Thoughts on the “Big Self”

(Written circa Fall 2012)

What is the ΔSELF∇?

Two stories from Indian texts came to mind, though I do not recall their origins.

For the Self, a parable in Indian lore describes its aspects. Three blind men are all holding different parts of an elephant: its trunk, its tail, the torso, and so on. They all trying to understand what they are feeling.

They argue and cannot agree on what it is they are all perceiving. The triune nature of our being: Mind, Body, and Spirit. They all grope some thing and sensing separateness, try to discern. When in fact, it is the same object of experience they all touch.


Another comes to mind: the parable of the Self and the Mind working together. Like a blind, strong man carrying a sighted lame man on his back. The lame one “sees” for his companion. The strong one moves and manipulates matter for his guide. A metaphor for how we unreflectively perceive the universe perhaps. Are we our minds? Or are we the awareness of our minds?  It seems like there is this other watcher who is present beyond our thoughts and sensations. Something like a soul or essence…


May you carry yourself well. Ut te bene ferre.


The Tools of the Earth


Hexagram II. K’un – The Receptive

The Receptive brings about sublime success,
Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead,
He goes astray;
But if he follows, he finds guidance.
It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,
To forego friends in the east and north.
Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.

The earth’s condition is receptive devotion.
Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
Carries the outer world.

Composed of only yielding energies, The Receptive represents the primordial spatial power of the Earth. This image is that of Gaia, The Great Mother, or the Goddess who serves all beings with her devotion. She is the consort and perfect complement to Hexagram I. The Creative: he being a resplendent dragon, and she being a strong mare. Their relationship is one of partnership and co-creation; not of strife or competition. These two nodes in the Book of Changes point to the non-duality and cohabitation of the world of perception and that of the unperceived.

Heaven’s energy brings spirit into matter, the dense substrate of Earth. This substance is potentiated and put into service of the good through creativity. This harmony depends on the Receptive submitting to the influence of the Creative. Should the Earth rise up as an equal to Heaven, evil shall arise from the opposition.

The mandala of rising yin lines reveals the spatial dimension in which the powerful spirit of pure potentiality inhabits. Strict boundary conditions must be established for this to occur. This is the perseverance of matter and energy. The Receptive’s summum bonum is in its overwhelming ability to nurture and support all life. The dragon’s thunder begets the 10,000 things, and the horse’s steadfastness births them unto the world. Meeting fate with a vulnerable acceptance, like a mare being led happily on the mountain trail, foretells of success. One is sensitive to what is required of one’s circumstances, and yet still seeks the silvery thread of Fate’s trail.

The Earth, in the time of summer and autumn, sets to work allowing the receptive forces to come under the reign of the developmental currents inherent in Nature. Change, to be emanated fully, must be firmly set within tenacity and toil. The southwesterly wind blows, and all forces converge under the guidance of group efforts.

The season calls for reflection, planning, and aloneness also. The stream runs towards the northeast between the granite hills. Solitude is valuable in its single-mindedness and objectivity in weighing one’s position. Receiving orders from the higher structures of Nature, and then re-telling what one has learned. In the last, sacred hour, the sage retires to his inner sanctum so that the magnitude of experience may not be disturbed as the surface of a still pond.