Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Book of Changes

The other day my partner Pam threw the I Ching. This is what she got.

There are some words of wisdom that I wanted to share.

The I Ching - The well

Wood is below, water is above . The wood goes down into the earth to bring up water. The image derives from the pole and bucket well of ancient China. The wood represents not the buckets, which in ancient times were made of clay, but rather the wooden poles by which the water is hauled up from the well. The image also refers to the world of plants, which left water out of the earth by means of their fibres.

The well from which water is drawn conveys the further idea of an inexhaustible dispensing of nourishment .


THE WELL The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed.
It neither decreases nor increases.
They come and go and draw from the well
If one gets down almost to the water
and the rope does not go all the way,
or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune.

In ancient China the capital cities were sometimes moved, partly for the sake of more favourable location, partly because of a change in dynasties. The style of architecture changed in the course of centuries, but the shape of the well has remained the same from ancient times to this day. Thus the well is the symbol of that social structure which, evolved by mankind in meeting its most primitive needs, is independent of all political forms. Political structures change, as do nations, but the life of man with its needs remains internally the same – this cannot be changed. Life is also inexhaustible. It grows neither less nor more; it exists for one and for all. The generations come and go, and all enjoy life and its inexhaustible abundance.

However, there are two pre-requisites for a satisfactory political or social organisation of mankind. We must go down to the very foundations of life. For any merely superficial or to ring of life that leaves the deepest needs unsatisfied is as ineffectual as if no attempt at order had ever been made .

Carelessness – by which the jug is broken – is also disastrous. If for instance the military defence of a state is carried to such excess that it provokes wars by which the power of the state is annihilated, this is the breaking of the jug.

This hexagram applies also to the individual. However men may differ in disposition and in education, the foundations of human nature are the same in everyone. And every human being can draw in the course of his education from the inexhaustible wellspring of the divine man's nature. But here likewise two dangers threaten: a man may fail in his education to penetrate the real roots of humanity and remained fixed in convention – a partial education of this sort is as bad as none – or he may suddenly collapse and neglect his self-development.

I thought this was also significant,

The water itself is clear, but it is not being used. Thus the well is a place where only fish will stay, and whoever comes to it, comes only to catch fish. But the jug is broken, so that the fish cannot be kept in it.

This describes the situation of a person who possesses good qualities but neglects them. No one bothers about him. As a result he deteriorates in mind, The associates with inferior men and can no longer accomplish anything worthwhile.

And also this

An able man is available. He is like a purified well whose water is drinkable. But no uses made of him. This is the sorrow of those who know him. One wishes that the prince might learn about it; this would be good fortune for all concerned.

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