On Jan 1st of 2020, my friend George Por asked me, “Spring, the ‘20s will most likely be a gateway to a planetary breakdown and/or breakthrough. What would I Ching say about how to enter this new decade?”
I Ching, pronounced as yee-ching, is a seven-thousand year old Chinese divination system, one of the Earth’s oldest cosmology systems. My life’s work is to steward the evolution of the I Ching into a tool for developing a leadership paradigm based on wholeness and respect for life on Earth.
Contrary to what many people think, I rarely consult the oracle in my daily life. The more I internalize and embody the spirit of I Ching, the less need I have to do the I Ching reading. Instead, I discover that life delivers oracles to me at the right moment, through the passing of a raven, a random conversation with a stranger at the grocery store, a news item floating through the Facebook feed, an (un)timely crash of the computer, a dream, or a number flashing on the subway door. I Ching readings are more like a pair of training wheels. With them, we can train our “eyes” and “ears” to perceive the matrix of subtle connections from which events of life arise and fall. And this matrix is broadcasting music every moment if one learns how to dial to the right “channel”.
As I reflected on George’s question, instead of doing a reading, I reflected on a series of conversations I had with a Chinese friend whose name is Yiqing. Coincidentally, the pronunciation of my friend’s name in English is exactly the same as I Ching: yee-ching.
Life is humorous. In Chinese, one would never link the name Yiqing with I Ching. The characters for Yiqing’s name looks like this: 义情. It means integrity and loving bond. The oracle book I Ching looks like this: 易经. It means the book of change. Because of the tonal nature of Chinese language, to the Chinese ears, the pronunciations for these two sets of characters are distinctly different. However, the anglicized versions of these Chinese words happen to result in the same pronunciation!
I have been working with I Ching in English for the last decade. I often tell people that we Chinese relate with a body of knowledge with such a long tradition as if we are relating with a living person. “I Ching to me is not just a book, but a person.” I have been saying this to my English-speaking friends for the last decade.
In 2019, I published the first book: The Resonance Code. Upon reading the book, George, the master weaver of an international web of change-makers and social innovators, introduced me to Yiqing who lives in China. Imagine my utter delight and surprise when I greeted Yiqing the first time on a videoconference call.
“Hello, Yiqing, it is so nice to meet you!” After pouring my life, passion, sweat and tears into the book of I Ching for a decade, meeting a real person with the same name was utterly surreal.
Right around the time when George asked me the question, “What would I Ching say about how to enter the ‘20s”, I was reading something Yiqing wrote in Chinese. I realized that what Yiqing wrote was the answer George was looking for. Instead of getting the oracle from the book, what about hearing fresh words directly from a live person! Below is my translation and expansion of Yiqing’s writing, followed by my own reflections and musing inspired by his.
Today, humanity’s journey on Earth has reached a historical junction. We are about to embark on an unprecedented journey, a collective migration into a parallel universe. This migration does not take place in the outer, physical world, but in the inner, psychic world.
The starting point of this migration is the Ordinary Universe, with which most of us are familiar. We perceive this universe from a viewpoint shaped by Newtonian physics, the Cartesian worldview, a linear, rational and reductionist approach. In the narrative arising from this viewpoint, humans are perceived as separate from their natural or social environments. We perceive ourselves as a finite unit, inhabiting a finite physical space defined by the boundary of our skin. This paradigm of separation gives rise to an intrinsic sense of isolation, scarcity and insecurity.
Most human organizations are expressions of the narratives from this universe. Following this narrative, an organization’s first priority is to maximize profits. Even humanitarian enterprises are often forced to follow the rules of profit-driven business, demonstrating their “efficacy” through metrics of quantifiable measurements. Inside these organizations, people are primarily treated as units of production, instead of fully enlivened, infinitely creative human beings.
This way of being and organizing is extremely powerful at creating the materialistic abundance of our modern civilization. However, it is depleting Earth’s resources at a dangerous rate. Moreover, it is also depleting the most important “spiritual resources” of humanity, such as the felt-sense of connection, purpose and belonging. Even in nonprofit organizations that strive to restore these important resources, they are often stuck in the habit of referencing their efforts to externalized metrics of quantifiable measurement. These kinds of activities perpetuate the paradigm of degrading the sacredness of humanity into commodities.
This Ordinary Universe can no longer sustain itself. Earth’s ecosystem is vehemently flashing us with red-light warnings that this old way of being has reached its expiration date. Climate crisis is the agglomeration of all the warning signs. Many of us can feel the flashing of these warnings in our gut.
The universe we are migrating toward is a new and emerging one. It is being birthed at this very moment. In this new universe, people inhabit a way of life where humans are an inseparable part of their natural and social environment. Instead of a separate unit, we experience ourselves as a nodal point, exchanging information and energy with an infinite web of connections with which we interact from an embodied sense of intimacy. From this viewpoint, sustaining Earth’s ecosystem is our responsibility. With that responsibility, we will need to learn how to care and respect our fellow humans beyond the apparent differences in our belief systems and ideology. We will learn how to knit the web of belonging and connection as biological and instinctual reflexes.
From this place, people will relate with the social organizations and systems we create as live, animated beings. In lieu of seeking profits, purpose and embodied aliveness become the central organizing principles. Instead of seeing its members as units of production, an organization would strive to cultivate a healthy environment where individuals can discover and express their creative potential through self-organizing principles.
To our eyes and ears conditioned by the first, Ordinary Universe, this new one is largely invisible and inaudible. Even for those of us who begin to open our “eyes” to see it, it may still look fuzzy, ambiguous and questionable. It is very tempting for us to write it off as a naïve, laughable bubble of an unrealistic ideal. For a long time, we will only have the faintest idea of what this new universe looks like. None of us has a complete map of this universe. This migration asks us to wield enormous trust in order to trudge forward on a journey into the unknown.
This new universe is not a utopia. It has its own challenges and limitations. It has its own rules of engagement we need to learn how to play. However, it is a new frontier toward which we must migrate. Year 2020 starts with the devastating images of the fire in Australia and the American president ordering a mindless assassination in another sovereign country. This is just the beginning. The Ordinary Universe is going to become more and more unstable, deranged and destructive to life.
In the next decade, this historical human migration into the New Universe will only pick up speed and momentum. This is probably the largest collective migration since the migration out of Africa. Two million years ago, small bands of humans started to leave the motherland of Africa, embarking on journeys into the vast unknown. Today, the offspring of those explorers have left footprints in almost every corner of the Earth. We humans have learned so much, conquered so much and grown so much. There are many triumphs about which we are proud. At the same time, more than ever, we can also see clearly the darkest, ugliest and weakest parts of our human nature.
Today, there is no virgin territory left on Earth. Where will this new migration take us? To outer space? The mindless expansion into outer space can only be a projection of the dark side of human psyche into a slightly more remote point. No, not that. This new migration is asking for far more imagination than a simple expansion of the Cartesian worldview.
As I reflect on Yiqing’s narrative of this unprecedented migration we are facing, I ask myself what will this migration look like? Imagine an ant that crawls on a piece of paper. As long as the ant crawls horizontally, it has no problem covering the entire space of the two-dimensional flat world. However, it will never find the “third” dimension. Because the paper is very thin, it appears as if the third dimension is not present. Yet, from the vantage point of a three-dimensional world, the “third” dimension is everywhere on the paper.
In this migration we are facing, we, as physical creatures inhabiting a three-dimensional space, are looking for those thin and elusive extra dimensions, just like that ant on the flat land looking for the third dimension. These extra dimensions are folded within our ability to perceive ourselves as beings inhabiting not just physical space, but time.
Each one of us as a living being is biologically encoded with the information of billions of years of evolution in our genetics. It is only reasonable to assume that the evolutionary impulse carried by human beings will continue even if civilization as we know it is ultimately destroyed by climate-induced disasters and possible large-scale human extinctions. If we can consciously access the part of ourselves that resonates with the Earth’s evolutionary impulse, we are not only destined to survive, but to embrace a “golden age” that would arise from the ruins of destruction.
However, entrenched in the view of the Ordinary Universe, we are programmed to perceive ourselves as an inconsequential being with a lifespan of a mere nine decades. We become more and more individualized and our sense of self is cut off from our ancestral lineage, somatic intelligence and instinctual impulse, hence cut off from the evolutionary impulse of the Earth. In that regard, we are no different than ants crawling on a flat world, unaware of the third dimension. Thus, in the migration we are facing, we must learn how to expand our sense of self onto the dimension of time, so that our own instincts may resonate with Earth’s evolutionary impulse, and we may experience ourselves as energetic beings propagating over time.
Marcel Proust once said, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Throughout history, many ingenuous and creative individuals, known spiritual masters such as Jesus or Buddha as well as unknown hermits and monks, have acquired the ability to develop “new eyes” of perception. They become a “Time Being”. Their life energy continues to vibrate among us long after their physical bodies perish. Yet this time, we are being asked to commit to this migration as a collective, as a tribe, and a human family.
I ponder what this collective journey of migration will look like. We won’t know for sure until we commit ourselves to it. I want to share my imagination and musings inspired by a dream I had.
In this dream, I was locked inside a giant building. I needed to get out terribly because the air inside the building was thinning out. Breathing was getting increasingly harder. I was about to suffocate. Like an ant, I was searching frantically for a way out. I tried every door and every room on every floor, taking every staircase, exploring every turn…
After a while, I finally realized that this building had no exit leading out. The air was getting thinner and thinner and I breathed harder and harder, grasping for air. I became desperate.
Just when I thought I was about to die, it suddenly occurred to me that I was inside my own dream! It was my own “dreaming” that created this building and locked me inside. And, the “I” inside of the building was not my real self, but merely a “point of view”. A thought flashed through my mind, “only if I can destroy this ‘point of view’, then I could get out of this building!”
Upon that realization, I started to scream. “Wake up! Ahhhh ~~~~~! Please, I want to wake up!” First, the “I” in the dream tried to make sound yet no sound came out. My vocal cords were still in the sleep mode. But the “I” in my dream kept trying and trying, as my survival was dependent on it. Finally, my vocal cords started to vibrate. My voice became louder and louder. In my scream, the “I” in the dream collapsed and imploded. I woke from the dream, covered with sweat. I then realized why I couldn’t breathe. My beloved husband’s arm lay across my chest. I gently put his arm back, turned over, snuggled up to his warm body and went back to a peaceful sleep.
I reflected on this dream for a long time. I interpreted it as a message from Mother Earth. In the dream, the “I” is not a single person but a metaphor of the collective that is embarking on this journey of migration into the dimension of Self as Time Beings.
In this metaphor, we are all locked inside a giant building, civilization in the Ordinary Universe and all its infrastructure. This building is collectively dreamt by all of us. This building is no longer sustainable. We need to find our way out. This dream illustrated four phases in our exit.
First phase: Shock. In the first phase, there is an imminent sense of danger. If we don’t get out, we will die. As Climate Crisis brings us one devastating headline after another, many of us are experiencing this phase.
Second phase: Activated. After being shocked into the realization that we are facing the imminent prospect of extinction, more and more of us are mobilized, looking for ways to get out of the “building”. We try every door and every pathway. However, eventually we realize that none of the old ways of operating will work. We are still locked inside the building. There is no way out.
Third phase: Remembering. In this phase, a real sense of doom overwhelms us. We surrender to it. Some of us will not make it through this phase. We may perish physically or collapse psychologically. However, those of us who survive and keep an intact psyche will realize that the “building” was created by our own “dreaming”. To get out of the building, our current, witnessing point of view, which contributes to the dreaming, needs to be deconstructed entirely.
Fourth phase: Awakening. Those who have passed through the third phase will start to invent ways to wake up. The “screaming” is a symbol for learning to interact with “energy” to cause vibrations and resonance with the fabric of reality. As we do that, we gradually wake to a fully embodied, much larger version of self that connects us to the longer cycles of life on the Planet Earth. Once more of us awaken to this version of self, options that were previously inconceivable to the dreaming selves become available. Together we can work with each other to restore harmony between humanity and the larger life of the Planet.
These four phases are not going to be a linear process for any individual. Instead, we will go around and around through the four phases again and again. No single individual can complete this journey and be done with it, as long as the bulk of the collective are still dreaming. This will be a journey without a destination point. In fact, the journey itself is our destination!
Note: This four-phase journey is a map I will use to navigate this migration ahead. It is also an extension of one of the Resonance Code maps I derived from the reinvention of I-Ching. Our ingrained conditioning of separation can trap us in any one of the four phases above. Stay tuned for a further article that will explore how we can be trapped at each one of these phases.
Thanks for my friend George for asking and my friend Yiqing for sharing his imagination with me. We are in for the ride. Let’s reach out and find each other’s arms as we trudge towards this new universe!
Read Warriors, a poem written by Yiqing and translated by Spring.