In the I Ching Book of Changes (one of the world's oldest advice books) Hexagram #57: Gentleness/The Penetrating talks about clearing entrenched destructive tendencies. The power of gentleness dissolves these difficulties with the kind of persistent influence of wind dispersing clouds or roots penetrating soil.
"The Gentle: Success through what is small.
Gradual, inconspicuous effects
are more enduring and complete."
-- from I Ching Book of Changes, trans: Wilhelm/Baynes
When meeting unwanted circumstances, we humans may innocently react with a hard, contracted, agitated state of mind that demands quick solutions. Or, we may tend towards despondency and abandon ourselves to numbness, inertia and doubt. When we try to force big improvements we're often dismayed to find they don't last.
How, instead, to live from what is truest in us, even when we don't like what's happening within or without? How to act from love rather than fear, not in some imagined heroic version of our biography, but right here in this humble, messy moment, alive with exactly these challenges and opportunities?
Hexagram 57, Gentleness offers a pointer: success through what is small.
For me, gentleness might look like simply noticing the next oh-so-justified defense/attack thought that comes churning through my mind-field, bristling with hooks and spin.
I realize that I actually don't have to argue or agree with a thought. I don't have to believe it. I don't have to take it personally and make myself right/wrong for having it. I am free to not-follow it into acting-out. I don't even need to get rid of it. I can simply recognize it as a thought-form. Such a small, small thing! And look: it's already dispersing like a weather front clearing before the wind!
Gentleness is an attitude of healing sensitivity as we connect with our stuck spots and witness their passing, illusory nature. It takes a grounded, persistent, light touch to cooperate with the dissolving of conditioned mental habits and blockages. We can train in meeting our shifting mental/emotional landscape as non-judgmentally and intimately as a breeze touching every leaf and branch it passes.
As we continue to free ourselves according to our current understanding and evolution, our light naturally brightens. It shines to the benefit of others as well; they can sense our sincerity, and relax in our presence. Nourishing insight, vitality and creative curiosity grow in our awareness and express in our choices--this is the success of gentleness.
To give yourself a reading loosely based on Hexagram 57, pick a # 1-6 and consider the pointers below that correspond to it.
1. As you are able, disengage from your own patterns of defense, attack, explanation or justification--even when others approach aggressively. Don't dither. Disperse distrust and do not build imaginary schemes or fortifications against what anyone might do, think or feel. "In my defenselessness my safety lies."--A Course In Miracles
2. Search for hidden drains to your well-being such as pride/shame, self-pity, or rigid notions of 'how it should be.' Ask for and accept help to free yourself. Gentle, sustained, rigorously honest clearing now will bring great relief and renewal. Look under the bed--check your dark corners and hidey-holes.
3. Withdraw attention energy from conflicts. Cease struggling to solidify a position or force a solution. Seemingly small habits of mentally contending and fighting can keep you unbalanced and distracted, intensifying confusion and suffering. Simple self-honesty is all that is needed.
4. As you discover fear-mongering habits of thought, be clear and resolute about questioning, correcting or disengaging from them. Abstain from engaging with their seductive, alarming storylines. Instead, keep an eye out to notice how seemingly unrelated difficulties in your situation are resolving themselves without interference as you pull weeds from your inner garden.
5. The butterfly is the death of the caterpillar. Before full renewal can come, the old, entrenched habits must end. Remain patient, persistent, and non-judgemental, knowing these patterns are well-established and may temporarily return. They are on the way out if you neither resist/reject nor harbor/indulge them.
6. Sometimes sincerely checking yourself is enough, even if nothing particular shows up or resolves. Don't overdo a search for what to clear up; you don't need fixing. Stop looking under the bed. Do what's in front of you now, staying simple and humble, and move on.
I've studied with the I Ching for more than 25 years.
It always helps me reorient to my inner truth
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