52. Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain

The image of this hexagram is the mountain, the youngest son of heaven and
earth. The male principle is at the top because it strives upward by nature; the
female principle is below, since the direction of its movement has come to its
normal end.

In its application to man, the hexagram turns upon the problem of
achieving a quiet heart. It is very difficult to bring quiet to the heart. While
Buddhism strives for rest through an ebbing away of all movement in
nirvana, the Book of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that
always posits movement as its complement. Possibly the words of the text
embody directions for the practice of yoga.


KEEPING STILL. Keeping his back still
So that he no longer feels his body.
He goes into his courtyard
And does not see his people.
No blame.

True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and
going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and
movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there is
light in life.

The hexagram signifies the end and the beginning of all movement. The
back is named because in the back are located all the nerve fibers that mediate
movement. If the movement of these spinal nerves is brought to a standstill,
the ego, with its restlessness, disappears as it were. When a man has thus
become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no longer sees in it the
struggle and tumult of individual beings, and therefore he has that true peace
of mind which is needed for understanding the great laws of the universe
and for acting in harmony with them. Whoever acts from these deep levels
makes no mistakes.


Mountains standing close together:
The image of KEEPING STILL.
Thus the superior man
Does not permit his thoughts
To go beyond his situation.

The heart thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements of
the heart-that is, a man’s thoughts-should restrict themselves to the
immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the heart


Six at the beginning means:
Keeping his toes still.
No blame.
Continued perseverance furthers.

Keeping the toes still means halting before one has even begun to move. The
beginning is the time of few mistakes. At that time one is still in harmony
with primal innocence. Not yet influenced by obscuring interests and desires,
one sees things intuitively as they really are. A man who halts at the
beginning, so long as he has not yet abandoned the truth, finds the right way.
But persisting firmness is needed to keep one from drifting irresolutely.

Six in e second place means:
Keeping his calves still.
He cannot rescue him whom he follows.
His heart is not glad.

The leg cannot move independently; it depends on the movement of the
body. If a leg is suddenly stopped while the whole body is in vigorous
motion, the continuing body movement will make one fall.

The same is true of a man who serves a master stronger than himself. He is
swept along, and even though he may himself halt on the path of
wrongdoing, he can no longer check the other in his powerful movement.
Where the master presses forward, the servant, no matter how good his
intentions, cannot save him.

Nine in the third place means:
Keeping his hips still.
Making his sacrum stiff.
Dangerous. The heart suffocates.

This refers to enforced quiet. The restless heart is to be subdued by forcible
means. But fire when it is smothered changes into acrid smoke that
suffocates as it spreads.

Therefore, in exercises in meditation and concentration, one ought not to
try to force results. Rather, calmness must develop naturally out of a state of
inner composure. If one tries to induce calmness by means of artificial
rigidity, meditation will lead to very unwholesome results.

Six in the fourth place means:
Keeping his trunk still.
No blame.

As has been pointed out above in the comment on the Judgment, keeping the
back at rest means forgetting the ego. This is the highest stage of rest. Here
this stage has not yet been reached: the individual in this instance, though
able to keep the ego, with its thoughts and impulses, in a state of rest, is not
yet quite liberated from its dominance. Nonetheless, keeping the heart at rest
is an important function, leading in the end to the complete elimination of
egotistic drives. Even though at this point one does not yet remain free from
all the dangers of doubt and unrest, this frame of mind is not a mistake, as it
leads ultimately to that other, higher level.

Six in the fifth place means:
Keeping his jaws still.
The words have order.
Remorse disappears.

A man in a dangerous situation, especially when he is not adequate to it, is
inclined to be very free with talk and presumptuous jokes. But injudicious
speech easily leads to situations that subsequently give much cause for regret.
However, if a man is reserved in speech, his words take ever more definite
form, and every occasion for regret vanishes.

Nine at the top means:
Noblehearted keeping still.
Good fortune.

This marks the consummation of the effort to attain tranquillity. One is at
rest, not merely in a small, circumscribed way in regard to matters of detail,
but one has also a general resignation in regard to life as a whole, and this
confers peace and good fortune in relation to every individual matter.