Monday, 22 November 2010

Movin' and groovin'

 Photograph by Pryderi Diebschlag

In Hexagram 16, Thunder is moving Earth, who responds by shaking her bootie.  The Gua Ci tells us it's worthwhile to "move the multitude".

Yű means 
cheerfulness, willingness, enthusiasm, to be ready or prepared; easy movement, responsive action   (from Bradford's keywords; see

The whole hexagram is about responsive movement -- those moments when we are carried along by something that moves us.  The universal thing that moves us in this way, of course, is music, and the Da Xiang implies that it is the duty of a Sovereign to compose the music that will move his subjects.

Yű is the feeling we go to concerts or festivals to experience, when 10,000 people are weeping or waving their arms in unison.   It's the feeling that made people start dancing in the parking lot to the blues band playing at Eddie McStiff's in Moab this summer; it's why we flock to the desert for Burning Man, or take to the streets for a demonstration against any number of social injustices.  It's that choked up feeling you get when you hear your national anthem (even if nationalism features high on your personal list of Bad Ideas), or a favourite hymn or sacred song, and you're part of a multitude, transported on a wave of sentiment.  It's the spirit that moves us so that we're swept along, even when it means risking our lives.

It's the motor behind the Nuremberg rallies, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, and Jonestown.  But without it, Chartres Cathedral would never have been built, nor the pyramids, nor Ankhor Wat, and we wouldn't have put a man on the moon.

On a more personal level, it captures something of the experience of falling in love, that imperative rush that's “bigger than both of us”. And if that's the only driver of a relationship, one or both of you are sure to wake up one morning with a painful dose of sobriety, wondering what possessed you.

And it's not only an interpersonal phenomenon.  Most of us have been swept up in private enthusiasms from time to time: hobbies or projects that seemed to have a life of their own, channeled, more of less temporarily, through ours.

For as long as a passion lasts, it feels good to be in the grip of it, even if it's blood lust. By contrast, mindfulness (the quality of Hexagram 15, with which 16 is paired), doesn't necessarily feel good.

Yű is not a state of mind in which we consult our experience, or think of the broader picture. It's a state in which we lose ourselves. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it can be sublime. We just need to be selective about what we lose ourselves to, and keep a canny eye out for the consequences.

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