The I Ching of Paris
by Bob Schwartz
Question for the I Ching (using the coin method of consultation): How do we deal with the events in Paris?
The I Ching replies:
Hexagram 44 – Gou (Encountering, Coming to Meet)
Heaven above, Wind below.
Changing lines in the third, fourth and top place.
Hexagram 29 – Kan (Water, Darkness, The Abysmal)
Water above, Water below.
Excerpts from two leading translations:
The Complete I Ching
Hexagram 44 – Gou
The structure of the gua [hexagram] is Heaven above, Wind below. The wind blows everywhere under Heaven, encountering every being. It should be an auspicious gua. However, there is only one yielding line beneath five solid lines, symbolizing that the yin element is advancing and approaching the yang elements. When King Wen saw this happening, he heightened his vigilance. He realized that an unworthy person was worming his way into favor at the court. The growing negative influences would displace good people one after another. Darkness and difficulties had been eliminated, but their negative influences had not totally faded. These influences were permeating different areas. One must beware of this tendency and take prompt precautions against possible misfortune. Thus King Wen’s Decision and the Duke of Zhou’s Yao Text are full of warnings. But Confucius’s commentaries still shed light on the positive side.
This gua discusses the principle of encountering. In Chinese, meeting a person (or anything) unexpectedly is defined as encountering. When people encounter each other, either they are attracted, making adjustment for a harmonious relationship, or they reject each other, creating conflict between them. In human life sometimes one cannot refrain from misunderstanding and conflict. But one should not indulge in it and think that conflict is unavoidable and cannot be resolved. The ancient sages advocated adopting a conciliatory attitude. Here one yin element approaches five yang elements. She dares to come forward because her strength grows stronger. In this situation, one should not overlook taking preventive measures.
King Wen’s strategy of eliminating evil forces was to show no animosity but to act without tolerance. His administration constrained evil elements like tying up rams. But evil elements still wormed themselves into the favor of the court. King Wen realized that the evil forces had been eliminated, yet their influence had not totally faded. His analogy was that the maiden was too strong; it was not good to marry such a woman. The Duke of Zhou describes the evil forces as waiting to move forward like a lean pig. They should be stopped as if fastened with a metal brake. It is wise to restrain their influence by not letting them influence other people, but it was wiser to influence people with positive virtue.
Hexagram 29 – Kan
The central theme of this gua is: falling but not drowned; in danger but not lost. Maintain your confidence: soothe your mind. With assurance and faith, caution and trust, you can pass through any difficult situation. Both Abysmal and Abyss carry the sense of being bottomless. Kan is a pit, but it is not bottomless. There is hope.
Darkness represents not only a pit but also a situation of difficulty or danger. The structure of this gua is a doubling of the primary gua, Water. The image of Water is a yang line plunging between two yin lines, like running water flowing along and between the banks of a river. In ancient times, crossing a river represented a great danger. Thus, the attribute of Water was designated a situation of difficulty or danger. Here, Water is doubled, suggesting that one is plunging into a situation fraught with difficulties or danger. However, the ancient Chinese believed that no matter how dangerous or dark a situation was, if one was able to follow the way of Heaven, one could pass through it as safely as water passes through a ravine.
Water flows on twice over,
Darkness is doubled.
In correspondence with this,
The superior person cultivates and practices virtue constantly
And responds through teaching.
The I Ching
Hexagram 44 – Kou
This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from within and below. Of its own accord the female principle comes to meet the male. It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences.
The inferior man rises only because the superior man does not regard him as dangerous and so lends him power. If he were resisted from the first, he could never gain influence.
The time of COMING TO MEET is important in still another way. Although as a general rule the weak should not come to meet the strong, there are times when this has great significance. When heaven and earth come to meet each other, all creatures prosper; when a prince and his official come to meet each other, the world is put in order. It is necessary for elements predestined to be joined and mutually dependent to come to meet one another halfway. But the coming together must be free of dishonest ulterior motives, otherwise harm will result.
Hexagram 29 – K’an
In man’s world K’an represents the heart, the soul locked up within the body, the principle of light inclosed in the dark—that is, reason. The name of the hexagram, because the trigram is doubled, has the additional meaning, “repetition of danger.” Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, not a subjective attitude. For danger due to a subjective attitude means either foolhardiness or guile. Hence too a ravine is used to symbolize danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.
Through repetition of danger we grow accustomed to it. Water sets the example for the right conduct under such circumstances. It flows on and on, and merely fills up all the places through which it flows; it does not shrink from any dangerous spot nor from any plunge, and nothing can make it lose its own essential nature. It remains true to itself under all conditions. Thus likewise, if one is sincere when confronted with difficulties, the heart can penetrate the meaning of the situation. And once we have gained inner mastery of a problem, it will come about naturally that the action we take will succeed. In danger all that counts is really carrying out all that has to be done—thoroughness—and going forward, in order not to perish through tarrying in the danger.
Properly used, danger can have an important meaning as a protective measure. Thus heaven has its perilous height protecting it against every attempt at invasion, and earth has its mountains and bodies of water, separating countries by their dangers. Thus also rulers make use of danger to protect themselves against attacks from without and against turmoil within.