Dissolving Your Dilemma

How can Yijing help you dissolve your dilemma?

Stay or Quit?
Just a few months ago, my male friend messaged me about his dilemma. He was torn between choosing to stay in his job as an engineer and quitting from it. Part of him wanted to stay to prove that he was not a failure in his job. He also thought this job could grow in him given enough time. He still had the chance to tap into his potential as a leader, but without any opportunity to do so, it left him frustrated. He could quit the soonest, but he was riddled with guilt and shame. Despite this, he was not fully engaged in his job anymore, and he truly felt that he could not stay any longer.

This situation put him in a great dilemma. He wanted to know if he still have to redeem himself in this company.

Complicating Factors of Dilemma
It is common to hear people having a dilemma in quitting from their jobs if the main reason is economic survival. More often than not, the reason to survive is a stronger motivation, and this is fully understandable, especially in the uncertainty of pandemic. But while survival is also a factor, my friend’s dilemma is a case of weighing in psychological factors. Now, such dilemma is motivated not just by survival but by one’s sense of meaning. When meaning and other psychological factors are entangled with economic survival, the dilemma becomes too difficult to face.

Forked road as a classic visualization of dilemma.
Photo by Moses Londo. From Unsplash.com

What is Dilemma?
After reading several definitions from different dictionaries, I am choosing to summarize them in my own words: Here’s a quick personally summarized definition of dilemma:

Being agonizingly torn in choosing between two unwanted choices.

Clearly, a dilemma is not taken lightly. Perhaps in multiple life situations, we have wrestled worst in being torn. We might ended up shortchanging ourselves, and making the wrong decisions that we still regret up to now. The word dilemma originally means “two premise” (di + lemma). It’s not just facing a forked road, but leaving your mind, as perfectly premised and expressed in the series The Good Place, “forked up”.

And what complicates a dilemma more lies in its hidden irony: we still wanted both unwanted choices, yet we are left with no choice at all.

So, how does Yijing help?

Reading for Dilemma
I gave a reading for my friend’s dilemma and we got Hexagram 58, Opening/Joyous with Line 3 changing to Hexagram 43, Deciding. For 58, the decision remark says:

Hexagram 58
Opening, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.

First, Hexagram 58 speaks about joy, contentment and openness. In my friend’s case, he still felt open and contented in choosing to continue in his job. In fact, he could enjoy the results of staying on the job. (Constancy bears fruit). He confirmed this in our discussion.

However, he felt he was too trapped by his job. He did not want stay longer anymore. His feelings were reflected in Line 3, which speaks about risk, danger or weighing in.

Line 3
Coming opening, pitfall.

This line change converts Hexagram 58 to Hexagram 43, Deciding.

Hexagram 43
Deciding, tell it in the king’s chambers.
With truth, call out, there is danger.
Notify your own city.
Fruitless to take up arms;
Fruitful to have a direction to go.

This hexagram practically tells my friend to finally decide, to speak his truth despite the risk it takes. Resisting his truth is fruitless. But deciding on a new direction is fruitful.

After wrestling with this dilemma, my friend felt empowered, knowing that he always have a choice.

Dissolving dilemma
This is just one of many Yijing readings I have given that helped dissolve decision-making dilemma. I chose to examine this as an example of Yijing decision-making studies I have been personally doing. Most of these cases are career concerns from clients and friends. For my own personal concerns, I have made readings for practical choices that caused me minor confusion.

Here are some points I have observed on how this Yijing reading has helped my friend dissolve his dilemma:

  1. It has showed him his conflicting thoughts
  2. It has presented him the potential consequences
  3. It has offered him a new choice

Point #1: Conflicting Thoughts
Yijing is a yinyang machine. It always shows the inherent yin and yang nature of things. In my friend’s dilemma, his reading showed him the bright side (his willingness and openness to stay) and the shadow side (his feeling of being trapped). Instead of seeing the coin one side at a time, its like seeing both sides uncannily at the same time.

Seeing these two sides is an important information in decision-making. This is what often uncovered in doing Pros and Cons listing technique. What Yijing does differently and precisely is to zero in on the exact conflicting thoughts. You spare yourself from the headache of analyzing your list.

Point #2: Potential Consequences
Any little changes we make in our decisions have potential consequences. This is often depicted in science-fiction tropes like time-traveling or seeing all possibilities, like Doctor Strange himself and Griffin in Men In Black 3. Here’s an interesting line from Griffin:

“But it’s always October, November, March…so many futures and they’re all real, just don’t know which one will coalesce. Until then, they are all happening.”

Griffin, Men In Black 3

The main idea is that every choice branches out into countless possible outcomes. But you don’t want to spend eternity to figure that out. What Yijing does is to help you see “which one will coalesce” given your current state and choices. In my friend’s concern, it was clearly and synchronistically revealed in Line 3.

Point #3: New Choice
So instead of being totally torn and feeling too resigned and fatalistic, what Yijing does is to help you go beyond two conflicting choices and transcend them with a new choice. This new choice is a synthesis of understanding your two choices, where conflicting emotions are already filtered out. In possessing this new understanding and clarity, you can finally choose the clearest and most decisive choice.

In my friend’s case, his reading practically revealed Hexagram 43: the new choice is “to decide with courage”. Remember that he was torn because of his guilt and shame, of trying to prove himself, and of being trapped. His reading highlighted his new choice: “with truth, calling out.” He knew deep down his own truth. Nothing can get clearer than this.

Where Dilemma Dissolves
One insight that dawned on me just recently is the challenge of the human brain’s anatomy: it has left and right hemispheres. I think they are a synchronistic demonstration of how we think, which naturally creates dilemma.

Nothing’s wrong with this. Perhaps this is our call nowadays, to slide down from our brain into our heart, unify our thinking and dissolve our dilemmas. The anatomy of heart has no left and right hemisphere, but it contains inner spaces all in unison to circulate the blood. It is showing us that the heart is never divided by any dilemma. Antoine St. Exupery perfectly wrote it in his timeless classic The Little Prince:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine St. Exupery, The Little Prince

I can confidently say that this is what Yijing always helps us do to dissolve our decision dilemmas: to get to the very heart of our truth.


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