Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Leaning on Thorns and Thistles

Hexagram forty seven line three tells us that we are "leaning on thorns and thistles." We lean on thorns and thistles when we depend on things that cannot truly support us. We lean on thorns and thistles in our relationships when we are not truly in touch with what is real in the relationship. We lean on thorns and thistles when we depend on superficial matters to prop up our relationships, and do not for whatever reason get to the real root of the problem. We also lean on thorns and thistles when we are not clear on what is pertinent or not pertinent in our relationships, or our businesses, or our personal lives. We count on an illusion.

But we also lean on thorns and thistles when we depend entirely upon the material world. The material world is an illusion, and if we trust solely on it, it cannot continue to prop us up. The man "permits himself to be oppressed by stone" when he adamantly refuses to give up on the premise that there is nothing beyond the physical world. The stone is a symbol of the physical with nothing behind it. When we trust in the physical world, of necessity our ego takes over and tries to control that physical world. For if there is only a physical world, then everything exists outside of ourselves, and there is no "unity" at all within the cosmos, because everything is an independent object.

But we know that is not true. We know it is the consciousness that unites all things that is the ultimate reality. And when we recognize this unity, when we recognize the interconnectedness of all things, (hexagram thirty) then we no longer are "oppressed by stone." We have a guide in the spiritual realm that can help us, and guide us. This helper in the spiritual realm is the "forester" in hexagram three line three, without which "we lose our way in the forest." The forest is a metaphor for a land we are not familiar with, where everything looks the same and as such we cannot find our way home. Without the "spiritual" knowledge given to us by the I Ching, we can never truly find our way home. We are wanderers, as in hexagram fifty six. When we wander through the physical world we have no guideline, no teacher, no forester, who can show us the way. Without knowledge of the true spiritual teacher, our higher self, we go nowhere, and find ourselves "oppressed by stone." The way of the world invariably leads to oppression, suppression, and depression, because devoid of spirit it is cold and lifeless.

When we are oppressed by the mundanity of our physical world, it is as if we "enter our house and do not see our wife." Our wife here can be on one level a metaphor for our spiritual guide in the unseen realms. Since it is an unseen realm, naturally, we do not see our wife, unless we can comprehend and experience the unseen realm.

Entering our house can also be a metaphor for going within, to a place deep within. But if we do not understand the nature of the cosmos, if we are still beset by the commonplaces of life, we do not meet our higher self. We "do not see our wife." Our wife is a metaphor for something that we should be in a sense "married to." In other words, it is a metaphor for that which is our highest purpose. If we are caught up in the material world, we are not following our "highest purpose," and in that sense cannot be truly "married" to that which is our destiny, our purpose. We are "oppressed by stone and lean on thorns and thistles."

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