I Ching, Hexagram 27: Jaws/The Tiger’s Mouth

Contemplate what nourishes people and what you are nourishing. 

Think about what you give and what you ask for. 

Seek out the source of what goes in and out of your mouth and the mouths of others.


The I Ching was written nearly three thousand years ago to express the profound understanding that Life is change, with discernible patterns that are interconnected with each other and with natural elements such as the seasons, moon phases, weather, water and plants. These patterns, in turn, reveal optimal timing and strategy, and the possibilities inherent in particular configurations of variables. It is a wise and complex lens through which to understand human interaction with the eternal forces of Nature. It includes the raw, unpredictable energies of death, sexuality, curses, celebrations, and intrigue, along with the very human desire to exert influence that bends fortune in our favor. 

The wisdom of the I Ching reminds us that honoring the ancestors is an essential aspect of aligning with the Way i.e. harmonizing with natural forces for the sake of human wellbeing within the context of natural cycles, the ten thousand things, and myriad beings. Unlike organized religions, the I Ching does not prescribe absolute standards of obedience. There are no cookie-cutter rules for living, only the magnetic center of Change as the pervasive, life-giving force of the universe and the admonition to seek alignment with the movement of energy that is revealed by understanding the nature of Change. 

One thousand years after the I Ching, the bible appeared. The early insights of the ancients and their powers of observation were still tethered to natural rhythms. In this way, Mathew 4:4 bears some resemblance to the admonitions of Hexagram 27: It is written. Man shall not live by bread alone but from every word that comes from the mouth of God. In this context, I choose to interpret ‘mouth of God’ as the unstinting generativity of Nature. 

But the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, stepped out of relationship with Nature through the notable and disastrous modification that endowed a single male entity with absolute power, rather than acknowledging the natural world and its myriad inter-relationships as the source of life and death. This momentous change swung the focus of human attention away from alignment with patterns and cycles to obedience of absolutes, and from consequences of aligning or ignoring natural patterns and cycles to punishment of sins against authority. The forces of Change can be ridden, and sometimes used to advantage, but, unlike an ecclesiastical hierarchy, they cannot be co-opted or controlled. This is the reason that organized religion is a false construct: because its premise is skewed, its god is distorted. 

We are here because of our common ancestral heritage, our relatedness to all beings, in all realms, seen and unseen, across time. If we were separate, we’d be dead. No science or religion has ever identified where humans stop and other life forms begin.