My prayer today (Hexagram 50, THE CAULDRON, and Hex. 48, THE WELL) ... and a response to Renee's question!
Make me holy ...
There are only two hexagrams -- Principles, as I've come to understand them -- that picture human-made objects. Hexagram/Principle 48 is a well; H/P 50 is a cauldron.
I consider this, and recall that the I Ching has existed for at least 3,500 years, long predating any institutional religious tradition. I ponder that only two of the oracle's 64 hexagrams involve human creation and action ... and I realize a key to the oracle's wisdom.
A well and a cauldron. Both vessels; both designed to hold and contain something. Both of them crafted for practical use: one offers water, the other cooks a meal. Both nourish and sustain by their use -- their proper use.
We nourish and sustain ourselves with water and food; we grace our own souls by contemplating the gift of water in a well, and by honouring and practicing the sacred and very domestic art of alchemy -- what is cooking, after all, but combining various elements in their proper amounts to create something new from what already exists? ... So we craft something new and sustaining, be it a communal well, a stew or a soul ...
Imagine it ... that these objects crafted by the human hand were chosen by the sages who understood and translated into language universal, elemental variations on the theme of Tao. Vessels of nourishment and transformation were considered to be the two human designs that most aided the Elements in their nourishment, sustenance, and transformation of life.
The sages also recognized humankind's proper place in the containment, blending and use of natural elements...
((In the lineage of Tao, there are eight such Elements: Heaven, Earth, Water, Fire, Thunder, Mountain, Wind and Lake. Each Element in combination with one other results in the form of a hexagram, an idiogram, and a principle ...
Each of the eight Elements, when doubled with itself, creates one of the Oracle's core hexagrams:
Heaven doubled = Hexagram/Principle 1, THE CREATIVE / ENERGY / WAVE / YANG
Earth doubled = H/P 2, THE RECEPTIVE / FORM / PARTICLE / YIN
Water doubled = H/P 29, DANGER / DEPTHS / THE ABYSMAL / COURAGE
Fire doubled = H/P 30, THE CLINGING / FIRE / SYNERGY / INTERDEPENDENCE
Thunder doubled = H/P 51, SHOCK / ALARM / QUAKING / AWAKENING
Mountain doubled = H/P 52, MOUNTAIN / STILLNESS / MEDITATION / BOUNDERING
Wind doubled = H/P 57, THE GENTLE / PERMEATING / INFUSING / THE PENETRATING POWER OF WIND
Lake doubled = H/P 58, JOY / CALM, CLEAR DEEPS / DELIGHT / DRAWING CLOSE.))
... So vessels of nourishment and transformation were depicted as humans' most valuable contributions to the sustenance of life; not weapons of war. Even Hexagram/Principle #7, THE ARMY / DISIPLINE, depicts balanced, proper use of basic elements that are used and misused in humans' perpetual conflicts with one another -- here, of a large, governed, regulated group; of martial arts and practices ... The polarities of Hexagram/Principle #7 depicts what immoderate use of a mass of people (as in an army) can bring about ...
... So the proper understanding and application of a Principle guides its moderate use, and the Oracle, through each Principle and its variations (its changing lines) invite us to consider potential consequences of how we use the Elements and apply the Principles ...
Make me holy ...
Make me a vessel
in all its forms
of water and food
tears and embrace
seeing-into and resting
on the choice
May the fact of me
whom I meet
(Photo of temple in autumn: from http://www.sacredjapan.com/
Photo of cauldron: from http://www.jelldragon.com/
Photo of man and kitty: "Contact", by Josephine Chervinska, via http://www.photo.net/)