The I Ching on President Obama Forward

President of the United States Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

On November 7, 2012, after your re-election, I asked the I Ching a question about moving forward. The question I posed to the I Ching was: What of President Barack Obama Forward? Earlier on August 6, 2012 I asked the Yi Jing a question about your re-election. The question posed to the I Ching then was: What of Barack Obama’s Re-election?, and its response was sent to you last week. For the moving Forward question, I again held three Chinese coins with this question in mind and tossed the coins six times to generate six lines to make up one of possible 64 hexagram responses. I threw my coins and received hexagram 43. Kuai / Break-through (Resoluteness), with changing lines 9 in the first, second, and forth line yielding hexagram 39. Chien / Obstruction.

You read the body of Kuai and the changing lines only. You only read body in Chien, its lines are not read. Kuai address the immediate situational and Chien tells us something forward in time that needs attention. I see some very interesting wisdom here but know after reading these, you will see more. The I Ching’s response is like a Rorschach Inkblot exercise, as you read the hexagram reflects on what it means to you.

I asked the Yi Jing’s judgment about situations you face in moving forward in your new presidency. As a citizen my reaction to the oracle is on one level, however, when read by you, Mr. President and your team, it will speak deeper and be more verifiable. The only criterion for validity, Carl Jung suggests, is the “observer’s opinion that the text of the hexagram amounts to a true reading of his psychic conditions. …only if it is possible to read the pattern and to verify its interpretation, partly by the observer’s knowledge of the subjective and objective situation, partly by the character of subsequent events” (Wilhelm, 1968: xxv). Since the I Ching requires action on the part of the questioner, it is you, Mr. President, being advised by these hexagrams. Taking proper action is what sets the Yi Jing apart from fortune telling and thus justifies calling it The Book of Wisdom.

After the 9/11 attack on the U.S. and as President Bush was preparing for the Iraq war, I asked several question of the Yi Jing – the first question was “What of the September 11, 2001 tragedy?” The Yi Jing’s responses were sent to President Bush for his reflection and published, Scherling, Steven A. (2003 Spring). The Yi Jing Speaks to the World on September 11: A New Ethic. The Empty Vessel: A Journal of the Daoist Arts, pp 42-46. I never heard from President Bush and the unfolding years make it very apparent he did not listen to I Ching’s advice. The wisdom of the I Ching’s response was deep to the challenges of leading the world then and now. I can read similar wisdom in these responses to you moving Forward. This might be an interesting way to approach your forward experiences with the Chinese – may I suggest they are consulting the I Ching about you.

Congratulation, Steven Scherling

November 9, 2012;

43. Kuai / Break-through (Resoluteness)

____     ____
__________         above      Tui          The Joyous, Lake
__________         below      Chien     The Creative, Heaven

This hexagram signifies on the one hand a break-through after a long accumulation of tension, as a swollen river breaks through its dikes, or in the manner of a cloudburst. On the other hand, applied to human conditions, it refers to the time when inferior people gradually begin to disappear. Their influence is on the wane; as a result of resolute action, a change in conditions occurs, a break-through. The hexagram is linked with the third month [April-May].

Breaking-Through. One must resolutely make the matter know.
At the court of the King.
It must be announced truthfully. Danger.
It is necessary to notify one’s own city.
It does not further to resort to arms.
It further one to undertake something.

Even if only one inferior man is occupying a ruling position I the city, he is able to oppress superior men. Even a single passion and reason cannot exist side by side – therefore fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail.

In a resolute struggle of the good against the evil, there are, however, definite rules that must no be disregarded, if it is to succeed. First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness. Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; evil m ust under all circumstance be openly discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcoming be glossed over. Third, the struggle must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled n hatred and passion. Therefore, if is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil become dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.

The lake has risen up to heaven:
The image of Break-Through.
Thus the superior man
Dispenses riches downwad
And refrains from resting on his virtue.

When the water of a lake has risen up to heaven, there is reason to fear a cloudburst. Taking this as a warning, the superior man forestalls a violent collapse. If a man were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse. If a man were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse. For all gathering is followed by dispersion. Therefore the superior man begins to distribute while he is accumulation. In the same way, in developing his character he takes care not to become hardened in obstinacy but to remain receptive to impression by help of strict and continuous self-examination.

Nine at the beginning means:
Mighty be in the forward-striding toes.
When one goes and is not equal to the task,
One makes a mistake.

In times of resolute advance, the beginning is especially difficult. We feel inspired to press forward but resistance is still strong; therefore we ought to engage our own strength and venture only so far as we can goal with certainty of success. To plunge blindly I had is wrong, because it is precisely at the beginning that an I expected setback can have the most disastrous results.

Nine in the second place means:
A cry of alarm. Arms that evening and at night.
Fear nothing.

Readiness is everything. Resolution is indissolubly bound up with caution. If an individual is careful and keeps his wits about him, he needs not become excited or alarmed. If he is watchful at all times, even before danger is present, he is armed when danger approaches and need not be afraid. The superior man is on his guard against what is not yet in sight and on the alert for what is not yet within hearing; therefore he dwells in the midst of difficulties as though they did not exist. If a man develops his character, people submit to him of their own accord. If reason triumphs, the passions withdraw of themselves. To be circumspect and not to forget one’s armor is the right way to security.

Nine in the third place means:
Brings misfortune.
The superior man is firmly resolved.
He walks alone and is caught in the rain.
He is bespattered,
And people murmur against him.
No blame.

Here we have a man in an ambiguous situation. While all others are engaged in a resolute fight against all that is inferior, he alone has a certain relationship with an inferior man. If he were to show strength outwardly and turn against this man before the time is right, he would only endanger the entire situation, because the inferior man went to quickly have recourse to countermeasures. The task of a superior man becomes extremely difficult here. He must be firmly resolved within himself and, while maintaining associations with the inferior man, avoid any participation in his vileness. He will of course the miss judged. It will be thought that he belongs to the party of the inferior man. He will be lonely because no one will understand him. His relations with the inferior man will sully him in the eyes of the multitude, and they will turn against him, grumbling. But he can endure this lack of appreciation and makes no mistake, because he remains true to himself.

Nine in the fourth place means:
There is no skin on his thighs,
And walking comes hard.
If a man were to let himself be led like a sheep,
Remorse would disappear.
But if these words are heard
They will not be believed.

Here a man is suffering from inner restlessness and can not abide in his place. He would like to push forward under any circumstances, but encounters inseparable obstacles. Bus is situation entails an inner conflict. This is due to the obstinacy with which he seeks to enforce his will. If he would be the desist from this obstinacy, everything would go well. But this advice, like so much other good counsel, will be ignored. For obstinacy makes a man unable to hear, for all that he has ears.

Nine in the fifth place means:
In dealing with weeds,
Firm resolution is necessary.
Walking in the middle
Remain free of blame.

We always grow back again and are difficult to exterminate. Soul to the struggle against an inferior man in a high position demands firm resolution. One has certain relations with them, and there is danger that one may give up the struggle as hopeless. But this must not be. One less goal on resolutely and not allow himself to be defeated from his course. Only in this way does one remain free of blame

Six at the top means:
No cry.
In the end misfortune comes.

Victory seems to have been achieved. There remains merely a remnant of the evil resolutely to be eradicated as the time demands. Everything looks easy. Just there, however, lies the danger. If we are not on guard, evil will succeed in escaping by means of concealment, and when it has eluded us new misfortunes will develop from the remaining seeds, for evil does not die easily. So too in dealing with the evil in one’s own character, one must go to work with thoroughness. If out of carelessness anything were to be overlooked, new evil would arise from it.

39. Chien / Obstruction
____      ____
__________         above      Kan         The Abysmal, Water
____     ____
____     ____         below      Ken         Keeping Still, Mountain
____     ____ 

The hexagram pictures a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. We aare surrounded by obstacles; at the same time, since the mountain has the attribute of keeping still, there is implicit a hint as to how we can extricate ourselves. The hexagram represents obstruction that appear in the course of time but that can and should be overcome. Therefore all the instruction given is directed to overcoming them.

Obstruction. The southwest furthers
The northeast does not further.
It furthers one to see the great man.
Perseverance brings good fortune.

The southwest is the region of retreat, the northeast that of advance. Here an individual is confronted by obstacles that cannot be overcome directly. In such a situation it is wise to pause in view of the danger and to retreat. However, this is merely a preparation for overcoming the obstructions. One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation: then one will succeed in removing the obstacles. This requires the will to persevere just when on apparently mut do something that leads away from his goal. This unswerving inner purpose brings good fortune in the end. An obstruction that last only for a time is useful for self-development. This is the value of adversity.

Water on the mountain:
The image of obstruction.
Thus the superior man turns his attention to himself
And molds his character.

Difficulties and obstruction throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on others persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself, and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.

Six at the beginning means:
Going needs to obstruction,
Coming meets with praise.

When one encounters an obstruction, the important thing is to reflect on how best to deal with it. When threatened with danger, one should not strive blindly to go ahead, for this only leads to complications. The correct thing is, on the contrary, to retreat for the time being, not in order to give up the struggle but to wait the right moment for action.

Six in the second place means:
Six in the second place means
The King’s servant is beset by obstruction upon obstruction,
But it is not his own fault.

Ordinarily it is best to go around an obstacle and try to overcome it along the line of least resistance. But there is one instance in which a man must go out to meet the trouble, even though difficulty piles upon difficulty: this is when the path of duty leads directly to it — in other words, when he cannot act of his own volition but is duty bound to go and seek out danger in the service of a higher cause. Then he may do it with out compunction, because it is not through any fault of his that he is putting himself in this difficult situation.

Nine in the third place means:
Going leads to obstructions;
Hence he comes back.

While the preceding line shows the official compelled by duty to follow the way of danger, this line shows the man who must act as father of a family or as head of his kin. If he were to plunge recklessly into danger, it would be useless act, because those entrusted to his care can not get along by themselves. But if he withdraws and turns back to his own, they welcomed him with great joy.

Six in the fourth place means:
Going leads to obstructions,
Coming leads to the union.

This too describes a situation that cannot be managed single-handed. In such a case the direct way is not the shortest. If a person were to forge ahead on his own strength and without the necessary preparation, he would not find the support he needs and would realize too late that he has been mistaken in his calculations, inasmuch as the conditions on which he hoped he could rely would prove to be inadequate. In this case it is better, therefore, to hold back for the time being and to gather together trustworthy companions who can be counted upon for help in overcoming the obstructions.

Nine in the fifth place means:
In the midst of the greatest obstructions,
Friends come.

Here we see a man who is called to help in an emergency. He should not seek to evade the obstruction, though matter how dangerously they pile up before him. But because he is really called up to the task, the power of his spirit is strong enough to attract helpers who he can effectively organize, so that through the well directed cooperation of all participants the obstruction is overcome serious

Six in the top means:
Going leads to obstructions,
Coming leads to great good fortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.

This refers to a man who has already left the world and its tumult behind him. When the time of obstruction arrives, it might seem that the simplest thing for him to do would be to turn his back upon the world and take refuge in the beyond. But this road is barred to him. He must not seek his own salvation and abandon the world to its adversity. Duty calls him back once more into the turmoil of life. Precisely because of his experience an inner freedom, is able to create something both great and complete that brings good fortune. And it is favorable to see the great man in alliance with whom one can achieve the work of rescue.

Wilhelm,Helmut, (1968).The I Ching Book of Changes, 3rd Edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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1 Response to The I Ching on President Obama Forward

  1. Pingback: The Bourne and Obama Legacies | Dialectic Analytical Man

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