Today an I Ching Meditation:
* The 27th hexagram of the I Ching is called “Providing Nourishment,” and the hexagram image is that of an open mouth.
* The 27th hexagram offers a variety of teachings on what comes into and out of our mouths, bodies, and minds. The instruction is to provide nourishment for others we must provide nourishment for ourselves, or that the two are interchangeable. This is a classic teaching.
* The 27th hexagram also tells us that the quality of our mind is regulated by our diet. If our mind is racing or angry or frustrated or depressed, there is a good chance we are putting things into our mouths or minds that is depressing, angry, frustrated, or over stimulating.
* Venus is a planet that represents diet, appearances, aesthetics, peace, harmony, friendship, and diplomacy. The opposition to Uranus suggests the disruption of all of these qualities through a rebellious, aggressive, inventive, forward-thinking or iconoclastic and muscular attitude. The two sets of planetary themes are at odds with each other this week. Hexagram 27 is appropriately suggesting that we monitor what comes into and out of our bodies and minds this week, especially our speech, as there might be a tendency to collapse into one of the two planetary extremes (Venus = niceness without authenticity, or compromising too much, Uranus = aggressive insistence on defying norms or boundaries, or impatient lack of diplomacy).
* The 5th line of hexagram 27 reads, “Violating the canons. Stay firm and good fortune. Cross the great water, misfortune.”
* The 5th line of hexagram 27 suggests that there will be a temptation to violate time-tested norms, agreements, wisdom, or truth, for the sake of attaining something that we really want, something depicted by the crossing of the great water (a great undertaking or a great desire). The 5th line tells us to remain firm and persistent in what is right and good fortune will come to us. If we try to abandon virtue and right behavior or the correct or respectful protocol for the sake of doing something great or becoming something great or getting something we want, we will experience misfortune in the end.
* The 5th line transforms hexagram 27 into hexagram 42, called “expansion.” Hexagram 42 is an interesting hexagram because it can be read in several different ways to get at several different ideas about how expansion in life occurs.
* The hexagram depicts the idea of what is above sacrificing itself on behalf of what is below. When people who have more, for example, give more, then the entire society grows and expands. When people who are overflowing with good fortune distribute the excess freely to help those who have less, a circular dynamic is created that leads to progress, hope, and dynamic growth for everyone.
* Hexagram 42 is interesting to consider given the Venus/Uranus opposition. Moving from 27 and line 5 to 42, we get the image of a temptation to move ahead at all costs, sacrificing nobility, honor, or time-tested methods, agreements, or appropriate ways of behavior. Line 5 warns us against this, and then hexagram 42 suggests a compromise, and even sacrifice, for the sake of radical progress.
* Hexagram 42 is also a picture of resources raining down from heaven in order to further the cause of people who have less power or fewer resources but an inherently noble cause. Hexagram 42 is, therefore, like saying, “Don’t compromise your ethics just because you have a good cause. Wait, and natural resources will come to support you so that you don’t have to compromise your integrity in order to move forward.”
We’re living in a historical moment perfectly captured by one translator’s commentary on Hexagram 27 line 5, “Delights tempt maddeningly from the far shore.” Right now our vision of progress and our need for liberation is so acute, and the surrounding sense of darkness so overwhelming, that many false solutions, many impatient and overly aggressive solutions, will present themselves to us like wolves in sheep’s clothing. But the Venus/Uranus opposition asks us to imagine victory and progress alongside peace, patience, and diplomatic ease. As always, learning to hold the tension of the opposites, usually comes prior to and after whatever outcomes we are seeking. The outcomes will change, but the need to hold that tension, so long as we are living in these beautiful bodies, will not.
Prayer: Teach us to nourish ourselves and others constantly. Teach us to share the wealth and trust that progress rains down just as surely and radically as regress.