This post is #29 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.
I’m not sure if I told you this, but I am memorizing the 64 hexagrams – at least the names of all of them – so that if I see a hexagram, I know what it is called. This one is a special one because it is one of 8 hexagrams that is doubled – water over water. I like to think of the Grand Canyon when I think of this hexagram, which aptly explains both the power of water and the potential for danger. You wouldn’t want to get caught in the bottom of the Grand Canyon during a flash flood!
I love the beautiful subtlety of the I Ching. This image of water, being one of the eight trigram images as well, is significant because it reminds us to stay true to the highest virtues. Water flows gently over everything in its path – it takes the low road and yet it is extremely powerful for this reason. Water stays true to itself because it holds no pretenses.
I especially loved what Deng Ming-Dao had to say about the potential of this hexagram:
It is indulgent when people claim that they cannot find the meaning of life. They can. They just do not want to risk danger to find it. And so they sit at the edge, never going into the darkness to seek the answers that will slake their thirst.
The “Abyss”, as this hexagram is also known, is about seeking that depth of our souls. Are we afraid to go deep or can we be like water and be fearless enough to reach our lowest places?