This is one of those hexagrams connected with the story of Yu the Great, the conqueror of the floods. After his years of labour, he summoned lords and spirits to meet him on a mountain-top to found the new world. Fangfeng arrived late, and his punishment was execution. (The word usually translated as ‘on all sides’ is also Fang’s name.)
There are many stories surrounding this time: Yu killed monsters, banished demons, drained noxious swamps. In essence, he was making a world fit for people to live in again. Remember that Seeking Union comes only after the intense, focussed campaign of the Army.
‘The Army means grieving. Seeking Union means delight.’
In the time of the Army, the ends justify painful means and ‘collateral damage’. But now that concentration of effort has created a new time, when choices are made not out of grim necessity, but out of a sense of what flows naturally and harmoniously.
Yu’s new world is a safe space for people to make choices without being inhibited by old fears. And this is very often the meaning of this hexagram in divination, especially when it’s unchanging: you choose! You choose what to believe and how to understand your world; you choose where you belong in it. Most of all, you choose your relationships, which make up the fabric of your world. If your life were a blank slate, with ‘the rules’ and ‘the priorities’ erased, what would you draw?
‘Seeking union, good fortune.
Retracing the oracle consultation to its source: fundamental, ever-flowing constancy.
Not a mistake.
Not at rest, coming on all sides.
For the latecomer, pitfall.’
The first message here is that it is good to make these choices, to be in there at the centre of things and get involved. It is not good to be like Fangfeng and try to balance indefinitely on the fence. ‘Seeking union, good fortune… for the latecomer, pitfall.’ Better to be in there at the centre of things, to be involved.
And then – this is one of the hexagrams Yi most often uses to question you. Retracing your consultation to its source means asking yourself where your question comes from. Not where it leads to, not its logical consequence, but the deep-seated vision, or value, or need that gave rise to it.
The ‘source’ might just be the future you are envisaging. This is what you orient everything towards – and the strongest magnet drawing new experiences and possibilities into your life without rest, and from all sides. It is ‘not a mistake’ to take the time to find that source!
The trigrams seem to be telling the same story of founding a new world of relationships:
‘Above earth is the stream. Seeking union.
The ancient kings founded countless cities to connect those named as feudal lords.’
Relationships are meant to form as naturally as water flows together. That is, to be based on natural connections and inclinations, not just on a sense of duty or necessity. But they don’t create and maintain themselves: if you expect your relationships to be alive and healthy when you need them, you need to create the places and occasions to renew the connection.