A message from the I Ching and from Us

Herb Color Bars

Certainly, we are living in tumultuous times where the known and normal can seem very far away. In our work as natural healers we always endeavor to address body, mind and spirit. Most of our work here at Mayway is devoted to helping you heal your patients through the elegant tradition of Chinese herbal medicine handed down by the physicians that came before us. Today we thought it fit to share wisdom of another sort, to heal the heart and mind through the wisdom of the earliest Daoists.

The foundation of traditional Chinese medicine is Yin Yang theory. The foundation of Yin Yang theory is the Yi Jing (I Ching 易經). In times of trouble, strife, and confusion, returning back to the origin of things can bring about peace and understanding. We hope you find peace and comfort in these words...

"The Book of Changes contains the measure of Heaven and Earth; therefore, it enables us to comprehend the Tao of Heaven and Earth and its order."

"Looking forward, we contemplate with its help the signs of the Heavens; looking down, we examine the lines of the Earth. Thus, we come to know the circumstances of the dark and the light. Going back to the beginning of things and pursuing them to the end, we come to know the lessons of birth and death."

"Since in this way superior human beings come to resemble Heaven and Earth, they are not in conflict with them. Their wisdom embraces all things, and their Tao brings order into the world; therefore, they do not err. They are active everywhere but do not let them themselves be carried away. They rejoice in Heaven and have knowledge of fate; therefore they are free of care. They are content with their circumstances and genuine in their kindness, and therefore they can practice Love."

未濟 Before Completion

The final hexagram in the Book of Changes is Wei Ji, 未濟 Before Completion. It is arranged with The Clinging, flame above, and The Abysmal, water below. This hexagram is indicative of chaotic circumstances and marks the time when the transition from disorder to order is not yet completed. The changing of circumstances is in motion since there is symmetry between the upper and lower trigrams, even though they are not yet in their final harmonious arrangement. This hexagram parallels spring, which leads us out of the stagnation of winter into the new beginnings of summer.

Before completion. Success.
But if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing,
Gets his tail in the water,
There is nothing that would further.

"The conditions are difficult. The task is great and full of responsibility. It is nothing less than that of leading the world out of confusion back to order. But it is a task that promises success, because there is a goal that can unite the forces now tending in different directions. At first, however, one must move warily, like an old fox walking over ice. The caution of a fox walking over ice is proverbial in China. His ears are constantly alert to the cracking of the ice, as he carefully searches out the safest spots. A young fox who as yet has not acquired this caution goes ahead boldly, and it may happen that he falls in and gets his tail wet when he is almost across the water. Then his effort has all been in vain. Accordingly, in times "before completion", deliberation and caution are the requisites of success."

Fire over Water:
The image of the condition before transition.
Thus the superior person is careful
In the differentiation of things,
So that each finds its place.

"When fire, which by nature flames upward, is above, and water, which flows downward, is below their effects take opposite directions and remain unrelated. If we wish to achieve an effect, we must first investigate the nature of the forces in question and ascertain their proper places. If we can bring these forces to bear in the right place, they will have the desired effect, and completion will be achieved. But in order to handle the external forces properly, we must above all arrive at the correct standpoint ourselves, for only from this vantage point can we work correctly."

We are living in a period of great potential, a time where burdens of the past are fading but have not yet fully resolved. In The Judgement we are encouraged to be guided by the wisdom of the old fox to take careful steps, and not risk loss due to carelessness and inattention to the lessons of the past. The Image cautions discretion in the differentiation of things so that each detail of our circumstance is understood clearly, and that all things are put in their proper place. We are encouraged to be refined in our discrimination, to rely on the wisdom of life experience by seeing into the nature of people and events, and to know that completion can be achieved because it is the natural way of things.

Wishing everyone this simple blessing...

"They rejoice in Heaven and have knowledge of fate, therefore they are free of care. They are content with their circumstances and genuine in their kindness, and therefore they can practice Love."

~The Folks at Mayway


  • Wilhelm, R., Book of Changes, Richard Wilhelm Translation, Princeton University Press: 1950

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