So now that we’ve gone through fifteen of these and might be starting to think we’ve gotten a feel for what these hexagrams are like and what they’re all about, the ancient I Ching proves itself to possess an advanced sense of humor with the sixteenth. In it, we encounter something of a different character from the others. This is not necessarily describing a situation (like a golden age), a specific type of person (like a good general), or a certain natural element or presence (like a mountain). Instead, to my eyes, we are here presented more with a type of energy or vibe.
With all that in mind, the vibe we are meant to see is still personified for our understanding in a certain type of leader – or, at the very least, embodied in a certain type of leadership. This is not a revolutionary or even necessarily a reformer. This type of leader is not proposing a particular reality and leading the people into it; instead, he is meeting the where they are, adjusting his style and his goals to their needs. In response, they love him for it. Because his path follows the lines of least resistance, the people are carried along by it with great enthusiasm and obedience – and things are able to be done. At his disposal are ready helpers prepared and willing to ward off any opposition, however secret or threatening.
The meaning of this hexagram, however, cannot be understood solely in the person of this leader on in the relationship between this leader and the people. The other aspect points to the higher manifestations in nature. The picture before us is early summer, when a thunderstorm rumbles out of the planet to relieve the tension in the air with its electric snap, rejuvenating all the land. The thunderstorm presented here is not analogous to the leader described above, but to music. It is music, we are told – seemingly out of the blue – that has the power to ease the “tension within our hearts” and release pent-up energies and emotions stored within us.
Of course, while poetic, this may strike many as simple common sense. Of course music is the key to the heart and all that. I’m not downplaying it, just saying that we all know the power of music. Maybe we think about it enough, maybe we don’t. It’s worth pausing to consider. As the text reminds us, sometimes our souls will themselves burst “involuntarily” into song, and we’re all able to be truly united in the shared movement of the sacredness of sound. This has always, are reminded, “mystified mankind.” Indeed, so it mystifies us today.
So that’s the vibe we’re being given here – the leader who accomplishes much simply by meeting the needs of the people, and the music of the universe that stirs all souls in song. It’s not a situation or a person or one of nature’s identifiable forms, but try and think on this vague and open theme for a moment – we’re being told it’s one of the fundamental aspects of the experience of existence in the cosmos.
There’s more, of course – we’re not denied the advice and theory we’ve gotten used to. We’re told that when a lowly man brags loudly about his high connections, he brings bad luck upon himself. The true nature of the Dancing Politician has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with connectivity and solidarity. Deeper still, the truly wise man is able to recognize the earliest signs of everything, which allows him to be able to always avoid getting carried away by mirages or urges or distractions. This is a solid person, one who doesn’t need to suck up to superiors or mistreat his subordinates and peers. This person recognizes the approach of discord within the song that’s playing, and he knows that’s when it’s time to quietly exit the dance.
We aren’t always that wise person, however, or at least not all of the time. Sometimes, we require the assistance of a leader above our own positions in order to recognize the early signs and avoid failing to act in a timely fashion due solely to ignorance. On the other hand, when one doesn’t hesitate and possesses no doubts, one attracts all those around, and because they are inclined to cooperate based upon what they sense, there is shared success for all. The magnitude of all of this, and indeed the opposition to it – the discord itself – can present a person with constant, constricting pressure, such that one feels unable to breathe freely. Even in such a condition, however, we are told that this pressure itself, paradoxically, is keeping us alive. It prevents us from running free and potentially wasting vital energy that we’ll need down the line.
There is, of course, a flip side to the notion of this kind of enthusiasm – the danger that we might be carried away by mistaken or misplaced enthusiasm. Even here, though, we are blessed with good luck. If we realize where we are and what’s going on, we are still easily able to change course.
Another political message sneaks its way in here as well. The archetypal Dancing Politician thrives by the virtue of the nature of the government’s laws. The timeless maxim is this: if the laws line up with what people know within themselves to be just and natural, they will be upheld and valued. If they seem, to the inherent and even subconscious perception of the people to be arbitrary or contradictory or unnatural, they are destined to fail. It is perhaps impractical or intangible as far as pieces of advice go, but let the law function according to the same flow as the sacred music does. The music glorifies the things that society values while “constructing a bridge to the world of the unseen.” Through the music, we connect with our ancestors, near and far, we connect with ourselves, we connect with each other, and we even connect with those who will come after us. The music brings us into the eternal, into the now, and all is in harmony. If laws can be constructed in a manner even remotely related to this kind of beautiful cosmic perfection, what a wonderful world it would be.