52 – keeping still

Graphic hexagram 52

Scope of Questions

I received a variety of questions regarding hexagram 52 – keeping still:

  • A user consults the I Ching with the following concern: “How can I get to work independently in my profession?” She adds: “This year I attended a professional training. Ever since I play with the idea of working independently, self-employed, to develop a new supporting leg. The professional training’s speaker has really impressed me a lot. And anyway, for some time now I feel like trying out some new methods and professional approaches.” The I Ching replies with hexagram 52 – keeping still.
  • Another user asks, “May I heal with Reiki and alternative methods?” The user works as a butcher, his learned profession, but this becomes more and more a burden, especially because this environment does not share his spiritual interests. For more than 15 years now he has been intensively engaged with Reiki and has great respect for this kind of work. Hence his reserved question whether he may help others with Reiki.
  • Another user receives  hexagram 52 – keeping still as a comment to his situation: “I find myself in a hopeless situation. Nothing is possible!”
  • A user asks: “What is the best way to stop smoking?” The advice of the I Ching: hexagram 52 – keeping still.
  • One user is afraid to quit her job (and thus a stable income) with no prospect of a new one. The job market is difficult. However, she has an upcoming interview with a 25 percent chance because she is one of four applicants in the second round. She is very interested in this new job.
  • One user asks: “What is relevant in the current situation in relation to my partner?”

Case Study

“Supporting leg and non-supporting leg” comes to my mind spontaneously as I read the user’s concern. Our supporting leg, our firm standing… rooted in the grounds it nourishes us. Our non-supporting leg allows us to experience freedom and to try out new thing, being playful and sometimes daring.
Regarding supporting and non-supporting leg I find the following in (German) Wikipedia:

Physiologically human gait consists of an alternating movement between supporting leg and non-supporting leg The supporting leg remains connected with the ground and mostly in an extended position, while the non-supporting leg leaves the ground and is slightly buckled at the knee while lifting to perform a step. When lowering the (non-supportive) leg, the lower leg is being stretched increasingly until it reaches the ground. This is when the non-supporting leg becomes supporting and the supporting leg becomes non-supporting leg. Wikipedia

As long as we move, our legs dynamically switch in their function as supporting and non-supporting leg. Only when we are standing still this dynamic alternation ends.
Hexagram 52 – keeping still starts with Gen (the mountain) as the lower trigram. Gen represents our ability to let go and focus on the essentials. The user wants to “develop a new supporting leg” – but any supporting leg starts out as – see above! – non-supporting leg. Her envisaged independence should start out playfully: as a non-supporting leg.
So how can the user liberate her non-supporting leg and venture a first step towards independence? Best by releasing what is superfluous and unnecessary, and by focusing her energies. If she keeps the load on her supporting leg smaller, the leg can carry the body’s weight with greater ease and reliability. In Taiji to released also means “to sink into the root”, to firmly root oneself. Only when we are well rooted and the supporting leg carries the body reliably, the non-supporting leg can come off the ground with confidence and initiate a new step.
The lower trigram Gen (the mountain) develops into Kan, the water (first core character). Kan helps us to find our way. When we release and root ourselves, we reconnect with our spiritual grounds: our own intuitive wisdom of life that we have collected all along the path to here and now and from which we can draw. It is good to be connected with these primal grounds. All actions that we initiate from this place have a special quality, they feel “right” in a very particular way. From our good rooting the non-supporting leg will find its path all by itself: intuitively.
From Kan (the water; first core character) Zhen, the thunder (second core character), arises. Zhen stands for decision and action. When Zhen develops from Kan, action is being initiated from our own gut feeling. And this is very good: our gut feelings dispose over much more information – beyond language – than the sharpest intellect. And a gut decision usually has much greater wisdom and strength than a mere head decision.
Zhen, thunder (second core character), finally evolves into Gen (the mountain, upper trigram). Hexagram 52 – keeping still end with shifting weights: the non-supporting leg becomes supporting leg…

Some Reflections

I have also thought about the Reiki-practising butcher (second question) for some time. Life is development. We start somewhere, at a certain position in life, and from there we develop further. Some people come a long way, some people do not. Beginning-butcher to (preliminary) end position Reiki represents rather a long way.
Or eventually does not. Being a butcher, cutting up oxen can also be done in a very spiritual way. In the Zhuangzi (Dschuang Dsï: The True Book of the Southern Flowerland) there is a story about a cook:

“His cook was cutting up an ox for the ruler Wen Hui. Whenever he applied his hand, leaned forward with his shoulder, planted his foot, and employed the pressure of his knee, in the audible ripping off of the skin, and slicing operation of the knife, the sounds were all in regular cadence. Movements and sounds proceeded as in the dance of ‘the Mulberry Forest’ and the blended notes of the King Shou.’ The ruler said, ‘Ah! Admirable! That your art should have become so perfect!’ (Having finished his operation), the cook laid down his knife, and replied to the remark, ‘What your servant loves is the method of the Dao, something in advance of any art. When I first began to cut up an ox, I saw nothing but the (entire) carcase. After three years I ceased to see it as a whole. Now I deal with it in a spirit-like manner, and do not look at it with my eyes. The use of my senses is discarded, and my spirit acts as it wills. Observing the natural lines, (my knife) slips through the great crevices and slides through the great cavities, taking advantage of the facilities thus presented. My art avoids the membranous ligatures, and much more the great bones. A good cook changes his knife every year; (it may have been injured) in cutting – an ordinary cook changes his every month – (it may have been) broken. Now my knife has been in use for nineteen years; it has cut up several thousand oxen, and yet its edge is as sharp as if it had newly come from the whetstone. There are the interstices of the joints, and the edge of the knife has no (appreciable) thickness; when that which is so thin enters where the interstice is, how easily it moves along! The blade has more than room enough. Nevertheless, whenever I come to a complicated joint, and see that there will be some difficulty, I proceed anxiously and with caution, not allowing my eyes to wander from the place, and moving my hand slowly. Then by a very slight movement of the knife, the part is quickly separated, and drops like (a clod of) earth to the ground. Then standing up with the knife in my hand, I look all round, and in a leisurely manner, with an air of satisfaction, wipe it clean, and put it in its sheath.’ The ruler Wen Hui said, ‘Excellent! I have heard the words of my cook, and learned from them the nourishment of (our) life.’” Dsi, Chapter 3.2

I like this story, I find it inspiring and impressive to see that obviously mastery is about finding the exactly right way. Whether it’s cutting up an ox, chopping a tree into firewood, or even healing another person. If you start in the wrong place, you ruin the tool, waste energy, and the result is bad. But if you hit the right point, everything goes very easily and the result is fantastic.
My conviction is that the mastery one has achieved in one area can be used in other areas, too. Because mastery eventually consists above all of a certain kind of sensitivity, the feeling for the right path. In this respect, it is perhaps not so much a question of whether it is butchery or Reiki, but rather whether one has attained mastery in one area, whether one is familiar with sensitively feeling where the right path lies. And this can be practiced as a butcher, but also when chopping wood. And Reiki might benefit.
Yes, I admit, that is a very individual interpretation. And from a purely external point of view, dead animals and patients are actually quite far apart. If at all and how this fits together for the user, the Reiki butcher, he must to check for himself. But maybe one part of him likes to be a butcher, and the other part likes to be a Reiki therapist. If so, I think that you don’t have to construct a conflict if there is no conflict in one’s heart, just because outsiders might want to see a conflict . If one is clear about how things fit together for oneself, then one can practice them. Lightheartedly.

The current interpretation can be found here: https://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/887887.htm