A big sigh.
I have just posted “Part 1” of this work, which required my editing mind, looking for spelling errors, trying to view the paragraphs with eyes not exclusively my own. Now it’s time to sink back into receptivity, and into twilight containing shapes I may dimly comprehend, or not.
To review, I am going over a reading of the I Ching hexagram 17, “Following.” As I draft this, I have completed reading, for the nth time, the main text, and assimilating its meaning for me, as much as I am able, at this point. The work so far has carried me out of a state of misery and hopelessness by helping me to recognize that my current difficulties are part of a larger, spirit-filled, process. I am encouraged to carry on with the work.
Now I approach the “changing lines.”
In last year’s explanation of ‘The I Ching‘ on the page to the right, the subject of changing lines did not come up because the coins I threw all came up 7s and 8s. As I explained then, heads counts as 3, tails as 2. Throwing three coins can yield an even or an odd number, when you total the values that fall facing up. An even value yields a yin line, “_ _”, and an odd value produces a line counted as yang, “___”. Now we get to the additional variable of changing lines. The possible values for three coins tossed and counted in this way will total to 6, 7, 8 or 9. To get a 7 or an 8 one throws two coins with one side up and one coin with the other side up, and this is the most common pattern. To get a 6, you must throw all tails, and for a 9, all heads. These are recorded as yin or yang, just like the lines obtained by 8 and 7, but they are noted as changing lines and get special attention, beyond the guidance provided by the main text.
When I got hexagram 17, last Monday evening, my third throw came up all tails, and the fifth throw came up all heads. (The first toss of the coins produces the bottom line, the last toss produces the top line.) Now that I am done opening myself to the part of the text that applies to everyone who gets this hexagram, I turn my focus to the text that applies to each of my changing lines.
3 yin: Involved with the adult, one loses the child.
Following with an aim, one gains. It is beneficial to
abide in rectitude.
When one’s nature is weak but one will is firm, and one can follow the yang of the other and not follow the yin in the self, this is being involved with the adult and losing the child; following with an aim will attain it. However, many weak people are not earnest in their faith in the Tao, and they easily lose focus. It is essential to abide in right and not move, growing ever stronger; only thus can one get the yang of the other and return it to the self. This is following in which one is weak yet abides in what is right.
This certainly speaks to my condition, in that when I threw the coins I was very upset about the weakness of my nature. And in fact I also expressed my tenacity of will, saying “I’ll hang in there, if that is what it takes.” How did throwing pennies bring me to this paragraph? I wonder at this, but I no longer doubt the significance I find here; it has happened too often.
(Hypothetically, if I had thrown three tails on the second throw, I would have gotten: “Involved with the child, one loses the adult. EXPLANATION: Being weak and without knowledge, following yin that arises later, one loses the original yang; this is being ‘involved with a child, losing the adult.’ This is following that is weak and loses reality.”
Whew! I’m happy to take the hand I was dealt.)
Now, trying to apply the advice in the text to the specific circumstances in my life: “…one can follow the yang of the other and not follow the yin in the self…following with an aim will attain it.” There is implicit Chinese/Taoist philosophy in this that I am not acquainted with. From context I deduce that other can contain good or true yang, and self may contain yin that makes self weak, rather than yin that makes self flexible. Thinking this way, it appears that at least part of the intrusive strength of my needy-greedy is yang that my true self needs to be changed by. Hmm. There are surely paradoxes here; let me be open to them.
“It is essential to abide in the right and not move, growing ever stronger…” Part of my original anguish in the “Sinned?” post expressed “Let me out of here!” The I Ching clearly counsels, “no, stay, this is a partially-passive, following, process; it ‘…is following in which one is weak yet abides in what is right.'” In Process Work they talk about “sitting in the [refiner’s] fire,” letting the dross be burned away, letting the heat of the situation change your chemistry.
Then, on the fifth throw, I got three heads, leading to
5 yang: Truthfulness in good is auspicious.
Happiness is herein: concealing the bad, extolling the good, following strength, following flexibility, mastering both and using balance, every act is right, every affair is proper; following the heart’s desire, one does not step over the line. This is following trusting in goodness.
I will accept some credit for being truthful here. And I am doing it with an eye to the good of my whole community, not just my own well-being. On the other hand, I’m not sure what to make of “…concealing the bad…” I realize that what I am doing on this website is unusual, that I’m sharing things that feel very private with whomever cares to look. And I am not concealing the bad. Well, actually I do spare you the worst of it. I try to admit what seems to me general to the human condition while not going too far into specifics which I believe would be offensive.
Is the balance I try to strike here within the range of proper, or is there something more for me to learn?
Changing lines change the hexagram
Throwing all heads or all tails not only highlights certain lines of the original hexagram, it leads to a new, changed, hexagram.
When you have assimilated your hexagram with its changing lines, then you change the lines and check out a second one.
Since my original hexagram looked like this (with dots after each of the changing lines):
_ _ .
Changing the yin line to a yang line, and the yang line to yin, yields:
Hexagram number 55, “Richness.”
Richness is developmental. Freedom from worry
when the king is great
is suited to midday.
Richness is fullness and greatness; illumination and action balance each other, illumination is great and action is great — therefore it is called richness.
This hexagram represents operating the fire and preventing danger;… “Fire” is a symbol of illumination; operating the fire means employing illumination. Illumination is the quality of awareness and perceptivity. If one can be aware, then one has the mind of Tao, and the spirit is knowing. If one can be perceptive, then there is no human mentality, and the mind is clear. With the spirit knowing and the mind clear, inwardly cultivating and subtly refining, clear about action and acting with clarity, one’s illumination will grow day by day, and one’s action will become greater day by day. When illumination and action are applied in concert, practice of the Tao is very easy. This is why richness is developmental.
This “changed” hexagram is not a description of now. As I learned the I Ching, the hexagram you get after you change any changing lines is what lies in your future if you continue on the course indicated by the original hexagram. (Where did I learn this stuff? Certainly not at the “U” or some certified academy. This is “lore,” and I’m sure it has wide variations.)
“The Reading” for hexagram 55 continues in much the same vein. I expect to study it more than I have so far, but probably not as intensively as I did “Following.” The main text of hexagram 55 is also followed by text for changing lines, but none of these apply to me, as a “changed” hexagram has no changing lines.
OK, so now it’s back to the situation I was groaning about in my post, “Sinned?”
Nothing has objectively changed. I am still avoiding information which will likely change my life, and hopefully free me from my neurosis. What has changed is that I have sought and experienced as sense of connection with a world larger than my personal one. And that brush with the transcendent has given me heart.