A Spiritual Almanac – September

September 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm 2 comments

Hexagram 45  Cui: Gathering

Lake  over Earth

Fruit falls from the trees in Autumn, leading to the image of gathering. The fullness of the earth’s bounty, the richness of nature, gives us a feeling of abundance, of sufficiency, that there exists more than enough for all living creatures. Life overflows, a cornucopia of creativity and wealth.

Commentary on the symbol:

Lake over Earth.

An image of gathering together.

In correspondence with this,

The superior person repairs his weapons

To guard against unexpected happenings.

When we eat the fruits and grains of the earth we take in the goodness and natural medicines they contain. In this way we gather the medicines in our body that lead to health and well-being. By eating well we immunise ourselves against physical illness, strengthening our energy. But how do we immunise ourselves against spiritual illness, the malaise of our times?

When we gather together and meditate, there is a heightened atmosphere in the space, an electrical charge that is sometimes missing when we meditate alone. This communal atmosphere created by our spirits tuning together is the sense of presence, of something greater than ourselves that is at the same time part of us. The sense of this presence can give us a feeling of security and tranquillity.  In Judaism the word for presence is shekina, and it is one of the words for God. When we meditate together we are calling this presence to us, opening ourselves to an essence beyond our small and temporary lives. When we chant together we create an energy field around us that we can also feel within ourselves bringing us closer to our inner spirit.

The promise that God made to the Jewish people, and therefore to all people, is that even if we turn away from the divine, the divine will never turn away from us. Martin Buber’s translation of the Bible has God saying to Moses:

When you need me I will be there.

So if we ever need spiritual help from the presence it is always there, just waiting for us to turn to it. The word Religion comes from religio meaning binding together, and yoga means union. Union and binding together are both forms of gathering. Religion gathers people together, while yoga unites and integrates all the fragmented parts of ourselves, the parts that modern life has separated. But when we manage to discover and live the feeling that mind, body, spirit and soul are one whole living organism, then we feel the joy of being. We recover our true selves, and understand that all selves are really one self. With this knowledge we lose the feeling of being a stranger in a strange universe and instead feel at home in the universe that has created us.

When we practise the yoga asanas and breathe with awareness, we can gather energy from the earth beneath us.  With each exhalation we surrender to the universe, with each inhalation every cell of our bodies is renewed and restored.

Just as we gather medicines together to heal the body, so we gather with others to heal the body politic. When we are able to bring multitudes of people together, then the power of presence is very strong, strong enough to create new communities, new tribes, new nations. When people come and assemble together, as in the demonstrations against the Iraqi invasion, there is a tremendous feeling of solidarity, of togetherness. We realise how insecure and fearful we are when we live lives of selfish isolation, and how powerful is our connection to other people. The Taoist I Ching says,

When people gather in their spirit and energy, cultivate essence and life, and restore the original natural reality, that is coming back to our roots.

When we come back to our roots we are strong and solid, and we have trust in our ability to cope with all of life. That trust can be radiated outwards to other people, and can be used in all of life’s situations.  In difficult times, people are happy to work together with one heart and one mind, as long as they can find faith or trust. Faith, trust and confidence are all one thing: the knowledge that the universe has order and can sustain justice, and that we, as microcosms of the universe, also have an inherent order and a desire for justice. When people gather in accord with others, and seek justice for everyone, as those marchers did, then the time is truly joyful.

Images of gathering together, of massing things together, mean that we work purposefully together towards some end. This is why the Commentary says,

The superior person repairs his weapons

To guard against unexpected happenings.

To repair our weapons is to put our house in order, to bring ourselves to a peak of fitness that is mental and spiritual as well as physical. When we feel good in ourselves we feel good towards the world, and when we heal ourselves we help to heal the world. Inner healing and peace are the only way we can find peace in the world. There is no way to peace – peace is the way.

Entry filed under: Spiritual Almanack, Uncategorized.

Unfrequently Asked Questions Taoist Meditation Retreat

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Campbellx  |  September 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for this. I found it very affirming. It is how one would want to live and I try to maintain some of these elements every day.

    • 2. markforstater  |  September 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It’s nice to be read. Hope the thoughts were useful to you.



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