One of the coolest things about the I Ching is the way it manages to so simply describe events and possibilities we know to exist, things we know to be real and yet simultaneously know to be intangible, unprovable, and even to some degree imaginary. Fortunately, the I Ching is not an insecure Scripture. It does not demand letter-of-the-law observance and obedience, only consideration and contemplation.
Here, in fact, we are presented with a bit of a thought exercise. Assume, for a moment, an intimidatingly Judeo-Christian notion – that the original and intended nature of mankind is pure and benevolent but has been, over time and under the influence of many mitigating factors, corrupted and obscured. Granting this admittedly dubious assumption, salvation then comes in the form of the sunrise. As the sun returns upon the scene, as the sun rises ever higher, its clarity and light are spread across the landscape, laying bare the bullshit, the hypocrisy, the banal, and the perverse. The innumerable ways we’ve gone astray are naked before the brilliant rays of our star, just as the clues to our truer, harmonious, benevolent side are visible again after what seems to have been a near-eternal absence.
We’ve got to get back to the garden…eh?
The aeons most familiar to us have seen the dominance of the unworthy, who have taken the opportunity to enrich themselves and profiteer from the corruption and the Fall. They’re dependent upon the night. When that sun rises, they’ve got no more disguises and no more excuses. All of a sudden, they’re caught naked and undisguised, likely leaving them at our mercy and indeed at our disposal.
Those are our villains. But the hero described by this medium-thickness, sandwich-sliced piece of our universe is no individualistic prince galloping toward inevitable ascendancy to the throne. Our hero here is just a humble (but respectable) warlord among many such warlords, all of whom pledge loyalty and allegiance to the king. Our hero doesn’t fight for himself or for his own enrichment, but reserves his efforts for rallying his fellow warlords together in service of their common king.
Here, we’re not the kings even in our own hero-stories. We’re just ordinary mini-leaders who happen to be seen by our peers as an equal, as one of them, and whose clarity and vision are sufficiently respected to inspire voluntary alliance.
Again and again and again, we are advised by the hexagram that, despite the wonderful triumph of sunrise, of light over darkness, of justice over corruption, it is now more than ever before that we must be willing to check our egos in service of a higher cause. Despite all our anti-pacifist proclamations, it is here that we are so strenuously advised toward restraint and primarily defensive action. In fact, we’re quite explicitly told that the only permissible offensive attack under this scene of sunrise is on ourselves and the corrupt elements we harbor and maintain with and without the consent of our respective wills.
We may find ourselves in a position of influence and favor without the strength or opportunity to crush or defeat with finality our enemies, even when it may be just for us to do so. This is emblematic of our role, here. Our restraint and reserve, whether by choice or of necessity, will here lead to our fortune and victory. This is not always the case, but it is here. Here, even when we don’t have the strength or independence required to vanquish the obstacles and enemies, we do have the backing of the people and can proceed in pious confidence, perhaps bordering on enthusiasm.
When unsure if what you must do will lead to favorable results, defer on the side of doing what you know to be right. If nobody will follow you on this, don’t force things, but know you did right, adapt to reality, and move on to the next things. You may even find yourself connected to the one in truest authority yet blocked either through benign misfortune or malintended machinations, but don’t even worry. It’s temporary. Things are looking up. Keep up with the fidelity and daily brush off the inevitable egotistical motives and be rewarded in the end – either by the king or by whoever actually hands out the rewards.
The sunrise salvation party teaches us, among so many complex and contradictory (seemingly, anyway) glimpses, that even when it is Our Time, even when we know that victory looms and that the base and sinister powers are exposed and in decline, we must avoid the traps of excessive individualism or ego, of undue certainty or undeserved perks. This is, more than most others, a time for, if not actual moderation, devotion and loyalty towards the higher cause. It’s probably not an actual king, but it might be a kingdom. It’s certainly an idea or a picture that transcends the petty requirements of any of us individual mortals.
The I Ching is a funny thing – rhyme, yes? It doesn’t hold your hand. It sings no lullabies. As we return to our long-abandoned exploration of it, let’s embrace that the strength, or one of them, at least, of the work is its ability to conjure at the same time as it illuminates. As with our discussion earlier in the week, there are times when importance must be placed not so much on the mathematical sum of its words but on the invocations produced almost irresistibly through their oft-ignored power.
Let the sun rise – and shine – on you today.