Politics/Law/Government

Who's gonna win? Let's ask the I Ching.

As is our custom in major elections, we decided to check up on Obama’s elections chances with the I Ching. We’ve done this before—in the UK elections in 2010, and the US presidential elections in 2008 (sorry, can’t find the link!) and 2004. The first two worked out pretty much as indicated by the I Ching—2004 didn’t, although I’ve always assumed that that was because the I Ching didn’t expect a stolen vote in Ohio. It’s hard to factor criminality into these things. That’s my rationalization, anyway.

And the news is good—Obama’s going to win. Good in this case is a relative term, but still—I voted for the guy. So what did the I Ching have to say? Well, it got complicated, because at first I thought it was stuck, because it gave me the same answer to two different questions, a practice question and the Obama question — Number 7, The Army. I do the practice question to see whether the site is a coin site or a stick site—I prefer the latter, mainly on aesthetic grounds. Now, in fact, it fit for both, but still, this seemed unlikely. So I went to a different site, with the practice question—and got a different answer. So back to the original site then, with the Obama question again, and a different answer—Number 35, Chin—Progress. Well, that’s it then—Romney is toast. Actually, this is a very interesting juxtaposition.

The I Ching, of course, isn’t really designed to answer yes/no questions—there are no hexagrams for Yes or No. But in most cases you can figure it out. And these are two pretty powerful answers, and pretty much in agreement. For The Army, this is what the commentary indicates (these are both from the Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes translation):

7. Shih / The Army
above K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH
below K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER

This hexagram is made up of the trigrams K’an, water, and K’un, earth, and thus it symbolizes the ground water stored up in the earth. In the same way military strength is stored up in the mass of the people–invisible in times of peace but always ready for use as a source of power. The attributes of the two trigrams are danger inside and obedience must prevail outside. Of the individual lines, the one that controls the hexagram is the strong nine in the second place, to which the other lines, all yielding, are subordinate. This line indicates a commander, because it stands in the middle of one of the two trigrams. But since it is in the lower rather than the upper trigram, it represents not the ruler but the efficient general, who maintains obedience in the army by his authority.

THE JUDGMENT THE ARMY.
The army needs perseverance
And a strong man.
Good fortune without blame.

An army is a mass that needs organization in order to become a fighting force. Without strict discipline nothing can be accomplished, but this discipline must not be achieved by force. It requires a strong man who captures the hearts of the people and awakens their enthusiasm. In order that he may develop his abilities he needs the complete confidence of his ruler, who must entrust him with full responsibility as long as the war lasts. But war is always a dangerous thing and brings with it destruction and devastation. Therefore it should not be resorted to rashly but, like a poisonous drug, should be used as a last recourse.

THE IMAGE In the middle of the earth is water:
The image of THE ARMY.
Thus the superior man increases his masses
By generosity toward the people.

Ground water is invisibly present within the earth. In the same way the military power of a people is invisibly present in the masses. When danger threatens, every peasant becomes present in the masses. When danger threatens, every peasant becomes a soldier; when the war ends, he goes back to his plow. He who is generous toward the people wins their love, and a people living under a mild rule becomes strong and powerful. Only a people economically strong can be important in military power. Such power must therefore be cultivated by improving the economic condition of the people and by humane government. Only when there is this invisible bond between government and people, so that the people are sheltered by their government as ground water is sheltered by the earth, is it possible to wage a victorious war.

THE LINES Six at the beginning means:
An army must set forth in proper order.
If the order is not good, misfortune threatens.

At the beginning of a military enterprise, order is imperative. A just and valid cause must exist, and the obedience and coordination of the troops must be well organized, otherwise the result is inevitably failure.

Nine in the second place means:
In the midst of the army.
Good fortune. No blame.

The king bestows a triple decoration. The leader should be in the midst of his army, in touch with it, sharing good and bad with the masses he leads. This alone makes him equal to the heavy demands made upon him. He needs also the recognition of the ruler. The decorations he receives are justified, because there is no question of personal preferment here: the whole army, whose center he is, is honored in his person.

Six in the third place means:
Perchance the army carries corpses in the wagon.
Misfortune.

Here we have a choice of two explanations. One points to defeat because someone other than the chosen leader interferes with the command; the other is similar in its general meaning, but the expression, “carries corpses in the wagon,” is interpreted differently. At burials and at sacrifices to the dead it was customary in China for the deceased to whom the sacrifice was made to be represented by a boy of the family, who sat in the dead man’s place and was honored as his representative. On the basis of this custom the text is interpreted as meaning that a “corpse boy” is sitting in the wagon, or, in other words, that authority is not being exercised by the proper leaders but has been usurped by others. Perhaps the whole difficulty clears up if it is inferred that there has been an error in copying. The character fan, meaning “all,” may have been misread as shih, which means “corpse.” Allowing for this error, the meaning would be that if the multitude assumes leadership of the army (rides in the wagon), misfortune will ensue.

Six in the fourth place means:
The army retreats. No blame.

In the face of a superior enemy, with whom it would be hopeless to engage in battle, an orderly retreat is the only correct procedure, because it will save the army from defeat and disintegration. It is by no means a sign of courage or strength to insist upon engaging in a hopeless struggle regardless of circumstances.

Six in the fifth place means:
There is game in the field.
It furthers one to catch it.
Without blame.
Let the eldest lead the army.
The younger transports corpses;
Then perseverance brings misfortune.

Game is in the field–it has left its usual haunts in the forest and is devastating the fields. This points to an enemy invasion. Energetic combat and punishment are here thoroughly justified, but they must not degenerate into a wild melee in which everyone fends for himself. Despite the greatest degree of perseverance and bravery, this would lead to misfortune. The army must be directed by an experienced leader. It is a matter of waging war, not of permitting the mob to slaughter all who fall into their hands; if they do, defeat will be the result, and despite all perseverance there is danger of misfortune.

Six at the top means:
The great prince issues commands,
Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.

The war has ended successfully, victory is won, and the king divided estates and fiefs among his faithful vassals. But it is important that inferior people should not come into power. If they have helped, let them be paid off with money, but they should not be awarded lands or the privileges of rulers, lest power be abused.

This all seems pretty straightforward—we’re clearly waging a campaign. I particularly like the commentary for the fifth (yang, dominant) line—this pretty much characterizes what’s going on. But the whole thing rings true—and it’s pretty clear that by referring to “an experienced leader,” we’re not talking about Romney.

And for Progress, here’s the commentary:

35. Chin / Progress
above LI THE CLINGING, FIRE
below K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH

The hexagram represents the sun rising over the earth. It is therefore the symbol of rapid, easy progress, which at the same time means ever widening expansion and clarity.

THE JUDGMENT
PROGRESS. The powerful prince
Is honored with horses in large numbers.
In a single day he is granted audience three times.

As an example of progress, this pictures a time when a powerful feudal lord rallies the other lords around the sovereign and pledges fealty and peace. The sovereign rewards him richly and invites him to a closer intimacy.

A twofold idea is set forth here. The actual effect of the progress emanates from a man who is in a dependent position and whom the others regard as their equal and are therefore willing to follow. This leader has enough clarity of vision not to abuse his great influence but to use it rather for the benefit of his ruler. His ruler in turn is free of all jealousy, showers presents on the great man, and invites him continually to his court. An enlightened ruler and an obedient servant–this is the condition on which great progress depends.

THE IMAGE
The sun rises over the earth:
The image of PROGRESS.
Thus the superior man himself
Brightens his bright virtue.

The light of the sun rises over the earth is by nature clear. The higher the sun rises, the more it emerges from the dark mists, spreading the pristine purity of its rays over an ever widening area. The real nature of man is likewise originally good, but it becomes clouded by contact with earthly things and therefore needs purification before it can shine forth in its native clarity.

THE LINES
Six at the beginning means:
Progressing, but turned back.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
If one meets with no confidence, one should remain calm. No mistake.

At a time when all elements are pressing for progress, we are still uncertain whether in the course of advance we may not meet with a rebuff. Then the thing to do is simply continue in what is right; in the end this will bring good fortune. It may be that we meet with no confidence. In this case we ought not to try to win confidence regardless of the situation, but should remain calm and cheerful and refuse to be roused to anger. Thus we remain free of mistakes.

Six in the second place means:
Progressing, but in sorrow.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Then one obtains great happiness from one’s ancestress.

Progress is halted; an individual is kept from getting in touch with the man in authority with whom he has a connection. When this happens, he must remain persevering, although he is grieved; then with a maternal gentleness the man in question will bestow great happiness upon him. This happiness comes to him-and is well deserved-because in this case mutual attraction does not rest on selfish or partisan motives but on firm and correct principles.

Six in the third place means:
All are in accord. Remorse disappears.

A man strives onward, in association with others whose backing encourages him. This dispels any cause for regret over the fact that he does not have enough independence to triumph unaided over every hostile turn of fate.

Nine in the fourth place means:
Progress like a hamster.
Perseverance brings danger.

In times of progress it is easy for strong men in the wrong places to amass great possessions. But such conduct shuns the light. And since times of progress are inevitably brought to the light, perseverance in such action always leads to danger.

° Six in the fifth place means:
Remorse disappears.
Take not gain and loss to heart.
Undertakings bring good fortune.
Everything serves to further.

The situation described here is that of one who, finding himself in an influential position in a time of progress, remains gentle and reserved. He might reproach himself for lack of energy in making the most of the propitiousness of the time and obtaining all possible advantage. However, this regret passes away. He must not take either loss or gain to heart; they are minor considerations. What matters much more is the fact that in this way he has assured himself of opportunities for successful and beneficent influence.

Nine at the top means:
Making progress with the horns is permissible
Only for the purpose of punishing one’s own city.
To be conscious of danger brings good fortune.
No blame.
Perseverance brings humiliation.

Making progress with lowered horns-i.e., acting on the offensive-is permissible, in times like those referred to here, only in dealing with the mistakes of one’s own people. Even then we must bear in mind that proceeding on the offensive may always be dangerous. In this way we avoid the mistakes that otherwise threaten, and succeed in what we set out to do. On the other hand, perseverance in such over energetic behavior, especially toward persons with whom there is no close connection, will lead to humiliation.

Again, it’s pretty clear we’re not talking about Romney here. This is more of an instruction manual on how to remain patient during a campaign—progress comes patience as much as anything else. It certainly does not sound like a description of the Romney campaign. I have to say, I Ching readings often can be pretty ambiguous–I don’t see any ambiguity whatsoever here.

So, I think we’re all set. I feel much better. I understand you can get I Ching apps for phones now—about time. How else can I get through the day?

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