Delight: Thunder over Earth

Remnants of former Hurricane Dolores off Baja California barreled through our area this past weekend, bringing much needed rain along with a few other things. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works captured 245 million gallons of storm water from the downpours. That much rain is highly unusual for Southern California at this time of year. Normally, we see no rain, I mean nada, from say, May to October. The storm also gave us several days of cloudy skies, severe flooding in some areas that caused a bridge to collapse, washed out part of Interstate 10, closed beaches due to widespread  lighting strikes, and the loud thunder rolled.

I-Ching-yuWe often think of storms and dark skies as something gloomy. In the I Ching there is a hexagram called Yu: Thunder over Earth. (Shown on the right.) In his translation of I Ching, Alfred Huang interprets the hexagram as “Delight.” Richard John Lee, translating Wang Bi’s interpretation, has it as “Contentment.” Wilhelm as “Enthusiasm,” and in Thomas Cleary’s translation of the Buddhist I-Ching, it is “Joy.” All are good, but I prefer “Delight” because the preceding hexagram is “Humbleness” and in Huang it reads:

When one’s harvest is great and one can still remain humble, there is sure to be an outburst of delight. Thus, after Humbleness, Delight follows.”

Now, thunder over earth is indicative of a storm, and regardless how great or small one’s harvest in life may be, to find contentment, enthusiasm, or joy in the midst of life’s storms is a sublime delight.

Ou-i, in the Buddhist I-Ching wrote,

In terms of contemplating mind, this is the realization of the truth that nothing is as pictured by the imagination, and the experience of indescribable bliss.”

Here, imagination is used in the sense of to parikalpita, a Sanskrit word meaning imaginary. It is what Nagarjuna means in the Middle Verses when he says that the various factors of existence are all merely like an imaginary city in the sky, and what the Diamond Sutra means when it says, “you should view this fleeting world as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a mirage, and a dream.”

Contemplating mind refers to using meditation to dispel the dark clouds of ignorance so that we may see the truth of reality, that is, existence as interdependent and empty of inherent self-being. “The experience of indescribable bliss” means there is joy, contentment, and delight in seeing truth, which should make us enthusiastic about living.

This is just a glimpse in the meaning of the Yu hexagram, thunder over earth, there is much more. Huang explains that the prime point of the hexagram is to explain the concept of harmony and delight. However, the ancient text accompanying the hexagram depicts circumstances that are neither harmonious nor delightful. The hexagram, then, also serves as a warning against contentment in the way of complacency and self-satisfaction.

The point for me is that with all the negatives that came with the storm, it brought rain, beautiful nourishing rain, and after four years of drought here in California, it was indeed a delight.


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