...life can be translucent


For some reason, working through the lines of hexagram 32 recently took much longer than any other hexagram had done… 😉

I did find, looking through threads about it at the forum, that other people find it hard, too. Especially, it’s puzzling how a hexagram that describes something essentially positive can have such a scary set of moving lines.

‘Deep into lasting,
Constancy, pitfall,
No direction bears fruit.’

‘Regrets vanish.’

‘Not lasting in your character,
Maybe accepting a shameful gift.
Constancy: shame.’

‘In the field, no game.’

‘Lasting in your character with constancy.
For the mature woman, good fortune.
For the young man, pitfall.’

‘Shaking up lasting, pitfall.’

Of all those, only line 2 is unconditionally positive, and even then only in the sense that ‘regrets vanish’. The rest have an aura of failure or letting yourself down, one way or another. Yet the basic idea of lasting is supremely positive – just listen to the commentary on the judgement:

“…Persevering, creating success, no mistake.
Harvest in constancy.
Lasting in your own dao:
The dao of heaven and earth
Persevering lasts and does not come to an end.
It is fruitful to have a direction to go:
Completion means there is a beginning.

The sun and moon are set in heaven and can last in their shining
The four seasons transform and change and can last in their achievements
The wise person lasts in his dao, and below heaven is change and realisation.

See your place to persevere,
And you can see the motive force of heaven, earth and the myriad beings.”

So how come there are four or five ways out of six for this beautiful thing to go shamefully wrong?

I think it’s because Hexagram 32 has a unique way of relating to aspiration or inspiration. It seeks to take the Influence (paired hexagram, 31) and integrate and internalise it, weaving it right into the fabric of life and making a lasting pattern of it.

For one thing, this is an exceptionally potent thing to do. There are few things in life more powerful than a habit or pattern. The hidden core (nuclear hexagram) of Lasting is 43, Deciding, the hexagram of bringing your message and declaring yourself. Lasting is a way of creating who you are, just as much as the Vessel, or Great Vigour, or Great Possession. Also, it may be much easier to create the pattern than it is to escape it – that would be the implication of line 1, plunging in deeply with Great Vigour. There’s so much energy to solve and settle things, to create a resolution – but such energy will not suffice to get you out again, any more than 34’s ram can follow its chosen ‘direction’ through the hedge.

Maybe even more fundamentally – changing lines mean a relating hexagram, and the very presence of a relating hexagram implies that there is some inspiration or aspiration or direction out there. Lasting wants to bring that inspiration in here so it becomes inseparable from what we do from moment to moment – but not many inspirations are really amenable to that kind of integration. Hexagram 62, Small Overstepping, is an exception because it’s already all about paying attention to the present moment.

(So as commentary on its line I ended up with –

“Those regrets were for paths not taken, and most especially for ideals left behind. They’re part of the journey, and they vanish because you move on: instead of dwelling in nostalgic comparisons, you are engrossed in the immediate, practical details. Your purpose becomes an integral part of your daily life; it’s no longer experienced as a pure ideal, shining on the horizon of some grand vista, but in the next small step on the road.”


But hexagram 46, for instance, is a whole other kettle of fish. It Pushes Upward, and the objective is up there, a future aspiration that inspires you to climb mountains and nurture seeds with patience and optimism. When you Last in this spirited conviction, you get the somewhat sardonic line,

‘No game in the field.’

The commentary on the line is still drier: ‘Enduringly not in your right place, how could you get game?’

When you are in the wrong place to find what you seek, staying longer in the wrong place will not change anything, no matter how much confidence and determination you have, and no matter how convinced you are that this really ought to work.

For some who get this line, the chosen field can be so identified with the aspiration, so much part of a way of life, that the idea of leaving it is almost taboo. If they could take the aspiration to ascend back into themselves, they would realise that they need to climb through and beyond the empty field.

This is the tricky choice 32 is negotiating from moment to moment: how to last in one’s own dao? Sometimes this will mean holding to an inner path and changing course outwardly, to get out of the empty field (or avoid jumping into the depths). But sometimes, changing course outwardly simply means breaking faith. After all Lasting is meant to mean ‘change and realisation’ below heaven; it’s not meant to stay forever as a nice, pure idea unsullied by reality.

Line 6 would be an example of this – the one who receives this line might have something like the fan yao, 50 line 6, in mind – a vessel with a jade handle, one that will be eternally lustrous and never tarnish. So, aspiring to found a whole new vision, he constantly ‘shakes things up’. But a lasting pattern of constantly founding new visions is tantamount to a lasting pattern of never achieving anything real at all, something like the bandar log.

Line 5 is generally a line of decision and definition: the mind, the eyes, the chosen direction. It speaks of lasting in your de. How (especially after the shame of line 3) could that fail to be a good idea? Yet it turns out that even this depends on the nature of your de and its stage of development…

6 responses to Lasting

  1. Some people see life as a path they follow. My experience of life has been one of permanently being about to veer off the road (with potentially disastrous results). This is because I think too much. Seeing the way ahead I say to myself, “Ah, I’ve got it — this way”, and hare off in that direction only to discover that the road has turned while I wasn’t looking.

    We’re supposed to follow the road, not our idea of it, aren’t we? Dummy that I am, I still insist that I should develop an understanding that is good for every situation instead of simply allowing myself to respond directly to the situations themselves.

    In the early 1990’s, Artificial Intelligence research was in a bit of a slump as building internal models and working from them was clearly failing. But a roboticist called Rodney Brooks got machines to behave “intelligently” with hardly any programming at all. He is famous for coining the phrase, “the world is its own best model”. It is always right, and also lasts longer in the end. A bit like the dao, perhaps.

    Brilliant insight, Hilary! (And excellent chapter, too.)

  2. it just seems strange to me that the top line is zhen heng (“shaken constancy”) and changes to the Ding; this zhen is basically the same thing as the hexagram next to the Ding, Zhen (#51).
    I also wonder why the heng concept is recycled in such a striking way in #42.6 (i.e. 10 hexagrams down the road in similar forms to Xian/Heng)?

  3. “We’re supposed to follow the road, not our idea of it, aren’t we?”

    Ah – is that the trick? 😉 Sounds like a good summary of what goes wrong in various lines of 32.

    “it just seems strange to me that the top line is zhen heng (”shaken constancy”) and changes to the Ding; this zhen is basically the same thing as the hexagram next to the Ding, Zhen (#51).
    I also wonder why the heng concept is recycled in such a striking way in #42.6 (i.e. 10 hexagrams down the road in similar forms to Xian/Heng)?”

    I hadn’t thought about the 50 – 51 connection there, thank you. More thought-food. Why does 50 tend towards 51, and is this a reason why 32.6 is inclined to shake things up?

    Since 42’s the complement of 32, isn’t it natural that by the time you get to 42.6 you’re suffering from a serious heng deficit? (One of my least favourite lines, that one.)

  4. In relationship to hexagram 32…

    Befor e I get involved here, may I say that in understanding hexagram 31 and 32, one must firmly grasp the relationship between hexagram one and two. This leads to long and exhaustive contemplations that are too much for now. But to get started, hexagram 31 and 32 are the beginning of the second part of the book of changes. Just as hexagram 1 and 2 relate to time and space, to energy and matter, hexagrams 31 and 32 relate to attraction and repulsion, movement and stillness. I will talk here only about movement and stillness.

    A little short dissension into physics, and therefore metaphysics, which I admit most people couldn’t care less about, or if they do, they won’t believe a word I say, but I need to say it anyway, for it is paramount. The only way anything, and I mean anything exists, is that a thought was conceived which creates a vibration or a sound wave so to speak. By the variation of sound waves, waves turn into matter, or at least appear to. Actually our mind, (not our brain) interprets it that way, reads the vibrations and makes the brain think those vibrations are physical matter. The thought wave is energy. Energy is spirit. Some people don’t like the word spirit, but that is what it is, energy. So the earth, (receptive energy) is void and without form, and the spirit, (energy,) moves on the face of the waters, (creates vibrations,) and matter is formed, turning into something viable.
    So – while we look at these facts, and they are facts, we understand that not only do we have the opposites of space and time, matter and energy, we also have the opposites of movement and non movement. If we want to destroy the universe, all we have to do is stop the vibrations created in our mind, all of them, completely, and the universe disappears, for there is no vibration to create material form. As such, hexagram 32 is nonmovement. Hexagram 31 is movement. That creates attraction, which creates reality. Hexagram 32 is at rest. (This is described in various other ways in hexagrams such as 51 and 52.) When there is no movement, everything stops. So, if we make the universe disappear, is there going to be any “game in the field?” Of course not. In this way, one waits forever, for when the universe stops, so does time. Without movement, THERE IS NO TIME!” And guess what happens when there is no movement and no time. BORING! The trick in hexagram 31 and 32, is to combine movement with stillness. Just as with hexagram 1 and 2, they must complement each other, so must hexagram 31 and 31. The stars move around the heavens, but in a fixed pattern. If the pattern changes, what happens can be utter chaos. The same is true with vibration, when the vibration changes, so does the pattern, or the form. Do we want that? Maybe, maybe not.

    Many of the lines in hexagram 32 relate to a situation where we do NOT follow constancy. Outwardly we can change in accordance with the patterns and the seasons, but inwardly we must have a fixed direction, otherwise, inconsistency will be our downfall.


  5. The trigrams of constancy are thunder and wind, male and female movement, nothing stable at all at first sight. But change is the only durable thing and is at the heart of the book of changes, hex 32, halfway the 64 kua.
    So, every time you try to hold on to a fixed structure, a dogma, it will prove to be undurable in the end. Only things that can adapt to the demands of time will endure, every professional knows that the aftersales are more important then the thing itself, every spouse knows that durable relations endure because of integrating the dark side of yourself, your partner and the collateral family. Being with someone means thinking in terms of relations (nothing tangable), not in terms of ego. Every line is about the efforts of keeping things alive by clinging to some kind of creed, structure, way of life, way of doing things. Only line 2 seems balanced in this.

  6. Hi,
    Can i ask what you make of this? I was contemplating my ex- and some trouble he’s causing me, the same old trouble. I threw 32 Lasting changing to 14 (lines 1 and 6 changing) Possession in great measure.
    In the resource I have it says subject desiring long continuance; even with firm correctness there will be evil, and exciting oneself to long continuance; there will be evil. Two questions:
    1) is this talking about me or my ex?
    2) how can two changing lines that are so negative change to something so positive? Does this positive outcome come from recognizing the situation and changing your behavior (i.e., from continuance to something else), or from accepting the situation as it is, with the expectation that it will flow through to something positive?

    Thank you for your insights.

    p.s. Gene — I really like your comment.

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