...life can be translucent

Christmas I Ching

I’ ve been wondering and delighting in this reading for a year now – it seems a good time to share it.

I had a Christian upbringing, and as I started reflecting for myself, I never quite saw the point of the Incarnation. God is here, of course – where else would we be? So I never altogether understood why there would be such emphasis on a single human being as God’s representative. Anyway – this kind of adolescent wondering is the ‘background’ to the question, and may or may not have the smallest relevance to the reading…

I asked Yi:

“What does the Nativity mean for us?”

And the oracle answered with Hexagram 11, Flowing, changing to Hexagram 60, Articulating.

Hexagram 11 is Tai, the mountain the king climbs to connect with heaven, and it represents the power of heaven flowing into the earth. The divine, creative presence is here:

Small goes, great comes.
Good fortune, creating success.’

…and goodwill to all men! Great things are possible; small things and petty concerns are swept away on that river of spiritual power.

In the story of the Nativity, that any child can tell, Hexagram 11 is Articulated. Hexagram 60 has a lot to do with language, with putting things into words – and also with nourishment, making truths palatable and digestible. So the Nativity makes divine presence something we can relate to.

Of course the trigrams themselves of 11 show the idea of ‘incarnation’ as clear as day. Heaven is within the Earth.

‘Heaven and Earth communicate. Flowing.
The prince enriches and accomplishes the dao of heaven and earth,
Supports and structures heaven and earth’s mutual help and harmony,
Helps and protects the people.’

And then there are the changing lines.

Line 3:
‘There is no level ground without a slope,
No going out without a return.
Hard work with constancy is not a mistake.
No cares, your truth,
In eating and drinking there is blessing.’

This is Flowing’s 19, its Nearing or as we might say, its Advent. Jesus becomes Emmanuel, ‘God with Us’, and the story of his povery and homelessness at birth is the first sign that he is here to accept weal and woe, the complete package. Christ’s suffering to come is a powerful theme in Christian depictions of his birth. There is the wise man who brings a gift of bitter myrrh; there are paintings of the child with his arms outstretched as if already crucified.

To eat and drink with people means to be together with them, sharing their experience. It has a similar symbolic value in both Christian and Chinese traditions, I think. The ancient Chinese invited the spirits to the ceremonial meal, where they would share the same food. And with my Christian upbringing, I can’t think of ‘blessing in eating and drinking’ without thinking of the Eucharist.

Line 5:

‘Diyi marries off his daughters.
This brings fulfilment, good fortune from the source.’

When Diyi marries off his daughters, he creates an alliance. His second daughter will be the gentle, unassuming mother of a son with a unique Mandate to bring about a new kingdom.

Marriage is a supreme image of the harmonious, creative union of heaven and earth – and one adopted by Christianity, too, for instance in the idea that Christ came from heaven to seek the earthly Church as his bride.

This line promises fulfilment, but we know it’s in the future. There is a generation or two to go before King Wu (and almost dramatic irony in the line, as surely Diyi has no idea of the great change to come from this marriage). Changing this line alone would take us to Hexagram 5: Waiting, or Attending – or perhaps Faith.

This is just the barest sketch of a few of this reading’s possibilities. The ‘line pathways’ are worth studying, too… and the changes of each trigram (creative force becoming lake, earth becoming stream)… and the patterns of change, with the yang pattern 39 showing the arrival of Yu, the limping saviour-hero, and the yin pattern 38 showing the ‘different seeing’ that could emerge…

But the family is here, and I should go see whether any of the too-liquid icing I poured onto that cake yesterday evening is still on the top of it.

Have a wonderful holiday!


5 responses to Christmas I Ching

  1. Dear Hillary,
    In the Tao, heaven and earth appear in the text as heaven/earth, without the conjunction “and” just as it does in the well-known first verse of the Bible. Heaven/earth are one thing. In the Gospels several words are translated world, including two of especial interest, one being “aeon,” eon, i.e., age, and another one found in the Gospels once refers to a place of incubation. Christ is a body made up of many members, and just like the first bride was taken from the body of man, so will be the bride be taken from the last man. Man in the creation related in the first chapter of the Bible is a racial name, and has nothing to do with gender. The body of Christ is of many members, both male and female. I’m happy to see an expression of interest in the truth of Scripture, although my displeasure with the widespread use of the I Ching still stands. You had an interesting rebuttal likening the use of the I Ching to an orchestra, but in a society which thrives on individuality and diversity of thought and belief, the use of the I Ching can be likened to an orchestra in which all the various members choose their own piece of music which in their opinion best suits the occasion.

    P.S. Find a concordance, and locate “silver,” “gold,” and “precious” gems (or jewels, can’t recall exactly right now) in one of Paul’s epistles, then compare that to the description of the bride in Revelation 21, and look up the white garment of the bride near the end of Revelation.

  2. in response casting,,,,,,,,,,,,,,chaijen/the family of humankind….it alswo represents divinty concieved [spiritual]the ying yang the harmony of heaven and eath,giving thge psyche a life,,,,you dominate over your conceptive thoughts giving motivqation…its not just physical union,,,[john 18v37.the passivivty of the mind being humble it is an example,,,adornment is to crownetc

  3. Hello:

    Happy belated holidays and new year!

    This is an incredible reading; very inspiring. It’s very in sync with where I am at as the goddess. I will continue to mull it over as I haven’t been studying the iching.

    Thank you.
    And wishing you many blessings.
    Lynett Durgin


  5. I’m very glad you’re enjoying this reading as much as I do. Here’s a message that came about it by email (published here with permission, of course) from John Turton of http://www.onlinecounsellor.co.nz

    “Hi Hilary

    Your Christmas I Ching reading is one I heartily agree with.

    Not so long ago I was studying the temptations of Jesus (Matthew’s Gospel) and recognised that the three matched 3 areas of need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy has six levels of need building from the basic up to the 6th just like the building of a hexagram. To cut the story short, I worked at this using my background in Christian Theology and found that when I had finished I had built the hexagram 11.

    The temptations tested Jesus on basic needs (line 1) and safety and security (line 2) and actualisation (line 5). You’ll already know about line 2 and 5 as rulers of the hexagram.

    I noticed also that Jesus response matched the TAO of the changing line of that temptation.

    When I read in Karcher’s I Ching – The Classic Chinese Oracle of Change 2002; Vega I was astounded at the complete description.

    Hexagram is about heaven and earth coming together.

    In the lower temptations, Jesus refers to Heaven as his source matching the yang nature of the lines and resisting change to yin which would have taken him on the tao of those changing hexagrams.

    In the Actualisation temptation, when asked to bow down and worship the evil one (dark force etc.) he is open (as in yin) to heaven’s establishment and does not bow down and worship satan (as that would have involved him being in a yang change of outward expression towards satan instead of an inner openness and humility towards heaven = yin).

    To me hexagram 11 encapsulates the Gospel in terms of the kingdom of God and Jesus as coming prince. Couldn’t think of a closer archetype.

    Hope this makes sense to you. I am very pleased at you sharing your findings on Hexagram 11 in relation to such. It was a surprise as I have not shared with anyone else my findings on Hex 11 re. the kingdom of God and the Gospel.

    All well to you!

    John Turton”

    and a follow-up explaining more about the Maslow hierarchy:

    “Hi Hilary

    There was something I forgot to tell you and I only thought of it AFTER I’d replied and share my experience of Hexagram 11. You mentioned that you got hexagram 60 as the transforming hexagram, now bearing in mind that you were asking about the nativity this is very important.

    In the Book of Colossians the Apostle Paul explains that Jesus “emptied himself” and took on our limitations, e.g. became human just like us. I.e. to become human he “limited” himself. Which also supports the life lived as one where he was as open to temptation and the potential of choosing incorrectly as any other human being was. The remarkable outcome is that he did not choose incorrectly even to the point of resisting his natural human instinct for survival to offer himself (as Karcher’s description of Hexagram 11 says) as the prince on the sacred hill.

    So that’s my extra note on #60 as the transforming hexagram from within the context of my training in theology.

    Maslow’s 6 line hierarchy (for a general counselling help: Try using yin — — to represent needs satisfied and yang —– as needs not satisfied and you will have a rule of thumb to generate a hexagram map of most general situations where you feel hard pressed or a bit upset. You interpret the context in which you are upset using the hexagram as a filter to see through. If you want to include changing lines then use changing yin to represent where your needs are not going to be met but not quite yet; use changing yang to represent where your needs are going to be met but not quite yet.)

    6 Spirituality – Meta needs
    5 Actualisation needs
    4 Self-Worth or Self-Acceptance needs

    3 Love and Belonging
    2. Safety and Security
    1 Basic Needs

    You’ll see that lines 3 and 5 which were changing in the hexagram given to you by the Sage to depict #60 were the areas of actualisation (or purpose fulfilled) linked with Love and Belonging manifesting as his limiting himself to come as the redeeming prince.

    I don’t expect everyone to jump in on this or get excited or necessarily agree, but the structure of the hexagram follows the historical account given in the Gospels. For me? Quite interesting and helpful!”

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