The second hexagram we encounter paints a vastly different picture—and, as you can see, is comprised entirely of dark and broken lines. While it is tempting to view the second hexagram as the opposite of the first, it is important rather to understand it to be its complement, fitting together like the two equal pieces of the yin-yang or Tao symbol.
This is not a picture of the lofty, the great, or the heavenly. It is an image of the realities on the ground, the tangible things that can usually be observed and measured by ordinary means. It is both the earthly and the earth herself. Many religious systems, and indeed many habitual ways of thinking, view the earth as “fallen” or imperfect in some way. This is most assuredly not the case, but I would suggest it appears so evident to us today because the one thing the Book of Changes tells us that the earthly must not do is try to stand equal to the creative power. The earth receives a creative seed and brings forth life in response, but the earth cannot create without that seed. When the temporal things—money, petty power, more money, business—are elevated to the level normally reserved for the sacred, as they clearly are in our present society, our very foundations are so deeply rooted in falsehood that we are predisposed to dramatic imbalance and misfortune.
In our day-to-day lives, of which we are generally not fully in charge, the reality that is pointed to here is that we are required to submit to forces more powerful than ourselves. It’s not time for us to lead. It’s time for us to do as we’re told, to conform to what is demanded by the times. This might sound initially to be somewhat oppressive and defeatist, but it need not be so, because the earth need not be considered fallen. In fact, despite all appearances to the contrary, it is very much okay just the way it is. Flying through space, the earth is holding all kinds of things, some of them good and some of them bad, but all of them getting their life from her, depending upon her for their very existence. This is the earth in her highest aspect, and there are ways in which we can emulate her, and like her use our own personal devotion and purity to give life to everyone around us. We are pointed toward a few specific truths in the lines:
Decay is a fact of life on earth. It always comes eventually and it leads to death. That end can only be postponed if the decay is caught early enough.
Like nature, we should do what we are to do simply for the sake of doing it and without looking for any kind of fanfare. Just go about the task of life without looking for anything more. The thing is, by being quiet and unnoticed like the earth, we can avoid the kind of attention that can be a threat to our prosperity, and use the time to quietly nurture seeds within ourselves for the future. In fact, there comes a time when departing from an approach of measured reserve will lead to nothing short of disaster. Even if we find ourselves, through these means or simply by happenstance, to be in some kind of position of power, we are still warned to exercise caution and quietly execute the duty. Under the conditions of this hexagram, initiating a fight is going to be really messy, so just try to go along.
In the midst of the skewed priorities of the current world scenario, assaulted with sometimes unhealthy cultural norms erroneously billed as “human nature,” there is a way to recognize the true sacred nature of the earth and her eternal receptivity, to learn from that example and shine on.