Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | April 15, 2009

The I Ching or Book of Changes

There are two important books for the Contemplative Practice of Tai Chi, the Tao de Ching and the I Ching, or Book of Changes. Notes here are from the Brian Browne Walker version.

The I Ching is an exercise in synchronicity. Tossing coins or stalks, with a sincere question in mind, the reader is guided to one of 64 hexagrams that offer guidance in a given situation. I don’t believe in this as a divination tool but as a tool akin to interpreting dreams or attaching meaning to animals in a shamanistic sense. We are the ones applying the meaning to what is said to us, and it’s a great exercise for contemplation and self discovery. This synchronicity can be very mystical at times and give us the impression that something really supernatural is going on. It really is dead on most of the time, so, but keep a level head and understand that you are the one doing the work and the interpreting.

Having said that, I want to share some of the major themes of the I Ching in living the tai chi life.

Openness, receptive, tolerant, reticent, gentleness, alert, humble, patient, accepting, responsive, modest, moderate, reserved, yielding, purification, nourishing, balanced, detached, inner strenght, outer calm, stillness, disengagement, quiet heart, equanimity, neutrality…

The emphasis is on quietyly allowing the world to arrange itself while staying centered, a very zen concept. Acting out of the ego with frustration, anger, greed, desire to manipulate people and events, desire to force a conclusion before its time, before it is ripe, is not correct. Ambition, agenda setting, hidden agendas not good. The path is the important thing, not the goal. Step by step. One step at a time. Developing the wisdom of wei wu wei, doing non-doing. Having the wisdom to know when to press forward, when to act, when to withdraw, and when you do act, it is with care, not boastful or bullish. It is with correct action.

Things change. It is inherent in the way of things. The I Ching helps us to negotiate these changes, learning how to deal with adversity as well as learning how to behave when times are good and going our way. The tai chi person is always sincere, conscientious, does act, doing what should be done, step by step, according to proper principles, without trying to force things or run people over in the process. The tai chi person acts wsith grace. with quietude, innocence, sincerity, gentleness, humility, and inner balance.

“What is right comes in its own time.” Be patient, do what you are supposed to do, and let the door open on its own!



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