I Ching Hexagram #11: Prospering


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As I read the chapters for this latest hexagram, #11, I was in a bit of a funk so the words “prospering” didn’t seem to fit. In their magical way, they always do though.

This 11th hexagram is an image of Heaven below Earth. Heaven energy tends to flow upward and Earth energy tends to flow downward, which makes this combination very well mixed. When things are balanced like they are in this hexagram, life is smooth and wrinkle-free.

But we know that life isn’t always like that, right?


There are times in life when we need an extra hand. In this hexagram, our past efforts of helping others has paid off. It is our turn to be helped. Thinking back on my last few weeks, I can be grateful for that. Just like peanut butter attracts jelly, people who need help often attract those who can help. Heaven and Earth, well mixed. Help just doesn’t come on its own, though. You need to ASK FOR IT. I have a hard time with that one sometimes. I want to be superwoman and do it ALL! That idea has gotten me in a bit of a mess lately. In a multitude of ways, my body is revolting against this superwoman philosophy.

If I started quoting Ni’s commentary on this chapter, I would have to quote the entire thing – it’s that good… words to live by. If you are reading this with even the vaguest interest in the I Ching, I highly recommend ordering yourself a copy and reading the commentary for Hexagram #11 in its entirety. I will quote one line:

“There is one word that we can use as a motto for our entire life: reciprocity.”  ~Hua Ching Ni

What comes around, goes around. A few weeks ago, I reconnected with an old friend from high school. We had lost touch for several years and we had made plans to get together at her place one Saturday. So when we were making plans to get together, she asked me to help her with moving some stuff that day. It was more than just “some stuff”, but as we were moving it I realized how grateful I was that she had asked me for help. People don’t ask me for help very often and it felt good to lend a hand. I wondered about this and realized that part of the reason for this is probably because I don’t ask anyone else for help, either. It made me think that I really need to ask more often because it is good for everyone. It might seem like an imposition, but that “imposition” is good for both parties. It builds community.

Ni goes on to talk about respecting the customs and traditions of others. When in Rome… But this goes beyond that. It is about being aware of the needs of others and making their lives easier. When we do this, our lives become better somehow. Our own problems don’t seem that significant.

I’ve been working on my house a lot lately, decluttering. As I go through all this stuff, I wonder how I could ever want for anything! I have three coffee makers. THREE. Why? As I have been struggling with my stuff, I have wondered if I will always be struggling with something. Is there ever a time when life is just easy? In the commentary for this chapter, Ni explains that “true fulfillment is derived from hardship.” He goes on to say that “those who persist in a positive direction succeed, while those who do not will fail.” Life is just one long string of “things to do” – the list is never ending.

When will I ever learn that there IS NO END?

As one item on the “to do” list gets completed, another one quickly races in to take its place. So if there is no end, then why do I behave as if there is? Why do I struggle with the chores of life as if they are temporary? Why not just relax into them and do the work without complaint? For me, this is a lifelong challenge.

What do YOU think? Do you have a copy of the I Ching? If not, do an internet search and read hexagram #11. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Hi. Yes, What we give returns to us. That is the universal law or karma.
    I also have long to do lists! I have recently made the daily list really short so I can get through it without exhausting myself! It really works.
    Also feel free to ask people for help. They are adults and can take responsibility for themselves and can say no, if they are unable to help.
    Same for all of us, if we are asked for help. It’s not an imposition at all.
    Sherry Marshall recently posted…Love, Simplicity and Nature on TwitterMy Profile

  2. Wish I were closer, Amy. I’d be glad to come help you clean the clutter :-). One of the most humbling and biggest growth experiences I’ve ever had involved learning how to accept and appreciate help without an eye toward reciprocity. I’m not good at asking for help either (almost never do), so found it very hard to accept/allow it when it was given without request nor an opportunity for me to return the favor. It’s a circular world. I’ve come to believe the people you give to are rarely the ones who provide repayment in kind – but there’s always someone who jumps from the wings when you have a need to offer surprising and comforting support when you least expet it. Like you, I need to learn to ask more often, but have also discovered there are always kind people on the ready to see your needs are met, provided you operate from the same mindset. Hope your days get better soon.
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Buyers know being real is better than braggingMy Profile

    • Thanks, Nanette. I think that there are a lot of people that have trouble with asking for help. That is why I mentioned it. What I learned from that insight is to not be afraid of it – to embrace it, actually. In the past, I have felt a bit guilty in asking for help, like it was a bad thing to do. But what I realized is that it feels good for everyone. This is such a relief!

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