31 – influence

Graphic hexagram 31And now a short recipe for… happiness! 1. Briefly take stock and examine what may be an unnecessary burden, blocking your forces and as a result weakening. Let go all of it! 2. This releases new energies are and off you go…. Without any active involvement from your side, something starts happening: unstoppably, relentlessly, pushing out from your own core. Like a caterpillar inside the cocoon turning into a butterfly, invisibly following its own perfect pathway.

3. As soon as this butterfly – our own true nature, our coherent self – has completed its metamorphosis it hatches out. 4. And opens its wings, immerses itself into the world: a gentle breeze, warm sunlight, the fragrance of nectar… pure happiness! Got the picture?

Scope of Questions

Hexagram 31 – Influence appeares in response to sometimes unusual situations:

  • A user was visited by a (her?) Totem animal. Because she did not understand the Totem animal’s message – it behaved unusual, aggressively and scary – she askes I Ching: “What is this animal’s purpose? Why is it here? What am I supposed to do, what am I missing?“
  • Another user asks: “How do I reach happiness?”
  • One user describes his situation as follows: “While I get a lot of good and positive feedback in my free time, I’ve been the target of harassment in my workplace lately. Now there is a change in leadership – what can I do to change the negative patterns at work?”

Case Study

The fourth question the user asks is: “How do I reach happiness?” And the I Ching answers with hexagram 31 – Influence. (FYI: Question 1 was “What is my current situation” with answer 12 – Standstill; question 2: “What good is in it and what comes next?” with answer 20 – Contemplation; question 30: “How do I get out of this?” with answer 30 – Clinging).

Interestingly enough hexagram 31 – Influence is a kind of continuation of the first answer the I Ching gave to the user: The initial yin-line of 12 – Standstill has moved to the 6th position in 31 – Influence .
As discussed earlier (see related links) the lower trigram Gen (the mountain) invites to let go of obsolete thing and/or thoughts. More specifically: in her earthly inventory (see related links: 12 – Stagnation and 20 – Contemplation) the user may have noticed things/thoughts that aren’t but an unnecessary burden, weakening and blocking her energies. By focusing on things/thoughts that strengthen her while letting go of debilitating patterns, she will be able to recover enough strength for the next step.
evolves into Sun, the wind / tree (first core character), describing growth that appears to be gentle but in fact is rather irresistible, almost unrelenting, a forward thrust from the inner self outward. This growth evolves with the same certainty that transforms the caterpillar in its cocoon into a butterfly: following an invisible, very specific, perfect path.
The result – the butterfly – is Qian, the heaven (second core character), our own, very clear and coherent self, our true nature.
I recently read the following quite appropriate text describing the self:

I perceived it as a “big inner brother”, a kind of wiser version of one self, with greater clarity and protective function. Something quiet, detached, fearless, something well connected to the source… And also other parts that are present, but restricted by the ego (ie strength, … something childlike, playful, pure, ….). Perhaps also an original version of the self without beliefs, fixations, addictions, etc. The original blueprint. Something very big, comprehensive…
von Egidy, Holm. Das Selbst im Inneren

This text is interesting because it applies contemporary concepts of psychology in describing something that  the Classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine call heart and shen. 31 – Influence’s sequence of trigrams  Gen (disengagement) – Sun (determined waxing) – Qian (self) shows one possible path of development towards coherent Shen.
The final trigram of 31 – Influence is Dui, the lake (upper trigram). The user’s initial question was “How do I reach happiness?” And I think, Dui gives a useful hint: Happiness evolves from our lively exchange with the world around us. The fully developed butterfly may perfectly embody the the idea of the ideal butterfly – but only as it opens its wings for the first time, feels the warm breeze, the sunlight, smells nectar, it is truly born. And the same is true for our self: it only comes alive in contact with the world.
And that is just that what Dui invites us to do: to open our boundaries and to devote ourselves to the interplay of assimilation (the external / the environment penetrates into our core) and releasing (we express our innermost outwardly).

The current interpretation can be found here: https://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/887778.htm