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A trigram picture of Opposing

I mentioned in a recent post how the hexagram picture of Hexagram 38, gui, Opposing, looks like the eyes in its name. The six lines together illustrate two eyes that see differently, or squint – which is one of the meanings of gui.

What about the trigram picture, though – the combined landscape painted by fire and light above and a lake below?

This is one of those that’s relatively easy to imagine: sunlight is shining on the water. I’ve always imagined this as light sparkling on the water’s surface, broken up by the ripples…

sunlight sparkling on the sea

Only… over the past six months, I’ve had a lot more opportunity to watch sunlight on water. While I’m ‘between homes’, I’ve had the great good fortune to live down in the south of England, within sight of the sea. I can look out of a window, down the valley towards the sea – an amazing view, different every time I look.

Here’s a photograph I took in June, when the high, early-summer sun turned the sea a deep blue:

But I can’t show you a photograph of how it looks on a clear day now – no camera could really capture it. With the sun lower in the sky, the surface of the sea is lit up in one brilliant, white glare – almost as bright as the sun itself, and impossible to look at directly.

And so it dawns on me that sunlight on water isn’t always the same. The light will sometimes be broken up into little, glittering shards, and sometimes it’ll be this single, dazzling, squintinducing brilliance.

This makes me think again about the Oracle of 38 –

Small affairs, good fortune.’

It’s easy enough to see why great affairs would not be fortunate in times of Opposition: when people are seeing differently, increasing the stakes only increases the sense that this is an existential conflict. But the oracle doesn’t say ‘great affairs, danger’ (even if that’s implied) but ‘small affairs, good fortune’.

A different way of seeing small things could be the beginning of great change – a little opening to insert the tip of the lever. Someone saw a machine that cleans by blowing dust and imagined one that used suction instead. Someone contemplated a postage system where the recipient paid (or didn’t) and envisioned the prepaid postage stamp. No doubt one day, when a load was being laboriously moved with rollers, as people ran to pick up the tree trunks left behind the slow-moving load and carry them round to lay them in front of it, someone started to picture in their mind’s eye how the rolling thing might be attached to the load itself…

The light on the water could sparkle invitingly and draw the eye onward – or it could create a bright, glaring challenge to your whole way of being and seeing, something impossible to look at at all.

glare of bright sunlight on the sea

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