Stepping off the treadmill. Exhaustion: A Beginning.

"Y" came in for an I Ching reading today, and we had a lovely discussion and contemplation. After an initial meditation and explaining the basics of the process (something I'll soon blog about for future reference), we hoped right into it, and this is what she threw:


As per the norm, we focused in on the images: water inside lake (on the left) and then wind inside thunder (on the right). The Image, focuses your mind onto the task at hand. Words like Lake, Thunder, Wind… these are broad enough in scope that your imaginative ability readily attach themselves to. The Qualities of water inside lake, are described as danger inside joy, and the title of the hexagram is Exhaustion. "Y" is moving out of a time of exhaustion - indeed, a knee surgery(!) - and into a time of Constancy.

Numbering the lines from bottom to top (one through six) there are natural correspondences between 1&4, 2&5, and 3&6. With Exhaustion, as we can see that by these correspondences, only one pair is  in balance right now: lines 1&3. This pertains to "Y's" Personal foundation - her own thoughts on herself - whereas the next two lines - indicative of the Inter-personal, and the Societal - are not balanced: there is a double yang in the interpersonal lines (2&4) and a double yin for the Societal (3&6). This can read as too much activity between herself and others, and too much passivity by herself with the world. Such is a picture of exhaustion: ones energies are withdrawn by the world out of necessity, and communicating with others can be taxing. The lesson of Exhaustion is to bring in the energies available onto oneself to avoid further calamity.

Here in this reading, as the time moves into Constancy (hexagram #32), there is a much more balanced picture taking place - each yin is paired to a yang. Lines 3 and 5 are changing lines… How Y understands the world is moving into a more active time, and how she incorporates others into her life is becoming more receptive. Indeed, Y mentioned how she has been branching out toward a variety of modalities over the past while, gathering new information, and how she is finding a finer and fuller sense of equilibrium with her children.

Our discussion over the course of two hours was very rich, touching on a number of subjects, including Depression. The thing about any given emotion is that the sooner it becomes named, the sooner a person can move on into the next thing needed by our situation and our Life Force. Exhaustion is one such thing. We both regaled in stories where the exhaustion was so great, truly all one could do was laugh. So with the I Ching, anything whose 'skin' appears negative, also holds a large turn-around; an inversion of energy. Thus is Exhaustion the sign of a beginning. Unlike my last reading with Fi, where she was grateful for the increase of the feminine coming back into her life, here, there is an arising 'masculine' presence in-coming by means of the action of Thunder in the second hexagram. Certainly being post-surgery requires a time for healing, and then a time for active recovery. Y  has bee steadily moving into such a transition for several months. 

Thunder is in the top half of Constancy, the Elder Brother, whereas the other three trigrams are all feminine: Water, the Middle Daughter; Lake, the Youngest Daughter, and Wind, the Eldest Daughter. It is interesting to note how exhaustion is characterized by the two younger girls, and Constancy is characterized by the two eldest children. Certainly there comes a time within all healing processes where a push from the bigger-brother-within, is a welcome thing.

By the time our discussion moved into Family Position, I had illustrated the method of how I Ching brings the mind closer and closer in to the qualitative focus one eventually brings onto the question. The Image begins the task (i.e.: water, thunder, lake, etc) - like opening a door - and the Quality focuses the mind and concentrates the energy (i.e.: danger, action, joy), and the Family Position concentrates things yet again. All of these focuses - layering them on  one by one - bring out the hermeneutical feeling of what the original question of "Y" asked. Sitting with the feelings at each stage very much quiet the mind - at each stage - and the culmination of these stages allows for very rich thinking and decision making.


I confess here… this isn't one of my more eloquent blog posts… I've cut to the chase largely for "Y's" benefit, because she got so much out of our discussion… and BECAUSE I'M EXHAUSTED. :) Which is of course all fine-and-good. I am looking forward to a Christmas break from things. I am very proud to have published my Book of Gardens this year, and am diligently building the website for it.  When I work in-person, I definitely take my cues from the person in the room and can tell if I am speaking way above a person's understanding or not. My goal is to share such a rich method of self examination. What took me 18 years is certainly not going to land in a few hours, but the excitement for the basics will! 

The urgent message of my book stands, that amid the decisions upon us all today, what direction will we take?.. "Y's" exhaustion parallel's rather characteristically of our so-called 'trickle-down' economy, which seems to only trickle down an increasing amount of pressure for the 'little guy.'  

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Much of the discussion in the back of the book pertains to the many divides we build and sustain daily with our human actions - monetized by credit instruments. I illustrate the psychological mechanisms which has us rather bound to growth-economics (i.e.: scarcity thinking) and that from the cause of this being through the very 'money' supply we use to meet our needs, our human problems go very much mis-diagnosed as intrinsic, personal, and inter-personal - whereas in fact it is a cultural monetary policy which keeps us trapped on a treadmill. You can read more about iT here, and purchase a copy - here.

Once I've introduced the basic lay-of-the-land with I Ching as I did for Y today, the discussion inevitably becomes rich and multi-directional. I'm also beginning to notice commonalities from one reading into the next, namely, the total surprised-recognition of the Questioner when I announce the titles of their hexagrams. This very much speaks to Thomas Cleary's work of translation, that his titles hit the bullseye each time with each hexagram study. His work is thorough, and his scholarship absolute tops. It took many years to digest his work, and I'm proud and lucky to say I have many more ahead.

It was a delight to sit with you today Y, and I hope to see you again for another Question.


Progression to Joy: Return of the Feminine.

It’s approaching the two year mark since I began offering I Ching readings to people and I continue to marvel at the omnipresent sense of reinvention housed in this ancient avenue of study. I equally marvel at the degree of shared enjoyment which is generated by the study of the I Ching. 

A new friend and colleague, Fi, is the first person to have two readings with me, one week apart. Each time, she cast a hexagram with some subtle change, and overall, a very interesting and highly sequential picture came clear. I found this extremely inspiring for how much the I Ching reveals always and quite simply what-is:

There are two clear progressions taking place here, and one inversion: Yang shrinks in the upper half/trigram, and by the fourth hexagram yang increases within the bottom/lower half. There is a constant progression toward a greater yin presence, while steadily, from below, the constancy eventually births a second line of yang.

Fi, recently completed a major construction project and expressed feeling relieved as of late to ‘invite back in the feminine,’ after having been in such a rough-and-tumble environment working alongside nine men. “42, Increase,” is a picture of this time of action within action: Thunder below, and Wind above. Thunder is a ‘masculine’ action and stays constant on the inside/below for the first three hexagrams before changing into Lake (… Joy) … Wind, above, in the first hexagram, describes a feminine action. Together, Wind & Thunder make for a storm of activity - as indeed building a house must be…

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Though we did not discuss gender in any overt way during our discussion, there is a significant and steady tipping of the scales in the above sequence of hexagrams. Each trigram has a family position. Here, in the first hexagram, Wind, the Eldest Daughter, is above Thunder, the Eldest Son. Qualitatively these family positions suggest different levels of authority and ability, and the progression here is very interesting when parallel to Fi’s recent accomplishments. 


Looking just at the top halves of this series of hexagrams, we have: Wind, the Eldest Daughter, moving into Mountain, the Youngest Son; moving into Earth, the Mother, the receptive in full, and remaining as such into the fourth and final hexagram.

Fi made mention of a sense of relief having got through such a major project, and expressed a sense of gratitude for the feminine flooding back into her day-to-day. And indeed the upper half of a hexagram is indeed how ones thoughts-and-actions are moving out in the world.

In the lower halves of this series of hexagrams a different pattern reinforces this development: Thunder, the Eldest Son stays steady and constant for the first three hexagrams until changing into Lake, the Youngest Daughter, Joy, in the fourth. Biologically, eldest children generally take on responsibilities at the arrival of younger children. So overall, in this progression of hexagrams, this kind of authority, or decisive quality is waning, making way for more youthful energy... The lower halves of a hexagram reflect back more ones thoughts-and-actions within one's sense of self, or ones interior and private world. So the overall picture then is one of Fi needing great strength, or perseverance, to get through to this new time of arising (and intrinsic) joy. 

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Lake, is indeed synonymous with Joy. Fi, is indeed strong, healthy, fiery, and with great will. This reflects back the image of Thunder being constant (and on the Inside) for so long. Thunder is sudden and decisive. Wind, is forceful and flexible. 

As we look again at the first two hexagrams, the change which takes place is a ‘loss’ of one yang line. Conversely, this is a ‘gain’ of one line of yin. That process repeats into the third hexagram in this series, leaving only one yang line left - her resources worn down, making way for qualitatively different resources to arise. When we look upon Thomas Cleary’s titles for these hexagrams, we move from “Increase,” to “Nourishment,” to “Return,” and then finally into “Overseeing.” If we were to ascribe a narrative to this progression, certainly a return to the mature (and happy) feminine is very present.


In her second reading (the third & fourth hexagrams pictured above), I spoke on hexagram #23, Stripping Away.


As you look upon it, you can see it is ‘flipped’ in comparison to #24, Return. I prefer the word inversion, and the I Ching hosts several different kinds of inversions. Thomas Cleary is an exceptional scholar who illustrates fully how Yin/Yang are in constant motion, and at the ready to invert into their other at any given moment in time. Yin/Yang are dynamic energies, rather than fixed entities. Both Return, and Stripping Away, when side-by-side like this depict a kind of exhaustion, and I’d like to suggest that where in #23 the exhaustion comes along by surprise, Return illustrates a sense of complete acceptance. I'll illustrate this better at the end of the post, from an example within my book

Through this particular sequence of four hexagrams the top trigrams inherently depict a kind of ‘stripping away’ … Yang is stripped back until there is only one left: activity and action head toward their natural rest, and the benefits of rest arise. Reflectiveness become present. This, is Return. … The inversion which very much catches my eye though is how the top trigram in the first hexagram inverts into the lower trigram of the fourth(!) Wind… inverts into Lake… That sense of age, responsibility and weariness, becomes spent and is replaced by an invigoration: Wind 'converts' into Lake; Action, inverts into Joy(!)

As I explain to everyone who comes to me for an I Ching reading - I am not a psychologist - so I do not want to know what your question is. I will speak to the movement of the energy of yin/yang at hand, only - as in the above - as I’d rather not be biased inside the reading. Doing so, the Questioner (you) becomes a very present partner to exploring what houses your underlying energies. NONETHELESS, a titbit in conversation always arises which becomes the jewel to shine a light through onto the reading. Clearly, Fi is headed into calm waters, away from the storm - the thunder and wind. She leaves the mountain pass and reclaims the joy of the mother earth around her.

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It is clear to me now that after so many years of personal reflection through I Ching, that now I have moved with a good and happy certainty into the level of inter-personal reflection, bringing my study into the lives of others - an important change in and of itself for any endevour. And, no doubt it is my aim for “The Book of Gardens” to contribute to a broader, cultural, contribution…. All steps along the path. 

I'll leave you with a selection, #24 Return - enjoy! And may you find time for a little wonder & relaxation today(!)

{ from: The Book of Gardens }

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The Meeting of Like Mindedness.

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I'm open to new paths, myself. I'm very much a 'road-less-traveled' fellow. And this weekend I found myself with a lucky Friday night free to do as I please. I've only recently ventured out of my writer's cave having completed my Book of Gardens: A Lover's Manual for Planet Earth, and so after a deep stretch yoga class I followed my feet to a local poetry reading with Doug Wilton's Elephant Mountain and Nelson's BookSmyth.

It was nice to cross paths with the likes of Nelson's local poets. As it is a special culture, it's poets are a highly special bunch; the cream of a highly eccentric crop, where I have always felt myself amongst esteemed company (albeit secretly esteemed). Nelson is one of these places which either draws in our deeper thinkers, or it will draw deeper thinking out of a person. Either way, I'm deeply proud to be a part of this little town.
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I made an offering to the group at the top of the evening: after each presenter, they would choose a number between one and sixty-four, and then I would lead in a brief meditation on the subsequent hexagram chosen, concluding with a reading of that I Ching poem from my Book of Gardens.

Everyone thought that was rather lovely, and for me it was certainly a test... ever looking toward the underlying fabric of how I Ching will always reveal only what-is.

The readings began with Linda Crossfield, who was there with her grandson. Linda is well known in the literary community here and I enjoyed listening to her read in person at our recent Elephant Mountain Literary Festival. Afterwards, she picked #37 People in the Home. The meditation centered upon fire inside wind, or, illumination inside action. This was naturally quite fitting to her work (copies of which can be obtained HERE.) which seemingly effortlessly brings out a sense of wisdom tucked into the corners of the everyday. It was rather suiting that her grandson was present, as he - quickly! - memorized a piece of hers, and we were delighted to have this young voice at the podium. Indeed: illuminated... illuminating... and quite dynamic to have a multi-generational presentation of her work that night.

We moved next to Phil Madar, whose postcard stories are filled with chuckles. His story ended with the character searching for the Norwegian word for storm... and no doubt a little later Phil asked for #51 ... Thunder. 

The meditation is governed by action inside action, one thunder inside another thunder, culminating in one larger and pervasive thunder. The meditations I crafted were based on my usual Inside & Outside couplings, placing each image in the belly and behind the forehead - localizing the imagination and concentration.

Next arrived one of Nelson's dear War Poets, Dennis Foley, whose appreciation of form and metaphysics is both curmudgeonly and formidable. Truly by no coincidence - I Ching only reveals what-is - Denis asked for #21 ... Biting Through. It astounds me that each time I cross this mans path he has another 'almost-got-shot-there' story. And despite such a history, here thrives a Poet.

Lastly, our host, Douglas Wilton, whose blog need be on every Kootenay Poet's "follow" list - ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN - shared a metaphysical musing from a recent walk in one of Nelson's many gorgeous pathways. Doug chose #8 ... Accord, a deeply metaphysical consideration, whose meditation is centered upon receptivity inside pitfalls. The study of Self is ripe with pitfalls of grandiosity as one peels away the postures of ego; followed with new feelings aside from overt feelings on the self, a new awareness naturally 'appears' to take up more space...

I look forward to bringing my Book of Gardens to future poetry readings throughout the Kootenays, offering small hits of mindfulness, and generating further discussion on my favourite subject, the I Ching.

Thank you Doug, for hosting an excellent evening. See you all again soon!

Full On Wow

D, came by for tea and I Ching. She cast #3, Difficulty, moving into #8, Accord. There is only one small movement in the first line, moving from yang to yin, which, though small or seemingly hidden, is significant.


The little personal shifts we make on any given day-to-day are like setting something into a spiral motion: as we travel further away from that shift, or decision, the eventual breadth and perspective we gain is significant. So too might every decision be, if we be granted our thoughts the attention they ask for.

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The top trigram is consistent in both hexagrams: water, each line comprised of young or new energy, is constant and unchanging here. Water, synonymous with mastering pitfalls, or danger, and contains a hidden - yet definite - invitation to use every ounce of wisdom one has. Water, in I Ching, is an invitation to uncover its compliment, Fire, or, Illumination.

D & I meditated on the images and qualities here of Water, Thunder, and Earth, finding that the internal (lower trigram) shift from Thunder into the receptivity of Earth was a very significant energistic shift - affecting the quality of the mastering pitfalls in the above, the outside upper trigram.

That the water stays consistent in both hexagrams holds this invitation toward wisdom at the forefront for any keen observer. Water (mastering pitfalls) is a constant element at all moments in the I Ching, and here indeed we see an immediate example of that, and the coin toss in this particular instance invites the solution of Accord.

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The line in the fifth position of any given hexagram is significant, and generally is seen as a boon if it is yang energy. Here, with Accord, being surrounded by yin, the ready caution is of passivity, though certainly after a time of Difficulty, rest is necessary. Yet the double invitation here is to absorb one's learning. That is, to not loose sight of the recent difficulty, but to mine it for its true, directional value.

The quality of accord is of receptivity inside the 'danger' of water. Danger here can also depict mystery, like any still body of water, what lies beneath the surface generates much emotion.

Amid that feeling, if one injects into the absolute centre of it this idea of receptivity, the magic of Accord comes into view.

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The Earth element is key. Our Earth receives everything we give: bulldozers, toxic spills, shovels, projectiles, trash, urine, rain, lightning... the Earth simply gives way. It is the ultimate embodiment of the Receptive principle. Coupled this to the water element in Accord, and the illumination carried within a prior time of difficulty rises to the surface..

The fifth position is like 'upper management.' Or your most trusted advisor: close to the leadership, holding much knowledge and influence. That this 'advisor' is surrounded by the Receptive brings forward the image of riding that edge in meditation where you are close to falling asleep(!) yet one has to stay alert just enough to take in the full breadth of information at hand. Amongst the Receptive, the wealth of information it receives is truly limitless. Accord is the method by which one relaxes ever more deeply into the practical value of wonder, allowing the neural-chemical process to unveil, out from the shroud of daily stresses and battles we are habituated to. Its invitation reaches as deep as you are willing to travel. Thus moving from Difficulty to Accord is a time for being the sponge, for soaking up the lessons one has weathered; a true time of gratitude and appreciation for having arrived at this moment.


Different Parts of the Being

It was a great pleasure this evening to offer I Ching Guidance to someone ten years my senior. Though in matters such as mindfulness - or to use the words of my new friend, M, soul - age is just a number, and how one puts learning into practice is everything. On that front, the evening was rich with conversation.

Being new to I Ching, M, asked all kinds of questions about the process and about my soon-to-be-available-publicly The Book of Gardens; and it was a true joy to have ready and practical answers. We chatted on the various narratives we are all susceptible to - notably the religious and economic ones - getting swept away to a story, tied to its ending, often having to overlook the means by which we may arrive there... Certainly the narrative of constant-growth economics ties us to an end which never finds fruition... And as I argue in the Book of Gardens, such a narrative has us believing and acting in a way that keeps us feeling very separate and isolated from everything around us - especially each other...

I went through the questioning process of honing in onto a question, which is both the most fun and the most difficult of part working with I Ching: "Different parts of the being," said M, "are asking the question."

And he's quite right.

{ Rossetti: How They Met Themselves watercolour, 1864 }
We all have a question present to us. We all have various things occurring in our lives which present themes. If you are alive you are probably learning. The degree to which you are conscious to your learning may vary from person to person, but in the heart of all your thinking - always - always there resides a question... Part of the process - just as M described - was to ask first, well: "How do we listen?" How do we listen for the question..?

We each have roles to play on behalf of each other, and we each have a sense of duty to ourselves, and balancing these competing sets of needs make for many questions - many voices - inside of our thinking. Taking the opportunity to sift through this, and get to the central theme of ones life is what I Ching is all about, and why it will remain a timeless classic for our species. Using the question - something truly unique to You - brings out your innate concentration, and leads you toward generating your own insight to what is best to your own life. The only 'trick' to the process is to make time for it. Using I Ching Guidance, is one such opportunity that I offer to you, and greatly enjoy sharing.

These two sets of voices then - the outward responsibilities, and the inward - reminded me of the Doppleganger myth. According to German legend, the moment of your death arrives when you face your twin as if in a mirror. It is as if the other version of you - living out his or her days autonomous to yours - wanders equally on this planet, going about stuff, confused yet searching, and then BAM! meets his or her twin...You! The myth then describes the dying process as one hyper-quick flashback through your time seen through the eyes of the others who encountered you moment-to-moment-to-moment... You literally see your life 'flash before you.'

As I mention in The Book of Gardens, such a myth only raises a foreboding second head if one has something to hide.

Which I suppose is where Mindfulness and the I Ching comes in. I Ching makes physical various loci of attention otherwise buried in the day-to-day maelstrom of your thinking. As usual, I was taken aback by the relevance of what the coin-toss brought out:

#17, Following.
Just as one must follow through to find a question, so too does one follow the events and energies which insulate ones thinking from even asking the question. One follows - either consciously or unconsciously - the predominant set of thoughts which 'speak' the loudest. Underneath it all though - when we look - resides always our truest, most deepest wish. This process I call The Practical Value of Wonder.

It's like a vitamin for your neurology, creating space and uncovering the vitality for your best thinking.

At this time, all of M's coin tosses revealed yin & yang in their 'young' states. That is, the energies in each line are just establishing: the time is new, and none of the energy is moving away from their given state.

Following, is characterized by the image of Thunder inside the Lake; the quality of Action inside Joy; as well as the characters The Eldest Son and The Youngest Daughter. These are various contemplations to concentrate ones focus on the question at hand.

To envision this, place your concentration of the 'Inside' at your navel, or the belly. Bring to mind there the image of Thunder as you have experienced thunder in your time thus far. From there, move to the idea of having action generating there from the Inside. Thunder, containing a masculine quality, or suddenness, or sudden strength, can also be imaged there inside your belly. Take some time to sift through this - the image, quality, and character - and make them personal to you. Personalize their energies, and feel them as they reside in your body - here, in the belly. The action of thunder, says much about M currently on the Inside.

On the outside, or just behind your forehead, imagine the image of Lake,which is synonymous to the quality of Joy. As I write this five blocks away from the beach here on this hot July afternoon, it does not take too great a leap to pair Lake with Joy...

#17, Following.

When we look here upon the correspondences between the bottom and top trigrams, lines 1 & 4 are both yang. This may illustrate a congruency for M at this time, in that his sense of self-hood is well established. The potential caution is of excessive yang which burns itself up more readily: but here both lines of yang are young yang, which speaks to me of having crossed through a time of transition, positioned well in what is fresh and new.

Lines 2 & 5 have yin inside yang. This is the area of interpersonal relations, and having yang in the fifth position (close to the 'leadership' of the sixth line) is generally a good thing. Every good leader needs excellent managers and supportive workers. Balanced and supported by the line below, this shows that M is in a place where he is flexible toward others while being active socially. Again, both lines are young and establishing, so the potential for growth and simultaneous renewal is present and balanced.

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And in the last set of correspondences, lines 3 & 6, both are yin... which returns us again to the idea of being open and flexible to M's place in society, and how M is thinking on society. M is quite ready for new information and experiences.

So... what with all this seeming random positive-ness, what else is M to do other than to follow his own understanding of truth and benefit? Each step brings us closer toward seeing ourselves in our fulness. What - or rather, how - would you like to greet such a person?...

I am of the conviction that taking regular time to listen in for ones truest Question - to be present with your immediate sense of longing - is of immense health-giving benefit. It allows for our best decisions, personally, interpersonally, and how we may then become global citizens.

Thanks M. Looking forward to a round of Chess!


Observing Opportunity.

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Human curiosity is a lovely timeless thing. No matter what life hands us, curiosity truly just waits under the surface.

To that end, I met with a curious new friend for a hike and I Ching Guidance the other week. No, I'm not giving guidance to cats just yet - we'll save that for our later years - but curiosity and cats do pair together so well, and the site of 'dressing cats up as sushi' seemed too good to pass over. 'Hell' may be fashioned for the inquisitive, but I'd rather ask, than have a hell sneak up on me.

My friend S cast the following combination of hexagrams, with one minor movement of old yin into young yang in the top, sixth, line. This is in the area of how S moves, acts, and thinks on society as she is out-and-about in the world. Such an area for change is something which I think many of us will relate to today: how we are perceived, our life satisfaction, our vulnerabilities, our habits, and what is available to us to answer the questions and callings within...

My last post illustrated decently the areas of image, quality, and character contained by a hexagram study, so rather than explain these fresh again here, I'll dive into the deep end.

On the left, hexagram #8 Accord, is characterized by the image of Earth inside Water. The qualities of which are receptivity inside danger, or, receptivity inside mastering pitfalls.

Hexagram #20 Observing, on the right, is characterized by the image of Earth inside Wind. The qualities of which are receptivity inside action.

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Briefly meditate on these images/qualities for a moment. The inside (the body, or the belly) is filled with the receptive, the Earth. Imagine how readily the Earth bends to our will. It accepts whatever is given: storms, fires, excavations, industry, grumpy humans throwing things at it... The Earth makes way and accepts all the forces that move above and through it.

Breathe deep into your belly and torso this notion of receptivity, or the receptive. Breathe with this for several large breaths until you begin to relax and the imaging becomes more subtle... Underneath the surface of our Earth, thrive millions and millions of its subjects, churning out a rather serious cosmic compost, giving and taking lives, ashes to ashes, dust to dust... Breathe this sense of Earth into your belly.

When life hands us a big challenge it is surprising just how long it can take to move beyond it - to digest it - and usually a person begins to do so after some time of rest and reflection. Hibernation almost; or withdrawing into the cave. That yin (the receptive) is so very present here in this casting of I Ching, and that S is now several years into co-parenting, it seems natural that an accord has been largely developed, and S moves now toward an active change for how S is perceived in the world. Certainly the readiness to jump into an I Ching reading speaks toward that readiness - to seek out new information.

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On the outside then, or just behind the forehead, meditate briefly on the image of water. There are all kinds of water: rain, streams, oceans, lakes, rivers... Continue with observing your breath through your torso while imagining the qualities of water inside your head. Water amends - like Earth - to anything we give to it - boats, rocks, debris, sunken ships... and it is not something we can survive inside for any length of time without coming up for air. So there is a constant sense of 'alert' when water is present - despite its engaging beauty.

This water, this 'mastering pitfalls,' is in transition, moving in this case into Wind. Shift your meditation now to this image of Wind - moving from Water to Wind. It is a slight, yet dynamic shift. The air envelopes everything - as does Earth and Water - and Wind, covers a tremendous amount of ground quickly. Here, S's perception is growing - expanding. From a time of mystery perhaps, S moves into a time of Perspective...

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S, spoke of a quality kind of like craving in our ensuing conversation. The lower three lines of each hexagram speak to this, in that the levels of personal, interpersonal, and societal are consistently receptive (yin). Being mid life (though S argues to be 1/3 through life!) S has available all the tools to do as is pleasing: sense of self - check - established relationships - check - and professional experience to draw upon to craft further a career...

... Yet at this time, S, awaits upon word of work in the fall, and is quite ready to make the move.

The movement in the top trigrams also speaks to this shift: water is the middle daughter, and wind is the eldest daughter. The movement in character alone depicts a kind of graduation, or a growing in authority. Given the underlying consistency of yin in the lower trigrams, S, has all the personal authority at the ready to claim this next move. She is consistently receptive on the inside trigram; that is, within her inner life and perceptions.

So all may appear well, in that a decision - or by a piece of new information - all may fall into place, and presto! all may be well. And right at that point bubbled up a sense of caution for me...

That this is a time of slight and gradual transition, the level of consistency here gives rise to becoming too passive in awaiting the change. The change is taking place out in the world, so there are factors at play that if one doesn't seize the daycertainly the day will unfold as it may... There is excitement to be found so long as there is no panic to do so.

Looking twice upon this caution, the idea of 'complacency' came to mind, yet only toward how S wants to be known in the world. That is, in having the life experience to draw upon, now is truly a time for not conforming to outside ideas. Rather, today is the day for capitalizing on the inward learning that has taken place in recent years, and moving actively into a sense of Decision based upon life's little lessons it must hand us. Such qualitatively-based decision making is like making the layers of inward looking decidedly active - seeking fulfillment or Satisfaction, perhaps uncovering something forgotten or delayed, starting that thing that has yet to be tried...

After a time of great change, or even upheaval, certainly a time of exhaustion and rest are probably the best thing to be doing: rest IS the action in such times. But once any 'craving' or unsettledness stirs, it is a time to consider taking concrete action, seeking out opportunity.



Bright Leo Gazing.

I've had a couple of I Ching sessions over the last few months, but have been far too busy to blog about them. The good news contained in that is that I've readied my Book of Gardens for self-publication now, and am going to make a few more adjustments to it before releasing it publicly. An excerpt from the book came to mind while crafting this post, and is pasted below...

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My new friend K met with me today, and I had the good fortune of exchanging with her a review of my astrological birth-chart. I also had the privilege of being the first person she's offered this to(!) 

K, is not the only astrologer in her family, and sharing her process with others has been something she has been considering for some time. Similar to my first post from a year-and-a-half ago, once a person knows their source of wisdom well, much benefit and learning can be generated by sharing it with others. The exchange of insight produces more insight...

Illumination into Action


K's question drew one of the "timeless" hexagrams, #30 - Fire, moving into #37 People in the Home (Hexagram Titles are in accord with Professor Thomas Cleary's Buddhist I Ching). My own practice for describing I Ching to another has come along well in the past eighteen months, but nevertheless, describing the movement of energy demands a fair amount of attention to uncover the best words.

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What remains constant between these two hexagrams is the element of fire - or illumination - on the inside, lower half. Fire is characterized by a single yin line in the centre of two yang lines. 

As usual, I made sure I did not know K's question(s), as I look only to speak on the movements of yin & yang, ensuring that my listener works alongside me to apply the image, the quality, and the character to their own question process. I would otherwise probably fall into the pitfall of advising; and though I love the study of psychology, a psychologist I am not.

Following this pattern of considering image, quality, and character, the hexagrams arising here depict one major shift when we look at them in terms of their four component trigrams. 75% of this time for K is characterized by Fire - by illumination. At first there is fire within fire: illumination within illumination.  This hexagram, along with #1 Heaven, #2 Earth, and #30 Mastering Pitfalls (Water) are considered universal, or timeless, in that they have a presence at all times. That K was introducing herself to I Ching may well be contributing to one of these timeless hexagrams rising into play, pairing her own self-study of psyche via astrology to an introductory exploration of I Ching.

Simultaneously though, the pure Fire of this first hexagram is moving toward fire-within-wind, or, illumination-within-action. Meditating on this alone brings about a certain quality: imagine that fire-on-the-inside takes place within your belly, and fire-on-the-outside takes place within your mind, or the front of your head. Use this contemplation of image to concentrate your mind, and really centre your mental focus on these areas in your body. Though this may prove best to have someone talk you through it, if you truly place an image of a warm hearth at your belly - and stay with that for a few deep belly breaths - it cannot help but calm and focus you. From there then, imagine a second hearth just behind the front of your forehead... After a moment of focusing in this way, shift then the outer image (the one in your head) from fire, to that of wind, and note the arising qualitative difference. 

This small exercise in concentration and imagination brings your thinking and feeling onto task. Contemplating image, and quality, generally pair together like this. Much of I Ching begins with this kind of familiarity.

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Having made this exchange of Astrology for I Ching, and knowing that I was K's inaugural client, it struck me readily that her own source of wisdom has been something of a long time source of inspiration - a reliable self-study. A person cannot really offer these practices to others unless the information and wisdom has been absorbed fully. Knowing the map, one enters the territory...

The movement between this pairing of hexagrams takes place in the fourth and fifth lines - the heart & throat chakras. I draw a correlation between looking to Serve, or fulfill-a-purpose, with the movement here in the fourth and fifth lines. The heart line here becomes more receptive, while the voice/fifth line becomes more active.


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Whether her deepening involvement with Astology has anything to do with her question, I of course have no idea and nor do I want to for fear of advising falsely. However: the correlation is quite strong. Her decision to move into this avenue of work and service most likely took a great deal of reflection,  consideration and decision making. No doubt she followed something much like a guiding "light" to do so.

After describing these movements taking place in the outside (top trigram), we looked briefly on the levels of personal (lines 1 & 4), the interpersonal (lines 2 & 5), and the societal (lines 3 & 6). 

I may have written in earlier posts that the lines of a hexagram are numbered from bottom to top, but I suppose it is worth repeating just that. The first three lines then, look at the personal, interpersonal, and societal as she experiences and thinks on them in private; or, the Inside. And the top lines (4,5,6) direct our considerations of the personal, interpersonal, and societal as we experience them in real-time out in the world. The Outside. More on the contemplation of "Inside & Outside" appear here in the blog.

Looking upon the changes here in this way, there is movement on the personal and interpersonal levels - as she experiences them in the world at large (the Outside) - which, regardless of her question, correlate strongly to this move to serve others with astrology. Stated briefly: how she views herself in the world and her relations with others is here in movement. Out busy in the day-to-day, personally for her it is a time of increasing receptivity (the change taking place in the fourth line); and interpersonally it is a time of increasing activity (the change taking place in the fifth line)

Sounds like career change?? 

From the astrological reading she gave me, I happen to have an interesting configuration of planets in the house relating to career and work (ie: Mercury & Venus; with Jupiter! in higher learning & long distance travel) - so in the above description, you may well be witnessing my own bias upon career and roles coming into view, and yet I Ching hides nothing(!) It can only reveal what-is.

The third correlation I drew was that Fire can also be considered as a middle male child, while the Wind (contained in the upper part of the second hexagram in this pair) can be considered as the eldest daughter. So the aspect of maturation, or family rank, also corresponds to the enlargement into serving others with her now well-studied wisdom.


Looking a little more deeply into this idea of rank, or progress and progression, here is an excerpt from my upcoming book which looks at character as a matter of degree:

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Introduction: The Book of Gardens: A Lover's Manual for Planet Earth
by Philip W. Sarsons

(20% of proceeds being donated to Johnson's Landing )

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Lastly, we meditated together on the images: fire/illumination inside the belly, with fire moving to wind in the mind. The sensation of ensuing breadth which I experienced was rather interesting. Naturally, wind fans flames; the fire removes the excess, and the wind carries insight over a greater territory. One's vision covers more ground.

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I truly look forward to future exchanges with K, because similar to myself, K looks at any one movement of our cosmos as a movement of mind and psyche. She began her examination of my birth-chart with a review of the Kybalion main principles, as well as gazing upon a selection of tarot cards - selected in accord with the numerology associated with my birth date. As with I Ching, there are few coincidences, and the primary card associated to my birth is... The Hermit!

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Indeed: living alone on a mountainside has been one of the highlights in my life. Yet, like the Heirophant, I aim currently toward a rounder social experience which includes the mystical.

Bravo K! A world of increased Joy stands before you, and I look forward to sharing future readings greatly! There can be no greater pleasure than shining each our light onto how we understand Our Psyche, seeing our selves-as-nature. 

In time, should you develop a web presence, I'll greatly look forward to supporting you. It's a powerful thing to share sincerely from a place of well studied and integrated wisdom. 

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