We have looked at what America is hiding in this election year, what the Water Dragon would bring to light in unpredictable and explosive ways. What came out was the Calvinist ethic that has shaped American culture, the ethic of the Elect, those whom God gives wealth and power and who are guaranteed eternal salvation and the Preterite or Damned from birth, locked into poverty. These ideas were described by Change as the Ghosts that Haunt Old Tombs from which America must disentangle itself if it is to have a hope of reconnecting to its great mandate for transformation.
Change showed Romney as someone trapped and imprisoned by the beliefs, the duties and privileges of the Elect, completely cut off from the life-water or Well of common humanity. It portrayed him as someone who has been (or should be) been punished for serious crimes – “buttocks flayed with bamboo rods” – whose words “cannot be trusted.”
Change showed Obama as a man caught in the middle, in a balancing act that requires, above all, real integrity. It showed him seeking acceptance in the circle of the Elect by making sacrifice after sacrifice of his ideals in a spirit of compromise that could never work, finally lamenting the missed chances and futile compromises in which he lost so much of his integrity and power to effect change. He seems poised at a critical point where he must choose between focusing on his real ideals again and going forward or continuing to adapt to what his political advisors and his need for celebrity want him to do.
Now it seems time to ask what will happen on Election Day. Now I, like the mythical Confucius, feel that if Change is asked a literal fortune-telling question, it “will be right half of the time.” However, when asked about the hidden drives and realizing power of a situation (de), “it is right all of the time.” From the viewpoint of Change, our destiny is not a fixed thing, but an ongoing dialogue. We are not looking for a literal answer, but for the deep roots of the situation, the possible outcomes and our part in the process.
Change shows the deep process at work on Election Day as:
3 Sprouting Zhun
Face the difficulties at the start of this new enterprise. Assemble resources, accumulate energy and let all the new possibilities emerge. Do not try to impose your ideas or take control. Install helpers and delegate responsibilities. Stake out the territory, establish bases of operation and assemble the troops. This will bring you profit and insight. The old character shows a deeply rooted sprout pushing its way through the hard crust of earth. The difficulties you confront now prepare deliverance from the sufferings of the past. This is the inner river of strength, thunder in the waters, the spark of life; the World Tree, beginning of a new time. Heart Theme: 23 Stripping away the corruption of the past.
This figure shows us at the difficult beginning of a new time, after the years of the War on Terror that allowed what Eisenhower called the Military Industrial Complex to assume complete control of our lives and drain the resources of the country into the production of ever more costly armaments and security systems. This is truly a crucial moment, a crucial birth with all the consequent birth pains.
The Transforming Line shows us at the threshold of this new birth, and in grave danger of losing our way. It’s worth seeing this line in its entirety.
Step 3 Threshold: This inner re-balancing lets you make your way in life.
Working with Change: Local management, distribution and supply.
Chasing the deer without a guide, you wander alone into the forest center. The Realizing Person almost fails to realize that going on will bring distress. Following the wild birds, the young girls. This means distress and exhaustion. You are losing yourself, following your impulses without a second thought. Stop now.
Guideway (3.3 [63.3 : 64.4] 4.4):
The high ancestor is subduing the demon country now to release the fertilizing thunder. Take this as a warning. Protect the real transformation that is already underway. Do not confine your spirit in the prisons of outmoded desire. Cooperate with the ongoing process of change. Accepting the shock of inner enlightenment now lets you find real directions in life.
So what can we do to accept this great inner shock, protect the transformation already underway and find our real direction again. I’d suggest focusing on the Heart Theme or Inner Drive of the figure that portrays our situation.
23 Stripping Bo
Eliminate habits, ideas and structures that have become outmoded and obsolete. Remove and uncover things. Cut into the problem and strip away the unessential without thought of immediate gain or purpose. This is what will bring renewal. When this is complete, you will see your real direction.
Our Primary Figure 3 Sprouting that describes our situation is part of a Time Cycle, a connection of four hexagrams that use the four seasons to show how this change might play out in time. All of these four hexagrams share the same Heart Theme – 23 Stripping. 3 Sprouting is connected with Spring and rousing new growth. It is both last spring, when this electoral process started, and next Spring, when the results of the electoral process will manifest. What we need to focus on now is the hexagram for Fall, the time of the election, the way we can reap the harvest and gather the insights. This is hexagram 20 Viewing, a time to let everything come into view and discern the deeper meanings.
So what should we be looking at? In my view it is the decades of needless and exploitative war, the gutting of our social systems and the burgeoning security systems that have taken their place, a process that has haunted my entire adult life. This is what must be stripped away to gain a clear view of the history behind this critical moment, a moment when we are in real danger of losing ourselves. The seed of the new, found in Winter through grinding away this old husk, is a complete re-grouping (8 Grouping) of the basic way we think and the way that we find our true kin.
Hidden deep in the Twin Peaked Mountain, the antlered Bird of Transformation rises from the grave mound that holds ancestral spirits.
This is the ripening fruit. It can lead to the new sprouting next Spring and the release of a wave of fertile new energy and blessings in Summer (42 Augmenting) that can put an end to this endless cycle of war, repression and corporate greed.
This is another reading that connects directly with the question in the first blog of the series: What is America hiding? Here the theme from the Daodejing is:
Ride the elephant like a child.
Grasp the great symbol
and the All-below-Heaven follows without harm.
Joy and harmony abound.
Songs and sweet foods stop the passing travelers.
When Dao speaks it is Tasteless! Bland!
It is not worth seeing.
It is not worth hearing.
It can never end.
The Primary Figure, the hexagram that answers the question, is the same as the Relating Figure of our first reading. It expresses where America wants and needs to go: 45 Gathering the resources, material, human and spiritual for a great new project that could be of benefit to all.
45 Gathering Cui
The old character shows the uniform of a soldier or servant and two bundles of grass, resources assembled.
Circle of Meanings
Gather, assemble, collect resources, bunch or call together; concentrate, collect, unite; inspire fellow feeling, come to someone’s aid; crowds, multitudes, dense vegetation; a time when great efforts bring a great reward. Heart Theme: 53 Gradual Progress to the symbolic world.
So this is where we can locate Obama. Somehow, it seems, he was in contact with that American Dream of a just and united society in which what Calvin called the Elect and the Preterite could work together for a common goal or vision. Obama himself seems to reflect this, being Preterite by birth and race and Elect by education, training and skills. He is a man caught in the middle, caught in a balancing act that requires, above all, real integrity.
But the Lines seem to show what happened to him in the last four years, something he would definitely like to hide. Line 2, the Inner Center, shows him trying to extend the gathering to all, seeking acceptance in the circle of the Elect by making sacrifice after sacrifice of his ideals in a spirit of compromise that could never work. This is quite possibly what led to the devastating off year elections that lost him control of Congress.
Line 3, the Threshold, shows him now, lamenting over the missed chances and futile compromises in which he lost so much of his integrity and power to effect change. I see these as, among others, as his collusion with the CIA and Homeland Security; his feeble stance toward the Oil Industry and Medical conglomerates; his policies that have made the war in Afghanistan the longest war in American history, lining the pockets of what Eisenhower so aptly called the Military-Industrial Complex; and his blind and self-serving support of the War on Drugs. Here he must choose between focusing on his real ideals again and going forward or continuing to adapt to what his political advisors and his need for celebrity want him to do, something that brings nothing but distress.
Line 5, the Outer Center or place of power tells him that he does not need to continue to be a victim of the play of political and cultural power. His true ideals are an ever-flowing source of inspiration. If only he can return to his real base, all cause of sorrow will disappear. He can make his ideals and visions an enduring part of the American Dream (32 Relating Figure). Bringing about this Breakthrough and Parting from the Past (43 Heart Theme of the Relating Figure) will be the challenge he faces as the Water Dragon reveals the past that is hidden.
The old character shows a hand holding a jade baton, a token of identity that confers the right to speak in the King’s court.
A critical moment, a breakthrough; make a decision and announce it; divide, cut off, separate, part from the past; act clearly, move quickly, be resolute; prompt, certain, clear; the parting of two rivers, a parting of the ways; clean out old wounds, bring the hidden to light. Heart Theme: 1 Inspiring Force of the Dragon.
In the last episode, we looked at what America is hiding in this election year presided over by the Water Dragon, what that Water Dragon would bring to light in unpredictable and explosive ways.
What came out was the Calvinist ethic that has shaped American culture since its beginnings, the ethic of the Elect, those whom God gives wealth and power and who are guaranteed eternal salvation, and the Preterite or Damned from birth, who are locked into poverty and have no hope of redemption. This social and theological structure is guaranteed by the literal reading of Christian scriptures.
Anything not contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures is to be rejected; anything that is contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures must be followed unwaveringly. These ideas were described by Change as the Ghosts that Haunt Old Tombs, ghosts from which America must disentangle itself if it is to have a hope of reconnecting to its great mandate for transformation. The theme for it all might be this “koan” from Daodejing (Book I, 18), which I’ve recently translated:
When the Great Way is forgotten
humanity and morality appear.
When intellect and erudition appear
the Great Fraud begins.
When the families of men can no longer live in harmony
duty, devotion and parental love appear.
When the nation is completely benighted
loyalty and patriotism appear.
Thus we hear of those
who “serve with devotion.”
So, quite a while ago I asked two other questions that might give us a bit of insight into the whole circus of Election Year.
The first question was: What is Romney hiding?
The Response showed him as someone trapped and imprisoned by the beliefs, duties and privileges of the Elect, completely cut off from the life-water or Well of common humanity.
47 Confining/Oppression KUN
The old character shows the tree of life inside an enclosure, a big mouth or ramshackle house that threatens to engulf it.
This is an ongoing process (63 Core Theme) coming from his past that will continue unchanged into the future, something that he will not deviate from. It reflects his upbringing and beliefs, his social position and his agenda. Concealing this past and, in fact, trying to turn his “crimes” into virtues colors all his attempts to communicate, to express the spirit in the human community (58 Relating Figure). But Change says the words he uses “are not to be trusted.”
Though this question was posed a while ago, the statements that he made (then tried to deny) about the “47%” are a perfect example of the ethic of the Elect:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Romney’s role, he said, “is not to worry about those people” for, as we have seen in the Calvinist ethic, they are damned from birth and cannot be helped or saved. And it is God who has made this judgment.
The single Transforming Line (first line/Beginnings) brings up a striking image of where he is imprisoned and just what he is hiding. It shows someone who has been punished for serious crimes – “buttocks flayed with bamboo rods” – retreating into the shadows to hide what has occurred. I can’t help but think of all the rumors circulating about his very shady financial dealings and “out-sourcing” on the one hand, and his complete collusion with the very rich, greedy and fundamentalist Christians who embody the spirit of Calvin in our times on the other. But whatever these hidden shadows are, they stand little chance of being kept secret when the Water Dragon is moving in the Ghost River.
In the Chinese calendar, this is the year of the Water Dragon, an unpredictable and explosive creative force hidden in the dark waters of the Ghost River, the river of souls and of our personal and collective past. This Ghost River is something like what western astrologers call the Twelfth House, a place of prisons, concealment and repression where we store everything we don’t want to know about ourselves and our history. In the year of the Water Dragon, the Ghost River is activated. It’s a time when the hidden comes to light, so expect the unexpected. It’s also election year in the United States and everyone’s complexes are out there running wild. So, in the spirit of the Water Dragon and the advent of Living Change, I decided to ask the Change two questions that might give us a bit of insight into the whole electoral circus:
What is Romney hiding?
What is Obama hiding?
But in the course of preparing this blog, Change insisted there was another question that had to be answered first:
What is America hiding?
The images that came up when I posed this question showed America, collectively, as a 56 Sojourner (Primary Figure) on a journey far from the center facing a 28 Great Transition (Heart Theme), a moment of truth when it must stand alone and reject all collective wisdom, traditional moral platitudes, cultural stereotypes and personal greed. Where America wants and needs to go was expressed as 45 Gathering the resources, material, human and spiritual for a great new project that could be of benefit to all (Relating Figure). The Lines or Voices in this reading showed us poised between two disasters, burning up our rest house and all that supports us at this moment of transition (Line 3) and burning up our nest and losing all our cattle, the place where we live and what feeds us, our reservoir of wealth (Line 6). To me, these Lines represent what happened after our last President announced the War on Terror and promised that we would “spread death and destruction to the four quarters of the world in defense of our great nation” and the military adventures that followed, adventures that have bankrupted the nation financially and morally and established a virtual police state that has siphoned America’s wealth into the pockets of what Eisenhower so aptly called the Military Industrial Complex.
However between this Scylla and Charybdis of total disaster, there is, in the centers of power (Line 5) the chance of making a connection with what is hidden or repressed and rediscovering our true mandate for change. The best possible strategy in this critical time, the Ideal, is to focus on:
25:26 Disentangling and Accumulating the Spirit portrays the process of disentangling from the cultural ghosts that haunt old tombs and institutions and nurturing the spirit of the new through contact with the ancient sources of wisdom and the oracle books.
Circle of Meanings
Disentangling from negative emotions: lies, deceit, disorder, mania and disequilibrium; pure, spontaneous, unplanned, unexpected, freed from confusion; an exorcism and purification from plague, miasma and the demons of the past. Heart Theme: 53 Gradual Progress to the symbolic world.
Yin and Yang, Great and Small
To make this connection with the hidden, we have to go back to what I was talking about when I saw the Pairs and Pairing as the central Engine of Change. The oldest image of these Pairs is the Gates of Change, the Dragon/Heaven and the Dark Animal Goddess/Earth which became the well-known pair, yin and yang. But in the old myth world the two powers were directly embodied in two other words that represent stances or qualities of the will. These are the oldest words for yin and yang. They are personal processes, not abstract qualities.
Da, great, calls upon you to be great and strong. It means to collect your strength, organize yourself around a central idea or purpose, impose your will and act to help and protect others. The Great Person is someone who has done this, who has acquired power and wealth. The Great People are ancestor spirits and those through whom they manifest blessings: great rulers, sages, ritual experts and diviners, people in contact with the bright spirit that offers great insight and the power to manifest it.
Xiao, small, calls upon you to be flexible and supple, letting go of your sense of self-importance and yielding in a spontaneous and flexible way. The Small Person is one who must adapt to whatever crosses his path. . Traditionally, the Small People were those without lands or patrimony who had to take service with a lord and were subject to his whims and commands. They could hope to influence their situation only through adaptation and inner work. The Small Person became a Daoist byword for those who could see the small beginnings of change, unencumbered by pride and complication.
In the world of Change these processes or orientations of the will are the tools of the Realizing Person, the person whose goal is use Change to act in accord with the Way and accumulate the power and virtue to become who he or she was meant to be. In later China, and in our culture, they were frozen or literalized as definitions of social classes.
Now historians of religion and culture in America are in virtually unanimous agreement that the most significant founding images in the formation of America’s social and spiritual identity come from the work of John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin created the patterns and thought that would dominate Western culture throughout the modern period. American culture, in particular, is thoroughly Calvinist in some form or another. He built his church on the concept that salvation was not a choice, but was rather pre-decided by God.
God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.
This mean that individuals were elected for salvation by God and this Elect forms the population of the Calvinist church, “living saints” who are guaranteed salvation no matter what they do here on earth. Further, God would show his selection of the Elect by conferring the blessings of wealth and power upon them. Thus those possessing wealth and power are, by definition, God’s Elect, guaranteed eternal salvation. These are the Great People in the American definition. The Preterite or Damned from birth, on the other hand, are the Small People, locked into poverty. Nothing can or should be done to help them, for they are excluded from the community of living saints, the Elect.
Calvin also insisted on the literal reading of Christian scriptures. Anything not contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures was to be rejected; on the other hand, anything that was contained explicitly and literally in these scriptures was to be followed unwaveringly. Not only should all religious belief be founded on the literal reading of Scriptures, but church organization, political organization, and society itself should be founded on this literal reading.
These are precisely the “Ghosts that Haunt Old Tombs” from which America must disentangle itself in this Election Year if it is to have a hope of reconnecting to its great mandate for Change.