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Hexagram 4: Youthful Folly

What were the meanings in the events of our just past weekend module of the GMP 98 cohort?
[some of the events of that weekend are described here]

Answer: Hexagram 4, unchanging.

This hexagram is an old friend and there was no need to look up its name. It also does not change to another hexagram in this oracle appearance. It is stable and sits advising us to listen very carefully and fully. In earlier days I would almost fear this oracle, as if it were mocking my maturity. Now I find this hexagram comes at opportune times and provides my greatest lessons. I write before consulting the text: Youthful Folly always brings advice. Look carefully for the message.

The introductory notes describe the immaturity of youth as lack of wisdom, not stupidity. The spring rising below the mountain is an image of inexperienced youth. Stopping (Mountain) before an abyss (Abysmal, Water) is a folly of youth. The trigrams show the way. The spring gushes forth, not knowing where it will go. Its water fills the deep places blocking its path which leads to success and progress. Our cohort is described as immature. We find ourselves stopping at the brink of perceived danger. We must plunge into the abyss and trust we will fill the chasms of our empty wisdom in so doing.

About the Judgement: when young, folly is not an evil. Find an experienced teacher. Be conscious of your lack of experience and seek out the teacher with respectful acceptance. No mistrustful or unintelligent questioning can be tolerated or else silence and no answers are given. Yet, the teacher perseveres and we master our points one by one. The oracle sees our cohort as young and our folly to be expected. We need to seek out our teachers with respect for their experience and wisdom. While we often question in inappropriate ways, this is to be expected, and our teachers answer with silence. Our teachers are counseled to persevere patiently, waiting, while we master our lessons one step at a time.

About the Image: character develops like a spring, gradually and steadily filling up all gaps and flowing onward. Our cohort's development is analyzed as developing, slowly, like a spring. In time we will have filled in our gapping inexperience and be able to move on to greater challenges.

As we examine the oracle, the events of the past weekend are brought into a clear focus around the hexagram of Youthful Folly. Taking the images and ideas from the reading a number of insights can be reflected on for our cohort around the themes of our group and our teachers. Our group lack of wisdom, as suggested by this reading, is very apparent when we examine our ability to deal with group processes, which was the dominant theme of our retreat at Seabeck. This has been one of the biggest challenges faced by our group. Our inability to establish explicit and agreed norms of behavior led to severe problems as we confronted out authority and learning objectives as a group.

The oracle takes this opportunity to present the observation of Youthful Folly at a time when it is clear we are ready to deal with our immaturity. In the image of the spring, the oracle shows us the way to fill our gaps and flow onward. The image of stopping before an abyss is especially poignant to me as it so dramatically describes what we have been doing as a group when we approach our group process work. The tensions and misunderstandings between people have been like a huge chasm that seemed impossible to cross. We would stop and talk about our crossing. We would look all around and suggest building material for the crossing. We would run up and down the edge of the chasm looking for some safe way to go. What we could not do was simply jump in and trust our ability to fill the chasm with our growing spring of knowledge so we could move on from the other side. This weekend was different, perhaps because of the tension and build-up described in the pre-module oracle of Break-through. We were ready to jump and simply awaited the catalyst. This appeared on Friday night when my leaving the group caused such a disruption. A subset of the group began the work that evening and then, with the help of our outside guest, we finally gave voice to a large community problem, around my power and control over the group, the next day. This plunge into the abyss showed us the foolishness of our folly. We survived. We were able to speak the unspeakable and see the perspectives of those in the controversy.

Me, as I struggled from a focus of attention, which though I may have created it, was thrust upon me with such solidarity as to paralyze the group from developing its own power and control. The group, as we discovered our inner fear of power and control, concepts whose images seemed contrary to our purposes together, but which are needed in some form for every social interaction to succeed. So the plunge showed us we could survive when we have the courage to directly address our group behavior. From that point it was as if the spring was released. We created the beginnings of norms. We addressed the second of our major group issues as focused around Sharon and Roger - exclusion and safety. And, perhaps of most significance, when faced with the choice to go away from group process work, with this second major question unresolved, we did not stop at the brink of the abyss as was our previous experience. Instead we plunged in and began to fill the chasm, just as the oracle of Youthful Folly suggests is the way beyond the abyss.

The oracle presents a strong message to our cohort concerning the relationship with our teachers which was also very present during our retreat. The oracle counsels us to seek out an experienced teacher. This need was met at the Seabeck retreat in the person of RoseAnn Stevenson. RoseAnn guided nearly every group session we had at the retreat with the exception of the Friday evening and Saturday morning sessions our guest speaker. RoseAnn provided a structured approach and a light hand as she allowed us to approach and then test our ability to deal with the group questions previously described. The oracle's caution to the student about questioning especially caught my eye in this respect. The oracle warns of questioning that is mistrustful or unintelligent and counsels silence from the teacher at these times. This very closely describes how our cohort often questioned RoseAnn this week. We would use questions about the negotiation process she had introduced to suggest it wasn't appropriate to the topics we had at hand. We wanted her to defend her process. Instead she was willing to let it go and allow us to head in our own direction without her. We knew from past experience where that could lead (not good) and her act of not-answering led us back to the method we knew we could get her help with. She kept control of our process the entire weekend in this way. Allowing us to explore fully our group interest while intervening only when we needed the guidance of an experienced teacher.

The final note, to the teacher, is directed at RoseAnn and is a breathtaking piece of advice in keeping with the events of the weekend. The oracles counsels the teacher to persevere, to go slowly, at a pace the group will hold, to not be discouraged as the students learn their lessons. There were many times when it almost looked like RoseAnn wanted to throw up hers hands and be done with us. She did not succumb to those impulses. She stayed with us and trusted us to master our points one by one. Though I'm certain we have many more lessons to learn, her gentle patience and trust in us allowed us to learn on our own with her experience as a guide.

Was the oracle of Youthful Folly useful in understanding the meaning of events at the GMP 98 retreat? Was it relevant to the happenings of the weekend? The oracle provides a metaphor of our group, describing us as a youth whose immaturity has paralyzed our ability to move forward in the face of danger. The metaphor extends to the danger, which can be seen as working group processes, when it involves confronting people issues directly and in a public forum. This is not something that people tend to be comfortable with in general. In our public group life we are trained to submerge our feelings about others and "get on with business". In our cohort environment we have not had this luxury. The design of the GMP brings the conflicts between people into play on a regular basis. Not to put people at odds over personal differences, rather, to show how group processes can impact and influence the behaviors of individuals in groups. Our cohort fell into the typical pattern of submerging feeling and allowing them to explode in a myriad of unrelated incidents. We all knew what was underlying these incidents, we needed only listen in the hallways during breaks. Yet, we could not bring ourselves to bring small private conversations into the group as a whole.

The metaphor provided by Youthful Folly seems to capture this phenomenon remarkably well. The image of a youth standing on the brink of an abyss, unable to move, unable to conceive of a way across is a frighteningly accurate portrayal of our group around this problem in our first year together. The actions of a spring, or water, when its approaches such an abyss; i.e., plunging over the edge to fill the abyss slowly and steadily, seems to suggest the correct course of action to this problem and also seems to describe the action we took as a cohort over the course of this retreat weekend. Given the above discussion we would have to conclude that the oracle does provide useful assistance and help in understanding the events of the September retreat module. It also points to our future development and provides a way to speak of how to pursue our objective. By keeping in mind the immaturity of our development and considering ourselves as a small spring at the headwaters of a great river further downstream we can see how a plunge into the abyss of our fears can achieve great ends. Further, the counsel for and about our teacher has also come at a very opportune time. As we begin our last year of study, it is a good time to remind both student and teacher of the interdependence of their roles in progressing toward learning objectives together.

Anthony Granillo

My friend had a stroke. She is doing very well, but she cannot take her dogs for a walk yet. So I decided to do it. But I am a small person, and the dogs are 5 big shepherds. The he-dog is a head taller than I am, when he stands on his hind legs.

I've been going out with them for some months now, but little by little I am becoming overstrained. Yelling at them and needing a stick to stay in control of the pack. Another friend said: dogs is Ken, the mountain. Trouble is Kan, water. Put them together and you get hexagram 4, youthful folly. Study the lines, if there is one, maybe more, that can give you some advice.

The line which helped me most was the top line: in punishing folly, to commit transgressions is of no use, but preventing transgressions is. So I changed tactics. I spoke to them all the time with a nice voice, hugging them whenever they came near and behaved well, and keeping the troublemaker, one of the bitches, as much as possible next to me. It solved the difficulties with the dogs almost entirely.

It made me laugh when I saw this line makes the hexagram change into 7, the army. I was indeed like a general keeping an army under control.


No question in mind, just a test to see what would come up.

I first got a copy of the book from the local library when I was about 16 years old. I read it eagerly and thoroughly enjoyed it and found it to be inspiring as a book of wisdom. I wanted to test it out and as my first attempt I decided to just toss the coins, without asking a question, just to see what would happen. I was in a very curious state of mind and wanted to just do a test, because I wasn't too sure about the whole divination thing.

The answer that I got was 4 - Youthful Folly. My approach to the book ever since has been shaped and defined by this first meeting.

"It's not I who seeks the young fool;
The young fool seeks me."

The answer spoke directly to my heart and left me with a strange 'out of body' feeling - as if a living, breathing person was speaking directly to me from across vast reaches of space-time. This wise old sage was lecturing me, in a slightly sarcastic and joking tone, at the same time encouraging me onwards. I remember thinking 'Uh oh, what have I done...'


Question: How to proceed with the problem of confidence with the I Ching

After 9 months using the I Ching I was able to plant and harvest many deeds and well fulfill and justify a great problem I had in my life due to the fact that a false accusation give me about an year of mistrust associated to me.
I really could not have the brightness and wisdom to achieve this without the great Oracle.

So, after a month I was having some problems in my life after carefully followed the Oracle's advice. Everything was clear in my mind, as I was using the pure knowledge of the Oracle. But I could not understand why some abrupt changes happened after this in the situation.

I feel in my heart that I started to doubt about the Oracle.
I know that I was wrong.. but the thoughts only continue to grow and grow so I could not know what to do. I see the problems arising and put the blame in my actions based on the reflections with the Oracle.

Again I knew that I could be (almost certainly was) wrong, but the human heart sometimes finds it hard to assume it. I continue doing the readings but getting only no information. I saw something serious happening here.

So I came to the Oracle and asked: "How to proceed with the problem of confidence with the I Ching?"

I got hexagram 4
with lines: 1 and 3
changing to hexagram 26 (the Taming Power of the Great)

Line 1:

"To make a fool develop It furthers one to apply discipline. The fetters should be removed. To go on in this way brings humiliation."

Wow.. The great Oracle knew my heart and my problem of doubt. I understand clearly that the no information was a discipline to develop my charater and intimacy with the Oracle. The Oracle was teaching me and in the same way I feel some ashamed to be underestimating him, I feel a joyous feeling that I was a pupil and the Oracle needed to apply some discipline to me.

line 3:

"Take not a maiden who, when she sees a man of bronze, Loses possession of herself. Nothing furthers."

This line seems some strange to me at first.. but after reading some comentaries about it I got to the point: control your urge! This was my thoughts, I need to put more efforts and strenght to control it and stop blaming the Oracle. The Oracle could not just throw me the answers that I needed. He must be respected firstly and given the great millennial value it truly deserves.

The changing lines lead to hexagram 26 which refers to the domination of my doubts. A consequence of the discipline and learning I was having in the experience.

The judgement of the hexagram 4 was a an overall insight for the situation:

(Legge's translation)

"The present is embodied in Hexagram 4 - Meng (Youthful Folly): There will be progress and success. I do not go and seek the youthful and inexperienced, but he comes and seeks me. When he shows the sincerity that marks the first recourse to divination, I instruct him. If he apply a second and third time, that is troublesome, and I do not instruct the troublesome. There will be advantage in being firm and correct."

I have the bad habit to read the words fast and not truly reflecting on them. I just learned when I stopped the flurry and saw that everything I need to know was there, in each word.

Here the Oracle gave me a lifetime lesson:
"When he shows the sincerity that marks the first recourse to divination, I instruct him."

The Oracle was not a machine where I ever got answers when I wanted. I must respect it, open my heart and show the sincerity that IS necessary to come close to the Deity of the universe.

I considered this experience a great way to gain intimacy with the Oracle.


So, some days pass and I discovered that the problems arrived because of saboteurs. The advices that the Oracle give me were only seeds to finally lead me to the truth and give me justice in the middle of all mistrust in the environment.

Anonymous contributor