There is a saying among the ancient Buddhist and Taoist sages that impermanence is a fact of life and most suffering is caused by attachment to that which has gone and is no more.
Yet, the association with change is especially difficult with most people because we are creatures of habit and the dark unknown is perceived as threatening.
Much of it can be attributed to modern man’s disconnect from nature, which is seen as an unpredictable threat.
Especially in the ancient Buddhist and Taoist tradition, the philosophy is all about yielding to the laws of nature rather than opposing and conquering it.
Political and military leaders of ancient China were very careful in choosing the right moment for any important decision. The Book of Wisdom, the I Ching, was consulted regularly, with its origins going back to mythical antiquity.
The I Ching, gained popularity in the West when the famous Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung revealed that he regularly consulted it after it was translated into German from the Chinese by his friend Richard Wilhelm in 1924.
Also known as the Book of Change, the I Ching, picks up on the wisdom of ancient man who saw nature as a teacher. Like a farmer choosing the right moment of the season to plant the seeds, it is crucial to find “synchronicity” with the laws of the universe.
Rooted deep within the teaching of the I Ching is the philosphy of the Five Elements. Wood is associated with spring, preparing the ground for the planting of the seeds, Fire or summer is the time of growth, action and moving forward. Late summer or Earth is the time for harvesting and storing the crops for winter. Metal is autumn when it is time to wind down, to close the shutters and withdraw. Water is winter, a time to rest, recuperate and build up energy for the next season.
The over-exploitation of nature – too much fire – eventually leads to the exhaustion and depletion of all resources. In all of our modern economic and political system there appears to be an imbalance in the sprint and recovery cycle. Its boom and then bust. The same applies to the average working day. Its a myth that any human being can work effectively and without a break for eight or nine hours. Concentration and performance levels already start dropping significantly after 90 minutes.
Looking at a typical daily work routine we have a similar Five Element cycle. The early part of the day is when we have most energy. Its Wood and Fire. This is the part of day you would want to address your most important tasks. Early afternoons after lunch (Earth) is when we start losing concentration and energy. Its the ideal time for a recuperation or a power-nap. (Metal and Water) so that we can move into a new cycle as we enter late afternoon and early evening. You won’t be very effective, if you force yourself into doing an important task when body and mind are demanding a recuperation cycle.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant