Guidance from the I Ching: #52 - Meditation
Find the answers by losing yourself
July 13, 2020
“Meditation is keeping the back so still that there is no consciousness of the self. Should one go into the courtyard without noticing anyone, it is not a mistake. An enlightened person, therefore, does not allow their thoughts to go beyond the situation.”
I consult the I Ching (Book Of Changes) for inspiration at the start of every week. This week’s message is all about letting go of the ego.
The I Ching is calling us to meditate. But what does that mean, and why is it so important at this time? Speaking as someone who has spent most of their life studying the power of mindfulness, I can confidently say that now is the perfect time for us to go within. The world around us is in turmoil. We seek to create change in a divided society. We look around us, hoping to make sense of the madness. But the truth is, the answer will never be found in the outer world until it starts in the inner world. Gandhi said, “become the change you wish to see in the world.” If we wish to live in a world of peace and understanding, we must first address our internal struggles and ignorance. But to do that, we need someone new calling the shots.
“When you can calm your mind, you begin to silence the ego. With the ego out of the way, it is easy to rise above our struggles to observe our situations objectively. “
The outer world is simply a reflection of our inner world. Social and political issues are just a magnification of our collective personalities. Sustainable change can only occur from the inside out. If we wish to create a new world, we must first start by removing ego from the seat of power. While the ego is not inherently bad, it should never be the one calling all the shots. Our ego is there to provide us our sense of self – our uniqueness. But the dark side of ego is that it will do anything it can to protect its version of reality, no matter how warped it might be. When threatened, ego summons up emotions like pride, fear, hatred, and anger. Ego pulls the string of our feelings, which in turn drives our actions. Ego is a terrible leader, but once given the reigns, it doesn’t want to relinquish its power. So how do you restore balance? Meditate.
Meditation conjures up many images, but fundamentally, Meditation is the process of focusing your attention. To meditate is to think about, contemplate, ponder, pray, or to reflect upon an issue. To meditate successfully, we must quiet ourselves so that we can see and hear the answers we are in search of. However, according to the I Ching, the time of Meditation is not so much about the act but the state of being. When you can calm your mind, you begin to silence the ego. With the ego out of the way, it is easy to rise above our struggles to observe our situations objectively. Objectivity helps us to know when to act and how to act correctly. As the I Ching says, “make no mistakes, suffer no consequences.” So in times like today, we will only achieve success by learning to listen to our hearts and the universe.
The I Ching advises us that this is the time to stop projecting and acting impulsively. During times of Meditation, we should eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand. We should take time to quiet our thoughts and reign in our emotions by being still. Meditation allows us to let go of the ego and its impulses, allowing us to choose our words and actions more carefully. This time requires us to focus our energies on finding the answers to the real problems that we are facing and not resort to deflecting and gaslighting ourselves and others.
The hexagram for Meditation symbolizes an essential concept. While the inner and outer are mirrors of each other, there is a disconnect. Through the inward journey that we take during the time of Meditation, we learn to connect our inner needs with the good of society. This time can lead us down the path to enlightenment if we choose to search for the answers. Ego clouds our better judgment and prevents us from reaching our higher selves. Ego wants to be right more than it wants to do the right thing. But through meditating, we can realign ourselves with the Dao – the natural way of things. And when we do, we approach life with a reverence for all things, not merely with acts of self-preservation.
If we wish to see a change in society, it must first start with its members. If we want our world to become something better, then we must each strive to improve ourselves. But you can never be more than you are at this moment when the ego is in command. The only way to improve is to admit that there are things in need of improvement, that there are things that you don’t know. The ego does not like to acknowledge that it is wrong, that it is not perfect, that it doesn’t have all of the answers. So if you want to become all that you can truly be, you must first be willing to give up who you think you are.
Meditate on that.
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“There is an advantage in correct persistence. An enlightened person, therefore, has substance in their words and endurance in their behavior.”
“Shocking brings progress. Shocking comes with a terrible noise. Laughter and shouting with awesome glee, people are frightened for a hundred miles around. Yet, the sacrificial vessel is not lost. Repeated thunder forms the condition for Shocking. Therefore, the enlightened person, when badly frightened, seeks to improve themselves.”
“Difficulty indicates progress and success through firm correctness. Action should not be undertaken lightly, and it is wise to seek help. This hexagram symbolizes lightning spewed forth by the clouds. The Superior Person busies themselves setting things in order.”
2020 will go down in the history books as one of the most traumatic times in recent history. First, we experience a global pandemic that resulted in most of the world as we know it shutting down as stay at home orders were implemented, resulting in our economy teetering on the verge of collapse.
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