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What is resonance?

What is resonance?

I imagine anyone who’s lived with Yi for a while has also got used to the idea that the world around them gives them signs, and often these signs resonate strongly with readings. I had a ‘big’ Hexagram 10 reading a few years ago, and saw tigers everywhere. (Pictures of tigers, I mean. This is rural England, and there are – fortunately – limits to synchronicity.) You might have Hexagram 53 and hear the migrating geese flying overhead. Dreams and readings speak together, too: you might dream of losing your bag on the train and cast Hexagram 40 line 3. You might have the feeling that all these things – readings, dreams, the waking world – are made of the same resonant stuff, and all play the same chord together.

What got me thinking about this now was the experience, a few days ago, of being the resonant stuff used to play the chord. I was talking through a reading with a client, about the ‘king in his temple’ – that phrase that appears in hexagrams 45, 55 and 59. As I try to make that concept easier to relate to, I often add another image, like ‘bringing the king into the temple is like completing an electrical circuit, so the current can flow.’ But on this occasion, for no particular reason I was aware of, I said instead, ‘It’s like putting the key into the lock.’ And the reading’s owner visibly jumped, because she’d dreamt the previous night that she was trapped in a confined space, handed a key and told that only she could unlock the door and release herself.

Hearing the chord played is one thing; being played like an instrument myself is another.

So I thought to ask Yi about the whole thing. What is resonance?

Yi answered with Hexagram 58, Opening, changing at lines 2 and 5 to 51, Shock.

changing to

Isn’t that a beautiful reading?

58, Opening: the hexagram of communication, of exchange. Inner and outer lakes: the inner conversation of the heart, the outer conversation with the world, and the constant circulation between those two –

‘Lakes joined together. Opening.
A noble one joins with friends to speak and practise together.’

(It seems to me the ‘friends’ in question might just as well be dream teachers or migratory geese.)

And our experience of resonance in 51, Shock, the hexagram of repeated thunder: that moment of abrupt realisation, and re-realisation – this is speaking to me. The matrix of our usual comfortable assumptions about how the world works breaks open. Inner and outer shocks echo one another; this wakes us up; we jump.

Thunder resounds through the lake and its surface vibrates: lines 2 and 5, the lines at the surface of inner and outer lakes, are moving. Yi paints us a moving picture of resonance as it happens.

That means the two lines’ individual steps of change are the two hexagrams combining thunder and lake: 17, Following, and 54, the Marrying Maiden.

I was actually half-expecting to receive Hexagram 17 in response to this question, because I’ve seen it describe the phenomenon of synchronicity a few times before. There is a current flowing through things; if we’re aligned with this we experience the alignment as synchronicity. 58.2 shows Opening’s way of Following:

‘True and confident opening, good fortune.
Regrets vanish.’

This is one of several places in the Yijing where fu – truth, confidence, trust – stands in contrast to regrets. Regrets mean separating myself from the present moment, wishing I were in some fictional realm instead; fu means full presence. Naturally, regrets vanish in the presence of trust. Here’s resonance at work: opening and following, experiencing the deep rapport with what-is we call synchronicity. Total participation.

And… there is also line 5, joined with Hexagram 54:

‘Trusting in stripping away,
There is danger.’

Interesting, that resonance also comes with this health warning. What might be stripped away? Hexagram 54 – the hexagram for the girl who’s married off as a second wife, and has no say in the matter herself – suggests it’s self-determination.

I think this is a recognisable danger – something we can do with both readings and signs, and especially with the combination of the two.

‘I was going to fly to visit my mother for her 90th birthday, but a bird crashed into the window, so I knew I shouldn’t risk it.’

‘It’s true he never contacts me, but I saw a pair of swans dancing together in the park today. That’s the universe giving me a sign that our love is forever. And driving home, I happened to look at the clock in my car just when it said 11:53!

And so on. If we place our trust in signs, human discrimination, intelligence and good old-fashioned common sense (which, as my mother’s mother used to say, isn’t common) may be stripped away. There is danger.

Of course, this line only observes ‘there is danger’; it doesn’t say this means disaster. Sometimes in the Yijing it’s worth persisting despite danger. Very occasionally, the marriage of Hexagram 54 can lift you to a higher level of being, to participate in something greater than you would ever have attained alone. So perhaps trusting in what strips away autonomy is a way to become a ‘bride of creation’. (Or perhaps it isn’t.)

Thunder over the lake

9 responses to What is resonance?

  1. What a beautiful cast and great interpretation. Thunder and Lake balanced and elemental. I’ve always been rather fond of my own take on Shock:

    True knowledge is born of fear and trembling. It shields the wise from terror and brings laughter when fate goes into its gorilla act, beating its chest and growling, picking up busses and swatting at biplanes. For the wise and composed, terror is a thing made of smoke and mirrors, painted upon panes of glass, modeled in clay, a celluloid illusion.

    But your interpretation of it as a wake-up, a call, a “this is speaking to you” moment is beautiful and compelling. Thank you.

  2. Oh, I like the part about fate’s gorilla act. I think that would fit 51.1 especially well, because that’s where it really becomes a story, a ‘big screen’ picture (zhi 16).

    LiSe’s page on 51 is definitely worth a read – hm, I see she even says ‘it is the appearance of signs’!

  3. Thank you (both Hilary and Brian) for some wonderful images, visual aides upon the ‘current flowing through things’ with which we can align ourselves. Sometimes. That reading, though, seemed one of those moments – a particularly striking answer.

  4. Beautiful answer. The change patterns are nice too: yang pattern 29, the hexagram of (among other meanings) teaching, and yin pattern 30, insight, discerning.

  5. Chris – yes, ‘sometimes’ is about the size of it. A wise friend once suggested that the point isn’t to be there all the time, but to keep coming back.

    LiSe – aren’t they? I tend to think of yang pattern as very close to the mind doing the asking, which would be mine, so I ought to have an idea what it’s saying. Maybe something like, ‘Here I am again – where is “here” anyway, and shouldn’t I be learning something?’

  6. A very interesting subject, and one that may very well fit into the previous conversation of ‘synchronicity’ as well. I will have to read that one in a moment. I have noticed many times in life that if I plan to change a direction or do something unusual, things start popping up repeatedly that relate to that new plan. Lately, I have planned to go to India hopefully long term, and since I made that decision, I have started seeing multiple articles about India in my emails, and elsewhere, and in the Mall, both here and in the next largest town, I have seen stores pop up that sell goods from India, that were never there before. I have also seen stories about India in the news lately, several of them. When this happens, I usually interpret it to mean that I am on the right path, and the one that is right for me. I have seen this pattern in other things I have done in the past. But so much depends on whether we are following a spiritual path that we were meant to follow, or acting from our own ego and being self willed. Anyway, it is a fascinating subject.

    • I think hexagrams 17 and 18 describe a lot of the nuances of this: what am I following, what’s this river called that’s carrying me? (And where did I put my paddle? 😉 )

  7. I’ve been looking for something the past few days and your opening story just offered it up to me – this resonance exchanging thingy works in surprising ways 🙂

    thank you for sharing!

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