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. Iâ€™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.
‘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?