Agnostic by default (?)

Mark Twain used to say that he felt quite happy in responding "I don't know" to a question if, in fact, he didn't know what the answer was.

The longer I live, the more I'm amused by the salty old sage; Twain was a master of crazy wisdom. Whenever I admit an honest "I don't know", I feel a little more removed (from "hooks" and unnecessary drama), replenished, and at rest with the world ...

If I don't know something, I can always enquire into it. At my best, I approach the unknown with reverent curiosity (at my worst, with lazy or fearful deflection).

... Which brings us to the title I've given this post:
Agnostic by default (?). I got to wondering tonight if Hexagram/Principle 64, NOT YET CROSSED, could be embodied by an archetype called The Agnostic.

(Where's the town of Uncertain? ... Find out here ...)

Hexagram 64 is the last principle of the King Wen sequence of hexagrams in the I Ching ... and it is a most ambiguous closing. All we can be sure of at this moment is that the next is yet to come ... In the wake of a completion, something new is already pending, already potentiating ... Anything is possible when nothing actually is ... yet.

Traditional I Ching commentaries envision a fox who wants to cross an ice-coated river. Will the fox behave as a young, untested creature who rushes ahead and perhaps falls through the ice, having ignored (out of experiential immaturity) any signs that the river ice is not solid enough to support its weight? Or will the fox behave as a wily veteran of many seasons and many rivers, navigating with caution, intricately sensing the sounds, smells, and movements of water, ice and air?

If the ice under the fox's feet is thin, it's because the ice itself is in a state of formation -- or deformation. The ice itself, like a nascent potential, is incomplete ... Is it firming up into form, or melting out of form? We can't know, in this moment of flux.

Instinct -- our body's innate wisdom -- applies a brake to action when uncertainty is the clarion call. We wait upon the bank of pre-potential when instinct tells us to "test the waters" with all of our senses -- our sensors. At our wisest, we honour a state of flux with the caution and calmness of a mature fox whose ears, nose and tail twitch the environs for directional hints and clues ... We wait out the natural chaos of transition before applying sure-footed action.

Within today, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, tomorrow is already walking ...

~ The fox-photo is by professional photographer Kevin Fleming, whose site, Wild Delmarva, is a trove of exquisite images that honour his home state of Delaware ... Kevin's work also graces the pages of National Geographic and several other publications ...


horse and moon said…
nice !!! love reading your thoughts.

Hope you don't mind saying , but at my blog you wrote you can't dance. well, my impression is, that your dance with the Yi lines and hex is wonderful !
Jaliya said…
I don't mind at all. In fact, I'll change the way I think about dancing right now!

I've danced with the Yi for (gasp!) almost 30 years now ... so I guess that means that I am a better dancer than I thought ... at least regarding the oracle ...

horse and moon said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
horse and moon said…
we can use our artistic licence and say that "dance" is not an act but a feeling. So we dance , even our body seems still.

the times I understand more clearly Yi , are the times I forgot the "right footsteps" and let myself carried away from the music of the lines.

well, I'm a loosy dancer too, but have change my mind now. lol
Hi Jaliya! I discovered you at nothingprofound's blog and was keen to read more of your reflections.

I enjoyed those that I have read. I love the way you've started your blog - I ching, therefore I am - coolness!

I find it liberating to say 'I don't know' now that I've learned how very little I do know which is almost exclusively my thoughts and feelings. Beyond that, most things are open to interpretation, I'd say :).

In fact, I was just talking about this to some fellow students of a Buddhist mind-science course we've been attending, observing how freeing and enriching it is to shed my own/old ways of thinking and perceiving and look at familiar things with new eyes and a new mind:)
Jaliya said…
Hello, Thought Bubble Ten ... What a fascinating name ... How did you arrive at it?

Thank you for visiting and leaving your words ... It is always a joy to become acquainted with a new reader.

There is so much that is complementary between the I Ching and Buddhist wisdom ... So much natural and elemental wisdom that the two traditions have in common.

... and yes, there comes a time in our lives when not knowing is a relief ... When all that we don't know falls away and we stop pretending to be "experts" in this and that, we can rest in what we *do* know ... I find it liberating and space-making ... I wouldn't go so far as to say that ignorance is bliss (ha! -- just look at the political world), but that some not-knowing is simply natural and inevitable, and can invite curiosity and exploration ...

Blessings :-)
LOL The TB part of my name just popped into my head - one of countless thought bubbles that keep rising and falling away in my mind. Nothing auspicious or fascinating, I'm afraid. Just the awareness that thoughts are always rising and falling away in my conditioned mind.

The 'Ten' was an afterthought because google wouldn't accept TB on its own - already taken. And since 10 is a nice number - unity and emptiness (Buddhist sense) - it was chosen :)

Yes, Buddhism and the I-ching have much in common in their approach, I think. And most spiritual traditions have much in common in their essence.
PS I mean I see 'zero' as emptiness in the Buddhist sense of the meaning of emptiness. I am not suggesting that the Buddhist tradition regards the specific number 10 as emptiness...although it does regard everything as emptiness...

Oh dear, I wanted to clarify not confound :(

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