I say this to myself after I get an answer I do not like or understand. I say it as if I am scolding the question that would illicit such a response. Inherent in this feeling is that I perhaps don’t want to know the answer. Questions are only stupid when the answer is obvious, impossible, or one that you don’t want to hear. Now that I have seen the answer, I am hesitant to explore what it means.
This happens most when I receive a scary hexagram. There may be no bad hexagrams, but there are scary ones. I have found that I approach answers like thunder. I get frightened and startled at first. Oh my God! Baton down the hatches, coral the ponies, and run for cover…a scary hexagram has come to town! What could that mean and what the hell was I asking in the first place? The rumble of thunder scares me to 100 li on the inside. Will there be lightning to follow? I peep at the hexagram and laugh at myself. The three little lines of the trigrams are not so scary. It is safe to come out of hiding. Ah, it was only thunder and the storm has passed. I take up the sacrificial spoon and study the trigram images.
Q: Communication with Harmen
A: H47 Confining. Movement at lines 2 and 3.
It feels like one of those scary hexagrams, all about confinement and being dried up. It’s not exactly the thing I was expecting in imagery for communication with a teacher. So I do not do much with it at first. I rest with the images. It is an ongoing subject anyway, and it may take a bit for the storm to pass in my negative associations.
I give more thought to my question. There are limitations to discussion and communication when it all must be done on the internet and through varying time zones. We use different apps for different things. I have found FB messaging near impossible for scrolling back through and finding things. I have to remember to copy and paste or bookmark things as they come up. It is useful for casual chat and short questions and humorous associations (GIF’s stickers, and emoji’s). I have lost attachments of feedback there and found that frustrating. Email is OK for attaching things, but is not conducive to back-n-forth chatting. I have lost things there too.
Recently I joined Clarity forum:
I like the format of the discussion board. It is interesting that there are the various schools of thought about interpretation. When people hear a little about Harmen’s way of teaching using the hexagram, I find a bit of defensiveness about it. I feel the tension. People seem to think it discounts or diverges or goes in some opposite direction from their experience and use of the Yi. There is discussion about it on the forum, and I came on too strong in defense of it. I am still a novice at the methods, but I can see the advantages of learning it in order to enhance whatever other methods are used.
It was from this experience, that Hilary mentioned inviting Harmen as a guest teacher on her forum. She opened a thread for trigrams by Harmen. It has been a mode of communication that I would never have thought to suggest. I find that other people’s questions are ones that I had not considered. It opens up the learning for me to be able to see others involvement in it. Even if people approach it with doubt or take it other directions, it provides thoughtful commentary.
It got me to thinking that the forum style that Hilary has so well perfected on her website has many advantages. This (and the reading about communication and H47) prompted me to ask Harmen if there was something like that on his website that I could use for assignments. He was very accommodating in creating such a space.
After these positive experiences that came out of receiving this answer, I decided to tackle the stupid question and scary hexagram with a more in depth look at the imagery. I also followed the example provided by Harmen of looking at the hexagram and starting with the idea or phrase: “Hmmm, that is interesting…” This also helps take away the stupid question / scary hexagram syndrome. So I begin again in earnest:
Q: Communication with Harmen
Water below. Lake above. Arousal at lines 2 and 3.
Hmmm, that is interesting…2 lines excited in the lower trigram. The upper trigram is lake and one I often associate with discussing the Yi with Harmen. That is good, right? Well, at least it brings a little hope to the scary feeling I get when I see water underneath the lake. Weird, I just flashed on an image of a toilet flushing into the pipes below. Hmmm, interesting, but is that helpful?
Seeing the water being drained out of the lake into the river below has me questioning my question. I think: “Oh my Gaaawd, I am draining the lake and drying it up! Arrrghh.” There I go approaching every reading like thunder: “Ahhh!” Then “oh?” Then “Ok, that was kinda funny.” And then, “ah, cool, look at the growth that was caused by the scary, rumbling shock.”
Surely, I was thinking of ways to improve or deepen communication, though perhaps from a place of feeling the obstacles and limitations about it. Yeah, I will go with that question. Is that allowed…asking the question after seeing the answer? I am playing Jepord-Yi: “I will take Communication for $1000.00 Alex.”
Hmmm, so the lake representing communication with Harmen isn’t so bad….er, uh scary: weee, communication at the lake of Yi with Harmen. It’s that lower trigram with its warning lights and flowing through danger that is giving me the rub. “Don’t focus on water being danger, it is more than that,” I can hear Harmen saying.
I wish I could get that toilet and sewer pipe image out of my head. Though, it does occur to me that the FB chat app is a bit like a toilet bowl. What you see is what you get. Once you move past it, it is gone. It is flushed. But the bowl fills up again with new chat, as long as everything is working properly and everyone participates. I also feel that I try too hard to capture and recall everything, when it is Ok to simply absorb what I can in the moment.
River water can be diverted into a pond. The situation takes thought and care. The river feeds the pond, but only of it is guided and directed that way. Hmmm, that is interesting. Does it relate to my question somehow? Am I allowed to construct a pond from the river? I think so, since they are both
there already. I decide to look up ways that water can be diverted upwards: siphoning, pumps, damns, water locks, and capillary action. In any case, diverting flow upward takes unusual measures and some ingenuity. That fits this situation.
The lake has no areas of imbalance. That sounds like Harmen, just enjoying the communication and oblivious to my concern. The communication itself is fine. There is joy and all the qualities of lake in it. It does have the attribute of a downward flow, draining into the river. This feels like an image of the challenges of time, distance, day-to-day stresses, and internet apps. I see the communication as a joyful interlude from the stresses of everyday life. A pond is a precious kind of oasis, but is dependent on environmental factors.
It is yang. The old dragon is coming into being, and expressing himself. Here it should be a yin line. I don’t have to communicate everything or be ‘in your face’ about it. It gives me the feeling of not trying to control or force things too much. There is nothing to prove and no standard to meet.
I would say that I do struggle with what to share, how much to share, within the bounds of the conditions of the environment: the time, the distance, the student / teacher relationship, and the friendship. I question things too much. Water would not do that. Ah, it’s where I get into trouble. It’s a fear and resistance to just going with the flow.
Line three is yin when it should be yang. It is making decisions about the next move, but not passively waiting. If the pathway between river and pond is too solid the pond won’t get any water from the river. If it is too giving, the water in the pond will merge with the river. It’s like that all important flapper in the toilet bowl. Be responsive to environmental conditions. Who hasn’t had to adjust the water flow valve in the commode?
A yin line at three has got to be really bad in the text. I can feel that. But it’s more of a bad like me thinking it is bad then really being a bad situation. It’s a warning to to be flexible and adapt to conditions. I am in the danger of catching myself up by being overly concerned or trying to control something that does not require concern or control. It takes a bit of work and attention but the whole thing is worth it. Just enjoy it.
Water envelops fire on the inside and wind on the outside. The inherent challenges make it interesting. If there was no river, no challenge and difficulty, there would be no pond. The forum that Harmen created on his website is like a pond in the river of the internet. It is the same with the blog, and the thread on Clarity. They are diverted little ponds fed by the river and quite precarious too. It is fun and a kind of wizardry in the ways people have found to teach and to learn and to communicate. Inside, my fire clings and needs the environment and the fuel of this learning. I seek it in the midst of the challenges. Communication with Harmen is wind and work over the long term where the effects are manifested over time.
I may be pollyannic when it comes to interpretation of scary hexagrams and stupid questions. I use the images to my advantage for sure. Instead of focusing on the idea that the pond could dry up, I can see that there are ways to keep it going. If one pond dries up, like it did in another forum recently, then we will make another pond. Worry or control will only hinder the flow and the balance.
A bonsai tree will never be full grown tree, but it is just as interesting and alive. It takes a special kind of focus. Necessity and desire is the mother of invention. Wanting a pond, a place for communication, has led to inventiveness.
Ah see, I have come to the place of laughing and smiling after the initial shock. It’s all good. Silly girl, there are no stupid questions.