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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

20: Overview


Overview is a time for composure and contemplation. As a result of profound introspection, an invisible emanates from us, influencing others without their being aware of it. Do not underestimate the power of this force. Like the wind blowing across the treetops, its presence is perceived through the effect it has on everything it touches.

Shallow wells rarely strike water, and shallow minds often come up empty. The ability to keep still and deeply observe strengthens resolve and attracts good fortune. Discern the difference between what is deep and what is shallow within yourself — and you will be able to distinguish between the two in the outer world as well.

During a period between events, the practice of stillness with awareness is a good idea. Only by observing and absorbing the true nature of things — by apprehending the rhythms and cycles, which guide all creation — can we discover the laws that apply to our lives. Examine yourself and your overall situation, not just with the thought of discovering truth, but with the idea of focusing your personal power. This is a time to see and be seen.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

When the novice practices contemplation, he or she often fails to perceive the depth of forces that are at work in the current environment -- due to a lack of experience, wisdom or good judgment. While such limitations are natural for beginners, people of substance know better than to be misled by the surface appearance of things; they do not overlook the connectivity of the whole. One must look deeply. When in the presence of someone possessing a profound understanding, pay close attention. Even if you do not actually comprehend a wise person’s advice, it can still help you.

Line 2

Self-centeredness trumps contemplation by replacing the larger vision with one that is small. It’s like trying to view the wide world through a microscope or a small crack in a closet door. If you would be successful in the affairs of the world, let go of your self-absorption, kick the door open, and let the world enter your soul. Only in this way can you avoid the harm that small-mindedness inevitably brings.

Line 3

Introspection is not merely escaping into the fantasy world of your own dreams. Learn to contemplate the effects your actions have in the real world. In so doing, you will discover whether or not you are making progress.

Line 4

A person who has comprehended the solution to a problem or envisioned a path to success should be placed in an honored position, similar to that of a revered guest. The independence of the guest allows him or her to offer fresh insight, while being close enough to be heard clearly. Avoid regarding perceptive people as tools to further your own work; their value is greater than that.

Line 5

Self-examination is called for. Don’t brood over your shortcomings -- that is a trap for the weak! Study the effect you have on people, and how events tend to unfold around you. If such effects are positive, then you will be able to enjoy fulfillment. Do not try to deny the obvious. Seek truth from experience, and keep your eyes unflinchingly upon the flame of reality, rather than the shadows of illusion.

Line 6 (top line)

Here a person has achieved a contemplation of life that transcends egocentric considerations and feelings. He is like the hiker who has finally reached the top of the mountain. If you have attained this position, and this high perspective, sit for a while and enjoy the view. If not, it might be time to hit the trail again.