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The basic human need that Yi answers

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series The need Yi answers: to 48

I’m not quite sure how long ago I cast this reading. A search at archive.org reveals that I’d already uploaded it to IChingResources by April 2001. So some time before then, I had at least noticed that there were, as I put it, ‘books to be written about this answer’. While the books remain unwritten, I can at least make a few blog posts.

I asked, What is the basic human need the I Ching answers?
And Yi responded with Hexagram 49, Radical Change, moving at lines 1, 2 and 4 to reveal Hexagram 48, the Well.

Isn’t that a beautiful, fascinating answer? Yi answers our need for… Radical Change at the Well? A Well for Radical Change? The meaning that captivates me now is the well for change: the power and skill of change, and the steady, pure, clear, unchanging source that both sustains and (according to the Sequence) necessitates the change.

Beginning with the primary hexagram – not a big surprise, perhaps, to learn that the Book of Change answers our need for change. Only this is specifically regime change, or as Karcher calls it, a ‘change of culture’. Yi helps us to change the government, to change what’s in power – the way of seeing, understanding, relating and running things that’s the norm.

On an individual level, that’s generally some blend of inertia, habit, self-image, ‘should’s, and real and imagined coercion. To change the governing principle is also, critically, a change of identity – putting on a new skin, a new way of being. And on a societal level… maybe it’s much the same, both what’s in power and how it’s changed. Hexagram 49 throws out the old regime to make space for one that’s alive and in touch with the wellsprings – connected to spirit.

This isn’t necessarily the same thing, of course, as being in motion and making things happen. One of the ruts we can get into is certainly the ‘making it happen, getting things done’ rut – as if nothing could evolve by its own nature – and in that case Radical Change would bring stillness. I think 49 overcomes ruts of all kinds.

So is this kind of change a fundamental human need? I think it must be… at least, the resource to be capable of change, and a belief in the possibility. That’s a deep desire of ours, tapped into in some form by the more ‘inspirational’ election campaigns, the ones where people are really voting for the possibility of a different world, not just for a politician.

We live in the flow of time, and we want the growth and healing it can bring. We want to believe the status quo can be changed, yet we easily fall into believing that it can’t be, that this is ‘just how it is’ and we must be ‘realistic’ about it. Radical Change is the embodied, present awareness that there is an alternative.

‘Radical change.
On your own day, there is truth and confidence.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Regrets vanish.’

There is fu – that quality of trust and being true which opens channels and creates an interface, a way or place of connection. Without it, there’s no relationship, no reading; with it, on your own day, with right timing (certainly a need Yi meets!), you have access to ‘creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit’: the four numinous Chinese words that open the whole book, and evoke the power of the creative process. Change can happen; things can be unmade and remade; the energy is available for this. And if you can bring about real change in the present, you have no reason to dwell in regret.

(A small theological excursion. I’m reading slowly through Michael Lerner’s Spirit Matters, in which he says that the name YHWH is made of the markers for the present and future tense, and means the power for healing and transformation in the universe. Well… I’ve always had the feeling that time was invented to allow the possibility of change.)

‘In the centre of the lake there is fire. Radical Change.
A noble one calculates the heavenly signs and clarifies the seasons.’

– putting the light of awareness (fire) firmly inside the liquid stuff of interaction (lake). I think the Image authors were aware that it takes some work for us to learn to recognise ‘our own day’. (A basic question for Yi: ‘What time is it?’) Divination provides a way to reset the internal clock, so it can tell the objective quality of the time clearly – for instance, not confusing ‘time to act’ with ‘time when impatience/ guilt/ anxiety/ social pressure have become overwhelming.’

(Moving lines and relating hexagram to come…)

12 responses to The basic human need that Yi answers

  1. Its an interesting answer for you but…..I can’t see that one persons personal answer applies to the whole of humanity……ever

  2. Our experience(s) can show us ‘synchronicity’ individually and collectively. The scope of that experience depends on the scope of our individual awareness. There are no ‘right or wrong’ answers. Ultimately we are ‘all ONE’.

  3. Also within our need for the revolutionary change of 49 is the implicit letting go of the past, and who knows one person,s self improvement may help shift old governments that have been ruling right through their family line. It can be so powerful– personally I have been finding that ‘ my own day’ has meant ‘when it hurts enough’, as the point where I have been able to embrace total change, the kind where you cannot no go back to the point you came from.

    Seeing as you already brought theology into it a little I,ll pop in this quote from agatha Christine,s Appointment with death, somewhat of a segue but your post made me think of it.

    ” There is nothing in the world so damaged that it cannot be repaired by the hand of almighty god. I encourage you to know this, because without this certainty, we should all of us be mad.”

  4. It is when our life “stinks” (hexagram forty seven) that we go to the well, without that experience in the desert when nothing seems to satisfy, we have no need to seek any further answers. We think we know life as it is enough to make our lives work. When we pass through the desert, the wilderness, as did the children of Israel, we become dissatisfied with our lives and search for answers. For some that might be the Bible, for others the I Ching, and there are still other ways. Hence the following hexagram forty eight, in which we can go to find answers. People don’t just decide to look for spiritual answers. They look for spiritual answers when they realize their lives aren’t working. So they go to the well, but they do not understand the answers except on a limited basis. All who go to the well go only to “shoot fishes,” and eventually come to realize that their “jug leaks.” Once we realize this, and become more in tune with the vibrations of the I Ching, then we experience radical change in our lives as in hexagram forty nine. Once we experience radical change, then a major transformation occurs in our life, and we experience the wonderful new age that is described in hexagram fifty. Even so we must continue the work, because regardless of all that has transformed us, we are shocked (hexagram fifty one) into realizing that there is yet more to experience. So we sit quietly, waiting for answers from the sage in hexagram fifty two, and in hexagram fifty three, we become through various stages even more proficient in understanding the deeper levels until finally, we reach the cloud heights in hexagram fifty three line six.


  5. Chingching – ‘when it hurts enough’ is a version of ‘your own day’ I can recognise! Something has to overcome the inertia.

    Also, theology from Agatha Christie? Perfect.

    Gene –
    …and then we find ourselves suddenly a tiny fish in a huge ocean, utterly out of our depth – again in 54. But yes, I see what you see in the progression from 47 through 50. I’d take a step further back, too: you experience 47 when your best 46 efforts are not working. You thought that if you kept climbing you would get somewhere; that was how it was supposed to work. Only it doesn’t… and then you have to change direction altogether.

  6. Hilary

    I like your responses. They show good insight. You have spent a few years studying clearly.

    Often we get caught up in how far we have climbed and not the process of climbing. We have to realize that the process is important, not just the destination. And when we can’t climb any further, and regress, it is just part of a natural law. But since we want life to work a certain way and it does not, we find ourselves in a “gloomy valley.”


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