“I am obsessed with her, or him!”
“My loneliness is all-consuming.”
“My fear is paralyzing.”
“I am so angry I could burst!”
“I’m terrified of his/her anger.”
“I cannot accept what I have done; I hate myself!”
“I can’t get over what they have done to me.”
“I cannot stop crying, I’m so hurt.”
“I cannot bear to experience another memory.”
“My body is in such unbearable pain.”
The I Ching depicts the time of tension, inherent in each of these very real life circumstances, as the time of waiting. It offers the following counsel, but first a note of clarification. In The I Ching “the strong man” represents the masculine principle in both women and men. The strong man, the ego in us all, is confronted by the intense forces of nature within us that both nourish and deeply challenge our conscious stronghold.
Hexagram #5 Waiting: When clouds rise in the sky, it is a sign that it will rain. There is nothing to do but to wait until the rain falls… One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself]. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events by which the path to success may be recognized.
The bird sits upon its egg and broods, in the time of waiting. The bird cannot create life, but if it refuses to brood, to sit and wait patiently, new life will not emerge. The period of waiting, as the bird sits upon the egg, generates heat, a vital ingredient to the transformation from egg to chick. For humans, the time of waiting requires containment of our emotional state (our egg), which generates inner heat, the basis for new life. When we are confronted with seemingly insoluble problems—gripping emotions, beliefs, or obsessive projections—our ego cannot make them go away with some new formulaic spin.
True solution, resolution, new life will only emerge from a source beyond the ego. The ego must acquiesce to the feminine principle of waiting, the labor of bearing the tension, in consort with its masculine consciousness facing the absolute truths inherent in the forces of tension upon which it sits. The outcome of this time of waiting is the irrational process of deliverance to new life. I highlight the word irrational because deliverance is a function of nature, not ego. The rain comes when it’s ready. New life is a changed self, fully relieved of its prior state of tension.
We live in a time of the collective inflated ego. Science has become the rational One True God, master of creation and solver of all problems. The irrational forces of nature are studied and corrected by science, as it perfects nature’s random and haphazard processes. We can’t help but see the consequences of such hubris upon the earth, with the irrational forces of nature wreaking havoc upon it in the form of oil leaks, floods, earthquakes, etc.
On a more personal level, nature confronts the rational forces of consciousness with moods, gripping emotions, needs, irrational beliefs, and compulsive projections. These forces are the messengers of our souls. Some of these messengers are angels; some are demons. Regardless, they are all demanding something of us. If we refuse them acknowledgement through repression, denial, rationalization, or projection, they intensify their approach and, like the earth, disrupt our functioning through volcanic emotional eruptions or earthquakes where we break apart into fragments. No amount of ego solutions will quell these forces permanently. No amount of medications will obliterate these forces of nature. We must reconcile with our deeper nature.
Reconciliation requires the correct ego attitude. We can’t simply lie down and give up. Nature has no respect for such a regressive attitude. This approach will land us in the flood, but not on Noah’s ark! We must remain aboard our ark of consciousness amidst a sea of forces, unknowing of the outcome, bearing the tension, awaiting the sign of the dove that we have arrived at new life.
We must respect the power of the unconscious, as Noah respected God, knowing that its power is greater than our ego, yet it seeks reconciliation with us. Nature wants consciousness. It created us. We are part of it, but we must assume the right attitude toward it to further our evolutionary potential. Nature has the resolution to our problems in its womb, however, it will not lead us to land or birth a solution unless we stand up to it, face it, acknowledge it, and discover what it has to show us in full consciousness and truthfulness. This is the period of bearing the tension, which we must, of necessity, suffer the heat of.
If we can bear the tension without succumbing to illusion, without falling prey to one of the demon’s tales, nature ultimately will reward us with deliverance. But this is an irrational process where consciousness must willingly ride the waves, without interference, bearing the tension like Christ upon the cross or Buddha beneath the bodhi tree. If we attach to any illusion, for example, the big baby inner child, who can lure us into sadness and fixate us in an eternal hell of pain with the illusion of emotional catharsis, then we become the ego that cannot remain aboard the ark of consciousness. If, on the other hand, we can bear the tension of the pull of that inner child, but refuse to attach to its drama, that is, remain the adult bearing the tension without drowning in the sadness, a time will come when nature will pull back the energy of this burden and release us into new life with the potential for innocent fulfillment at a deeper level. This is genuine transformation, genuine change, new life.
In summary, if we seek to achieve genuine deep change, we must be willing to bear the tension, suffer the pulls of opposite forces coursing through our moods, thoughts, and projections. Bearing the tension means waiting; patiently remaining still amidst the torment of intense emotions that seek release through acting out, giving up, or some form of ego spin on reality. However, waiting also requires standing up to all the truths that are presented while we wait.
And then, ultimately, nature, that non-rational force, will intervene: the clouds will release the rains, the chick will be born, the ark will land—new life through transformation. Such is the fruit of the time of bearing the tension.
If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.
Until we meet again,
One thought on “#709 Chuck’s Place: Bearing the Tension”
It is an amazing process giving birth. As I ponder your words I am remembering the many ways and things that I’ve birthed. I know the impatience and tension of waiting, of wanting to have the smallest amount of control whilst knowing that you have none and the only thing you can do is surrender to the process. Patience is easier when it’s a child you’re waiting for much harder when the birth is the self. Much harder when the waiting room isn’t filled with hopeful Dads and expectant grandparents new and old. Instead in the Self’s waiting room, your mind plays back all the ways I’m convinced I failed, memories of things I don’t dare say aloud for fear of someone hearing my words, knowing my shame.
I know better and still I get caught in that place of dread where I want control. I don’t stay there as long as I used to. I reach the point of active surrender much sooner.