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Hexagram 26, intention and space

This post is such an agglomeration of things it’s not really title-able.  How about  ‘Complementary hexagrams, 26 and 45 in particular, and intention, and the usual brilliance of Jen Louden or What happens if you read everything with hexagram eyes’?


Anyway… it starts – before that 61-to-29 reading persuaded me to give readings with specific questions/objectives a break – with a reading about the gift of Jen Louden’s Life Organizer book. The relating hexagram in the reading was 26, Great Taming.

Bought the book, read through, and came to the part where she talks about Intention in a way I hadn’t conceived of it before. She describes the ‘possible bag’, a rawhide bag given to Plains Indian children as they mature. This will be filled with medicine tools, life skills and discoveries. And this, she says, is like intention.

An intention might be ‘staying playfully focussed’ or ‘how can I be kind to myself?’ or ‘listening to Spirit for guidance on the book project’.  Any of these would guard you against becoming scattered and losing yourself by creating its own ‘possibility space’ where skills, discoveries, powers – de – can gather.

OK, Jen doesn’t mention de; this is where ‘hexagram eyes’ come in. What she’s talking about sounds to me very much like Hexagram 26. There’s the outer trigram of mountain acting, as it often does, as a kind of ‘lid’, creating a container. And so,

‘Heaven dwells in the centre of the mountain: Great Taming.
A noble one uses the many annals of ancient words and past deeds,
And builds up his de.’


There is the farmer, who initially has just calves, piglets, wild horses and an intention.

It becomes fruitful to cross the great river, perhaps because your intention is a supple, stretchy kind of possibility bag that reaches out to encompass more than you can be at home with.

So if 26 is a space for gathering powers, resources, the means of fulfilling a purpose, then it’s a space for its complementary hexagram, 45. Great Taming allows Gathering to come into being. (It even rears the ‘great sacrificial animals’ that will be called for there!)

I wonder whether this could be a useful way to think about complementary hexagrams in general: that they create the space within which their complement is possible. Decrease, for instance, 41, might be said to empty out space so 31 can invite in new influence and feeling. Harmony between people allows the emergence of a purposeful army. And have you read the quotation LiSe chooses to illustrate Hexagram 19?

In ‘Cave in the snow’, Tenzin Palmo says: “Why does one go into retreat? One goes into a retreat to understand who one really is and what the situation truly is. When one begins to understand oneself then one can truly understand others because we are all interrelated. It is very difficult to understand others while one is still caught up in the turmoil of one’s emotional involvement – because we’re always interpreting others from the standpoint of our own needs. That’s why, when you meet hermits who have really done a lot of retreat, say twenty-five years, they are not cold and distant. On the contrary. They are absolutely lovely people. You know that their love for you is totally without judgment because it doesn’t rely on who you are or what you are doing, or how you treat them. It’s totally impartial. It’s just love. It’s like the sun – it shines on everyone.”

Maybe complements allow one another. What do you think?

(Also, how about, ‘The Yijing ate my brain’ as a title?)

7 responses to Hexagram 26, intention and space

  1. >>>(Also, how about, ‘The Yijing ate my brain’ as a title?)<<<

    Hmmm, don't think so. 🙂

    Here's an observation that's been years in the making, literally: Perhaps you are not looking at everything with Yijing eyes but, on the contrary, you might be looking at the Yijing through the glasses of all the self-help books you read, digest and quote.

    A very biased comment, I'd admit wholeheartedly, as I have an extremely short attention span for "enlightened," self-help books authors. Heck, forget Mandino, I can't even get into Coelho… 🙂

  2. Mebbe, but I wouldn’t describe Jen L as ‘self help’. I believe she’s the inventor of ‘international freedom from self-improvement day’. And I enjoyed the Alchemist very much (especially the oracle that opts out), but gave up on Coelho’s latest. It just seemed over-full of deeply significant quotations in the making.

    Moving on, what do you think of the complementary hexagram idea?

  3. Freedom from “self-improvement”? And yet, she writes something titled “Life Organizer”? The universe is full of paradoxes…

    Hmmm, “possibility bags”? That’s a present fashion trend modeled after the real “Medicine Bags” of Native Americans. Like this one I made myself and have carried in my pocket for over 20 years: http://www.yitoons.com/images/LAndrade-medicinebag-2.jpg A great conversation piece at airports’ security checkpoints, I tell you… No joke, post 9/11, but many years before that, I once told one officer that if he made me open it, the spirit living in it would curse him… Would you believe he took heed of it? 🙂

    As for complementary hexagrams, that’s a touchy issue, if you remember the lengthy discussions on the subject stored in the forum. People tend to make of them a whole bunch of different things. Personally, I see them as, if you think of it fairly unbiased (ahem, look who’s talking…) what they are: a part of, an aspect, an angle, a side,…, etc., of a whole. I even interpret no moving lines as “doubling-up” the meaning of an hexagram, where “it” becomes its own “complementary”. But that’s me and my aversion for “bottled” meanings. I mean, what I just said may appear contradicting, but I believe that your present Self, and “context and circumstance” surrounding a reading, always, always trumps preconceived ideas. It works as a Trinity of Self, Symbol and Context/Circumstance. Alas, the same way Self and C/C are dynamic, so is Symbol, even if it moves on a different timescale. Actually, all three move along different timescales as far as observable Change is concerned. We just try to harmonize those moving ribbons into coherent meaning.

  4. The title is my least favourite part of the book – not exactly representative.

    Medicine bags… there’s one in the glorious Pitt Rivers museum. The notes on it – dating from some time in the 1800s, I think – explain that it isn’t permitted to open it, and therefore it hasn’t been opened.

    I agree that meanings do not bottle; no reading can be broken down into components and explained by a set of preconceived ideas. But ideas about relationships between hexagrams can give rise to good questions to ask about readings, which I think is about the best anyone can hope for. I like your thought on unchanging hexagrams… also discussed on occasion, I think. I find the way those go depends on the hexagram. 12 unchanging is just very, very blocked. 11 unchanging – God knows what that’ll do without outlet.

    Symbol dynamic, changing along a timescale? That sparks my curiosity. Example, pls?

  5. Well, of course, generalities can be glimpsed and applied when dealing with the symbols of the Yijing (or any other set of symbols). They are certainly key and follow, pretty much, a standard and established model that’s both memorable and recallable and open to dynamic interpretation. What I mean is that those generalities are only a portion of a whole and if undue weight is given to them in detriment of the other parts, then the reading suffers. One thing is to understand that, another is to find the right balance between the parts. That harmony should give you a meaningful reading.

    >>Symbol dynamic, changing along a timescale? That sparks my curiosity. Example, pls?

    For all intents and purposes, it is a metaphor. A metaphor that can be visualized in the laws of circular motion or planetary movements. It deals with degrees of "permanence." In a trinity of Symbol, Self and Context/Circumstances, which one is the aspect with most permanence? I'd say Symbol, right? Then comes Self and C/C is the fastest moving aspect of that metaphorical trinity. But, even as slow as Symbol is in changing it is still doing it. Then, if you visualize three concentric circles, Symbol sits at, or very close to, the center, then comes Self and the outer circle is C/C. In visualizing speed of "change," when that set of circles spins, the slowest moving part is Symbol and the fastest is C/C. Ideally, everything that spins together (point A in Symbol is locked to point AA in Self and to point AAA in C/C) would be "harmonious," so to speak (and utterly monotonous). The problem is that reality fools our perception and we appear to live in a spiral where the parts that click together, and would otherwise make all three circles spin at the same rate, are out of phase. That's why we are forced to plot a road map, starting with C/C (which is always the prompt…), passing through Self and reaching back to Symbol, to interpret where we are exactly and how to proceed forward. Alas, plotting is always a complicated affair, prone to calculation (interpretation) errors.

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