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.

{ photo credit }
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!

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