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Gifts, wealth, and hexagram 14

As I’ve mentioned before, I first got to know Hexagram 14, Great Possession, through volunteering. When I was just getting started with Yi, I asked about volunteering in general and about various individual opportunities, and received 14 again and again in the answers.

What I came to love about volunteering was how great things arose from such simplicity. You see what someone needs, and you provide it, spontaneously and without thought. The things you do may all be very small, and often the things the people around you do are also small, but when a whole group of people with this same motive force comes together, something great emerges and lives are changed.

Last week I had 14 as part of my weekly reading. My re-application forms for volunteering arrived (I’m changing volunteer placement, which means more government checks – more 47 than 14, those…) and I was on the alert for 14-ish things.

When I was coming home on Thursday night, I found myself short of money for the ’bus fare. Before I even had time to be embarrassed, much less to worry how I was going to travel the 10 miles to the train station, the man I’d been chatting to at the stop stepped forward to pay the difference for me. We were perfect strangers with nothing in common, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever see him again. He saw a need and – in the same moment – acted to fill it.

Later in the same trip, I was cycling home from the station and had a slight mishap with the back of a parked car. Someone showed up to move my bike off the road, check I was OK, and wait with me in the rain until my husband arrived. When we’d assured him I was fine and there was nothing else he could do, he quietly went home.

A couple of days later, a forum I just joined organised their first group phone call. There is no leader running this group. Someone has created a private forum for us; someone has an account with a free teleconference provider and volunteered to lead the call; someone else collected up our email addresses and sent out reminders with the details; someone else provided download space for the call recording. The call happened, and it was good.

All this is 14 in action: Great Possession that arises because people see needs and fill them, and because we co-operate.

Where is this to be found in Hexagram 14 – besides in experience, that is?

There’s the name of the hexagram: Great Possession. The word for ‘Possession’, which also means ‘being’, shows an open hand. According to LiSe, “Later a piece of meat was added, to emphasize possessing.” You can see as much on the Chinese Etymology site – except that, on reflection, you cannot tell whether the hand is holding the meat or offering it.

(While you are enjoying the wealth of information on the Chinese etymology page, you may notice that – wholly in the spirit of Hexagram 14 – it has a ‘Paypal donate’ button towards the top right. Please use it!)

Also… 14 follows from 13; Great Possession arises from People in Harmony. In fact, since these two hexagrams are an inverted pair, you can say that Great Possession is the same thing, the same pattern of energies, as People in Harmony, just seen from a different angle. (And if you read about the ‘gift economy’, as I’ve just begun doing, this makes wonderful sense.)

And most simply of all: the pattern of the lines of hexagram 14 –
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– shows five strong, solid, yang lines gathered around a single, open yin line in the fifth place. This is the place of vision and choice, and it is the ruling line. The guiding principle of this hexagram is the yin: what is open, responsive and (as Karcher says of hexagram 2) willing to provide what is needed. It creates the upper trigram li – fire, light and vision. Seeing what is needed, responding spontaneously to provide it, Great Possession comes into being and we are wealthy.

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