A Time of Change
We are living in a tremendously volatile and uncertain time. Every day, the gigantic forces of change are shearing millennium-old beliefs, paradigms and perceptions of reality into broken bits and pieces. The debris composts itself through the pain and grief of human hearts, giving life to new ideas and paradigms that are mushrooming up through every frontier of society. It is also a time when we are facing the devastating impact of human civilization on the planet, the chaos and disruption brought forth by the failing of many political systems, and the potential dire consequence to our very own future.
“There is no environmental problem. There are only environmental symptoms of human problems.”
Dr. Gilman is a pioneer and leader in the arena of cultural and consciousness change. And, he is formerly trained as an astrophysicist.
I was brought up by astronomer parents who were among the first batch of home-grown scientists in China. Like Dr. Gilman, my father is also very passionate about “human problems.” Outside his work in astronomy, my father pored over history, politics and philosophy. Many of my childhood hours were spent listening in rapture as he talked about these “human problems” with his astronomer friends. Through those talks, he passed that passion to me.
One can say that the myriad issues our humanity is facing share a common denominator. That is how do humans be in relationship with ourselves and “others” who hold values conflicting or even in direct opposition to ours? Answers to this question fundamentally inform, inspire and imprint the cultural constructs we build, the technology we develop, and the ways our social institutions organize human collaboration and apply the technologies to natural resources and the non-human world.
I-Ching and the Living Process of Change
I-Ching, the ancient Chinese oracle book, is one of the oldest books on Earth. It is a record of Earth’s longest living wisdom on how to be in relationship with one’ self, our fellow human beings, as well as the non-human world in a sustainable and generative way. Its teaching has infused every vein and artery of ancient Chinese culture, from politics, arts, and law, to medicine and economics.
In ancient Chinese cosmology, the natural world as well as the human world are both enlivened and regenerated by the same Living Process of Change. Sky and earth, water and fire, all are elemental symbols through which this living process speaks. Mountains erupt and erode. Thunder and lightning release energies between opposite charges. Lakes fill up with melting snows and dry out after the summer. They are all magnificent expressions of this process.
In the human world, every event from our very own birth and death, marriage, to political changes, wars and alliances with other tribes and countries are all driven by this process. I-Ching, which means the scripture of change, describes 64 hexagrams, each a six-digit binary code, representing an archetypal pattern through which one can recognize and interact with this Living Process of Change.
For the Chinese, the universe is fundamentally a verb. The subjective noun is secondary and provisional to this process. This is reflected in the Chinese language. Many Chinese sentence constructions only describe the action without needing to specify a subject that initiates the action.
Immigration to the West: From Scripture of Change to Scripture of the “I”
The Chinese character for change is written as 易, pronounced as yee. It is usually translated as change in English. However, the meaning is subtler than that. It refers to the kind of change that is inherent in the procession of time, such as seasonal change or the maturation and aging process of the living body. It implies an evolutionary process.
In English, the word 易is translated as “I”, probably because of an outdated phonetic system that was used to match Chinese sounds to alphabetical letters. To an English speaker who never encounters this book, they often refer it as I (ai) Ching. And the title of the book gives the appearance that this is a book about I, as in I myself.
What an ironic twist of coincidence — like many Chinese who immigrate to America, I-Ching also has to wrestle with the change, or evolution, of its very own identity! A book about the unnamed changing process in the East turns into a book about “I”, the ultimate witness and subjectification of the universe in the West. And how fitting!
For modern minds shaped by English-speaking cultures, a process needs to be initiated by a subject. It was through the English-speaking cultures that this abstraction of “I” fully culminated into a whole spectrum of political, economic and cultural practices that have spread all over the world through the capitalistic economy, individualistic ideology and modern technology. It only makes sense that the scripture of evolutionary change would have to come to terms with this “I” when it immigrated to the west!
I feel through this ironic twist, evolution is winking its eye and smiling at us through I-Ching. It is asking, how can “I”, this precious embodiment of millions of years of human evolution, grow out of the current tumultuous adolescence and blossom into its maturity? How can “I” consciously weave its own evolutionary path with the evolutionary process of the planet as a whole?
“I” as a Host for a Fractal Representative of the Collective
Imagine that we experience ourselves as if we are living in a house. The house is built upon the most fundamental belief systems we inherit from our family and native culture, including the portions below the “ground” and unconscious to our own mind. They set the stage for how we consciously experience every event in life. The windows are our perceptual lenses through which we see what is outside and what is inside. Within the house, there are various rooms where we experience and express our feelings and thoughts, and fulfill our instinctual needs and desires. The house has several floors. On each floor we experience ourselves at different stages of our development. Here, we are going to refer this house the I-House.
We never leave the I-House. In every minute of our life, we experience and interact with the world through it. Throughout our life, we are responsible for maintaining, managing, renovating and sometimes, re-building the I-House. The identity we construct out of living in this I-House is our “address.” This address gives the coordinates at which the house is in relationship with the all the rest of the “houses” in its neighborhood, the town, the country and the world.
In this I-House, besides the “I” also lives another figure. We call it the fractal representative of the collective, or Fractal Representative. One can never experience the “I”, without being in relationship with the Fractal Representative. The relationship may be in the form of the “I” asserting its complete independence or sovereignty, or the Fractal Representative exerting its authoritative power over the “I”. Or it may come in the form of a business-like trade or exchange between the two. Or they could be courting or even fall in love with each other. Or it may come in the form of the “I” taking on an identity of completely merging and dissolving into the Fractal Collective. This is the paradoxical nature of this relationship, when the “I” becomes conscious of itself dissolving into the Collective, it has immediately created a new identity for itself. The I-House always has an address.
The practice of Resonance Code is guided by the following questions.
In this I-House, how does “I” host its relationship with the Fractal Representative of the collective? What do these representatives look like? In what language do they speak? Through what patterns do they communicate with us? And most importantly, how can “I” steward the evolution of its relationship with these representatives during their stay?
For many people, the relationship with the collective means established channels such as holding seats in public offices, joining political rallies and functions, and conducting public discourse. Resonance Code points to an entirely different array of possibilities, which do not preclude the established channels but are meant to empower and magnify our efforts put into these channels.
Based on I-Ching’s premise that all events in life were infused and empowered by this one unnamed Living Process of Change, when the “I” learns the language of this Living Process of Change, it then can communicate with the collective-we through the Fractal Representative she consciously hosts in her I-House. It is then no longer an isolated “I” sequestered in the island of itself, it starts to consciously embody an I-We continuum. The Collective-We will resonate through the “I”. Resonance Code teaches the basic vocabulary and grammar of this language.
With this language and the set of perceptual lenses one develops through practicing the assorted skills using this language, the “I” can perceive and interact with the Fractal Representative of the collective already present in its life. This representative speaks through patterns embedded in the events happening around us. It speaks through our relationship with our core family or people we most closely work with, especially in areas where there is dissonance or conflict. It speaks through our day-to-day interactions with neighbors, pets, and plants. It speaks through random events from the totals on your grocery receipts, to the eagle flying overhead in the park, to the newsfeed on Facebook. It speaks through the temporal patterns of seasons and astronomical events. It speaks through our daytime fantasies or night time dreams.
The Guest called I-Ching
In 2008, through a series of time-warping events I found a guest called I-Ching crashing through my then I-House. The minute this guest walked in, she announced an urgent request. She came into my house to die and rebirth herself. I would say that at that moment, my old I-House was practically shocked to its collapse by this unexpected, crazy guest with such an outlandish request.
As my old “I” wept and grieved over the ruins of my old “House”, this guest gently took me by her hand and led me to see the “land” of my true inheritance. She taught me skills of how to build a new I-House. She showed me how to mine the treasures in my heritage and sent helpers along the way. With their help, I tore down my old I-House to its foundation and practiced rounds and rounds of rebuilding.
My relationship with my guest has evolved dramatically over the course of these last nine years. This guest can be tyrannically demanding in her all-consuming needs. And she does not hesitate to tear down my I-House again and again until it meets her standards. At the same time, she is also exceedingly caring, generous, and bountifully imaginative in her generosity. She showered gifts to me that fulfilled longings deeper than I myself knew. Among those gifts, the most precious is a sacred union with my lover, playmate, and creative partner Joe Shirley. Within the house of our joint selves, we are learning how to explore the wonders in the vast gap between the eastern and western cultures and building bridges over the gap.
What I want to share with you through Resonance Code is my learning through hosting my guest. As I lead you through the stories happening between me and my guest and the treasures Imined and refined, I would like to invite you to bring this question with you,
Who is the Fractal Representative of the collective that is knocking on your door?
Also published on Medium.