Answering Love Life
How did Yijing answer someone’s
longing for a relationship?
Is there something for my LOVE LIFE?
I keep on receiving this question (and its many versions) and I would always reply the same thing: Of course! Yijing answers that. Especially that question, because it is both an interesting and sensitive topic that needs clarity.
Love life is an enduring human concern. Age, gender, culture and social class don’t really matter, as long as people are called to romantically love each other. Anthropologist Helen Fisher1 says that romantic love is a “universal human experience” because “it is deeply embedded in the architecture and chemistry of the human brain.”
Hexagrams of Marriage
In fact, Yijing has several hexagram passages about marriage, of which Hexagram 54 Marrying Maiden is the most direct. Yijing scholar Stephen Field describes this hexagram:
The hexagram describes the marriage of a Shang princess, a daughter of King Di Yi, to Chang, Earl of the West, otherwise known as King Wen. This was the standard procedure for subduing a recalcitrant neighbor short of going to war with him.2Stephen L. Field, The Duke of Zhou Changes
Yes, it is a tradition of arranged marriage, as it is true in many ancient Asian marriage traditions, possibly still practiced in some remote minorities in Asia. It’s unimaginable in our more contemporary understanding of marriage. But my point of sharing this is to show that marriage is basically an important concern in ancient China, frequently consulted in the past, since getting married, then and now, is always a big decision.
Love Life and Romantic Relationship
Of course, in these days before getting married, the next most relevant concern is love life and romantic relationship. The gravity of this commitment is almost equal to the gravity of marriage. People are more empowered now in making their own choices, finding their own mates, and living together for life. Getting into a relationship, just like getting married, is really a serious business that old folks warn young people not to fool around. It is immortally codified in this FIlipino saying,
…hindi parang kaning isusubo, iluluwa kung mapaso.
(not like spitting rice out when the mouth gets burnt)
Having growing kids and facing a new chapter, my newfound friend named Arcy (not her real name) is wondering what’s in store for her in her relationship journey a year after separating from her ex-husband. We cast her lines and we got unchanging Hexagram 8, Seeking Union which says:
Hexagram 8, Seeking Union
Seeking union, good fortune.
At the origin of oracle consultation,
From the source, ever-flowing constancy
How does this hexagram answer her reading?
Strikingly accurate for this reading, Hexagram 8 speaks Arcy’s exact intention – she wants to find a rewarding relationship. What makes it more accurate is not just found in the text, but also in its Chinese character:
Yijing practitioner Lise Heyboer writes about this ideogram:
The old diviners gave this combination of trigrams a name: Bĭ. Having each other’s back or acting together as a group. Like water seeks and holds on to water when it moves over the earth, following the same road to the same destination.4Lise Heyboer, from yijing.nl
Bĭ is an image of two people walking together. One source interprets it as two people holding each other. These people can be a teacher and a student, two best friends, parents, or companions. But having a relationship inquiry like Arcy’s, the image immediately suggests two lovers. Can you see the similarities?
Not too late
Prior to the reading, Arcy had been doubting herself in entering a new relationship, given her age and family obligations. Her lingering feeling is that it might be too late for her to enter this game. This makes her reading more surprisingly accurate, as the last part of the decision remark for Hexagram 8 says:
…Not at rest, coming on all sides.
For the latecomer, pitfall.’
The word latecomer here, as it dawned on me, is not about “being on time”, but about her thoughts of being late in entering a new relationship, which can get her stuck. The line not at rest, coming on all sides is also affirmative, speaking of “possibilities” that can come to her from all directions.
What Arcy only needs to do is to connect more with people. The wise action in Hexagram 8 says:
The ancient kings founded countless cities
for relationship with all the feudal lords.
“Relationship” here is not exactly romantic, but about meeting new people, friends and communities. As if Yijing is telling Arcy “Go out, meet and connect with people!” That’s practical and promising.
When I was in high school, I heard this funny acronym circulating among my classmates. It’s called HHWW and it means Holding Hands While Walking. It’s so resonant with Hexagram 8 and its insight of finding a romantic companion. Whether you get Hexagram 8 in your reading or not, it remains as Yijing’s little affirmation of what it means to meet a person, and decidedly spend and grow your beautiful life with. It echoes what The Little Prince author Antoine St. Exupery once wrote:
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Happy Valentine’s Day to all!
1 Helen Fisher, Why We Love. (Henry Holt and Company, 2004)
2 Stephen L. Field, The Duke of Zhou Changes: A Study and Annotated Translation of the Zhouyi (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015)
3 Hilary Barrett, I Ching: Walking your path, Creating your future (Arcturus, 2015)
4 Lise Heyboer, yijing.nl/hex-stories/08-story.html
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