A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apprenticeship

I try to start each day consulting the I Ching, often just asking for general guidance. I'm leery of asking too many self-centered questions about the future and prefer to have the Sage direct me as he/she will. Sometimes I receive a hexagram with no moving lines. This is what happened today. I asked for guidance about writing this blog and received Hexagram 29, The Abysmal (Water). Here, abysmal means deep and not awful. It is a double trigram with each trigram (three lines) representing water and there is an indication of danger. There is also advice on getting out of danger by being like water, taking the path of least resistence and going with the flow of things. I have about six translations of the I Ching and I read each interpretation of The Abysmal, also called The Abyss or Mastering Pitfalls. The concept of danger here refers not so much to an external danger but more to an internal danger of losing one's way. Another concern of this hexagram is proper learning and proper teaching: "Teaching is a matter of receiving from forebears and educating successors. It is very urgent and necessary. If instruction is unclear, people will be misled as to the course they should pursue. One can develop others only if one learns how to teach, which involves searching out the profound and the recondite and clarifying that which is obscure." (The Taoist I Ching, Cleary, p.264)

Searching out the profound and clarifying the obscure, certainly I wish to do this but my station is quite low. I am a student but as a student I want to try to pass on what I've experienced and learned...and that leads to being a lay teacher. The philosophy of the I Ching is teaching me that we are all students and teachers. Any communication is a means of learning and teaching. We all want to touch the profound and relay it. Hence, here I am trying to follow this path. It is an attempt at transformation, a desire to change from an inferior person (self-centered) to a superior person (other centered). It is an attempt to move closer to the mysterious higher power (God, the Sage) and to be enriched by the proximity, enriched to the point of helping other people directly and indirectly as a natural part of life.

I believe we should all desire to be superior people, as in virtuous people. But before we (or I ) can approach that, we have to take a good long look at the ways in which we are are not superior. Self-honesty first and then self-understanding are important markers along this path. This is what the I Ching addresses, a means towards self-improvement, a self-improvement that will benefit many even beyond one's circle of family and friends. We should aspire to be the best we can be whether we're in a small view or a wide view, a microcosm or a macrocosm. This duality between small and large is important because it is manifest in our world. The yin and the yang, earth and heaven, sun and moon. Yes, we are small but we are also intimately connected to the large and, at times, we can reflect this largeness.
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