I’ve been revisiting the idea of the ‘non-people’ in hexagram 12. The most helpful way to understand them, most of the time, is as people we regard, for whatever reason, as not quite ‘like us’ enough to be real. Most of the time, the problem is with the labelling and consequent failure of communication, not with the individual.
This way of seeing hexagram 12 often leads to helpful new understanding. Take for instance that time when I received it, years back, after yet another draining row with someone with whom I always seem to find myself having draining rows. ‘Obstructing it, non-people…’ suggested to me that the problem was with the way I’d typecast him as someone with a short temper, always bound to react in extreme ways. And this, of course, gave me a perfect excuse not to listen to him, and created a situation of ‘Obstruction’.
However, there is another way to see readings like this one, and I was alerted to it when I read this post about negative souls.
I don’t buy into everything Andrea writes: if there were such a thing as a ‘negative soul’ in any absolute sense, it’s not as if we could recognise them. We don’t enjoy that kind of divine overview from which to see the true nature of other’s souls – but we can see the patterns of how they interact with us, personally. I’m not inclined to believe in negative souls, but I’m coming to believe in constantly negative relationships, and I think Hexagram 12 can sometimes point to these.
Here are some excerpts from Andrea’s description of a ‘negative soul’ that seem to me to characterise a 12-ish kind of relationship all too well:
- They are not creative…
- They do not really change…
- They do not add to our lives…
- They are always there when you are down! …
- If you are happy and joyfully embracing your purpose, they have a way of diverting your attention. …
- You may feel tired or depleted when you spend a great deal of time with them…
This reads almost like a hexagram commentary.
‘Obstructing it, non-people.
No harvest in noble one’s constancy.
Great goes, small comes.’
With communication obstructed by negatively-relating-people, to be true to yourself and your purpose, to be imaginative, visionary and willing to find new ways, bears no fruit. Your best efforts get you nowhere. In fact, the Image makes this still clearer:
‘Heaven and earth do not interact. Obstruction.
The noble one uses energy sparingly to avoid resistance
He does not allow official honours and salary.’
Use energy sparingly to avoid resistance – because the more you invest, the more you push against the immoveable obstruction, the more ‘tired and depleted’ you become. (The energy to use sparingly here is de, ‘virtue’, the strength of personal character.) This is the kind of situation where if you could receive rewards, it would only be for becoming less yourself.
But of course this is the Book of Change, not the book of fixed soul-types or even fixed relationship-types. Moving lines in hexagram 12 show openings to shift obstructions, change relationships, break deadlocks. And even unchanging, the hexagram contains the hidden potential (nuclear hexagram) of 53, Gradual Development.
I think this makes it a key moment in the noble one’s education. Sometimes (hexagram 11) communication flows smoothly, petty things are carried away and great things become possible; all your creative potential is well-received and can be realised. And sometimes this doesn’t happen at all. Sometimes, being your best self brings you no positive response at all. What now?
Well… now you learn to imitate the Image’s noble one and follow the movement of the trigrams. Ground-level reality and heavenly, spiritual-creative-visionary reality move apart, each according to its own nature. So in your daily interactions you become ‘smaller’, investing less and lowering your expectations of reward; in your vision and de, you remain constant, whether or not that yields harvest.