Hexagram 39 and 40
About being free
Hexagrams 39 and 40 are both about freedom, release. In 40 it is about release which ‘is’ or comes, in 39 about release you have to effectuate yourself, by having the guts or power to let go, to change things, to get out of an impasse. Not by fighting them, often that means to be pulled in even deeper, but by an inner release. ‘The noble one reverse his being to repair his character’. Or, in other translations: 'turns to himself to renew his virtue' or 'turns around and cultivates virtue'. Virtue, Te, it is composed of road and an eye which looks straight ahead: to follow the straight or right road - the right road for you. To turn around might just mean to stop going the road you're going (limping along?).
Hexagram 39, Limping:
If you are struggling on, not making much progress and not feeling good about it, then ask yourself if you are following the right trail. Often it is very hard to admit it, or even to see it, that one pursues the wrong goal. One is victim of one's wishes, convictions, ideals or maybe even someone else's ideas.
Make yourself free again by having the guts to take a good look at your situation. Send your greedy inner child for a while to play in the backyard, for usually it is him who makes you hold on to the wrong things. And send your family background and your acquaintances with him, because they do often the same thing. Try to realize yourself why you cannot let go.
Everybody who has ever had a depression will know the feeling which is depicted by this hexagram's name: an overwhelming desire to creep away from everything, in a hole, in his bed, or deep in his own mind. The depression can be caused by an outward adversity or by an inner lack of life-energy. The most notable symptoms are cold feet and powerless limbs.
Hexagram 40, Release:
Removing the horns: a free mind does not act or react with aggressiveness or defensiveness, because he does not need to. He is what he is, and that is strong. One only has to be aggressive if there is something which has to be defended, something which is not viable on its own.
There is another way of release, a much deeper one, if one succeeds in leaving all human laws and rules. Human laws as opposed to universal laws: those you need, hold on to them!
This does not mean to fight these too-small laws, because that is not leaving them, on the contrary. The solution is: do not take them too seriously, don't get trapped anymore in the corners of human truths. The horn is 'corna', corner, as well in Western languages as in Chinese.
Not taking life too seriously means to play life. It is the way of the child and of the primitive, both close to their own truth.
It is not easy to explain in a few words, maybe an example is better. Buy a beautiful ring and admire it and be proud of your wonderful investment, but don't buy gold or diamonds, because then it is 'real' and you simply are an investor.
The best information comes from Campbell of course. He is the greatest expert on myths ever, and freedom means living mythologically.
Campbell, in 'The Masks of God', volume 1: Primitive Mythology, says (page 28):
Kant, in his Prolegomena to Every Future System of Metaphysics, states very carefully that all our thinking about final things can be only by way of analogy. 'The proper expression for our fallible mode of conception,' he declares, 'would be: that we imagine the world as if its being and inner character were derived from a supreme mind' (italics J.C.).
Such a highly played game of 'as if' frees our mind and spirit, on the one hand, from the presumption of theology, which pretends to know the laws of God, and on the other, from the bondage of reason, whose laws do not apply beyond the horizon of human experience.
I am willing to accept the word of Kant, as representing the view of a considerable metaphysician. And applying it to the range of festival games and attitudes just reviewed – from the mask to the consecrated host and temple image, transubstantiated worshiper and transubstantiated world – I can see, or believe I can see, that a principle of release operates throughout the series by way of the alchemy of an “as if”; and that, through this, the impact of all so-called “reality” upon the psyche is transubstantiated. The play state and the rapturous seizures sometimes deriving from it represent, therefore, a step rather toward than away from the ineluctable truth; and belief – acquiescence in a belief that is not quite belief – is the first step toward the deepened participation that the festival affords in that general will to life which, in its metaphysical aspect, is antecedent to, and the creator of, all life’s laws.
The opaque weight of the world – both of life on earth and of death, heaven, and hell – is dissolved, and the spirit freed, not from anything, for there was nothing from which to be freed except a myth too solidly believed, but for something, something fresh and new, a spontaneous act.
From the position of secular man (Homo sapiens), that is to say, we are to enter the play sphere of the festival, acquiescing in a game of belief, where fun, joy, and rapture rule in ascending series. The laws of life in time and space – economics, politics, and even morality – will thereupon dissolve. Whereafter, re-created by that return to paradise before the Fall, before the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, belief and disbelief, we are to carry the point of view and spirit of man the player (Homo ludens) back into life; as in the play of children, where, undaunted by the banal actualities of life’s meager possibilities, the spontaneous impulse of the spirit to identify itself with something other than itself for the sheer delight of play, transubstantiates the world – in which, actually, after all, things are not quite as real or permanent, terrible, important, or logical as they seem.