Return to The Well:
The Transformative Insight of Hexagram 48

How did Hexagram 48
transform my creative life?

Context: Anxiety and Pandemic
By the start of January 2020, I was growing anxious at my previous job. I had slight tremors in my hands and arms. I also lost the joy of doing my tasks. It was the beginning of a personal crisis, questioning again the choices I made for myself. My mental health was compromised. Despite earning well and the promise of a long-term career, I encountered episodes of personal setbacks in team leadership, work dynamics, and the loss of my creative autonomy and creative flow.

March came, strict quarantine had just started. I had no issues working at home. In fact, I benefited well from not spending long rush hours of bus rides to the Metro. I never watch the news, so I was less worried about the events and happenings around me. Yet the feelings of anxiety got worsened. I suppose feeling anxious is the milieu of the times, the collective spirit of the world. Anxiety is as contagious as the virus in these pandemic days. I was no more immune than everyone else.

Hexagram 48 Reading
When such a crisis comes, I have my ever-reliable Yijing to consult for clarity. After a nerve-wracking workplace situation, I asked Yijing this question: What can I expect after this situation?

I got Hexagram 48, The Well. As always, the most striking insight I get from this hexagram is this:

The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed.

This decision remark reminded me to pay attention to the unchanging foundations of my life. Three things came to my mind: first, facilitation, as I love gathering people and holding space for them; second, poetry and writing it because it always brings me so much joy and relief in times of distress; and third, of course, is practicing Yijing – reading it for myself and for others, and witnessing the clarity they experience after receiving their insights.

Hexagram 48 instructed me further with Line 5 changing, and it says:

Line 5
In the well there is a clear, cold spring
From which one can drink.

So Yijing has nudged me to return to my well, my source of life-giving water. Without a doubt, I knew where to come back. I always know deep inside where my home is, the source of my inner life.

Jing or The Well, Chinese Seal Script (left) from Alfred Huang’s book The Complete I Ching

Return to the Well
In the first week of April 2020, I gave a series of short Yijing readings to my friends. I felt so refreshed and energized. Almost every day, every golden hour, I set my table with my Yijing kit (3 coins, a singing bowl, a Yijing notebook, red and black calligraphy pens, and a nice casting cloth). It was my late afternoon-early evening ritual, and I was always inspired and renewed.

I also participated in two poetry events – one was a poetry reading for a cause and the other was doing a quick FB live poetry workshop. Before April ended, an intuitive message (I call it bulong, whisper) just came to me to start a 9-week poetry class. Here’s the catch: I started it with nothing but an empty outline and one image: the well.

I was doubtful then. Nine weeks is too long and daunting, I thought. But the bulong was insistent. Go on, it said. For some reason, my intuition and creativity have guided me well since the beginning. TI called this poetry class Tungko, a three-legged outdoor stove. The first leg is the first lesson, which is the lesson of the well. is primarily based on the metaphor of the well. This return to the well is the return to our inner source of creativity, intuition, and well-being.. I have completed teaching 4 batches. Many participants have finally awakened their poetry and renewed their deep creative inspirations!

Back to my Well-Being
In my training as a facilitator, I am guided by the core concept of ginhawa, which roughly means breath and well-being. Returning, becoming, and embodying the well is fulfilling my well-being. They are all central to my creativity and practice of poetry, facilitation, and Yijing. The image of the well, Hexagram 48, serves as the essential metaphor for how to be a thriving creative in these difficult times. I am always reminded of this image:

This image, which I jokingly call “the ancient hashtag” because of its striking resemblance, is one powerful source of so many insights. Here are a few of them:

The well is deep and unseen. It needs some serious digging.Creativity and well-being are our deep inner work.
The well remains an unchanging source, a giver of life and wealth.Creativity and well-being are always a source of personal power
Mud mixes with water. As water overflows, it washes away the mud.Confusions and problems affect us. Creativity and well-being help us get clearer.
The well is accessible in the middle of the neighborhood and fields, so it can supply enough water.Creativity and well-being give benefit not just to us but to our community.

These are just a few notes as I contemplate the nature and meaning of the well. After having facilitated almost 80 poetry class sessions, I have heard so many personal insights shared by student-participants (I call them Katungko) that defy any trite explanation and expand the well as a wild, beautiful, and rich metaphor of creativity and well-being.

Here’s a video of my talk on creativity and well-being hosted by 23Sampaguita Creative Space, an artists’ collective based in Baguio City. (Apologies to non-Filipino speakers, because in the meantime, the video has no English subtitles).

Transformative Insight
Transformation in life is not some grand, rags-to-riches story. It can be subtle, simple, and straightforward, like the well itself. A well becomes a well simply by patiently digging. What was once a piece of land has become a source of water. Transformation in us also happens this way. In our patience of doing our inner work, our self-rediscovery, we are eventually giving space for our creativity to flourish.

Personally, this is the transformation that Hexagram 48 has led me. As I begin to return to poetry and poetry writing, the well in me has invited me to share my creativity and well-being with a greater community. Many participants have returned to poetry. Some have grieved using poetry. Other have coped well during quarantine. Many of them have revived other artistic pursuits. They have healed their relationships, found inner calm, renewed their spirituality, reclaimed their self-worth, and regained their self-confidence. Here are transformations often not-so-worthy to the eyes of media and popular opinion but deeply valuable and life-changing to every single person who became part of the class.

When I returned to my well, others also returned to their own wells. When my well has opened, their wells have become wide-open, too. Our inner well is always ready to supply us with life-giving water of creativity and well-being. This is the gift and miracle that Hexagram 48 has brought into my life, born out of a simple Yijing reading.

(I also invite you to check out this POST on how Yijing can help spiritual-creatives like yourself.)


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