Hexagram 21 is Biting Through; Hexagram 22 is Beauty – only I tend to think of it these days more as Making Beautiful. (In much the same way, Hexagram 13 seems to be more to do with ‘creating harmony between people’ than just finding it already there, a fait accompli.)
So you Bite Through obstacles and illusions. You reach the essence of the thing – of the person, of the relationship, perhaps – and you ‘take this in’, make it part of your self. It really works, now, at a deep level.
What now? Now, that essence wants to find expression. It wants to grow, from seed to plant – it wants to flower, to connect with other people. Making Beautiful is all about finding a form that will do justice to the seed. The suitor (who shows up in the moving line texts) wants to show his true, his very best self. Or looking at it from a larger perspective – as the Image does – there must be ways of governing and living that express people’s inner awareness.
I think perhaps the key here is that there must be wayS. Not just The Way. Different ways of life are the right expression for different people at different times. The face the suitor shows to his prospective bride can’t be the same one he shows next morning in the office. Even plants take very different forms through the seasons. (As I discovered to my cost many winters ago, when I happily accepted an offer from the neighbour to rotovate our entire patch. That summer, I discovered that all those little finely chopped white roots were very, very viable bindweed.)
And so in Making Beautiful, there is ‘small harvest in having a direction to go’. The essence could go anywhere, be anything. But there is this desire to be something for someone, and this provides the ‘direction to go’ so that there can be a harvest. We think ‘I’m a teacher!’ or ‘I’m a great cook!’ – and this is how we get results.
Yet this isn’t the whole harvest at once – it isn’t the only expression there could ever be. A direction to go is also a way to explore, something to experiment with. Maybe it would be truer to think, ‘I can play teachers!’
I’ve an idea that if we arrive at Hexagram 23, and there’s a need for Stripping Away, this can be because we’ve confused that beautiful expression with the essence itself. Looking at the trigrams – Beauty is fire below the mountain, the spark of living awareness shining upward and illuminating the form. And in Stripping Away the fire has gone out. Now there’s just earth below the mountain, and it’s time for the mountain itself to be turned back to earth, to make space for something new.