...life can be translucent


Hexagrams 11 and 12


Feb 27, 1972
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Peace and Standstill are two of the most clearly connected of the hexagrams. Perhaps this is because of the makeup of the two trigrams in each. Each trigram is purely Yin or Yang in opposite relation. In hex 11, Peace, Heaven is below and moving upwards, and Earth is above and moving downwards. In hex 12, Standstill the opposite is true.

When I think of these two hexagrams I think of climbing a mountain. After a long climb, we reach a plateau. It is quite beautiful with a stream, flowers, and the sun shining. There is the wonderful satisfaction of having achieved something. There are all sorts of clichés that express this feeling, like: ?everything is coming up roses? or ?got the world by the tail? or ?well deserved rest?. Everything seems like it is just the way it should be. Then I look upward and see the real mountain that I had set out to climb. The accomplishments up to this point are put into perspective.

It is tempting to dawdle to prolong the moment. This is only natural. But if we dawdle too long, we stagnate. We can see this in the course of a river, that of a journey, and in the steps of our life.

We are now at equilibrium. The angst of growing pains seems like a memory. Life is good. At last the world is available to us. No one is telling us what to do. We are free to choose. Everything is as it should be. Don?t blink, it cannot last this way. We must move forward or stop growing spiritually.

So I was wondering where Peace ends and Standstill starts. Then I thought that they are exactly the same thing. It all depends which way one is looking. Using the mountain climbing metaphor, if one looks backward one sees the peace of accomplishment. If one looks forward to the mountain above, one sees standstill. The now is the standing point.

With this perspective I looked at other pairs. If one looks at 1-2 from the perspective of gestation, creation is the past, and birth is the future. If one looks at 3-4 from the perspective of childhood, then difficulty at the beginning is the past, and youthful folly is the future. If one looks at the introduction of conflict, then waiting is in the past, and dealing with conflict is in the future. If one thinks about 63-64, looking backwards we see all that has happened to bring us to this point, after completion. If one looks forward, one sees that there is no real end to things, just the start of something else, before completion.

I do not know whether this was so obvious to the creators that they saw no need to mention it, or whether they mentioned it so often and I just had a huge blind spot. Of course there is the possibility too that I am just making the text fit into a theory which does not exactly fit (square peg in round hole). But at this moment it makes sense to me personally.

In hex 11, nine in the first place talks about a time of prosperity. In such a time all our efforts seem to bear fruit. The metaphor is of the ribbon grass which is connected at the roots. Here we are connected at the roots (our Higher Power) and we stand united. This is linked to hex 46, Pushing Upward which cautions us to be ever cognizant of small virtues and not to get lost in how well things are going.

Nine in the second place speaks of the advantages and dangers of a time of peace. It gives us the opportunity to do great things, and we should not shirk from those opportunities. Yet there is a danger too. There is a tendency to want the peace to continue, and therefore not do anything that would disturb the peace. Sometimes there is a tendency to make accommodation so as to avoid disruption. This should be avoided, and the path should be followed. We need to keep our goal in mind and disregard temptations that may seem quite harmless at first. This line is linked with the foreboding 36, Darkening of the Light, which clearly warns us of being too caught up in our temporary success.

Nine in the third place reminds us that only God is unchangingly good. For all that is on earth changes. Though the time is good now, it will not remain that way indefinitely. Only by holding to the good, to our Higher Power, can we progress on our road. If we do that we can deal with the good and bad times equally well. This line is linked to hex 19, Approach, which urges us to make the best use of a fortuitous time, so as to be ready for the decline.

Six in the fourth place tells us to deal with success in a sincere and guileless manner. Whether it be in our relation to the Sage, or our relation with other people we should resist taking credit for our good fortune. We should feel good about our progress and success, but there is a difference between feeling good and being boastful. We need to realize that any progress that we have made is to be cherished, but does not somehow make us better than others who struggle. ?There but for the grace of God.? This is linked to hex 34, The Power of the Great, which warns us not to be carried away with our strength in good times, but to strictly adhere to what is right

Six in the fifth place talks about the relation between forces of different rank. This is true of our relation with God, as well as our relation with people who we believe are of lesser understanding than ourselves. God does not hold us unworthy simply because we lack experience and understanding. Likewise we should not treat others in that way simply because they lack the understanding and knowledge that we have. We should not imply from our own good fortune that we have some special advantage over those less blessed. This line is linked to hex 5, Waiting, which speaks of the proper attitude toward the Cosmic. The right way will always appear if we have the proper attitude and patience.

Six at the top refers to the end of peace. Evil is upon us, the moat has crumbled. Any action will only make things worse. Isn?t it strange how quickly it all fell apart? But it wasn?t like we hadn?t been warned. This is linked with hex 26, The Taming Power of the Great, which advises us to strengthen our Higher Power with words of wisdom from antiquity. It is by remaining still and fortifying our Higher Self that we can find ?the way to heaven?.

In hex 12, six at the bottom is almost identical to the nine at the bottom of hex 11, with a different meaning. The words are almost identical but the inference is quite different. We are still connected at the roots with our Higher Power, but since we are in a standstill, only perseverance can bring us forward. In the previous hexagram it was undertakings that would bring us forward. It is the difference of outward movement and inward movement that differentiates the two situations. This is linked to hex 25, Innocence which warns us to stay clear of ulterior motives and guile. Perseverance not action is called for.

Six in the second place talks about enduring inferiors both within ourselves and in the outer world. If we follow our Higher Power, we simply keep to what we know is right and do not engage in the comparison game. If we suffer, that is just what happens. If we are rejected for sticking to what is right, we simply accept it as the nature of things. We do not complain or fight. This is linked with hex 6, or Conflict which also deals with the way to deal with adversity.

Six in the third place talks of inferiors bearing blame. This is true of others who have come to power incorrectly, of others who have wronged us, and for our inferior selves who have seized control over our Higher Power. It is a hopeful sign, for in recognizing the mistake, a remedy is sought. It is important to forgive, others and ourselves, for the errors that have been made. By realizing the frailties of human existence we take the proper attitude toward others and our inferior selves. This is linked with hex 33, Retreat which talks of the proper way for dealing with an inferior man (or quality) which is trying to improve. One does not judge it but simply allows it by retreating and giving it space to grow.

Nine in the fourth place speaks of coming from the right place. If we come from our Higher Self, if we are guided by The Cosmic, then what is seen as standstill will change and our way on the path will be achieved. If on the other hand we do not act from our Higher Self, or we are guided by our wants and desires, then we will not achieve progress. We need to examine our motivation. This is linked with hex 20, which again talks again about the dual function of the watch tower. The Cosmic lets us know where we are and thus where we need to go. Our Higher Self gives us perspective on what is around us.

Nine in the fifth place speaks of the end of standstill. Through perseverance and the rise of our Higher Self success is assured. This is the most dangerous of times because we have a tendency to let down our guard. This is linked to hex 35 which has a twofold meaning. Progress is indeed being made to our credit. Yet careless habits of personal attachments are also brought to light. It is important not to become attached to progress as a possession may be. Progress is process, and we are a long way from our goal.

Nine at the top speaks of the difference between peace and standstill. Peace will change through no effort into stagnation by inaction. Standstill can only be changed by action, action of the Higher Self. Again looking backward from Peace, produces Standstill if we choose to stay there. Moving forward from Standstill, changes it for the better. This line is linked to hex 45, Gathering Together, which shows the Higher Self, consolidating like-minded elements together in progress along the path.


May 3, 1971
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The interesting part of these two hexagrams, this pair, (to me at least) is line 3. In 11 things start out beautifully and end up not so nice. In 12 things start poorly, and end up well. Line 3 is the dividing point. In 11, we are reminded that there is no plain without a slope. Whenever peace is achieved, and prosperity, the opposite is surely to come about. All things are cyclical, (hence the changes.) In 12 the opposite happens. The negative forces begin to change. Hence, "they bear shame." Normally line three is trying to rise up into the upper hexagram. As such it is at a point of danger because the line is often "struck down" for its upstart attempts. In 11, as line three rises, it enters into the yin realm of darkness, and therefore turns to the negative. In 12 the third line is attempting to reach into the light, and therefore, sees itself as it really is, and therefore, "bears shame." The I Ching is such a complete book that is so perfectly integrated, and so deep in its wisdom.


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