Hexagram 22 - Adorning

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I'd be interested in hearing different interpretations of this hexagram. As a relative newcomer to the I-Ching, I have been doing a reading every morning to try and better learn the book - and I think I've been having a lot of success - but this morning's reading is really tripping me up. It's the first time I've gotten "22. Adorning," and I feel as though an important lesson is staring me in the face but I'm just not able to pin it down. This can be a general discussion, of course, but just to fan the flames a little I'm going to include my personal details.


I asked the book about myself as an entrepreneur. This has been a constant internal battle for me for many years -something ingrained in my creative side and personality: I think up wild ideas to "launch," creative projects, next big things, new missions, etc. almost as get-rich-quick schemes, things that will for sure  hit it big for me and lead me to the life of my dreams in hardly any time at all. But then they either fail or I lose interest quickly....and it's on to the next thing. And repeat. It has at times been rewarding, but it's also often very exhausting. Lately,  I've been wondering if letting go of this trait of mine, perhaps being more in the moment in my "regular person job" (or putting more effort into finding a new one), and not heaping all these expectations on myself, might actually lead to me being happier, even if it goes against my first instincts.


Essentially, I've been exploring the idea that "entrepreneurship not being for everyone" does not equate to a creative person "giving up."


And so it was with this background that I drew Adorning.


Here are three pieces of the reading/different interpretations that jumped out at me and my reactions to them in order to provide you all an example of why I feel all over the map with this one:


From a supplemental online source:

Outwardly, everything is good. But it is not time for great things. At the moment content with little. Do not obsess over visual appeal. Look at what's happening and choose goals for the future according to the dictates of the soul. Furnishing our external, do not forget to take care of the internal, true beauty is inside.


My number one New Year's Resolution to myself for 2016 was, "Start small." This seems to fit with letting go of the pressures of entrepreneurship. It doesn't dismiss the urge altogether, but rather suggests I might be rushing things. Now is not the time. It kind of puts me at ease. 



From my Huang translation:

Form and essence - yin and yang - should always compliment each other.


This was the sentence that immediately commandeered my attention and one that could go either way - fitting perfectly with the above or playing to my fears. I'm really on the fence about it. Is my essence that free-spirited leader mentality and my discontent a result of my projects not having been successful? Or are these lofty projects betraying my more serene essence?




My moving line was Second Six alternates to 26. Great Accumulation. 

Same as above. Should I read that continued determination will pay off? Or that it is letting go that is auspicious?



Anyways, I understand the varying nature of readings/interpretations. Just thought I'd throw this out to open up the dialogue about this particular hexagram (and maybe open my mind a little in the process). I'm certainly not treating it as life or death and I do have confidence I'll figure my situation out eventually. That being said, there's my troubles, so figure them out for me ;)



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Thank you for the invitation to interpretation.  Here's mine.  (15 years of I Ching experience. :) )


You got an auspicious reading, but the question you asked was formulated in such a way that you can't use it in any pragmatic fashion.  You essentially asked how you would feel (or fare) if you were an entrepreneur.  The I Ching told you you would feel good.  This does not answer the "how do I get there" question that's really on your mind -- you already know what you want, what you don't know is how to act toward getting what you want. 


If I were in your shoes, here's how I'd ask the question:

"I divine my best course of action toward becoming an entrepreneur.  Please give me an image."


Also, when getting a changing line (or lines), you need to consider it your main answer.  The resulting new hexagram is the most likely outcome of taking the course indicated by the changing line(s).

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I still like Richard Wilhelm's translation best.

From the text of hexagram 22 (Adornment), I would highlight

The fire, whose light illuminates the mountain and makes it pleasing, does not shine far, in the same way, beautiful form suffices to brighten and to throw light upon matters of lesser moment, but important questions cannot be decided in this way. They require greater earnestness.

This speaks to your occasionally giving your higher aspirations a try, but, alas, without the necessary determination and perseverance necessary to truly succeed.

Also the commentary on six in the second place seems very pertinent:


Lends grace to the beard on his chin.

The beard is not an independent thing; it moves only with the chin. The image therefore means that form is to be considered only as a result and attribute of content. The beard is a superfluous ornament. To devote care to it for its own sake, without regard for the inner content of which it is an ornament, would bespeak a certain vanity.

Don't you get a kick out of temporarily seeing and feeling yourself as an entrepreneur? "Oh yeah, I could do it if I really wanted!" Isn't there in fact a certain vanity in your attitude?

Hexagram 26 (The Taming of the Great) is all about holding firm. Here, we read:


To hold firmly to great creative powers and store them up, as set forth in this hexagram, there is need of a strong, clear-headed man who is honored by the ruler. The trigram Ch'ein points to strong creative power; Ken indicates firmness and truth. Both point to light and clarity and to the daily renewal of character. Only through such daily self-renewal can a man continue at the height of his powers. Force of habit helps to keep order in quiet times; but in periods when there is a great storing up of energy, everything depends on the power of the personality. However, since the worthy are honored, as in the case of the strong personality entrusted with leadership by the ruler, it is an advantage not to eat at home but rather to earn one's bread by entering upon public office. Such a man is in harmony with heaven; therefore even great and difficult undertakings, such as crossing the great water, succeed.

The oracle confirms that you indeed have the creative power in you which it takes to have great success. But it requires more firmness - and the daily renewal of such. Perhaps start the day with some physical exercise to keep your body, mind and spirit in shape. The time is right - go for your dreams!

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Taomeow, Michael, you've both given me many new angles to think about. After doing so for a bit, I may return with thoughts....Thank you.

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Ah, these are possibly the two hexagrams I've studied the most. Oddly enough I just spent the day helping a 22 person move, and I am a 26 person.


Both of these hexagrams are very similar:

  • The trigram Mountain ☶ is a containing force.
  • Mountain on top is like the outer container of an inner something.
  • In hexagram 22 it is containing fire ☲.
  • In hexagram 26 it is containing heaven ☰.
  • This containment acts like a compressing force on fire and heaven.
  • The top line of mountain is responsible for this containment and expression.
  • When the top line is not strong, it allows what it contains to escape - much like a volcano.
  • When fire is contained and compressed, it becomes a powerful creative force.
  • When heaven is contained and compressed, it becomes a powerful force of knowledge.

It is perfectly fine to ask the Yi about situations. It actually excels at giving answers about situations. The challenge is merely one of interpretation. Thus for beginners it can be very helpful to ask more specific questions.


The situation you described above sounds like it is on your mind a lot, and that you were very sincere in your intent to discover an answer. This is very good, as it helps one receive a clear answer.


Your situation describes the dynamic of hexagram 22 very well. Remember, we have two primary forces at work here. The force of containment, and the force of the pressure that builds up when creative energy is contained. Naturally the strength of the container is only going to hold things until they build up to a certain pressure, and then it will release them. This is what you are describing in terms of all the creative projects that you have worked on.


Hexagram 22 is known to some as Adornment, Embellishment, and Grace. What happens is that when the creative power within releases it into the external, one is adorning, or embellishing oneself. Like someone who wears rings on every finger and lots of necklaces. Or someone who is always buying the latest gadgets and aware of the latest trends. However, when one turns within and strengthens their container, sealing the creative energy within and stabilizing it, it becomes inner illumination and clarity, and one needs little in the way of extravagance to be happy. Even though this person may appear plain from a material, superficial sense, it is still very apparent that such a person is containing an inner grace.


So the dynamic you described in your situation is that of trying to create new ideas on this superficial layer and constantly hoping they succeed, but really they don't have deep enough roots to do so, because the intent behind their inception is rooted in your desire to get rich quick.


The changing line is line 2, and line 2 is the center of Fire, and the center of Heaven - the heart of the energies that are being compressed. My read is that you are being shown this line because that is your key. It is when this line is able to become something more real, because you are able to contain it within you, that you will be able to turn it into something that can be of lasting value to others.


To do this likely requires you to develop and refine your ideas internally, over several years, while you do other things in the outside world like your day job. Don't invest money in pushing out ideas to the world that haven't had a long time to mature. Your gift lies in the capacity to create something, maybe only one thing, that is truly great, but you could waste this potential by spending your energy on hundreds of things that won't catch.


So take some time. Just do your day-to-day. Forget about seeking the answer. Forget about creating anything. It'll come on its own. When it does, don't leap on it. There may be other things that come. Be patient. Over time what comes will lead you to explore it in greater depth. Do so, and try not to talk about it with others. Take the time to let it fully build within your container. It'll let you know when its ready. Be firm.

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Oh, as an aside, in the monthly animal cycle, Dragon is known as an entrepreneurial force.


Dragon is primarily an Earth phase of energy, and it is situated between the Wood of Spring, and the Fire of Summer.


Wood is like energy. Fire is the expression of the energy.


So if we want, as entrepreneurs, to capitalize on this energy that is going to ignite, we simply shape it. We take the wood, and move it into configurations where it will burn with an effect that we desire.


So this is another way to understand the reading - to be successful as an entrepreneur, you don't want to move one branch into a fire pit. It won't burn for long, and not many people will notice. You want to move a lot of wood into place, perhaps spelling letters, on a mountainside, that people will see from afar when it begins to burn. Thus your task is to take your time with the positioning of the resources available to you before trying to capitalize on them quickly. Go deep and find the root!



But hey! If you are going to take this advice and use it to some success, just remember - this advice came from the dao. Really listen to your heart and make your success something that will nurture the dao, nurture balance. The world is full enough with entrepreneurs who violate the dao.

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Dauluin, I especially love your interpretations of my yield here. You're obviously quite skilled at this. What a fascinating, powerful book that the four of us can take away such a range of things from the chapter and I can find real value in each....


A few thoughts for each of you:


First, just to clarify one broad point that maybe wasn't clear: the idea of "failing" in these creative pursuits of mine wasn't so much causing me angst as was me being a little baffled why things never seem "right." Why do things feel like a fit for me only fleetingly? In other words, I sincerely wasn't pulling to be an entrepreneur or not an entrepreneur - or looking at one or the other as "better" or more indicative of success - but rather just to be helped steered to a place of contentment with my creativity.



For my morning reading this morning, I tried rephrasing my inquiry as you suggested, albeit, taking into consideration the above, prefaced by "If I was to commit to entrepreneurship" (which I hope doesn't dilute the magic!). I drew 27. Nourishing with Second Six alternating to 41. Decreasing. Believe it or not, I took some similar notions to my previous draw & also to Michael & Daeluin's interpretations which I expand on below.



Interestingly - and perhaps indicative of what's in my heart - different things from your chosen selections jumped out at me than jumped out at you. 


First, could I not read the fire (my creativity) as being "pure" in a sense and the mountain, what that fire illuminates (and the thresholds I continuously imagine my creativity taking me), as being something of an illusion? In other words, I need to commit to the fire, because the fire is what is real. Does that follow at all? 


Another really interesting excerpt for me was the line from your third quote, " ....it is an advantage not to eat at home but rather to earn one's bread by entering upon public office." I find that I succeed out in the "real world," with people, in public view, but I'm most naturally inclined to isolated pursuits/solo business ventures/et cetera (which do not usually succeed). I've wondered about this often....if the answer for me is somewhat counter-intuitive as are so many things in life....


Along those same lines, Daeluin:

You wrote, "...while you do other things in the outside world like your day job." Another huge theme for me and this really hit home. I've often wondered about this, thinking of it as a kind of a distraction necessary to success. Like that it is far from advantageous to obsess over one thing, put all your eggs in one basket, etc. I found the last part of your response very Tao. 



Thanks again for playing along guys....many pieces staring to come together....





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