Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thought for the day: regrets

Hexagram 6, Strife, says:
If you are sincere in your regrets, take the middle way, and you will have good fortune. . . .(Original I ching, p 79)

As many of us progress through times of change, chosen or not, we face regrets old and new. Often we see old flaws in our behavior with disturbing awareness of how wounding we may have been to others. It can be sickening to realize that we are not who we thought. We may feel like we are a 'terrible two' again, or back in the worst awkwardnesses of adolescence.

Actually this is a step forward, a preliminary to needed change. As we recognize Strife we may have created, it is natural to feel revulsion, but we must guard against extremism within ourselves and 'take the middle way,' as this hexagram suggests. It is time not for radical amends but for consulting with others who are wiser. It is time for cautious baby steps forward, as we learn new ways to walk and talk. Otherwise, we are just more likely to increase the strife, not escape it.

In today's New York Times, Jane Brody looks back on her first two years as a widow, and looks ahead as she recognizes the need to forge new connections with others, simply to stay healthy. It's a wonderful column, useful for many of us. I believe it shows the fruits of her years of strife following the death of her husband, and her wise and timely move towards beginning a new stage of building. It's also a good reminder to those of us in the first or second year of a major change, that we need not make every change in the first year!

As this hexagram's image says,
"The sky with water pouring down: the image of strife.
You should take on a new direction only after a careful consideration of the beginnings." (80).

In ancient China, there was little stone or wood for building, so the foundations were often of earth tamped hard within forms. Made during dry spells, such foundations could last for centuries. But attempting to do so in the middle of a downpour was simply an exercise in futility, as the fine soil simply washed away.
When water gushes from the sky or we feel swamped by regrets, it is a time to observe, consult, and seek a middle way. The time to build anew will come, but first we must get through this time, of Strife.

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