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Hexagram 38 in daily life

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. (‘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 ‘small works’. I think this is because polarised views of big things stir up powerful emotions, rooted in survival instincts. (‘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 ‘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. (‘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.

15 responses to Hexagram 38 in daily life

  1. Hi Hilary, Thanks so much for this months’ update. There may not have been many links but once again the few that were there were powerful! I especially loved the link to Greatvessl.com I believe it was called….Their insights in the reading of lines as well as pairs, amongst other things was very enlightening to say the least! Also The Secret Sickness Pathways is something I never heard of before & it was really explained in a way of my immediate understanding. They give the 10-12 Pairs that make -up the Secret Sickness Pathways. Maybe this is something you can teach further if you can shed more light on the subject, it certainly seems important enough! They also bring up the importance of knowing the pairs in greater depths and the relevance to your readings. Thanks again for the heads up! Sincerely, Lori Singer

  2. Sorry, I wish I could. But I have no idea what’s meant by ‘secret sickness pathways’. We’ll just have to watch the site to see these ideas developed.

  3. For a culture to stay healthy it needs to enter into processes which re-invigorate it and clean out the old and the corrupt otherwise it becomes sick and then so do the people.

    The Secret Sickness Pathways are those processes. One expression of the pairs mentioned in the article http://www.greatvessel.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=553&tabindex=1&DocumentID=2145

    Maybe someone could get SK to expand on them 😉

    Hope this helps a little.

    Glad you liked the site – thanks –Kevin

  4. “I managed to be one of these from the age of about 5” Hey, I started when I was 4! 🙂

    I liked your rendition – a thought to add? From my own life and wanderrings: For a community to stay healthy and refreshed it needs to send folk out into the wilds, or to other communities. These people are tasked to bring back what is needed. It could be a new technology for the company in which you work. Having said that, for me there is the ‘cast out’ theme in here too. When things become too ‘sick’ some people almost cast themselves out – and go seeking what is needed. Highly recomended on this is, “Puer Papers” James Hillman 1987. About the ‘Puer Aeturnus’ not an easy read but one of those books where the images clunk into place heavilly with deep thuds. A must read for those who 38. It both gives 38’ers a wonderful mythic image of themseves, whilst telling them the unhearable truth. No heros without folly I’m affraid.

    The downside is – get it from the library or speak to your bank manager first – its out of print and at a premium 🙁

    All the best
    –Kevin 🙂

  5. Hi Rashid,

    If you take yourself over to the I Ching Community and ask your question there, you’ll get some good quality help. Without knowing your situation or the whole of your reading, I’d just suggest you think about whether you would fit in there now. Can you accommodate your way of seeing the world to the school’s? And if there are differences, can you work round them by thinking smaller – going back part time, for instance?

  6. A situation confronts you which is extremely disturbing at first sight. Very probably it comes disguised as a people-problem. Some challenge to your whole nature has arisen, and you are under suspicion because of your very nature. Not being used to this state affairs, since you are usually respected and honored for your efforts and opinions, you react in an extreme fashion to this upsetting of your equilibrium. You might want to rant and rave at the outward object of obstruction, or debate or explain in order to generate some kind of defense for yourself.

    You must tone yourself down a bit. Get out your frustrations and sleep on the matter. If you find yourself lapsing into self-righteous indignation, you are headed in the wrong direction. Don’t perpetuate the argument or return the imagined insult. Don’t mail the nasty letter or jump to the hasty conclusion. The problem begins and ends with yourself.

    If your responses to the situation seem aggressive and belligerent, you must cultivate detachment from the situation. You can’t be everywhere and everything for all people. Let’s face it-you are a strong person known for your particular world-view. At times others may make assumptions about you, not necessarily fair or positive, on the basis of what they understand to be your nature. Misunderstandings happen in the world; even about someone with your generous character. Let it pass. Walk away from the turmoil with detached calm. Probably you will experience natural peace after the initial storm of static. Go with it.

    Above all, when dealing with opposites, cooperation is the key concept. You have much to learn and many possibilities yet to explore which pertain to this situation. Don’t sever yourself from your Tao. Go beyond your limitations, as you stop worrying about others’. If you could accept people for what they are, you would open more doors for your own understanding. Wait actively and patiently for this time of testing to unravel itself.

  7. Hi, My name is Roberta Engley and I started noticing 111 in 1984. This repeated itself more often than the 1111 or 222 and continued over the years with increasing frequency until then about a year ago I began seeing 3:38, 11:38, 2:38, 9:38 etc. this is happening at least 5-8 or 9 times a day now. In my search for a meaning, I came across Hexagram 38, I clicked it and saw that I use this I Ching! I read the Hexagon meaning and all other writings here and could relate in a major way especially Thom William’s. I would like to know more, all will be accepted with gratitude.

  8. Hi Roberta,

    I don’t think I have much to add regarding Hexagram 38 in general terms – let alone whether your recurrent ’38’s mean the hexagram! But if you posted about this in the I Ching Community, and shared more about yourself and why you can relate to 38, you should get some helpful insights. Start here.

  9. i would love to read Karchers article on 38, but GreatVessel.com seems no longer to be available. do you have a PDF? Thanks, Matt

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