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.

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