My new friend Tomasz came by for dinner at the Edmonton house. We had a lively discussion all evening centering on the state of the world, global powers and elites, the economy, and the like. Our mutual friend, S (a philosopher with his own practice called ASK, Assisted Self Knowledge) took us to the test on any statements of potential conjecture. Though that can be uncomfortable, on important topics it is all the more important to do so, as conjecture is a very limiting force, being a pervasive yet subtle power.
I did not ask for Tomasz's question until after he had thrown the coins and I spoke about the images. There was some foundational movement at this time in the lower part of the hexagram. He threw, 22 Adornment, and 18 Degeneration: the stillness of Mountain in the outside (the mind) and moving from Fire (illumination) to Wind (action) on the inside (the body). ... Stillness on the outside, illumination on the inside, moving into action...
Tomasz is well traveled in life. He has lived in many countries, is approaching the grand man's time of fifty years old, and has a multitude of experiences to draw upon. Indeed in the position of mind there is stillness here, and fewer questions on self-hood at this juncture. "Mountian, is where you loose the self" says Thomas Cleary (much more on him to follow:). What caught my attention, naturally, was this inversion in the lower trigram. The bottom two lines are changing. The expression of the bottom two lines on their own could be read as moving from Spring to Fall, and I spoke much on this first image.
Adornment, is described by Fire below the Mountain, illumination inside stillness. I always imagine sitting nestled into the mountain at lakeside on a calm evening when Adornment arises. It is a time of something even more still, more radiant, than simple reflection; but is rather a deepening appreciation of one's physical body, the miracle of one's blood and neurons, emotions, and that this body is a filter for Life... All these things coming to a point of radiant calm confidence and observation... an inner sparkling darkness... the night sky within ones own skin. ... The image of illumination inside stillness alone is worth contemplating.
The first sages who (possibly unbeknownst to them) set out on developing I Ching, sat around fires, asking questions to the stars, the cosmos, and threw bones into the fire to be cracked by the drying heat. Imagine now the pictorial quality of the Chinese language... In asking these questions, and allowing the divining powers of nature to bring back their 'answer' for examination, these early sages developed in time a cataloging system of these bones and their cracks, discovering patterns within the questions themselves - and even the questioning - like a 'primitive' quantum physics. Over several millennia, the patterns coalesced into what we now know to be the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. It is truly a most remarkable accomplishment, brought together through observable and natural elements.
So I think of Adornment as a time of great beauty, in fact. It has such a bulk of history and genuine inquiry contained within it.
"Relax into the kidneys: doubt is simply time feeling like regret." Is my interpretation of the mountain under which the fire of Adornment nestles... "Relax into the kidneys: doubt is simply time feeling like regret." I brought T toward this image, and this feeling in his body, a place of pervasive security and nurturance. I explained briefly the history and use of fire in I Ching, as well as my own time sitting below a very specific mountain... deep into my own research and writing. When we truly still ourselves, there is always a great bounty within. Tomasz, is about ten years further into his time than I am, so there is much treasure here.
All along this time with Tomasz, I was offering a caution, as the action of Wind is approaching. Indeed, Degeneration, offers many forewarnings on the nature of corruption, and how at the heights of strength the prior seeds of weakness are often revealed. Do not hide them! Be ruthlessly honest, and scrape away any inconsistency. It is the way through to success... I was somewhat insistent that Tomasz use this feeling of reflection from Adornment - like wearing a crown - as a REMINDER for going forward. It is easy to alienate others, or alienate oneself from others by way of knowledge. By staying still to the beauty of our experiences though, we become so very inviting, and put ourselves in a position of sharing our innate wisdom; our most mature selves.
If one is 'newly minted' with a peak spiritual experience, it is a time of caution. Of tending the fire gently. As, if one claims enlightenment (illumination) to soon into the world... some form or other akin to corruption gains traction within ourselves. Beauty itself the intoxicant, my friends(!) Enjoy, but do not linger :)
Of course we all want to feel AWE. And, more keenly, to speak of this experience articulately. What is of great importance is the timing within ourselves for the quality to arise by which we share this awe. Too soon... and others may not follow. Too late? ...don't worry about it.
So: as we move into action, notably after a period of great discovery, this is indeed like "crossing a great river" (TC). And to be in such a position, is a great honour(!) I am happy for you, Tomasz!
Jung says that our second half of life is far more interesting than the first, to which I must concur (I am just at its starting gate, and am loving it!) And yes, it is like crossing a great river: one must prepare "Three days prior. Three days after" (TC). We must bookend our transitions with preparation and reflection.
The complete gorgeousness of Adornment cannot be underestimated in its usefulness. It follows on 21, Biting Through, which is a powerful and turbulent time. Thus Adornment is in itself a form of 'success.' Personally, I define success as contentment. That deep long exhale which happens upon the heels of an achievement. By focusing on the words, "illumination inside stillness," this gorgeous feeling will be an important anchor for Tomasz.
Tomasz now steps into what I hope and trust will be a time of quality-based action. Qualitative Action. This is not the action of a young man who has things to figure out, nor the action of youth which rails at others from inside their unknowing. This is the action of learning how best to proceed, with all the wisdom of the first half of life to inform, as we share our best knowing.
Much love Tomasz. May you always have long life, radiant good spirits, and excellent health. Remember the Zen saying, "your poverty, is your treasure" and return to that deep breath, deep into the kidneys.
Please see my "Book of Gardens" for my complete interpretation of Thomas Cleary's 'Budhist I Ching.'