Forbidden Books & Turbulent Water

“Ok. From now on I FORBID you to read the text of the Yi. You are allowed to open the book only when I say so. Every time you open the book means two steps back in your progress. Don’t do it. Satisfying your curiosity is not worth it.” –Harmen Mesker

This was an actual direction from IMAG0174the teacher. I just wanted to start this post with what I am dealing with here. This is from a guy with 300+ Yi books, 1000+ books on (and in) Chinese and he edits Wilhelm by reading every, single word, and he likely has most of the text, lines and judgements memorized. I have been thinking that I am a guinea pig for this “Apple Pie – No Sugar” approach, given that a person who has memorized it all cannot really test his own theories of a bookless method. Be that as it may, I asked for it. I will stare at hexagrams until they reveal their truth to me

I am using this method as best I can, but I find ways to cheat (“You are only cheating yourself” says Harmen). I do so by using my past assignments, and quotes, corrections, and feedback from Harmen, and asking friends familiar with the Yi, and so on. In my defense, this is the information age, and being resourceful is in my nature. On a recent trip, I was feeling the need for a consult, and I had no access to my notes or connections. I decided to eat that pie raw, and choke down the bitter-sweet fruit.

My husband died two and a half years ago after a long bout with cancer. We met late in life and were married only six years. I have a step daughter, who lives in another town. During my husband’s illness there were many challenging decisions to be made. These created tension within the family, but in the end, we all loved and respected each other.

On this recent trip, where I was to go travel with friends to Cumberland Island, I first met with my step daughter. It had been 2 years since we spoke. During our meeting, it felt like six years of emotion was restrained on the head of a pin. After lunch, I pulled over at a park. I felt physically ill and off balance: dizzy, nauseated, and my head ached.

I wrote a question in my journal:

“Just met (step daughter) for lunch. Stirring emotions. I am sitting with them. Feeling a bit out of sorts. What next?”

I received: H63. H56

Hexagram 63 is easy enough to recognize. It is Completion, and the one just before Not Yet Completed.  I see that the lower trigram is fire and the upper trigram is water. I182899_166825873365537_2031806_nn the course of learning with Harmen, he said that the lines do not change. They move. In my effort to understand these lessons, I thought that the lines might be excited or even aroused, like molecules jumping about. So, that is how I mostly think of them now, as lines of arousal. It is a place of focus and indicates an imbalance in the hexagram.

Right away, with 4 moving lines, I could see that my hexagram was mighty aroused. In noting that all of the lines of the upper trigram of water were moving, it came to me to call them lines of turbulence. I experienced an immediate resonance and reading with this. The trigram in the upper place is the outer situation. Water is emotion, and mine were turbulent indeed.

Down below, inside, is my fire clinging to family and the flame blazing at the first step. This meeting was a beginning of a new place of whatever it will mean to be a family without our mutual connection (her father, my husband) who is passed on to the other sDSCN5115ide. On the inside, the lower trigram, fire at the first place clings to connections, but on the edge, and with a pull to the new phase at line 6. I am looking back and looking ahead at the same time. In all of these endings and beginnings, there is completion too, H63. We say hello, to say good bye, knowing we have both moved on, and meeting up is painful. There are turbulent emotions; water is gurgling and bubbling over fire.

For the lines I wrote: “Line 1:  First step; take your time in consideration.  Line 4:  Stay aware of assistance.  Line 5: Acknowledge good fortune, blessings. Line 6:  Look ahead and remain open.”  I noted that when all of the lines of water ‘change’ to their opposite, it becomes the trigram of fire. Since the lines are ‘turbulent’ or indications of what is unbalanced, then it is the attributes of fire that are called for in the balancing. I can steady my flow by clinging to clarity, passion, and soul family: my close friends.

Though Harmen does not teach that lines ‘change’ and hexagrams ‘become,’ it is an old habit and one I cannot easily let go. I give a nod to H56, which is Sojourn, the traveler. I am on a road trip, after all. Soon it will be time to leave this place I tarry for a consultation, and to continue my vacation. I also will not stay long in these emotions or put down roots in this place of family ties. I begin to feel stabilization in the completion of this moment. My vision clears as my inner fire burns and clings in first steps of new directions. My flow is steady, ready, for the twists and turns.

“Well I’ll be damned,” I thought. Here I am staring at hexagrams and eating apple pie without a drop of sugar.

Apple Pie Straight: The Creative Process

I was hungry for more apple pie – hold the sugar. I tucked my napkin under my chin with fork in hand. Give me some pie and give it to me straight. After Harmen responded to my question explaining his ‘Apple Pie, No Sugar’ method, I tapped him for a reading of a more personal nature. I detect a fresh flavor every time I take a bite.

Me: Thank you for all of the information. The idea of looking at the nature images, the trigrams, and leaving out the culturally bias commentaries has been an ongoing interest of mine. So I appreciate this approach.  Question: Part of my struggle, in life, in approaching the I Ching, and in my writing project, is feelings I have of inadequacy. I don’t trust myself and as such, I hold back in expressing myself. As I journaled this situation, without a specific question (a process I am accostomed to using) I received 61.3.9. I am open to any insights you have, if you care to comment.

Harmen: I can’t disconnect this hexagram from the other hexagrams that you showed me. It is all part of a larger context and context defines the meaning of each part. The three hexagrams (13, 44, 61) all have more yang lines instead of yin lines, and in each of them the yin is firmly enclosed by the yang. I see a theme here. Not sure what to make of it but the struggle that you describe might be larger than your current situation.

About hexagram 61: without a question I see the hexagram as an indication of what you and your situation need, regardless of whether you are already ‘doing’ that or not. It’s an image of the qi 氣 that is currently moving in your life so to speak. If we see the lower trigram as you (the common approach that I take) then the lower trigram Lake might tell that you and your situation need qualities that belong to this trigram: focus on joy, gathering of that which gives pleasure and fulfillment, naivety, not attached to responsibilities, a little bit of egocentric behavior to be able to find your own ‘lake’ that feeds your creativity. Beautiful poetry is written on the side of the lakes… It also denotes magic, wizardry, ignoring rules, creating your own reality within the limits that are provided. The problem (if you can call it that) is that Lake is relying on the outside world for nourishment: the water from the Lake has to come from elsewhere and for replenishment it will look outside herself. If she finds that nourishment she will be happy, if not the water will become stale and the happiness turns into a depression. Since you are represented by the trigram Lake this could mean that you have to find out where your lake gets its nourishment from and if this source is the right source. Questions that might help in this process are: Are you connected to the right sources? What gives you genuine joy, regardless of whether it is acceptable, normal or feasible? Can you let the witch out? Are you capable of taking unusual measures? You are the only person who is responsible for your own happiness. This trigram might tell you that, in life as well in your creative processes, you need to focus on the true joy that is involved in it. If that joy can’t be found at the base of all your doings then you should redefine that base, that foundation that is the bottom of your creative lake.

The upper trigram is Wind. This trigram might give some clues about how Lake can get its nourishment, because this trigram is the ‘outside’ trigram which is where Lake will look for nourishment. Wind likes to focus on the details, takes it time with small steps, but will continually focus on the task at hand, no matter what happens. Wind is not bothered by drawbacks or hindrances – it will simply move around them or take a step back and try again. But whatever happens, Wind will not stop. It will continue to go forward, be it in a straight line or with all the curvy roads and bumpy hills that it encounters. Wind is curious, it can find all the tiny holes and things others might not notice. Wind is about long descriptions of the minute things – instead of writing a complete biography of a person’s life from birth to death Wind will focus on a single event and work that out in an extremely detailed way, meticulous and with care. Wind does not hurry and does not care about deadlines. This trigram might tell you what your Lake needs: attention to details, not a focus on result but a focus on steady and gradual progress.

When you consider that the 3rd line of this hexagram represents the surface of the lake then it is not hard to imagine that the upper trigram Wind is actually reflected in that lake – or better said, the lower trigram is nothing more than a reflection of the upper trigram, as if the upper trigram is reflected on the surface of the lake. This might tell you that, even though you are looking outside yourself for the nourishment that you need, eventually you will find it in yourself. What you find outside yourself is nothing more than a reflection of what you already have. But to recognize that you first have to find that which is reflected. That is where the journey starts.

Onwards to the baoti 包體. The nuclear trigrams Thunder (2, 3, 4) and Mountain (3, 4, 5) are both contained and restrained by the trigram Heaven (1, 2, 6; 1, 5, 6). Thunder (the opposite of Wind) wants quick and fast results but that would clash with the upper trigram Wind, therefore it is restrained by Heaven, creativity, ideas, setting a goal. What the situation needs right now is long lasting results, not quick spontaneous instinctive action, and Heaven, your creativity, can help with that. If you block your creativity then Thunder will come out and only short and general outlines will be achieved without getting down to the nitty-gritty. That is not what you or your situation needs right now. In the same way Mountain –stopping processes, stubbornness, putting it to a halt- is constrained by Heaven. It is your creativity that can help you to keep Mountain (the opposite of Lake) from blocking continuous progress. If you block your creativity then Mountain will come out and processes will come to a halt, you will turn inwards and nothing will come out.

The 3rd line is a moving line. Generally said the 3rd line is the line of making the choice ‘shall I continue like this or shall I start all over again?’. It is the line of crisis, deciding whether the path that you have chosen is really leading to the goal that you have set or if you are deluding yourself. This line says that you are halfway in a process and it asks of you that you make a well-considered decision to either continue (with all the consequences that come with it) or to quit and take a new path. There is a ‘fase 2’ waiting for you and you have to make the choice whether you will take that next step or not.

The text of the 3rd line, 得敵。或鼓或罷。或泣或歌, “Getting oppositions. There is stirring and stopping, weeping and singing”. These opposites are the creative forces at work. At the moment you need these opposites to function according to your full potential. This is what creativity is all about: embrace the difficulties, cherish your shortcomings, enjoy singing as loud or as soft as you can, make a hullabaloo when you feel like it and weave it all through the fabric that you create when you live each moment of your life to the fullest.


Me: First of all thank you for taking the time for this reading. I am getting a better understanding of your approach with this example. It seems unusual to me that you have not relied even on the opening statement for the hexagram, the judgement. In a way, it goes against everything I have learned, and yet I have always felt was possible. No wonder people take issue with your approach. Its almost having to start all over again, with the details of each element involved without relying on all the words that have been written about the hexagram. There seems to be a process of un-learning. Its like throwing out a bunch of beliefs that have formed a belief system, a religion, if you will. Actions and decisions are made based on the system, the ‘religion,’ and are no longer based on the elements, the essence, of the source of the ‘religion.’ It shakes down the entire structure ‘the church.’ It is a pure form based on recognizable components. Its more like being a ‘naturalist’ then a ‘fundamentalist.’ This comment is just about your approach. However, this ‘naturalist’ (just continuing with the religion-esque metaphor) and my interest in with the I Ching, aligns with my writing project, and could be said also about my approach to life (the 3 areas of my question: life, I Ching, writing project).

Harmen: Ah yes. About the Judgment text: it is generally said that when you have moving lines you don’t consider the Judgment text, you only look at the text of the moving lines. When you don’t have moving lines only then you will look at the Judgment. That is also the approach that I take.

Me: Hmm. Well, I have heard that…but never considered actually DOING it. You are a rebel.. a radical. I am addicted to that judgement, just like I am addicted to processed sugar in apple pie.

Harmen:  Away with the sugar then! Actually I don’t consider myself a rebel, I am just doing what I believe is how the ancient Chinese did it. Most users (and many writers of Yijing books) unintentionally repeat what others have said before them without considering the history and value of it. I looked at the oldest sources that I could find and they became the mold for my form of interpretation. Not that my form is the best form or the only form. It works for me, it might not work for others. But whatever method you use I think you should form your own opinion of the hexagram and its meaning without leaning on the interpretations of others. I hope I have shown that you can perfectly interpret a hexagram without reading the $#$%# commentary of the translator. Nuff said about that.

Apple Pie with No Sugar

This is the first post I saw  by Harmen in a Face book group (I referenced it another blog post):

“Think of the Yijing as an apple pie: the text of the Yi are the apples, the commentary & interpretations the sugar in the pie. You taste the pie and you think, “Hmm, that tastes good! That’s good apple pie!.” But what you are actually tasting is the sugar, not the apple. Pretty soon you think you can only eat apple pie with sugar, because without the sugar it doesn’t taste as good – you have become addicted to the sugar. If you would learn to eat apple pie without sugar (is that possible? yes it is possible) you would actually taste the apples instead of the sugar.

Don’t read the commentary or -even worse- an interpretation of the Yijing during a consultation. You are not doing yourself a favor with it. (Law #7 –>…/126-the-ten-laws-of-proper-yijing…)”

The group members were argumentative. I bantered the apple pie metaphor and then asked this question:

“Help me understand with clarity the method of consultation described by Mr. Mesker ” Response

Harmen‘s Response:  “Normally when I ‘read’ a hexagram I see the lower trigram as the questioner (=you), but since the topic is about my method I also see the lower trigram as representative of me & my method.

The lower trigram is Fire. Fire symbolizes your own view, your own truth, how you ‘see’ it. It attaches to what is important to you, it connects to the fuel that allows it to burn. The hexagram and its text (Judgment, line texts) are the fuel. When you connect to it your interpretation becomes visible. Fire symbolizes a personal view, it signifies what you find important.

The upper trigram represents your surroundings, everything outside you. Here it is Heaven: authority, leaders, choosing direction, guiding. That is what commentary (which is outside you) does: it leads you, takes you by the hand, often because you give it authority. Heaven tells you what to do and how to do it, whether you agree with it or not.

We have Fire, symbolizing attachment, your own truth, accompanied by Heaven which is authority and guiding. These two are connected by the two moving lines: the 3rd line is the top line of the lower trigram whereas the 4th line is the first line of the upper trigram. The top line of a trigram signifies (coming to a) conclusion, ending, fulfillment, closing off the trigram. The first line of a trigram means initiating, starting the trigram. To me this means that you first have to find and conclude your own view (Fire) before you can start with that of somebody else who you regard as authority (Heaven). First Fire, then Heaven. If you would skip the first step then there would be no Fire, no connection – there would only be Heaven that tells you what to do.

When we look at the baoti 包體, the trigrams that surround the nuclear trigrams, we see that both trigrams that we just discussed are also restraining factors for other trigrams: Heaven (line 1, 5 and 6) restrains Wind (line 2, 3 and 4), while Fire (line 1, 2 and 6) restrains Heaven (line 3, 4 and 5). Heaven (=commentary) can restrain curiosity, can keep you from going deep, look at the details, work on the long term instead of the short term. Fire ( = your own view/interpretation) restrains Heaven ( =commentary): when you have found your own view/interpretation the commentary does not have to be leading anymore. Your own interpretation can keep the commentary from becoming dominant.

The two moving lines both belong to the Talents of Man (1 & 2 belong to the Talents of Earth, 5 & 6 belong to the Talents of Heaven). The Talents of Man tells about relationships, how we handle and approach other people, how you (could) function in human society. The Talents of Man connect both trigrams, which might tell that how we relate the material to each other, how we share and connect our own view (Fire) combined with those outside of ourselves (Heaven) with each other is part of my method. This is not about Telling the Truth, this is about finding and sharing your own understanding of the hexagram and combining that with views outside of you that you regard as authoritative. To be able to do the latter you must be able to do the first.

On to the text. The 3rd line says 伏戎于莽。升其高陵。三歲不興。 “Hiding weapons in the thick grass. Climbing the high hill. For three years he does not rise.” This line is in the lower trigram Fire and tells how I think you should handle your own view of the hexagram and its text: you should not attack it nor can it be attacked by someone else, and you should not use it as means to attack someone else his view. You should ‘climb’ your own interpretation as if it were a hill and thus allow yourself to see the broader landscape that is contained in your own interpretation. This takes time, you cannot hurry it. Only when the cycle is complete, when you have found your own understanding of the answer of the Yi, you can rise and move further.

The 4th line says 乘其墉。弗克攻。吉。 “Defending the city wall. (They) cannot attack. Auspicious.” Cheng 乘 has many meanings. Considering the context of the line text I choose ‘defend’ which is a legitimate meaning of the character but I am aware that other choices are also possible and equally valid. This line is the 1st line of trigram Heaven so it might say something about that trigram. The city wall is that which protects you and those close to you, it shields you from that which is outside you and could harm you. The translators’ commentary is the city wall: it should protect your own understanding, view and interpretation of the answer of the Yi, instead of attacking it.

This is how I ‘read’ the hexagram. As you see I don’t use commentary. If I would have read Wilhelm’s commentary then I would have read “Here fellowship has changed about to mistrust. Each man distrusts the other, plans a secret ambush, and seeks to spy on his fellow from afar. We are dealing with an obstinate opponent whom we cannot come at by this method. Obstacles standing in the way of fellowship with others are shown here. One has mental reservations for one’s own part and seeks to take his opponent by surprise. This very fact makes one mistrustful, suspecting the same wiles in his opponent and trying to ferret them out. The result is that one departs further and further from true fellowship. The longer this goes on, the more alienated one becomes.” Which is completely different from how I see this line text within the context of your statement, “Help me understand with clarity the method of consultation described by Mr. Mesker”. The text of the Yi does not talk about an ‘opponent’ yet Wilhelm brings this opponent up. The tone of Wilhelm’s interpretation is quite negative, which I don’t understand because the line text does not say that this line is xiong 凶, ‘inauspicious’. Wilhelm’s commentary would have garbled up, ‘attacked’ my own interpretation of the hexagram which is not what it should do.

Anyway, this is my ‘method’, if you can call it such. I tried to read the hexagram in a way that explains how I see commentary and how it should be used: only use it when you have formed your own opinion. Unfortunately most users are dependent on it and do not dare to consult the Yi without it. Therefore I think it is best not to read it at all.

Of course I am completely biased in this matter and I am my own blind spot. But this is how I see the hexagram as related to your request to the Yi to “Help me understand with clarity the method of consultation described by Mr. Mesker”.

Yi School and How Doublelake Began

Harmen Mesker, my teacher, says (actually forbids) that I use books / text in my assignments and readings. I sometimes feel like a kid with a box of crayons in comparison to others who know the Yi so well. Not using books has me feeling like I need AA meetings: “Hi my name is Maggie. I am a text-a-holic. It has been 2 months since I opened a book.” Anyway, these lessons and this blog are inspired by Harmen and his method. It is a way for me to see and share my progress and to learn.

Here is how these lessons began:

I have been studying the Yi for 25 years mainly as a personal divination tool for decisions and also in generating ideas in my writing. I started a writing project that I have been carrying around in my head and heart for quite some time. I worked on an outline for a story about Mary Magdalene. It is the hero’s journey and she is a freedom fighter. After I completed the outline, I worked with the Yi to decide my next direction. I then began working on writing the Gospel of Matthew from the perspective of my principal character Mary Magdalene. Not surprisingly, her perspective is much like my own. It is a feminist view with a dose of cynicism, humor, and Yi imagery.

As I worked on the gospel, I found my research bogged down by translations, commentaries, and translations of commentaries. Anyone has worked with the Yi is familiar with this dilemma. I have a keen interest in etymology, so I was going back to the root of individual words. At the same time I joined a Facebook group about the Yi. I have been an isolated Yi user living here in the Southern US, where I have been called a witch for my interest. I was happy to discover like-minded thinkers. However, that is not what I found. I felt outcast in the dogmatic approaches, and had resigned to stay in the shadows.

Then along comes Harmen with his apple pie (metaphor). He was advocating NOT using the text to interpret a hexagram and lines. The group members disagreed with him vehemently. Of course, that only interested me more. I asked Harmen to do a sample reading, so we could see what he was talking about. Really I was thinking: ‘put your money where your mouth is buddy.’ So he invited me to ask a question. I asked about the method (I will share the question and answer in another post). Well boy howdy (as we say here in the South), I was blown away by the reading.

Since Harmen mentioned that he takes students sometimes, I sent a private message to see if he would take me on. It seemed to me he was hesitant maybe because of the distance or the time involved. Soon after he agreed and outlined how it would work. Since I was involved in a writing project, besides a fulltime job, I wanted to be sure about taking this on myself. So I consulted the Yi. I received H44. I have used a website for a few years for all of my castings and as a part of my readings: despite my misgivings about H44, I looked more closely for meaning. Within the answer on the website was a link that said: ‘Harmen about 44.’ I was thinking ‘What?’ Is this the same Harmen? The link was in Dutch, so that was a big clue.


Lotti and Harmen

I thought whatever the hell H44 means, I am doing it. Of course it is the same Harmen, and he and Lotti (the creator of my favorite Yi website) are friends. I teased Harmen that he is like Oprah of the Yi world and needs only one name. Harmen’s method (for lack of a better name to call it) has dovetailed nicely with my work on re-writing the Bible. The blog, double lake, represents the joy of discussing the Yi.

Mountain Question Assignment


Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation; a cause (origin, root); a person?  How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?



Trigram Mountain by Adele Aldridge

When I am in a situation that is mountain, it will be characterized by stillness and inaction. The situation calls for stopping and consideration of the present surroundings. It represents a limit or boundary. It calls for thoughts to not go beyond the present. When there is a mountain in the situation, it is impossible to see through or past the mountain. It is possible to look back and consider the path up to the mountain and the steps already taken. If I face a situation that feels like a mountain, it might be that I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge. I may feel that it is in the way of what I want to do. I can’t just start hiking up a mountain without considering resources, time, purpose, etc. I may feel it is impossible, or I may feel like turning back. By stopping I can bring more awareness to present conditions. There may be something I have not considered, and it will only come to me with rest in mind, body, and spirit. It will only come with keen awareness of the present conditions. The situation is recognizing the limitation or boundary.


Mountain as a cause might be a challenge that is inherent in the chosen path. The mountain was already there. It may be that I had not planned for this situation that was bound to happen. The limitations are a natural part of the terrain. The cause is that I am being inactive or still in the chosen path and decisions. Since mountain is also about looking back, it could be that looking back has taken the focus off of looking ahead to the inherent challenges in the path. A mountain would be immobile, sturdy, un-moving. These are characteristics that might be considered causes for a situation to occur. The cause is looking at things as if it is limitation or an ending. A boundary marks the end of one kind of terrain and the beginning of another. A mountain range is a natural boundary between two things or places that are different. It feels like there is a spiritual aspect to mountain, because when you climb up you can see all around. There is greater perspective. Mountaintops and hilltops are associated with sacrifice, graves, and communing with heaven.

A person described by mountain might be facing an obstacle, or a challenge to be overcome. It might also be a person characterized by stillness and meditation. It makes me think of the Buddah. I think of a person who allows the present to tell them how to act or not to act. Maybe it could be a person who is an obstacle or challenge and is resolute or not easily moved.DSCN4909 I watched this documentary about a woman Apache Indian who was known for her perceptive abilities. It was said she could tell from which direction the enemy was coming and how close they were. She would stand o
n the peak of a mountain with her hands out stretched and palms up. She would slowly turn in every direction. Her hands would tingle if she felt the enemy. A stronger tingle meant the enemy
was closer. A person who grows up living in a land and being so in touch with every aspect of it can likely detect interruptions, sounds, smells, that have become a natural part of their knowing. She reminds me of being still and in tune with all the details of the present moment.

“It can also be a person who is conservative by nature, thinks in limitations, is introspective and introvert, the silent type who doesn’t speak his mind yet has a lot to offer when he is approached, a librarian, etc.”  -Harmen Mesker

What to do

Be still. Stop. Meditate. Consider the steps that got me here. Consider the present situation. I re-focus thoughts by considering the beauty around me. I might think of my own body. I can adjust my position, by sitting up straight and lengthening my spine. I might relax my shoulders and pay attention to my breath. I allow my breath to fill in my diaphragm and then empty it. I can close my eyes. I let thoughts that resemble worries or habitual thinking float by like clouds. I notice the temperature, maybe the feel of a breeze. I listen for the sounds which might be birds or crickets or the wind or my dog softly breathing. I can think how it feels good to sit and contemplate things in this way. I am not focusing on how to get over the mountain, but rather noticing present conditions.


I can be still, but I think it is also about being OK with that. Life seems so often about movement, action, and repetitive thinking. There are challenges or obstacles that we come across, and it is common to feel like figuring it out, finding a solution, or pulling out an ax or a blow torch to get through the mountain. It can be a relief to realize that the best way to approach an obstacle is just to stop the approach, the movements and the thoughts. It’s a release from the worries about the problem. I think of people traveling in an unknown wilderness. They come in their travels to the mountain. It’s a natural indication that it is time to set up camp. That means rest, and considering the travels so far. The mountain is there, and it must be crossed, but not just now.

“To me this sounds more about what to do than about how to do it. With how I expect more adjectives. For instance: Turn inward and do it

  • silently
  • with confidence
  • conservatively
  • with awareness of your limitations
  • by making use of the space that you carry within you” –Harmen Mesker


Lake Question Assignment


Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation; a cause (origin, root); a person?  How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?


Trigram Lake by Adele Aldridge

Focus on joy, gathering of that which gives pleasure and fulfillment, naivety, not attached to responsibilities, a little bit of egocentric behavior to be able to find your own ‘lake’ that feeds your creativity. Beautiful poetry is written on the side of the lakes… It also denotes magic, wizardry, ignoring rules, creating your own reality within the limits that are provided. The problem (if you can call it that) is that Lake is relying on the outside world for nourishment: the water from the Lake has to come from elsewhere and for replenishment it will look outside herself. If she finds that nourishment she will be happy, if not the water will become stale and the happiness turns into a depression. Find out where your lake gets its nourishment from and if this source is the right source. Questions that might help in this process are: Are you connected to the right sources? What gives you genuine joy, regardless of whether it is acceptable, normal or feasible? Are you capable of taking unusual measures? You are the only person who is responsible for your own happiness. Focus on the true joy that is involved in it. If that joy can’t be found at the base of all your doings then you should redefine that base, that foundation that is the bottom of your lake.” – Harmen Mesker


A situation that carries the attributes of lake would be characterized by joyful exchange and interaction. Since the quote above pretty much sums up those characteristics, I will focus on specific examples of situations that would fit. The actual feeling of sitting beside a lake with others and enjoying the interaction is an easy example. It brings to mind the relaxation and recreation that people do when they visit a lake. They go to get away from the stresses of life and there they take in the beauty and joy and stay on the surface in topics that are bantered about. I also got this trigram as representing my work situation. That fits in the bigger picture, as I am in hospitality, where we keep conversation light and pleasant. It also represented the idea that, in regards to the deeper issues, there was an attitude of not wanting to look at those things. They wanted to keep the situation light and pleasant, things going along as if nothing was happening. There was a lack of taking responsibility for things. This is the surface of the lake, where rules are ignored. There are limits to a lake, it is contained and this can apply to a situation.


The person could be seen as characterized by pleasing exchanges. This person might also have a self-centeredness that is contained within a certain environment or subject. That person is concerned with their own sources of nourishment. Though the person may have fun and interesting exchanges, there lacks a concern with responsibilities on other levels. A kind of alter reality is created around this feeling of pleasant exchange around a lake. We meet people in life that we consider pleasant in a certain environment, say at a coffee shop or in a 11836921_1616306515289108_5999068334924696032_nbar (a watering hole) or on the internet. That person seems to be that pleasant interaction, but there is no real nourishment for a relationship on a grander or deeper level. Lake could represent a person only about that one area of interest and may seem superficial or lacking of depth and understanding in other ways. It is a person that is fun to be around at the lake, but not a person who has other valued attributes. Robin Williams comes to mind as someone who could typify the attributes of Lake. We see him as joyful and funny and we assume that his life is this way too. We gather to see him in movies and we feel an exchange because of his warm personality and humor and we feel joy. There was some issue with him receiving nourishment for this joy in his ongoing life. We know he suffered from depression and ultimately took his own life. Despite his career as typifying a joyful gather place, his lake dried up.


A lake is formed because of outside conditions. There is the nourishment, like a river or stream. There is low lying earth that has natural containment properties. Applied to causes in life, this might mean the situation was caused by natural conditions inherent in the situation. It is made by the natural elements of a gathering place and nourished by outside sources. In a more positive sense the causes make it pleasant and open for exchange. In a more negative sense other conditions might be ignored, like continuing the source of nourishment or looking at deeper issues involved. A lake reflects the environment, sometimes so perfectly it is difficult to tell the reflection from the reality. I am drawn again to the example of Robin Williams. A comedy show is where people gather together to laugh and be light hearted. There is an exchange. The setting is a contained place that lends itself well to this kind of interaction. We can laugh at our foibles and share in the joy of this kind of reflection. But this is not the rest of life. Robin Williams was a wizard in that containment, but could not find nourishment in other ways for joy.

What to do

Focus on the qualities that bring joy and nourishment. Consider ideas of fulfillment within the containment of the situation. Open up and exchange in pleasant interaction. Let go of the usual rules and interaction pleasantries. Allow in the wizardry of interaction on this level the way that the surface has ripples and also becomes mist or the dark, murky depths. Consider the sources of joy. Don’t let the lake go dry. Share joy. Let loose and be free of hindrances. Contemplate joy and beauty on deeper levels, like writing poetry. Allow meaning to penetrate and go deeper without the use of words. Enjoy the feeling without focus on responsibilities. Be self-serving in the sources that bring this feeling. Fill in and fill up. Take a dip. Dive in. Be light. Enjoy recreation that is relief from stress.

How to do it

Joyfully. In exchange and interaction. Pleasantly. Openly. Loosely. With an alchemical kind of wizardry as in fluid to mist. With keeping sources and flow open and fulfilling. Without responsibility or hindrance. Self servantly in enjoyment. Within a joyful gathering. With laughter and flirtation. With happiness and with reflection of the ways joy is brought to life. In happy meditation. With a light heart. With recognition that some things / situations / people are meant to be only surface and for the fun of it

Earth Question Assignment


Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation; a cause (origin, root); a person?  Ho


Trigram Earth by Adele Aldridge

w does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?

Earth Is. It is Grand. It carries everything. Provides for everything if she is given the right material. She nourishes. She is the Mother. She says ‘come to me and I will make you grow’. She does not do that out of power (that would be Heaven), she does that simply because she does it. She is the ultimate expression of weiwuwei 為無為, ‘doing by not doing’. That is why she cannot strictly be called ‘life giving’, although I think I know what you mean. Just by herself she can’t create life, just as Heaven is can’t creative life on its own. It provides the material through which the forces can act. Without substance forces cannot exercise their influence. Earth does have a choice: how and where the forces are accepted is entirely up to her.”  Harmen Mesker


The attributes of Earth are Mother. Field. Mare. Darkness. Shadows. Inward growth. Labor. Service. Flexible. Inner release.  Response. Deliverance. Sub-Mission. Abatement of distress. Sub-terrain. Downward. Inward. Without resistance. Open. Receptive. Willing.

The situation that resonates most deeply with me is working with the Yi. The more I can open myself to these qualities when consulting, the more growth and yield is possible. I am the material through which the forces act. I am the substance upon which the forces exercise their influence. I labor and serve in the shadows of my consciousness to be the fertile place of responsiveness, deliverance, and inner release. In this process of yielding in willing sub-mission to the message, I find abatement of stress that is inward. I open, without resistance, to the message.


I have been in therapy for 25 years, on and off. I have come to trust my therapist, as she is also a mentor. I can see that the therapeutic process has been a cause for growth in my life. It doesn’t start out that way, necessarily, but the goal of therapy is to bring about or cause changes inwardly. It works best when trust has been developed, and I can be like the attributes of earth. Then, the process itself becomes like earth in the way it causes me to willing submit to it, because of the trust I have in the process. The therapeutic process is the earth that has caused growth in me. There is everything about Earthiness in that office, my therapist, the process, and me.

In a more negative sense the yielding can lead to being overly influenced and responsive if the forces themselves are negative. Allowing bad seeds to be planted in your garden can cause a sickly garden.


I know that usually a motherly type person is represented by Earth. However, I think of my late husband, Allen. He was the kindest person I have ever known. He had a way of allowing others their beliefs and he was receptive to them. He IMAG0188was born Jewish and then Messianic Jewish, and then a Born Again Christian Preacher, and then a New Age book author and teacher of Tai Chi. He was open to other people in a way that I had never before experienced. When he was so sick in the hospital, people would come to preach or pray with him. These people always thought Allen was a member of their religion. He was so open and receptive to people. He would allow them to influence him with their words and beliefs and words, and there would be growth and inner release for all who experienced it. I saw him ask Janitors or orderlies in the hospital to come and pray with him. Some guy who had been pushing a broom would come to his side and belt out the most amazing prayer, and Allen would receive it in the most giving and personal way. He was also full of the attributes of Earth in the way he received his children. He allowed them to be themselves and he was receptive to them. He was the most motherly of fathers.

What to do

Open. Be receptive. Be willing to labor and serve. Be flexible. Allow inner release. Be open to abatement of distress and to deliverance. Grow. Yield. Make use of willingness. Release resistance. Provide for. Allow for growth. Nourish. Just be.

How to do it

Openly. With flexibility. Willingly. In service. Yieldingly. Allowingly. With provision. Encouragingly. Acceptingly. With release. With willing sub-mission.

Thunder Question Assignment


Assignment: How does the trigram describe a situation; a cause (origin, root); a person?  How does it tell you what to do? What does it tell about how to do something?

images (1)

Trigram Thunder by Adele Aldridge

“Thunder would fight, ferociously. It would never run away. It would rather give all it has in one last exploding effort.” –Harmen Mesker


All day I had been stressing about the situation at my job, and so I decided to spend the evening relaxing with friends. I went out in the garden of my artist friend. It is a magical place, especially in springtime with all of the new growth. It was twilight and the sky was grey with looming clouds. There was a refreshing breeze relieving the warm, humid air. Thunder rumbled long and low. I ducked under an archway covered in vines. I thought of thunder in the Yi. I thought of the thunder that followed the lightning that comes when I think of, …when, oh, scary, I won’t think about that now. The thunder subsides. I smile. I peer out at the clouds for signs of lightening. I continue on the garden path. There is a lovely old religious icon, Mother Mary, clothed in blue and white. She wears a sacred heart around her neck. She stands about two feet tall on a pedestal. There are shells surrounding her feet. At the foot of the pedestal is a figurine of two frogs hugging. The whole tableau is encircled by plants with a reddish color amidst the large, green leaves. As I contemplate Mary and the frogs of the Earth, thinking of my story and my study of the Yi, I consider the elements of the trigrams present here and now. I look just 13466529_1028264877221628_2277214813664377104_nbeyond Mary to the left. Climbing up the wire fence behind her is a bronze turtle, the size of a platter, with six sparkling stones on his back. I got chills. Just then, the thunder roars and rumbles. I flinch and duck in automatic response. As the thunder passes to a low rumble and then quiet, I laugh out loud. I am amazed at the beauty and resonance. I tell my friend later that I had a religious experience in her garden.

A situation of thunder is one that brings a rumbling, shaking things up. There is a promise of spring which brings new growth. It is frightening at first. Afterwards there is a release.


Thunder might be the cause of coming into a situation all sound and fury. It’s all good if that is what is called for in a situation. Thunder causes movement and growth in a startling way. Something that is alarming causes people to act in a certain way. Restlessness and a desire for something new could be a cause or origin of a situation. Being frightened by something startling could be a cause for all sorts of actions.

 “It can also mean that a sudden unexpected change caused the current situation.”  – Harmen Mesker


I am thunder, ready to give it all I have in a moment of truth. I am alert and moving. There is power that comes from below and moves through me in a burst of sound that shakes things up. I arouse, excite, and inspire new perspectives.

“This is all true, however I would like you to describe another  person. Like, “a Thunder person is someone who is easily excited or angered, is able to make quick and intuitive decisions, is decisive yet reckless and inconsiderate” etc.” –Harmen Mesker

What to do

Go in in with power and authority to get things moving. Issue forth. Cause a stir, especially one followed by release and growth.


Take action.  Heavy work. Fertilize the situation. Take charge. Rise up.

Describe how an action should be done: quick, without thinking (about consequences), with a *bang*, with one irreversible effort that causes a complete change of events etc. –Harmen Mesker