HEXAGRAM 5: THE I CHING ON PATIENCE AND KNOWING HOW TO WAIT
Nine steps that will help us overcome conflictive situations.
In the accelerated process of change humanity as a whole is experiencing; the unusual situation of restriction of movement and having to stay home for extended periods of time has forced many to work or study from home. Needless to say, the situation has increased the level of stress, which was already high to begin with, and created much conflict within the family.
When something happens, the first thing we do is ask, “what is it?” We asses if the situation is negative, positive, or neutral. If is negative we try to move away from it; if positive we try to move closer to it and if it is neutral, we go unconscious through indifference. How we determine something is positive, negative, or neutral depends on how the experience is interpreted. Interpretations are based on personal beliefs, assumptions, labels, prejudice, and expectations. We never really interpret situations impartially; situations are filtered through numerous conscious and unconscious factors.
Once a situation is interpreted, we move on to make decisions and take some kind of action.
Where we focus determines what we experience in life; if we exclusively focus on the negative aspects of not being able to go out and lead a normal life, frustration, anger, and desperation will inevitably manifest the longer restrictions last. One of the functions of our liver is promoting energy flow; anything restricting flow is going to manifest first as frustrations and if the situation lasts, anger and even aggression.
Feeling frustrated or angry expands the situation by adding emotions that were not part of the original situation. Situations are neutral in essence; our interpretations make our experience positive negative or neutral. The choice of interpretation is always ours and doesn’t depend on external factors.
The I Ching gives detailed advice on how to manage a situation in which one has to wait and be patient.
Hexagram 5, “Waiting” in the I Ching is the situation where one waits for the right timing to do something important. The advice is on how to wait properly. Millions of people the world over are Waiting to resume their regular life.
According to the I Ching, the four basic elements in the art of Waiting properly are:
1-The Heaven Trigram in the lower place indicates that great effort is needed to wait properly. Waiting is not just “hanging around” or “killing time,” if we are not skillful at Waiting properly, the liver will kill us with impatience, frustration, anger, or aggression
2-The upper trigram is Water indicating that we have to be very careful about the state of mind how we wait and also that in Waiting we have to stay present, without going unconscious, numb, or running away into fantasy mind. The only way we can deal with the present, fast-changing situation is by staying present. The present is the only place where the energy is available.
3-The lower nuclear is the Lake trigram, where we are advised to stay in a positive, good mood. This advice is extremely important because it deals with the heart. Impatience manifests through the heart; not knowing how to wait agitates the heart with impatience, restlessness and weakens the immune system by upsetting the entire hormonal and emotional balance.
4-The upper nuclear trigram is Fire, indicating that clarity is essential in Waiting. One knows why one is Waiting. The mind is an aspect of the Fire Element, therefore clarity in Waiting means keeping the mind clear, spacious, open, and impartial. We do this easily with the Foundation Sequence practice.
The JUDGMENT in hexagram 5 (Richard Wilhelm translation) says:
“Waiting. If you are sincere, you have light and success.
Perseverance brings good fortune
It furthers one to cross the great water”
“If you are sincere” simply means being in a state of total clarity and honesty with oneself and everyone around. The word “sincere” comes from the Water trigram and staying present with the situation we are facing, instead of wanting to go back to the past and the life we led before restrictions or the future by continuing our unconscious routines.
“you have light and success” is based on the Fire trigram and being in emotional clarity, mental clarity, spiritual clarity.
“Perseverance brings good fortune” is based on the Heaven trigram of needing to do lots of effort to stay clear and present. Skillfully Waiting takes effort and doesn’t happen by chance, good luck or “good karma,” we can have all of those and still need to develop the skill of Waiting.
“It furthers one to cross the great water” indicates that great things can be accomplished if we are skillful at Waiting. If we reverse the advice, it would say, “if you are unable to wait properly, there is nothing valuable you can accomplish in life.”
If we stopped just with this set of advice, we could deal with a lot of the impatience, restlessness and agitation billions of people worldwide have trapped themselves in. The Coronavirus has forced humanity to stop the direction it has been going straight to the abyss and given the opportunity to reflect and change direction. Restriction of movement is the sign of needing to stop and going within to determine what we truly want in life and how we want to live. Forcing to stop means, checking where one is going.
The I Ching is an inexhaustible well from where all life can drink and is never exhausted, it continues,
The IMAGE in the I Ching is always a teaching on learning from Nature as our most basic model of action. In the Image we read:
“Clouds rise up to heaven:
The image of Waiting.
Thus, the superior person eats, drinks,
Is joyous and of good cheer”
The picture of clouds rising high in the sky in order to come down as rain at the right time, sets the mood for Waiting. Great nourishment potential is what skillful Waiting indicates.
“Clouds rise up to heaven: The image of Waiting” gives us the ascending direction of energy movement if we know how to wait properly. By contrast if we are overcome with impatience while waiting, the energy moves down, toward the lower levels of consciousness.
“Thus, the superior person eats, drinks, is joyous and of good cheer” this comes from the Lake trigram. While Waiting the perseverance of the Heaven trigram is invested in staying in a positive, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual mood. Knowing some energy practices such as the Inner Smile, Six Healing Sounds, Qigong, Circulation of the Microcosmic Orbit, Foundation Sequence, or any of the meditative practices will assist in staying “joyous and in good cheer” while Waiting. If one lacks tools for self-improvement the situation becomes more delicate if the Waiting lasts too long. Video games, watching movies or checking messages can entertain but do not increase clarity in the long run.
The text on the six individual lines tells us what to do at each stage of Waiting:
1-The first line is when Waiting starts.
“Waiting in the meadow, it furthers one to abide by what endures. No blame.”
“Waiting in the meadow” means being in the open with a big view all around. The advice is that as one goes into Waiting, stay open, keep your view of things wide, don’t narrow yourself down with negative emotions or selfish interests. When people were told by the authorities to stay indoors to control the spread of the virus, for some their focus went on their narrow personal affairs being affected; others stayed with the wider view beyond themselves and interpreted the restrictions as beneficial for the common good, specially of the elderly and weak that were at a greater risk.
One goes in home quarantine for the greater good of everybody. If we can hold that perspective, we tune to the second cauldron of the heart, taking everyone into account and wishing everyone the very best and highest. If we only focus on our personal loss, we narrow the view, grow frustrated and the longer the restrictions last, the more it will activate the progression of destructive Fire: frustration grows into anger and from anger to aggression, first toward oneself and then toward others. In a confined physical and mental space this is not difficult to do. Lots of couples during confinement have divorced as a result of the Fire cycle growing out of control.
“it furthers one to abide by what endures” is the advice on managing where we focus. Either we do narrow focus spoiling everything or we switch focus to the bigger view. In terms of evolution of consciousness, selfishness has no future no matter how long it seems to last. Whether it takes ten million incarnations or a billion, we all are going to make it to the second cauldron of the heart and the third cauldron or Original Mind. The good news about selfishness is that is temporary.
“No blame,” means that no matter what choices you make, or how poorly you do things, it will be of no use to get angry and beat yourself; it will not improve the situation. There is nothing to be gained with self-rejection. We live in a compassionate universe, and as the I Ching teaches, learn from the Universe, and model the way it does things.
2-The second line represents the stage where a situation has developed beyond the initial stage in the first line.
The text says:
“Waiting on the sand. There is some gossip. The end brings good fortune.”
“Sand is not a very solid ground to stand. This second line talks about a shaky start. It suggests it is natural to be a little concerned or insecure as Waiting extends who knows for how long.
“There is some gossip. The end brings good fortune.” means that if we follow the advice of the 4 trigrams and don’t focus on the negative aspects of having to wait indefinitely, we can come through fine. If on the contrary we focus on our anxiety and impatience, the advice in reverse would be then, “if there is a lot of mental agitation. In the end misfortune comes”
In the I Ching teachings the choice what to do is always left in our hands.
3-The third line represents the troubles or difficulties inherent in any situation.
The text says:
“Waiting in the mud brings about the arrival of the enemy”
Mud is more unstable than sand. Waiting in the mud means in a place where you get stuck and can only move with great difficulty. One has gone into the worst terrain to cope with the situation. The warning in this line is of great danger of getting stuck in a very unpleasant situation if we don’t know how to skillfully wait. This warning comes from the Water trigram of being careful.
4-The fourth line usually represents the space where one has gone beyond the difficulties of the third line. But in this situation, there is a greater warning.
“Waiting in blood, get out of the pit”
The warning here is that we can really fall into a dangerous state if we go into Waiting in a careless way. The negative Fire progression mentioned before, can even lead to physical violence. People who before the virus, were in a difficult emotional relation with someone; the forced confinement home in a short time escalated into anger and even violence. The index of domestic violence, depression and suicide increased worldwide during the period of confinement and restricted movement.
5-The fifth line generally represents the peak of the situation.
Any situation has a beginning, which is the first line, an initial development which is the second line, a hidden difficulty represented by the third line, a resolution of difficulty which is the fourth line, a culmination in the fifth line and evolving into another situation in the sixth line.
“Waiting at meat and drink. Perseverance brings good fortune.” In ancient China, special meats and alcoholic drinks were reserved for celebrations. The fifth line indicates that the advice in the Image, “the superior person eats, drinks, is joyous and of good cheer,” as the best way to practice Waiting. For those who are vegetarian, you can substitute “meat and drink” for “tofu and herbal tea” while you wait.
You don’t need to apply the advice literally by getting drunk and stuffing on food; as a practitioner in the art of living well, you can feast on the vast menu of practices in the I Ching Dao program or any self-improvement path you follow.
One important detail on this line is that “feeling good” is not just being OK, or all right, is about investing time in abiding in the absolute wellbeing experiencing one’s Original Mind.
6-The sixth line represents two things, either the situation evolving into another situation, or doing something in excess.
Yes, there is the risk of taking the good advice to the extreme of doing it to death or neglecting it all together. The text says:
“One falls into the pit,
Three uninvited guests arrive.
Honor them, and in the end, there will be good fortune.”
The text is a warning about not doing a good job of Waiting, “One falls into the pit”
“Three uninvited guests arrive,” point at some external factors entering the situation. A basic energy principle tells us that the quality of energy we radiate attracts more of the same from the Universe. The factors that can enter the situation and make it worse can be anything from emotional upset to falling ill by weakening the immune system with sustained negative emotions and mental agitation. Another negative factor coming into the situation can be aggression as blaming the government, the political system, other countries, etc.
“Honor them, and in the end, there will be good fortune” indicates making room to accommodate additional factors in the Waiting situation. One needs to persevere at being very flexible, adaptable, and capable of flowing with changes while Waiting. If mistakes are made while Waiting, don’t enlarge the situation by blaming yourself. Mistakes and errors exist in the creation for the purpose of increasing self-awareness and learning from them. Errors don’t exist to defend the ego or make oneself miserable. We live in a compassionate, feminine Universe whose essence is boundless forgiveness. The compassion of the Creation always manifests by giving another chance until we align our way of doing things with the order of the Universe. Become self-aware that change is needed, and don’t wait till tomorrow to set it in motion.
As this brief interpretation of Hexagram 5 on how to wait indicates, Waiting is a state of mind cultivated through consistent effort. While Waiting, dive deep in the ocean of wisdom of the I Ching.