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.