I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

52: Keeping Still

Keeping Still

Regular periods of keeping still are an important aspect of personal development and forward motion. The most restful person may not be the one who sleeps twelve hours a day, but the one able to grab catnaps while cruising at 500 miles-per-hour at 35,000 feet. Learning to act when it is time to act, and to keep still when it is time to keep still, is the key to obtaining the peace of mind which helps one stay focused when clear focus is needed.

Consider the spine, which serves as a switchboard for all the nerves of the body that mediate movement. When the spine is kept flexible and healthy through proper rest and relaxation, active movement can always be undertaken without strain. When the spine is held erect in a balanced sitting posture, the inner balancing of meditation can take place.

Treat your innate spark of vitality as if it were a candle in the wind — protecting it as though it were your only light in a dark forest on a moonless night. Avoid external conditions that threaten to snuff out the flame, and be careful not to suffocate it with your own ambitions and worries.

Time out. Relax, take your shoes off, and sit a spell. Let go of thinking. Meditate.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

At the beginning of a great undertaking, store up your reserves by pausing for rest and reflection at the outset. Taking a moment to chart your course before hitting the trail brings good fortune. This is a time where few mistakes have yet been made and innocence is untainted by ulterior motives. Persevere in your constancy, and you will maintain a firm footing.

Line 2

If you find yourself being led by someone going down a misguided path, leave them to their fate or you will also become lost. When the road leads nowhere, stopping to sit by the side of the road brings good fortune.

Line 3

Trying to induce rest through artificial rigidity is like expecting a computer to write poetry: an essential contradiction makes such effort futile. When you are bone tired, a good sleep will be much more rejuvenating than a stringent form of meditation.

Line 4

Letting go of the ego’s desires facilitates the deepest kind of rest, though sometimes the easiest way to let them go is to satisfy them. They are most free who are able to move through the world with sublime indifference to its rewards. Letting the heart rest is an integral part of this process and will leave you free of mistakes. A higher, more profoundly satisfying level of consciousness awaits those who can let go and be still.

Line 5

Light-hearted, foolish chatter about problems can often make them worse. If you lack inner calm, your words are bound to reflect the presence of fears, doubts, desires, impatience or other restless forces operating within you. This can cause harm in any number of subtle ways. For example, if you constantly babble about your travel difficulties while on vacation, you may put others off, and thereby miss the rejuvenating good times and new companionship you were seeking. Plus, you may inadvertently say things that allow others to take advantage of you, particularly when you find yourself dependent on strangers for essential needs. If you give your mouth a rest and govern your speech, then when you do speak, the words will carry a greater power and remorse will disappear.

Line 6 (top line)

This line points to the ability to maintain stillness and composure in the midst of a chaotic world, which is a noble-hearted achievement. When positive-minded acceptance of all of life has been achieved, what harm can ever follow? Peace and good fortune await.