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Hexagram 36: Darkening of the Light




I'm in business with someone and through a misunderstanding, our relationship had become soured.

The more I tried to explain that I hadn't intended to hurt their feelings the worse things seemed to become. But we're involved in a project together and I felt at a loss as to how to proceed.

I consulted the I Ching about my situation and received Hexagram 36 line 5. Ming I / Darkening of the Light.

Here's Wilhelm's judgement:

"Darkening of the Light. In adversity It furthers one to be persevering."
Well, that seemed clear enough. It's a tough time but stay with it.

Here's the image: "The light has sunk into the earth: The image of Darkening of the Light. Thus does the superior man live with the great mass: He veils his light, yet still shines." This fitted my situation perfectly. So, time to keep my bright ideas to myself and just be one of the crowd for a while.

Here's line 5, Wilhelm again

"Darkening of the light as with Prince Chi. Perseverance furthers."
The story of Prince Chi seems to be that he knew that the Emperor was a tyrant and he had the opportunity to flee into exile. But rather than being seen to betray the emperor, Prince Chi pretended to be insane and gave up his privileged position to become a lowly worker. That way he could maintain his situation without going into a hopeless conflict with someone more powerful than him.

As a parallel to my situation, this was extraordinary.

What a revelation for me to try to live out hexagram 36 line 5.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't pretend to be insane but I certainly kept myself to myself. I minimised my contact and in all my dealings with the other person I was exceptionally polite and deferential. In our few contacts I made a great point of saying things like, "I know you're very busy at the moment..."

But more than anything else, I kept my ideas to myself. I worked on things in isolation. Keeping strong within myself and trying to avoid moaning to others, I held firm in my working relationship and waited for times to change.

I have total respect for Prince Chi!

It took about a month but gradually things began to thaw. Still I kept my ideas to myself and was outwardly polite and correct.

Now that our relationship has eased, I feel so grateful that I consulted the I Ching and tried my best to live according to its judgement.

I can now see very clearly that if I'd carried on fighting the situation it could well have caused irreparable damage.

Mick Frankel



Question: What does the title "Darkening of the Light" mean?

About 1995 I became passionately interested in the I Ching. Living in South Africa, getting hold of information was difficult. All told I spent about 8 years studying the I Ching,acquired five doctoral theses, had an article published in the Journal of Chinese philosophy, obtained over 100 academic papers.

I started to write my own book on the subject. The difficulty was I did not speak Chinese. To increase my understanding, I wrote mini essays on each hexagram. I came to Hexagram 36 translated as 'Darkening of the Light' in the Richard Wilhelm translation. I had no sooner typed the title when there was a power failure and the computer screen went blank.

I was reminded of the book of Job 38:2 which reads,
"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"