Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Difficulty at the Beginning

"Times of growth are beset with difficulties....But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to attain form. Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger."
--I Ching Book of Changes (Hexagram 3, Difficulty at the Beginning) Wilhelm/Baynes trans

After the sluggishness of a creative mud season, what a relief to get a fresh start! Bright, sparkly, new ideas jostle for attention. The mind zips around like a crazed puppy, trying to sniff everything at once.

In this phase of beginning anything, so much is in flux. We may feel scattered and breathless at the variety of all that wants to zing into being. The strands of different possibilities intersect and tangle with each other, making it hard to see what comes before what.

When you're blessed with a springtime of creative growth like this, how do you skillfully handle the storm of confusion and chaos that can roll in with it?

The I Ching suggests we "arrange and organize the inchoate profusion of such times of beginning, just as one sorts out silk threads from a knotted tangle and binds them into skeins. In order to find one's place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite." (Wilhem/Baynes).

We need persistent patience to do our part in helping things sort themselves out naturally. Sometimes the best way forward is to hold back from seeking quick results.

"Restless action interferes with the creative process unfolding. If we can persevere in non-action and disengagement, the Creative will resolve everything correctly."
--A Guide to the I Ching, (Hexagram 3, Difficulty at the Beginning) by Carol Anthony


Would you like to consult the I Ching about a difficult beginning in your life or work? Jot down what you're curious about. And pick a number between 1 and 6. Below, see how the advice beside the number you picked might apply to your situation. Would you tell us in the comments what you find?

1. If you meet a hindrance, don't act just for the sake of action. Dissolve inner obstacles within your beliefs and attitudes. Without abandoning your goal, pause, take thought, and don't be too proud to ask for help.

2. In the midst of challenges, something unexpected happens. You can't tell if it's a windfall or a set-back. Be cautious about premature solutions. Avoid giving in to pressure to make a deal that might compromise your integrity and independence.

3. You will not be able to find your way without more perspective. This isn't a time to try to wing it or slide by. For now, stop seeking resolution, ask for spiritual guidance, and wait for clarity.

4. Relax pride and reserve and take the risk of being the first to reach out for a connection. You need help in order to make real progress; there's no shame in this. Collaborate. All goes well.

5. Your good intentions are being misunderstood; explaining them won't help. For now, continue in the background, modestly, step by step, until the situation gradually clears up and the way is open to proceed on a larger scale.

6. You aren't getting anywhere--you can't see any momentum. The difficulties seem like too much, and you're understandably discouraged. Sometimes things don't work out. But do not indulge in an attitude of resignation and defeat. Rid yourself of the effort to shore up a self-image. You have nothing to prove.

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