Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Example reading after a dream

Since I wrote about ‘Four ways Yi works with dreams’, I’ve been on the alert for how this conversation’s working for me. Here’s an example from my journal.

I’d been divining – and worrying – about how I was going to promote the journal software. I’ve never been very good at selling things, not so as to make actual money – and if I fail to do so this time, I’ll be letting Justin down (not to mention all the people who would benefit from the software and won’t know about it). So – I worry, and divine, and read up on ‘product launches’.

There’s a ‘guru’ for those: a highly successful expert who advocates having your product available for only a few days so it becomes ‘urgent’ for people to buy it, having  a huge build-up to that, and also emailing people umpteen times during those few days – three times on the last day, he says. Well, this is not exactly my style – there is really no universe in which I would inflict that on people, and I can’t imagine fabricating some kind of specious time limit – but (I thought/worried) there must be something I could be learning from him about using the power of urgency to motivate people…

That night I dreamt,

“The setting: a grim tent encampment, the ground all rocks and mud. (It’s astonishing I have somehow managed to keep clean.) I am watching the leader talking. He displays CCTV film of a house’s front entrance and says, ‘Let’s listen to the music in this house.’ The sound is heard of a happy, light-hearted counting song – in English, though the listeners recognise it as Brazilian or maybe Catalan. The local language, anyway.

I think this song sounds much too happy for the regime; they won’t like it. Sure enough, they don’t. The leader says this is how the evil imperialists undermine the nation, with their corrupt languages, and this must be replaced by our own great language.

I know this episode (it’s become a TV show) is about teaching Russian, or enforcing it, so this must be how it starts. It’s somewhere between sinister and ridiculous.”

I titled the dream ‘Russian Regime’ – and then I thought that my unconscious was probably making an atrocious pun, and this was about a totalitarian regime of rushing. The whole dream makes a lot of natural sense that way – keeping clean in the mud, suppression of natural language, of light-heartedness, especially light-heartedness about numbers. So I went straight back to Yi and asked specifically,

‘What do I need to understand about using urgency in the software launch?’

Yi answered with Hexagram 35, Advancing, changing at lines 2 and 4 to Hexagram 4, Not Knowing.

‘Advancing, Prince Kang used a gift of horses to breed a multitude.
In the course of a day, he mated them three times.’

…is there a joke in here about the ‘three email day’ of the guru’s launch model?

Probably. The thing is, both these hexagrams have a feeling of urgency. In 35 it’s ‘make the most of the opportunity you’re given’ – a positive, celebratory kind of urgency. In 4 it’s altogether needier. In fact…

‘Not knowing, creating success.
I do not seek the young ignoramus, the young ignoramus seeks me.
The first consultation speaks clearly.
The second and third pollute the waters,
Polluted, and hence not speaking.
Constancy bears fruit.’

…those repeated consultations look uncomfortably like ‘portrait of insecure person repeatedly asking people to like what she’s selling’. (Back in 2012 we did a ‘first consultation’, a survey, and received some 250 responses that did indeed ‘speak clearly’.) And there’s certainly an allusion here to the three email day, isn’t there?

So… asking is good, doing your best and making the most of the moment is good; anxiously pestering people is counter-productive. I already knew the second part of that; what I needed to see was the distinction between 35 and 4.

And from the lines -

‘Now advancing, now apprehensive.
Constancy, good fortune.
Accepting fine armour,
Blessing from your ancestral mother.’

I recognise the ‘apprehensive’. I’m most comfortable when vanishing into the background; running a business is really not like that – and nor’s Hexagram 35. The gift and blessing of the armour… yes, I think I know it. (One of those understandings that’s too involved and personal to share.)  It becomes very clear to me that the point of the armour is not to avoid being afraid, but to make it possible to be constant anyway.

‘Advancing like a long-tailed rodent,
Constancy: danger.’

I’ve always thought the key to this line is that the rodent spoils the stored grain. From the rodent’s perspective, as it scurries round the store picking up one grain at a time, it’s making great progress. Which is quite true as far as it goes; it’s just that the rodent can’t see the true scale of the store. Constancy in rodent-mind is dangerous. I can’t think of a better image for using dodgy ‘urgency tactics’ on people I have a real connection with.

(Looking simply at the line positions, taking a cue from something LiSe said on the last Change Circle call: it’s good to have constancy when I’m centred on relationship and how I’m connected – the focus of line 2. It’s not good to have constancy when I’m thinking line 4 thoughts about ‘what I can do here’ – that is, about marketing tactics.)

So there it is – questions prompt dream; dream prompts reading; reading brings encouragement, reassurance and some key distinctions – and so it goes on.

 

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