Chapter 16: Yin and Yang
So how does one read the cosmic weather or divine the Cosmic Intent? It's all very well to propose checking the cosmic weather before tripping but how does one get such a weather report?
For this I have used the I Ching, also known as the "Book of Changes". The I Ching is a divinatory tool that has been used for thousands of years in China and became popular in the West in the 1960's. Philosophically it's based on Yang and Yin as poles of a principle believed to underlie all oppositions - female/male, dark/light, strong/weak etc.. It employs a random process, typically a fall of coins, to produce a patterning of Yang and Yin called a hexagram, from which I believe one's spiritual context - and the cosmic weather - may be inferred.
The I Ching's reliance on randomness ensures that architectivity plays no role in the divination. If there is any sentient influence on the way the coins fall it can only be that of the Cosmic Deity (or a visage thereof). Using the I Ching also takes my ego out of the equation to a significant degree.
In this chapter I discuss my use of the I Ching and spruik my interpretation of its hexagrams. If you find this distasteful please skip this chapter.
My first experiences of cosmic integration - under psychedelics in the 1970's - were utterly mystifying. The science of the time and mainstream religions not only could not explain psychedelics but were totally ignorant of them. Only a few esoteric and Eastern mystical traditions appeared to have any idea of what I had encountered.
My experience of cosmic connectedness led me to conclude that there can be no truly random events, that every event must somehow be a reflection, in its place and time, of the connected universe as a whole.
Shortly after reaching this conclusion, I read Carl Jung's foreword to Richard Wilhelm's interpretation of the I Ching ##. In it he says:
"In other words, whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him the hexagram was the exponent of the moment in which it was cast -- even more so than the hours of the clock or the divisions of the calendar could be -- inasmuch as the hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin.
This assumption involves a certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers."
This was music to my ears. I had qualms about the statistical relevance of the procedure because every hexagram has an equal probability of being cast, until I realized that there is no statistical algorithm fixing the sequence in which the coins fall or in which the hexagrams appear. I saw room for meaning in that freedom of sequencing.
Wilhelm's I Ching is presented in the idiom of ancient China. Anyone who has used it will know how difficult it can be to extract information that is relevant in a contemporary setting. After many years of 'perseverance' (heh, heh - for those who know) I formulated a modern interpretation of the I Ching hexagrams which I published as the Oracle of Love ##in 2008.
The hexagram interpretations of both the Oracle of Love and the I Ching laud the virtues of being flexible. However, the I Ching also reflects a Confucian penchant for a strict social structuring of family and state which the Oracle of Love does not. The Oracle of Love has a much stronger focus on connectivity. Through the absence of architective serial meaning in the casting of a hexagram and its focus on connectivity in interpretation, the Oracle of Love attempts to refine the connective meaning out of a situation, allowing one to judge one's situation in terms of the connectivity we tend to overlook.
Another difference between the Oracle of Love and the I Ching is that the Oracle of Love acknowledges it is not omniscient while the I Ching does not. My many years following the I Ching showed it to have a blind spot: While its messages were often uncannily relevant to my experience, it appeared to take no interest in some experiences that were of significance to me. I put great effort into trying to delineate where and when its messages were relevant and the conclusion I came to was that it had an almost absolute focus on 'love' in a sense that closely aligns with the idea of connectivity. In a commentary to the Oracle of Love I warn:
"The Oracle is not all-seeing. I have found that there are many situations it is blind to, as if its world does not coincide exactly with our own. Its preoccupation with Love appears to be out of step with our own overwhelming experience of material suffering. It does not understand any of our socially developed institutional structures and imperatives, in much the same way that a baby does not. It cannot respond to culturally based humour, or take account of social convention, or negotiate the intricacies of business and politics. One should be aware of these limitations when accepting Oracular advice. But, like a baby, it is very sensitive to direct sensual and emotional engagement."
In another commentary to the Oracle of Love the dynamic between Yang and Yin is explored: I describe how Yang provides the motivation for change while Yin allows the change to occur. The image given is of Yang initiating a constant stream of initiatives which Yin cannot but accept, but can choose the enthusiasm of its acceptance. Yin’s willing acceptance of an initiative results in a fluid oscillation which the Oracle regards as "great", while a reluctant acceptance results in the confinement of an initiative within hyperbolic boundaries, which the Oracle regards as "obstructive". It is the fluidity of the oscillation that forms the basis of the Oracle's concept of Love (and to which most of its hexagrams are devoted) while the obstructive result appears to hold little interest for the Oracle.
That static, neglected, obstructive result germinated the idea of architectivity. From a mental image of a motion that is hyperbolically confined within a fixed range as opposed to a sinusoid in continuous flow (see Appendix 2), I eventually extracted the entire suite of architective characteristics. I could then understand why the philosophy of both the Oracle of Love and the I Ching favoured fluidity and flexibility. It also resonated with the idea of the I Ching as a "Book of Changes" rather than a book of fixed laws (as most religions are), and appeared to validate my removing from the Oracle of Love the Confucian predilection for rigid social structure. The spirituality that the Oracle of Love advocates is a purely connective one.
This, however, is also its weakness, for the Oracle is insensitive to architective serial meaning. By focusing on the free flow of Yang and Yin, the Oracle effectively misses an entire hemisphere of their interaction.
Another way in which the Oracle of Love differs significantly from the I Ching is in the relationship between the Oracle and its enquirers. The I Ching is understood to make singular pronouncements in response to specific questions and enquirers are asked not to abuse its largesse. Users of the Oracle of Love are rather encouraged to look for themes in a string of hexagrams, allowing the hexagrams to constellate into narratives (termed 'conversations') that allow the Oracle to speak its mind rather than respond to interrogation. Besides, the enquirer's questions are likely to concern their architective dilemmas which the Oracle can't address or even comprehend. Users of the Oracle of Love are encouraged to harmonize their activities with the Oracular narratives rather than use it as an agony aunt.
The Oracle uses the word 'love' in a purely connective sense. It is used to describe harmonies of motion, feeling and vibration rather than any lasting devotion. An unremitting devotion can perhaps be seen as an architective sense of the word. We could also see 'love' in an architective sense to mean altruism, kindness towards one's inferiors and using one's strength for the benefit of those less privileged than oneself, rather than a blind implementation of the architective dominion.
Another important implication of this book for users of the Oracle is that, since the wisdom of the Oracle is not cognizant of the architective content of our lives, there may be an entirely other spirituality pertaining to that architective content. Possible architective spiritualities such as the hierarchical deities of our societies and our Planetary Deity would have ambitions and means entirely unrelated to those of the Oracle of Love.
One should also beware of confusing the spirituality of the Oracle with connectivity itself, for although the Oracle is purely connective and capable of comprehending connective phenomena, it does not represent a spirit of connectivity per se or the source of all connectivity. Rather, it is a connective spirit, one I associate with the cosmic holism, or, being conscious, with the Cosmic Deity. In my many years of using the I Ching / Oracle of Love, I have found the nature of the Oracle to be entirely consistent with the character I have described for the Cosmic Deity. It, like us, is a product of the material world and is able to influence the world (albeit only connectively and apprehensively), but is not responsible for the phenomenon of connectivity per se. As well, as a holism its influence would be at the extremes of subtlety, so that holding it responsible for the stronger effects of the cosmic connective system, say for a storm (in that wind is a connective phenomenon), would be misplaced.
There is also an important implication in one's evaluation of who it is one is addressing when using the Oracle. If one accepts an association of the Oracle with the Cosmic Deity then one should keep in mind that not only is the Oracle a player in the unfolding of reality in the same way that we are, but it is learning as it goes. In my own experience I find the Oracle extremely childish - in its innocence, in its mercurial, empathic, and unreasoned expectations, and in its ignorance of "the ways of the world".
In another commentary to the Oracle of Love I suggest that the Oracle expresses a particular agenda in its communication with us which, in the context of this book, corresponds to the intent of the Cosmic Deity. What I could not say in the limited context of the Oracle of Love, is that the Deity's agenda is not the only thing the Oracle can communicate to us, for it is sensitive to all connective behaviour and may well be describing the general connective weather of the cosmic connective system. While the Oracle has no sensitivity to architectivity at all, it is capable of communicating an appreciation of the cosmic connective system as well as its agenda for finding profundity of harmony in that system.
Why did I call it the Oracle "of Love"? What's love got to do with it? When discussing psychedelics earlier I mentioned how the Cosmic Deity appreciates harmonious sexual engagement at any appropriate time, and that a harmonious sexual encounter is generally more likely to provide the profundity the Cosmic Deity seeks than our achieving cosmic integration. In the introduction to the Oracle of Love I say:
"The Oracle aspires to developing relations between separate feeling beings (such as ourselves) so that we share and exchange feelings of Love with each other. To this end the Oracle's counsel is invariably directed towards fostering feelings of Love in our relationships and maximising the benefit from them. More so, the Oracle aspires to an intensity of relation in which the feelings of Love are lavished with conscious attention, both in perception and expression. In human terms it aspires to overtly sexual and orgasmic exchanges of feeling between Lovers."
The Oracle of Love not only attempts to refine the connective meaning out of a situation, it explicitly directs one's attention to lovemaking whenever spiritually appropriate.
At a personal level, aligning the Cosmic Deity with the Oracle has an implication that is both simple and profound: If one is at an extreme of loneliness, unable to consort meaningfully with one's peers (perhaps due to the social constrictions of the architective dominion), one is always able to consort meaningfully with the universe in the person of the Cosmic Deity. This is what the Oracle of Love offers me in concrete form. Here we arrive at the nub of what religions have always promised - a spiritual companion who never leaves you, who never rejects you, who suffers with you and with whom you are always reconciled.
That spiritual companion, however, is purely connective.