I Ching Diary: standing at the edge of an abyss


There are no rules on when you should consult the I Ching. Some people only like to carry out a reading when they have a major decision to make. I prefer to do one when I wake up as an early-morning ritual to settle my mind and prepare for the day ahead. Daily interactions with the text also help me to build up a greater knowledge of the core principles that underlie it.

I Ching Hexagram 29 Abyss

In my reading this morning, I found myself standing at the edge of the abyss or gorge (坎/kǎn) in the form of hexagram 29, which is comprised of two identical trigrams representing water (水/ shuǐ). A raging torrent cutting its way through a gorge conjures up the image of an imminent threat of being swept away by a gathering crisis. Rather than giving up in despair at your impending doom, the I Ching advises you to accept the reality of the situation and stay resolute in the face of danger. Better to stay calm and think of ways to deal with the problem instead of wasting precious energy attempting to fight it. I can’t think of a more effective approach to crisis management.

Since I cast a six for the third line of the hexagram, the text went on to further amplify this advice with a warning against being drawn into taking unnecessary actions and to wait for the right course to present itself. In today’s febrile social media climate, it can be all too easy to expend valuable time and even harm your emotional wellbeing by getting sucked into the latest Twitterstorms. Stay focused on what’s important and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by all the heat and noise.

I Ching Hexagram 48 Well

Because I cast a six for the third line of the hexagram, I also had to convert it from a broken one into an unbroken one, thus transforming the lower trigram from water to ground/wind (巽/xùn /風/fēng), and hexagram 29 to hexagram 48 representing a well (井/jǐng).

In contrast to a raging torrent, a well sustains life rather than threatens it. By extension, the clear and still water of a well provides a source of nourishment for the souls of people who choose to contemplate it. Thus, the reading is saying that taking time to cultivate your thoughts and emotions is the only way to build up the mental and spiritual resilience you need to deal with the problems that you will inevitably encounter during your life. Even though you never know when the next crisis will hit, you need to be fully prepared for it.

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