time for full stop. That’s what makes sense. Pull into the bigger self. My mind is crying out – what about the end – what if all is lost – what if I fail? The familiar refrain is repeated. To stop, to say ‘no’ is to rest. In the rest I can recognize the block. In this way, the thought loosens from the emotions. I can let it go – leave it tied up in some outer place – a mulberry bush.
Take a breathing space. Don’t keep struggling through it. Re-evaluate things. It is easy to get caught up in the panic of the blocked place. Nothing is working, so it feels like nothing will ever work. It feels as though it’s too late and as if enough has not been done and opportunities will vanish. That is when it is time to detach from the goals. Go inward – to the nurturing place of self-acceptance.
The Mulberry tree can be cut down, but it grows back vigorously. The repeat of the refrain that all is lost and tying it to the Mulberry reminds me that dealing with these thought patterns one time will not necessarily be the end of it. They remain there in the cycle of being in the flow or being blocked. The trigram of change is fire. Its attributes of clarity, and clinging to what matters, brings balance when the inevitable blocks arise.
I see the humor too. It’s like the Yi poking a little fun at the situation. Repeating a refrain makes it dramatic: a soap opera star with head in hand over-dramatizing a situation. ‘Oh woe is me.’ And then I think of Scarlett O’hara (Gone With the Wind) “Fiddle dee dee…” I will tie it to a Mulberry Tree.
It is a tyrannical take over. I bend to its demands. I write one scene over and over. ‘She falls in an abandoned well. It is a dark pit. There is no way out.’ The face of Jack Nicholson looms as my sacrificial archetype of the tortured writer.
Depression and his evil buddies dread and self-loathing breathe down my neck. The thought of quitting brings no more relief than the thought of continuing. The ugly monster of self-doubt bullies me while reveling in every hesitation. And that’s before the first cup of coffee.
After I described the depths of chaos and despair, using metaphors of snakes and dungeon walls, to my therapist, she said that I was in a dark place. That struck me, even though she was stating the obvious. So I determined to do something about it. I decided to learn the way to connect with the muse. In so doing, I would thereby take control of the house from the tyranny of the inner critic.
I made it my purpose to allow the way I was writing to be the past. I put it aside – with no decisions made. I made it my intention to nourish myself with information on writing, activating the right brain, and discovering the muse. I found courses and podcasts on creative writing, especially focused on getting over blocks and discovering creative flow.
One of the exercises suggested a timed writing session for 10-30 minutes. The idea is to write the question: ‘Where do you want to go Writing?’ and then to answer it in first person, as if the writing is answering. From there, I continue to ask questions and see where it goes. This turned out to be an amazing exercise for me.
I had many questions – all about my fears and doubts and concerns. Though I am accustomed to questioning through the I Ching – this was different. A voice emerged within me that is kind and wise. Now, of course, I know that the voice is a part of me, but it has not been getting much air time. The tyrant voice was hogging the microphone.
I asked the Yi:
“Path of letting the muse out to play silencing the inner critic: images that integrate my learning today.“
Answer: Hexagram 40 / Line 2
I enjoy watching the lines emerge and feeling the yin or the yang at each place. I allow it to move me along the way. There is responsive yin at the place of intentions. I am open. Yang moves at the place of expression. It looks like writer´s block. By line three, I see the trigram: water on the inside. I am dealing with emotions and challenges. A yang line at four, and I think of strong assistance meeting the outer world. There is help, and I am determined to receive it. Open yin in the fifth place gives me a sense of responsive leadership. The trigram thunder appears. I feel the shock and movement outside. I am shaking things up and fertilizing growth.
I sit with the idea of the trigrams, water below and thunder above, and allow my mind to form images. A thunder storm over a rushing river is movement and flow. I imagine myself standing over a gushing stream as it falls off a cliff into a pit below while the thunder crashes and rain pours down. It feels exciting, dangerous. I could be pulled into the flow myself – knocked off balance by the elements and taken away. Yes! This is release.
Line 2 is a yang line moving. Line 2 is the place of expression – getting ideas out, trying things, running it through. When I look at the lines, I think of the dragon that emerges through hexagram 1. I see what the dragon is experiencing in each place. In line 2 he has come up from the depths and is checking out the field, communicating with someone – the great and kind voice – and speaking ideas that may later become manifest.
The imbalance at line 2 is yang with too much yin, so movement is taking place. I often see moving lines as excited molecules doing a dance, calling for some attention, or some action, or some shift in focus. This place of doubt, about continuing this writing project, has brought me face to face with a lifetime of an overbearing inner critic. A yang line at two is not centered and correct and it is out of balance. That is how I have felt about expressing creatively. The force of the river’s flow has been encumbered. Using the attributes of the trigram of change, earth, gives me an idea of how to balance things. Acceptance and nurturing is the opposite of the harsh critic. The idea of: ‘do without doing’ reminds me of the process of automatic writing where I found the kind voice emerging.
I looked up the meaning and etymology of ‘release’ just for more imagery. Inherent in the meaning is the idea that that there was previously a block: the imprisonment, the bounding. Most of the synonyms have the prefix ‘un,’ as in: unloose, unbind, unchain, unleash, unfetter, unshackle. Release is the very moment of movement to freedom and flow. It is an exciting place. Another definition says: ‘the action of making a movie, recording, or other product available for general viewing or purchase. “The film was withheld for two years before its release.” It speaks volumes to my situation of moving through writer’s block in creating a screenplay. I experience it as prophetically direct.
In the nuclear trigrams: below fire is enveloped by water. My passion and clarity about the project is getting drowned. My inner fire is sputtering in the dampness. The water on the outside is dominating with negative emotions of insecurity. On the outside, water is enveloped by earth. Water flows and takes the plunge through the emotional depths. Its nature is to do this but it is being enveloped, hindered. I have accepted the emotional turmoil of writing as part of the process, but I was surely feeling stopped in the flow. Earth, as the enveloper, is too passive and without guidance. Earth receives seeds to produce tangible results. There is a stifling of the creative flow when tangibility is paramount. I need the freedom to explore ideas without judgement of their usability.
At this point in the reading, I already have images that speak to me and the question is answered. Often, I would stop here in the reading and not even bother to look at the judgement and line text. But since I asked for images, I continue:
Deliverance. The southwest furthers.
If there is no longer anything where one has to go,
Return brings good fortune.
If there is still something where one has to go,
Hastening brings good fortune.
It feels like quite a lot of coming and going. Since I already have meaning for the reading, I am just fitting in the text with what I have learned. No matter what it says, it cannot negate the imagery that has already come forth. There is no wrong way to experience it. The first line tells me that there is, decidedly, a direction that is fruitful. If I am getting nothing going one way, then it is time to come back to center, flow. Once I am centered, then it pays to go with haste in the direction that is helpful. This says to me that when I am experiencing the block, which is not flow, then I come back to the exercises that activate the right brain, and I hear the kind voice. The flow happens quickly, and that’s a good thing.
Nine in the second place means:
One kills three foxes in the field
And receives a yellow arrow.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Oh, I like this one because of the concrete imagery. Now that’s a good eye of discernment, skill, and maybe some luck thrown in – to get all three foxes. Foxes are clever and quick and not easy to hunt. My screenplay is set in the in the ancient world. The main character learns to hunt and to shoot a bow and arrow expertly from horseback. So it is an image close to my heart. To receive a golden arrow is the reward – one above and beyond obtaining the hunt. That is a good direction indeed.
I feel in especially good spirits after pondering this imagery. Though, I cannot say that the tyrant voice has disappeared. In fact, it still takes over, especially when I am I am tired and vulnerable. But I am recognizing it better by being able to contrast it to the kind voice. The inner critic is revealed as a bully, with its dark, unhelpful suggestions. Recognizing it helps me to ignore it or switch the channel. I am excited to continue my new daily writing practice of asking questions and giving the kind voice more air time. I will persevere in hastening this direction of playful flow.
Writing a screenplay is a most interesting and challenging process. I am teaching myself how to do it as I go along. It is a challenge on many levels – it’s damn hard. It is an epic adventure with iconic figures and mythological metaphors set in a distant past. It is a hero’s journey and my own hero’s journey at the same time.
I often do Yi readings to get myself going, or inspire images about a scene, or look for character clues, or to give me clarity on where I am in the process, or all of these things and more. Lately I have been experiencing obstacles. The direction that I was heading, the work I had produced, was not working. I cut away a great deal, which was painful enough, but I could not seem to get going on new ideas. The inner critic was taking over. The writing was not fun anymore. I knew I had to come at it a different way.
My focus: ‘Activating the right brain, writing something, and silencing the inner critic’
The Yi answered: Hexagram 5 / line 6
This felt like a relief to me right away. Waiting patiently and in comfort is what came to mind. Hexagram 5 with its comfortable waiting is nestled safely between the awkward unknown of hexagram 4 and the argumentative conflict of hexagram 6. I am somewhere between learning it and fighting it. There’s no resistance, but I haven’t quite got it yet. It’s a relaxed waiting game. The trick is to use the interval with a good attitude, with faith that things will change.
Heaven’s yang lines inside look like a little house below the falling rain. Safe inside is the creative, bold and solid, where the creative manifestations can wait it out. I have a story in me, I just don’t know yet how to get it out and in the format required. I have the blueprint, the foundation and structure. It can be built and made to stand. Outside is the flowing stream. The story content and the challenges bring emotional white water. I toil through the difficulty and troubles.
I have a fierce inner critic, and the writing process has brought me face to face with it. Sure I need that left brain for editing, following a calendar, and showing up to work. But it had taken over like a tyrant. It was not allowing my right brain to come out and play, discover and have fun. My child-like right brain cares nothing about edits, time, or work.
Hexagram 5 feels like a snow day, where I don’t have to go to school. I get to build snowmen and drink hot chocolate. Or, hexagram 5 feels like a rainy weekend where outside work can wait. Instead, I get to stay inside, and watch the rain while I have a tea party. It’s a glad waiting – a kind of relief from the usual. I know I’ll go back to it, but for now it’s time to relax and play.
Hexagram 5 reminds me of when I’m waiting for something to finish cooking. It’s a fun time, where I get to sit a minute and have a snack while waiting for the big pay-off. It occurred to me that I would do better to approach writing the way I approach cooking. I can break a large project into smaller parts, like meals. I am not a recipe follower, but I am careful to purchase quality, organic, ingredients. I allow the available ingredients to give me ideas for the upcoming meals. I can think of writing scenes in a similar way, by picking some elements that I know I want to use, and try them out. When I am cooking, I am fully immersed in the process, seeing the colors, smelling the aromas, feeling the flesh and oils, combining and tasting. It is a sensory delight. It is an alchemical transformation. In the same way I can imagine how all of my senses are experiencing what I am writing. When I cook, I never worry about it or think I am doing it wrong or fret about how to do it. I experiment and look up things as I go. I especially need to apply this to writing. Most meals come out pretty good, some things are great, and fairly often they turn out exceptionally. Every once in a while I fail, but it is inconsequential, and then I learn from it. All cooking experiences build on each other and lead to more delicious meals that improve. These are important lessons to apply to my writing process.
Line 6 is up there on the precipice of change, above the ruler, hanging out on its own. The writer is like this too: in it, but not of it. It is a mostly solo journey in a room with invisible people. A river can start from a hole in the ground (a pit or cave). The Chattahoochee River, here in Georgia, starts that way. It begins as a trickle from a hole in the ground; it then becomes a stream, and then a wide river. It flows through Atlanta where people ride on rafts tethered to coolers of beer on inner tubes as they ‘shoot the Hooch.’ From there it takes on factory pollution and can’t be entered. This is another kind of pit, a dark place, an unexpected turn of events. But it keeps on going, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
The top line is on the outer edge of a white water stream. But the stream is taking shape by following a boundary where the yin line closes to yang. It could be a place where interaction can more easily occur. Something could be built there, like a dock, where others would come as guests. Perhaps these guests are new characters to discover for the story, or teachers that bring inspiration or the guests are the ideas themselves. If I welcome the unexpected as a gift, then the synchronicities and metaphors will reveal themselves. All is not lost.
Line 6 moving would change the top trigram to wind. The attributes of wind can help balance the trigram of water. I can follow my curiosity, take things step by step, and cultivate the willingness to work on things over a long period of time. I practice right brain exercises; I write and sketch in my journal; I listen to teachers about writing; I stretch, I dance and I cook. It feels like coming at the problem sideways, out of the corner of my eye or sneaking up on it. It is the reason I am writing this blog post. These ideas lead nicely into hexagram 9, with more images of waiting on the weather, but continuing to work on what is possible.
The inner nuclear trigrams are lake enveloping lake. The source of joy is being submerged or not being fed. Even optimism and hope are drowned out. The enveloping lake is drowning with naiveté, and reflecting the problem back on the surface. It is more overwhelming than inspiring. That inner lake of joy needs to be fed properly – with more joy. The outer nuclear trigrams are fire enveloped by lake. It is the very image of passion and clarity being submerged by superficiality that is naïve. I need to stoke that inner fire and keep the spark alive.
Part of my process for activating the right brain, writing something, and silencing the inner critic is this blog post. It’s super Meta – writing about writing. It’s a way to wait while also nourishing myself in something fun and joyful. I am allowing the confidence and faith to return as I watch and wait for the unexpected guests to arrive.
The idea behind the phrase ‘the living word’ in reference to the Bible and the parables of Jesus is that the same story is new each time. It speaks to the heart in the moment and takes all experience and personal details into account. The listener understands it from their current perspective and will get what they need from it. Writing down an interpretation causes the meaning to become static. The written interpretation is what it meant to the writer at the time it was written. Throughout time these interpretations have been turned into laws that do not suit the current times. Whereas approaching it as living, moving, and ever changing message allows it to be new, immediate, and personally applicable. Our understanding is reborn each time it is considered. It is not even necessary to recall the exact words, because the meaning lives inside of a person as they apply it to specific situations.
One thousand years before, a person hears a parable, or text from the Yi, and receives guidance for the dilemma. That person might have been asking about whether to go to war, and I might be asking about how to pay the rent. One thousand years apart, we get the same answer, and there is a connection. Yet it is also different. It is something we know is possible, but it is easy to lose sight of it when we rely only on an interpretation of words on a page. I find using the trigrams has this quality of ‘the living word’ through the use of the nature images which connect all humanity. To my mind, the parables of Jesus work in much the same way.
Recently, I asked a question about securing a Yi workshop space for Harmen in October. I received Hexagram 16 with line 5 moving: earth below and thunder above. I sometimes do readings on the fly. I allow the images of the trigrams to speak to me about the situation, what to do, or how to approach it. I do not read the text or an interpretation. I consider and move (or don’t move) by looking through the lens of the attributes of the trigrams and position of the lines. I think of it as mental martial arts.
After this reading, I went to a church service where the reverend there has written about his interest in the Yi. While waiting, I found out that the church is being forced to move in June, because the current property has been sold. The woman I spoke with said she doubted if anything would be booked until after that. She also said that the reverend would be very busy that day (Sunday), and that I should probably call to make an appointment. After the service, the reverend had a long line of people waiting to talk to him. I thought I would just give up and try again at another time.
Then I remembered…thunder (on the outside) would not give up! I should go in there and take action. I need to open a conversation (lake is the trigram of change if line 5 moves). Also line 5 is the place of the king and taking charge of the situation. So I went back in and kept an eye on him. I remained inwardly open to the timing to speak with him (earth). When he came near, I practically grabbed him and shook his hand (like thunder). He said he would love to host Harmen and a workshop. He was eager (enthusiastic), sincere, and definite. I felt excited. I was glad I listened to the trigrams.
After this meeting, I was thinking about how to best re-connect with the reverend and pin down the details for the workshop. As I have been very busy with a new job and working extra hours, I decided that Easter week might be a good time. So I asked the Yi about this. Yep. The exact same answer: Hexagram 16 with line 5 moving.
As Harmen’s student, I have learned that one of his main teachings is that the same result is NOT the same answer. Going back to what it meant before, can actually close the mind to the current meaning and application. This was not only the same answer; it was almost the same question, except I asked about the timing of Easter week. It is also a question about Harmen’s workshop. So I knew, without a doubt, that I would absolutely need to find another way to look at the answer.
I decided to just gaze at the hexagram. When I say this, I mean that I consciously let loose my preconceived notions, and I sort of blur my vision. What does it look like? How would these trigrams look if they were interacting in nature? What images come to mind? I allow myself a child mind (earth), seeing it new, and then listening or watching the patterns or images that arise within me (thunder). I quiet the inner critic as to whether it is right or wrong. If the image arises, then it has something to tell me. A thousand interpretations cannot contain nor speak to my own personal associations.
I stared at the hexagram, tilting my head, squinting, and trying to open my third eye. I waited and watched for an answer that would show me something different. Then it happened.
It is an image of Jesus rising from the dead!
In death we go back to the earth. She receives us without resistance, willingly. Earth carries and provides for all. She says “come to me and I will make you grow”: taking that which has died and turning it again to life. Earth provides the material through which these forces can act. The attributes of Earth also speak to the character of Jesus. Earth is inward growth, labor, and service. The ministry of Jesus as well embodies Earth. She is inner release, deliverance and abatement of distress.
Thunder rises from below and also causes shock and fear. Thunder, like the story of Jesus, is ready to give all in one exploding moment of truth. It shakes things up. There is a promise of spring (like Easter) which brings new growth. It is frightening at first, and afterwards there is a release. Thunder, and Jesus rising from the dead, says: “I arouse, excite, and inspire new perspectives.” Thunder comes in with one irreversible effort that causes a complete change of events.
Line 5 moving in the outer trigram of thunder is the place of the king. Jesus is referred to as the king of kings. The man, his message, and his ministry caused a stir that reverberated. Line 5 is magnetic, central, and yielding. It is the image of a humble, yet powerful leader. This line rides on top of the yang line below, a place of powerful force and perhaps danger. I saw the movement that caused the death of Jesus represented here.
When line 5 changes from yin to yang it becomes the trigram lake. Looking at the attributes of lake can bring balance to thunder. It is the gathering of like-minded people for the purpose of joy. It is the ‘good news’ and the waters of life. It is also an opening, a way through, and a gathering of souls. Lake denotes magic, wizardry, ignoring the rules, and creating your own reality within the limits that are provided. The stories about Jesus and his followers typify these ideas. People are drawn to the idea of everlasting life, and millions of people throughout time have kept it alive by gathering together and sharing it.
Though I find these images powerful enough without the need to look up the text, I did, in this case go back to see if my ideas found resonance there. I will leave it to the reader to ponder the text and/or interpretations of hexagram 16 (as well as hexagram 45) with these ideas in mind. However, I found the text of line 5 to be eerily on point:
“Persistently ill and still does not die.” –Wilhelm.
In studying the meaning of a hexagram for a situation, it is part of the wonder that it can speak to the micro and macro and a multitude of aspects at the same time. In my choice to let go of preconceived notions, and look anew, I embodied the qualities of Earth. I did not lead, but follow. Out of this place of openness, new ideas are nurtured. In a burst, I saw the image of the message of Easter. This was the very part of my question too that had been different from my previous question. My perception is resurrected. There are other ways to look at it too. The reverend is also line 5 as the leader of his church. Harmen is the leader of these methods as the teacher of the workshop. I am the leader of bringing these people together (hopefully).
When I started learning from Harmen, I was involved in looking at the etymology of the words of the gospel of Matthew for a story I am writing about Mary Magdalene. There is a similarity between the Bible and the I Ching in that there are translations and interpretations. It can prove challenging to get to the core of the meaning. I suppose it is not so surprising that I see Biblical images in the hexagrams. Within this hexagram I also felt my connection with the Magdalene character of my story. She is the first to see Jesus in his risen form. She too is earth, the feminine below and inside. She is part of the event of the sudden change in perception that is like thunder. She is the leader (line 5 is yin), as the first to see him and to express it to others, to their shock. These perceptions have renewed my enthusiasm for this creative project. It is the feeling of resonance that I am on the right path.
I am still working with the answer of this hexagram. After all, the question was about firming up the details for a workshop. I am remaining open on the inside to a direction to follow and watching for changes on the outside. As I pondered the images, this post began to form in my mind. I suppose I hope that writing it and sharing it will be a part of answering my question. Also, as I have not written a post in a while, I am resurrecting this blog as well.
Hexagram 29 brings a sense of fear and dread: ‘ugh’ and ‘oh no.’ It is a yellow caution light with orange cones barely delineating the drop off. Brace yourself. You are in for difficulty and danger…repeatedly.
Bobbing a fear into focus, into the light of day, to analyze it, can feel just like the fear itself. In water I stay present with conditions. I trust the current will take me where I need to be and where it is beneficial for me to go. The trigram of water, doubled, reminds me that I need not fear the fear that may rise in awareness. The attributes of water will see me through: go with the flow, trust the currents. Water both carves its path and follows the course. In it I feel the beating of my heart. I do what I know and what the course calls for me to do. Water over water can be a comfort rather than a feeling of dread. Hexagram 29 reminds me that I have the tools needed to see me through awareness of a fear arising in my consciousness.
The so called ‘danger’ is likely already present, whether perceived or not. It is not (necessarily) a warning of what is to come or a prediction of future events. Repeating danger, as the name, is a queue for understanding an emotion associated with danger, which is the fear. However, water is not danger or fear, but tells something about what to do and how to respond within a situation. This brings a shift in my thought process from: ‘uh-oh, there is some danger coming’ to ‘there is possibly some fear present within me (or the situation) which is beneficial to acknowledge or address.
I did not receive Hexagram 29 in a reading, but rather through repeated images. In a recent post I read, the author expresses a feeling of dread about receiving Hexagram 29, which she receives continuously in readings. She is dealing with an emotional family situation. She feels foreboding about it, and asks for other perceptions of this hexagram. As I imagine my own experience of an ongoing, emotionally charged family dynamic, I see the image of water over water as two different emotional currents happening simultaneously. The inner waters are my own emotional responses and feelings towards things. The outer water I see as the emotional currents of the others involved. Water mixes and churns and takes twists and turns, dividing off and crashing down a fall all at once. In a difficult family dynamic it is important to stay present and aware of my own feelings and how they are tossing me about. Too much attention or distraction on the emotional pull of others can drag me off my own course and crash me into a pile of rocks. It is Ok for me to be aware and accepting of these other currents, they are a part of the river, however it does not behoove me to take them on as my own.
After this exchange, one of my Yi buddies comments to me that this perceptual image offers an eye opening view he has not considered in that way. His comment draws me to consider it more. I am not without awareness that pondering the images of Hexagram 29 carries with it the feeling that I am going to come to need the perceptions. I remain alert for images that connect and resonate with me.
I speak of this metaphor with my therapist. I discuss with her the compliment from my Yi buddy. The meaning of receiving a compliment is, in essence, to recognize the truth in the statement. In order to internalize the recognition of a compliment being true, I allow in self-love and appreciation. It is allowing for the recognition of self-worth. These are ongoing issues in my life and therapeutic process. A sexual trauma, gang rape, occurred when I was 17. That, and the events and responses that followed, did a number on my self-esteem and feelings of worthiness. In therapy I have dealt with these issues repeatedly over the years. However, the fear of believing in myself continues to find new ways to manifest itself in my life.
I also discuss with my therapist about the process of writing. I have long considered writing a memoir type book or screen play about my experiences of being gang raped and the path of healing that first took me through the sexual underworld of prostitution. Memoirs are described as opening a vein, or having one’s guts come out. This imagery is painful and wrenching. As I seek to organize ideas around the writing of a memoir, I feel a real aversion to going back to memories in a painful way. I already wrote and directed a puppetry performance about it. As in: been there done that, did a puppet show about it. My memories are now overlaid with swirling, colorful puppet images. Also, I am finally in a place of relative joy and peace. I have spent so many years in therapy healing the wounds. I wonder if this emergence of H29 images, with its foreboding sense, relates to the direction of writing about memories. I ponder ways to approach writing that will feel right and bring me joy.
Currents of Consciousness
My therapist offers another image for water below and above. She describes the inner trigram of water as one’s consciousness of personal experiences that is below the surface: the unconscious or subconscious. Both ‘un’ and ‘sub’ refer to ‘occurring in the absence of awareness or thought.’ The difference between the subconscious and the unconscious is in the subtleties of how deep or far off the awareness is from conscious thought. The difference also is about how easy or challenging it is to bring the awareness to the surface for acceptance or integration. These unknown waters brought into conscious awareness are surely associated with fear.
She describes the outer trigram as representative of the collective consciousness. This refers to a kind of invisible field where all gathered knowledge is stored and is also available. This might be considered intuition or knowing without knowing. The collective could also be described as a set of shared beliefs and ideas. In all cases, the subconscious, the unconscious, intuition, and shared belief systems, all affect behavior on a personal level. To recognize, or bring into awareness, these thoughts can produce the feeling of shattering an illusion which engenders fear.
In terms of application of these ideas, I consider the job of the therapist. In any situation all of these elements are present. I have my own un /sub conscious fears concerning writing about my memories as well as dealing with the belief systems of the collective. These are layered and woven in with issues of self-worth and fear of failure. In the outer, the collective, fear arises about revealing my past and disappointing my family or friends or colleagues. There is much in the collective, the history of society, about remaining silent regarding sex crimes. My response of promiscuity and diving into prostitution, sex, and the underworld is taboo. I am a bad girl for doing it, and this is doubled in writing about it. I have encountered numerous detractors from telling my story and experiences. Why can’t you write about things that didn’t happen?
Riding the Rapids without Fear
At this point, brought on by my own exploration and attention, I am immersed in the imagery of water over water. I ponder my lessons with Harmen which center on the meaning of trigrams. I recall that Harmen’s birth hexagram is H29. I do not think of Harmen as dangerous, fearful or fear inducing, or foreboding, or as a warning. After all, these are not the attributes of the trigram water. Trigrams teach how water behaves, what it will or will not do. It is a way of moving, being present, meeting obstacles, allowing what is already there (the river bank, the currents, the rocks) and making it a part of the path rather than fighting against it. There is personal choice and power in being able to choose to use the guidance of the way trigrams behave in an approach to a situation. This is different than seeing a hexagram as a statement of only the way things are now or might be in the future. There is space for how to be an active (or non-active) participant in the specifics of any question or situation.
I confide in Harmen about my struggles in writing this piece, and he shares a story of Confucius and his students. They see a man who appears to be drowning in a raging waterfall. They rush down to see if he can be saved, but they do not hold much hope that it is possible. They lose sight of him on the way down. When they arrive, expecting to see a lifeless body, they find instead the man happily swimming about. The man explains that he knows these waters and has been playing in them since he was a child. When the currents take him under and lash him about, he knows that there is a place that the flow will turn back on itself and lift him to the surface. He anticipates this, and he moves with the current instead of fighting against it.
Holding to the Heart Beat
I visit a friend in the evening. (Here I struggle with the right word that evokes the accurate nature of our relationship: companion, partner, playmate, date, or boyfriend? We have been seeing each other for only a couple of months, so I think there should be a word between companion and friend, between partner and date, between playmate and boyfriend. None of them quite suit me, though the closeness and intimacy of our relationship feels important to the story. Equally as important is the newness of getting to know each other. Thus explained, I will continue to refer to him as my friend). My friend plays a movie called ‘Abyss.’ The title is not lost on me in my relating it the abysmal as an image of Hexagram 29. I watch with an eye to metaphor, water imagery, and deriving meaning and application.
In the movie the Abyss, a team of rough and ready oil workers and a team of deployed Navy Seals are put together in a submarine (and various other underwater craft) as they face adversity after adversity. Water below and on the inside is the craft itself, the emotions of the characters, the fears, and the need to follow the course despite the dangers. All around them on the outside and also above is more water. Each adventure seems to take the characters, and their craft, to a further abyss. These are represented both externally and internally. The craft is teetering on the edge of a cliff that drops to the dark nothingness of no return. The characters must overcome their sense of dread and panic to do what must be done, to flow with the course. It is the pull of the heart, the connection between people, which ultimately sees them through the most fear inducing dangers.
I find abundant material for Hexagram 29 imagery and metaphor. The deep undercurrent that plays in my mind is how it is all fitting together for me on my own emotional level, and how I might specifically apply it. It’s not easy, despite everything I have described thus far, to avoid the feeling of ‘uh-oh, there is something still to come for which I will need to draw on all of these associations. The sheer abundance of synchronicities gives me the feeling that it is something deep. I remind myself to go back to my own heart, check in with myself, my emotions, and bring that awareness to the surface. Go with the flow and allow the currents to have their way with my movement of thoughts. It is in this way that I can deal with the underlying currents of fear or illusion within the unconscious and /or the collective. My application of the images is mainly towards the process of writing: how to write about the past, or whether I want to write about it at all.
The next day my friend takes me to Tallulah Gorge State Park. It is where the Tallulah River flows through rugged terrain to carve a complex geologic formation and 6 spectacular waterfalls. It is over 2 miles long and 1000 feet deep. Alright, so I have Hexagram 29 metaphors swirling on the brain and wondering if it is just me, and my own focus, creating some ultimate personal event for which I must recognize to behave like water. It’s all in the back of my mind. I continue to collect images. This place is a study in how water behaves and what it can do.
Crossing the suspension bridge an image catches my eye and imagination. The bridge sways with every step giving me the sense that it is about to flow away in the current of the river far below. It is a disarming feeling in the awareness of the movement of the water below, the breeze blowing my hair, and the sway underfoot. The river, the rocks, the falls, the sky, and the drop to the floor of the gorge all look grand. The raging waters below are a wonder from the bird’s eye view. On the left of my scene of view, by the side of the river, is an anomaly: a rectangle. It is an object entangled in its own eddy of white foam, along the river’s edge. A rock wall juts upward beside it. The square shape seems to be made of wood. Around it, in the encasement of foam, are rectangular slats. These appear to be wood planks. They look to be some part of it, perhaps the top that came apart in a crash over the falls. Somehow, they all stay together with the crate in the cloud of white foam. It gives me the awareness that the object and the planks are all of the same material: a wood that floats. Their holding together reminds me of a ship in a storm. I think of a coffin.
I am reminded of a description I recently heard in a review of the memoir by Vladimir Nabokov called Speak, Memory. The images in the beginning of the first chapter describe the privileged child in the cradle. He actually nurses on jewels in an image of opulence. The chapter ends with an image of the father’s coffin, as the boy hunts butterflies. The symmetry in metaphor and imagery is highlighted in the cradle at the beginning of the chapter and the coffin at the end of the chapter. In this river I view from above, the crate caught in an eddy, the image of cradle to coffin is reflected back to me. I could not accurately gauge the size as there is no scale to judge objects. The river is wide, the rock faces are tall, and the drop down is frightening. The container is small and vulnerable.
It comes to me that line 6 of Hexagram 29 is about being snared at the water’s edge. I look for the path that the crate might have followed to get in this predicament. I crane to see if there is some outcropping of stone or vegetation that binds the box to this place. I can see none, yet there it is bound, immobile in the rush of multiple currents. I take a moment to internalize the general meaning of a line 6 position. It is the place above the king: in it but not of it. It is an almost spiritual objectivity. This place of being caught in an eddy is also time to look back over the situation and to consider what comes next.
This old box is really just a piece of trash, man-made, on its descent down the rapids of the gorge. It holds on and it holds together the best that its materials allow. Its impermanence is inevitable. Yet its tenacity is also apparent. I flash to my friend rubbing my neck and finding a knot. I do not even realize it is there until he touches upon it. The touch brings it into full awareness. As he smooths it over with kneading and circular motions of touch, it hurts. It is also dissipated, made smaller, vanishing into the muscle that surrounds it. The wooden box is a part of the river as it has created its own current in an eddy. It is also not part of it, being a foreign object. It will become part of the river as the water breaks it down further. I consider thoughts and fears that float along our stream of consciousness, part of it, but not of it, and yet returning to it. Things come up like a knot in the musculature of the unconscious.
Fear on the Trigger
My friend plays a detective series that night. Our mood is one of relaxation after a full day of adventure. There is an openness and vulnerability to such a state of relaxation coupled with intimacy. The scene in the detective series is about a daughter, a sister, who has been beat up by her boyfriend. She has a black eye. Her boyfriend is manipulating her and abusing her in order to get something from her father, which she cannot accomplish. The brother hires the detective to find the guy, so he, the brother, can beat him up. Meanwhile, the father invites the daughter and boyfriend over on the pretense to discuss the boyfriend’s schemes. The father beats the holy crap out of the boyfriend in a surprise attack. The daughter stands by helplessly, begging for it to stop.
I am triggered deeply by the scene, the violence, the helplessness, and something more. But I do not immediately realize the responses that take place in my body, attitude, vibration, manner, diction, and speech. What do I say? I comment on the calm attitude of the witnesses who come in on the scene. The detective, a woman, and the brother, enter over the bloody victim/criminal on the floor. The father, triumphant, instructs them to remove the culprit to the hospital. The daughter /sister, whimpers shamefully and with remorse, in the background.
My friend responds to me something to the effect that it is a satisfactory retribution and outcome, so the calm response of the characters is fitting. I blurt: “No one has ever done this for me.” I sound like a child to myself and immediately recognize that the statement is neither true nor false. It is an emotion. I am shot like a tiny inner tube into the raging white water, the spray stinging my eyes and skin. I am rendered speechless, quiet, and tense. I am a coffin, broken apart, in a tight eddy on a turbulent river through a gorge. I am hanging on a swaying suspension bridge, staring into the abyss below me.
It is not the gang rape that happened to me at the age of 17 that specifically sends me over the falls and into the abyss. It is the memory of the responses of my parents, like a channel that quickens the current, propelling me to topple over the edge. At first I did not tell my parents. The rape took place in late afternoon. That night there was a birthday party for my brother. I did not want to spoil the party, so I waited until the next day to tell them. When I disclosed the rape to my parents, I had felt my father was angry at me. He had anger, and I internalized it. My father found a certain fact, that my girlfriends and I had gotten into such a mess because we wanted to buy a joint, was a clear indication of my own culpability. My mother was mournful in sorrow. She was a wall of resistance in her show of a mask of strength that I was supposed to somehow emulate. Mother told me that the rapists did not take anything from me. In essence, the message was that I had not been seriously physically injured, and so I was not hurt. My parents told me to do nothing in pursuit of retribution. I was told to forget about it, and go on with my life.
Later I heard that my brother and his friends wanted to seek retribution in the form of violence. I also heard of a number of other friends interested in participating. At the time, I could not at all deal with the thought of people I cared about using violence on my behalf. I begged my closest friends, who knew the details of the crime, to not reveal it. I was terrified that something bad would happen to those I cared about. The thought of more violence was abhorrent to me. I was also overwhelmed with feelings of the situation being out of my control. I learned later that this kind of reaction, from a rape victim, is quite common.
I feel it necessary to qualify here that my parent’s response is not an unforgivable offense. I have many times forgiven them this transgression, and I understand that they ‘know not what they do.’ I can clearly see an abundance of other ways that they did help me and love me and stand by me in my life. Even so, this internalized feeling, or emotion, that occurred in this exchange has surfaced repeatedly in my life. They downplayed it. It became something that I had almost imagined and made a big deal over nothing. In future interactions, I am triggered when I do not feel validated or believed. I also feel a sense of abandonment, because of a deep clinging to my own unworthiness and ultimate culpability.
This feeling, this pit of an emotional response, repression, pain, and fear, does not need to be articulated in words when it arises in me. It manifests, though, in actions of self-worth. It is a pin prick of pain attached to a pocket of pus in an infection under the surface. It is a single knot in the muscle of the neck, attached to muscular structure, spinal joints, and tentacles of tension. It has branches of memories which are similar feelings of abandonment, self-blame, and not being believed or taken seriously. Though I have worked on these things over the years in a therapeutic environment, the core feeling is tenacious and creative in finding ways to express itself.
The knot this scene touches, and the subsequent conversation with my friend, like the fingers of a masseuse, cause the tightness ache deeply and reach arteries to memories hardened into vertebrae. I seize up and go silent. I want the thoughts to go away, and I feel their emergence here is inappropriate timing.
My friend begins a calm dialogue of what he will gladly do to anyone that has or would hurt me. Like a bug, I curl instinctively into a tight fetal position. I feel the abyss, the great waters of the gorge, and me in my underwater capsule, teetering on the edge of a cliff into darkness. The dread of what it might mean for how I can possibly handle the present is a wall forming the channel.
I can barely respond to my friend’s question about how I am feeling. I am in the memory and also looking at it from above. I compare it in metaphor to the images that have been building in my mind. I sense my friend can feel my confusion and my struggle. As I cannot express the place I am in, I seek to somehow control the emotions. He holds my hand and embraces me in a tight cuddle with the other arm. His absolute presence in the moment to hold on to me, despite not knowing my thoughts, is an indescribable comfort.
I recognize my own emotions, like the roar of white water that warn of the fall. Questions emerge in my mind. Is this it? Is this the trigger for which all of these images prepared me? Will I pass through safely…or get hung up like a helpless wooden box upon a waterfall? My friend continues to hold me, in silence, and in a grip. I feel his presence. I ponder the attributes of water. I recall all the images over the past few days. I am beginning to relax my body into the current instead of trying to paddle upstream.
I begin to take full stock of my immediate surroundings. My feelings are that I wish this situation to not be happening. I feel my reactions are somehow inappropriate to the situation. I don’t want to spoil the party or bother anyone with my feelings. Wait, this is not what water would do. By taking stock, bringing my awareness into the present, I am reminded that these are the ‘subs’ and the ‘uns’ of my consciousness: the burbling, swirling depths of self-loathing. In reality, I am being held by a loving embrace that feels patient and kind. Further, my friend has spoken words that re-iterate protection and caring. No one is forcing me to do anything, and there is no rush. The contrast of the safety of the actual situation to my own thoughts in the midst of an emotional, subconscious trigger is apparent. I breathe deeply. I hold his hand tighter.
I tell myself that it is not necessary to resist the thoughts, the memories, the triggers into fear and darkness. That would be like fighting the flow of the water. There will come a back draft and a lift. In my fuller awareness of feeling safe, cared for, I can allow the thoughts and emotions. I panic a little inside: if I allow the memories, then I will drown. They will take me under and I won’t come back up. At the very least I will not be able to continue in a pleasant evening with my friend. It will be my fault for bringing drama and triggers and ancient memories. I should just let it go, forget about it. I can only imagine that my emotions spray out of me perceptibly, in visible manifestations. Each time I swirl into this fear, my friend squeezes my hand and breathes in deeply. His presence is like a life raft. The space he is holds allows me to take a breath and try again.
I tell myself that allowing the awareness of this triggered memory, within the bigger picture of an ultra-safe environment, will be to lance the boil or pull the tooth or smooth the knot in a muscle. It hurts at first, but ultimately brings relief. Healing always hurts some at first, but the relief is worth it. I relax again into the currents. I go through in my mind the sequence of events that led me to this place of inner struggle. I remember to be kind to myself and my own thought process. It is natural that I would feel a sense of abandonment and pain at this scene. It is also natural that it would come up in this place of relaxation, vulnerability, and intimacy. Instead of being bad timing, it is perfect timing.
I nurture myself in allowing the associations. I also recognize that I am so familiar with these waters, through therapy and artistic expression, so it need not take me under at all. I relax into thinking about the metaphors of water and Hexagram 29. I am safe, and I am good girl. I have a deeper realization that writing about the past is merely a tool for me to focus upon the healing. I also understand that there is no need for me to share with my friend just yet the memory, the trigger, or how I am moving through it. I allow myself my own responses, and, at the same time, recognize the familiarity with the waters. It is still there, and the wonderful vulnerability of intimacy opens the flow further. It’s Ok to feel. I can express it in words later.
In writing this, there are times I feel like I am pulled under again. I worry about how deep I might go. As I come out of the head space of writing, I feel like a diver that needs to come up slowly so as not to get the bends. Once grounded, my legs feel wobbly and my breath shallow in my chest. I waver in extreme doubt about working on the piece further or sharing it. I hold on in the turbulent, raging waters, trusting for the back draw and the lift. It comes, as anticipated. I am cleansed in the healing waters below the falls.
“General relativity holds that anything with mass distorts the fabric of space and time, just as a bowling ball placed on a bed causes the mattress to sag.” – Mark Benna, Discovery Magazine “Albert Einstein: The Whole Package.”
I read this quote while sitting on a cramped airline flight (the man next to me snoring so loudly the windows seemed to rattle) on my way to deal with the final effects of my deceased husband and our 6 year marriage. Three years ago, just after his death, I sold all the larger items and put the rest in my sister’s warehouse storage space. I took off for a summer break with plans to return in the fall. Things did not happen that way. I ended up in another city and state with only the things I had in my Toyota Corolla.
Eventually I got a small apartment and it somehow filled with all the accoutrements of home, despite that I had left all of my possessions elsewhere. The speed and ease with which things accumulated both surprised and perplexed me. Even so, I still missed the things I left behind while at the same time I dreaded having to go back through them.
Time passed and the pain of grieving as well as the sore feeling of not having my favorite things dissipated. I could not figure out a way to affordably get there and return with the things I wanted. More time also meant the fear of facing those old memories and emotions increased. I picked up the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I thought: “I am ready… ready to deal with the storage unit items.” So that is how I came to be on that flight, reading a quote about Albert Einstein explaining General Relativity and thinking of my own cosmic drag of stuff.
As I prepared for my trip, I focused on honing my tidying skills using the techniques from the book. The main lesson about discarding things is to keep only those items which spark joy. The author thoughtfully and often humorously gives plenty of suggestions on how to accomplish and practice the feeling of sparking joy. I began my tidying spree in preparation for the really hard stuff to come.
I spoke of the process to others. One woman teared up as she told me of her husband who had died three years before in a tragic motorcycle accident. She put all of his things in a storage unit. She moved out of state and was paying $100.00 monthly. The thought or returning to the memories was excruciating. The next time I saw her, she told me that after talking to me, she called his family and mailed them the storage unit key. She told the family she did not want a thing. She said she feels 1000 times lighter and freer.
Different items create a heavier or lighter drag in the cosmic field. Some things have a kind of guilt attached to them because of the obligation to keep them. Other things were once useful or brought joy, but are not of use now and spark no joy. Things that remind us of the dearly departed are a special category in the General Relativity of stuff. These items can hit on every emotion, memory, and feeling of responsibility. Like Einstein’s theory, this combination of matter and energy can “evolve, stretch and warp, forming ridges, mountains and valleys that cause bodies moving through it to zigzag and curve.”
During this time I did a Yi reading on my focus. I received H46: “Step by Step” (LiSe), wind below and earth above, with moving lines at 4 and 5 and 6.
With all three outer lines of earth moving, an immediate image came to mind: I thought of my IPAD. The app icons are displayed on the page for choosing. When a certain button is clicked, it causes all of the icons to vibrate. They shimmy and shake and appear excited and vulnerable to change. They also appear with an ‘x’ much like the way a moving line is indicated in a hexagram. When you click on the little ‘x’ in the corner of the app icon, it causes it to disappear. If you click on the original button (the one that caused them to shimmy) they become sold and stable again.
As I considered this image, I thought of earth moving, all the little lines shimmying and shaking, and ready to move to heaven. I could feel the earth attributes and then the heaven attributes. I did not experience the lines as separate meanings of 4, 5, and 6. The movement of the outer flipped completely. It is there and then it is gone.
The process of tidying is like this too. The initial approach is best done with an earthy intent. It is better not to have specific plans and goals in mind. The idea is that each item is held and considered for the feeling it evokes. The author recommends a specific sequence of categories for learning this process. Start with clothing, because it is the easiest. The last categories are mementos and photos. It is a wonderful example of a step-by-step earthy process.
Once the feeling, the spark of joy, is recognized or recognized to be absent, then a decision is made. The item is discarded or it is kept with confidence. This is the firmness of heaven. This is clicking the little ‘x’ or the button that stabilizes the icon. The items discarded are acknowledged for their previous usefulness and thanked and sent on their next journey. The items kept are put aside for a later task of storing. Then the process begins again with the next item. Those things that remain spark joy.
Wind on the inside fits my approach to both the process of tidying and learning the trigrams and line associations. I like the way wind feels steady and moving at the same time. It is slow, as I put down roots in my thinking and learning. Building on my lessons and experiences in application gives the movement and growth the steady feeling. As I try new things, there are times in the outer situation where I feel like I am not getting anywhere, not going fast enough, etc. Coming back to wind on the inside feels comforting. I am applying the attributes of wind: gentle pressure, small steps, research, and investigation, gradual and subtle change. It is all OK and no moving lines means I am stable, yet growing on the inside.
The outer situation is ripe with opportunity for growth. It is a field of possibilities. Here, every line is moving, shimmying, so the first thing that hit me is earth moving to heaven. Earth is the possibilities, the nurturing of ideas. I have read the book. I have tried a few of the techniques on the easier categories. The material and the possibilities are present and ready to be acted upon. The trigram of heaven, the trigram of movement says that I must add action: doing and applying creatively. I cannot only think about it or talk about it. I must also do it.
Line four is the place of getting assistance. Some of the actions that fit this line: There is help. I listened to the 2nd book. I ordered the hard copy. I looked at pictures. I bought some things for storage that motivated me to move to the next category of items to sort. I sold some of the items I chose to discard. I donated others to a mother and daughter who felt like it was Christmas. These are receptive interpretations of outer actions.
Line five is to be the leader. I got this. I can do this. Some of the actions that fit this line: I met the emotional quality of sentimental items and sorted further. Even though, at times, things looked messier and more dis-organized, I pressed through knowing that the process had worked before. Each category I tackle and complete gives a great feeling of satisfaction. I am being receptive to the processes.
Line 6 is to look back and learn from the process and also prepare to move forward. I can look over the clothes I have put away and the organization. I consider how to apply the principles to the more challenging items with history and sentiment. I can feel that I have progressed. I can look forward to the bigger challenge of sorting more sentimental things.
As I considered the movement of each individual line, I also saw the corresponding trigram of change and how its attributes can add a dash of flavor, and helpfulness in consideration of the attributes of the received trigram. I went through this process mentally, standing in my living room. A whole pattern of images emerged.
When I saw it, in my mind’s eye, I said out loud: “Oh, oh. Oh!” I stood like a statue in the midst of my thinking. Apparently that is a side effect of learning this trigram method, to stand around staring off into space imagining patterns. I call this effect of standing motionless and slack-jawed while envisioning trigram patterns: Bagua Brain. I blame (credit?) Harmen Mesker for the condition.
I saw this in a series of trigram steps like a stairway to heaven:
Line 4 of earth moving would change to thunder. I can overcome the inaction of wondering how I will tackle the next step by applying the movement of thunder. Follow the steps of the book. Get going. Just do it. Pull everything out.
Line 5 of earth moving would change to water. I can overcome not directing the actions by applying the flow of water. I move through the dangerous realm of emotional attachments by taking the plunge and repeating the process.
Line 6 of earth moving would change to mountain. I can overcome the feelings of acceptance and adapting by bringing in the stillness and contemplation of mountain. I have the strength to look over what I have let go and move forward to releasing even more difficult things in the future.
Since the entire trigram representing the outer situation is moving, I also saw these steps in reverse. I imagined heaven moving in the steps back to earth.
Line 4 moves to the trigram wind. When I teeter to thinking I need to keep taking action and getting it all done, I can overcome it by applying the step by step process of wind. Take a break. Get help by talking to others and remain open to suggestion.
Line 5 of heaven moves to fire. The action of sorting is always about considering attachment to things as well as the past and the relationships these things represent. It is not only about the action of mindless sorting. Take time to consider the items: “What are the memories? Do I need the object? Is it the memory or the object to which there is attachment?” I can overcome burning through like a job by considering to what I cling and why.
Line 6 of heaven moves to the trigram lake. I can overcome pure activity and performing tasks by always returning to the consideration of what sparks joy. That is the top, the reason for the process. Each category sorted leaves me with only those things that spark joy. I move forward knowing that I can move creatively through the sentimental triggers by returning to the feeling of joy. I am honing my ability to make decisions. My life becomes a reflection of this spark of joy.
Before my trip began I got really sick. I felt that the respiratory issues I was experiencing came from toxic levels of mold and pesticides where I work. I didn’t have time to see the doctor before I left or while I was gone. I received H13: “Mankind” (LiSe), fire below and heaven above, with movement at line 6. Fire is my gut, knowing what to do and what is essential for me. Heaven is the building, the institution, the leader of the company with all the corporate rules. Line 6 is in it but not of it.
I call them moving lines, but they move in different ways depending on their placement within a trigram: they shimmy, shake, wave, tremble, or quake. It felt like line 6 popped open. There is a push through the 4 yang lines. An image came to me of dandelion poking through the hard ground on the outskirts of town near a garbage dump. This little weed, so full of nutrients, can thrive and transmute toxins. This powerful image stayed with me, giving me more than words ever could. I identified with it, and I became the dandelion. When I returned, I was diagnosed with a form of pneumonia. The dandelion, breaking through the top, helped me to push through.
Back home now, I am freer in having released and discarded. I flew to Florida, unloaded the storage unit, sorted it into trash, donote or bring home. I loaded it in a mini-van and drove 10 hours home. I unloaded it into my small apartment all while popping cold medicine and a tincture of dandelion. I still have some sorting and tidying to complete, but I am confident in my skills to find that sweet spot of just what to keep and finding where it belongs. Now, everywhere I look, there is an item that sparks joy. My cosmic drag has become a shooting star, and I am a transmutational force of light years. Yee Haw.
I am a f*cking flying dragon in the sky. Yo.
I told the story of being gang raped at the age of 17 when I first began this assignment. I wrote of the survival instinct that emerged to conquer the powerlessness and transcend being outcast. The journey took me to Japan to work for the Yakuza in the sex trade industry. Innocence lost was replaced by achievement and success in the seedy underworld. I jus
t kept moving, doing, getting farther from home and burning through the environment. Although the ideas of sexual trauma and response may seem to belong to yin and earth, something quite the opposite moved in me. I sense something ancestral in heaven: it is doing what has to be done and also what has been done by our forebearers throughout time. We are taught it and we also know it. My sisters before me forged a similar trail as courtesans and madams: the Mary Magdalenes.
I became the essence of the prostitute because of this inner heritage of knowing what to do. Certainly I was not literally taught this in my small town high school. The shock and trauma of the event unleashed an age old instinct, an internal navigation, a powerful urge. The early stages of this odyssey were creative and unique and marked by action and guts; but the motivations were not from a source of pure heaven. Things were askew, unbalanced and driven by unconscious pain. Even so, I do not think it was a wrong example, so much as one overly clouded in negative association.
Heaven has been the most challenging energy for me to get a handle on in its natural, positive essence. This would seem contradictory, given the name. All those yang lines gave me the feeling of heaviness, oppressiveness, piled one atop another, and no way out. I struggled with the images of Hexagram 44, the temptress, the one never to marry. I have had to separate my emotions and life-long associations to embrace the purity of the creative force. I had to quit seeing it as something done to me, or something for me to avoid or to emulate. I had to become the dragon, instead of simply riding it.
I began to see the process of writing blog posts about trigrams as the example most compelling and current to help me positively embrace the creative force of the attributes of heaven. It has been a meta experience akin to magnifying the magnified. I am endeavoring to write about the creative force that is behind writing about heaven, which is the creative force. I also did a reading about it. I have been in a state of keen awareness of the feeling that I am about to write it, knowing it, just before actually doing it.
There is a confidence, a trust, in me that has come from all the writing I have done before, including about all the other trigrams. I have know-how. I have studied and lived it, and I feel confidence in my creative ingenuity. I can feel the timing. Life demands and work duties have been part of the timing, but there is also the movement of the dragon within me from murky ideas, to expression, to toiling through without concern if it is right or wrong or what others may think. My experience is emerging and I cannot but tell it. This is the best feeling ever. I noticed it with such highlight and contrast that I almost wanted to stay there. It was that place, before the ideas have come together, of knowing, trusting, and feeling that the timing will be perfect and the words will come, and the piece will reach completion.
The other night, I woke from sleep with a start thinking that I had lost the ability to write it. I sat up. I feared for a moment that I had waited too long to begin, milking the feeling of knowing it would come. It is time to do. It is time to sit and organize all the parts and write the ideas. It is time for action. It’s not about what I have done in the past, but what I am experiencing now. It is the toil of working through the stages of the creative process. Live it now and move with it. My Tai Chi teacher, Jude, tells each student to see and feel their own movements as the best Tai Chi. It is the best for you in this moment. I know this now, as I write, that this is the best ever. This is heaven.
“It isn’t that Heaven doesn’t want to think about consequences. Heaven moves forward, it is continuous action and it can only be stopped by something else. It is like a beam of light that travels the universe.” – Harmen
Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation? How does it describe a cause (origin, root)? How does it describe a person? How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?
Father. Sunlight. Force. Creative. Focus. Action. Persistence. Powerful. Exertion. Firm. Hard.
It is characterized by action and determination. It is to keep doing. With Heaven the consequences are calculated and known, carefully rationalized and pros and cons weighted. The lines can feels thick, heavy, pressing. There is no breaking through it, no denying it or getting around it. It is a foundation. It feels impenetrable, unbreakable.
In the light of yang there is color and the sunrise, which is beautiful and primal. There are many questions and answers and learning. It is science and religion and it answers many questions. But it also turns it into sold beliefs that cannot be penetrated. It can lead to feeling closed in, over ruled, dominated, and not allowing for other interpretations. There is security and protection in it, like a house, a father, a husband, a teacher, a leader.
It is continuous, a pure energy that is lasting. It generates and re-generates. It transcends every situation. It is origin with no beginning or ending. It directs in perfect timing. It is an urge without need from other sources. It cannot be depleted.
It is knowing what must be done and when to do it. In that way it is survival: finding food and water, navigating, and hunting. It learns and teaches. Our ancestors taught us. It is breath. It is know-how that comes from ancestry and ingenuity. It meets the demand. It takes the creative and unique opportunity to advantage. It is punctuality and expert timing in readiness. It is a knowing season. There is determination, force, and achievement. It is passed down. There is faith, trust, skill and intelligence. It is implicit presence. It is a wavelength.
The force and energy of heaven causes things to flourish and grow and be built, created, and recognized. It can make beauty and art and buildings and religions.
It does not ever quit. It causes things to manifest, become visible. It makes leaders. Heaven is said to cause the orbits of the planets, the seasons, the rays of the sun. It causes things to get done in the right timing. It is the urge.
It is a person determined in action and characterized by purpose and will. There is confidence and strength in this person. They know what to do and have control and timing. It could be a bad ass, a king of the
domain. All titles and rewards belong to heaven. Other people recognize this person as a leader.
What to do
Take action. Do. Be creative. Exert your will. Lead. Use power and persistence. Go for it. Use creative solutions. Be firm.. Take control. Have confidence. Utilize strength in action. Keep going. Focus. Use skill and ability, resources, and talents. Just do it. Motivate. Deal with it. Express the urge. Move when it is time to move. Use fortitude. Do it 100%. Do it without concern as to what others think.
How to do it
Forcefully. Unremittingly. Persistantly. With control and confidence. With ingenuity, determination, and inspiration. . Resourcefully.
Harmen suggested I look for positive associations for heaven (after my first submission of gang rape and prostitution). I sought to understand the dragon. Who better than Puff? With this exploration, I came to see the dragon with fresh eyes, in child-like innocence, a pal, and a creative creature.
“Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea”
Puff is an outward breath or exhalation. It is the force of the beginning of life. It is the first cry of a baby. Magic is power, influence, a force upon events. He lived by the water which is yin energy. Yin and yang live in harmony.
And frolicked in the autumn mist”
Frolicking is playful and without malice and connotes sexual activity or, metaphorically speaking, fertilization of child-like imagination. It denotes seasonal activity. Autumn is associated with the kind of transformation that represents going down, the end of summer and of childhood. The mist obscures vision. As we age, our vision of the creative imagination is often lost. It is the alchemical tears produced by moisture and air. Change is inevitable.
“in a land called Honnah Lee.
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff”
This fertile, innocent force is from a land unknown. His origins are mysterious. The friend of the dragon is diminutive in comparison and also fragile. He is made of paper. Childhood is tender and can be easily destroyed by elements. In comparison, the dragon is grand, hardy, seasonal, never-ceasing and strong. The child-like innocence adores the scale, both the size and the skin, the rascal. The dragon is not bad, but he is an outcast and misunderstood.
“And brought him strings and sealing wax”
The child makes a sacrifice, a gift, to the dragon of creative implements. He gives over the tools to the creative force. The string is from musical instruments and connotes tuning someone, perhaps to a purpose. It is also an attachment, which can also be a limitation, like a leash. There are stipulations to the creative force. Sealing wax is evidence of authenticity. It is also approval and can be likened to one’s destiny.
“and other fancy stuff, oh!”
Fancy is a liking, affection, and is also associated with a whim or desire: a productive imagination. It is conception of an image. There is a sense of the ornamental and elegance in art, that can be superficial or it can be the outward manifestation of the inner self. The child shares with the dragon his creative spirit and it is thereby made fanciful. Stuff is to furnish, fill, and reinforce. It is the protection under chain-mail. It is the filling and fulfillment of what is inside. And the ‘oh’ denotes it is all so very true, and simply amazing. Indeed.
This river was a winding, challenging, terrifying, devastating, hopeful and hopeless ride through treatments, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, rising hopes and dashing disappointments. Allen, my husband, said he wanted to go shopping for a scooter. He was on oxygen and a feeding tube. He weighed very little and had difficulty walking and doing even basic activities. We had a little dog, Max, who was his constant companion.
There was no way in the world this man was ever going to ride a scooter. I tried to talk him out of the adventure. He would not be deterred. All through his illness I had to deal with the anger I felt. I wasn’t mad at him. I learned early on that being angry about the things I did to assist him, translated as resentment. I never wanted him to feel that I resented being with him. I often would say out loud to myself and to him that there was no place that I would rather be than by his side, no matter the course. My heart was all in, even though I was also pissed off as all hell.
I was mad, and I was constantly figuring out ways to channel and release it. Everything in those days felt like a grand effort. For this journey, I loaded up the oxygen tank, with its stand with wheels plus an extra tank. I packed the feeding tube bag and pump in the travel bag. The back pack for it has a tube that attached into his stomach for liquid nutrition. I prepared the medications and syringes. I loaded up the dog with his leash and water bowl and travel carrier. It was Florida, so there would be no leaving the dog in the car.
We had to find scooter places in a city where we had recently relocated. We plotted out GPS routes and took off in the traffic. It was tiresome and frustrating and I was not enjoying it, though I tried. I wish I could say that I was happily going along with this course, but I was mad as hell the whole time. I was mad at cancer. I was mad that he wanted to ride a scooter and could not. I was mad at the impossibility of dreams. I was mad at the difficulties. I was mad. I was just so mad.
We went into a Honda motor bike dealership. I carried the feeding tube back pack, wheeled the oxygen tank, and carried Max in his carrier. I wanted Allen to have some freedom of movement. The bikes all leaned precariously and heavily. He sat on them, to feel them, and to imagine the wind in his hair on an open road. At every turn I was fearful that a bike would fall over, wipe him out, and hit all the others in the line crashing down like dominos. I was aware of the people watching us with confusion and what felt like concern or distaste or maybe pity. Why couldn’t I be happy to be doing this? I felt inward pain and restrained rage. I continued despite, or perhaps because of, the emotions.
In another dealership, I could not go in. I was drowning in anger at the situation and at the unfair challenges that overwhelmed me. I stayed in the car with Max while Allen went in by himself. It was the Vespa dealership. We both loved the smart looking scooters. I could not bear to see what we would never ride together. I was a dam gate of pressure. In this bit of time alone, I resolved that I would be more willing and accepting. I exhaled in this temporary puddle. I eddied as the engine idled.
Each place and route it seemed was a nightmare of traffic jams and missing turns and getting lost and turning around and starting over. Allen was calm and patient chatting about scooters and places he would like to ride. The final place was small and had both used and new bikes and scooters. My anger had simmered to more of a rippled grimace. I lugged the accoutrements of our journey and in we went. There was only one man at this final place, and he was very kind. We spent some time there. Allen picked out his favorite scooter. It was white and just in our price range. We told the man we would be back.
Why did I think I had to tell Allen on the way home that he would not be able to ride? I said that he would kill himself on it. He said he did not care. It would be a good way to go. I said he might take someone else out with him. He said that we would go where there was no one around. This made me so damn mad. I cannot explain this anger. I could not stop it or control it. It would not leave me. I told Allen that I was not mad at him. I told him I loved him with all of my heart. I explained that I was mad at the situation. I was mad at the illness. I told him I wished I could have fun with him on this outing. He said he loved me for my anger. He thanked me for taking him.
Allen died three days later. I was so ashamed about this outing and the way I had behaved. I cried every time I thought of it. I wailed in agony at passing scooters or the places we had been. I begged him out loud for forgiveness. I hated myself that I had not been kind and joyful in his final days and through his last wishes. I was determined to bury this memory into a knot of self-hatred and regret.
A year after his death I met with his adult children to place the headstone. They wanted to know things about his final days. I passed over the scooter shopping like a scratch in a record. And then it hit me. This was not about me. I exhaled and shared the story. It was a testament to the way Allen had loved and embraced life. It was an example of his strength of spirit. It did not matter that I felt like an asshole. As I told the story, we laughed and shook our heads and gulped back tears. We giggled at me carrying all the medical equipment and the dog. We made light at my anger. It was so apparently understandable. The memory of a wonderful man, who was so full of life that he would go scooter shopping in his final days, transformed the remorse I had carried and washed it away.
I have come to see that anger as the rush of rapids, the course of the river, the flood waters rising. I took the plunge. I filled in the pit. I screamed. I cried. I toiled. I perspired. I laughed. I loved. I did it. I cussed like a ship of sailors. I said there is no place other than here that I would rather be, or that I can be. I did not talk him out of it. I did not give up. I did not sit home and feel sorry for myself. That would have been a deep regret. I am a person who gets angry by injustice. I am a person who cusses. I am a person that straps on feeding tubes, oxygen tanks, and service animals while keeping a wary eye on a frail, life-loving man sitting atop a motorcycle.
Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation; a cause (origin, root); a person? How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?
“Engaged movement’ and ‘venture’ – yes, as long as it is not will-driven or actively steered in a purposeful chosen direction. Water has to follow the course that is set out for it.” –Harmen
Water is a situation of danger, risks, uncertainty, uncontrollable emotions, and hearing the inner rhythms of the heart. It is weak outside, yet strong inside. There is a sense of no way around it. The challenge it poses is full of difficulty and the work feels like drudgery, never ending and without purpose. Around every curve is something different and there is no way to prepare for it except by being fluid, flexible. There is the possibility to gather strength and force, but only by the effort of keeping fluid. The situation is moving along the set course. The challenge feels like fingers worked to the bone. There is nothing that can change the course, except to follow it. In this way, the obstacles inherent in the situation can be moved past.
There is something of sound and listening for the familiar, and repeating rhythms in it. Listen for the beat of your heart or the rhythm of the situation. It may be the kind of danger for which patience is required, like paying taxes, or being with in-laws, or a busy week at work. There is a downward flow to the situation which can mean moving with it and through the obstacles and challenges. You can do this because you have done it before in one way or another. It is an exhale or a sigh and can feel like exhaustion in the repetitive nature of the difficulties.
It is also a situation where we are following our Dao and doing what is needed to meet the challenges. It is listening to the inner pulse and going with the current. Water does not have its own will but rather follows the laws of nature. It coils and moves downward, ever changing and inexhaustible. It is also about patterns and shapes. It is the realm of emotions especially the deep ones like sadness, seething rage, loneliness, and grief. It is the unconscious in the mid of winter and a deep place of knowing. It is the moon, a state of reflection and mystery. It is sound that is stored and also carried. Water is associated with fear and hard work and so it is also the place of courage and fortitude. Emotions bring nostalgia and trauma and intuition.
It is an ‘uh-oh’ feeling. It has the association of being in a pit, a drop off the cliff. It is described by what it has to meet, get over or around. Yin lines on the outside are like feelers, antennae, checking the environment. Yin moves in response to the conditions. Yang on the inside is the set course, the flow that moves downward, or fills up. The fluidity of water is to be in constant contact with what is inside and what is outside. Plans are not helpful. The environment, which is not the water, is changing.
A river splashes and runs fast in the channels with a whoosh of sound. It banks on the curves. It crashes into boulders and swirls around them. It moves back to the rush and flow of the main channel. It becomes a circular eddy in small holes or ditches. At a flat place it becomes wide and smooth. As the path descends the pace speeds up. At a drop off it is a waterfall. It splays out, then curls up in bubble and foam at the bottom.
Water causes a situation characterized by difficulty, danger, hard work, deep emotions, and mystery. It can also be a plunge into the unconscious realm, mystery, and the unknown.
It is to flow along without question. The risk and danger feel like a rush at times. No plan is pondered with this course or consideration of how it might end up. There is familiarity with falling, with descending, and moving along without purpose. Emotions cloud reason by rippling without query, control, or objective.
It is someone characterized by emotional response like sadness or by danger and difficulties. This is a person who flows with their deepest knowing and intuition and with fluidity. It is one who flows with the challenges. There is adaptability. They do what needs to be done as it arises.
What to do
Take the plunge. See where it takes you. Work at it if that is what is needed. Use emotions to inform the quality of the situation. Listen to your most inner knowing. Follow your heart. Adapt to the environment. Be loose and fluid. Expect changes and follow what you know as things come up rather than any plan. Feel with attention the inner voice, and resources. Check in with emotions and feelings without letting them take control.
Water moves through the course. The direction is set and there is obligation to move along with the layout of the terrain. It feels risky to move fast and without a plan. The movement is in service to the confines, the limits, of environment. There is a grinding away through the uncertainty of the changes in the curves and the uneven path. Move around the obstacles and continue the venture. Inside there is a gurgling of emotions, hearing the echoes of the world. Just keep moving. Use inner strength to measure the flow.
How to do it
Do it fluidly. Do it with adaptability. Use emotions. Do it with engagement and venturing. Stay with the set course. Toil through. Avoid getting stuck or being rigid. Follow the course. Do it with awareness that the environment is changing
Stay strong on the inside while flowing through bubbling up, uncontrolled emotions. Keep moving. Let the obstacles, the past, the work, and the day be gone. Make use of knowing how to meet each turn or bend along the way. There is no stopping, no quitting, only continuing on the course. Fill in the pit and rise to the top. Leap into the unknown, flow over the edge and continue onward. Take the risk without reserve as the course demands.
Flowing down a dry riverbed path is a cautious adventure. There are loose rocks and stones that roll, sticks that crack and break, sudden holes and ditches, and curves and bends that are impossible to see around. It is a freeing feeling of fluidity. It is powerful. It is the rush of danger. It forms the path it follows and changes and shapes the obstructions it encounters. In maintaining this fluid state of mind there are no obstacles whatsoever.
Lay the fire with a bed of tinder. It is that which fire is not without. Ah, the tinder! It is in the middle of the chosen place. It is the thread and the weave, the open middle, the yin aspect. The associations with the spinner are feminine. Consider the spinster: an unmarried woman; or the spinning house: a prison for prostitutes which is a house of corrections for impassioned women. To weave is to spin images. It is the beginning of the burning. Spinning or making tinder is to draw out and twist fibers into thread. This is in preparation, to make it ready to transform and to receive the spark.
I learned to make a fire from a bow drill, which is as close to rubbing two sticks together as it gets. The interesting thing about making a fire in the wilderness, in a survival situation, is the steps and considerations before there is to be fire. Fire does not come or begin or maintain or grow on its own. It requires fuel and the proper environment.
In making a fire, before we learn how to make the tools, we are taught to consider the placement of the fire. You want your fire to heat and to last without burning fuel excessively. Fires are placed in hallows or on stones with consideration of the wind and elements that are either moist or combustible. A blazing fire is too hot for cooking and burns too much fuel. A fire built on roots can cause underground fires. A fire built with too much exposure will blow out. A fire too far from the hut will not keep you warm in the night, or fire too close will sweat you out or smoke you out. Its good to have a barrier to the heat, something to keep it in, or bouncing back.
In preparation you build a kind of hut or tipi for the flame. This is placed on the spot you have carefully picked out with careful consideration. There are four types of grades of fuel: tinder (very fine wood and bark fibers), kindling (Twigs and slivers of wood), squaw wood (pencil to wrist thick sticks), and firewood (logs and branches). There are many things to consider in gathering the fuel: the types of trees and the hardness of the wood, the location near water, the amount of moisture, gathering dead limbs from trees rather than ground wood, etc. Moisture in wood can be good for some uses of fire. However the tinder, that which catches the spark, must be as dry as possible.
The tipi is built around the tinder, leaving an opening to the wind. Balance and lean the skinniest and smallest kindling first to protect it and ready to catch the first flames. Place the kindling around it, getting larger and thicker, to about 6-8 inches wide and a foot high. This technique will aid in flourishing any fire.
The bow drill is 5 parts. Each element is chosen withcare and molded with precision. The bow is the cordage tied to the spindle. The handhold is between your hand and the spindle. It holds the drill in place and is made of rock, bone, or very hard wood. The fireboard is a flat piece, twice as long as the drill and half as thick. It is notched and made from the same medium hard, dry wood as the drill. The drill is a rounded wood 8’ spindle with points at both ends. The tinder is a light fluff ball of dry fiber
By holding the apparatus in the correct form and movement a rhythm continues with strong intentions and focus. There is a warming friction from the thrusting and stroking of the combination of the tools. Things begin to heat up. Patience, timing, good form, and coordinated movement all play significant roles. Equally as important, even vital to the process, are the mental and emotional qualities. It is desire fueled with belief.
My teacher taught us all the steps. When it came to the portion where he demonstrated the making of fire from wood, he asked us for our help. He wanted that we believe in him and his ability to make it happen. He asked us to focus with faith and the image of the fire, but also with patience in the process. We were not to wander or lose interest in the creation of the spark. In attitude we were rooting him on with delighted anticipation of fire. The success is enjoyed by all.
I constructed my own bow drill and tipi with tinder. I held within me the positive desire and faith. I copied the stance and the movement. I practiced the task with attention to smooth movement: stroking, desiring, believing, doing, and continuing. It is mindful, physical, and emotional. It is praying to the gods and also releasing all thought. As the heat and the smoke becomes a red spark it is all consuming. It is orgasmic.
I feed the spark to the tinder, where they combine into flame. I blow them together and cradle the glow. Fire in my hands is transferred to the opening of the tipi. It catches. I am in elation, breathless, gasping, in wonder and awe. I am also spent from the exertion, my muscles screaming in the release. A warm glow fills my face. The fire is clinging to the structure and moved by the wind and radiates light and warmth. I sit back and smile. Satisfaction, fulfillment, reward are kindled by the flames.
How does the trigram describe a situation? …a cause (origin, root)? …a person? How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?
“I can’t say it is wrong (to see fire as a net or that which connects, sifts and separates). The name of the trigram, li 離, means ‘leave, separate, part’. At the same time, because of its connection to Fire, it means ‘to connect, cling’. This gives this trigram a somewhat Buddhist flavor – when you cling to something you will sooner or later have to let go of it, like when Fire burns it fuel it will sooner or later be disconnected to it. Yet when it comes to the meaning of the trigram it is the ‘connect’ part that is emphasized, not the ‘separate’ part.” –Harmen
A situation with the attributes of fire would be characterized by clinging, consuming, visualizing, and clarity. It is easy to imagine a nighttime camp fire that clings to and consumes the elements of wood and air to bring light and warmth. People are drawn to the warmth and to the light as they naturally gather for these properties. I think of the phrase ‘keep the home fires burning.’ The hearth was central to the home. It heats and is the place for cooking. It is a light that allows
discernment in the darkness. The hearth of the home is associated with cherishing and adhering to the family and the home. It is also a situation where we are using gut feelings, an internal process, to make decisions by what resonates with the fire within.
I also see it as a net. We are connected by it and separated by it at the same time. It catches what is useful and sifts out what is not. It is an internal process by which we decide what resonates in the gut and what does not. That which does not make it in the net is not gone, just not needed in the moment. There can be struggle to keep the spark alive. When surrounded by the structures and rules of the collective, blow on the little spark, feed it some tinder, and keep it alive.
Too much fire, out of control, and congregating together, relying on others, and all is lost, consumed. Gone. The fire of hell is to lose the essence of the soulfulness. Whatever is thrown into it becomes something altogether different, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. That which society does not want to allow into the collective is burned away.
In a more out of balance sense, fire could represent a situation hot or volatile, with burning passions. In other words, it is a situation in need of cooling off. When people come together around a fire, there is harmony as well as disagreement. It could be a situation characterized by a lack of independence in the sense of neediness and co-dependency. There is something of change in the sense of burning away impurities and complete transformation, a rendering by extreme heat, like the phoenix that rises from the ashes.
The cause or root can be whatever a person clings to as they move through life and specific situations. It could be love, creativity, the home, a career, a religion, or a cause. The fire as cause is to consider the roots of dependence, clinging. The attending to a fire or lack of attending to it could be a root cause. The fire must consume fuel to stay burning. It needs the proper environment. A spark can easily be buried or it can be the beginning of a forest fire. Discernment can lead to positive causes. It can also be blinding, if what is seen or considered is only by the light of the fire. It is not always the bigger picture.
It is common to refer to a person who has a fire as being passionate about something. It is also a person characterized by a light of discernment and warmth. The thing that they cling to or depend on can be different sources of fuel. It might be a passion for love, for an ideal, or for art. It might also be people who have exhibited transformative effects in their lives, who were made different by the fire. It could also be a person dependent on others.
What to do
Consider what or who to depend on. Cling to the fuel that keeps the fire burning. Visualize. Imagine. Use discernment. Make use of passion. Use a spark. Blow the flames. Consider the grades of fuel and how they affect he fire. Tend the fire. Light the way. Get clarity. Bring in a sense of warmth. Adhere to something. Cherish. Feel it in the gut. Consume the fuel needed.
How to do it
Passionately. With desire. With clinging dependence. Discerningly. With clarity of vision. With belief in possibility. Use visualizing images. Transformatively. With dedication and devotion. With fervor and affection. Do it by watching the fire and how it adjusts to the fuel provided. Look at how to connect with the available fuel to keep the flame steady and burning.
The room was decorated with streamers of paper flowers, Chinese lanterns, candle light and party favors. The table of presents looked like an art installation with paint and decoupage wrapping and unique bows. The cake was homemade with hand-made decorations suited for a princess. A small, but enthusiastic group of friends attended the party that I call the artistic event of the season.
I am blown away and deeply nourished by the creative force of the friendships that surround me. Harmen has inspired and encouraged in me a keen interest for all things related to learning to see the world through the lens of the trigrams. In one of his many suggestions of things for me to try, he mentioned creating a workshop. In sharing this with my friends, ideas were seeded and tended into a unique and creative expression of the attributes of the trigrams.
We started with little more than diagrams on napkins and vague explanations of the meaning of the bagua. Stone and Michelle decided to take on this project in secret preparation to present on my birthday. I was aware that they were working together on it, but I was not allowed to see the progress. Before this, neither of them had even heard of a trigram. They did the research and worked together to gather the materials and assemble the many parts.
The stories they tell of the collaboration are inspiring. In the fabric store they imagined the movement of materials through the focus of the attributes of each trigram. As they considered weight, color, and form, they asked people in the store if the chosen material resembled fire or water or earth. They asked friends to guess the trigram represented by the combination of the material chosen.
Art is invention and a concept imagined can be different in actual application. The paint chosen doesn’t adhere or the fabric shows more light then expected or the glue won’t hold the weight of something. Stone and Michelle are both strong, independent women with different styles and varying approaches. They balanced and flowed with alternating deference to the other in the process of this lovely collaboration.
Each present I opened was something thoughtful and wonderful: an etymological dictionary, a framed and matted print of me painted purple with parasol, a Chinese silk tai chi outfit in a jeweled color that shimmers, a box of little surprises that were funny and sweet, and a handmade beaded bracelet.
One gift was a pair of gloves with blue lights. My sources of inspiration follow from three deep influences: tai chi, puppetry, and the Yijing. One crazy morning I told Stone I wanted to find a way to have lights on my palms to illuminate the imaginary ball of energy in the movements of tai chi. She had seen something the day before on the internet and ordered them after she heard my idea.
The magnum opus was a big box. I felt overwhelmed. It was as if I was in a dream to be the recipient of such love and caring. I opened the box to folds of tissue paper encasing 8 panels depicting the bagua. I could not continue in revealing them and asked that Michelle take over. I took a seat and watched in awe as she brought out each panel made of black and white silk and painted in shimmering gold.
Each panel presented contains a pocket. Inside the pocket is a magic wand that captures the meaning of the trigram presented on the panel. Michelle was animated and engaging in acting out the attributes of each. It was an original performance art piece which was informative, imaginative, beautiful and hilarious all at the same time. By the end there were panels and bagua and colors and fabric and glitter everywhere.
(Special thanks for the photos by Sylvia Cross @ http://www.decaturartclasses.com/)
I now have the panels hanging on a wall in the middle of my apartment and arranged in the sequence of later heaven. The magic wands are hidden in the pockets. It is a sight that inspires, comforts, and nourishes my soul. Words and pictures cannot capture or express the craftsmanship, creative originality nor the
joy and delight I feel inside. I am rich, and I am thankful.