12 – stagnation

888777Here and now. Really, where am I? What have I achieved so far? What have I experienced, what has led me here, what adventures have I undergone… These are the questions this hexagram asks – but definitely not: Where do I want to go now?

It is important that from time to time we become aware of these things, our own status quo. Because most of us, absent-mindedly and habitually, ignore our own achievements while concerned with planning next steps.
But that way we oversee some important resources that are at our disposal. Amongst others: our self-esteem which feeds on our achievements – and, unfortunately, just too often is narrowed by pondering over what we did not yet achieve.

Here and now is an important resource or later, future steps. It is a springboard… for the next leap!

Scope of Questions
  • A user consults the I Ching with her question: “What situation I am in?”. The answer she receives is hexagram 12 – stagnation.
  • A user asks: “Can my partner and I overcome the current our crisis… and besides that: Am I willing at all?”
    The I Ching’s answer for her: hexagram 12 – stagnation.
Case Study

Kun, the earth (lower trigram) stands at the beginning of hexagram 12 – stagnation and points at the place we are currently in: here and now. Yes, the first question the hexagram asks is: Really, where am I? What have I achieved so far? What have I experienced, what has led me here, what adventures have I undergone… But the question definitely is not: Where do I want to go?
This very moment, what is here and now is what counts, our safe stand, our feeling of being held. It is important that from time to time we become aware of these things, our own status quo. Because most of us, absent-mindedly and habitually, ignore our own achievements while concerned with planning next steps.
But that way we oversee some important resources that are at our disposal. Amongst others: our self-esteem which feeds on our achievements – and, unfortunately, just too often is narrowed by pondering over what we did not yet achieve.
The following trigram is Gen, the mountain (first core character) which represents disengagement. During our earthly inventory we may have noticed things that constitute unnecessary weight, that are blocking our strength and weaken us. In Taijiquan, within any movement the moment of disengagement / releasing is most important: we entrust ourselves to earth’s gravity, thus freeing our muscles and ligaments until they – according to their nature and absolutely effortlessly – will bear our weight. The Chinese character that in the classical texts refers to this act of disengagement / releasing shows an updo which is released in the evening. Disengagement and releasing is supposed to happen just like hair being loosed and easily falling onto shoulders: without effort, completely relaxed, liberating.
Gen later develops into to Sun, the wind / tree (second core character). We disengaged, we have thrown off ballast and are aware our resources… now it’s time to gather our forces and to center ourselves – to then start the next growth cycle. And since we do not start out at zero but are well on a path we choose a long time ago, we now can trustfully indulge in the internal dynamics of the process.
Finally Qian, the heaven (upper trigram) emerges: our own spirit that thus develops a high degree of clarity and coherence.

Some Reflections

Most I Ching interpretations of hexagram 12 – stagnation are rather negative compared to its preceding hexagram 11 – peace. This is because all trigrams are each assigned a specific direction of action: Kun, the earth, acts downwardly, Qian, the heaven, upwardly. Hexagram 11 – peace has Qian as the lower trigram and Kun as the upper one. In the traditional view the upwardly radiating Qian interlocks well with the downwardly orientated Kun. In hexagram 12 – stagnation the two trigrams Qian and Kun are arranged vice versa and therefore are not orientated towards each other (as in 11 – peace) but point away from each other. This is what explains the negative assessment. The classical texts express this correlation as follows: “Heaven and earth do not unite.”
Evidently I see hexagram 12 – stagnation much more positively. In my view each hexagram is a developmental process – and not a static situation.
And yet another aspect may be noteworthy: to what extent are the interpreters intimidated by the hexagram’s rather passive tendencies and consequently assess it negatively? Unfortunately, to keep quiet and to disengage has little to do with today’s hyped activism, calling for Action! and overriding any uncertainty with speed. However, now and then it would perhaps be desirable to simply just trust the natural course of things – and let it happen.

Debra Kaatz writes regarding Ma41 Jie Xi:

It is the warmth of the sun that ripens the harvest on earth. With this warmth we can mature and flow with ripened thoughts, ideas and feelings. When we are cared for and warm within, then we have the maturity and stability to move outward offering what we have harvested to others. In this way we are able to flow like a revitalized stream fill of warm sunlight. Kaatz 2005

Yet Another Reflection

A thorough cleaning and inventory – to make room for life
This sign shows a very practical way for a restart: cleaning and inventory. The current situation is so stable that one could almost call it frozen. This is probably also the reason for the present tendency towards brooding, distress and / or a feeling of separateness. To get out of this dead-end it is advisable to make a critical assessment: what of all that surrounds me gives me the security and stability I currently need – and what only constricts me?
Because things and circumstances that were important at a particular time have the tendency to remain with us forever, even though our situation may have changed and they are no longer useful. The result is a living environment full of useless things and behaviors, just as uncomfortable as an apartment filled with unnecessary furniture where one can barely move.
So, once you have made inventory of the situation and internally disengaged, get ready for the next step: implement your findings and create free space to live in, for passion and expression.

The current interpretation can be found here: http://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/888777.htm