“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 the 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. 18.104.22.168. 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. In 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 side. 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.