I’m not quite sure how long ago I cast this reading. A search at archive.org reveals that I’d already uploaded it to IChingResources by April 2001. So some time before then, I had at least noticed that there were, as I put it, ‘books to be written about this answer’. While the books remain unwritten, I can at least make a few blog posts.
I asked, What is the basic human need the I Ching answers?
And Yi responded with Hexagram 49, Radical Change, moving at lines 1, 2 and 4 to reveal Hexagram 48, the Well.
Isn’t that a beautiful, fascinating answer? Yi answers our need for… Radical Change at the Well? A Well for Radical Change? The meaning that captivates me now is the well for change: the power and skill of change, and the steady, pure, clear, unchanging source that both sustains and (according to the Sequence) necessitates the change.
Beginning with the primary hexagram – not a big surprise, perhaps, to learn that the Book of Change answers our need for change. Only this is specifically regime change, or as Karcher calls it, a ‘change of culture’. Yi helps us to change the government, to change what’s in power – the way of seeing, understanding, relating and running things that’s the norm.
On an individual level, that’s generally some blend of inertia, habit, self-image, ‘should’s, and real and imagined coercion. To change the governing principle is also, critically, a change of identity – putting on a new skin, a new way of being. And on a societal level… maybe it’s much the same, both what’s in power and how it’s changed. Hexagram 49 throws out the old regime to make space for one that’s alive and in touch with the wellsprings – connected to spirit.
This isn’t necessarily the same thing, of course, as being in motion and making things happen. One of the ruts we can get into is certainly the ‘making it happen, getting things done’ rut – as if nothing could evolve by its own nature – and in that case Radical Change would bring stillness. I think 49 overcomes ruts of all kinds.
So is this kind of change a fundamental human need? I think it must be… at least, the resource to be capable of change, and a belief in the possibility. That’s a deep desire of ours, tapped into in some form by the more ‘inspirational’ election campaigns, the ones where people are really voting for the possibility of a different world, not just for a politician.
We live in the flow of time, and we want the growth and healing it can bring. We want to believe the status quo can be changed, yet we easily fall into believing that it can’t be, that this is ‘just how it is’ and we must be ‘realistic’ about it. Radical Change is the embodied, present awareness that there is an alternative.
On your own day, there is truth and confidence.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
There is fu – that quality of trust and being true which opens channels and creates an interface, a way or place of connection. Without it, there’s no relationship, no reading; with it, on your own day, with right timing (certainly a need Yi meets!), you have access to ‘creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit’: the four numinous Chinese words that open the whole book, and evoke the power of the creative process. Change can happen; things can be unmade and remade; the energy is available for this. And if you can bring about real change in the present, you have no reason to dwell in regret.
(A small theological excursion. I’m reading slowly through Michael Lerner’s Spirit Matters, in which he says that the name YHWH is made of the markers for the present and future tense, and means the power for healing and transformation in the universe. Well… I’ve always had the feeling that time was invented to allow the possibility of change.)
‘In the centre of the lake there is fire. Radical Change.
A noble one calculates the heavenly signs and clarifies the seasons.’
- putting the light of awareness (fire) firmly inside the liquid stuff of interaction (lake). I think the Image authors were aware that it takes some work for us to learn to recognise ‘our own day’. (A basic question for Yi: ‘What time is it?’) Divination provides a way to reset the internal clock, so it can tell the objective quality of the time clearly – for instance, not confusing ‘time to act’ with ‘time when impatience/ guilt/ anxiety/ social pressure have become overwhelming.’
(Moving lines and relating hexagram to come…)