Sunday, September 4, 2016

Calculated Waiting: On Consulting Chinese Oracles

I'm pretty sure most people think me crazy to regularly and confidently consult the I Ching for answers when I am stumped by life's assault. I say assault because that's what it feels like, sometimes. Life. The seizure life. Epilepsy life. I've delved into the Chinese oracle for just about thirty years, ever since I took Chinese literature and language classes in college and learned to ask a question, throw the coins and interpret the answer using my copy of Wilhelm and Bayne's Book of Changes. I also use R. L. Wing's The I Ching Workbook to clarify and simplify the reading. The workbook says in its introduction that

the search for a solution to the mystery underlying the constant motion and change in the universe has spawned both the science of physics and the earlier science of metaphysics. Physics attempts to express mathematically the physical laws dominating the universe. Metaphysics attempts to express mathematically the effects of these physical laws on human affairs...
The tao literally means the way or gate through which all things move. To move with the tao is to be in a state that Christianity refers to as "grace." The Chinese philosophers were fond of comparing taoist behavior with that of water: It flows onward always. It penetrates crevices, it wears down resistance, it stops to fill deep places and then flows on. Always it holds to its true nature and always it flows with the forces in the cosmos.
Although the tao implies the path of least resistance, it is often a very difficult path to accept and follow. In following the tao, the individual can find his place in the cosmos and harmonize with it. At this point he can exercise true free will as he makes real decisions based upon real possibilities. Here "The Book of Change" can illuminate the individual by revealing immediate tendencies in the cosmos.

So what does all of this mean to me? Well, even after twenty-two years, I find myself in a sort of suppressed panic (it used to be overt) when Sophie goes through downturns like she seems to be in now. I won't belabor how difficult it is to watch her have more and bigger seizures than she's had in years. I feel terrible for her and, as always, helpless to fix things, figure them out. I call all my wisest friends, do what I call my Grand Rounds, and pick their brains. I lie next to Sophie and place my hand over her head and allow myself to go absolutely still and calm. I imagine some kind of innate healing power in my fingers, not mine but rather the universe's, and I coax it out. I know on some level, though, that there is no fixing or figuring and that I have to find this small and still part of myself where, if I abide there, with that, something will unfold. I wait.

This has always been true for me.

Today, I asked the I Ching how I should do this, how I should remember this place, this small still part and how I should get there. I rolled the coins six times and drew out the fifth hexagram.

Called Hsu, the upper trigram is water over heaven, and the lower trigram is fire over lake. The translation of Hsu is Calculated Waiting.

Have I lost you? I don't have the time or inclination to really explain all of this to you, but know that the principle of synchronicity (which the great psychologist C.J. Jung explains in the forward to the Wilhelm/Baynes edition) is at work once again. If you are skeptical, so be it, but I gently suggest you try it for yourself and see what happens.

Here are a few lines that jumped out at me from the reading that I take quite seriously:

A period of CALCULATED WAITING must pass before the cosmos can address itself to your needs. Many areas are undergoing significant change. 
That which you desire is caught in this change. In essence, it is a dangerous time, since the elements involved are not directly under your control. You may be facing some kind of threat or awaiting the outcome of a decision that could greatly affect you. If you worry about it you will grow inwardly confused and succumb to chaos and fear. You will waste valuable energy through agitation. When the time does come to act, your judgement may be impaired.
In order to attain your aim, you must wait to act until circumstances are in your favor. Inwardly bide your time and nourish and strengthen yourself for the future. Through careful observation attempt to see things without illusions or fears. Face the facts. If you are aware of your shortcomings and advantages, you will know what to do when the time comes. Ultimately you will meet with success.
The time of CALCULATED WAITING will put your confidence to a test. It is now that you must make a show of confidence. Do not express your doubts about the past or the future. Indulge totally in the present. Keep your thoughts and words on a positive note and maintain an assured and cheerful attitude.  

They also give me a kind of preternatural peace.




  1. Preternatural peace.
    Yes. This is an answer in and of itself. It says you have done and are doing all that you can.

  2. I don't think you're crazy at all. Among other more substantial things, your blog has exposed me to I Ching. Something I didn't even know existed before reading about it here. It seems more complicated than I care to tackle, but I like when you discuss it.

  3. An astrologer friend ran down a transit the other day that sounded almost exactly like this - not a personal transit but one that is going on for everybody. I was kind of bowled over to see the message duplicated here, personal to you and Sophie and yet...maybe part of something larger. I don't know. The word "bide" came to me in a dream not long ago. Big letters. BIDE. Well, I said, okay then. We will bide along here, while sending love, receiving love, healing with love.

  4. I am speechless in awe and love. Thinking of you.

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  6. "I have to find this small and still part of myself where, if I abide there, with that, something will unfold. I wait." And, clearly, you often find so much in that unfolding. Thank you for this piece, Elizabeth.

  7. The I Ching is powerful. I'm so glad you do it. So glad you let that come into your life and teach you and comfort you. But then, I would expect it of you because you are prismatic.
    Love to you.

  8. Yes to the I Ching.
    I'm sorry things aren't getting better. I'm sure there's a sense of disappointment or betrayal that the Cannabis isn't stopping this from happening. I am in my own period of calculated waiting, unsure if it's the right or wrong thing to do. I might consult my I Ching too.

  9. I have no idea about the I Ching! I've never tried it. Could Sophie's downturn be related to the cannabis dosage? Does the efficacy wane over time? Hopefully it's a temporary development. Sorry. :(

  10. I am speechless. Your words always give me so much to ponder.

    Sending you and Sophie all of my very best wishes for peace and comfort.

  11. I have the same book, the same coins, and the same belief in them. Now, off to get that workbook! Love this post! Love the wisdom of the Universe and the guides that help us return to its wisdom!

  12. Darling Elizabeth, I can only imagine how hard this must be. I suspect Sophie is highly attuned to the currents of this life, and the upheaval in the cosmos that we all can see is affecting her. It is affecting us all in ways we may or may not recognize, but Sophie's response is so pure. But I know this is hard. I ached at the image of you with your hand on her forehead, calling in healing forces. If that is all you can do in this moment, know that it is powerful beyond measure. You love is the most powerful healing force of all and she is bathed in it. I know that healing for you both doesn't necessarily mean Sophie's seizures will disappear for all time. But the healing is happening as you wait and love. Please know I am waiting and loving with you.

  13. So much love for you and Sophie and those dudes. Xx

  14. I am the impatient cow. I hate waiting, get agitated, become a whirling dervish. Calculated waiting sounds like good advice but the how escapes me. I always want to poke and prod in hopes of getting what I want, instead of waiting to see what happens. I'm almost fifty-four, you would think I would be more patient by now and yet I am not.

    I hope this downturn is short lived. Sending hugs.

  15. I'm sorry Sophie's seizures are more than bigger than she's had in years. I have been so hoping that something, anything would make them more bearable.

  16. This is how Valerie looks in her "down time". I hate it!!!



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