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HEXAGRAMS 35 and 53 - Different Kinds of Progress


Oct 20, 2009
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Hex 35, (Easy) Progress - Hex 53, Gradual Progress - Different Kinds of Progress

In my early years of using the I Ching I used to think that these two hexagrams were complementary in the obvious sense of referring to processes that were either imminent or somewhat distant. Over a period of several years this somewhat simplistic assessment changed radically as I grew to understand that ‘Gradual Progress’ could refer to a physical process lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several years and ‘Easy Progress’ could refer to a process that was anywhere from blindingly obvious to almost totally obscure.

It became clearer and clearer that the linear-time element, although intimately connected to both hexagrams, should not be taken as their primary focus. Gradually, I adopted a different set of criteria for each hexagram which helped tremendously in no longer thinking of them as being primarily different aspects of time and I would now like to briefly set out these criteria as follows:

Hex 35, Chin, (Easy) Progress: Li over K’un, Clarity supported by flexible devotion and receptivity, this hexagram is concerned essentially with the internal process of being prepared to increase our understanding by applying flexible receptivity to our approach. We are urged to broaden our perspective by having the flexibility to consider and adopt points of view which we might have previously given an immediate dismissal. Perseverance in this approach despite difficulties (1st and 2nd yin) will eventually lead to the consolidation and confirmation of our understanding (In a single day he is granted audience three times) and the means of helping others (The powerful prince is honoured with horses in large numbers). This wider perspective is tested to its limit at 5th yin where one might suffer a direct loss or reversal but with the understanding that it is part of a greater, positive, process and need not be feared. The Parallel Nuclear Progression for 35,5 - 12 is (39,6 - 53) - Stop assessing this reversal as a deeply damaging loss, try to see it as part of a greater, positive process. (6th yin: Going leads to obstruction, coming leads to great good fortune. It furthers one to see the great man). "Seeing the great man" will seldom, if ever, refer to dashing out to hunt down a local guru, or even phoning a friend. What it does refer to is looking honestly and truthfully at your "higher self", the aspects of self which contain the seeds of self-sacrifice, penetrating wisdom undistorted by personal needs, the seeds of non-self, the courage to embrace essence.

Our external circumstances mirror our internal reality and there will undoubtably be times when this hexagram accompanies periods of rapid progress, but that is not its principal concern. If we can apply flexible receptivity to the unfamiliar and unappealing we will profoundly deepen our wisdom and understanding, and make substantial progress.

Hex 53, Chien, Gradual Progress: Sun over Ken, Penetration over Stillness, maintaining stability and stillness one here gradually, and carefully, explores the various options available as they present themselves. When an opportunity arises by which one can proceed correctly, without losing stability, one can carefully progress but it is important to understand that this is not a path of striking, rapid results, it is a path of accepting the requirements of the situation and acting accordingly. In a traditional courtship it is the role of the male to pursue the female and if this is done with firmness and strength it is far more likely to succeed and result in an enduring relationship, if a rapid and frivolous consummation is desired it will seldom lead to an enduring union. In a “53-Situation” one must be prepared to employ sustained perseverance with the strength to uphold one’s goal and direction. At fifth yang the wild goose draws near the summit - the situation appears to have reached its zenith with a result now surely available, yet for three years the woman bears no child. One is still denied the goal but “In the end nothing can hinder her” - one will surely attain it eventually, meanwhile “Keep Still” (Hex 52) do not despair or agitate, maintain your strength and stability. The Parallel Nuclear Progression for fifth yang is (64,6 - 40) - the desired outcome will surely be achieved but meanwhile do not be agitated by thoughts of despair or wild success.
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