...life can be translucent

Dispersing armies

…or, more on how relating hexagrams work.

This post will have to be somewhat vague in places to avoid going into details about the other people involved in the reading. But the gist is that I had a to-do list as long as my arm of Christmas preparations, and was working my way through it doggedly and single-mindedly. (This is our first Christmas since Mum died, and I’m apprehensive about it in all kinds of ways.) I was keeping abreast of all the ‘to-do’s, and consequently just managing not to panic. And then suddenly someone needed my time, attention and emotional energy. Excuse me, what emotional energy? Sorry, none to spare, please go away; I have an unfinished to-do list here and deadlines to work to. How can you be so inconsiderate as to ask for my attention now?

So I asked Yi for help, or perhaps to pull a rabbit out of a hat for me, as I often do in times like these. How to cope with these extra demands, preferably without morphing into a nag/cow/bitch of the first order? Yi said, ‘Dispersing the Army’ – Hexagram 59 moving to Hexagram 7.

Perhaps the first step when looking at a reading is to try read the two hexagram names as a phrase. How to cope? Disperse the Army.

That made immediate sense, because – and here’s another good first-or-second step – I could recognise myself at once in that relating hexagram. The Army is organised, it’s focused on a specific objective, it Gets Things Done that need doing. It needs a ‘mature person’ to lead it, someone to take responsibility. That, when it comes to Christmas stuff, would be me. But the other and less shiny side of the coin is the way the Army means sorrow (according to the Zagua), the potential for ‘focus’ to turn into blinkers, and for everything that isn’t the ‘campaign objective’ to suffer from neglect. There are laments in the Book of Songs from conscripts on the march, asking who will feed their family.

So that would be me, too. Working down my list of things to do, neglecting everything (and everyone) not on the list. Disperse the Army.

As I looked further into the reading, though, I could see that the idea wasn’t to lose my ‘Army’ energies altogether. Line 6 advised me to keep well out of the way of negativity – timely advice, as I could oh-so-easily have started an argument. If I couldn’t muster the emotional reserves for this, then physical space would have to suffice until I improved the discipline of my inner armies. ‘Leave, go far away, get out.’ I got.

But line 5 –
‘Dispersing sweat, his great proclamation.
Dispersing the king’s granaries.
No mistake.’
– is something else. This is about concentrated effort, going to an extreme. I might have imagined I was at full stretch, but this line indicates the king still has his granaries – I was holding on to some personal reserves. This would be a time to put it all into circulation. So I thought (with trepidation) of the biggest and best offer of support I could make, and made it – and this was good.

What happens to a Dispersed Army, on this personal level? It doesn’t just put down arms and fold its hands; it doesn’t disappear. Instead, energy that was being directed towards a single objective is liberated so it can flow where it’s most needed. This is the action of 59: to take down the barricades, remove boundaries, and allow the free circulation of energy. The army’s power, dispersed, has its aggressive impulses controlled and its inmost reserves shared out.

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