Here’s a nice coincidence. Elvira emails me and asks,
“What is the meaning of Hexagram 38 in daily life?”
And over at GreatVessel there is a new article on Hexagram 38 (Opposition/ Diverging) entitled The Shaman of the Shadows – remarkable work that needs reading and re-reading slowly, and with especially good insights into the lines.
So what does it mean in daily life? The first answer is that it means all these things Stephen describes: ghosts, hauntings and strange visions. There is no ‘daily life’ that can be separated and compartmentalised, with the disquieting stuff tidied into a box for later.
The second answer, of course, is that it depends on the question and the application – so perhaps I can help out with some examples.
A key concept of Opposition is seeing differently. In any relationship – romantic, friendship or business – this means more than just different ‘points of view’; it means people who can look at the same situation and see two quite different things. People talk past each other, or stare at each other like something from another planet. (â€˜How can you possibly not see?’)
There is no compromise possible here: you can’t mix water and fire (the component trigrams) together and get a 50:50 blend. In practice, it’s a rare relationship that can thrive with the characteristics of Hexagram 38. You have to find ways to live with the difference and use it creatively, or else you have to go your separate ways.
The hexagram has a simple suggestion – that you find good fortune in â€˜small works’. I think this is because polarised views of big things stir up powerful emotions, rooted in survival instincts. (â€˜If my way of seeing is not valid, then what’s left of me? You have to be wrong…’) Concentrating on the small things, not activating those powerful defensive reactions, there’s a chance for a real encounter where you can start to enjoy the differences. You might even laugh about them together.
On all levels, there’s always a need for balance between 37 and 38 – what Stephen would call the dwelling and its ghosts. A business will work most smoothly when everyone there buys into its ethos, knows what’s expected of them, and has a sense of working for the common good (37). But for it to develop creatively and avoid stagnation, it might actually bring in an outside (38) consultant whose job is to â€˜see differently’. An entrepreneur needs to see possible futures that no-one else could imagine (38) – and also to persuade people that this is something that fits into their lives (37), that it’s really part of what they’ve already chosen for themselves.
Hexagram 38 is also about outsiders: that weird character who doesn’t fit in, doesn’t use the right words or share the same understanding. I managed to be one of these from the age of about 5 ;), but even people who fit in quite naturally might still become the outsider for a while if they move to a foreign country. People in the Home are inside; Opposition is outside. And of course we want to be inside the group, one of the People in the Home… but only up to a point. ‘When the way of the home is exhausted, you naturally turn away’: when we’ve had enough of being part of the group, or someone’s ‘other half’, we take pride in being different and individual. (â€˜I’m there for him to talk about his feelings, but he just wants to go out and drive by himself!’)
Opposition can also be the inner state of an individual. It’s quite possible for one person to see one thing in two altogether different ways. The image from the Commentary, of the two women under one roof whose ‘purposes are not in harmony’, can most definitely refer to two voices in one head. It can be a matter of seeing both past patterns and a very different possible future – for instance when contemplating a complete career change. It can also be a desire for two mutually exclusive things.
The Image says that ‘the noble one both harmonises and divides,’ and this is the real promise of Hexagram 38. A single point of view is two-dimensional. Plainchant (a single musical line) is – at least to my ears – altogether beautiful and restful; it also gets boring fast. Different notes together create discord and harmony, the possibility of tension and resolution, and emotional development on a symphonic scale.