We wait, and we wait, and nothing happens… and we wait even more and still nothing happens, no matter how long we wait nothing happens… Then we give up on waiting and go to check… and then….
The hexagram 5 describes waiting, it’s one of what I call the “entry points” of the I Ching. The hexagram 5 is one of the simple ones: simple to understand, simple to follow, whether you use the classic comments or the version hosted on this site. This is why it is an entry point: with very little efforts you can grasp its basic meaning, which is waiting naturally.
Many people hate waiting, they can be late but they can’t stand waiting for the life of them. So they come late, in that way they hope that they won’t have to wait. So, we in turn have to wait for them… When I’ve opened Richard Wilhelm’s I Ching book for the first time, I’ve read the comment of the hexagram 5 and I loved what I saw:
Clouds rise up to heaven:
The image of WAITING.
Thus the superior man eats and drinks,
Is joyous and of good cheer.
So, instead of being exasperated by a long wait, grab some food and drink, be joyous and all will go well. You can also read a book or watch a good movie. That’s the idea of waiting.
It works in many situations, but what happens at the end of waiting? When you have waited so much that it’s not possible to continue? This situation is explained by the line 6:
One falls into the pit.
Three uninvited guests arrive.
Honor them, and in the end there will be good fortune.
This line is an entry point of the I Ching by itself. What is said is that at the end of waiting, when you have lost all hope (One falls into the pit), then something unexpected happens: three uninvited guests arrive. What does this have to do with logic? Nothing. Why would three uninvited guests arrive? I don’t know. But the fact is that they always arrive at the end of the waiting.
And then you are given a choice: accept these guests or reject them. The comment is clear that if you accept them, there is good fortune. I have experimented rejecting them once, and the outcome has been unpleasant enough to make me refrain from trying again.
As for Taoscopy’s comment, it is very similar to the classical ones. When I consulted the I Ching about it, I was eager to learn more about these three uninvited guests. Would the oracle say something about them?
Something is coming, look forward to it with confidence rather than going and see.
Yes, the oracle did say something about them. Here we see that it’s about confidence. At the end of waiting we are overwhelmed by doubts. Then the three come and we can get what we hoped for.
The end of waiting raises the question of our own end. Most of us are waiting for death, and at the end it’s going to happen, and then will we see these three uninvited guests? In this regard, this line opens the possibility of good fortune after death, for those of us who will honor these uninvited guests.
As I have explained before, Sri Anandamayi is a spiritual teacher. As such, She mastered every situation, like a living I Ching oracle. But most of Her devotees had not studied the I Ching. So, how could they know about the three uninvited guests? They did not. Still, She could teach us through Her devotees something about them.
Before going on, we must be aware that the I Ching belongs to the way of Knowledge. There are two ways that lead to God: the way of Love and the way of Knowledge. While there were advanced scholars among Sri Ma’s devotees, as far as I know none of them mastered the I Ching. This does not mean that Her devotees were not advanced spiritually, they all were very close to Enlightenment. These two ways are discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, here is what Krishna says about them:
Some yogis perform the service of worship to celestial controllers, while others study scriptures for Self-knowledge. Some restrain their senses and give up their sensual pleasures. Others perform breathing and other yogic exercises. Some give charity and offer their wealth as a sacrifice. (4.25-28)
The acquisition and propagation of Self-knowledge are superior to any material gain or gift because purification of mind and intellect eventually leads to the dawn of transcendental knowledge and Self-realization – the sole purpose of any spiritual practice. (4.33)
Lord Krishna said: The path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service both lead to the supreme goal. But of the two, the path of selfless service is superior to path of Self-knowledge because it is easier to practice for most people. (5.02)
A person should be considered a true renunciant who has neither attachment nor aversion for anything. One is easily liberated from Karmic bondage by becoming free from attachment and aversion. (5.03)
The ignorant — not the wise — consider the path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service (KarmaYoga) as different from each other. The person, who has truly mastered one, gets the benefits of both. (5.04)
Whatever goal a renunciant reaches, a KarmaYogi also reaches. Therefore, one who sees the path of renunciation and the path of unselfish work as the same really sees. (5.05)
Spiritual practice, such as prayer and worship can lead someone to Enlightenment on their own, however Krishna states that the way of Knowledge is superior to spiritual practice. Then Krishna also states that selfless service (also known as wu wei or non-action in Taoism) is superior to the way of Knowledge. Finally, He explains that if you master a way, you gain the benefit of the others. The idea is that by abandoning their personal goals, by becoming selfless, the individuals are freed from the karmic bonds. This is why it is easier to reach this point by practicing selfless service. We can also see why spiritual practice is a longer path, because we use to pray and worship for personal benefits. The same criticism can be made about consulting the I Ching, which is a spiritual practice by itself: done with goals it will create karmic bonds. However by continuously consulting the I Ching, we acquire knowledge of the spiritual laws, and we can make progress toward Enlightenment.
In the following video, we can see how Sri Ma introduced the uninvited guests:
When Swami Vijayananda came to see Her when She was very sick, She gave him 4 fruits and said: “It is 3 one gives to an enemy, so I give you 4”. Here, the 3 fruits are the uninvited guests, we can see that clearly. But She gave 4 fruits. As I have said before, if you show disdain toward the 3 uninvited guests, the outcome can be very unpleasant. Unfortunately, Swami Vijayananda has experienced an unpleasant outcome, since Ma left Her body a few weeks later. Why did She say that 3 fruits would have been given by an enemy?
If one approaches them then what one hoped for will be obtained.
When someone obtains what they hope for, a karmic reaction follows, because only action without intent, for its own sake, does not create karma. If She had given 3 fruits, then the terrible outcome would have been avoided, but karmic bonds would have been created. Sri Ma did not spare him the pain of separation, so he could reach Enlightenment faster, Swami Vijayananda has received immediate pain, but it was for his own good.
This other video shows a similar situation:
After asking Sri Ma for a name, this devotee has been given 4 choices: (so the same number than the fruits)
The first 3 are the uninvited guests, the right one is the fourth. But what happened is that the devotee has chosen the first one without pondering about the 3 others, which is a fine name, but if she had chosen the fourth she would have gained a closer relationship to Sri Ma, because the Shakti represents the mother goddess. Did something unpleasant happened after? Br Krishnapriya, who is a nurse, relates that after her patient killed himself (13:28). Again, an instant karmic reaction occurred here, which will let Br Krishnapriya free to reach Enlightenment quickly.
Sri Ma has given us an important teaching before leaving Her body: an enemy will give you what you hoped for. Because of this you will be bound by karma. This illustrates also the difficulty of the path of Knowledge, where obtaining what we want is something bad for us, and it is so easy to obtain what we want when we understand the spiritual laws.
In both cases, the devotees have expressed an intent, but have been freed from the karma by experiencing an unpleasant situation shortly after.