Line 3 – From Shame to Appreciation

Of all the lines of the hexagram, the one connected the closest with the human experience I think is the 3rd.


It’s not like the other lines don’t have a story to tell, but I think it’s in the 3rd line that we really see the role humanity plays in the story of life.

The 6 Realms


My estimation is this:

1st line – the Mineral Realm – inorganic; the building blocks of life, therefore The Foundation, as Ra Uru Hu, the founder of Human Design called the 1st line

2nd line – the Biological Realm – organic; plants, animals, everything and anything natural, as a general theme, that’s the 2nd line. There is no mind, not yet. There is an aliveness undisturbed by the mind running through this line.

3rd line – The Mental Realm – This is the next step in evolution – the development of mental awareness which at the same time opens us up to perceiving the higher dimensions (symbolized by lines 4-6), but also disconnects us from the simple naturalness of lines 1 and 2

4th line – The Angelic Realm – The evolution beyond Humanity. Our mind enables us to sense there is something beyond it, a sort of Grace, a benevolent and altruistic presence, untethered by the laws of causality as we know them. But the mind will try to appropriate and rationalize the principles that govern the existence of the 4th realm. It will try to either dismiss that realm as mere myth or fantasy, or to pin it on the propensity of man toward irresponsibility and toward Magical Thinking to solve their real problems. Of course, lying beyond the mind, the Angelic Realm symbolized by the 4th line is incomprehensible to the mind. The mind can sense its existence, but it cannot comprehend its laws. To truly “get” how the 4th Realm, the A-Cauzal Realm works, we have to let go of whatever we think we know and whatever we think is possible or impossible and to open up to the possibility of what the mind would label as “Miracles”.

5th line – the Realm of Gods and Virtues – the Pantheon. This is the Budhic Realm. Here lie the Shepherds of Life, the Divine Synarchy we glimpse through our myths and legends. This is the realm of Gods and Heroes. This is the realm of Polytheism, the higher octave of the 2nd line which resonates on the frequency of actual physical, biological life. The 5th line represents the life giving spirit manifesting itself in a myriad of shapes, therefore the polivalent nature of this line. This is not about the One True God, but about its many manifestations. To grasp the nature of this realm, one needs to live in the world of Archetypes and Eternal Stories and be fluent in metaphoric thinking and speaking, for the rarefied frequencies of this realm are hard to express through other means.

6th line – Divinity itself – the realm of the One True God. If the 5th line is the line of Light and Life, line 6 is the line of Death and the Void. But as we know, all light originally came from The Void, so in a sense line 6 is not the opposite of line 5, but its Source. Here there is no duality anymore. There is just Divinity – in all times, in all places, in all things, everywhere and nowhere, in all times and in no time all at once. To get this realm we have to move even beyond archetype and metaphor. This realm completely and utterly annihilates whatever the mortal mind may think it knows. This is the higher octave of the 3rd line and carries over a sort of mental signature. But it is not the mortal mind which is rooted in survival and in not loosing its uniqueness by becoming too similar to someone else. This is the line of the Divine Mind, the One Mind, and to understand it we need to be able to access our paradoxical thinking. How can someone be everywhere at once and also nowhere at once at the same time? Our mortal mind cannot answer that. But the current flowing through the 6th line can. To our mind, the energy of this line looks like death, it looks like disintegrating, being erased from existence altogether. And in a sense it is. To enter this realm, every trace of what links us to this mortal realm must vanish. Our whole existence and our whole thinking is centered around our mortality. Without our mortality, how could we understand human existence? Well, the Atmic Realm, the realm of line 6 asks us to contemplate this: an Existence where Death is merely a notion. Line 6 comes as close as we can conceive to the notion of Eternity – it cannot be measured, it cannot be contained within any mind. It is beyond any conceptualization. To go into this realm, you really have to jump into the void. What lies beyond? Who knows?

The 3rd Realm – Mental Energy in need of an outlet

I had to give this expose as a background to today’s contemplation on the 3rd line and its themes of Shame, Acceptance and Universal Love.

Beyond the 3rd line, there is no physical form anymore. Even the 3rd line itself describes a realm that is free from the constraints of the physical. Line 3 is our mental realm, the realm of thoughts, words, ideas, concepts, theories and arguments. Line 3 is smart and it knows it is smart. To have an abundance of 3rd lines is to have a lot of mental energy.

As far as energies go, mental energy is Electrical, it’s mercurial and it’s restless, very restless. So restless it cannot exhaust itself solely through mental pursuits. So it needs to find other outlets. The emotions are one outlet, and since the mind readily interfaces with the emotions, our emotions pick up and begin to vibe in sync with our mind. Not all thoughts generate emotional ripples, but many do.

If you have some experience with the practice of mindfulness or even if your contemplation practice has started to bare fruit in the form of opening up the space between your thoughts and your emotions, you know this dynamic first hand. You can see the thought forming, and then you can see how it magnetizes resonance from your emotional waters. It drops into the emotional realm, drawn in by the experiential gravity of this world and as it touches the emotions, they begin to ripple and resonate throughout our whole being – they become an emotional replica of the thought that started the ripple.

But often, even the emotions are not a sufficient outlet for all that energy. The mental realm is a realm of rapid change, almost instantaneous. Our inner awareness is limited in its ability to perceive and relay back to us just how fast thoughts change. It is built to give us a sense of relative mental consistency, lest the real truth would ripple through the whole being destabilizing us.

But the truth is (and we’ve all felt this) that the mind is not stable at all. Oh, how it yearns for the stability the body offers. In the 1st line, the line of our Physicality things change, but that change happens slowly, over a long period of time.

Cross over to the 2nd line, the line of our emotions, and things start changing way faster.

But when you get to the 3rd line, our brains are such advanced bio-machinery that even the world’s fastest quantum computer is dwarfed by the speeds our minds operate at. Our minds are truly amazing and awe inspiring if you look at how well they are designed. It is by design that they are host to an energy that changes so unbelievably fast.

You can see this speed and this rapidity of change in people exemplifying the archetype of the 3rd line. Theirs is not a line of Stability, but of Constant and Never-ending Change.

You will often hear persons with abundant 3rd line energy talking about how they want more stability in their life, but how they can’t seem to hold on to things for too long. It’s not accidental that Ra Uru Hu, the founder of Human Design called the strategy of the 3rd line “Bonds Made and Broken”.


Errors are Normal

It’s how mental energy works: it makes bonds, then it breaks bonds, then it makes them again, then it breaks them again. To understand the mental realm is to understand how neurons work together. This is the territory of wild associations at lightning speed. There is no real time to slow down or think it over: information travels fast fast fast.

That means sometimes there will be errors in transmission, reception, decoding and encoding. But that’s ok. Every system is built to have at least some tolerance for error – if it runs according to natural principles of course.

It is only when we interfere with the natural order of things that things can go out of whack. When we try to control our minds through the force of our will, when we try to impose artificially created rules and expectations upon the functioning of a natural system, things can and do turn ugly.

Our minds are built to operate with a VERY HIGH margin for error, but through the sheer force of will of our tutors we have grown up in a culture where Non-Acceptance is almost a Religion.

We do not accept error – as a society we don’t accept it, in our families we don’t accept it, even in our private lives we’ve learned not to accept it. We have constructed the notion of MISTAKE and have based a whole world-view around it.

This goes against the very nature of our minds which are not wired to never make mistakes. Information travels just too damn fast for neurons to not fire outside the rigid boundaries we’ve decided represent “Normality”.

The mind cannot and will not be confined, not even by the strongest will of any would-be leader, expert or authority figure. The thing is, sit with persons with low tolerance for mistakes long enough and it rubs off on you too – you begin to not accept mistakes as well.


Of Critics and Martyrs

Maybe you embrace the reactive side and become un-accepting of the errors of others. That’s how Critics are born. You deny the right of others to a clear conscience on the grounds of them making mistakes. Just as the ones who criticized you made you feel little and insignificant, or plain old “wrong”, now you take that power back and unleash the full force of acid critique upon “the ones who deserve it”. It’s hardly a consolation, but at least when pointing out what’s wrong with another person or their behavior, you don’t feel powerless anymore. You have the power that was denied to you. For a while at least, you get to feel not quite as wrong as you did when you were the target of the merciless criticism of others.


Or maybe you feel you have no right to criticize others, but nothing is stopping you from criticizing and being extra-hard on yourself as a form of penance and atonement for having done something wrong. Then you embrace the Repressive side of the 3rd line and become The Martyr. You take the criticism in as Shame, the characteristic emotion of the 3rd line. The Martyr represents the passive side of the Shame / Blame dynamic that is representative of the 3rd line, with the Critic representing the Blame side.

We become the Critic not because we are cold, cruel or heartless, but because secretly we have an impossibly high sensitivity to shame. We can’t take any more shame or we’re too terrified to feel it, so our only choice is to either avoid shame or deflect it. Blame is the perfect move for this. Blame puts ALL the focus on someone else. If all eyes and all attention is directed toward the other person, it can’t be on you. Your vulnerability is safe and sound, you can live another day.

But when it comes to the Martyr, this person does not feel they can fend off shame. They don’t feel they can outrun or outsmart it. Unlike the Critic, who is constantly running from or deflecting their own shame onto others, the Martyr feels as if they are bound in chains by their actions. No point in running, the Shame would just catch you. So they swallow the non-acceptance coming their way whole and then ask for second helpings.

At first, the child’s psyche will reject shame. It will recognize it as unnatural, as an aberration to the world’s order. The child cannot form arguments or defend themselves on the mental plain yet, but they can recognize what is natural and what is not. And shame is an external imposition by some would-be authority that just doesn’t accept who you are or what you do.

Yet even though they resist at first, if the parent or teacher or whatever authority may be is strong willed and insistent enough, all resistance will eventually be shattered and shame will take over. Once it does, the Martyr will believe on a deep level that any sort of resistance toward the non-acceptance of others is futile.

A Martyr may protest for a while when being blamed, but they will eventually give up and just take it. From that point on, there are a few options for coping.


  • Behaving Nasty just to spite the ones that blame you – You can’t prove your innocence to a Critic, a critic only listens to their own voice. But if they’re gonna keep on criticizing you, why not actually give them a reason. You can’t get your dignity or innocence back in the eyes of the critic, but at least you can get some revenge – if they’re gonna criticize you, at least you can get the satisfaction that you made them pay for it


  • Constructing a sense of silent superiority of “I’m a better / nicer person than the critics, because I don’t point fingers and don’t blame others (outwardly)” – of course this is just another form of shielding, a form of coping to prevent the shame you feel from completely wreaking havoc on your inner world. But alas, the shame is still there, gnawing at the edges of the mind, eroding one’s sense of self worth day by day just as rust eats away bit by bit at iron. This silent superiority just numbs one to the pain of their own shame, but it does not close the wound.


  • Trying desperately to “become pure” or “become worthy” in the eyes of your critics. This is a big one, and the fact that by taking this path one might actually achieve great things makes it all the more alluring. Shame would have you believe you are either flawed, broken or impure, that there is something inherently wrong or unacceptable about who you are. That is enough to justify the other’s lack of acceptance toward you. If someone blames you for something, then you deserved it: there’s something about wither who you are or what you did that is wrong. Nothing can be done about that. But something can be done about what comes next. You can’t undo the past. You can’t undo the so-called unacceptable things you did, for which you’re taking flack. But you can redeem yourself. So we get to every Martyr’s favorite penance: OVERCOMPENSATING. You take what you’re being blamed for and try to expunge that trait from who you are. You really turn the Non-Acceptance knob full-throttle. If the critics in your life give you critique, you pour gasoline over it and beat yourself up over that more than even the harshest critics ever will. The hope here is that “If I just reject that part that is being pointed out in a negative light hard enough. maybe it will go away for good. Maybe then all will be ok and there will be nothing left to reproach” (hint – there will always be something to blame you for – all you need is the right critic 🙂 ) Someone reproaching you you’re not serious enough – you become extra serious – unnaturally so. Getting berated for being irresponsible or immature – you start taking on more and more responsibilities so you can prove just how mature and responsible you are – and end up making a mess of everything because that’s just you taking in the non-acceptance of others toward your behavior in an effort to be acceptable to your Critics.


The way Out – ACCEPTANCE

So what’s the way out?

Well, if you’re too afraid to be rejected by others and consequently have blocked yourself from feeling shame, it’s tempting to become the critic, but that’s not the way out. You’re just deflecting the shame, not dealing with its root cause – non-acceptance of both you and others.

If you feel you can’t fight off shame, it’s tempting to either make your critics pay for daring to criticize you, to numb yourself to your shame by constructing a shield of superiority around yourself, or to try to appease your critics and get in their good graces by overcompensating for the shame you’re feeling. But this too is not the way. Neither of these ways deals with the shame and the non-acceptance in a healthy way.

So if you can’t be the critic, punish the critic, numb yourself or appease the critic, what can you do?

Really, there is but one answer, the same as it has always been, the same the wise ones have always told us: ACCEPTANCE. I’m not the one that came up with this answer, I’m just noting that it has always been there waiting for us to enact it.

We won’t get rid of the critics in our lives. The mind splits itself into many distinct personalities, shards if you will. One of those shards is the critic. But as we’ve seen, whilst appearing very confident and sure of themselves, really the critics are acting the way they do because they are running away endlessly from their own shame, much as we would run from a pack of dogs chasing us and barking on our heels.

It is only when the 3rd line stops running and allows itself to rest that the pack of dogs chasing it and causing Anxiety also stops and starts licking the runner’s hand and wagging their tail playfully.

But I ask you, in real life, if you were being chased by a pack of angry looking dogs barking at you and looking as if they want to tear you apart, would the first instinct be “I think I better stop and play with them”? I doubt it. Most of us would run for our lives, feeling those dogs don’t really accept us in their territory.

Critics – Accepting Yourself

If you find yourself often playing the role of the critic, on first glance you may think you accept yourself and others and you’re not being critical, you’re just being authentic, truthful and fair. Truth is, you likely don’t accept either yourself or others nearly as much as you think. Since you recognize yourself as critical, the fact that you don’t really accept others shouldn’t be too difficult to acknowledge. But that you don’t accept yourself may be harder to see. Still, if you find yourself being critical of others, could you really sustain that kind of energy if you were relaxed, playful and accepting of yourself? I doubt it. Maybe it’s something from your childhood, or maybe further on – someone you put a lot of trust or faith into only to have that person be your biggest critic. Or maybe it’s something else. Whatever the case, if you recognize yourself as being critical or cynical, do you think that serves you and the world? Do you think you’re serving Truth and revealing truths that are hard to swallow but necessary? Whatever your reasons for having this attitude if you recognized yourself in it, consider if maybe there isn’t a better way – a way in which you could accept yourself more. I find it’s hard to criticize others if you’re fully accepting of yourself. But if you don’t accept yourself on some level, that non-acceptance may be so powerful and so painful there is no choice but to externalize it before it ever hits our consciousness.


Martyrs – Accepting the Other (and their emotions toward you)

If you don’t see yourself as a Critic, but more of a Martyr, it’s likely the other way around – it’s possible you’ve disconnected yourself from the part of you that doesn’t really accept others. If you’re a martyr and recognize yourself as one, it’s likely clear to you that others are not very keen on accepting you as you are. What may not be that clear is that you don’t fully accept others as they are either.

For a Critic, it’s easier to see they don’t accept others than it is to see they don’t accept themselves. And funnily enough, when a critic loosens up and starts accepting themselves more, the harshness and intensity of their critique of others tend to also lose their edge.

For a Martyr, coming to terms that just as you are not being accepted fully, maybe you don’t accept others fully either (and that includes your critics) is hard. If you truly accepted the others and the way they’re feeling about you, no action would be needed.

You wouldn’t feel the need to punish your critics for having the gall to impose their rules onto you – you would just see their action and understand where it’s coming from, realizing that even though you may be the target, the attempt to inflict shame has little if anything to do with you.

There would really be no point anymore in shielding yourself from shame with the “I’m better than them because I don’t point fingers” shield – the blame would be seen for what it is – a manifestation of insecurity currently unable to be processed. Do you really need to shield yourself from the insecurity of another, or can you accept you’re under no threat and thus no defense is necessary?

But maybe most of all, if you can accept that ok, your critics have a critical attitude of you or your behavior, AND THAT’S OK, would you still feel the need to overcompensate? I find that when I feel shame and play the role of the Martyr, I tend to think in terms of “X has a critical attitude toward me. I feel shame. That’s not Ok, I have to overcompensate, I have to appease X and get in their good graces once again.”

On some level, I just can’t accept that the other is feeling the way they’re feeling about me. I feel the need to do something in order to remedy that, all because I can’t bare the thought of how the other feels about me. In accepting that ok, the other feels what they feel, and that’s ok, you really let yourself off the hook.

You give the other permission to be who they are and feel what they feel, and give yourself permission to be who you are and be ok with that. Nobody is asking you to like the attitude the others have toward you if you play the Martyr. But can you just let them be who they are and feel what they feel without feeling threatened and without feeling the need to punish / defend yourself in the face of criticism?


Running Ahead in the Mind

Our minds can imagine things to achieve that out life-force cannot sustain, not in the limited time-frame we have. What’s worse, when we see others already achieving a reality we would want to manifest ourselves, feeling you’re less or feeling your lagging is not that hard.

With today’s society filled with Social Media and Photoshop, with content being filtered and only those bits and pieces that look good being posted, it’s easier than ever to feel less than others.

And while line 3 is no doubt a very smart line, it’s not really wise. What this intelligence fails to see is that in the grand scheme of life, we are but a stepping stone, a bridge from the natural world to the world of the Heavens. Just like the 3rd line is the bridge from the lower trigram to the upper trigram, Man is also a bridge.

The mind is a great tool when properly used. It makes us reach beyond our current status and limitations. It makes us dream big for the future and sometimes some of those dreams actually become reality.

Shame would have us believe there is nothing special about us, that we can contribute to life, but not in any special, meaningful way. Shame will make us put a bag over our head and hide away for fear of not being accepted and valued. Line 3 wants to be not just accepted, but also valued. This is also the gift it brings to others: the gift of valuing everything and everyone. When we let go of our pre-conceptions, we see that Life doesn’t judge and even what we would scoff at and reject, Life has a use for that.


Appreciation – Seeing Value where others do not

It is this all-accepting attitude that enables line 3 to not be picky and see value where others do not. The energy of this line can truly be appreciative of things others gloss over or outright deny. Appreciation is at the opposite end of the spectrum with shame. Where shame sucks out all the value and the beauty of something or someone, leaving nothing but a drained empty husk behind, appreciation sees and empowers that value by recognizing it.

Line 3 makes for a great sales-person and promoter. Their genuine appreciation of things and people is infectious. Just like the brain lighting up as a Christmas tree and playing beautiful music, under the influence of the energy of playful appreciation the 3rd line can exude, others begin to see the value as well, their brains light up too.

Line 3 can really be a cheerleader. It’s playful, happy-go-lucky maverick attitude is its signature. It’s a very relatable line. You may not even know a person high on 3rd line energy yet upon meeting them you instantly light up and like them. There’s this sense of instant camaraderie, even complicity, as if together you’re partners in crime. Of course, the crime is not believing the depressing propaganda of Shame and the voice that says “It’s not enough, life is going down the tubes, it’s only gonna get worse”

Line 3 can be anywhere on the spectrum from Depressing to Uplifting. It just depends on the attitude. It’s easy to get bogged down in the mire of the mind, become depressed and just give up on life, adopting a pessimistic attitude.  But that’s not the only possibility. We can also use the mind as a hot-air balloon, taking our thoughts and our contemplations higher, higher, ever higher, until at some point the balloon bursts as a soap bubble and we find ourselves and our thoughts flying high with Angels on Wings of Light.


Line 3 is either our Trampoline to Heaven or the Slingshot into the Abyss. Both are equally available to us. Depends on us which ride we fancy. Will you be the laughter and playfulness of this world, reminding us that though our bodies may age and die, an optimistic mind can keep our spirit forever young, or will you be the cynical critic berating others and pointing out flaws left and right?


Anyway, thank you for reading this if you’ve read all this way. I hope you found it useful. Take care and be well.