Some weeks ago, as part of the Days of Change series, I had the pleasure of introducing and discussing Hexagram 8, which is awesome. Here, six hexagrams later, the great I Ching is revealing a situation of such great unity and harmony that it explicitly describes as being even better than the eighth. Instead of a powerful leader uniting the weak masses around him, here we have a humble leader surrounded by strong and able helpers. The situation here is extremely favorable.
It’s like a fire in the sky, shining down and illuminating everything below, allowing it to take form and become real. This kind of thing comes about primarily through fate, at the time naturally appointed by the cycle of the cosmos. At the same time, in order to properly harness the energy of the moment, strength and clarity in the proper measure is required of us. The sun above reveals both good and bad things, and in order that the will of cosmic unity be done, it is up to us to fight the bad and promote the good. It is never enough to sit back and allow things to simply happen to us.
The six lines take us through some of the specifics. In the beginning, we see no difficulty before us, but we must know it will come. Accordingly, the time demands we stay sharp and avoid softness or laziness. Further down the path, able helpers are available to us. These are good people, able to carry a heavy load. Interestingly, we are told that in such a moment of potential harmony, we must give up our right to personal property. The things which we believe to belong to us must be placed at the disposal of the people, or of our superiors. This is difficult, and a weak person is incapable of it. Therein lies the danger, for the desire to cling to one’s possessions leads to our imprisonment or destruction by these very same possessions. We can’t have our unity and our stuff, too. That’s hard but it’s true.
In a related warning, we are reminded that, should we find ourselves sandwiched between many who are wealthy or powerful or lucky, we need to take care to guard against jealousy and losing our contentment. If we try and compete with those who have such an advantage over us, we’ll be destroyed by this chase. On a more positive note, a time is arrived upon in which people can be won over without the twisting of arms – won over for all the right reasons, in fact, by true and unforced persuasion. The time is very favorable to progress, but one must bear in mind the need to keep arrogance, lack of respect, in check within ourselves and among the people. If we can succeed at this, we are told, good fortune is certain.
In the end, we are shown the leader, truly on top of it all, but still this person remains humble and generous and sincere. If he keeps to what is true, he is rewarded by the people. If he keeps to his inner devotion and wakefulness, he is blessed by the heavens themselves.
Obviously, as can be said with Hexagram 8, we’re describing a scenario that is pretty much entirely foreign to what we consider the regular reality of our experience. We spend all of our time in what seems at times like an air-choking jungle halfway around the world from any place of harmony and sincere unity. Nevertheless, such scenarios are all the more important for us to consider because the knowledge of what is possible will change how we approach what is presently in front of us. By understanding our potential and comprehending a scenario we might be so lucky to see in the future, we can tread forward with greater perspective and wisdom and prepare ourselves for whatever we might meet down the line.
This scenario is possible if we have the presence of true strength within ourselves and if we have the benefit of vibrant culture surrounding us. In a subtle political statement, the text says that in this time of true natural unity, the power structures that exist express themselves in a “graceful and controlled” way. Such must be its nature and character for this time to be fulfilled. Until that day may come, let us live to strengthen our spirits within, and let us live to promote culture and joy all around us, whenever we can.
Remember what is possible. Remember what may actually come to pass.
This Days of Change piece is the fourteenth post in a series of 64 posts examining the 64 hexagrams of the ancient Chinese I Ching over the course of 2013. If you want to dig a little deeper, learn a little more about the I Ching, or even read the other thirteen posts from the beginning, go to this place.