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Hexagram 20: Contemplation

Background: I had contacted someone I admired, but did not know, to ask what seemed to me a very reasonable favour. I was stunned to get a refusal -it was really very depressing, as it made many hours of work I'd already done useless - and still more upset by the tone of the reply, which was frankly abusive. The only redeeming feature was an olive branch he extended at the end of his message. Accepting it would have meant doing some work for him, and I wasn't sure whether this would be a good idea, given how bruised I felt. In fact, I'd already begun to draft a reply which gave full vent to my feelings! But I wasn't sure how to respond to his offer, and so I asked the I Ching.

The reply: Hexagram 20, Contemplating, with lines 2, 4 and 6 moving, changing to 47, Confined. The primary hexagram, Contemplating, made me check that I wasn't in danger of sending my initial response by mistake! It showed how I should be - contemplating and preparing for action with presence of mind and dignity, not rushing in precipitately. It also showed that I was being watched - I would be judged by my response (and not, given what 47 had to say, by the words I clothed it in). Line 4 spoke favourably of being 'a guest of the king' - which meant that I should accept his offer and do the work for him. Line 6 reminded me that he was watching my response. But line 2 was much harder to grasp. 'Watching, peeping furtively through a crack. The constancy of woman is beneficial. …This truly creates an occasion for ugliness.' I had to think about this a lot, but finally realised that in my efforts to keep my initial approach brief, I had actually given an impression of furtiveness and provoked the misunderstanding and ugliness that followed. I needed to open the door fully and show more of myself.

Continue to second hexagram

I'd lost my earliest book of records of my I Ching consultations. Not good. Searched everywhere, twice: couldn't find it. At this point I remembered that some people consult the I Ching about where they've put things, so thought I'd try it (feeling rather apologetic, as this isn't the kind of thing I usually ask). I asked 'How & where should I look?' Answer: 20 (moving to 2, but I didn't use that much). In other words, find it by looking. (The I Ching is quite often funny at my expense!) Also, though - stop running round, calm down, and actually think about it.

Line 5: roughly, think where you last had it! Line 6 just warned me that - rather unfortunately - my I Ching-sceptical husband knew I was using the oracle to find the book. Nuclear hexagram, 23, suggested I'd need to remove a covering. All I could make out from the trigrams and nuclear trigrams was that it would be in a wooden container - unfortunately, I was in a room full of cupboards and bookshelves!

The book eventually turned up under some papers in a desk drawer. The staggering thing, though, was that the desk in question was the one piece of furniture in the room to have exactly the same silhouette as Hexagram 20. Oh, and the book was in the top one of three drawers, as implied by having the top pair of lines both moving. 'Look,' indeed!