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Category Archives: I Ching Readings

Sample Yijing readings

Listening differently (and not posting much)

Background

Well… in the first weeks of September I was bubbling over with ideas for blog posts. I’d write two, and ‘schedule’ one to be published later so as not to overdo it. And then I published that last one on Hexagram 23, and waited for inspiration to strike again…

…and I’m still waiting.

Oh.

I’ve still been thinking and writing – the ‘Reading for Others’ materials are coming along, there have been some great readings shared in Reading Circle, and I’ve spent some intriguing hours researching and writing for a Yi Academy thread where we’re looking at the qualities of lines in trigrams. So it’s not that my brain’s ground to a complete halt – but it does seem to have slowed down a lot, and it’s not in a co-operative mood.

Me: ‘Brain, how about a new blog idea?’
Brain: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Maybe we could work up that idea about…?’
Brain: ‘No.’
Me: ‘OK, look at all the unchecked items on this to-do list of website jobs. Let’s…’
Brain: ‘No. Browse internet, eat chocolate.’
Me: ‘Dark or milk?’

This is a bit alarming… Things I told myself I’d do, don’t get done. The email inbox fills up again; distractions have somehow become ten times more distracting. And although I’m not depressed, I remember past winters with SAD when the only thing that could hold my interest was the underside of the duvet. I don’t want this to be the beginning of that.

Question for Yi: ‘How best to navigate this winter?’

(I thought of asking ‘how to get work done’ but decided that was too narrow a question. Better to keep it open.)

…and what Yi said: 50.3.6 to 40

The Vessel and its Release.

I won’t try to write up everything I’ve thought about the reading – it would fill pages, and Recalcitrant Brain isn’t interested – but I would like to share what I’ve been learning about Hexagram 50, line 3. A quick overview and context first…

The Vessel, I think, is just me and how I live – how I cook up a way of life with the ingredients of daily routine, ideas, patterns of thought, what I take in. Vessel as way of life, Vessel as awareness and state of mind.

And Release is a reminder, at once, that it’s possible to overdo the ‘should’s. I should be fixing up website things, troubleshooting technical problems, writing blog posts and participating more on the forums; I should be developing a social media presence, making videos, turning the audio course into a podcast and getting some ebooks onto Amazon, and I should absolutely get to Inbox Zero… should shouldity should, a giant tangle of assorted guilt trips. Release unties a few of those knots.

The Vessel’s Release… since Release has that deceptively-simple oracle about turning and coming back with no place to go, and setting out at daybreak when there’s a direction to go, I think the Vessel’s Release is its power to be in the right place at the right time. In 50’s imagery, it’s about the vessel’s portability.

Sure enough, the two lines are about the ‘ears’ – the carrying loops – and the handle that slots through them.

‘The vessel’s ears are radically changed,
Its action blocked.
Rich pheasant fat goes uneaten.
Rain on all sides lessens regrets,
In the end, good fortune.’

‘The vessel has a jade handle
Great good fortune,
Nothing that does not bear fruit.’

Now, line 6 is reassuring and lovely, because it reminds me of what endures – a jade handle, a vessel that’s almost eternally portable, brain glitches notwithstanding.

And line 3?

It’s easy to recognise this as Brain On Strike. ‘Its action blocked’ or ‘movement blocked’ – and ‘blocked’ is a word that can be used for blocked drains, of all things. Flow is stopped. The brain says ‘no’. Lots of things that could potentially be helpful or nourishing to people can’t be made available and stay uneaten. But later, there will be rain, the release of tension, antithesis of blockage, and good fortune in the end. Line 6 is about what endures, what’s always true; line 3 says there’s also weather, things that change. It’s not reasonable to expect myself to be the same all year round, and what’s stuck now will be unstuck later.

Only for now, the vessel’s ears are to be radically changed. I understand this is a metaphor about listening – the word ‘ears’ means literally ‘ears’ as well as those carrying loops – but what does it actually mean to ‘change my ears’?

I think it means listening to guidance in a different way, maybe listening to a different kind of guidance. What is there to guide me, besides Shouldy McShouldface?

I half-listened to a New-Age-y audio while I was doing the washing up. Only half-listened, because it was mostly mightily annoying ‘law of attraction’ twaddle, but then I suddenly heard a woman say, ‘I call it listening to my inner ding.’ She was talking about listening to intuitive guidance in the moment, doing what presented itself to be done, as opposed to making firm plans. And naturally, she wasn’t actually referring to an ancient Chinese sacred vessel – but still. Synchronicity isn’t fussy.

The paired line for this one – the ‘same line’ if I just stand on my head to look at the reading – is 49.4:

‘Regrets vanish, there is truth and confidence.
Changing mandate, good fortune.’

‘The vessel’s ears are radically changed,
Its action blocked.
Rich pheasant fat goes uneaten.
Rain on all sides lessens regrets,
In the end, good fortune.’

A change of mandate, reflected in the change to the vessel’s ears. Different calling, different orders, maybe a different kind of orders. The Sequence says that for radically changing things, nothing equals the vessel, so I imagine that the whole story of 50.3 is how the mandate gets changed in practice.

The inner experience for this line pathway is in hexagrams 64 and 63, Not Yet Across and Already Across –

‘The leaks are plugged with clothes of silk
For the whole day, on guard.’

‘Not yet across. Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Fruitful to cross the great river.’

And that to me suggests the importance of ongoing, on-flowing commitment. You might have to get wet before you can bring order – if you can bring any order at all – and the task might feel more like just keeping afloat than organising anything. (Yes, it might.)


Since casting that reading, I’ve had some very watery experiences. There were the three occasions in rapid succession when I thoroughly annoyed people by explaining without listening. And then I had a terrific plan in mind – presented it proudly to Yi for endorsement/encouragement – and had Yi pour gallons of cold water over my bright shiny idea. Twice.

Then again… getting wet is no bad thing, is it? It might just unblock that drain, I mean brain. The most recent advice I received from Yi was 43.3 –

‘Vigour in the cheekbones means a pitfall.
Noble one decides, decides.
Goes alone, meets the rain,
And is indignant as if he were soaked through.
Not a mistake.’

So I shall squelch along gently, keeping my ears open…

 

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