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Ch'ien The Creative

colorful frog chien
"A strip of water's spread
in the setting sun,
Half the river's emerald,
half is red.
I love the third night
of the ninth month,
The dew is like a pearl;
the moon like a bow."
Bai Juyi

Blog Feature: Nature's Archetypes

At the center of all ancient cultures is a story about creation. Since the Taoist recognized that life is always in a state of ‘becoming,’ it made no sense to describe something that is continuously evolving as being created. It is “just so,” ever present and moving, extremely creative and purposeful. Inherent in everything is a spark of energy that drives life forward.

“There is something undefined, yet complete, coming into existence and is the Mother of all things. Because I do not know its name, I call it Tao.”

As Tui evolves into the principle of Ch’ien or the Creative, life’s creative powers have reached their height of manifestation during summer. This is the zenith of creation, which must ultimately give way to decay and rebirth. The longest day of the summer solstice, means that the days will begin to grow shorter. As the earth turns back, “all things turn back with it.”

The Master said: “When the firm and yielding are distinct from each other, when the high and low move separately; when anything reaches its extreme, it must turn back.” In the cyclical constant of life, all things shed their growth and turn inward to be renewed. Turning back, we observe the chain of events that will begin to return new life to the earth.

As the last of the open lines transforms into a strong, Yang line, Ch’ien suggests nature at the apex of creativity. There is no other path but to open again. It represents the vital and productive energy of life as it leads the natural world toward the survival of the strong. At our best, we demonstrate strength, power and persistence although Ch’ien suggests a power that is poised, gentle and confident, not intimidating and despotic. To conquer the weak so that we can overcome our insecurities and shortcomings is not power, but an inferiority complex.

Powerful Yang can only be actualized when it is embraced by receptive Yin, and we see how success can only come through win/win situations. Caught up in the vision of what the future may require of us, we may lose sight of the present and exhaust ourselves into a time of turning inward.

All cultures celebrated the life giving power of the sun and it was the first deity to emerge in many mythologies. Without the sun, very few things on the earth could survive. The character of Seth in Egyptian mythology, demonstrates how drought and famine are created when any power is exercised to its extreme. Similarly, our quest for power can sometimes create a wasteland within and without. “There are times to move forward and times to turn within, as we move inward and outward according to fixed rhythms.” Like all things on the earth, we too, follow natural cycles of flowering and regeneration. All that is disintegrated in the coming autumn will lay the seeds of a springtime to come.

In Sumerian myths, the sun deity Shamash helps Gilgamesh to discover his destiny. At the same time, he questions him as to why he should seek it. In Judaic stories, Jacob wrestles with Yahweh, and receives a blessing for doing so. As we wrestle with the pull of our vital nature, we discover why life only meets us halfway. The other half of the journey allows us to find our own way. In this, we see how "failure and success come to test the depth and nature of our sincerity." If it is real, it will endure.

Yahweh appears in a whirlwind to Job, demonstrating nature’a power to destroy that is similar to how Vishnu reveals his Universal Form to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita. After Arjuna sees that “Brahman is everything,” he is told “Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds.” Similarly, Ch’ien demonstrates both this life-giving and destructive, yet necessary renewal aspect of life.

The Roman underworld and destructive deity, Pluto, also guarded the precious mineral wealth that could be extracted from the underbelly of the earth. Being led on an inward journey to discover this treasure below, is sometimes the only way to find our way forward. Job is told that Yahweh speaks “in two ways, although people do not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on mortals, while they slumber on their beds, then He opens their ears.” The Taoists too, found equally relevant meaning from both, experience and dreams.

Ch’ien is the essence of fertilization; it is our willingness to open to the Creative principle to discover how its seed is taking form within. Inspired by the regressive movement of autumn and winter, the Masters respected even those times, when one appeared to be turned back.

“The Way goes round and round and does not weary. Being great, it is described as receding. Receding, it is described as far away. Being far away, it is described as turning back.”

At the apex of summer, the earth begins to turn back and all things turn back with it. “Turning back is how the way moves. Know when to stop and you will meet with no danger.” Sometimes, only by turning within and wrestling ourselves free from our internal prisons, do we discover our way forward.