There’s no way of getting around it – here, we are presented with unmitigated disaster. This not just any old rough time or seasonal storm, either. We are told again and again throughout the text that this is also an important and significant time. In other words, wake up and pay attention, because absolutely everything, even your life, depends upon it. The entire circumstance here is like a beam that is thick and heavy in the middle, weak and small on the ends. Accordingly, the moment is unsustainable and unstable. The current situation is about to pass, no matter what. The question here is whether or not we will be caught and swept away by disaster during the transition.
As my title suggests, this hexagram suggests not just a flood, but a tsunami, or perhaps the Great Flood itself. Floods happen. Catastrophes and cataclysms, too. You can’t avoid them, but if you are careful and clear-headed, you might just be able to endure them. The time, here, is described as “momentous” and “exceptional”, and it’s not time merely to hide or seek shelter or higher ground. Assertive action is absolutely required if we are to survive, never mind have success. Another way of putting it is that desperate times call for desperate measures. Be aware of what is happening. Identify the situation, recognize its inherent instability and danger, and figure out right away what must be done to get from your present fading reality to the reality that is to come. Then, without delay, put your perception into action. This represents your only possible chance for success.
For starters, under such conditions, if you are attempting to start some new operation or endeavor, be extremely careful. In fact, you can’t possibly be careful enough. Mistakes will only be made worse in the middle of the flood, and the peril inherent to rapidly rising waters makes mistakes almost an inevitability. It should go without saying, then, that to plunge blindly ahead, declining to adjust your plans according to the sudden change in weather, you ensure disaster. It’s as though you were planning a leisurely boating trip and, upon seeing the flood, decide not to change your plans. This will turn your possible death into a definite one.
There’s actually a very extreme caveat to this warning, however. There are some circumstances in which what you are planning is based on beliefs and values that are so important that you must keep going, regardless of the flood. This means, of course, that your plans involve something much more significant than mere leisure or enjoyment. You proceed on, and the hexagram suggests, wildly, that you might just die – and that death is okay under such conditions. “There are things,” the commentary says, “that are more important than life.”
Let’s assume, however, that you do in fact wish to stay alive. Floods bring with them utter devastation, but in the aftermath of the receding waters, the earth will bring forth new life, completing the cycle. In accordance with this, there is a social and political message that in times of cataclysm, align yourself with those of lower class or lower rank – that is where the growth is eventually going to come from. The laws of nature and the universe ascertain it. In fact, by successfully making such an allegiance, you can actually take charge of the flood. If this is the way you choose to take, you absolutely have to use the power to save everyone and not just to boost your own self. Self-serving action taking advantage of disaster may well get you somewhere in the short term, but will ultimately lead to utter and complete ruin – perhaps worse than if you were simply consumed by the flood itself in the first place. In similar fashion, if you ignore the advice here and ignore the lowly and instead try to curry favor with those who are high and mighty in the age leading up to the flood, you’ve hitched your wagon to the wrong horse and will certainly drown.
There is one fact in which to take comfort: the flood, like all floods, will be temporary. This too shall pass. In order to get through it, in addition to everything mentioned above, a certain gentleness will be required. You can’t use brute force to survive a flood. That’s pretty basic. Instead, rely on your perception and astute realization of what is happening in order to chart your steps in the days ahead. When things in our lives get overwhelmingly bad, when we lose our jobs and our loved ones and face momentous and destructive threats, retain the joy in your spirit and stand proud – even if that requires rejecting everyone in the world. When the waters recede, you’ll still be standing and you’ll still be intact of spirit. The same cannot necessarily be said of the forces that attempt to overcome you.