In less than two weeks I have my final therapy session with L. I have been caught up in a back-and-forth whirlwind of feelings, switching between courage and fear, happiness and grief, adventure and clinging. I cannot exactly say why it is that I know I am done. I just know it in my body somewhere that I am. Yet, I am still sometimes afraid to step into and follow through with the choices I make.
My therapist introduced me to the I Ching some time ago, and I have written about it here before. I do like asking it questions when my mind is scattered in some way, because it helps me to feel a sense of understanding of the greater forces or themes that I can connect with. It helps me to feel calmer, to be in touch with these concepts outside of myself. I relax.
I asked it: “How can I approach the post-therapy phase?”.
It answered with hexagram 64: Before Completion. This hexagram is at the very end of the I Ching, and reads:
above LI THE CLINGING, FLAME
below K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER
This hexagram indicates a time when the transition from disorder to order is not yet completed. The change is indeed prepared for, since all the lines in the upper trigram are in relation to those in the lower. However, they are not yet in their places. While the preceding hexagram offers an analogy to autumn, which forms the transition from summer to winter, this hexagram presents a parallel to spring, which leads out of winter’s stagnation into the fruitful time of summer. With this hopeful outlook the Book of Changes come to its close.
BEFORE COMPLETION. Success.
But if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing,
Gets his tail in the water,
There is nothing that would further.
The conditions are difficult. The task is great and full of responsibility. It is nothing less than that of leading the world out of confusion back to order. But it is a task that promises success, because there is a goal that can unite the forces now tending in different directions. At first, however, one must move warily, like an old fox walking over ice. The caution of a fox walking over ice is proverbial in China. His ears are constantly alert to the cracking of the ice, as he carefully and circumspectly searches out the safest spots. A young fox who as yet has not acquired this caution goes ahead boldly, and it may happen that he falls in and gets his tail wet when he is almost across the water. Then of course his effort has been all in vain. Accordingly, in times “before completion,” deliberation and caution are the prerequisites of success.
Fire over water:
The image of the condition before transition.
Thus the superior man is careful
In the differentiation of things,
So that each finds its place.
When fire, which by nature flames upward, is above, and water, which flows downward, is below, their effects take opposite directions and remain unrelated. If we wish to achieve an effect, we must first investigate the nature of the forces in question and ascertain their proper place. If we can bring these forces to bear in the right place, they will have the desired effect and completion will be achieved. But in order to handle external forces properly, we must above all arrive at the correct standpoint ourselves, for only from this vantage can we work correctly.
Nine in the second place means:
He brakes his wheels.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Here again the time to act has not yet come. But the patience needed is not that of idle waiting without thought of the morrow. Kept up indefinitely, this would not lead to any success. Instead, an individual must develop in himself the strength that will enable him to go forward. He must have a vehicle, as it were, to effect the crossing. But he must for the time being use the brakes. Patience in the highest sense means putting brakes on strength. Therefore he must not fall asleep and lose sight of the goal. If he remains strong and steadfast in his resolve, all goes well in the end.
Nine at the top means:
There is drinking of wine
In genuine confidence. No blame.
But if one wets his head,
He loses it, in truth.
Before completion, at the dawning of the new time, friends foregather in an atmosphere of mutual trust, and the time of waiting is passed in conviviality. Since the new era is hard on the threshold, there is no blame in this. But one must be careful in all this to keep within proper bounds. If in his exuberance a man gets drunk, he forfeits the favorableness of the situation through his intemperance.
I find it so strange that in asking about the end of therapy, the I Ching answers with the hexagram related to new beginnings. It is true that therapy is ending: but L and I have also talked about new beginnings, paradigm shifts, new ways of approaching both the world, and our journey together, our relationship. We have talked about and have a shared love and drive towards social change, a shift in our ways of thinking and connecting with other people and experiences in the web of life. I have written about this before, the closing of the old, the opening of the new. But I didn’t expect to get this result, now. It feels too perfect. The changing lines also make complete sense. Be persistent with the perilous crossing, but act in moderation. Develop strength, and remain patient. Yes! Celebrate! And do so with sincerity, trust, and proper boundaries in place. Only in this way, can success be achieved.
I also should not forget about the changing lines. The hexagram changes to 16: Enthusiasm.
above CHêN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
below K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH
The strong line in the fourth place, that of the leading official, meets with response and obedience from all the other lines, which are all weak. The attribute of the upper trigram, Chên, is movement; the attributes of K’un, the lower, are obedience and devotion. This begins a movement that meets with devotion and therefore inspires enthusiasm, carrying all with it. Of great importance, furthermore, is the law of movement along the line of least resistance, which in this hexagram is enunciated as the law for natural events and for human life.
ENTHUSIASM. It furthers one to install helpers
And to set armies marching.
The time of ENTHUSIASM derives from the fact that there is at hand an eminent man who is in sympathy with the spirit of the people and acts in accord with it. Hence he finds universal and willing obedience. To arouse enthusiasm it is necessary for a man to adjust himself and his ordinances to the character of those whom he has to lead. The inviolability of natural laws rests on this principle of movement along the line of least resistance. Theses laws are not forces external to things but represent the harmony of movement immanent in them. That is why the celestial bodies do not deviate from their orbits and why all events in nature occur with fixed regularity. It is the same with human society: only such laws are rooted in popular sentiment can be enforced, while laws violating this sentiment merely arouse resentment. Again, it is enthusiasm that enables us to install helpers for the completion of an undertaking without fear of secret opposition. It is enthusiasm too that can unify mass movements, as in war, so that they achieve victory.
All of it seems utterly clear to me: move in sympathy with the spirit of the people, and don’t fight against the natural law of things. Embrace it. Move along the lines of least resistance, allow things to develop naturally as they do and will: leaders must adjust in co-creation with the people they lead. Fight: yes. Change: yes. And do so in togetherness and harmony, not resistance to what is and what will be. Only in this way can one inspire enthusiasm: in fact not in war, but in the mass movement of our new paradigm. The new world we want.
My journey with L is not just therapy. Rather, it touches me personally, spiritually, politically, and in some deep way beyond any given action or word in any single moment. A greater shift emerges – I feel it, I let it take me. My journey with L also appears complete, but in many ways it is not. We are facing an ending, and also a beginning. We find ourselves in the midst of a shift (for us as individuals, but also far beyond) that we can only approach with natural, flowing movement in joy and in enthusiasm, with love and unity.