Hexagram 13 - Sameness with Others

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Recently I've been studying hexagram 36 a bit. It has led me to explore the idea of apoptosis, and I learned a little about how cancer cells tend to find ways to evade apoptosis, and also about how iodine can be used to induce apoptosis by bypassing the obstruction (ego) and opening a channel directly to the heart of the cell.


Mainly I was intrigued by how iodine is able to induce apoptosis not through any sort of traumatic action - it somehow reminds decaying/mutated cells that they are unhealthy, and they take care of the rest on their own.


I consulted the yijing asking about this role that iodine plays, and I received hexagram 13, fire under heaven. It is a fitting progression following my exploration of the somewhat opposite dynamic of hexagram 36, fire under earth, the darkening of the light.


Here is what the taoist yijing (liu yiming / cleary) says. I like this translation as it goes to the heart of yin, yang, and the alchemical process.



13. Sameness with People


Sameness with people in the wilderness is developmental. It is beneficial to cross great rivers. It is beneficial for a superior person to be upright.




Sameness with people
means other people and oneself are as one. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is
☰, strong, and below is
☲, luminous: Employing strength with illumination, making illumination effective by strength, being truthful within and adept without, developing oneself and others as well, it is therefore called
sameness with people


This hexagram represents mixing in with the ordinary world, concealing one's illumination, skillfully assimilating to others. It follows on the previous hexagram
. In
yin and yang match each other, strength and receptivity are united. When practitioners of Tao reach the point where yin and yang are balanced, strength and receptivity are unified, and the spiritual embryo is formed, then they can merge with the ordinary world, hiding their illumination, to cultivate advanced practice.


But to mix with the ordinary world, concealing one's own light, requires great impartiality and impersonality. This is a matter of being selfless. If there is no self, there are no others. When there is no self or others, the sense of others and self leaves; when the sense of others and self leaves, then others are oneself and oneself is identified with others. This is like the sky's covering everything, like the sun's shining everywhere. One can thus return others and self to emptiness, being like others in the wilderness, as it were, this assimilation being unfailingly developmental. The wilderness is a vastness where there are no people: Being like people as though in a wilderness means there is no image of self, no image of others, no image of people.


If one cannot be the same as other people with a true heart, and can only be the same as them in favorable circumstances but not in adversity, only in times of ease but not in danger, then this sameness is not true and sure, and is ultimately not developmental. When the text says "It is beneficial to cross great rivers," it means that if one can go along through situations of danger and difficulty, then where there is no danger or difficulty, wherever one goes it will be beneficial.


Every ordinary person in the world assimilates to others; but most people do so for personal reasons, and do not do it correctly -- they assimilate to those they should be the same as, but they also assimilate to those whom they shouldn't be like. This is not the meaning of sameness with people in the wilderness. Therefore the benefit of crossing great rivers is beneficial insofar as one is upright like a superior person. The superior person assimilates based on correctness, not on sentiment. What is correct is only a matter of what is right and true; sentiment changes, while truth has no change.


If one assimilates based on truth, then there is no sentiment; when there is no sentiment, the ideas of others and self both are transformed. Only truth is to be preserved; inwardly one can thereby develop oneself, and outwardly develop others. Seeing afar by means of illumination, acting directly by means of strength, strength and illumination both working, firmness and flexibility balancing each other, inwardly not losing oneself, outwardly not hurting others, round and bright, clean and bare, one stands in the midst of myriad things without being inhibited by myriad things; one is within yin and yang without being constrained by yin and yang.



In a way this is the strength of innocence. Clean and bright, it is welcomed by all, and so long as it does not attach to sentiment, the need to contest does not arise, and it is able to stay strong and bright without hurting others. Holding to truth - sincerity placed upon the unchanging heart of all things - it remains unchanged even within the wilds. Even should others attempt to change it, it constantly purifies itself, constantly centers itself within the light of truth, merely shining that truth outward as innocence, and this innocence ends up influencing those it touches, bringing them closer to the truth, even if they attempt to corrupt and darken.


In this I see how iodine is able to influence the purging of darkness without taking any intentional step to purge darkness. I read once how species that developed within iodine rich seaweed beds evolved without immune systems, because there was no need, as the iodine took care of this. Perhaps we can see the influence of an ever-present strength of truth in this.




First yang
: Sameness with people at the gate is blameless.


In the beginning of sameness with others, when one is strong and lucid, going to go out the gate to assimilate to others, before one is even out the gate, one already distinguishes right and wrong, whether it is suitable to be the same as people or not, and then after that one assimilates to those whom it is right to be like. Thus one can assimilate blamelessly. This is sameness with strength and prudence in the beginning.




In this I see encoded the mechanism of ziran. How one knows to flow spontaneously in the direction of sameness, the direction that will help one to maintain one's center without needing to take deliberate action. Like the deliberate placing of gravity, so that boulder of one's momentum may roll down the hill, pushed this way and that as one meets obstacles to truth, yet ever remaining aligned with that truth.





2 yin
: Sameness with people in the clan is regrettable.


Dwelling in the inner body, in the same place with two yangs, this is being the same as people in the clan. If one can only be the same as relatives or friends and not strangers, this is the path of shame and regret in being the same as others. This is sameness which is weak and not far-reaching.



Here perhaps the boulder reaches a place where truth is widespread, yet contained. It becomes easy for the boulder to forget to maintain awareness of the direction of the deeper truth, or its momentum may fade, and it may find that it can only regain the truth of illumination when it remains within the group that is illuminated, and then struggles whenever it meets those whom are not.




3 yang
: Subduing fighters in the bush, climbing up a high hill, even in three years there will be no flourishing.


When one is too strong and bright and honors and aggrandizes oneself, sometimes assimilation to others is forced and unnatural. This is likened to subduing fighters in the bush and climbing up a high hill. Sameness on a high hill is being able to be the same as those who accord with oneself but unable to be the same as those opposite to oneself. Such people cannot make the work of being the same as other people thrive even after a long period of three years. This is sameness with adamant forcefulness.



In the beginning the boulder clearly saw the path of right and wrong. Following the gravity of truth, it came to those who also carried truth. Now continuing along, one comes to those who do not know truth. One's strength of truth is great, and it would be easy to apply this strength of truth upon those who oppose it.


Yet this is only mounting a high horse, and one shows that one is different from others, and uses force to make them the same as oneself. A hill is created, where only those who can climb the hill are able to accord in sameness, while all others are cut away. It is easy to see this in a great many places, including moderator actions and the rules by which we declare the dimensions of our hill of truth, as well as threads where any person or group of people declares that theirs is the only way and belittles anyone who disagrees.


Too I see this in "specialization", where it appears beneficial for there to be a goal, a purpose, an island. The island pokes out of the sea as a beacon of light.... and yet it is separate from all else, and in its specialized languages discovers that only those who climb its very specific island can communicate with it.


The lesson I see in this is to set aside one's desire to shape others in any particular way, to accept them as they are even while maintaining one's own momentum and gravity toward truth, only responding to them in ways that this light of truth will not harm them. Perhaps we can see this in how daoist philosophy emphasizes simplicity, and the use of knowledge to discard knowledge. The use of a system that intentionally declares the island of its body of knowledge to be false. And thus it continuously assimilates into itself the knowledge of other systems without conflict, and without ever moving from the truth.





4 yang:
Mounting the wall, unable to attack. This is auspicious.


Mounting obstinacy with obstinacy, others powerful and oneself strong, others and oneself cannot be of the same mind. This is likened to mounting the wall yet being unable to attack. However, if one is firm and yet able to be flexible, and does not try to force the issue when unable to assimilate, this too is an auspicious way of sameness with others. This is sameness with firmness and ability to be flexible.



Here the lower trigram, representing the inner dynamic, inner illumination, meets the outer dynamic, strength. The boulder, at the height of it's strength and momentum, happens upon a wall. Line one, the discerning of right and wrong, relates to line 4. Both are strong lines, and do not flow easily together, and this represents the knowing of right and wrong meeting a place where it is very difficult to discern the proper direction in which to proceed.


Perhaps this is like Zhuangzi's cook, who comes upon a knot in the muscle, but rather than hacking it with force, summons the power to surrender completely, refusing to use force, refusing to tell the knot how it should be, but allowing the celestial mechanism to have complete control over its momentum.


But before any action is made, the first stage is in stopping, so as to accord with the dynamic one faces. One day in class I was walking to take a place in the meditation circle, along with everyone else. My path crossed that of my Sifu's, and we surely would have run into each other, should we each have maintained the original intent of our momentums. However he simply stopped in place, allowing my momentum to pass him by. I learned much from this encounter.


Yet in a way this is not simply stopping and allowing something to pass. It is more like stopping at a closed door in one's way. There is a way through, but one's recent momentum should not be used to force through it, or this would not be sameness with others. One must find a way to accord with the dynamic it faces, and so come to discover the key that will open the door.





5 yang
: In sameness with people, first there is weeping, afterward laughter. A great general wins, then meets others.


When firm strength is in proper balance and correct orientation, the path is completed and one is full of virtue; before there was no one who was the same, but afterward there will surely be those who will emulate. This is represented by first weeping and later laughing in sameness with others. To those whose way is lofty slander comes; toward those cultivated in virtue criticism arises -- it is not to be wondered at if there are few who understand and appreciate. But after one has perfected oneself, if one would perfect other people one must be completely firm and impartial, assimilating correctly, like a great general winning over them, eventually able to move people by sincerity and truth -- only then will they honor and submit and all emulate him. Why worry that sympathizers will not be met? This is sameness with great fairness and impartiality, beneficial for great undertakings.



Having stopped, one's inner illumination is able to enter the heart of the outer strength. Perhaps this is like how, having stopped upon facing the knot, and having surrendered to the celestial mechanism, the path of sameness within the heart of the obstruction unfolds. Line 2 accords with line 5 - inwardly empty, one is able to meet what is externally strong with emptiness.


Perhaps this is like where in push hands, one gives no resistance through which the other can grasp control. One rests upon the other, the other being able to find nothing to grasp upon, may have easy words of slander and criticism to place upon what which baffles them, that which they cannot understand and find the need to project explanations upon.


And yet, in seeing the emptiness within that outer strength, it can pose no resistance to one's own inner strength. The cook finds that the knot of muscle has unraveled while he stood within the emptiness. Holding strength in words that are inherently empty, it is easy for those words to become slandered, and yet, if those words are able to reach through the surface, to the emptiness inside another, one's own firmness unassailable and able to reach into the heart of others, others become moved by one's sincerity and truth, and move to emulate that truth.


I recall a story of my Sifu, who stopped doing two person work long ago. He spoke of a seminar he attended a couple decades back, where he decided to attend one of the push hands sessions. After a while, others started talking about him, saying did you do push hands with him? It's like he doesn't exist.




Top yang:
Being the same as people in the countryside, there is no regret.


When strength is used with flexibility, one can be in the world yet out of it at the same time; though outwardly the same, inwardly one is not the same. This is likened to sameness with people in the countryside. Sameness int he countryside is having great knowledge yet appearing ignorant, having great skill yet appearing inept. Circumstances cannot move one; one does not cause regret, and does not have any regret oneself. This is sameness that is harmonization without being influenced.



Being completely centered, yin and yang within refined to emptiness, one's emptiness is able to accord with all effortlessly. One does nothing, and all things are done.


I was in a cafe once, feeling very open, very humble, and very aware of how my field would shift and shape to the gravities of others as they passed me by. I came to realize that I did not need to resist their gravities in some vain effort at preserving my own refinement - more, I realized that there was no end to my own ending and the beginning of others, and that the more I was able to surrender and accept the interactions that surrounded me, the deeper I could melt into their own emptiness. The more I was able to see emptiness in all around me, the more I would nourish oneness within myself and others, helping to connect and unify all. Not merely remaining concealed within my own emptiness, but creating harmonious and non-conflicting healing through the connecting of all else to its own emptiness.



So in the path of sameness with people, it is necessary to be able to adapt to changes, to assess the time and determine what is to be done; it is important that assimilation be correct. If assimilation is correct, being strong and lucid, one can assimilate wherever one goes, without any forced assimilation anywhere. Then the meaning of sameness with people in the wilderness is realized.


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