Leaping Lizards

LEAPING LIZARD: The flying dragon can glide for up to 50 meters (164 feet). It jumps from a tree and spreads out folds of skin. These folds act as wings and let the lizard glide through the air.

Yi (pronounced “yee”), is usually translated as Change or changes. Philosophically, it is primordial change, inscribed in the actual order of things, the on-going process of the real or Way. It gives us the seeds and the symbols through which life and spirit can transmit and extend themselves. The meanings of this truly magical name include making a gift, healing a sickness, calming and tranquilizing the spirit, pulling up weeds, cultivating a field. It is the sun appearing after clouds, thanks to the intervention of an ancestor. It is the name of a frontier region, and suggests borderline or liminal states of mind and place. The Chinese character in its various forms contains the graphs for sun and moon and for a lizard or chameleon.

Change is a book you cannot keep at a distance, for
its Way is always shifting.
Transforming and moving, never resting
it flows through the six empty places
like a messenger of life and death
transforming the strong and the supple.

Rules cannot confine this. It follows only Change.
It issues forth and re-enters in a stately dance,
teaching caution within and without,
illuminating the causes of trouble.
It is not an army to protect you,
but a beloved ancestor who draws near.
So follow the words and feel their place in your heart
and you will have charge of the omens and their powerful symbols.
If you are not willing to do this, the Way cannot open for you.

Yi. Change, easy. The symbol for change is a picture of a swiftly moving lizard, the image of change.

Those who follow Tao spend a lifetime studying change.

The ancients observed that all life changed. Grain grew from seeds to tall, full plants. Deer were born in the spring and gradually learned to walk on their own. Human beings grew old and died, yet the generations succeeded one another.

Observing the continual alterations of birth and death, the ancients therefore said Tao had no fixed points; its only constant was change.

When something reaches its extreme, it changes to its opposite. Just after a rice plant reaches a sweet fullness, it begins to yellow, wither, and die. Just as the deer comes to full vitality, it soon becomes old and passes from the earth. And when people reach the apex of their knowledge and strength, they inevitably begin to decline.

Thus it is that Tao is movement, and that movement is marked by constant change.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

Last time we got to see leap day, I was going through a period of introspection and silence. It was shortly after that I started actively blogging politically. This time I thought I might at least acknowledge the leap day, since I can and all that.

While I am hopeful that we will soon see major political changes, I know it is still going to be a long hard struggle. Economically the country is in a great deal of trouble, as much as our leaders don’t wish to acknowledge that. To think we can still spend so wastefully on military efforts that are not gaining anything for us is ludicrous. And yet there seems to be no other plan yet to deal with what is looking to be a looming energy crisis, with oil today reaching $103 a barrel.

We must transition to alternatives, we must learn to do more with less, and we must stop the illusion that more and bigger is necessarily “better”. Living large may seem fun, but when I visit the large, mostly empty homes of some people and see how little actual personality or originality there is in their lives, the dearth of books, or ideas, or the lack of any real effort to develop their creativity or even simply think their own thoughts, it makes me very sad. My home is small and not terribly elegant, but my son’s friends are always here, we have great parties here, there are hundreds of books around, music and pets and artwork and a gorgeous garden and lots of creative energy.

The lizard is leaping, change is in the air, and we need to be prepared to change, too.