...life can be translucent

Yearly Archives: 2009

Stirring the lake

Every now and then, I open a book and the words leap out at me as hexagram commentary – and then ramblings like these result…

Here’s Thomas Moore, in Care of the Soul, talking about faith.

‘Imagine,’ he says, ‘a trust in yourself, or another person, or in life itself, that doesn’t need to be proved or demonstrated, that is able to contain uncertainty.’

(I imagine Hexagram 61, Inner Truth, and 孚, fu, truth.)

He encourages a faith that can embrace doubt rather than splitting it off. (Does that suggest a new idea about the ‘other’ of 61, line 1?) Then –

‘Also, if we don’t acknowledge the shadow side of faith, we tend to romanticize our belief and keep it in fantasy, apart from life. Jung tells about a dream of one of his patients, a theologian. In it the dreamer approaches a lake he had long avoided. As he draws near, a wind stirs the waters and makes ripples. He wakes up terrified. In discussing the dream Jung reminded him of the pool of Bethseda in the Gospel, which was stirred by an angel and became a healing water. But the patient was reluctant to respond. He didn’t like that stirring and he didn’t see a connection between theology and life. …To respond trustingly to the challenges of life and to the stirring of the soul’s waters is to bring faith to completion.’

Above the lake is the wind – Inner Truth – and the noble one here will engage in long deliberations to delay executions; he’ll take no firm, irreversible decisions. I suppose this must mean he is never completely certain – he’s always open to be moved, like the lake, and so there is always space for doubt.

Another hexagram-lens to see this through might be 54, the Marrying Maiden: the lake below, and the way it is stirred. The challenge of 54 – one of them, anyway – seems to be to find equilibrium and authenticity in a situation where you cannot ‘bring order’ of your own, or even set your own direction. Change happens to you, you get moved and ‘married’ into a new place, and you must needs grow into it; you don’t have the luxury of adjusting the situation to fit with your pace of growth. The lake is stirred, the vibrations travel through – and then there’s that impossibly lovely, enigmatic and untranslatable Image:

‘Above the lake, there is thunder. The Marrying Maiden.
A noble one through ever-flowing endings
Knows what wears out.’

She gets a clear understanding of what cannot last, what is brittle and susceptible to wearing out, by sensing the quality of flow that complete things have. ‘…To respond trustingly to the challenges of life and to the stirring of the soul’s waters is to bring faith to completion.’

And Thomas Moore continues,

‘Belief can be fixed and unchanging, but faith is almost always a response to the presence of the angel, like the one who stirs the waters. Or it could be the angel who appears to the Virgin Mary and demands absurd faith in his message that she is pregnant with a divine child. “Fiat mihi,” she says to the angel, “Let it happen to me even though I don’t understand.” This angel, Gabriel, appears more often than you might think, telling us that we are pregnant with a new form of life that we should accept and trust.’

I’ve never been able to look at the Image of 54 without thinking of Mary – maiden become wife, mother of a future king (like the younger sister in 54, line 5), keeping these things and pondering them in her heart.

Dangers of experience

Ah – experience. People phone me up to say they’d like an interpretation from someone who has more of the stuff. We gather it in journals (and Change Circle’s WikiWing); it crystallises into a clear inner sense of what lines and hexagrams mean; it’s worth more than any 20 commentaries put together… so naturally I… Continue Reading

Getting written

There’s something about writing on the Yijing – it’s not like other books, that just sit there mutely and allow themselves to be translated. I think people who’ve worked through the hexagram-by-hexagram threads over the years have had similar experiences, as the line of the day just happens to show up in their experience. There… Continue Reading

Pounding the drum

Hexagram 14, Great Possession, says at line 4, 匪其彭。无咎。 – Not your (or its) peng, no mistake. Peng means power and dominance – Wu Jing Nuan translates with his usual succinctness, ‘Not his to be strong’  – and the old character shows a drum with three strokes next to it, perhaps representing the sound of the… Continue Reading

Not Knowing etymology

All meanings of the name of this post are intentional, as I really don’t know the first thing about Chinese etymology. But in my ignorance, I just stumbled over something wonderful in the first line of Hexagram 4, Not Knowing. Hexagram 4, line 1 speeds the young ignoramus on her way by removing her fetters… Continue Reading

Not Knowing and Protection

One of the meanings of Hexagram 4, Not Knowing, is being ‘covered over’, like a young animal whose mother hides it in the undergrowth. This means you can’t see as far as you’d like to, something which people tend to find frustrating – and yet the image of the young creature in the undergrowth, to… Continue Reading

Yi, or the Yi

A while ago, I received an email politely suggesting I stop referring to the Yi simply as ‘Yi’ without an article. The writer maintained that since the oracle is ‘not a person’, it would be better not to give it a ‘pet name’; this was not good English usage when talking about a book. I… Continue Reading

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