Tag Archives: I Ching

Chuck’s Place: Deepening Fulfillment

Go down to the wellspring of life…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

On the eve of the summer solstice, the most enlightened day of the year, President Trump abruptly cancelled a retaliatory strike upon Iran.

The year is cyclical and repetitive, punctuated by seasons that mark life’s beginning to its completion. The summer solstice elongates the light of consciousness at its highest peak, a supreme opportunity to be in alignment with inner truth.

Perhaps under the impact of solstice energy, President Trump was influenced momentarily to be patient and acquiesce to the greater good.

I threw the I Ching this morning, with the question: Where are we now in the cycle of the Tao and how best to promote fulfillment?

The I Ching responded with hexagram #48, The Well, with moving lines in the fifth and sixth places. The model for The Well in nature is the tree, whose wooden roots penetrate the earth to draw up the water that sustains its life. The well, in ancient China, was accessed by a wooden pole that dipped a bucket into the water, which was raised to nourish all.

The I Ching warns that carelessness in raising the bucket can be disastrous, such as, “if for instance the military defense of a state is carried to such excess that it provokes wars by which the power of the state is annihilated, that is a breaking of the jug.”

On an individual level, the I Ching counsels that, “every human being can draw in the course of (their) education from the inexhaustible wellspring of the divine in (human) nature. But here likewise two dangers threaten: a (person) might fail in (their) education to penetrate to the real roots of humanity and remain fixed in convention… or (they) may suddenly collapse and neglect (their) self- development.”

Interestingly, the future work proposed by the I Ching  to solidify the best use of the well is hexagram #18: Work on what has been spoiled. That hexagram has us address the contents of the shadow or personal unconscious that create decay within the personality, as well as the attitude of the ego in a state of avoidance or inertia.

The two moving lines of the hexagram are extremely hopeful. The nine in the fifth place states that the water in the well is exceedingly pure, fed by a spring of living water. Thus, the channel to the living spirit is available in the hearts of everyone. However, what is lacking here is the volitional drawing from this wellspring of wisdom. Though the knowledge and right guidance are available, they must be drawn upon to arrive at right action.

The six at the top takes it to that final step: “One draws from the well without hindrance. It is dependable. Supreme good fortune.” All are empowered to draw from the inexhaustible guidance and nurturance of their inner well, situated in the higher truth of the heart chakra.

Thus, the I Ching highlights in these accentuated lines that the guidance we truly need is readily available within our hearts. We are primed to receive it, since we already have available to us the tools to procure it. The time is right to exercise such actions.

These tools include, reading the synchronistic signs that appear to guide us through our days, as well as the dreams which foreshadow the opportunities for self-development each night. In the calmness of meditation we open directly our channel to spirit.

Specifically, the I Ching asks us to face the source of our guilt. By facing and addressing the issues behind our guilt, the water of our inner well is clarified to nurture our fulfillment. Sometimes we must undergo shocks to our well before we are fully ready to deepen our fulfillment. This is the work of recapitulation that fully frees our energy from the ‘impurities’ of the past.

The time is right for deepening fulfillment through drinking the pure waters that await in the deepest caverns of the heart.



Chuck’s Place: Fixation

In contemplative silence we build our well…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

What does it mean when you simply can’t get it out of your head? It might be a thought, a desire, a hunger, a person, an object, or an incident.

The energetic charge of our fixations is experienced as strong emotion and mental perseveration. This is the fire of an activated archetype outwardly projected and inwardly fixated. Some deep need is stirring and we are drawn involuntarily to its projection, the flame of our fixation.

Projection is automatic, that is, unconscious. We don’t choose to project, it happens to us. We are not at fault, for instance, if we are attracted to the wrong person. Attraction happens. Nature is ruthless in pursuit of its aims, in this case, blindly bringing a couple together for union.

Caught in the flame of desire the ego is overwhelmed. The intensity of the energetic charge may at once be both threatening and exciting. After all, archetypes transcend our civilized exterior; they reach down to the primordial core of our being and flood us with bursts of living energy. How do we keep ourselves afloat in such a precarious state?

In the hexagram of The Well, the I Ching makes clear that we all need to partake of the living water that lies beneath the surface of the Earth. The well is the human connection to that living energy below. Humans must build the well. Psychically, the ego is the well. As humans we are charged with building and managing our relationship with our archetypal core, what Jung called the collective unconscious.

In the case of fixation, the ego builds its well through its response to archetypal activation. A hasty reaction may be equivalent to jumping in the well and drowning! An overly suppressive reaction may refuse the bucket that brings up the living water from below.

Often the ego lends its mental manipulative powers, such as through rationalization, to further the aim of the archetype while naively assuming it is doing ‘the right thing’. Only deeply contemplative inner truth will reveal the right action called for.

Often the ego protects itself from rejection and defeat through rationalization turned against the self in some cognitive permutation of unworthiness. Perhaps this is a necessary defense, as the ego hones its ability to regulate the impact of archetypal energy.

We too easily forget that the ego, with its consciousness, is a very recent acquisition for humankind. Before its arrival we shared, with all other animals, life completely directed by archetypes, with no conscious choice available. No wonder we are so flustered when an archetype is activated. How fragile our conscious footing amidst such intensively charged directives!

The ego can choose to bear the tension of the archetype. In recovery programs guidance is given to examine people, places, and things. In early recovery, particularly, the archetypal energetic power of the desired object is respected by avoiding known associations to it. Further, one turns to a trusted sponsor, the program, or a higher power to strengthen one’s resolve to bear the tension vs succumb to habitual addiction.

Spiritual traditions all stress restraint, sacrifice, and detachment as the technology to manage archetypal fixation. Unfortunately, this technology, valuable as it is, does not address the need to fully partake in our humanness while in human form. Yes, we are spirit beings, but we are spirit beings in human bodies with deep archetypal roots in this Earth. We must build our wells to draw our nurturance from that underground river of living energy.

If we can’t bear the tension and either jump into the well or refuse the call we needn’t judge ourselves negatively. All experience accrues, adding to eventual ego enlightenment. When we are ready, when the ego has been sufficiently moulded to be in the truth, we can align our intent with that of the heart, our personal conduit to our higher spirit.

From this place of heart centeredness we know the truth and allow ourselves to be in the Tao. Being in the Tao means knowing that our lives are unfolding to express and fulfill all that we are and that projections are stirrings to find outlets for that fulfillment. However, often projections are simply reflections, not what is actually needed. The heart, in its quiet calm, will tell us the truth.

Aligning with this truth we have the certainty that life will bring to us the real deal. And with that we will be led to draw the water from our living well, our fixations realized in their highest form.

Constructing the well,


Chuck’s Place: Making Do

The following guidance may not satisfy the anxiety, fears, and anger of the moment, but I am obliged to pass on what I received from my trusted guide of 45 years, the I Ching, when I asked the following question: What is the correct attitude in this coming time of darkness?

Out of the darkness the light will rise again... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Out of the darkness the light will rise again…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The reading I received was hexagram #54, The Concubine, Making Do. Please be advised that though the hexagrams of the I Ching are archetypes, that is, configurations of energy that remain unchanging, the manifestations or actual representations of the archetypes change with succeeding generations. Thus, the anachronistic notion of a concubine in today’s world represents an unacceptable condition that one is forced to live with. Advice is offered in how best to survive it and have influence in a time of Making Do.

For better or worse, America married Donald Trump on November 8, 2016. The bride of Obama, the progressive populace, has been displaced and relegated to the lowly status of concubine. We all remain part of the same Union, but she/he, who until now enjoyed dominance in governance, must now come to know and be led by the other side. That other side has attained the legitimacy of the White House, and so it stands.

The I Ching does liken this national predicament to a family that houses both a legitimate wife and a concubine. Though both women live in the same home only one has legitimate power. We are at present a nation completely divided in half, but with only one half legitimately represented and in power. Hatred and blame will only further the divide. The overarching principle that is accentuated in hexagram #54 and is key to weathering through the divide is affection. As the I Ching states: “Affection as the essential principle of relatedness is of the greatest importance in all relationships in the world.” We must not forget this most important advice as we enter a new era where affection seems already greatly lacking.

The first moving line of hexagram #54, nine in the first place, offers special counsel stressing the correct decorum for one relegated to a lowly status while nonetheless finding a safe and meaningful place within the nation. The guidance is clear: withdraw modestly into the background, do not attempt to overstep bounds or usurp power that one is not entitled to.

In a second example offered by the I Ching, a man of lowly influence is friends with a prince and is taken into his confidence. This man remains tactfully in the background behind the ministers of state and though hampered by his status, as if he were lame, he is nonetheless able to accomplish something by quietly working behind the scenes.

The key to the guidance here is the checking of hubris, entitlement, and self-importance. If one can tactfully withdraw attention from oneself, one may indeed exert influence. In the shaman’s world this is the exercise of losing self-importance when under the dominance of a petty tyrant. By dropping self-importance, the ego, one is able to accomplish something that ultimately brings down the tyrant.

Nine in the fourth place of hexagram #54 offers additional special guidance, depicting a maiden who refuses an alternative arrangement to a legitimate marriage. Through her patient, virtuous waiting she is rewarded with a late but most fulfilling marriage. The guidance here is patience and containment. Remain inwardly true to your values and ideals though the tension of the time of waiting and the challenges presented over the next four years will be great. In patient acceptance of where things are, but inwardly remaining true to and keeping alit the true light in the heart, we will indeed be rewarded with a new dawn.

Finally, though the I Ching advises that for the present we must “make do” with a highly virulent and volatile predicament, in patience and containment, it stresses that the light will again be restored and reassert its guiding influence over the darkness that now descends upon us. Eventually, it teaches us, the right light will shine again, for the future of this hexagram is Spring: the return of the light.

The I Ching translates as, The Book of Changes, that is, all things must pass, nothing is forever.




Chuck’s Place: The Inflated Tire

Got enough air? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Got enough air?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If the tires are inflated, filled with air, the vehicle is free to move. Without air there is no movement, without air there is no human life. Air fills our lungs in the region of the heart. With this influx of air the heart is filled with the spirit of the heavens, that which comes from above. This is in contrast to the fiery, watery, earthy region below the diaphragm, in the abdominal cavity, the region of digestion and earthy excretion.

The region of the heart is where the rising sun is lifted into the heavenly sphere, as true light is shown upon all that is. In its heavenly rise the sun reveals the truth and invites us to live in its purity. With this we are lifted beyond our earthy murkiness and introduced to our spirit self. Our spirit self is ethereal. Though it operates within the body, it participates with the gods in infinity. Each breath of air is the commingling of body and spirit.

This communion of ethereal knowing and bodily existence lifts one beyond the bodily constraints with its rootedness in space, time, and gravity. Identification with the spirit self, dissociated from the physical, is the psychological condition of overinflation.

In a state of overinflation one is likely to forget to eat, or to eat so rapidly that digestion is compromised. Instead, one turns to the nourishment of a spirited idea, which now fuels life. A creative project might seize one, as sleep and food are completely suspended, as the spirit relentlessly commandeers the body with its cause. This ungrounded mania, though it may produce a spiritual masterpiece, might eventuate in physical collapse, as the depleted body eventually claims its needed rest.

The key with our spirit self is for it to remain associated and in balance with its bodily partner, rather than dissociated and manic. An automobile is like the body proper. With its properly inflated spirit tires it flows smoothly as it navigates life. The I Ching depicts this as the condition of peace, Hexagram #11, where earth rests upon heaven, their influences in harmonious union.

In energetic terms, this is the body self assuming its position as subordinate to its spirit self. In psychological terms, this is the ego self aligning itself with the intent of its spirit self. To be sure, the ego, for its part, is charged with determining the legitimacy of its own spirit’s intent. Too often the ego is vulnerable to “false gods” catering to its own ambitions, where it gets duped into flying in hot air balloons or taking wax-winged flights of fancy.

Gotta watch those flights of fancy! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Gotta watch those flights of fancy!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When the true self speaks from the heart center there is clarity and calmed emotion. This is ego and spirit in alignment. To be sure, a highly emotional spirit is not speaking from the heart, and is one that should be carefully explored before it is allowed to drive the automobile of self.

The voice of the true self simply speaks the truth. Its spirit is lifted above the compulsions of the wheel of life that constantly reconstruct “Groundhog Day” and instead calmly points out the true way forward.



Chuck’s Place: Crossing The River

The crossing... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Crossing in sight…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Crossing the river is a powerful symbol of change. To leave solid ground, to traverse a powerful current of liquid energy, to consolidate oneself on new uncharted ground, succinctly illustrates the phases of change.

So compelling is this image that the I Ching’s closing hexagram, #64, Before Completion, that marks the end and the beginning, is pictured as a fox crossing a river. In Greek mythology, securing the ferryman to cross the river Styx is the journey into Hades, land of the dead. Even the sophisticated modern texter might notice a ping in the pit of the abdomen as they prepare to drive across the bridge of a mighty river. The ping in the abdomen is the body’s archetypal recognition of the tremendum that crossing the great abyss represents.

Perhaps the great change we must face is as simple as closing our eyes and saying good night to the world. What guarantee do we have that the sun will rise or that we will open our eyes to the light of tomorrow as we drift and fall into the cliffhanger of dreams? What monsters, terrorists, sirens, and entities will we encounter in the underwater current of dream sleep? Will we safely rejuvenate and consolidate on firm ground tomorrow, or will our thoughts interrupt our smooth passage into a new day?

Perhaps our solid ground is the quiet calm of our aloneness. The sudden intrusion of a ring or a ding sparks fear in the throat, our sanctuary lost as we are thrown into the river of needs and expectations of another. Can we find our way to new ground that includes both self and other?

To leave the security of our car, wade across the parking lot, and enter the vast ocean of a store, with its sea of humanity, may evoke a furor of dissolution of self. In fact, every simple action of the day, from waking, interacting, leaving, working, eating, and returning, poses challenges for the smallness of self to navigate the bigness of everything.

In days of old, the rituals of the great religions tapped into the tried and true archetypal bridges of our deep nature to facilitate our crossings from one phase of life to another; crossings from childhood to adulthood, solitariness to relationship, life to death. These rituals literally transformed one into a new sense of self, confident to take on a new ground in life. These rituals bathed the ego in the deep wellspring of unconscious resource that reshaped the conscious self.

In our time, these rituals have largely petrified through the ascendence of rationality and the failure of religion to authentically provide a numinous crossing experience. Today, the individual must turn to the dream, which still offers the ritual crossings to new life. Conscious participation in dreaming can access those transformative crossings. Often the dream uses the river or the ocean, with all kinds of helpers and challenges, to facilitate the necessary changes to successfully effect a safe crossing.

Use of an oracle, such as the I Ching, can offer the guidance of a dream. In Hexagram #64, Before Completion, it offers the following guidance for making the crossing:

  1. Don’t advance too rapidly just to get it over with—you may not be ready, it might not be the right time.
  2. Be patient. Develop the necessary strength—the vehicle for the crossing. Don’t lose sight of the goal.
  3. Sometimes it’s time to cross but you’re not ready, you lack the requisite strength. It is necessary to get help. Be humble. Ask.
  4. You must battle the forces of inertia, regression, avoidance and doubt. Be resolved. Respect the power of the dissenters. Lay the foundation for mastery by consolidating intent.
  5. Once the crossing has been effected, keep exuberance in proper measure. Intemperance can drown all one has worked for.

These cautions steer the ego to be in the right relation with the deeper self that then provides its transformative energies to transport the ego solidly and happily across the river to new fertile ground. Remain awake, poised, intent,  patient, and calm. Know that the way will be shown. Perhaps the sea will part, perhaps the right floating log will appear. Simply know that you will cross.