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Hexagrams 17 and 18

wanderer

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Hexagram 17, Following, is quite significant. Following has a double meaning (if not more). It refers both to the act of following and to having others follow, a following. We are advised to follow that which is right. If we do we can achieve a following.

We each are many people. We tend to unify our vision of self with the most positive. We tend to disassociate ourselves from the selves that are least appealing. ?I have not been myself/: ?That is not like me.? ?I would not do something like that.? ?I am myself again.? These and many other common expressions tell the tale. The fact is that the petty self, the envious self, the angry self, the jealous self, the devious self, the ambitious self, the hurt self, the argumentative self, the seductive self, the lazy self, the fearful self, and all the other selves are part of us. We choose not to own them because of particular prejudices against them. The qualities that we value we try to display in picture frames. The qualities that we disown we try to hide away in the closet. This leads to a myriad of problems of confused identity.

The I Ching talks consistently about the Superior Man. The Superior Man can be someone on the outside who we admire. But it is really about the superior man that we all are. There is the person within us all that acts in ?the right way?. The meaning of I Ching is book of the easy. Easy is ?the right way?. Easy is doing what somewhere deep inside we know to be the right thing. When we act from this knowledge, we become ?the superior man?. When we act from this knowledge, we follow the path. When we act from this knowledge, we attract others. When we act from this knowledge, the other selves will follow our higher self.

Hexagram 18, Work on what has been spoiled, is about natural decay. Decay occurs when we fail to pay attention to the little things that distract us. It is like walking down a path and not looking where one is going. We get distracted by some scenery, or our lesser selves, or some ?harmless? dalliance. It is so easy to do. It is quite natural.

We do not need to wring our hands and despair. We do not need to beat ourselves with a strap. But if we want to progress down the path, we do need to get back in focus.

The first step is to realize what has happened. Then we need to correct our attitude. And finally we need to redouble our efforts to stay focused on our path.

Keep in mind that our lesser selves want to be in control. They seek distractions which bring them to power. And they are quite good at it. It happens almost imperceptively. So sometimes we will wake up and realize that for a long period of time we have been off the path. We do not need retribution for this. We simply need to recommit to the path. When we do this, our superior self regains control.

It is worth noting that this hexagram follows ?Following?. The implication is that straying from the path is as normal and natural as can be. It is not dissimilar to being distracted while meditating. The key is not to dwell on the straying but to focus on getting back.

In hex 17, Nine in the beginning speaks of firmness and adaptability. Although we listen to all voices, from others and from our lesser selves, we must be firm in doing right. Our principles cannot be compromised. Yet we also should realize that being human means that we can not be dogmatic in our opinions. This only leads to opposition. We have to make allowances that other people, and our lesser selves, will follow only willingly. We can not force them to do so. This line is linked to hex 45, Massing Together, which advises us that ?the superior man renews his weapons in order to meet the unforeseen?. It is not enough to bring people (our selves) together, though that is important. We must also be vigilant to the forces that would drive them apart again.

Six in the second place gives us a choice. We can associate with our higher self, or our childish self. We can associate with people who value truth, or people who do not. We have to choose because the two are not compatible. If we go from one to the other we simply fool ourselves. We find that our higher self becomes weakened by the dissipation. This line is linked to hex 58, The Joyous Lake, which says ?true joy must be based on steadfastness if it is not to degenerate into uncontrolled mirth.? Again we have an extremely positive possibility, couched with a stern warning. Do not take our good fortune for granted, perseverance in what is right will further us along the path.

Six in the third place refers to the gains and the loss of following one?s higher self. For everything that we gain, something is lost. For everything that is lost, something is gained. When we give ourselves freely to what is right (follow our higher self) our lesser selves will suffer. Envy, jealousy, anger, scorn, vindictiveness, distraction, aloofness, lust and all the rest will clamor to be heard. Those who we played with in our never ending drama will feel slighted. Yet there is something that replaces these distractions. This is described in hex 49, Revolution, which talks of proceeding in the right way and at the right time. Line 3 in this hexagram talks of the two dangers of proceeding too hastily and delaying too long. Not every change is appropriate. We cannot execute our lesser selves. We should not ?kill? our friends who are not following a higher path. Yet we must not dawdle with them either. We must accept them for who they are, and yet follow our own higher path.

Nine in the fourth place speaks of one of the dangers of improvement. Often when we curb one of our lesser selves, another lesser self becomes encouraged. Pride can be a great sin. When we start taking ourselves too seriously, we take undo credit or we exaggerate our progress, we become frozen. It is only through humility and constant caution that we move toward progress. This line is linked with hex 3, Difficulty at the Beginning. We must always remind ourselves that no matter how things seem, no matter how far it may seem that we have gone, we are all just at the beginning of our journey.

Nine in the firth place encourages all that seek good. If we keep a focus on what is right, all else will take care of itself. This is linked to hex 51, The Arousing, which tells us to keep awe and respect for God.

Six at the top refers to a sage who after transcending earthly problems returns to the world to aid a follower. To me this means that no matter how far we go on our path, that we will still have to tend to our lesser selves. Even the most exalted sage cannot escape the world entirely. This line is linked with hex 25, Innocence, which talks of the innately good nature that man receives from Heaven. But it warns that not all that is natural is good. If we can just keep to the innocent then good will follow.

In hex 18, six in the beginning refers to decay that has taken place with the father. To me this means that the origins of the straying are in the past. No blame on the past if we take action now to correct the situation. This is linked to hex 26, The Taming Power of the Great. Here we are advised to make good use of the wisdom of the past in strengthening our current attitude. While the decay may come from the past, the true path also comes from the past. It is sorting things out that progress is made.

Nine in the second place refers to decay that has been caused by weakness. One or more of our lesser selves are having a good time. We have been distracted. Strong action is not called for, but gentle coaxing has success. This line is linked with hex 52, Keeping Still which reminds us not to let our thoughts go beyond the situation. Further we are told that there is a time to stay still and a time to go forward. In the staying still we find knowledge of the right time to move forward. This line reminds me of meditation itself.

Nine in the third place refers to a time when our action to right a mistake of the past goes too far. This line reminds me of a pendulum, swinging one way then the other. Action is indeed called for in this situation, and the error of going too far is less than the error of not going far enough. So there is some remorse over the problems created, but no blame since the action was necessary.
This is linked to hex 4, Youthful Folly, which advises us that in perseverance all things are mastered one by one. We do not need to chastise ourselves too dramatically for the errors we make, as long as we learn from them.

Six in the fourth place speaks of the situation where decay is allowed to continue. If no action is taken, the decay spreads and humiliation occurs. This is linked to hex 50, The Cauldron. In the fourth line of the this hexagram it warns of a broken leg of the cauldron, spilling the contents and soiling the man. We can take from this that the choice is ours. Through care of the situation we can find nourishment and success. Through neglect of the situation, we will find humiliation.

Six in the firth place talks about a situation where though we have the will to correct a past wrong, we do not have the power. In such a situation we can start afresh in a new way. This does not correct the wrong but it is the best we can do at the moment. This line is linked with hex 57. The Gentle (Penetrating Wind) which promises us that by steady effort toward the good, that change will eventually take place. We can only do what we are capable of doing. It is not cowardly to accept the limitations of the time. To ignore them would be foolhardy.

Nine at the top refers to a sage who instead of trying to correct the decay of the world instead develops his own Higher Self. He sets an example rather than teaches. This line is linked with hex 46, Pushing Upward, where ?the superior man of devoted character heaps up small things in order to achieve something high and great?,
 

gene

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I like line 1 of hexagram 17. Here, "The standard is changing." The relationship between leader and follower can change here. There can be a change in what we consider the highest priority. As in lines to and three, we can switch from or to following our higher self versus following the lesser selves. We need to observe, (hexagram 20 and 27) what we pay attention to, and seek to fill ourself with. Is it of the higher nature? Or the lower? Does it aid us in our spiritual growth? Or does it simply satisfy lesser desires? Has the standard changed to the positive? Or to the negative. In line 5 we have something that we follow, that we look up to. Is it a worthy goal? Or is it not toward our highest good?

Gene
 

tashiiij

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Yes, but sometimes higher lower lesser greater negative positive spiritual growth or lesser desire -- not so discernable. Really. It can be that close. Then what.

The Bliss Wing in the hospital or North 10.

Guess this is Wanderer's territory. ?
 

wanderer

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The mind has incredible power. It can convince us of almost anything. So it is impossible to be sure what is the exact nature of reality. much less the Higher Self. The remarkable feelings of understanding and bliss may be similar to true awakening or closer to indigestion. No one can prove what is what. But that does not stop the effort. I believe that it is in the effort to find God that we find God. The cynics will say that we create God because we want God. And they may be right. All I know is that in seeking God, I feel better about the world and my self.
 

gene

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In studying the I Ching, that is largely what I look for. How to understand the higher from the lower. Hexagram 20, contemplation through the crack of a door. That is where we usually are. The I Ching exhorts us to climb higher on the mountain, and get a larger view. But if we "busy ourselves with trivial things," Hex 56.1, we draw down misfortune upon ourselves. And I believe it is hex 10.6 (my books aren't with me) that in the W/B commentary says "No one can know himself. It is only by looking over our lives and seeing the favorable outcomes, that we can understand the life that we have lived. I think it is more accurate to say that no one can prove what is right to someone else. But for ourselves, as we travel our paths... As the master said to grasshopper, "What you do not know, the doing will quickly teach you."

Gene
 

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