Musings from the Philosopher's Den: Receptivity - Being Guided by the Moment

Posted on January 28, 2018
Posted by Jim Sher

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese symbolic system that is considered to be an oracle by some people, but which can be far more than that. It can be a Way, a Path, helping us learn how to live a life of ‘Wisdom.’ It does so by answering questions to everyday life situations using a holistic system of 64 hexagrams, each of which has 6 lines, that contains thousands of years of wisdom and guidance. For those seeking to discover this wisdom, the art is to learn how to take a symbolic answer and apply it to a specific given situation we are asking about. The answer we receive is then interpreted, but we are always the one who is the interpreter. It is up to us to be honest with ourselves, or else we will gain little or nothing from the use of this system.


The attitude we will need to take is one of openness. What the system can teach us begins with being open to whatever answer we receive. In this simple beginning, the I Ching reveals itself as able to help us begin to apply an important life lesson, that of ‘receptivity.’


It is an openness that occurs when we allow ourselves to be led without trying to lead.  When we meet any situation with acceptance and adapt to things as they are rather than the way we would like them to be, a magic arises within as we are able to tune into the receptivity of what is needed in a given moment.  Our need to control life and the expectations we overlay on it fall away as we are humbled to discover that we are living in a world of unknowns. Here is where the jewel resides. As we meet life as it presents itself and rest in the unknown, then the magic of knowing or receptivity can bubble forth. The Earth is the essence of being receptive. It carries and preserves all things that live and move upon it, without expectation.  Maybe like the Earth, we too can learn that we no longer need to use force to make life as we wish it but, can meet it on its own terms, being receptive to its ever-changing ebbs and flows. To live in this way does not necessarily mean one is always passive. When it becomes necessary to act, one does so, but without ego and without any attachment to the results. The ‘Receptive’ can be very active in its ‘form-building’ aspect.  This includes bringing much needed reforms into the world.


My experience of letting the I Ching live in me is that it helps me live in a way where I can viscerally feel myself being supported by life itself, even if I am in a highly charged or difficult situation. If I am blocked from moving forward and I accept this, I comfortably adapt and cease fighting. I simply wait and see if the situation changes and act accordingly. I can even feel ego and fear melt away, so that my experience of internal conflict drops away, even if my situation has conflict in it in my external world. Most of all, I begin to see that my greatest freedom is to not let external events control my internal state of consciousness. Perhaps, this is the greatest freedom of all.


There is one slot left in a new I Ching course I am teaching in Culver City beginning on February 22nd. If you are interested, please contact me by email at I’ll arrange a time to speak with you more about the course.

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