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I ching

Jie (Limitation)

I Ching Hexagram 60
Jie (Limitation)

Action: Regulate

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 27 Nourishing Vision: Nurture

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 56 The Wanderer: Explore

Adaptation leads you to harmonize with the changes. Everything you will ever need can be found within.

From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. – James Levin

Reading at a Glance: Following the hexagram of Dispersion which teaches us about not creating boundaries or barriers from others in our thinking, Jie or Limitation provides the opposite message. More often than not the idea of Limitation is the reason we make changes in life. In nature, limitations are the breeding ground that allow for the development of strengths and diversity. Both Dispersion and Limitation emphasize thought processes. In Dispersion we are coached not to create boundaries in our thinking when understanding the role we play in relationship to the world around us. In Limitation, we must honor the restrictions we inevitably face as guidelines or roadmaps that lead us to transform. The underlying cause of the Wanderer was a time to disconnect and wander into the unknown to explore how to move beyond limitations in thinking. Now the situation calls for clear communication, agreements and guidelines so that relationships can function optimally. Limitations can resemble an obstacle to forward progress but the obstacle is really an opportunity to change how we view obstacles. Seedlings encounter rocks in the soil but the rocks keep the soil at the root where it is needed. Rather than opening to what is inexhaustible we now must focus on containment. You may have to work with the idea of ‘no’ to discover how to make changes in your approach. You may need to clarify something prior to gaining the support you are seeking from others. The greatest lesson Limitation teaches us is that while we might fight against the flow in terms of disappointment, we would do far better to recognize the reason for the limitations we face and how they serve our well being. In fact it may just be your preconceived ideas that leads you to experience walls. Something runs out, an unwanted change is thrust upon you, someone says no or you suddenly have to make do with less. There is a reason for all of this and you must step back to see how the Limitation is actually corralling you in a more appropriate direction. The idea of Limitations can stop you in your tracks but stopping and establishing structures, goals, business plans, agreements or a well thought out plan of action is in order.

camel with handler on dune with sunset


are the

breeding ground


nature’s strength.

“Things cannot be forever separate. Therefore follows limitation.” The Abysmal Water over the Joyous Lake is an image of something inexhaustible being contained for use. Limitation portrays how you can access an inexhaustible source within and yet, are able to give each experience definition. There is a danger that these definitions can come to limit your ability to grow. Somewhere in the middle is a perspective that respects limitations as necessary for developing structure, definition and agreements. However, we must not assume we can classify an idea and put it away forever. Nature is about change and our path will always be about change.

The process of adaptation demonstrates how limitations force creatures to harmonize with a changing world. Opportunistic adaptation appears in the Yellow Jacket variety of wasps, which have come to resemble honeybees. Once their insect diet disappears in late summer, they often raid honeycombs to feed their appetite for sweets. Ravens too, have developed an opportunistic relationship with wolves. They will cry out to alert wolves to potential prey, so that they too, can eat.

Limitations activate the adaptive response, which transformed the scales of some dinosaurs into feathers. We tend to associate feathers with flight, although there are many birds that do not fly. While flight does aid survival, feathers developed as an evolved way of regulating body heat. Many reptiles still rely on shade and the warmth of the sun to adjust their temperature. The power of nature reveals how limitations drive the engine of evolution. Although you may grow frustrated with restrictions, limitations not only make you stronger, they also shape your forward growth.

“Once, a farmer of sheep lived beside a man who owned hunting dogs. Every night the dogs broke through the farmer’s fence and killed several of his sheep. The farmer complained to the neighbor on several occasions, although the situation never changed. In great frustration, he sought the advice of a judge who told the farmer that he could solve his problem, but only if the farmer promised to do what he suggested. The farmer agreed, but the judge told him to give the neighbor two of his best sheep! The farmer was outraged. Since he was a man of his word, he returned home and offered his neighbor two of his best sheep. The neighbor received this unexpected gift with suspicion. Knowing that the farmer was a man of his word, he thanked him and assumed that it was in return for his incessant complaining. The next morning, the farmer expected to find the usual broken fence and missing sheep, but all was well on his farm. Because the neighbor now had sheep to protect, he had built a fine enclosure for his hunting dogs.

When you adapt to another’s point of view, you will begin to see how harmony already exists in all discord. The imbalance needs to be addressed. To harmonize with the changes, a shift in perspective makes what appears difficult, easy. Do not approach limitations as barriers, but see them as a springboard for discovery and innovation.

Nature uses limitations as a creative treasure trove to explore endless variations. Accessing the power of nature, you can rise to meet each challenge with the same innovative vision of growth.

Although you may find yourself in an environment of limitations, recognize how you might develop a side of you that remains unexplored. Just as your environment develops new characteristics within you, your limitations will always be intrinsically tied to the development of your strengths.


Limitations lead to success = but only if you have a plan of action. When Limitations appears in its unchanging form the message is that the situation will not correct itself until a healthy respect for boundaries is acknowledged. If you have a disagreement with someone, guidelines and clear communication can address it. Ensure that everyone understands exactly what is being agreed upon to avoid further conflict. You may need to set boundaries in your relationships so that your own needs are being addressed. You will face a period of Limitation because you may need to develop clearer focus. In business, you need an actionable business plan. In relation to health you may need to enact more discipline if you are not moderate or exercising. Limitations allow you to achieve more and to stay healthy and balanced.

Line 1:

Not going out of the door into the courtyard = without blame. Changes to (29) Abyss. In this situation Limitations are explored because someone feels it may be dangerous to proceed without them. Not going out of the door shows a type of retreat that allows you to fortify a clear plan of action. When disorder appears, words can lead to order. Maintain your silence until you can approach the situation with an objective plan that serves all parties. The Abyss teaches us to relinquish control so you may need to give someone the space to establish their own boundaries.

Line 2:

Not going out of the gate into the courtyard = brings misfortune. Changes to (3) Difficult Beginnings. The time calls for action not retreat or hiding. Difficult Beginnings shows a type of fear when meeting a challenge, however all new endeavors can be challenging. By limiting yourself too much you miss important opportunities. Don’t cut yourself off from others who are able to support you. Don’t be afraid to make a commitment or to take a first step. The situation cannot improve if you don’t open the gate and go out to seek improvement.

Line 3:

Not knowing limitation gives cause to lament = no blame. Changes to (5) Waiting. Because you do not understand why Limitations have been thrust upon you, you may be feeling disenchanted. Don’t give up because by Waiting for the right time to act you can still achieve success. Because boundaries or limits are not being respected others can feel invaded or threatened. Step back and allow the situation to develop before making any assumptions. A period of Waiting is required to understand how to approach the Limitations you face.

Line 4:

Contented limitation = success. Changes to (58) Joy. Sometimes the pursuit of joy or pleasure leads us to abandon any sense of limitations. Overdoing and extravagance always leads us to a place of scarcity. However, enjoying oneself while clearly aware of a need for Limitation allows for a sense of abundance that is enduring. Being content with limitations not only allows you to experience more but also ensures that stability endures. When you are content with the Limitations you do not waste energy and are able to achieve great things. You understand completely that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. The path to Joy requires that you understand the saying: those who follow find contentment.

Line 5:

Sweet limitation brings good fortune = going brings esteem. Change to (19) Approach. The best teacher knows that they must teach by example even if nobody follows you initially. Operating within limitations with a sense of discipline is a way to show others that limitations are the breeding ground for success. In this situation the limitations are pleasantly accepted and all are in accord. Approach is a message about being an example to others so that our skills are sought out. Going shows the effort of moving forward as opposed to coming which shows retreat.

Line 6:

Galling limitation, perseverance brings misfortune = remorse disappears. Changes to (61) Inner Truth. You may need to look deeper into this situation to explore whether it is a good fit. Limitations and discipline which are too severe or too restrictive cannot be maintained over the long haul. There is a fine line between how Limitation can lead to success and how it can create resentment. Sometimes we can be pushed too far and the limitations imposed upon us force us to re-evaluate what we are doing. Even if you have to give up and move on, over time any disappointment will fade away. If you have the opportunity to stop being demanding or to lighten up, take it.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 60 unchanging Hexagram 60.1 Hexagram 60.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 60.2 Hexagram 60.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 60.3 Hexagram 60.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 60.4 Hexagram 60.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 60.5 Hexagram 60.5.6 Hexagram 60.6