Several things happened in the last few days that helped me gain a new perspective on the meaning of true understanding:
The Snowbell (being lifted up through transformations)
The first thing that happened was that I caught five minutes on a radio program in which a woman who loves her profession in the field of botany explained how snowbells manage to come out of the ground while it is still covered with snow: The answer is that this is possible due to the natural intelligence of the metabolism in their bulbs. Just before the beginning of spring, their metabolism produces a temperature of up to 46 degrees F. The heat melts the snow so that the sprout can easily grow. It even drinks from the water that is set free by the melting of the snow!!
How can we gain a true understanding of the nature of the Cosmos and its way of functioning
As I went for a walk in the fields the next day, the Sage added another piece to the mosaic to answer my question of how we can gain a "true understanding."
I need to mention that I had noticed to my chagrin that my mind had been overly busy. I was longing for my thinking to come to a rest. As I was walking along, the Sage drew my attention to my feet, my ankles, and my Achilles tendon. I was helped to see the connection between the habit of constantly thinking about more things to deprogram - a habit that comes from the ego - and the true meaning of under-standing. I realized that at the root of this problem is the false image of the Cosmos as a "huge mind," i.e., a thinking consciousness. This image, in turn, has given rise to the mistaken belief that "we need to understand the Cosmos from our mind." The truth is that the Cosmos is first and foremost a feeling consciousness (although it can also think) that is directly connected with our heart. When our mind seeks to understand things while it is separated from the true feelings of our heart, it is unable to understand the true nature of the Cosmos.
I was reminded of the fact that when a question put to the Sage “misses the point,” i.e., falls too far out of the way of the Cosmos, we are led around in circles without ever finding an answer. What leads us around in circles is the logic of the ego, from which the question originated. This is typical for a situation in which the ego is in charge of our search for understanding, our search for the truth. To use the example of the snowbell, we miss the point when we ask, “How does the snowbell manage to push up through the snow?” The idea of “pushing up” implies effort. The use of this expression reflects a way of thinking that contradicts even the laws of physics. The example of the snowbell illustrates that Nature functions through transformations. Consider, for example, photosynthesis, which is another well-known example of transformation. Transformation is another name for “the easy way.” This is also the meaning of the word “I” in “I Ching”: the I Ching is the book that shows us the easy way through initiating transformations that occur when we begin to see things in Cosmic terms. Whenever we are caught in ‘pushing up with effort’ (in this case, the effort of thinking), it helps to remember the example of the snowbell.
When we are in that strenuous mode and put questions to the Sage that reflect the ego’s way of thinking, the Sage has to retreat. The Sage does this knowing with certitude that we will get to the point of burnout in our efforts. That burnout brings our mind automatically back in touch with our true feelings: we feel remorse over the separation that has occurred through unfortunate circumstances when we were young. Our deeply felt remorse reconnects us with the Cosmos, and, if not intercepted by the ego, is the first step in freeing our mind from its prison. (This is one of the meanings of Line 1 in Hexagram 40, Freeing.) If, however, our feeling of remorse is intercepted by the ego, it gets turned into self-blame, which only perpetuates the vicious circle.
As I am writing this down, my understanding of the true nature of the Cosmos and how it functions has become expanded: I was helped to understand that our remorse reconnects us with the Cosmos without any need to make a mental effort, just as the snowbell manages to come out of the ground while it is still covered with snow.