If you stretch your imagination a little bit, you can see the hexagram above as the image of a mouth – the upper jaw and lower jaw on top and bottom and the opening in the middle. The topic here is nourishment, for it is into the mouth that food (nourishment of the self) enters and words (nourishment of others) exit. What it is we choose to nourish, both within ourselves and without, is going to determine nothing less than who we are as people. Judge a person by who their enemies are, right? Or, taking another approach, perhaps more to the point, we have Matthew 6:21 in the Bible: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The meaning of this hexagram is found largely in behavior and character and, more broadly, how we choose to approach the world and our own roles within it. If you have the ability to be independent and self-sufficient – that is, to gain the nourishment that you personally need all on your own – but instead of doing this, you choose to be jealous and bitter towards those you perceive to have it better, you will come to a bad end. Can you argue with that? Along the same lines, if you should be able to provide that nourishment for yourself, but let yourself go and drop into a state of weakness in which you depend utterly on nourishment from others, you will always be ill at ease, because you’re out of sync with your potential – and somewhere, if only deep down, your highest self knows this.
We are also reminded that meaningless pleasure-seeking is a dead-end street. Constantly looking for the next thing to make us “happy” leads to a sort of bottomless hunger, running from one desire to another as soon as we believe each one to be fulfilled. On the flip side, this kind of hunger is actually okay and even beneficial if it takes the form of a hunger to help others. When possessed of such a hunger, the only caveat is to remember that you can’t do it all by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help, and under such circumstances, the right people to help you will appear. Without such a hunger, however, you might find that you know you should be out there helping others but you can’t seem to do it. You aren’t strong enough or you are having trouble figuring out exactly how one goes about doing this. Under such circumstances, seek out a spiritual mentor and rely on them. Upon doing so, you might find yourself feeling stronger and more confident, ready to thrust out on your own – but don’t do it yet. You must wait until your new teacher has fully prepared you to set out on your own, and then the time will be right and all will come to a good end.
When you do find yourself in a place at which you can provide the kind of bottomless nourishment that other people need, understand that this is a massive responsibility. High expectations and high standards will be placed upon you, and you need to accept that and adhere to them. If you do – but only if you do – there will be great success in which you and everyone else will get the needed nutrients.
We are reminded of the time in mid-spring when firm preparations are made for the year, when seeds are actually dropped and planted in the ground. Such preparation and careful planning is necessary if we are to do this right. Your character will be cultivated by what happens with your mouth – the food that goes into it and the words that come out of it will make you who you are and who you are to become.
Go in peace.