Signs of our Time
The signs of our time seem to be unfavourable. Are things, however, as bad as we read and hear?
I’ve been asked what I believe is happening around the world in these turbulent times. There are so many theories and opinions shared left and right it becomes mind-boggling and frustrating, which I find distracts our attention from what we have before us and throws us off balance.
I’d rather not express an opinion about what “could happen”. However, I would like to encourage you to be alert in the face of fear and insecurity about the future. Submitting to these feelings only dis-empower us; they are “false emergencies”, as Dr. Jerry Epstein would say, that place us in a time and place (the future) which doesn’t exist at the moment.
I did consult the I-Ching, known as the Book of Changes. For those who don’t know about the I-Ching, it is an ancient Chinese philosophy. Many people use it as way to predict the future. My position on predictions is that the best future is the one we create now. The I-Ching is essentially a book of wisdom. One can take each hexagram, contemplate and meditate on it to gain insight and intuitive wisdom into the human nature. That is how I use it.
So, I asked the question about our turbulent times around the world, and I got Hexagram 23: PO/Splitting Apart. I found it relevant and interesting.
This hexagram can be read in relation to our external world, and also to our internal world.
In relation to the internal world, my understanding is that we are at a time when our old behavioural patterns have reached a full cycle. They are serving us no more and therefore their effects are destructive. It is a time to expand our focus from our self-serving centre towards the benefit of our fellow people. It is a time to realize that, as we are biologically connected, which we are experiencing the hard way through the contagious effects of the COVID-19, we are also connected on every other level of our being.
In these times, we are called to go inwards and experience solitude, analogous to the instruction that we are to “stay inside”. It is not a time for action. It is a time for inner reflection.
Likewise, in relation to the external world, it is a time when the existing structures in all areas (financial, societal, and educational etc) serve humanity and this planet no more. They have completed a full cycle and they will collapse. The collapse is what we perceive as “destructive”.
However, changes await us. Remember the good old saying: what you resist, persists.
The text of the hexagram clearly says “no blame”. It is not due to us being “bad”. It is just time! Hence, it’s futile pointing fingers around you or even at yourself.
We are called to reflect on our way of life (inner and outer), re-organize ourselves and adjust to the changes. That is when we will be ready to speak up and express our standpoint to those who insist on holding onto the old destructive structures. Then, a “great fruit, which remains uneaten, will sprout from the seed that we have planted“.
The image of the hexagram indicates the above as follows:
The mountain rests on the earth. When it is steep and narrow, lacking a broad base, it must topple over. Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep. So likewise those who rule rest on the broad foundation of the people. They too should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all. Then they will make their position as secure as a mountain is in its tranquility.
We are entering a new cycle! These are exciting times, but also difficult times. These are times when we need to be alert and still.
Below I provide you with the full original text of this hexagram taken from the WILHELM/BAYNES Book of Changes / I-Ching.
Read it, study it, contemplate and meditate on it and reach your own understanding, if you feel inclined to do so. If not, it doesn’t matter. Just remember that it benefits you to remain alert in the present moment, without fear, without “future-talking” and prepared to re-center whenever external events throw you off balance.
I-Ching 23 “Splitting Apart”
THE JUDGMENT: It does not further one to go anywhere.
This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior men. Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the superior man to undertake anything.
The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes. The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes. The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion. The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness. This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. For it is a question not of man’s doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness. It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time. Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.
THE IMAGE: The mountain rests on the earth. The image of splitting apart. Thus those above can ensure their position only by giving generously to those below.
The mountain rests on the earth. When it is steep and narrow, lacking a broad base, it must topple over. Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep. So likewise those who rule rest on the broad foundation of the people. They too should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all. Then they will make their position as secure as a mountain is in its tranquillity.
Six in the beginning means: the leg of the bed is split. Those who persevere are destroyed. Misfortune.
Inferior people are on the rise and stealthily begin their destructive burrowing from below in order to undermine the place where the superior man rests. Those followers of the ruler who remain loyal are destroyed by slander and intrigue. The situation bodes disaster, yet there is nothing to do but wait.
Six in the second place means: the bed is split at the edge. Those who persevere are destroyed. Misfortune.
The power of the inferior people is growing. The danger draws close to one’s person; already there are clear indication, and rest is disturbed. Moreover, in this dangerous situation one is as yet without help or friendly advances from above or below. Extreme caution is necessary in this isolation. One must adjust to the time and promptly avoid the danger. Stubborn perseverance in maintaining one’s standpoint would lead to downfall.
Six in the third place means: he splits with them. No blame.
An individual finds himself in an evil environment to which he is committed by external ties. But he has an inner relationship with a superior man, and through this he attains the stability to free himself from the way of the inferior people around him. This brings him into opposition to them of course, but that is not wrong.
Six in the fourth place means: A shoal of fishes. Favor comes through the court ladies. Everything acts to further.
Here the disaster affects not only the resting place but even the occupant. No warning or other comment is added. Misfortune has reached its peak: it can no longer be warded off.
Six in the fifth place means: A shoal of fishes. Favor comes through the court ladies. Everything acts to further.
Here, in immediate proximity to the strong, light-giving principle at the top, the nature of the dark force undergoes a change. It no longer opposes the strong principle by means of intrigues but submits to its guidance. Indeed, as the head of the other weak lines, it leads all of these to the strong line, just as a princess leads her maids-in-waiting like a shoal of fishes to her husband and thus gains his favor. Inasmuch as the lower element thus voluntarily places itself under the higher, it attains happiness and the higher also receives its due. Therefore all goes well.
Nine at the top means: There is a large fruit still uneaten. The superior man receives a carriage. The house of the inferior man is split apart.
Here the splitting apart reaches its end. When misfortune has spent itself, better times return. The seed of the good remains, and it is just when the fruit falls to the ground that food sprouts anew from its seed. The superior man again attains influence and effectiveness. He is supported by public opinion as if in a carriage. But the inferior man’s wickedness is visited upon himself. His house is split apart. A law of nature is at work here. Evil is not destructive to the good alone but inevitably destroys itself as well. For evil, which lives solely by negation, cannot continue to exist on its own strength alone. The inferior man himself fares best when held under control by a superior man.
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