Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sincerity, I Ching, Obama

There is a hexagram dealing with sincerity in the I Ching: hexagram 61, Inner Truth. The hexagram is formed of the trigram for ‘The Gentle, Wind’ above the trigram for ‘The Joyous, Lake’.

Wind over lake: the image of INNER TRUTH

The wind blows over the lake and stirs the surface of the water. Thus visible effects of the invisible manifest themselves. The hexagram consists of firm lines above and below, while it is open in the center. This indicates a heart free of prejudices and therefore open to the truth. On the other hand, each of the two trigrams has a firm line in the middle; this indicates the force of inner truth in the influences they represent. (Wilhelm/Baynes edition of I Ching)

The visible effects of invisible forces are easily seen on the lake. They are more difficult to see elsewhere but they are nevertheless all about us. The metaphor speaks of the power of invisible spiritual forces in the world and their visible effects on it. I am reminded of this quote of Confucius:

The power of spiritual forces in the Universe – how active it is everywhere! Invisible to the eyes, and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things, and nothing can escape its operation.

Nothing escapes its operation. Spiritual forces include their opposites. When integrity and sincerity are lacking, the seeds of decrease, discord and death are sown. When integrity and sincerity are present, the seeds of increase, harmony and life are sown.
Listening to President Obama’s address, I was impressed by his clear sincerity and strong appeal to spiritual values, in other words, to spiritual forces.

Whenever a feeling is voiced with truth and frankness, whenever a deed is the clear expression of sentiment, a mysterious and far-reaching influence is exerted. At first it acts on those who are inwardly receptive. But the circle grows larger and larger. The root of all influence lies in one’s own inner being: given true and vigorous expression in word and deed, its effect is great.

Each of us was affected by the words we heard in Obama’s address; some strongly, some mildly some perhaps little but nevertheless we were all were affected in some way. A feeling was voiced with truth and frankness. Who can tell what the visible effects will be? What ripples on the lake have been set in motion by this invisible force?

Words go from one’s own person and exert their influence on men. Deeds are born close at hand and become visible far away. Words and deeds are the hinge and bowstring of the superior man. As hinge and bowstring move, they bring honour or disgrace. Through words and deeds the superior man moves heaven and earth. Must one not, then, be cautious? Confucius

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond