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Lín 臨 / Approach of Spring 19 I Ching

2023 Spring Trigram

The hexagram Lín 臨 corresponds to the twelfth month of the lunar calendar which is usually found in January or early February. The character Lín 臨 is translated as “coming just before” or “just about to occur” and in most translations of the I Ching, it is rendered as “Approach”. Since this is written in February and the solar calendar places Spring several weeks hence, I see this as “The Approach of Spring”. The hexagram consists of the three broken lines representing Earth above the trigram for Lake. The two yang lines of Lake are rising into and beginning to nourish the Earth, a powerful image for the approach of Spring.

It seems like it has been a tough winter, in fact, winter, in some ways, feels like it has been in place for the past three years while we have isolated to mitigate the risks of the pandemic. Of course, the pandemic is not yet over since some 400 people a day are still dying in the US and the threat of new variants continues to concern epidemiologists. Most of us have returned to some sense of normalcy, regardless of the ongoing risk to oneself and others. Adding to this weariness, we are confronted with warnings of other pestilence, the potential of a wider war in Ukraine, inflationary financial challenges, and a divisive toxic political environment. We desperately want it to be springtime this year. We look forward to the hope of change implicit in the arrival of the new possibilities that spring augers.

As of this writing, much of the US is in the throes of some harsh and unusual winter weather. There has been snow in Southern California, 70 mph dust storms in West Texas, tornadoes in the Southeast, and New England having its first winter storms in late February. Here where I live, we are experiencing record cold and high winds. So, it is not yet spring, just as the groundhog predicted. I remember last year when March came and went without the promised relief. Yet, in some places, buds are beginning to swell on the trees, crocus and daffodils are peeking through the detritus, forsythia is blooming, and birds are heard singing in the morning, yielding the first signs of the approach and promise of Spring. One cannot help but think that Spring is only weeks away.

The Decision

Approaching Spring
Sublimely prosperous and smooth
Favorable to be steadfast and upright.
When the eighth month comes there will be misfortune.

Spring I Ching image

This Decision reminds us that with the arrival of Spring, life returns in its glorious expression. What could be more uplifting than the bloom of cherry blossoms and tulips? Birds return with their spring plumage to attract mates, and to paraphrase Tennyson, “In the Spring, a young person’s imagination turns to love.”

The decision continues by reminding us that this does not last. The eighth month is September which marks the beginning of decay and the approach of winter. This is one of the primary lessons of the I Ching, The Book of Changes: Change occurs continuously, and it is cyclical. When I was fortunate to be in Japan during Cherry Blossom time, I could not help but notice the numerous couples picnicking under the cherry trees while they were in bloom. It was sweet to see the lovers smiling, gazing into each other’s eyes, and making romantic small talk as the cherry blossoms fell like snow in the gentle breeze. My guide pointed out that the true meaning of the Cherry Blossom Festival was to appreciate the fleeting transitoriness of life. Cherry blossoms do not last, nor does love.

Meanwhile, it is favorable to be steadfast and upright. To me this means stay in the moment and do not get too far ahead in your thinking. Do not hold on to the events of the past three years, they are over. History only exists in your imagination. Pestilence, war, famine and financial hardships, refugees, and political intrigue: when in human history did these challenges not exist? What can one do to remedy the human condition? Become firm in your allegiance to your True Self and do not chase after hope. It is so difficult to see what the future will bring with certainty. Enjoy the Approach, and when Spring arrives enjoy those moments as well. It is impossible to hold on to some imagined sense of normalcy. Stay in the present moment, always.

I am reminded of a story from Pema Chodren:

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we will ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”

The Approach of Spring should not concern you. Spring comes and the grass grows by itself. Oh, and keep an eye out for strawberries, later this spring!


  • Blofeld, John, I Ching The Book of Change, Penguin Putnam Inc., NY, NY (1965).
  • Cheng, Yi (Thomas Cleary, trans.), I Ching: The Tao of Organization, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (1988).
  • Chödrön, Pema, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World, HarperCollins Pub Ltd, 2004.
  • Cleary, Thomas (trans.), The Taoist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (2012)
  • Huang, Alfred (trans.), The Complete I Ching, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT (1998).
  • Legge, James (trans.), I Ching Book of Changes, University Books, New Hyde Park, NY (1964).
  • Ou-i, Chih-hsu (Thomas Cleary, trans.), The Buddhist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (1987)
  • Siu, R.G.H., The Portable Dragon, The Western Man’s Guide to the I Ching, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (1968).
  • Wilhelm, Richard (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ (1950).

Bio: Skye Sturgeon, DAOM

Skye is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.
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