23 – splitting apart

Here and now… where exactly am I – and with whom or what do I share this here-and-now?

Kun is navel gazing. It is a call to retreat to our own origins as a source of power and to calm down. But what does it look like, this intimate place, our inner source of strength? Do you like what you see? Does it give you strength – or it is just a collection of things (or people, or options, or, or), which creates an illusion of security? Things never give security. And at worst they clutter and block our lives.

So: let go of it, drop unnecessary ballast. Like a snake shedding its skin…

Scope of Questions
  • One user writes: “I am in the initial phase of a long-time desired change and suddenly I am tormented by very severe, persistent neck pain. My question to the I Ching is: ‘What do these neck aches want to “tell” me, what do they point to?'”
  • Another user describes her situation as follows: “About a year ago, I met a young man who, like me at that time, was having troubles to split apart from his former partner. Recently we met again, this time both freshly separated. We share dinners and nights talking and dancing, hanging out, We have a very beautiful relationship but not a romantic one. We like each other and our relationship is nothing more than a supportive, happy and healthy one.
    He was only temporarily in my city, now he left for other job with no real idea of what he will do after that, where to take root and what to do in general with his own life.
    I asked the I Ching what can I do to drive him to me in a romantic way for a serious relationship; the answer is hexagram 23 – decomposition.”
  • A user asks: “What kind of approach / working method is best suitable for my artistic work?” Hexagram 23 – splitting apart comes up as a variant of hexagram 35 – progress.

Some Reflections

Hexagram 23 – splitting apart starts with the same lower trigram as does hexagram 35 – progress: Kun (the earth). But unlike 35 – progress Kun presents not only the lower trigram but also both core characters. In the hexagram’s upper trigram Kun finally transforms into Gen (the mountain).
The German title of hexagram 23 reads “decomposition”, a word with quite negative connotations. The English title, “splitting apart”, sounds more neutral and also seems to be closer to the Chinese title “Bo”, which means “to peel, to strip off” or “to crack, to tear”.
But let us took at the trigrams first. Kun (lower trigram, first and second core character) reminds us of the place we currently at, here and now, and invites us to a thorough inventory: Where exactly am I? What have I already achieved? How secure is my own standing? What are my resources? What supports me, what holds me?
Kun is navel-gazing. It is a call to retreat to our own origins as a source of power and to calm down. It is a private moment, an intimate soliloquy, excluding our environment. A few months ago when interpreting hexagram 20 – contemplation I described a double Kun as follows: a wave that rolls back into the sea, concentrating and drawing new strength.
And in fact: if we answer the above questions we will become aware of our own resources and later we can use them as a source of strength for the road that lies ahead.
In the upper trigram Kun finally evolves into to Gen (the mountain). During our earthy inventory we may have noticed things that represent unnecessary weight, that block our forces and weaken us. This could be physical objects, thinking patterns, value judgments or attitudes we do no longer – or have never – identified with.
So why do we still hold on to them? They make us fees safe – although this sense of safety isn’t but a theoretical construct. In fact they are unnecessary, they claim space and they block us. Here the hexagram ‘s title comes back into play: “Bo” with its meanings “to peel, to strip off, to crack, to tear”. To let things go is like a snake’s shedding. And Gen, the mountain, invites us to do just that. We create room for the new to come, we free our previously blocked forces and become all new…
To release and let go is an art. I recently read an inspiring interview with Birgit Medele, see below. What she says about closets, of course applies to our entire life as well.

How to separate properly
chrismon: Why would I ever want to clean things out?
Birgit Medele: Because it frees you. You’ll have more time, things gain their own momentum. Outside order creates inside order and clarity. Cleanup provides you with a launching pad to fly away.
Fly away? It’s only about things …
It’s never just about things. It’s about the stories they tell, about memories, future plans …  Objects are props in the theater of our lives. If we never clean up our life stage, we are doomed to repeat old performances. …
What exactly is ballast?
Anything you do not use or like. On a deeper level it also includes all unfinished issues: an unfinished sweater, unread magazines, books from study drop-outs…
But to own many things also gives us a sense of security.
This is a misunderstanding. Security is never bound to things. It lies in our certainty to handle just about anything in life…
And what happens when our closets are empty – except that our closets are empty?
If you no longer have to search, to pack and unpack, you are thrown back to the big questions. Why am I here? Where does my current journey lead me to? You will see that you set out on a path. Wie man sich anständig trennt – Chrismon

Yes: letting go. Letting go of everything that doesn’t really belong to you. On the one hand there is no patent recipe for this. On the other hand this principle can be applied in many different fields. Even in art. A few years ago I wrote an article on the subject of letting go in the artistic process.

What is art?
There are… two absolutely opposite approaches to creating art: on one hand a kind of trade-off art (art against consideration [commissioned art]), on the other uncommissioned private art which solely follows the artist’s innermost impulses.
Today artists are considered entrepreneurs. Art is considered a job with which you can earn enough to live on. … This is why, eventually, the artist’s focus may gradually shift from internal sensitivities to external weather conditions and at some point practical constraints will require him to work towards the audience expectations: only art that meets the jury’s or public’s taste is promoted and bought….
Unlike other entrepreneurs artists fuse reception of their goods and self-worth in a peculiar way: any market success is considered a personal success and should fill a deep longing for love. … So art is obviously about both, money and love, in varying mixing ratio….
De facto art is a lonesome, intensive, almost quite narcissistic occupation with one’s own sensitivities. For me, painting is an inner dialog, a soliloquy at whose end I am wiser….For me, practicing art resembles Zen a lot. Deprivation of praise and money (or the self elective abstinence of the art world) are like a test: what is really important? What is important to me? This way my focus shifts from the public’s taste towards my own personal statement. However, creating this kind of art inevitably requires me to be my own sponsor. Soika, Karin Ulrike. What is Art?

The current interpretation can be found here: http://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/888887.htm