~ Stick # 31 ~
Two scholars went to the capital for examinations;
One passed and stayed, one failed and returned
Carrying a letter from his friend. He fell ill,
But eventually- thank Heaven! - came home.
You may be beset with worries at the moment, but your life will improve, step by step, over time. There will be no miraculous solutions to your problems but instead a gradual recovery. Old friends may soon arrive to help you, and the time is ripe to make firmer commitments in your personal life. In the long run, happiness really does lie ahead.REFLECTION
The aim of every scholar in China was to go to the capital to take the final Imperial exam. Being successful opened the way to glory, power, and wealth. But not to pass the exam meant failure and great disappointment. This story, however, makes the following point. Although the one who failed had to return home, the strain of failure made him ill. Being ill made him realize how much he longed for the security, love, and friendship of home - even if he did not come home in triumph. Appreciate what you have.
~ Stick # 4 ~
The hero was stronger than two bulls.
He could cross three rivers in one leap.
But all his strength was of no use
Against false claims by evil men.
You should try to be content with what you have rather than overreaching yourself. Although you may be very competent at your work, you are likely not paying enough attention to your home life. At the moment, high positions are beyond your reach. Avoid getting involved in disputes with others, particularly within the family, and postpone travel unless strictly necessary because it will involve many delays and harassments.REFLECTION
The sheer destructiveness of those who gossip, who attack those they envy, by chipping away at their good name, is condemned here, but it is also feared. If you are under attack by those around you through unkind words or petty actions, this can wear you out and cause you great distress. You may feel you should not be affected by such silly things. But this poem tells you that you are not alone in feeling this way. Even the strongest can be reduced to tears and unhappiness by those who maliciously attack or criticize them. Keep going, and you will recover.
Each day I sit down, take up the cup of sticks and ask the same question, “What does the Keen community need to know or hear today?” I shake the cup until a stick (or 2 or 3…) falls out. I then post the stick number and the meanings for you to get what you can out of them.
The sticks themselves are a form of I-Ching. There are a total of 64 sticks in the set that I use* with a poem and small interpretation/story to go along with each stick. The poems, meanings and reflections are meant to be read and (as a good friend of mine once said) marinated in. In our culture, we’ve grown accustomed to getting instant gratification. In other words, we’re used to everything being given to us with little or no work on our parts. These readings are the exact opposite of that type of attitude.
Chinese Fortune sticks are meant to make us slow down and reflect on what is being said. As each sticks’ meaning can be profoundly personal to each person who reads them, it’s more important for you to read them rather than have someone give you a watered down version. These readings are meant to sing to a level of your consciousness and bring you a measure of peace, or at least enlightenment.
The best way to get the most you can out of these readings is to approach them with an open mind. Before sitting down to read that morning’s reading, make some quiet time for yourself. Sit still for a moment and clear your mind. Silence the chatter in your head and take a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly. Once you feel yourself slow down a little (or a lot), read through the reading of the day. Go over it a few times if you feel the need. Then take a moment, sit back and think about what that reading means for you. Some will be very straightforward; others require a bit more thinking. Either way, let the reading from the sticks guide you that day on the decisions or experiences you have. These aren’t meant to tell you what to think, but rather to help you look at things in a different way or to allow you to access truths you already have.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me!!
* written by Zhao Xiaomin & Martin Palmer