...life can be translucent

Listening differently (and not posting much)


Well… in the first weeks of September I was bubbling over with ideas for blog posts. I’d write two, and ‘schedule’ one to be published later so as not to overdo it. And then I published that last one on Hexagram 23, and waited for inspiration to strike again…

…and I’m still waiting.


I’ve still been thinking and writing – the ‘Reading for Others’ materials are coming along, there have been some great readings shared in Reading Circle, and I’ve spent some intriguing hours researching and writing for a Yi Academy thread where we’re looking at the qualities of lines in trigrams. So it’s not that my brain’s ground to a complete halt – but it does seem to have slowed down a lot, and it’s not in a co-operative mood.

Me: ‘Brain, how about a new blog idea?’
Brain: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Maybe we could work up that idea about…?’
Brain: ‘No.’
Me: ‘OK, look at all the unchecked items on this to-do list of website jobs. Let’s…’
Brain: ‘No. Browse internet, eat chocolate.’
Me: ‘Dark or milk?’

This is a bit alarming… Things I told myself I’d do, don’t get done. The email inbox fills up again; distractions have somehow become ten times more distracting. And although I’m not depressed, I remember past winters with SAD when the only thing that could hold my interest was the underside of the duvet. I don’t want this to be the beginning of that.

Question for Yi: ‘How best to navigate this winter?’

(I thought of asking ‘how to get work done’ but decided that was too narrow a question. Better to keep it open.)

…and what Yi said: 50.3.6 to 40

The Vessel and its Release.

I won’t try to write up everything I’ve thought about the reading – it would fill pages, and Recalcitrant Brain isn’t interested – but I would like to share what I’ve been learning about Hexagram 50, line 3. A quick overview and context first…

The Vessel, I think, is just me and how I live – how I cook up a way of life with the ingredients of daily routine, ideas, patterns of thought, what I take in. Vessel as way of life, Vessel as awareness and state of mind.

And Release is a reminder, at once, that it’s possible to overdo the ‘should’s. I should be fixing up website things, troubleshooting technical problems, writing blog posts and participating more on the forums; I should be developing a social media presence, making videos, turning the audio course into a podcast and getting some ebooks onto Amazon, and I should absolutely get to Inbox Zero… should shouldity should, a giant tangle of assorted guilt trips. Release unties a few of those knots.

The Vessel’s Release… since Release has that deceptively-simple oracle about turning and coming back with no place to go, and setting out at daybreak when there’s a direction to go, I think the Vessel’s Release is its power to be in the right place at the right time. In 50’s imagery, it’s about the vessel’s portability.

Sure enough, the two lines are about the ‘ears’ – the carrying loops – and the handle that slots through them.

‘The vessel’s ears are radically changed,
Its action blocked.
Rich pheasant fat goes uneaten.
Rain on all sides lessens regrets,
In the end, good fortune.’

‘The vessel has a jade handle
Great good fortune,
Nothing that does not bear fruit.’

Now, line 6 is reassuring and lovely, because it reminds me of what endures – a jade handle, a vessel that’s almost eternally portable, brain glitches notwithstanding.

And line 3?

It’s easy to recognise this as Brain On Strike. ‘Its action blocked’ or ‘movement blocked’ – and ‘blocked’ is a word that can be used for blocked drains, of all things. Flow is stopped. The brain says ‘no’. Lots of things that could potentially be helpful or nourishing to people can’t be made available and stay uneaten. But later, there will be rain, the release of tension, antithesis of blockage, and good fortune in the end. Line 6 is about what endures, what’s always true; line 3 says there’s also weather, things that change. It’s not reasonable to expect myself to be the same all year round, and what’s stuck now will be unstuck later.

Only for now, the vessel’s ears are to be radically changed. I understand this is a metaphor about listening – the word ‘ears’ means literally ‘ears’ as well as those carrying loops – but what does it actually mean to ‘change my ears’?

I think it means listening to guidance in a different way, maybe listening to a different kind of guidance. What is there to guide me, besides Shouldy McShouldface?

I half-listened to a New-Age-y audio while I was doing the washing up. Only half-listened, because it was mostly mightily annoying ‘law of attraction’ twaddle, but then I suddenly heard a woman say, ‘I call it listening to my inner ding.’ She was talking about listening to intuitive guidance in the moment, doing what presented itself to be done, as opposed to making firm plans. And naturally, she wasn’t actually referring to an ancient Chinese sacred vessel – but still. Synchronicity isn’t fussy.

The paired line for this one – the ‘same line’ if I just stand on my head to look at the reading – is 49.4:

‘Regrets vanish, there is truth and confidence.
Changing mandate, good fortune.’

‘The vessel’s ears are radically changed,
Its action blocked.
Rich pheasant fat goes uneaten.
Rain on all sides lessens regrets,
In the end, good fortune.’

A change of mandate, reflected in the change to the vessel’s ears. Different calling, different orders, maybe a different kind of orders. The Sequence says that for radically changing things, nothing equals the vessel, so I imagine that the whole story of 50.3 is how the mandate gets changed in practice.

The inner experience for this line pathway is in hexagrams 64 and 63, Not Yet Across and Already Across –

‘The leaks are plugged with clothes of silk
For the whole day, on guard.’

‘Not yet across. Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Fruitful to cross the great river.’

And that to me suggests the importance of ongoing, on-flowing commitment. You might have to get wet before you can bring order – if you can bring any order at all – and the task might feel more like just keeping afloat than organising anything. (Yes, it might.)

Since casting that reading, I’ve had some very watery experiences. There were the three occasions in rapid succession when I thoroughly annoyed people by explaining without listening. And then I had a terrific plan in mind – presented it proudly to Yi for endorsement/encouragement – and had Yi pour gallons of cold water over my bright shiny idea. Twice.

Then again… getting wet is no bad thing, is it? It might just unblock that drain, I mean brain. The most recent advice I received from Yi was 43.3 –

‘Vigour in the cheekbones means a pitfall.
Noble one decides, decides.
Goes alone, meets the rain,
And is indignant as if he were soaked through.
Not a mistake.’

So I shall squelch along gently, keeping my ears open…

4 responses to Listening differently (and not posting much)

  1. As far as not getting things done, boy can I ever relate. I think you do much better than I do though because you stick to one subject much more than I do, and that is good. I am all over the place, I try to study Biblical Hebrew, I have gotten very, very little done. I try to practice Tai Chi, and find not nearly enough time to do it. I study the I Ching, I study esoteric Christianity and gnosticism. I tried to study numerology, but am getting nowhere, I also try to study astrology, but once again, get very little done. Of course, I don’t even make the best use of my time because I get tired of sitting in the house studying all the time and like to get out.

    Anyway, back to the I Ching. The third line says, “The vessel’s ears are changed.” Oftentimes, in studying the I Ching, we suddenly start “hearing” things differently. It is no longer a matter of just reading the words and getting a simple answer to it. Now we “hear” with our inner ear, and that leads to a radical change. While in the past the “fat” (deeper meaning) has been missed, now, with the rain that washes things clean, and brings “nourishment”, we suddenly see things differently, and a pig is no longer a pig, but a metaphor for the uncleanness in our mental attitudes and perceptions. The fat is no longer just the food, but the deeper message we have been missing all along. In this life we see “as through a glass darkly” but every so often just a little more sun shines in. Once the rain is spent, the light of the sun returns, ever brighter and more glorious than before.

  2. The synchronicity with the pointer to your inner ding reminded of my first guided meditation when I was about 18. It was at an astrology seminar and the astrologer ended with a meditation. There I was following the right breathing with my eyes shut and right in the middle of the meditation there was this beautiful temple bell that sounded off and went on for a seemingly long long trailing off. I thought wow how powerful and moving that moment was but couldn’t remember the bell being out at the start of the session. When we finished I opened my eyes and I asked about the bell and where it was and they all looked at me kind of quizzically as apparently there was no bell. Well awkward moment + for me till the lovely and kind astrologer said it was probably something about clairsentience… I kind of let it go as I had no clue.

    Many years later I got closer to an explanation when I read about the Buddhist bell meditation and how the bell was a calling to seek refuge to your inner Buddha. I don’t know what triggered the moment but it certainly stayed with me as one of those numinous moments about how rich and valuable the pathway can be at times for all its demands. It’s so easy to get out of synch with the souls needs for occasional periods of refuge in a world that demands our constant active awareness and knowingness. The internet is such a wonderful but relentless beast. We are expected to have answers for everything and I can only imagine the pressures of your work with Clarity. For a person seeking deeper understanding the need to consciously identify meaning in everything we do can become habitual. If you strike a cauldron it may well make the sound like a temple bell. The ding sound is the sound that resonates from our centre, and let’s us be solid and real just by breathing and centres us so we can attempt to be sustainably loving in a world that can be confused, challenging and grasping. Simple soulful nourishment out of the cauldron and just being with your heart (the inner jade) is perhaps calling rather than mindfulness. Refuge. The outcome, preparation for a soulful time of deliverance or liberation. The chocolate and duvet sounds also well prescribed. There is a lovely meditation below if you feel like it is right for you.

    Best wishes


  3. Just a further thought…this is more about inner listening rather than outer listening. If we benchmark ourselves solely against what we hear from outside we will get lost in the sea of others. Our reference point for our compass should also be from listening to our core. Trust in the soul’s purpose.
    The truth in the centre is forever calm.

  4. Thank you, Gene. It intrigues me that the Tuanzhuan actually says, ‘The Vessel is an image.’ I don’t believe it only means the shape of the gua.

    Graham – thank you – for your thoughtfulness and for the link.

Leave a Reply to Graham Cancel reply

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).