Tag Archives: Taoism


Following yesterday’s relatively momentous “date night,” I put in a very busy day of work and am now sitting here with a glass of Merlot by my side. I put “date night” in quotes, because it’s not a 100% accurate descriptor, but that’s what we call it in the marriage reconciliation biz. Successfully married couples tend to do this as a matter of course; unsuccessful ones often do not. It’s not totally accurate because a) it might not seem like a date, and b) it doesn’t have to happen at night.

I was kind of on an emotional high yesterday, and needed a bit of grounding. I know these reconciliations can turn on a dime, but I also know that my wife has had an agenda that has been attached to a 7-month-old narrative, and those narratives don’t necessarily just fold on the virtue of one “date night.” That’s not to say that one such experience can’t be instrumental, but I just simply could count on that, and needed to be careful. Thus, I consulted the I Ching.

That’s right, the I Ching, the Chinese book of oracles. I got a copy of it when I was a teenager via the estate of a great uncle who was a noted architect, inventor, and intellectual. I never really gave it much thought until I entered grad school and began studying the music of John Cage. Then I began to explore the process of divination via the I Ching, but never really did much with it.

Fast forward a number of years to 2012, when yours truly finds himself in the midst of the marital crisis of a lifetime. I have a spiritual practice that keeps me grounded, and which has involved various mantra recitations harvested from the Buddhist sutras. Out of curiosity, I purchased a couple of CDs with teachings on the older Vedic mantras that predate Buddhism, and incorporated a few of those into my practice. One of the CDs, by the late Thomas Ashley-Farrand, is on the topic of relationships, and how mantras can be utilized to attract, improve, and repair them. On this CD, he speaks of consulting the I Ching when he had issues with his wife, and would then choose mantras base on that divination. That sounded compelling, so I actually sat down and did a few divinations last night. It’s not that hard: you pose the question, toss a set of 3 coins 6 times, and from this construct a hexagram of broken and unbroken lines. Traditionally, one would use yarrow stalks, but who has those at hand? There are online tools that help you to interpret these hexagrams by giving you the relevant texts for each hexagram. My questions all surrounded my wife, our relationship, and particularly her affair, and I kept getting the same results: obstacles (the affair), revolution (presumably the affair crumbling), and the need to be cautious. I had been milling over the idea of booking a session with my counselor, so I posed that as a question, and the result was pretty clear: do it. So I booked that session this morning. He’s not available until Tuesday, so I guess I’ll have to hold tight until then. There will be much to talk about, that is sure.

Ta YuI thought I’d give it a go again this evening, and so I posed a question to ascertain what I should know about dealing with my wife this weekend. (Note: I don’t normally see her on weekends, so my interactions would presumably just be the customary voice mails.) Here was the result: Hexagram 14, Ta Yu, or Great Treasures. The text from the I Ching is as follows:

The Fire of clarity illuminates the Heavens to those below:
The Superior Person possesses great inner treasures — compassion, economy, and modesty.
These treasures allow the benevolent will of Heaven to flow through him outward to curb evil and further good.

Supreme success.

There are many ways of interpreting this text, and one source I consulted offered the following:

You have become an instrument of Heaven’s will, offering a balance in the world around you.
It is not swashbuckling prowess or uncanny talent that qualifies you for this office, but your simplest gifts — your modesty, your compassion, your economy.
Because you can see clearly who most needs a miracle, Heaven’s bounty is being put at your disposal.

One interesting thing about these hexagrams is that they can be cast in such a way that they contain either “moving” or “unmoving” lines. A moving line occurs when all three indicators are the same, e.g. when all three coins come up either heads or tails. One can arrive at the solid lines in the hexagram above either by casting two tails and one heads (pure yang, as in “yin and yang”) or three heads (changing yang). Whenever there are changing lines, a second, transformed hexagram is offered. There are processes for knowing how and which changing lines to read, as there may be more than one. In the casting I did, all of the solid lines were changing lines. Since there were five changing lines, the instruction was to read the non-changing line, i.e. the pure yin line, which is the broken line just under the top line. The interpretation for this was as follows:

His sincerity attracts and inspires others whom gold could not.

The transformed hexagram that follows was hexagram 2: K’un, or receptive force. This one is pure yin, and is nothing but broken lines, as shown below. The text and interpretation are given next to the diagram.


Earth above and Earth below:
The Earth contains and sustains.
In this situation, the Superior Person should not take the initiative; he should follow the initiative of another.
He should seek receptive allies in the southwest; he should break ties with immovable allies in the northeast.

Responsive devotion.
Receptive influence.
Sublime Success if you keep to your course.


This is a time for dealing with reality as it is, not as you would have it be.
If you realize that in this situation you are the receptor, not the transmitter of the stimulus, you will find yourself reaching goals that seemed unattainable under your own steam.
If you persist in futile efforts to be the Shaper rather than the Shaped, you will completely miss this unique opportunity.

Now isn’t that interesting? Stay the course. This is what my counselor always says. Stay the course. This totally makes sense to me.

So what am I to think of this? I don’t know. I’ve been committed to staying the course for 7 months now. I guess that things were so heady yesterday that I felt like I could shape things with my actions right now, but I do know that to be untrue. There are too many other variables that just cannot be controlled. The only thing that I can do is to receive the stimuli, and to react appropriately.

Those are my musings for the evening. I shall let the winds of karma blow me in the directions that I need to be taken, and will do my best to act with the appropriate skillful means. Not much else a guy can do, anyway.