One of the best ways of deepening your understanding of China is to read the Book of Changes. There are plenty of excellent English-language translations and commentaries available, so language is no barrier. My favorites include “I Ching: The Essential Translation of the Ancient Chinese Oracle and Book of Wisdom” by John Minford, “The Living I Ching: Using Ancient Chinese Wisdom to Shape Your Life” by Ming-Dao Deng, and “The I Ching, or, Book of Changes,” by Richard Wilhelm.
We have an extended five-day break here in Taiwan to mark the Tomb-Sweeping Festival. A wonderful time indeed, particularly given the glorious spring-time weather.
My I Ching reading this morning was highly apposite given that I had a dental appointment scheduled for this afternoon. Hexagram 32 (恆/héng), consisting of thunder over wind, signifies endurance and resilience – two qualities that are definitely required for having a root canal taken care of.
Starting a new venture is a messy business. No matter how carefully you lay your plans, problems are sure to appear in the most unexpected of places. This is the warning given by Hexagram 3 (屯/zhūn), signifying a difficult birth of a baby from her mother or sprouting of a plant from below the ground.
Water over lake: I’ve been here before with Hexagram 60 (節/jié). Signifying a notch on a bamboo pole for measuring water levels on a stream or river, it calls for regulation, moderation, or limitation of your behavior. In other words, stick to a middle path rather than go to extremes.
Earth over quake: Hexagram 24 (復/fù) marks a turning point. The cold and darkness of winter is nearly over. The solstice is here. You can begin to prepare for the approaching spring. Best not to push too hard, though. Make sure that you get plenty of rest so that you have plenty of strength for the hard labor of planting that lies ahead.
Line 6, the changing line, warns that you’re still not on the right track with your preparations. Take time to reflect once again so that you can get back in sync with the rhythm of the seasons. Any attempt you make to force the pace of things will inevitably fail.
Mountain over quake: Hexagram 27 (頤/yí) looks like the four corners of a mouth with its four broken lines capped by two firm lines at the bottom and top. Make sure that you’re getting the right nourishment of both the physical and spiritual kinds to build up your strength.
Eat healthy foods in moderation. Don’t eat or drink to excess. Clear the crap out of your mind through deep self-reflection, and remain calm in your thoughts, speech, and actions. When the right time comes, you’ll be ready to make your move.
One of the very few downsides of living in Taiwan is the frequency of the earthquakes that hit the island. When one comes, you can do little more than try to stay calm and wait for the tremors to halt while silently hoping that your number hasn’t come up.
Fire over Heaven: Hexagram 14 (大有/dà yǒu) literally means “big have” or in more formal English “great measure”. It marks a time of great power and clarity – not to mention wealth and success.
Hexagram 57 (巽/xùn) represents a gentle wind that patiently disperses the storm clouds on the horizon and leaves the sky clear and calm. If you adopt a similar low-key approach to achieving your goals, you’ll accomplish much more effective long-term results than with dramatic gestures or aggressive moves.