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Hexagram 5: Waiting and Intending

Yesterday was my birthday, and – as I always do – I cast a reading asking for guidance for the coming year. I’d just spent a couple of days reviewing the previous year: the plans I’d had, goals I’d set… and forgotten all about, or missed utterly… . It wasn’t exactly heartening (and nor was catching up with the accounts, where money’s been flowing away like water).

So this year’s question came with a measure of perplexity and disappointment, and the question I asked was,

‘How can I make this year different – better – all I hope for?’

The primary hexagram of my answer was 5, Waiting. I’m quite sure – especially in the light of the relating hexagram, 63 – that I’m not being advised to sit on my new-website-laurels and wait for success to arrive, like a delayed bus. But Hexagram 5 does guide me towards patience.

I think Hexagram 5 and its pair – 6, Arguing – are quite clear alternative attitudes to the same basic problem of not getting what you need. You can wait for it, or you can argue for it. Arguing implies challenging the world, laying emphasis on what’s wrong, demanding change. In my case it’d mean ‘taking myself to court’, thrashing out what I’ve done wrong, challenging myself to start over with something completely different. Sometimes this works well; often, it doesn’t. The Zagua says that Waiting means ‘not advancing’, but Arguing means ‘not connecting’. You’re powered only by your own indignation; how far can this carry you?

Waiting is something else. It waits on what it needs: expects it, attends to it, prepares to welcome it. It feels the tension between what is and what’s wanted, in its nuclear hexagram 38, and makes this a power source.

I think I found what I need for the coming year in an article by Andrea Hess, provocatively titled ‘The Value of Tossing Out Your Goals‘. In it, she talks about the difference between goal-oriented planning and setting intentions. It seems to me that she’s marking out the difference between ‘I’m going to make this happen’ (see the wording of my question for the year!) and ‘I’m welcoming this as it comes.’

‘Waiting, with sincerity and confidence.
Shining out, creating success: constancy brings good fortune.
Harvest in crossing the great river.’

Waiting with sincerity and confidence has to mean trusting in the present moment, rather than judging it and finding it wanting. The way this works emerges in Andrea’s second article, where she gives an example of the difference. The qualities of Hexagram 5 are clearly present:

“Then I would pretty much just sit with the energy of authenticity, and wait for guidance as to how that would express itself right now. I’d go about my daily business until inspiration struck, paying close attention.”

There she is, waiting and attending. I think this close attention is what ‘shines out’ – something akin to the New Age-y truism that what you focus on is drawn to you.

Andrea’s article also helps to clear up a question people often have about Hexagram 5: if you’re waiting, how can you also be crossing the river? In her imagined example, ‘river crossing’ is represented by setting the intention and then responding to guidance by extending herself with further commitments. It’s a matter of going as far as you can – even when this involves taking risks – to meet what you need coming towards you.

Another quote:

‘At every point in this process, the energy of authenticity is present and expressed. This brings a sense of fulfillment and joy to the process now – not in the future… . The energy of the intention must be invited into the present moment.’

I think the Image is describing the same invitation:

‘The clouds are above heaven. Waiting.
The noble one eats, drinks and relaxes with music.’

You didn’t feast with music, in old China, without inviting the spirits to be present and share your meal – the same spirits, of course, who can bring you the good weather you’re waiting for so you can grow more food. But the emphasis isn’t on divining to discover what these spirits want, or making offerings to them, but on the shared meal itself. The Sequence says that newborn things (maybe like wants we Don’t Know how to realise?) need nourishing, and Waiting is the dao of eating and drinking. It’s clearly important to feast, right now!

That is, it’s important to enjoy having what you need, participating in gratitude in the present moment. For example, I need and want time away from the computer, under open skies – so what’s stopping me from walking out of the front door, just for five minutes, right now?

10 responses to Hexagram 5: Waiting and Intending

  1. Great post. I’m trying to navigate through the debris of this year and make plans for the next and I was thinking how can I change the focus in a subtle way. Just what I needed.

    Many Happy Returns.

  2. Happy Birthday Sagittarius! – I happened to look at your page here just now and was intrigued to see that you got “Waiting” for your answer. The last Hexagram I posted on my new blog (http://www.ichingmeditations.blogspot.com/) was my view of “Waiting.” I always think of “Waiting” as to do with Fate.

    A friend of mine who is not into the I Ching looked at my blog, saw my interpretation of Waiting and said, “…it brings the essence of art and madness to life!” Well that’s how she saw my drawings. I was simply using the imagery that is implied in the I Ching. Not thinking of madness. But maybe a lot of waiting can induce madness. 🙂 Oh well.

  3. Hello Hilary,

    I like the way the imagery comes together for this line – the idea of waiting in sand with the water just ahead and the relating hexagram with its associated idea of having come across. The second line is central so it is in a stable position, not really in a seriously difficult place like the situations depicted in lines three and four. Perhaps with a little help (not from the “small”!) getting across can be accomplished relatively easily.
    Thanks for sharing your reading.

  4. My feeling about waiting on sand is that it’s unstable (yes, I know what you mean about line positions, but find I get more mileage from the original imagery): hard to keep my footing, and probably also hard to keep looking across the water and focussing on what I’m waiting for. Adele’s image strikes a chord, with the outlines slipping away.

    Hmm… completion means good fortune in the line, but chaos for those Already Across. That calls for some thought…

  5. Sure, the sand isn’t ideal, but it’s good enough for a place to begin crossing. I think the only indication of difficulty here is the talk or words that have come from people who are not being helpful. If this can be brought to an end (completion) then the situation can turn for the better.
    Thanks again.

  6. Hello Hilary.Your birthday is Dec.7th then?I wish you an enlightening beautiful new year.i wasn’t here for your birthday, but please accept my best wishes nopw, and thank for this site.
    I’m thinking you’re probably correct when you said maybe you are/were “looking across that water,and focousing on what you’re waiting for”, and thinking about that place and time not now. 🙂
    I find Waiting to be exactly that, so I also figure you may have moed on sinc eyou received this hexagram.
    but just for conversation, :-)I have always found #5 to concern itself/me with breathing, slowing down and givng time a chance. For example if I wanted an answer from you about somehting, but you had not even begun to think of it yet–had in fact, not even received my question maybe, or, you have, but something just this morning will change your perspective or awareness–then *waiting* refers also to those forces and events that are still taking place–so rushing or looking ahead isn’t the best idea simply because I’ll gain best by waiting for now.
    Simulataneaously, I also find when I’m nervous and worried that the old “be right here right now, or “one day at a time” adages help me to setle down and not concern myself with the future—-future meaning tomorrow’s meeting with a boss, or my fear or belief that next month I’ll need to have found another apartment.it (to me) encourages, acceptance and meditation.
    So, these two meanings are often combined.
    Something will probably change before we get to whatever it is we are waiting for, and it will change our perspective.
    I know line 2 very well, and I know it can refer to people who gossip or, who can discourage me from this waiting, and gathering my strength.
    However,really it often can mean I am picking on myself,(gossiping about myself?– you know old negative self-image, or self-destructive notions & ego concerns) and confusing my ability to wait, and relax while maintaining some healthy focus.
    I must come back in a while to better express this, but #63, would imply again, along with #5, that we musn’t rush forward with the new idea–yet.
    And when we do, of course, as usual, we know that we can’t assume the details will take care of themselves.
    but I’ll come back.:-)

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