When No Means No: Reflections on Hexagram 12

I get frustrated with my own mind at times. I can be happily working on some project, and then I get a barrage of thoughts pertaining to a perceived lack of life long accomplishments. It is quite debilitating.


My mind – my thoughts – turn sour and ruin it for me. I try to ignore them and keep moving. But these incessant thoughts of self-sabotage and doubt won’t be kept down. I will do everything I can think of that is productive and worthwhile, but it doesn’t matter to these thought patterns. So I presented the dilemma to the Yi in this way:


“Being nicer to myself”
Answer: Hexagram 12 / line 5


The lower trigram of earth tells me to take care of myself. It is about being open to possibilities. Ask inner questions. Answer them without judgement. There is an inner space for nurturing. Be serving of the inner needs. The first step is acceptance of the inner self, without question. Accept emotions, character, and actions without judgement. Find a calm attitude of acceptance – of any of the feelings whether they feel negative or not. But also, do not be a slave to emotions. Accept with a mothering, nurturing heart. There is also the possibility of being too passive, and not being able to take action. The passive inner, nurturing self, can abate stress, but it is not able to manifest in the outer world – or is too passive towards my thoughts about the outer world.


The outer trigram of heaven is deliberately focused on goals and accomplishments. It’s that voice of my father that life is all about ratios and incomes. It is in control. It wants to be seen and have recognition. Heaven also tells me to take the lead in my own thought processes. I am the ‘me’ behind my intentions. It is up to me to take the lead in directing thoughts, rather than allowing the concerns of heaven to dominate.


When nothing is working, when I am blocked in debilitating thought patterns, then it’s time to do something easy. Take a load off. Quit trying so hard. Go outside. When nothing is working – when my mind is going into a negative place – I am blocked – the inner and outer are not mingling. There are no people around – it is all in my mind. Keeping at it in the same way has no benefit. Don’t try and do big things. Get small. Do some stretching. Go outside. Look at the sun. Do something small and easy.


When there is a negative voice present that sabotages all attempts at progress, I lose empathy for myself. The outer – goal and accomplishment – overpowers the inner nurturing. All my best efforts come to nothing much. Don’t try the big ideas when things are blocked. Focus in on small details – the immediate – the mundane, even if it is uninspiring. Do the dishes. Go to the store. Do easy things.


It is up to me to recognize when dominant thoughts take over. I am blocked. This blocked place requires that I lessen thoughts and actions. It takes up too much energy. Only small things can be accomplished. It takes strength to realize this and to act accordingly. This will help to avoid further hardships. This is not the time to consider accomplishments, money, work, etc. Keep thoughts simple and small too. Don’t make it worse by considering challenging things. Recognize the place, the feeling of being blocked. Don’t try and figure it out. I can also recognize that the place of being blocked is part of a bigger cycle. There was flow and there will be flow again. Hold on during the blocked time. See it as an opportunity to do the small things.


Line 5: ‘Resting when blocked. Great person, good fortune. It is lost, it is lost! Tie it to the bushy mulberry.’


Line 5 is the place of the leader. Who else can be in charge of my thoughts but me? As long as I can consciously recognize the place of being blocked – when the overbearing tyrant voice takes the lead through its insistence that I have not, am not, will not ever do enough, then it’s time for full stop. That’s what makes sense. Pull into the bigger self. My mind is crying out – what about the end – what if all is lost – what if I fail? The familiar refrain is repeated. To stop, to say ‘no’ is to rest. In the rest I can recognize the block. In this way, the thought loosens from the emotions. I can let it go – leave it tied up in some outer place – a mulberry bush.


Take a breathing space. Don’t keep struggling through it. Re-evaluate things. It is easy to get caught up in the panic of the blocked place. Nothing is working, so it feels like nothing will ever work. It feels as though it’s too late and as if enough has not been done and opportunities will vanish. That is when it is time to detach from the goals. Go inward – to the nurturing place of self-acceptance.


The Mulberry tree can be cut down, but it grows back vigorously. The repeat of the refrain that all is lost and tying it to the Mulberry reminds me that dealing with these thought patterns one time will not necessarily be the end of it. They remain there in the cycle of being in the flow or being blocked. The trigram of change is fire. Its attributes of clarity, and clinging to what matters, brings balance when the inevitable blocks arise.


I see the humor too. It’s like the Yi poking a little fun at the situation. Repeating a refrain makes it dramatic: a soap opera star with head in hand over-dramatizing a situation. ‘Oh woe is me.’ And then I think of Scarlett O’hara (Gone With the Wind) “Fiddle dee dee…” I will tie it to a Mulberry Tree.