return . . .

by mulberryshoots

"Attain ultimate emptiness of mind; maintain absolute peaceful stillness of body," (Lao-Tzu ~ Dao de Jing) Calligraphy by my late father, Edward C.T. Chao

“Attain ultimate emptiness of mind; maintain absolute peaceful stillness of body,” (Lao-Tzu ~ Dao de Jing) Calligraphy by my late father, Edward C.T. Chao

Some of you may know about my relationship to an ancient book of wisdom called the I-Ching. It has many identities for as many readers: a book of changes about the constant alternation of Yin and Yang in our lives; an oracle which introduces us to the condition of things which our sub-conscious seems to recognize, and for me, an invisible link to help and assistance from the Universe anytime that I consult it. If you’re looking for Helpers from the Universe, they are accessible by using this book. Aside from some Confucian overlay that occurs in the Richard Wilhelm/C.F. Baynes edition, the I-Ching is also considered as a seminal source for Taoist beliefs.

I was first introduced to the I-Ching by someone who appeared out of nowhere to help me close out the move from our family home when I was getting divorced from my first husband. At the time, I was job-less, my children scattered, trying to grow up and go to school while their parents were breaking up. Not to belabor further how exigent things were at the time, the I-Ching Book of Changes became my refuge, an unknown hand of the Universe leading me through that harrowing time. I wrote down all the readings and the lines that sprung out at me as though written especially for that daily circumstance. Many spiral notebooks later and through the years, I became so familiar with the book that I knew many of the lines by heart and most of the hexagrams by number. The I-Ching is a dynamic book, certain hexagrams like “the Marrying Maiden” or “Obstruction” or “Darkening of the Light” making me cringe when I received them. Others, “Taming Power of the Great,” “Possession in Great Measure,” “The Well” and “the Cauldron” were more consoling and uplifting.

So why am I writing about the I-Ching today? Recently, we have experienced a few shocks that occurred outside of our control. And I was thinking about looking for my I-Ching book to do a reading or two as I drove back from my shopping trip the other day.

Yesterday, a big box arrived from one of my cousins, the middle son of my favorite cousin, Pei Fen, who had died earlier in the summer. Packed very carefully with rolled up newspaper emerged a black slipcase boxed set of the I-Ching in two volumes, a Bollingen version that had belonged to Pei Fen and had sold at the time for about $7.50 in 1950.

It was as though the Universe had arranged for this well-bound, oversized version of the I-Ching to arrive on my doorstep as if to say: “Here I am, remember?” I made a brown parchment paper cover for the first volume and taped a copy of the legend on the newly covered back of the book for easier access. Then, I threw a series of six readings for a complex situation that we have been facing and read them aloud for G. and me to digest together. The nuances for each question were clear as day to each of us. It was comforting to receive them as a guide for how to think about moving forward.

This I-Ching return is of great portent for me, especially at this moment. It helped me (might I even say, saved me?) during the worst period in my life twenty or so years ago. It magically reappeared yesterday, thanks to the thoughtful gesture of this gift from my cousin Pei Fen’s house. Thank you, S.! Among Pei-Fen’s last words to me were, “Be happy!”

The timing is perfect. What a consolation it is to be reminded once again that there is help from the Universe, anytime I am open to, and ask for it. I give thanks for these golden threads woven into my life.