2021 – PSMC Year of the Iron Ox I Ching Reading

Farewell to 2020, Year of the Iron Mouse. It was a year characterized by intense global challenges, but through the mouse’s characteristics of cheerfulness, cleverness, and sociability, we found new ways to come together as a community through online technologies. Both Portland Shambhala and Open Sky Eugene went through the poignant process of dissolving our brick-and-mortar spaces, but moving to the virtual sphere has united our sister sanghas and has also brought together regional and global Shambhala communities as never before.

Now, the Year of the Iron Ox invites us to be single-minded and confident in our lives and in our practice. We can rely on the depth and integrity of the Shambhala teachings and their profound beneficial impact on our lives, despite the continuing challenges our community faces.  With honesty, hard work, and devotion, we can continue to manifest the goodness that is the basic ground of our existence both in ourselves and in society as whole.

This year’s Shambhala Day I Ching reading provides confirmation of the continuing challenges we must face together. It also assures us that while we will not always agree, the situation remains workable if we continue to ground ourselves in the principles of meditation. 

The first hexagram received, 6 Sung / Conflict, counsels us that it is up to us to work with disagreement in a way that is honoring to ourselves and to others. We should not endeavor to declare right or wrong, winners or losers, even if we are certain we are right. Rather than creating closure, taking things to the bitter end would produce far more damage than is worthwhile. Rather, we need to acknowledge that disagreement provides an opportunity to clarify our inner state of being. Conflict is only possible when both parties are embroiled in contention. The only way to end disagreement is to give it up within ourselves. If you wish to end conflict, be prepared to meet others halfway and open yourself to that which you find uncomfortable. Conflict can show you where you are stuck. Can you open yourself to fresh perspectives?

The second hexagram received, 44 Kou / Coming to Meet, is ambivalent, to say the least. In the natural order of things, the principle of heaven (yang) influences and guides creation through earth (yin), but in this hexagram the situation is reversed. That which should follow seeks to lead. In doing so, a time of creativity and expansion is possible. However, this also introduces elements of decay and corruption. Therefore, in a time of “Coming to Meet,” we must be exceptionally careful to retain the integrity of the situation in order to prevent this influence from leading us away from our intended purpose and mission.

The Changing Line 3, which transforms hexagram 6 into hexagram 44, clarifies the risk involved  in this situation. Please note, both hexagrams 6 and 44 sound a strong tone of warning. The changing line does as well, but also has a positive message overall. When we hold a view that is too expansive, the danger lies in allowing in elements that seek to overturn or degrade the situation. The antidote is to adhere to ancient virtues and to not seek recognition for what is achieved.  In carrying out work for the collective, success will come if the work is done for the sake of the work itself and not for the sake of taking credit for ourselves. We will be most successful if we give away the credit, and the merit, for the benefit of others.

Additionally, in facing past problems, overlaying fault on everything occurring in the present stifles the ability to be open to the freshness of the moment, creating an atmosphere of argumentativeness and defensiveness. This constant atmosphere of disagreement can feel punishing, but conflict can show us our own internal strength not in the sense of being strong in battle but in the sense of being able to persevere. What is key is that we remain focused on the essence of our mission to present and propagate the teachings that have been transmitted to us through our noble lineage and that the credit is appropriately given to that wisdom lineage rather than trying to claim it ourselves.  

For more on Shambhala Day, the Shambhala Day I Ching reading, and current and upcoming initiatives in our community, please follow this link to read our Center Director John Smith’s Shambhala Day letter.  And for even more interpretations of these hexagrams, follow these links: Hexagram 6 and Hexagram 44.  Please note, for Hexagram 6, only read from the beginning through Judgement, Image, Commentary, and Notes & Paraphrases. Do not read lines 1 and 2. Do read line 3 with the Commentary and the Notes & Paraphrases, but don’t read lines 4, 5, and 6. Here is another nice source that uses modern language: Hexagram 6 and Hexagram 44. For Hexagram 6, read up until Unchanging. Don’t read unchanging or lines 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Only read  Line 3. For Hexagram 44, read up to Unchanging. Don’t read Unchanging or any of the lines.

Here are a few thoughts around the I Ching reading from Timaree:

If you are interested in looking at Conflict from a Dharmic perspective, one source is Chapter 9 “Conflict Resolution: Anger is the Problem”  in Changing the World from the Inside Out  (2014 Shambhala Publications) by HH Karmapa 17. The whole book is a keeper for life, at the same time, this chapter is helpful for view, practice, and activity. His Holiness’s newest book might also be of interest; it is: Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society (2017 Wisdom Publications).

“There are so many ways to be together and work out conflict that don’t emphasize talking drala walks/hikes, tea ceremony, Qi Gong, yoga, Miksang, art of making a true move (the “what-is-the-blockage gesture and what-is-the-unblocking or moving-out-of-the-blockage gesture), Ikebana, gatherings in the park (like Harvest of Peace), sitting, making offerings, and eating together where conversation can be less focused on conflict.”

“Since this year’s practice book is about the paramitas, and since there is a class/book on lojong, I would start there as to how those studies/slogans/paramitas actually reduce personal and social conflict.

Since the Sakyong teaches us that we can view a day as a lifetime, any self-reflection at the end of the day or throughout the day may be helpful; what conflict has arisen, is present, or stays with me from the past, and how do I aspire to sit with it, reconcile it, come back to the breath with it, or any myriad ways of relating with it.” 

“We could also make a group photo montage of body gestures or photos in the environment (indoor or outdoor) that represent what someone feels as sangha conflict and then gestures/photos of the environment that move each person a smidgeon forward from it.” 

We also welcome your ideas and dialogue in the comments below, and will be continuing our community conversations series with topics like I Ching reading and other concerns for our community.

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