18 – work on what has been spoiled

Is something wrong here? And if so: what is it? A dynamic development ends unexpectedly with a reality check – why? Momentum is basically positive. It turns unpleasant if the autopilot takes control. Autopilot occurs when a situation’s dynamic no longer comes from our own interior, but is determined by external (eventually cultural) imprint. A reality check is quite beneficial: Do I really enjoy what is currently happening? Does it make sense? Does it corresponds to my very heart – or is it a copy of someone else’s life? The answers to these questions will lead to a decision. And probably you must let go of something: maybe the autopilot, which was in control until now?

Scope of Questions
  • A user asks the I Ching the following question: “XY wants no more contact with me, quite abruptly and without explanation. I do not know what is going on and would like to understand what I shall do now. On one hand I am still full of hope that he gets back to me. On the other hand, I wonder if I should let him go and reorient myself.“ The I Ching’s answer is 18 – work on what has been spoiled.
  • One user writes about problems in the family, a lot of heartache. He asks, “What can I do/change? “*

* In this case the original hexagram is 57 – the gentle. The fifth line changes to hexagram 18 – work on what has been spoiled.

Case Study

The character Gu, the Chinese name of the hexagram 18 – work on what has been spoiled, is a bowl full of worms, which reminds me of the German phrase “Something has a worm in it.” (something is complicated, spoiled, buggy). In the older I Ching of Mawangdui hexagram 18 is called Ge, stalk of a bamboo, a symbol of flexibility and stability.
The situation the user describes “has a worm in it”. Dynamic growth (Sun, the wind / tree; lower trigram) comes to an unexpected end through the environment’s feedback (Dui, the lake; first core character).
Why didn’t things go on and on? What put such a sudden end to Sun, dynamic growth? The user’s relationship developed well, dynamically, gaining momentum – and is suddenly questioned. Dui refers to a reality check: does that what is currently happening make sense for everybody who is involved? Does it – or does it not? Maybe Sun, dynamic growth, has gained a momentum that was no longer pleasant to one of the involved. But why?
Momentum is actually a positive characteristic of dynamic growth (Sun). However, sometimes momentum goes on autopilot and this may feel uncomfortable, even scary. To put it in an image: Two people discover a small cart along the road. They get it going, enjoy it and each other, push it, jump on it. The small cart is now rolling down the road at comfortable speed. Gradually, nobody notices it, the road becomes steep. The cart runs faster. To the right and left of the path walls appear, growing higher, the road becomes narrow.
Autopilot arises when a situation’s dynamic no longer comes from our own interior, but is determined by external (eventually cultural) imprint. We all carry imprints within ourselves. We received them from our parents, from our environment. We can perceive them if we just observe carefully. If we do not, sooner or later they will take control of our lives. Eventually we will end up sitting in a cart racing along a narrow road – without control.
A reality check (Dui, the lake; first core character) is beneficial. Do I really enjoy what is currently happening? Does it corresponds to my very heart – or is it a copy of someone else’s life? Maybe riding the cart no longer tastes like freedom and independence – but like confinement and hopelessness.
Dui, reality check, is followed by Zhen, the thunder (second core character): one of the involved jumps off the cart which runs on autopilot. And gains back control over his/her life.
Hexagram 18 – work on what has been spoiled ends with Gen, the mountain (upper trigram). Release. The act of decision (Zhen) separates things: in that what is, and what is to keep – and that what should be released (Gen). To release imprints which are not ours is a good start. The classical texts state: “The work on what has been spoiled (18) leads to reorganization.”
Both names of the hexagram (Gu = a bowl full of worms, Ge = stalk of a bamboo) give us important clues: A situation which contains a worm, is best confronted with flexibility while remaining true to ourselves (stability).

The current interpretation can be found here: http://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/877887.htm