I Ching Comprehensive Reading

Please note:
The Reading is abbreviated here to save space.
his Reading is available by postal mail only.

Dear Cathy,

I enjoyed talking with you the other day, and was very gratified to learn that you had read the I Ching. Normally, I would not burden my consultation with digressions about the meaning of certain terms as they are used in the book.

Since you have a copy of the book, and will be reading the chosen passages along with me, I have tried in what follows to help you a little bit with definitions.

I asked for a general comment on your relationship with Andrew. The response was hexagram #12, STANDSTILL, moving into hexagram #6, CONFLICT.

As you will see when you read the relevant passages yourself, the answer is framed in terms of the relationship between superior and inferior people. This requires a little preliminary explanation. The term "superior man" in the I Ching is not judgmental in the sense that we might use the expression today. In the original context of the book, namely traditional Chinese culture, distinctions between people were based as much on hereditary social standing as on personal merit. The book is addressed to the nation's rulers, to those few officials, ministers, and princes who were responsible for the welfare of the great masses of common people. On the ideal level, the sages assumed a natural correspondence between the role of ruler and the person whose character and nature fitted him for his elevated position.

In our own situation, however, we emphasize character and nature (rather than heredity or gender) in the definition of the superior person, and we think this far more advanced and rational, of course. Nevertheless, the judgmental attitude is something we all tend overly to indulge, and we might better avoid making any deep, and spiritual judgments about people in any of these terms. Here, we may refer back to the I ching for guidance. For, according to this traditional Chinese philosophy, it is wholly natural for people to be at different levels of consciousness and responsibility.

When we spoke on the phone, I was wanting to say, but didn't, that your response to the I Ching indicated, in itself, that you are the superior person to whom the book is addressed. I wanted to say that you might calm yourself even in your sense of urgency and confusion, with the understanding that by seeking the counsel of a higher level of consciousness, you would find it, and that in this way you would surely be guided through your perplexities and arrive at an excellent resolution.

You mentioned, off-hand, that Andrew would not understand or appreciate any attempt to find advice through something like the I Ching. In the terms and sense of the book, Andrew is casting himself in the position of the inferior person. There is no particular judgment implied here. It may be no more appropriate for Andrew to be learning from the I Ching at this point in his development, than it would be for a Chinese peasant in the ancient world to delve into matters of state. Moreover, people are clearly composites of contradictory qualities and aspects. In one respect, we may be inferior, in another superior.

With these caveats, then, you may reflect on the second line of STANDSTILL. (I assume that you understand from the Introduction to the book how it is that the second line is highlighted when STANDSTILL is changing into CONFLICT. Please let me know if there is any confusion in your mind about the method of the oracle.) The ancient verse reads:

They bear and endure;
This means good fortune for inferior people.
The standstill serves to help the great man to attain success.

You may note that this line emphasizes the overall judgment in STANDSTILL:

Evil people do not further
The perseverance of the superior man.
The great departs; the small approaches.

The book is saying that the disharmony between you and Andrew is fundamental.

Your sense of confusion is characteristic of a time in which the higher and the lower aspects of yourself, and of your relationship with Andrew, are in disorder. It also suggests that the dominant position is being occupied by the inferior elements in this equation, namely Andrew himself, and, of course, that which binds you to him. Were it not for the fact that something in you overcomes your understanding of the rightness or wrongness of the relationship, it would not be possible for Andrew to confuse and dominate you.

At such a time as this, the superior person withdraws. You will find greater clarity in a place of seclusion, where you can get in touch with your own principles and responsibilities.

But there is more. In "The Image" it says,

The superior man falls back upon his inner worth
In order to escape the difficulties.
He does not permit himself to be honored with revenue.

Self-reliance is the key here. You have everything you need to move toward your special destiny without Andrew's help. I should interject here that I also asked a question about whether or not Andrew should be supporting your music. The response was hexagram #15, MODESTY, moving into hexagram #52, KEEPING STILL.

You might suppose that STANDSTILL and KEEPING STILL would have a lot in common. This is not the case. STANDSTILL represents a time of fruitless stagnation that impinges upon us, is even imposed upon us, by the waxing of inferior elements in the world (or of inessential and inferior aspects of our own personality.) KEEPING STILL, in contrast, represents a time in which our superior, higher consciousness imposes upon us the discipline of tranquility and peacefulness. It is likened, as you may recall from your reading, to the experience of a meditative practice something like Yoga.

As MODESTY moves into KEEPING STILL, the top line is highlighted, saying:

Modesty that comes to expression.
It is favorable to set armies marching
To chastise one's own city and one's country.

It is the modesty of your own independent, unaided, and unadorned self that should be allowed to blossom in this situation. Andrew may harm or help you only if you allow him to do so. And therefore, it is pointless to attach any blame to him. True progress for you requires only that you examine your own behavior, and set out resolutely to rectify any aspect that is wrong or inappropriate. The I Ching, I think, is not necessarily ruling out the possibility that Andrew might be supportive of your music. It is declaring that this is not the issue. It is your behavior that is relevant, not his. In this image for KEEPING STILL, it says

The superior person
Does not permit his thoughts
To go beyond his situation.

In quiet meditation, look into your own heart for the truth of what you should be doing. Then do it, and let the future take care of itself.

Getting back now to the more general question of your relationship to Andrew, there is more to say about the second line in STANDSTILL. It is by bearing and enduring, with your mind set on your inner sense of principle, that you will find success. By keeping your consciousness on the guiding ideals that are at the core of your essential self, you will be able to move through confusion to clarity. Indeed, the book suggests that it is this very process of enduring difficulties, with a constant focus on what is right, through which you make of yourself the superior person. It is a variation of the idea that by adversity we are made better. It is not always easy advice to follow, but it is wise.

There is more advice for you in the 6th hexagram, CONFLICT. It says,

You are sincere
And are being obstructed.
A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
It does not further one to cross the great water.

In this hexagram, all situations involving conflict are resolved through the appropriate use of compromise. While never advising the compromise of fundamental principle, the I Ching acknowledges that totally uncompromising solutions to problems of conflict may create situations that are worse than what precipitated them. War is the perfect example.

You may seek to find ways in which you can meet Andrew halfway. Can you be friends, for example, and not lovers? Here again, I should interject something about the response when I asked about Andrew's mentality, as you requested. The I Ching answered with hexagram #14, POSSESSION IN GREAT MEASURE moving into #1, THE CREATIVE. These are extremely beautiful images. In the highlighted fifth line of POSSESSION IN GREAT MEASURE, it says,

He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified,
Has good fortune.

Wilhelm's commentary on this line suggests, by extrapolation, that Andrew is attached to you "in sincerity and truth." However, it also suggests that benevolence is not sufficient here. Does Andrew want to "possess" you? Does this lead to a certain "insolence" in his attitude toward you? Is he, in other words, overbearing and domineering; is he haughty in his disregard of your feelings and ideas; is he disrespectful of your independence; is he rude or insulting? Some of the words you used in our conversation implied as much to me.

I might say that as POSSESSION IN GREAT MEASURE moves into the CREATIVE in this instance, I can well believe your own characterization of Andrew as "very powerful." There is nothing more powerful than the primal force of THE CREATIVE.

I did also ask about your mentality. The response was hexagram #43, BREAK-THROUGH, with no changing (highlighted) lines. In this response is revealed an implicit attitude and method that has always impressed me in my experience with the I Ching. The book does not address itself so much to what is as to what should be. It leaves it to us to transform what should be into what is. Rather I should say, when the question implicitly seeks light on a path into the future, the book tends to pass over the errors of the present.

Thus, in this case, the book implies that you need not dwell on questions about the quality of your mental apparatus, whether you are sane or insane. It is concerned primarily with how you should be using your mind. In BREAK-THROUGH, it says,

One must resolutely make the matter known
At the court of the king.
It must be announced truthfully. Danger.
It is necessary to notify one's own city.
It does not further to resort to arms.
It furthers one to undertake something.

In part, this underlines the advice in CONFLICT. You should exercise great caution in the way you handle your situation with Andrew. There is danger in your situation. Exercise the greatest sensitivity and diplomacy in discussing with him whatever changes you decide to make in your relationship. But do not fail to be truthful and resolute in your approach.

There might seem to be a contradiction between the line in CONFLICT that says "It does not further one to cross the great water," and the line in BREAK-THROUGH that says "It furthers one to undertake something." But these lines clarify the difference between resolving your own problem, and resolving whatever conflicts exist between you and Andrew. Your problem must be resolved quite apart from the resolution of conflicts with Andrew. It may not be possible to resolve the latter. This is where compromise is appropriate, in understanding differences and accepting them.

Your own problem, however, can and must be resolved without compromise, and in your own way. Do not think in terms of battle. Clarify your goal, and move resolutely toward it. You cannot fail to succeed. Moments of BREAK-THROUGH are very beautiful, and I know you will look back on this time of growth and renewal with very great joy.

Wishing you the very best,


December 6, 1992

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