cast hexagram 47

Three weeks ago my marriage officially ended in a courtroom downtown Detroit, in a surprisingly sun-filled room on the 18th floor overlooking the river and Windsor, just a scant couple of blocks from where it began. Below is my I Ching reading for that week. I’m happy to report that I followed the wisdom therein, biting my tongue, knowing that all the words I wanted to say would fall on deaf ears and only make me feel worse. (Anyone who knows me will know what a challenge it is for me to hold back when I have something I want to say, so I was particularly proud of this achievement.)

Also as advised, I espoused cheerfulness; I’m a strong believer in the fake-it-’til-you-make-it school, and I find that the more you act like you’re fine, the more it takes hold and becomes genuine. I never in a million years thought I’d be an advocate for what I probably would have deemed phoniness at another stage of life, but age and experience have made me see things in less black and white terms. Today, the cheerfulness almost feels real, and it gets a little realer each day.

The lake is above, water below; the lake is empty, dried up. Exhaustion is expressed in yet another way: at the top, a dark line is holding down two light line; below, a light line is hemmed in between two dark ones. The upper trigram belongs to the principle of darkness, the lower to the principle of light. Thus everywhere superior men are oppressed and held in restraint by inferior men.


OPPRESSION. Success. Perseverance.
The great man brings about good fortune.
No blame.
When one has something to say,
It is not believed.

Times of adversity are the reverse of times of success, but they can lead to success if they befall the right man. When a strong man meets with adversity, he remains cheerful despite all danger, and this cheerfulness is the source of later successes; it is that stability which is stronger than fate. He who lets his spirit be broken by exhaustion certainly has no success. But if adversity only bends a man, it creates in him a power to react that is bound in time to manifest itself. No inferior man is capable of this. Only the great man brings about good fortune and remains blameless. It is true that for the time being outward influence is denied him, because his words have no effect. Therefore in times of adversity it is important to be strong within and sparing of words.

cast hexagram 38

A couple posts ago, I offhandedly mentioned consulting the I Ching to see where I should travel to next. While it was somewhat of a joke, I have actually been rather addicted lately to the online version, where you can virtually cast the coins and it generates a reading. I had randomly picked the book up at a friend’s a couple months ago and started leafing through it, and have been fascinated ever since. Purists may cringe at the thought of casting the coins online, but for me, how you generate your hexagram is completely beside the point since I don’t believe there’s any real relationship between how the coins land and your reading. I mean, you could as easily open the book to a random page; tossing coins just seems more fun.

I don’t believe things like astrology, fortune telling, tarot etc. are a means of predicting future events, but I do believe they can have value in that they get you to examine the issues at hand in ways you may not have thought of. The great thing about the I Ching is that it offers advice and wisdom that, while obviously a product of ancient Eastern philosophy, isn’t predicated on a specific belief system per se; with an open mind, anyone can benefit. As I’m in a transitional phase, the act of seeking answers, new perspective, or illumination on certain aspects of life gives me comfort. Some of my favorite readings are the ones that seem completely at odds or unfitting with the situation in question, because it forces me to reevaluate my assumptions. Other times, the readings are scarily apropos, but offer hope and clarity. Take today’s reading, for example:

Cast Hexagram:

38 – Thirty-Eight

K’uei / Estrangement

Fire distances itself from its nemesis, the Lake:
No matter how large or diverse the group, the Superior Person remains uniquely himself.
Small accomplishments are possible.


You are working at cross-purposes with another.
The distance between you is very wide.
The gap can be closed, however, with no compromise of your integrity.
You are not adversaries in this case — just two persons addressing individual needs.
Ask yourself: are these needs mutually exclusive?
Is there common ground here?
Must there be one winner and one loser?
Could you become partners in seeking a solution that would allow for two winners?

This hexagram reassures me that “small accomplishments are possible”. I’m not sure if these will manifest, because I only have a say over my own actions. But I’m all about partnership and seeking solutions. The part of this reading I’m appreciating the most, though, is the line about others not being my adversaries; just individuals with different sets of needs. This perspective can probably be applied to just about anyone you’d be in conflict with. And once you remove the adversarial aspect of a conflict, it’s much easier to find common ground and a sense of shared purpose. It seems obvious, but easy to lose sight of when you’re in the heat of battle and emotions take over. Which is why I’m grateful for the reminder.