24 – return

In earth’s dark womb something is happening: a decision (Zhen) has been taken and is now followed by a long phase of growth and materialization (Kun). I do not know which is harder: the decision, or the patience.

Our decision should be clear, consistent with our deepest self, unaffected by our day-mind and/or our cultural environment. A decision that reflects us as a whole, as the one who we are. And exactly this kind of a decision we then entrust to the world – just as if we planted the perfect seed into earth’s dark womb. And give it space and time, so that it can materialize and come into life.

Scope of Questions

In the meantime I received two more inquiries regarding hexagram 24 – Return:

  • A user asked I Ching: “How can I deal with a person in my environment who tries to do damage to me and seems to keep on doing so?” The person in question is mentally ill. Already there have been clarifying discussions, false allegations put into circulation to create confusion had turned out to be insubstantial. Unfortunately the whole issue still goes on.
  • For a little over a year, a user has repeatedly caught flues. So far she could not find any physical or psychological cause. She finds it difficult to accept these involuntary periods of rest. Her question to the I Ching: “What supports me in times of my disease?
  • A user asks the I Ching the following question: “What is the highest and best advice regarding my financial struggles?”. The I Ching answers with 24 – Return.
Case Study

Hexagram 24 – return begins with a yang line, followed by the five yin lines. The lower trigram is Zhen, the thunder, followed by a triple Kun (the earth): first and second core character and upper trigram.
In earth’s dark womb something is happening: a decision (Zhen) has been taken and is now followed by a long phase of growth and materialization. Or, to use a more concrete picture: something happens, the embryo grows, the plant returns – but yet we see nothing of it.
And this is very unsettling.
This spring I decided to sow basil myself, rather than buying it from the gardener already germinated. So I prepared pot and soil, bought some seeds and planted them. Nothing happened. Every day I inspected my pot and thought, “Perhaps the seeds were not good? Maybe a bird pecked the seeds from the soil? Shall I sow again?” I was tempted to poke around in the earth, to see if anything was happening.
I did nothing. I curbed my curiosity and uncertainty (“Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes at the time of solstice…”). And waited.
Basil - on my windowsillTen days later the miracle happened: my basil germinated. Green! (Incidentally, it was written on the package…)
So what is the advice the I Ching gives with hexagram 24 – return? I think, first of all, it’s about making a clear decision. A decision that is consistent with our deepest self, unaffected by our day-mind and/or our cultural environment. A decision that reflects us as a whole, as the one who we are. In other words: choosing the best seed!
And then we are invited to give time and space to this decision, to this seed that we planted into the world. So that it can materialize and come into life.
I do not know what is harder: the decision, or the patience. Because, as with my basil, something is happening without me seeing it. Usually we continuously do things, we act, we push, we move. And to my experience this is why we take more and more decisions instead of allowing the ones already taken some time to grow. We sow and sow… maybe because we distrust our own decisions? I definitively distrusted my basil seeds….
Not-acting, letting things grow at their own pace, not interfering: this is Wu Wei. And it is very hard for us. But it is probably also the highest and best advice the hexagram gives: not interfering.

PS: Perhaps planting some basil is also a good idea. In India basil is a sacred plant, consecrated to god Vishnu and a symbol of his wife, the goddess Lakshmi. This is why basil (Tulsi) stands for protection, health and: prosperity!

The current interpretation can be found here: http://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/788888.htm