Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ta Ch'u

I did not throw the I Ching this time, but looking through these pictures of Mount Tiede taken from Pico de Las Nieves in the early 90s, I immediately thought, "mountain above, heaven below," and felt compelled to consult the I Ching for the reference.  Looking up the upper trigram for "mountain" and the lower trigram for "heaven," I found Ta Ch'u, the 26th Hexagram.  Pulling the old photographs out of the album was like choosing a tarot or an Oblique Strategy card - random but nonetheless instructive. We don't always need coins or sticks to consult the I Ching.

Ta Ch'u is Great Restraint, and great restraint creates great power. The text tells is that just as the power of water is harnessed by a dam and a horse's strength is harnessed by a bridle, a person's virtue is stronger after it has become concentrated by discipline.

Energy is harnessed by patterns.  Atoms conserve their energy by their pattern of orbiting electrons around closely-packed nuclei, and when we break those patterns of an atom, we release great block-bursting amounts of energy. In our daily lives, we conserve energy in our pattern of routines, habits, and schedules.  We're restrained by those routines, habits, and schedules, but when they are disrupted, either by our own choice during travel and adventure or by accident during those traumatic life-changing events that occur from time to time, great amounts of energy are released.  Sometimes, we feel that we really only become truly alive when our routines and schedules are tossed aside, that we'd been sleep-walking through our life while our routines were in place.  

Ta Ch'u recognizes the great power amassed by our discipline, our control, and our character, and encourages us not to keep this strength to ourselves, at home with our families, but to venture forth, remove all doubts, and cross the great river.  "Crossing the great river" means to surpass the limits, to go beyond the boundaries. Breaking the great restraint of a border is only possible with focused discipline.

We can also cross that great river of ancient dogma, as well as the great restraints of our own preconceived ideas and opinions.  Ta Ch'u encourages us to return to the ancient sources of our spiritual paths, and holds that despite all the vague words and outdated concepts of the past, despite our own doubts and convictions, revelations may present themselves to us that will open our minds and liberate our thoughts.

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