Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Change Itself

Change alone is unchanging.

We humans have a paradoxical relationship with change; we welcome it, dread it, fight it, deny it, egg it on, thumb our noses at it ... We tend to perceive and judge change as this Big Thing always outside ourselves; a Thing that sooner or later will pounce ... an X-factor, a wild card, a snarling tiger, the monster under our bed, the bogeyman, the enemy ... The Unknown.

I see change as something akin to gravity: it just is. Change is not a thing; it's a process ... it is simply Life, moving ... Change is the nature of Nature; the ever-shifting ground of being. Sometimes the shifts are subtle, as in Hexgrams 57 (THE GENTLE), 5 (PATIENCE), and 52 (KEEPING STILL). Sometimes we are broadsided, knocked off our feet, stunned by change -- Hexagrams 51 (SHOCK), 28 (EXCESS), and 29 (DANGER) all can indicate a condition of overwhelm and crisis. Sometimes we are called to be agents of change -- Hexagram 10, CONDUCT, invites us to consider how we will act, and Hexagram 32, PERSEVERANCE, advises us to relate and act with a certain trust in the constancy that underlies constant change.  

As I sit here right now, musing and typing, I become aware of so many tiny changes. My thoughts rove through possibilities as my brain composes. My bare feet paddle each other -- a long-time gesture of self-comfort and bodily awareness; I sense a gurgle of hunger in my belly, and a flush of heat sweeps over my skin -- today is a scorcher; my eyes shuttle between the hazy sky, the computer screen, and my teacup. I lick my lips, close and open my eyes while thinking, and I breathe. A fly skitters across the screen of my window; a songbird flashes across the sky on the screen's other side. My eyes blink. I breathe ... I breathe ... I breathe ...

Perhaps our fundamental pivot point of change is the breath. 
Every living being, in its manner of transpiration with Life's basic elements, 
is the changer, the changing, and the changed. 
All at once, all the time.
Can we live more at ease
with this truth?

Even a stone changes, though not to our naked, fleeting eye. Lichen filigrees its minute way across a stone's face ... A single grain of forest soil, borne by a breeze from its recent sojourn in a fallen log's crevice, skitters like a diminutive tumbleweed over the stone; a shaft of sunlight captures the whisking, before shadow and stillness mute earth into earth and another geologic chapter has been written in the long span of a stone's life.

Does a stone breathe? I don't know ... but it acts in perpetual exchange with the world around it. The perpetual exchange of elements with one another is the root of all change here on Earth. We, too, are elements in perpetual relation with all that exists ... whether we are aware of this constancy or not.

As we breathe, we change; every breath is a change. When we choose to be at home with this essential process, we become more at home with change itself; we no longer see it as the dreaded monster under the bed.

We act -- our most basic act is to breathe -- and we are acted upon. Always. Each of us is a change agent -- a catalyst -- just by being.

(Jody Uttal, "Breathe -- You Are Alive")

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mission Accomplished: Forgiveness (Principle 40, Liberation)

A serenity of cracked
granite, softened
to crumbles
sifted through fingers
extended beyond
all parting

All regrets
have died
to this strange
surprise of gravity
freed of gravitas

(Photo: "Dust" -- unknown artist)

Friday, January 31, 2014

What to do with the question?

We approach the oracle with a situation, a concern ... a question. The oracle advises. I got to thinking this morning, "What could be one or two words of advisement for each response that the oracle gives?" Here, intuitively, are the responses of each hexagram / principle:

(Photo by marekuliasz, via shutterstock) 

 1. Create it.
 2. Embody it.
 3. Grapple with it.
 4. Learn it.
 5. Abide it.
 6. Spar with it.
 7. Command it.
 8. Unite with it.
 9. Restrain it, lightly.
10. Conduct it.
11. Be at peace with it.
12. Let it sink.
13. Befriend it.
14. Reign over it.
15. Moderate it.
16. Dance with it.
17. Follow its example.
18. Heal it.
19. Aspire to it.
20. See its entirety.
21. Give it justice.
22. Beautify it.
23. Let it die.
24. Let it return.
25. Awe it.
26. Restrain it, mightily.
27. Nourish it.
28. Bear it.
29. Sink into it.
30. Fuel it.
31. Attract it.
32. Persist with it.
33. Retreat from it.
34. Empower it.
35. Progress it.
36. Dim it.
37. Embrace it.
38. Contrast it.
39. Surmount it.
40. Free it.
41. Release it.
42. Bestow it.
43. Resolve it.
44. Encounter it.
45. Gather it in.
46. Ascend it.
47. Endure it.
48. Ensoul it.
49. Change it.
50. Cook it.
51. Shock it.
52. Contemplate it.
53. Develop it.
54. Submit to it.
55. Bask in it.
56. Let it roam.
57. Gentle it.
58. Enjoy it.
59. Dissolve it.
60. Limit it.
61. Revere it.
62. Detail it.
63. Culminate it.
64. Question it. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hexagram 3 ("at this moment" poems)

It's all splitting open now

The mother of all is

splitting open wide

wide wider to pain

without bend

Mother and other
convulsing as one



and rabid

for release

Neither knows yet


a flower

from one root.

Art: Salvador Dali, "Birth of the New Man," from http://www.meaus.com/index.html

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A perennial question ... and a perennial response (Hexagram 36, CONCEALMENT)

(Photo: Photopathica, "Obscured Light")

"Thirty-six," I thought, "Again." ~ Reader, do you ever notice how one hexagram arises again and again in response to your queries? Do you wonder if somehow, your soul is asking the same question over and over, seemingly disguised as other questions? Is it possible that the oracle is prodding you into an awareness that you haven't yet, can't yet ... won't yet see? Does a singular hexagram seem to replay a theme for you, as if it's a song whose melody you keep forgetting; a theme that might underscore all the currents of how you live day to day?

Are you snuffing out your own light, or protecting it? Is someone else attempting to darken your life, your volition? Remember this:

Sun in the mouth of day,
Moon in the teeth of night -- 
Taste everything, they say;
Swallow nothing but light.

(Robley Wilson, "Envoi")

There is the setting sun, whose light falls away from our eyes, every day. Night is a natural, cyclical concealment. All is dimmed, for a while.

There are the lights that we turn off every night, in accordance with Life. Night has come; we rest; we sleep.

Look at the darkness, giving birth to the sun. 
(Kahlil Gibran)

Then there are the forms of protection, our deliberate dimmings: 1. Natural, as a plant in seed. The husk is hard, impenetrable, so the living can begin within. Intentional obscuring for the purpose of later revelation. 2. Self-protection, for good or ill.  One is in hiding: concealed, eclipsed; protecting the core; veiling the light. 3. So we don't forget: sometimes to be in hiding is simply to play hide 'n' seek: it's a form of play. 

Every fire needs to be put out, eventually, so it doesn't consume what contains it.

Jack Balkin (The Laws of Change) : "Anyone who thinks that the sun will never rise again has lost touch with reality. The same is true of your situation."

Think of Carl Jung's two psychological shadows. One, he thought, was entirely natural, operating in accordance with natural laws (as in the sun's course through a day). The other shadow ... This, he believed, was self-created. Some know it as the monstrous shadow. It is our shame; our concealment of being. This is the shadow that we must work with, deliberately. 

Swallow nothing but light. 

The arc of the sun (Hexagram 35, PROGRESS)

It might seem strange to begin a post about Hexagram 35, PROGRESS, with a quote about "bumps in the road" ... but Hexagram 39, OBSTACLES, is the nuclear (inner; implicit; embedded) principle within 35.

They'll always be there ... the bumps, the challenges, the seemingly implacable inner mountains that so often are the molehills of a life. Some of those challenges are with us for as long as we live. Even so ...

PROGRESS. An easy arc of movement, like the sun arising at dawn. Both an upward movement, and a lateral one. Thus, the arc. We might think of a rainbow.

It's been a long time since I've posted here. Grave challenges have hindered my health over the last few years, including basic abilities like ... thinking a thought all the way through! Even as some challenges have not eased, and indeed have worsened, there is an arc arising.

Inevitable dawn. We so easily forget the dawn during deepest night.

It's fitting to return to this blog with the principle of PROGRESS; my very first post was about it, too.

PROGRESS. It implies:

A Sunny Day
A Sure Sense Of Direction
Appropriate Expansion
Dawn In Progress
Ease of Movement
Effortless Effort
Full Steam Ahead!
Mutual Advancement
Preparing for Recognition
Refined and Worthy Work
Steady Gains.

Wilhelm's translation of the oracle's Judgment for Hexagram 35 states that "the powerful prince is honoured with horses in large numbers." I think of those "horses" as vital energy, intrinsic power (which is the theme of Hexagram 34). 

Wilhelm again: "The light of the sun as it rises over the earth is by nature clear. The higher the sun rises, the more it emerges from the dark mists, spreading the pristine purity of its rays over an ever widening area ... Clarity rises high over the earth." Progress radiates in all directions. 

"Everything that has a will to live seeks the light," writes Frits Block. Light seeks us, too. The two trigrams that make up the PROGRESS hexagrams are Fire over Earth -- natural elements in their natural placements. Sun over Ground. The "sun" of our mind, illuminating all that we do, if we choose to "shed light on [our] values and clarify what is most central" (Jack Balkin). 

My most recent divination -- a question about receiving spiritual direction from a particular person -- yielded PROGRESS with no changing lines. A huge "Yes!" Hua-Ching Ni, in his masterful translation of the I Ching, writes that "the most important progress to be made is the development of virtue ... by responding to high spiritual influences."

What an affirming divination to receive in early November, just after we've switched back to "standard time", when the world is darkening for Winter's deep sleep. 

Follow the radiance ... and be it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beauty in the ruins (Hexagram 23)

Now that I have cooled to you
Let there be gold of tarnished masonry,
Temples soothed by the sun to ruin
That sleep utterly.

~ William Carlos Williams,
from 'Postlude'

     In the I Ching's sequence of its 64 principles, Hexagram 23, SPLITTING APART / DETERIORATION is placed between GRACE / BEAUTY and RETURN / RENEWAL. Beauty ascends, then withers, as Autumn follows Summer. Winter stills the earth ... and then Spring returns to breathe its green upon what has died ...
     The nuclear hexagram (the inner operating principle) of H23 is H2, THE RECEPTIVE / PURE YIN, symbolized by the Element of Earth ... and the fact of the Earth that is our home. All things emerge from what lives beneath and around us; be assured that after the cooling, the utter sleep, Life will turn over and reveal a new emergence ... 

'Postlude' in full is here.
Photos linked directly 
to their sources.
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