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.
The advice from the reading was to stay calm and centered when the storm hits while remaining supple and flexible – much like a palm tree when it’s being battered by a hurricane or typhoon. While I’d like to think that I followed this guidance, an excellent dentist and a strong painkiller were probably a lot more useful in helping me to weather this particular storm.
With no smart phone to distract me while I was lying on the dentist’s chair, I found myself asking why I have been spending so much time over the past few years studying the Analects of Confucius, the Daodejing, and most recently the I Ching. One obvious reason is that having studied Mandarin at university and lived in Taiwan for around thirty years, I do have a very strong interest in Chinese culture and history. What better of way of understanding its roots than by reading its ancient classics?
A second – and probably more important – reason is that the more I read these texts, the more I realize that the values promoted in them are just as relevant to dealing with the challenges of modern life as they were when they first emerged in ancient times. Indeed, as the speed of change continues to accelerate as a result of rapid advances in technology, the need to cultivate personal qualities such as modesty, tolerance, sincerity, and perseverance becomes even greater.
Time, I think, to explore this connection further.