I-Ching Reading for 2017 – Year of the Firebird

firebirdI-Ching reading for the Berkeley Shambhala Center, 2017, year of the Firebird

Following Sakyong Mipham’s Shambhala Day address, March 27, 2017, eight of us walked from Inspiration Point in Tilden Park to Wildcat Peak for the annual I-Ching reading for the Berkeley Shambhala Center: BSC Director Rees Sweeny-Taylor, Shastri Charlene Leung, Andrea Roth, Christine Nesbitt, Scott Tracy, April Atencio, Jason Manto, and Bob Pressnall (who edited the text, retained the given gender identification).

“How can we engage in the chaos?” was our mutual question on behalf of BSC:

Using three coins, we consulted the I-Ching or Book of Changes, Wihelm/Baynes, edition, and received the following hexagrams: #8, Pi / Holding Together (Union) with changing lines in the first and fifth places, and #24, Fu / Return (The Turning Point). 

Below is a summary of the reading for Hexagram #8, Pi / Holding Together (Union)       

Upper trigram: K’an, the Abysmal, Water

Lower trigram: K’un, the Receptive, Earth

Commentary: The waters on the surface of the earth flow together wherever they can, as for example in the ocean, where all the rivers come together. Symbolically this connotes holding together and the laws that regulate it. In human affairs, the yielding lines hold together because they are influenced by a man of strong will in the leading position, a man at their center of union. Moreover, this strong and guiding personality in turn holds together with the others, finding in them the complement of his own nature.


Holding Together brings good fortune.

Inquire of the oracle once again

Whether you possess sublimity, constancy, and perseverance;

Then there is no blame

Those who are uncertain gradually join.

Whoever comes too late

Meets with misfortune

Commentary: What is required is that we unite with others, in order that all may complement and aid one another through holding together. This calls for a central figure around whom other persons unite. This leadership requires greatness of spirit, consistency, and strength. Anyone attempting the task without a real calling for it only makes confusion worse than if no union at all had taken place. But when there is a real rallying point, those who at first are hesitant or uncertain gradually come in of their own accord. Latecomers must suffer the consequences, for in holding together the question of the right time is also important. Common experiences strengthen these ties. If a man has recognized the necessity for union and does not feel strong enough to function as the center, it is his duty to become a member of some other organic fellowship.


On the earth is water:

The image of Holding Together.

Thus the kings of antiquity

Bestowed the different states as fiefs

And cultivated friendly relations

With the feudal lords.

Commentary: The social organization of ancient China was based on this principle of holding together of dependents and rulers. Water flows to unite with water, because all parts of it are subject to the same laws. So too should Human society hold together through a community of interests that allows each individual to be respected and to feel himself a member of a whole.


Six at the beginning:

Hold to him in truth and loyalty;

This is without blame.

Truth, like a full earthen bowl:

Thus in the end

Good fortune comes from without.

Commentary: Fundamental sincerity is the only proper basis for forming relationships. This attitude, symbolized by a full earthen bowl, in which the content is everything and the empty form nothing, shows itself not in clever words but through the strength of what lies within the speaker. This strength has the power to attract good fortune to itself from without.

Nine in the fifth place means

Manifestation of holding together.

In the hunt the king uses beaters on three sides only

And foregoes game that runs off in front.

The citizens need no warning.

Good fortune.

Commentary: This depicts a ruler, or influential man, to whom people are attracted. Those who come to him he accepts, those who do not come are allowed to go their own way. He invites none, flatters none – all come of their own free will. In this way there develops a voluntary dependence among those who hold together.

Because of the changing lines, the following hexagram is suggested:

Hexagram #24 Fu / Return (The Turning Point)

Upper trigram: K’un, the Receptive, Earth

Lower trigram: Chen, the Arousing Thunder

Commentary: The time of darkness is past. This brings the victory of light.


Return. Success.

Going out and coming in without error.

Friends come without blame.

To and fro goes the way.

On the seventh day comes return.

It furthers on to have somewhere to go.

Commentary: After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force. It is natural, arising spontaneously.  Therefore, it is not necessary to hasten anything artificially. This is the meaning of heaven and earth.


Thunder within the earth:


Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes

At the time of solstice.

Merchants and strangers did not go about,

And the ruler

Did not travel through the provinces.

Commentary: Movement is just at its beginning; therefore, it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely. Everything must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return may lead to a flowering.