Skip to content

Unasked questions

looking out of a dark castle gate into wide open landscape

A couple of my most startling, transformative readings lately have come when I asked questions I could and should have asked a year or more ago. The issues were on my mind – in some cases driving all I did – yet it never dawned on me to talk with Yi about them.

It doesn’t make this much less embarrassing to realise that I’m definitely not the only one: it’s amazing how many other things people can find to ask about. If the elephant in the room would just move to one side a little so I have room to sort yarrow stalks? Perfect, thanks.

We don’t ask where only one answer would be bearable. (That’s something I notice most often in people I read for – maybe it’s just the easiest motive to see from the outside.) We also don’t ask when it just hasn’t occurred to us that there could be a different answer. Or maybe we know there’s a problem, but would rather not ask about it for fear of knowing what it might have to tell us.

In my case I think I’m often afraid of losing momentum: I’ve reached a conclusion, I’m secure in my conviction that this is the way forward, and the last thing I want is a reading that might shake that ‘knowledge’. (Hm – maybe I’m over-identifying a bit with what I ‘know’…?)

So I asked Yi:

Why do we leave certain questions unasked?

(When I say ‘we’, I mean myself in the first place – I’ve used the plural just in case anyone can identify. 😉 )

Yi answers with Hexagram 60, Articulating or Limiting, changing at the second line to Hexagram 3, Sprouting.

changing to

Articulating is about setting limits, measuring and defining things, as a way of making them manageable and digestible, bringing them down to a human scale. It improves communication and understanding by asking, ‘What’s workable? What can I assimilate? What can we live with?’

And Sprouting is about beginnings: the chaos and difficulty and excitement in the creative ferment, and the great need to orientate ourselves in all this. The sprout puts down roots; the army establishes a base camp; we’re ‘not letting go our dwelling place.’

When 60 moves towards 3, or is moved by its priorities, we have

‘Not going out of the gate from the courtyard.

This is the gate that leads from the extended family home out into the street. We don’t ask questions because we’re staying within our four walls. This is familiar space, the comfort zone, or the ‘I know who I am, I know how I fit into the scheme of things, and everything here tells me this is true’ zone.

Staying inside these walls leads to a kind of moral and spiritual claustrophobia, as if knowing my world from the inside were enough. There’s a distinct failure to send out those feudal lords of hexagram 3 to explore broader perspectives and possibilities.

And naturally, the attractions of this home base are stronger than ever if we already feel insecure around an issue, as if we need to rebuild that home base and regroup. Why run the risk of putting ourselves out there with a question, when we’ve no way of knowing what, if anything, we might receive in return?

Hm. Just thought of another question I could usefully have asked about a year ago. Maybe it’s time to pick up the divining-beads and walk out of the gate.

looking out of a dark castle gate into wide open landscape

9 thoughts on “Unasked questions”

  1. Had I asked the YiJIng questions so long ago, I would have been free from error: some errors were life changing for the worse. (I think Confucius may have been thinking along these lines too). On the other hand, I asked and ignored to my peril. Coming out from under the jungle I walked into has taken too long. How I have needed refinement. Lost in the endless securities wasn’t bad enough. Hiding under myself like a light hidden – that is unspeakable – but I did it.
    Now YiJing walks with me, but the big difference is, I have begun walking with YiJing.

    – Glen

  2. Hi Hilary,

    Perhaps as an interesting contrast to line 2 of Hex 60, you might consider the image found in line 1 of Hex 17 which encourages emerging from the gate and mingling with what is outside.

    Eric’s last blog post..

  3. Hi Glen,

    Oh yes, asking and then ignoring, that’s a whole other blog post (/novel). It’s weird the things we do to ourselves…

    Hi Eric,

    Agreed, 17.1 uses the wall imagery in a similar way. 60.1 is subtly different. And is this revealing a pattern – are there more boundaries and barriers in line 1 than other lines?

  4. It does appear that the authors used these threshold images more frequently in the first line, although barriers and gates are found in other lines as well. Perhaps they sometimes imagined the hexagram as a piece of architecture with a first floor and several upper levels.

  5. I am new to the site, and I dont cast Yi Jing in english so I just have to ask a terminology question here.

    When you say 17.1 is that hex 17 where the first line is the moving line, or the first line of the hex?

    – maybe this isnt the place to ask about this, sorry for that, new to the site 🙂

  6. Hi Sasha 🙂

    I’m not clear on what distinction you’re making… but by 17.1 I mean the text for the first (bottom) line of the hexagram, the one you read if it’s moving. In the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, it’s:
    “The standard is changing.
    Perseverance brings good fortune.
    To go out of the door in company
    Produces deeds.”

  7. Hello Hilary,

    I found your blog through TarotByArwen on Twitter. I like what you have written here. I run into this situation regularly with my healing clients. I can “see” the question they need to ask, and if I bring this up to them, they more often than not, dismiss it and try to ask about something entirely unrelated.

    Same definitely holds true for my reading clients. They come in with a certain question in mind, but the reading almost always goes to the information they actually need at this present time. Not all of them are willing to go in that direction, so they end up disregarding that part of the healing/reading and then I’ll see them again months later and they basically all say the same thing: “I should have listened!”

    And so it goes.

  8. Hi Ross 🙂

    It seems to me there are a couple of issues here. There’s the question you choose to ask – and one thing I’ve learned is that there’s no earthly point explaining about a ‘better’ question to someone who’s utterly preoccupied with a relationship. The issue that’s keeping someone awake at night just has to be addressed first.

    And then there’s the answer received. If it goes way beyond what I asked, can I hear it? Or if I’m reading for someone else, how can I help them to hear it? I know this is about 98% beyond my influence, but I want to learn how to improve my 2%…

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *