Peace:
And The Darkness Shall Be The Light

 


I Ching Hexagram 11. T’ai/Peace

The receptive earth over the creative heaven.
This hexagram belongs to the months of February and March.


“Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth, and so their powers unite in deep harmony.
Then peace and blessing descend upon all living things.”1


I open the I Ching to these simple, yet complex words in the midst of the devastating horrors of war and genocide that continue across the body of Gaia. I wonder about the inner workings of peace as the sky continues to darken throughout the late afternoon. The wind howls and hisses through the trees, and the power goes out.

Later, I wake to the sound of branches cracking through the forest surrounding me. The neighbor’s dog barks relentlessly just before thunder shakes the house. Lightening flashes like daylight through the opacity of the blackened wee hours. Heaven opens and a torrent of rain fills the atmosphere, replaced suddenly by silence as rain turns into snowflake softly floating in its return to earth. My dreams are wild and many. I feel the year of the Wood Dragon arriving.

Trees represent the element wood and the season spring. Dragons, in Chinese culture, embody the “electrically charged, dynamic, arousing force”2 which allows change to happen. Dragons are helping spirits and messengers who move between heaven and earth. I wonder what Wood Dragon can show me about peace.

The forces of heaven and earth are not opposed to one another, but complement one another.

The world of time is formed from the creative interplay of this timeless duality. Time and timelessness live seamlessly as one reality. Humanity has forgotten that we, too, can find ways to engage with duality and paradox that are creative and complementary rather than divisive and destructive. We have forgotten that heaven and earth are also within, and how to harmonize amidst the constant changes they each bring.

I wonder about the ways in which I sometimes forget my way. Where am I divided or at war within? How does peace happen? Is peace only fleeting? Is it possible for peace to last, or to more easily access its presence? How can peace be found in the world community when peace can be so hard to find within families and our own human hearts?

I take this disquiet in my heart to the old growth forest and ask the trees, “please speak to me of peace”. And I come upon a clearing of alder, blackberry and willow. Still bare, they show me how heaven touches earth through their empty branches. They remind me that I, too, can be empty so that heaven can reach all the way down into my inner earth/ground of being. Something in me begins to soften—shoulders loosen and my breath reaches all the way down to my belly. Colors become more vivid, and my vision sharpens. Some clarity emerges through the chaotic whirl of branches, upturned roots, splashes of myriad fungus, moss and bark. Squirrel, wren and crow sing in a call and respond reverberating down through my ears and softening my heart.

My own inner chaos begins to center as I sense into the essence of what is living, thriving, and enduring among the heartache, decay and debris.

Although it is still winter and the water element, I can feel how water is becoming wood as winter becomes spring. Seeping through the roots of tree and up into its wooden body, water nourishes tree and helps it become flexible so that it won’t break in the next storm. Movement stirs from winter’s still depths. Dreams and realities that have been gestating in the watery depths of winter rise to the heavens from the earth through the upright verticality of trees, and all living beings, including humans. In this way, we are an embodiment of and bridge between heaven and earth.

A wondrous, beautiful miracle.

Notice what, in you, is connected to the earth and to heaven simultaneously, and how they live together in your body/being?

What is pulsing in the waiting? What is alive for you right now?

If you feel numb, cut off, depressed, broken-hearted, stuck, impatient, allow it some space to be. Notice how it is expressing itself in your body and mind. Listen for what it may need from you. Wait. Watch. Keep listening. Breathe all the way down into your legs and feet, and further down into the fecund soils of the earth. See if you can imagine roots growing from your feet down into the earth. Notice what happens.

Notice what is emerging though the dream world during this time of heaven touching all the way down into earth and reaching into her body, imbuing her with a spark of light for continued flourishing.

This is also happening within you, even if you aren’t aware of it.

This is a sacred time that only happens when the conditions are ripe. Be with it as fully as you can. Allow something to unfold from its own true nature and then move with it harmoniously like a dance partner or a lover, offering your full presence, heart, body and soul. Continue to track and tend this new emergence from which your truest essence is coming into being. Watch over it like a hen watches over her eggs.

When the heart of heaven settles into the soul of the earth, the conditions for peace become available. This is true in nature as it is within one’s innermost being.

How can we humans engage with this sacred exchange between heaven and earth? How might life be different if we could put aside knowing, judgment and desire long enough to receive the blessing of this holy union and let ourselves be changed by it? What if we could feel how our inner waters are flowing into the roots of our deepest authenticity, allowing our dreams to guide embodied life with imagination, like a prayer reaching heaven’s ears?

When energies begin to stir and chaos ensues, remember the forest and how the empty spaces between the messy tangle of things carry blessings from the heavens while earth receives and holds you. Be still and wait. Follow your senses to the essence of what is true/authentic, until something becomes clear. Keep tending this inner process over time. Stay faithful.

It’s not only up to us what happens. Listen. Let yourself be led. Follow. Say yes when it’s time to act, and wait if it isn’t. Be discerning. Wait for clarity. Temper your own will so that the will of the Tao can show you the way.

I, alone, cannot stop war and genocide, but I can work with my own inner divisions, with deep compassion for how difficult yet rewarding this inner work can be. I can recognize when knowing, holding and armoring are preventing a larger truth from emerging. I can breathe into my fears and resistances, and let my tears soften the edges of my heart so that I can stay present to the whole, holy tangle of embodied experiences whether joyful, easy, bewildering, uncomfortable or devastatingly painful. I can lovingly care for my earthen, animal body, tending it’s true needs. I can offer my heart and presence to those around me. Just this moment. And the next. And the next. Just this much, I can do.

When I forget, I can forgive myself and keep going. Keep remembering.

Peace cannot be forced, but we can choose to create the conditions for peace to be embodied and lived. What might be possible if separately and together we choose to keep showing up for peace, and the hard and tender work of staying present to and tending our own sharp inner edges while faithfully creating and seeing beauty amidst it all? What if we could find ways to be kind to ourselves and one another amidst our own misgivings and short comings?

Perhaps the threshold for peace is a living invitation for which we gain entrance by way of emptying ourselves of expectation, judgement and design, and, as T.S. Eliot invites, surrendering our own will enough to allow a larger will to imbue our life dance. What if peace is ever-present, already here within each of us when we finally surrender?

 

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without
love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the
dancing.”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets: East Coker


1 Wilhelm/Baynes, The I Ching, p. 48
2 ibid p. 7

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ‘Re-membering Wholeness, Belonging and Kinship Through Changing Times’.

Juniper Medicine Alchemical Acupuncture serving the greater Seattle area on Whidbey Island. To schedule an appointment call 360-672-1506 or EMAIL.

 

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