Guidance from the I Ching: #49 - Changing

Learning to embrace the uncertainty and power of change

November 30, 2020

“Changing inspires confidence only after it is accomplished. Then there will be exceptional progress. There is an advantage in correct persistence. Regret disappears. An enlightened person, therefore, harmonizes with past experiences and makes obvious timely opportunities.”

I consult the I Ching (Book Of Changes) for inspiration at the start of every week. This week’s message is all about transformation.

In response to this week’s request for guidance, the I Ching responded with a topic that we are all well familiar with in light of current global conditions. To quote Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-Changing.” Change is the only constant in the universe, yet it is something that most of us fear and fight against with all of our might. Why do people fear change? And why is Changing so damn important? Read on if you dare.

“When we can learn to embrace the power of Changing, we can break free of our pasts and create a future of our own making. Whether Changing occurs in the chrysalis or in the crucible, we can not exit this period unaltered. 

Jose Johnson

Change is natural

The I Ching has been used for centuries to predict probable outcomes based upon current conditions. The I Ching attempts to help us understand that our situations are a combination of cosmic forces and human tendencies. When Changing is predicted, it means that the various elements that affect an outcome are in conflict with one another. And whenever conflict arises between the way of nature and the way of people, guess which one eventually wins? The laws of nature will always supersede the whims of humanity. And for us to create balance, we need to embrace the Changing nature of things.

Nature follows its own natural Changing course. As the Bible (and The Byrds) so famously points out, “For everything, there is a season.” For centuries, humans have studied the Changing of the seasons. By Studying the Changing things like climates and the cycle of the ocean’s tides, we seek to gain a better understanding of our world and our place in it. Works like the I Ching seek to catalog the Changing nature of the social and political environment so that future generations can learn from the past. But as much as we understand the inevitability of change, we too often seek to prevent it from occurring.

Change is simple, but not always easy

Changing is a signal that the time for meaningful work is at hand—the type of work that is exceptionally challenging. However, the I Ching warns against Changing for the sake of change. Changing should not be undertaken unless it is absolutely necessary. Changing should be viewed as a well thought out transformation and not a violent revolution. The I Ching advises that hasty and unbridled reactions should be avoided at all costs. To make sure that Changing is the right course of action, one must first analyze the nature of the conditions and listen to others’ voices, particularly those most affected by your decisions.

Once the Changing has started, things should be approached with a great deal of patience and humility. Ego is the enemy of Changing things for the good. Our selfish nature drives us to change things only for our benefit and comfort, whereas this moment’s true power can only be tapped by seeking to maintain harmony with the greater good. The process of Changing can not be rushed. As difficult as things may be, there is still an unavoidable process we must go through. Impatience leads to short-cuts, mistakes, and over-reacting. The I Ching suggests that by approaching change as a gradual process, it is easier to measure your methods’ effectiveness and correct course when necessary.

It is what it is

One of the challenges of Changing times is that the need for change is not always recognized until after the change has occurred. This fact makes it difficult to enlist the aid of those whose support is necessary. But there are signals that Changing must happen, and the most significant sign is unhappiness. Whether it is on a personal level or a societal scale, a lack of joy indicates that something is not right. And if we are to put things right, something must change. The question becomes, what must change? In situations where we have power over the outcome, we must change our actions. The I Ching suggests that we may need to “throw out outmoded or stifling policies” because the things that worked in the past will no longer be beneficial in the future. When faced with situations beyond our control, we must be willing to change our attitudes and work to make the best of the circumstances. As I always say, “it is what it is, but it becomes what you make it.”

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Everything in us and around us is continuously Changing. And most Changing is occurring at such a gradual pace that it is hardly noticeable. So why do we fear Changing? Ultimately, it’s because we fear the unknown – because we are afraid of an unpredictable future. We feel safe and secure in the predictability of what we know. But the harsh truth is, things have never been entirely predictable. The future is, and will always be, uncertain. More than any other, this fact has been brought to the surface by the events of 2020. At any moment, our lives, our very world, can be dramatically altered. The question remains, is the Changing that occurs by default or design?

Create your change

Life is a holistic system. When one thing changes, everything else must change as well. Sometimes the change is small. Other times massive shifts are required. But Changing is a natural process. When we can learn to embrace the power of Changing, we can break free of our pasts and create a future of our own making. Whether Changing occurs in the chrysalis or in the crucible, we can not exit this period unaltered. But we do have a choice if the power of Changing times moves us towards a higher plane of existence or keeps us stuck in a downward spiral towards decay. To quote John Maxwell, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”

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