Tag Archives: I Ching

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.



Chuck’s Place: Time Of Collapse

From a palpable and intuitive level, Colorado, Chicago, and Paris are all part of the same ocean of molten lava that’s erupting, in various levels of intensity, around the globe.

Chuck found these bricks washed up on the shore of the Hudson River... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Chuck found these bricks washed up on the shore of the Hudson River…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The I Ching confirms for me that we are in the time of Splitting Apart, hexagram #23. Here the image is of a top-heavy mountain collapsing upon the earth. The I Ching brings it very personally home in the moving line I threw, six in the fourth place: “…the disaster affects not only the resting place but even the occupant.”

Who in the world is not impacted by the daily outbreaks of violence that now infect the world? How are we to position ourselves in this time of collapse?

The I Ching is clear that what is happening is objective. When a structure becomes too top heavy it must, of necessity, collapse. The ruling attitudes of our world are too top heavy. Greed has amassed the bulk of the wealth in the hands of the few at the top. The masses, the foundation of the world, are unsupported. Greed has decimated the environment of the world too, to the point where it can no longer sustain life as it has done in the past.

If we understand that our current state of collapse is inevitable, and though the destruction surfaces in what appears to be a growing mass psychosis, the truth is that at the deepest level we are in the midst of a major world transition. Would that it could happen more orderly and calmly, but that is not the way of nature!

However, beyond the destruction is the building of a new foundation, a broad foundation that can support all of life on a planet in healthy balance. In fact, the future reading I received, derived from the changes in the hexagram of Splitting Apart, is the hexagram of Progress, #35. In this hexagram, the sun moves over the earth providing the clarity to build anew with wisdom.

Beyond the collapse of now we have all the stones to properly build a new foundation for life, and the guidance on how to proceed. If we study the hexagram of Splitting Apart, it is apparent that greed is a weak foundation. Balance, on the other hand, offers the proper cornerstone for our coming world.

On an individual level, we are free now to fashion our own personal foundation blocks. These blocks must include love. Love does not scapegoat or marginalize. Love is all-inclusive. Love provides a massive foundation for our coming mountain to build upon.

Balance within ourselves, within our bodies and our psyches, provides a sturdy base as well for our growing mountain.

Our new world must be built on love... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Our new world must be built on love…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are all empowered to contribute stability to our evolving world by accepting the inevitability of change by staying calm, embracing love, and establishing balance. From this place we are assured rapid progress.

All is not lost, though we all must suffer through this painful time of transition.

Hang in there, we’re all in it together,



Chuck’s Place: Random Acts Of Shadow?

Shootings galore. A hero stabbed. Arson in a spiritual mecca. Massacre at a peace rally. Suicide of an innocent youth.

Of light and dark are we all... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Of light and dark are we all…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Someone asked me what I thought about bipolar disorder. I answered that we must first consider that bipolarity is the inherent condition of the human species: beings of consciousness, beings of animal instinct; beings of light, beings of shadow.

In the light, we are socialized beings who wear the uniform of morality. In the depths of our darkness we are hunted by the repressed animal within, whose instincts are now marshaled to terrorize, disrupt, and defeat the hegemony of our light spirit self who disowns its shadow.

“It is the law of heaven to make fulness empty and to make full what is modest,” states the I Ching in the hexagram of Modesty.*

When that which is light refuses to acknowledge and integrate its own darkness that darkness will break through in random acts of shadow to recalibrate the bipolar disorder of one-sidedness. That is, nature will correct itself.

The mistake so often made is to misinterpret the cause of violence. The natural tendency is to seek safety and security from the predator “out there.” Is it not becoming clear that the terrorist is coming closer and closer to home? The shadow is blatantly coaxing us to realize that the madness we see erupting all around us is actually the collective shadow we all own.

We can no longer contain and manage this primal force by projecting it onto the black man or the terrorist who we jail and kill. As the shadow encroaches closer and closer to home we must claim ownership and strike a new bipolar balance with our disowned other who paces restlessly in the labyrinth within, awaiting its opportunity to pounce.

But how to make peace with a shadow that threatens our very survival?

Light among the dark? Dark among the light? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Light among the dark? Dark among the light?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Once I sat with devout Saudi Muslims, the warmest of beings, who when speaking of Israel suddenly assumed the countenance of a sly fox. “You can never trust a Jew,” I was informed.

Once I sat with devout Jews, the warmest of beings, who when speaking of Arabs suddenly assumed the countenance of a sly fox. “You can never trust an Arab,” I was informed.

I felt such love in both meetings, but was struck by the identical perspective they shared, as they each so clearly saw mirrored their own shadow in the eyes of the other. Of course, the rule of the self-fulfilling prophecy plays out here: where there is no trust there is fear, defense, and offense. And so the endless cycle of war replays, each side desperately seeking survival, each side becoming the shadow they see in the other.

Chuck’s Rule Number One: No blame.

As they say in the 12-Step World: don’t take anyone else’s inventory; focus on deeply revealing the truth of the self to the self.

We must know, own, and reckon with the truth of our own shadow side with its deep attachments to its own instincts, hidden desires, greed, and power.

It is not possible to see clearly or speak honestly to another unless we have come to know and accept the truth of our own inner darkness. Short of that, our disowned darkness will be projected upon and reflected in the eyes of the other, be they our partner, family member, fellow citizen, or any other member of our shared species.

Chuck’s Rule Number Two: Value the darkness.

It is rejection of the darkness that has constellated the raging bull of a shadow that now tramples our lives near and far. We no longer have the option of holding back our instincts for the sake of civilization.

The only hope for civilization now is to embrace and reconcile with its full wholeness, light and dark. This is the only way to calm the storms of extreme bipolar disorder that now rock our earth. Our bipolar sides must become friends, valued for their differences, for the balance they bring.

We must abandon forever the one-sided—light—notion of perfection and embrace the dark. We are human animals after all, whose deepest instinctual needs must be addressed if we are to be redeemed from the perils we now face.

Chuck’s Rule Number Three: Compassion.

With deep self-knowledge and self-acceptance we are released to love, rather than confront, our “evil” neighbor. Acceptance of one’s own shadow leads to compassion for everyone, for all human beings are equally saddled with the identical challenge: to become whole through reconciliation with our bipolar light and dark natures.

This late bloomer shines, light and dark fully integrated... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
This late bloomer shines, light and dark fully integrated…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Chuck’s Rule Number Four: There is nothing to fear.

In closing, this is my final rule, that truly there is nothing to fear. Once we face the truth of our own shadow selves, we have faced our deepest enemy: ignorance of who we really are.

Once we have faced the truth of ourselves, there is nothing to fear in the world, and random acts of shadow evolve into an individuated wholeness, ready to take us deeper into the next adventure, as fully integrated bipolar beings of light and dark.

From both sides,


*Quote: from the I Ching, Richard Wilhelm translation, Hexagram 15 Modesty, page 63.