Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hexagram Fifty and W/B Introduction

In the foreword to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching is a treatise written regarding hexagram fifty and today's world. I recommend that treatise to everyone. It will help, if you haven't already done it, understand how in every line and every verse the I Ching is speaking about itself. Now that doesn't mean it speaks just about itself, it speaks on many different levels and many different ways. It speaks in symbols that the particular querent can understand. It can also be speaking from various person's points of views. The foreword speaks of a "speaker" who appears in the I Ching, and this speaker can be a number of people or things. The foreword says on page xxxi, "If for instance a person finds himself in a confusing situation, he may himself appear in the oracle as the speaker. Or, if the question concerns another person, that person may appear as the speaker. However, the identity of the speaker does not depend entirely on the manner in which the question is phrased, inasmuch as our relationships with our fellow beings are not always determined by the latter." This being so, it is only a matter of intuition to resolve the symbolism of the answer, as it is not eternally one way or another, but the I Ching speaks to us in its own way in a personalized message.

This is so because the I Ching is not simply an auto robot that automatically spews answers out of its belly by some coincidental means or by synchronicity or by some other non conscious means. it answers the way it does because it is conscious. Therefore two different people getting the same answer to the same question will find a difference in its interpretation since the answer is personalized. The key to knowing who the speaker is is to listen to the still small voice inside, and do not try to over rationalize it. Just let it speak.

To a certain extent, it depends on the level of usage that a given diviner wishes to satisfy himself with. The highest and best use is not to simply divine, but to use the I Ching to find out about ourselves and how we can achieve a higher level of maturity. That is in essence, asking it to reveal itself, in which case the answer is going to be in the form of the I Ching itself being the speaker. If this were just an automated system developed by smart men this could not be the case. The I Ching could not answer on any higher level than that of the men who created it. But it speaks to us on higher and higher levels depending on our own level of mastery.

In fifty line three it says, "The handle of the Ting is altered." If the handle is altered, we cannot pick it up and carry it. It so happens both east and west that a few things have happened to make sacred scripture indecipherable. To the ancient Hebrews, God says, that by disobeying him, they will find themselves in a strange land speaking a foreign tongue and will not be able to properly decipher the Torah. In China, the old Chinese is no longer used, and the modern Chinese person without much training cannot decipher all of the meanings in the book. We are at an even greater disadvantage in the west because we use a literalistic language that leaves little room for metaphor, and therefore our minds are not conditioned to think in metaphor. As such we have a double disadvantage of not knowing any Chinese at all, and even more, we must read the text in a literalist language that does not offer up the richness of imagery found in more ancient languages.

In this interpretation of the line we see that the I Ching is directly speaking of itself, and of what would happen to it in times to come. Most people in the twentieth and twenty first century cannot properly understand the I Ching and therefore the "fat of the pheasant is not eaten." In other words, the I Ching can not fully nourish us, therefore, "both it and we are impeded in our way of life." The text does offer ultimate hope though, in that it says, "Once rain falls, remorse is spent." There is coming a time when the I Ching, and other sacred scriptures will be restored to its proper place, and we may gain wisdom and nourishment from it once again.

No comments: