Hexgram 21 -- BITING THROUGH

This exquisite image was created by Steven J. Volpe, whose main artistic work is in photography (see http://www.stevevolpe.com/ for more). Recently, Steven started to create his own "Artist Trading Cards" -- there's a movement afoot to scatter art-beauties among ordinary people around the world through an an exchange of cards (never via selling). I like the idea, and I really like this card that Steven created -- Fire over Thunder ... Sunlight slicing through a storm; lucid thought slicing through the mind's usual fog and cacophany. Rapid, precise action that does what needs to be done. Shedding light, clear thought, and appropriate intention on delusion, injustice, ignorance. Biting through bullshit with unclouded mind, to reveal what's real. Sudden light shed on falsehoods can be a harsh way to refresh a mind -- perhaps it's a cognitive analogy of sunburn; Ow! That hurts. Better get into some shade and cool down.

Perception is important here; Hexagram 20 (CONTEMPLATION) simply sees what is; Hexagram 21 (BITING THROUGH) sees what's right and what's wrong, and decides to balance them through justice; Hexagram 22 (BEAUTY), in this context, can restore a measure of grace, dignity and elegance to a process (21 -- often referred to as "litigation" and sometimes "punishment" in ancient texts) that may have become adversarial or that is simmering with conflict. Maybe someone's feeling like they want to "bite off somebody else's head" (Yikes!) ... and somehow infusing beauty into a harsh transaction can divert one's mind's eye to a more moderate consideration of the facts.

I once did this, in a social-work context. A young man who'd suffered a brain injury was being considered for a long-term stay at a highly-reputable rehabilitation clinic far from his home. He really needed the structure of a intensive program; his parents -- loving, gracious, and patient as they were, badly needed a rest from the moment-to-moment shocks and surprises of living with a son whose brain dictated occasional outbursts and psychotic behaviour. During a big meeting that included the family, their support professionals, and government reps (who would decide how much, if any, money would be offered to fund the young man's rehab), the parents wept -- with love, frustration, some guilt that they were even thinking of sending their son so far away...and with passion for the possibility that their son's brain might begin to heal. I, and two other support persons, wept, too -- for we had come to feel deep affection for this family with whom we'd been working for years.

I'd never before negotiated with such acuity, flair, and common sense. I kept at the "powers that were" for straight answers about just how much money was, or wasn't, available. (I have long found it impossible to believe, in this age where certain governments assign billions of dollars to their militaries and to the production of murderous technology, that there's "no money" for one human being to receive a chance to heal a brain injury.) At that meeting, I hammered (subtly, for government officials, in their spell-cast stolidness, hate to be challenged) away at every excuse and justification; I intuitively proposed scenarios -- thinking on my feet -- that to some of us in the room, were entirely doable. We "yay-sayers" turned the meeting around, I believe, because we were devoted to this young man, and we simply wouldn't take "no" for an answer. We'd sat through a good two hours of bureaucratic blather and we'd had enough. After this meeting, my colleagues and I returned to our office and closed every loophole that the bureaucrats might have kept open, thinking like lawyers to expose every flaw, every lie, every double-speak bit of jargon we'd perceived.

When this working group gathered again, we worked out a deal with the funders. Our deal included some off-the-cuff ideas that surprisingly, the funders approved of. We'd cut through the crap to the core of this matter. We'd "bitten through" the habitual nay-saying to some very urgent practical and ethical questions, into what matters.

Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.



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