Unlike any kind of fortune-telling, prophecy, or magic, the I Ching does not tell the future, it can only analyze the present. Its use does not allow one to make forecasts, only diagnoses. If there were a comparison possible with a Western equivalent, it would not be to the crystal ball but to a chess playing computer program that analyzes the current situation in order to choose one of a number of options.
Cyrille Javary’s description of the Book of Change is my favorite. It spells out exactly why, in 2020’s year of challenging choices, the book is so potentially valuable.
Working with it offers a meditative approach to problem-solving. Take a deep breath. Step back from the fray. Be the observer. Instead of getting caught up in one side or another, see how they dance together. Then consciously, carefully choose the best course of action.
That’s far better than getting sucked into conflict, engaging in blame, anger or despair, or being confused to the point of paralysis.
With I Ching wisdom, you won’t be fooled by false either/or choices. You’ll know that in duality, there are two sides to every coin. “Whatever has a front has a back.” Further, “the larger the front, the larger the back.”
Thousands of years experience confirm that nothing is only what it seems. Even more, as a Law of Nature, every extreme changes into its opposite. That’s why sages warn us to avoid extremes; 2020’s year of extremes is painful proof of the Law in action.
In Take the Best, I wrote.
In reading opinion and even “how to” pieces, I recommend the 30/70 principle. With careful attention and a little bit of luck, it’s possible to extract the 30% value from the 70% rubbish in which its embedded.
Ferreting out fact from falsehood takes Sherlock-like attention to detail. It requires conscious discrimination, in the positive sense. It demands active investigation, not passive acceptance of what appears on the front-side of the coin.
So which will it be? Do you want to be a conscious player in the chess-game of life, or simply a pawn moved around the board at the whim of others?
We’re not taught to look to the Book of Change for answers to our deepest questions. That’s why I’ve chosen to bring the book to you. Through the end of 2020, bi-weekly posts are intended make what was once unfamiliar now familiar.
Today’s reading is the most dynamic and perhaps challenging of 2020. GAIN, the original outcome, changes four times – moving through FAMILY, CLARITY, GROWTH, and PROBLEMS — before arriving at its final outcome, PROSPERITY.
At the beginning of Thanksgiving week, the deeply desired return of Prosperity come only after patiently going through the step-by-step process it takes to get from here to there. And at each step along the way, a consistent theme emerges:
GAIN is the initial answer to today’s question, “What should we be aware of NOW?” It reads:
GAINS can be made after analyzing the situation correctly. When a person’s life goals are kept firmly in mind, no time is wasted. A way can be found to use whatever resources are at hand to serve one’s purpose. Serving others can be compatible with personal gain. Avoid smug self-satisfaction.
During conflict-filled, end-stage 2020, it’s important to step back and take a deep breath. Analyze what’s going on, define our goals and how best to meet them. Accept that personal gain is inseparably connected with showing respect for others needs.
* * *
The advice of Line 3 represents a flip side of today’s theme. It reads, “Sometimes insincere people can help others without meaning to.”
Often selfish people who don’t respect others “coincidentally” fulfill nature’s plan. Ironically, in this season, power abusers have grown so bold that they’ve shown their hand. Pay attention to reap the unintended benefits. When this advice is taken to heart, the 3rd line changes to:
Inside the FAMILY one learns to play out given roles. This makes later success in roles on the job and in the larger community possible. Clearly defined relationships make communication easy. Respectful cooperation with others earns trust and acceptance from the human family. Avoid roles not suited to your nature.
Respect, trust and acceptance are integral to today’s consistent theme.
As for roles, although I greatly respect Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorke, and am profoundly grateful to President Trump’s legal supporters (Rudy Giuliani and Genna Ellis, as well as the noble Sidney Powell), I’m neither by temperament nor training a street fighter.
As they fulfill their destined roles in the human family’s critical war for truth and justice, I accept a modest, complimentary role. My part is fulfilled by adding a book of wisdom to the mix.
It’s my job to urge humans to remember our common humanity. Don’t continue down the divide-and-conquer path of conflict which serves only the dark-side Evil Emperor. Instead of going at each others throats, we must join forces to cut off the head of the snake that plays us against each other — to our mutual destruction.
Similarly, all of us need to step back and decide how as individuals we’re best qualified and able to contribute.
* * *
Repeating the common theme, advice of Line 4 reads, “Conflict between helping yourself and helping others is not necessary.” This advice being thoughtfully applied to one’s own life, the fourth line changes to Clarity:
Cultivate CLARITY. Listen to the pure and childlike voice of your inner being. Even if this results in new and unexpected experiences, you will benefit. Take joy in being true to your Self. Modified by consideration for others, this will give you creative abilities. Avoid fearful attachment to the familiar.
According to theme, consideration for others tempers personal joy and enhances effectiveness.
* * *
Again on theme, advice of Line 5 reads, “Worthwhile goals and practical purposes can be linked. Be sincere.” It reinforces the wisdom of the original reading, Gain. “Serving others can be compatible with personal gain.”
No either/ors! Here’s the shadow side of our theme: Taking advantage of others is a super bad idea. One way or another, it will backfire, big time. When we internalize this advice, putting it into action, the 5th line changes to Growth.
People seek help according to what they need for their own GROWTH. Unless hunger is fed with the right food, no amount of input will satisfy. To understand others, watch how they nourish themselves. Nature provides for all. Leaders promote those who have the ability to serve many. Avoid greed.
The resonant theme repeats: “Nature provides for all.” For thousands of years, the Book of Change has taught what psychologists now say. Humanity is starved for wisdom. Lacking awareness of our inalienable, inborn okayness, people fall prey to every imaginable disease, addiction and vice. Violence, over-eating, drugs and indiscriminate sex don’t feed the real hunger. Wisdom, self-compassion and human kindness do.
Advice of the Top Line reads, “Laziness and greed repel people. Don’t take advantage of others.” It’s part of the theme’s flip side. When taken to heart, the line changes to:
When a new life is struggling to emerge, there will be PROBLEMS in the beginning. Seek help from people whose ideas and methods can help to create inner and outer stability. Take an active part in the growing process. This will help you to define your own identity. Avoid helplessness.
This reading reinforces the need for positive, fulfilling Growth. Like it or not, 2020 has been a watershed year of 2020 and of reset. After enduring extremes of loss and chaos, we need to bring ourselves back to balance, redefine ourselves and make a Fresh Start. Again,
Choose to be
an active chess player,
not a passive pawn.
After the changing lines are honored, each in turn, in combination they lead to in a final outcome, Prosperity:
Use the time of PROSPERITY as the opportunity to benefit as many as possible. Hoarding wealth of any kind hastens loss. Nature acts to distribute resources equally. Therefore, the way to prevent poverty is to live modestly in the present. Share wisely, without prejudice. This secures continued well-being. Avoid possessiveness.
Prosperity is the end result of mastering the lessons of family, clear thinking, nurturing the best in ourselves and others, and seeking wisdom when faced with problems. True to the consistent theme, it emphasizes the wisdom of acting like nature. Going forward, benefiting as many as possible without prejudice will be the way to secure good fortune.
For most of us, 2020 has been intense and harsh. But it also brought important lessons – blessings in disguise. From now to mid-December, when we’re slated to see major reversals, the wisest use of down time is to sort out the best of 2020. Leave the rest behind as we prepare to enter 2021 with its promise of a new set of interesting challenges/opportunities.
Collected posts will be published as The Lessons of 2020: Using the Wisdom of CHANGE to Build a Better Future. Look for it on amazon in January of 2021.
If you’d like a copy of the Common Sense Book of Change, or extras to give others, click here.
To order Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change, click here.
Okay, then. That’s all for now. Talk with you again soon. Take care, all.