...life can be translucent

Hexagram 29 and learning to swim

I didn’t learn to swim until I was ten. I’m told that when I was first put into a pool, at age 4 or so, I screamed at the top of my lungs until I could get out again. The teacher would grab other children by the hands and whirl them in circles over the surface of the water; they would squeal with delight, and I would cling onto the bar at the side of the pool with grim, total determination. No-one was getting me away from solid ground.

Come senior school, I was as determined as ever, and Mum sent me off for weekly swimming lessons. I would hold onto the side of the pool and kick with my legs, and I would hop across the shallow end paddling with my arms, but no, I would not commit myself to the water. It might work for other people, but what was that supposed to prove?

Well… this pool had a deep end. So the canny instructor took me down there, and told me to get in and swim across. He had a long wooden pole, which he promised to hold within my reach so I could grab it if I started to sink. Thus reassured, I set off.

There was water everywhere, endless depths under me and engulfing my flailing limbs and filling my mouth and nose and eyes. I screamed that I was sinking, give me the pole! Clutched for it… lunged desperately – always finding it just out of reach… and so screaming and clutching and flailing I made my way right across to the other side. Scrambled out heavy-limbed, and instead of feeling triumph or even relief, thought, I’m going to have to do that again.’ (I did. And – oddly – started enjoying it.)

Anyway… remembering this, I suddenly realised it captures the Hexagram 29, Repeating Chasms moment perfectly. The dominant characteristic of the water/pit trigram kan, repeated here, is depth and danger, and ‘Repeating’ in the hexagram name even means learning through repetition. In the watery pit, nothing to hold onto, unable to reach anything solid, only your own self keeps you afloat… and you know you’re going to have to do it again.

9 responses to Hexagram 29 and learning to swim

  1. Hi Hilary, I liked your story about your experience with repeating chasms and thought I would share some of my thoughts on Hex. 29.

    Remember wax on, wax off?

    Miyagi: First, wash all car. Then wax. Wax on…
    Daniel: Hey, why do I have to…?
    Miyagi: Ah ah! Remember deal! No questions!
    Daniel: Yeah, but…
    Miyagi: Hai!
    [makes circular gestures with each hand]
    Miyagi: Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important.
    [walks away, still making circular motions with hands]
    Miyagi: Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

    Repetition, of any thing, brings confidence and muscle memory [brain muscle and/or skeletal muscle] so when one needs to react, without thinking, one can do so without going into a panic of trying to figure out what to do.

  2. And along with learning through repetition, it is also to be understood in the text, that just as water fills up a pit completely before moving on, so too, in our study of the I Ching, the Sage, who is truly a conscious entity, also, completely completes a lesson before taking us on a deeper and greater journey.

    Also, water, as it always finds the lowest places, flows into the sea, which, in our study of the I Ching, causes us to flow into the sea of universal oneness, and brings us to understand that all things are one, made up of the same substance, That there is truly no differentiation, although the water in the pit may think of itself temporarily as separate from the water in the sea.


  3. Awwww. That was very vivid. I can just see you in your little arm-bands kicking away. 😉

    Perfect illustration of 29. Always better with a real life analogy.

  4. Yes, and purple in the face and screaming at the top of my little lungs. Most endearing…

    Zoe, have you seen LiSe’s page on 29? That’s where I learned about the ‘I’ll have to do that again’ aspect.

    Gene – 🙂

  5. And in keeping with the theme here, it should be noted too, that in spite of the terror sometimes, of plunging in, it is absolutely necessary. It is the nature of life, (which is one and the same as the Sage) that we are often forced, forced, into situations which make us uncomfortable. Now we all need comfort in our lives, but too much comfort is not a good thing, for sooner or later, we all need to learn how to swim, to learn how to deal with the forces that nature deals us. If we were always comfortable, we would never grow. So, we are going to be faced with, like it or not, challenges that we must deal with in order to grow. But we can enhance the task, by “willingly” jumping in, “Where angels fear to tread.” When we plunge into the darkness, (hexagram 29) we eventually come to see the light, (number 30. And as such, we learn from hexagram 57 line three, that we must search out the dark places, and give them light.


  6. Yes – absolutely. 29 often seems to come up when someone is looking for another way to walk round the chasm.

    Speaking of repeating pits… turns out this blog is still vulnerable to spammers hacking the posts. Argh. I’m at my wits’ end, so I’m going to pay an expert to fix this.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).