...life can be translucent


Hexagrams 5 and 6


Feb 27, 1972
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Everything in life has cycles. We just have to look at the world around us to know this is true. Even our breathing has a cycle. It may seem that we simply breathe in and breathe out, but careful thought will show that this is simplistic. For starters there is a pause before we breathe in and a pause after we breathe out. Dividing the process even further, there is something different about the start of a breath in and the end of a breath in (the same for a breath out). There is also the point where we somehow make the decisions when to do each. Someone who made the effort to study one?s breathing could probably differentiate dozens of different phases to a simple breath.

There are dozens of metaphors that could be applied to the I Ching. The one that I am using is the life cycle of a human being. We started with Creation, went through young childhood, and now have come to adolescence.

Hexagram 5 is Waiting (Nourishment). This refers to a time before we are able to find spiritual guidance. It is a time in our lives when we are particularly self absorbed. We are not an adult and we are not a child. We want particularly to be grown, yet we must wait. If we let things develop, things will happen in their own time.

Spiritual development has a similar cycle to physical development. In both there is a natural progression. In both, the beginnings are particularly important to natural development. When the body does not get proper nourishment early in life, there are problems later. When the spirit does not receive proper nourishment early in the growing process, there will be problems later.

Coming of age may have changed numerically over the centuries. At one time a fifteen year old was a man or a woman, probably married with children. Today we have prolonged adolescence rather remarkably. This has had both positive and negative effects. On the good side it has allowed for a longer period of education before the onset of adult responsibilities. On the downside it has prolonged a sense of dependence that many young adults have trouble shaking.

This hexagram specifically describes the proper attitude in waiting. Waiting is not simply indulging our whims, carefree playing. It is in learning to take care of ourselves. It is in preparing both physically and spiritually. This is easier to see in a twelve year old girl, waiting for her womanhood to appear. This is harder to see in a fifty year old man, preparing to find a relationship with God. We are all old and young at every point of our life. We all fight with the difference between being childish and being child-like all of our lives.

Hexagram 6 is Conflict. I can not imagine a better description of what it is like to be and deal with a teen than in this hexagram. We get this hexagram when we doubt ourselves, doubt the cosmic, or doubt authority. We may know that we are right, yet we are confronted with another view which equally is sure that it is right. We tend toward seeing this as a conflict or obstacle. We want to shout ?BUT I AM RIGHT?.

The hexagram points out that such an approach does not usually work out so well. It is best to stop half way and let things sort themselves out. I am reminded of the great Mark Twain quote:
?When I was eighteen my parents were so stupid that I was embarrassed to be seen with them. By the time I turned twenty-one I was surprised how much they had learned in three years.?

In our spiritual adolescence we have realized that there is a God, yet we are unhappy with God?s performance.

There is nothing wrong with such thoughts. It is simply a part of growing up. It is part of the cycle. We must be patient. We must be patient with others and we must be patient with ourselves. We must develop faith in the universe to unfold to us at it must. All things do not have to be decided immediately. All things cannot be known immediately. There will be many mistakes and misunderstandings along the way.

Both hex 5 and 6 warn us to be patient, and not to force what takes time to mature. We see this clearly in harvesting fruits. There is no point in picking fruit before it is ripe. We have a little more trouble understanding this with our own spiritual progression.

Nine at the beginning shows a time when it is not yet time to act. Premature action only will take away our focus and strength. It is obvious that something will need to be done, but planning for it only weakens us. It is time to focus on making ourselves better. Whatever is about to happen will unfold soon enough. This line links to hex 48, The Well, which is about self development and nourishment.

Nine in the second place talks about waiting in the sand. Sand is obviously a dangerous place to wait. Danger is approaching yet we must not act. Likewise we should not wastefully expend our energy on useless struggling. It is time to retreat within, not get caught in self doubt and bickering, and let fate take its course. This line is linked to hex 63, After Completion, which talks of preparing with the right attitude, so that things can take their course. If we can wait in the right attitude, things will unfold in the right way.

Nine in the third place talks about waiting in mud. Well if sand is tough, how about mud? We are filled with self doubt. The army wants to desert. We have ill advisedly tried to rush the situation and have reaped the fruits. It is a difficult situation. But all is not lost. Even in the mud, if we act appropriately we can extricate ourselves. First we must realize the seriousness of our situation. Then we must focus on a defensive stance, avoiding injury, rather than moving forward in such a tenuous situation. This line is linked to hex 60, Limitation, which talks about the need for focus and limitations to avoid humiliation. We must accept our situation and do what little is possible.

Six in the fourth place tells of the most severe situation. We can not move in any direction. Danger is everywhere. Movement is useless. But there is a way to improve the situation always, and that is to seek to source of all creation, God. If we stay still, and accept guidance, a way out will be found. This is linked to hex 43, Breakthrough (Resoluteness) which warns us of giving up to soon. Only through resoluteness will the breakthrough occur.

Nine in the fifth place talks of a time when improvement has been made. It may be a time when resolution seems to have occurred, but in fact it is just a lull in the storm. We still have not achieved our goal, and we can not move successfully toward it either. In such times we must take the opportunity to fortify ourselves, so that we will have renewed energy when the time to act further comes. This is linked with hex 11, Peace, which speaks of the perfect balance of heaven and earth. It is important for us to keep in mind that this is a momentary peace, brought about by waiting in the proper attitude. If we fall into the trap of believing that all is won, then our hard work can be for naught.

Six at the top speaks of the end to waiting. ?It is darkest before the dawn?, the cliché goes. Finally the danger that we have been waiting has arrived. We are not sure whether we have the power to overcome the obstacle. Yet if we accept fate, with good cheer, then the assistance that we have been hoping for will arrive. This is linked to hex 9, The Taming Power of the Small, which keeps us always in mind that we must be mindful of seemingly small indiscretions, for they have the power to keep even the powerful in check.

In hexagram 6, six at the bottom indicates a conflict in its earliest stages. If we let it go, then nothing will come of it. If we force the issue then we magnify the conflict. What have we to lose? What have we to gain? Why have we taken offense? In Blake?s poem ?Tiger, Tiger....? he explores what happens when a slight offense becomes unforgiven. This is linked to hex 10, Treading (Conduct) which speaks of the proper attitude of someone without power dealing with someone with power. This occurs when we are angry with God, or fate, or with our parent. It does no good to rail against our fate. If we conduct ourselves in the proper way we will find resolution.

Nine in the second place talks of the virtues of retreat in the face of a superior foe. If we let vanity and pride guide the way, disaster will occur. If we use common sense and self discipline, then no harm will come. It may seem obvious in looking at others, but it is easier said than done in dealing with ourselves. This line is linked to hex 12, Standstill. Here the situation is not as it should be. We believe we are in the right, but have no power to correct the situation. Any action that we might take will make the situation worse. So we must take inaction, or even retreat. This does not improve the situation, only time can do that. And time will improve the situation if we improve our attitude.

Nine in the third place speaks of the difference between inner worth and prestige. The conflict is averted. We have accomplished our goals, at least temporarily. Is it enough to know that we have done good, or must we let others know of our deeds. Did we accomplish our work because we wanted credit, or because we wanted to accomplish our work. If we demand credit, we may perpetuate conflict with those who also seek credit. If we do not demand credit, we worry that what is ours will be taken by someone else. Yet we are told that what truly belongs to us can not be taken away. We just have to have faith that this is true. This line is linked to hex 44, Coming to Meet, which speaks of the weak element approaching the strong element in the wrong way. It is up to the strong element not to be seduced by the situation. In other words, it is up to our Higher Self to recognize the situation, and do the right thing. The weaker element, our pride, ego, sense of personal rewards, or false sense of justice will always want us to be the star.

Nine in the fourth place refers to a time when we could; if we chose, force the situation. We are in a place of power, but power is not enough. We have to consider what is right. Simply proving that we have power is not the proper use of power. If we do we create enmity. If on the other hand we acquiesce to just demands of the situation, then no harm comes. This is linked to hex 59, Dispersion. Dispersion talks of the need for men to join in common experience. By taking the proper attitude toward those with less power, by accepting people the way they are, then it is possible for people to come together for the greater good. When power is displayed because it is available, then people are driven apart and conflict continues.

Nine in the fifth place talks about a mediator to a conflict. Of course the only true mediator is The Sage, or our Higher Self. If we leave disputes to what is right, success is guaranteed. If we do not then we are left with the consequences. This is linked with hex 64, Before Completion, which as always warns us to pay attention to even the smallest of attitude problems. We have the tendency to let pride of accomplishment whisk us away into jubilation.

Nine at the top refers to the real fruits of false victory. If a conflict is followed through to the very end, and the strong forces the weak to submit, resolution will be short lived. Even God can not force us to submit. Reverence has to be freely given for it to be successful. If the strong forces its position on the weak, then continuous enmity is the result. This is linked to hex 47, Oppression (Exhaustion), which is self explanatory.

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