Some years ago when I pursued the dubious career of a spiritual magazine writer (fatefully leading to my current dubious career as a spiritual publisher), I adopted an unconventional logo for my business card advertising that I pursued the “journalism of consciousness” (whatever that meant).
The logo was hexagram #61 from the famed I Ching, known as “Inner Truth.”
For the uninitiated, the I Ching is a classic Chinese oracle that has been used as everything from a fortune-telling game to an intuitive tool of self-understanding. The temptation to misuse it is enormous, but it can be effectively read simply as a storehouse of wisdom that often transcends both modern psychology and traditional Western philosophy.
When I trained in my youth as an investigative reporter, I was taught that no one was to be trusted and that almost any deception or manipulation was justified to get the truth—or just to get “the get,” the big story that you got before anyone else.
After a seven-year crisis of illness and spiritual awakening in my thirties, I re-entered journalism with an entirely different orientation, which was to pursue the “inner truth” of the stories I investigated. The I Ching helped me understand that the search for inner truth is actually the search for a clear emptiness within.
The classic Wilhelm/Baynes interpretation of the I Ching* explains hexagram #61 this way:
“Pigs and fishes are the least intelligent of all animals and therefore the most difficult to influence. The force of inner truth must grow great indeed before its influence can extend to such creatures…. One must first rid oneself of all prejudice and, so to speak, let the psyche of the other person act on one without restraint. Then one will establish contact with him, understand and gain power over him. When a door has been opened, the force of one’s personality will influence him.”
It’s also worth noting that to “rid oneself of all prejudice” enables the power of forgiveness.
“In ancient China, the entire administration of justice was guided by this principle. A deep understanding that knows how to pardon was considered the highest form of justice. This system was not without success, for its aim was to make so strong a moral impression that there was no reason to fear abuse of such mildness. For it sprang not from weakness but from a superior clarity.”
These ideas not only enabled me to pursue a more rewarding form of journalism for over a decade, but also gave me a much greater understanding of how real change is effected in relationships, politics and within oneself. When we have at least some degree of clear emptiness within—as opposed to a mixed bag of opinions and prejudice—we are not only open to change ourselves, but may tacitly give others “permission” to change.
That’s because we are not nearly so separate from each other as we often experience ourselves to be. We think that we grow and change only within ourselves, but we also grow and change partly within others, and they within us. Some people may find very little open space within themselves to change. They need others to let themselves into a psychic territory of forgiveness, where they can feel free to try new ways of feeling and relating.
That’s what makes forgiveness and the emptiness of “inner truth” so powerful. Anyone can initiate the changes we all need by opening up new territories within his or her mind—our one mind, really—where others can find the room to take a deep breath, start telling the truth, and shake off the cloak of guilt they have so long mistaken for their own skin.
* Quotes taken from The I Ching or Book of Changes, the Richard Wilhelm Translation rendered into English by Cary F. Baynes, Bollingen Series Six, Princeton University Press, ©1950, 1967, 1977 by Bollingen Foundation).
Author: D. Patrick Miller
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Provided by Author