Category Archives: 12. P’i – Standstill (Stagnation)

P’i – Standstill (Stagnation)


This hexagram is the opposite of the preceding one. Heaven is above, drawing farther and farther away, while the earth below sinks farther into the depths. The creative powers are not in relation. It is a time of standstill and decline. This hexagram is linked with the seventh month (August–September), when the year has passed its zenith and autumnal decay is setting in.



STANDSTILL. Evil people do not further. The perseverance of the superior man.The great departs; the small approaches.Heaven and earth are out of communion and all things are benumbed [thus disharmony is on the onset]. What is above has no relation to what is below, and on earth confusion and disorder prevail [the fundamental link between human worlds and heavens is weak – or in some cases -overtaken and thieved creating “fake heavens” that have no relation to the above, but spoil the below through deception and illusion]. The dark power is within, the light power is without. Weakness is within, harshness without. Within are the inferior, and without are the superior. The way of inferior people is in ascent; the way of superior people is on the decline. But the superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles. If the possibility of exerting influence is closed to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.

All philosophy and theology is an activity of a human being. Yu (the Way) is rendering the tao upon the life (Ming), the vehicles and techniques are diverse.


Heaven and earth do not unite:The image of STANDSTILL.

Thus the superior man falls back upon his inner worth. In order to escape the difficulties.He does not permit himself to be honored with revenue [least he would exchange his inner worth for abstracted subjects of human inferior desires].When, owing to the influence of inferior men, mutual mistrust prevails in public life, fruitful activity is rendered impossible, because the fundaments are wrong [in essence, all activity would be compromised, corrupted and losing foundations, even the best of activities might turn to poison, their benevolent effect reverted and turned to the bad]. Therefore the superior man knows what he must do under such circumstances; he does not allow himself to be tempted by dazzling offers to take part in public activities. This would only expose him to danger, since he cannot assent to the meanness of the others [and thus does not compromise his ways, in effect becoming an enemy, and then turning to the bad himself, outrun, outmanned and outgunned by these who oppose, these who contest, these who undermine, these who betray, these who undecided join the opponennts, quickly becoming exposed and humiliated, losing all inner composure and worth, and losing the support of these who are of worth, these who were loyal, these who no longer want to associate, or if strong enough – withdrawing disgraced and humiliated]. He therefore hides his worth and withdraws into seclusion [if such seclusion may be afforded, in ancient times one had the company of spirits and devotion to Heavens, in modern times one may be exposed by various cartels, groups, syndicates, censored, ruined, humiliated, mocked, made into an exhibition, a freak-show, it is of extreme importance to ignore such influences and return to the old principle – devotion to the Creative Heavens, and affiliates and friends from the spirit world]

Six at the beginning means:When ribbon grass is pulled up, the sod comes with it.Each according to his kind.Perseverance brings good fortune and success.The text is almost the same as that of the first line of the preceding hexagram, but with a contrary meaning. In the latter a man is drawing another along with him on the road to an official career; here a man is drawing another with him into retirement from public life. This is why the text says here, “Perseverance brings good fortune and success,” and not “Undertakings bring good fortune.” If it becomes impossible to make our influence count, it is only by retirement that we spare ourselves humiliation. Success in a higher sense can be ours, because we know how to safeguard the value of our personalities [and thus astuteness in secluded wisdom when one predicts the spoiling of things, and thus strategically decides to withdraw is of more worth than plunging ahead oneself and others into darkness, decisions at the throne of our heart done in silence and contemplation are not invisible to the Creative].

Six in the second place means:They bear and endure;This means good fortune for inferior people [when an underdog but of worth, stay strong and persevere, the ones who endure misfortunes make a stronger spirit that if directed properly shape themselves into resolute steel and focus, attempting to incorporate the virtues and ideas].The standstill serves to help the great man to attain success. [when amongst elites you see mere inferiors, unworthy of trust or abandoning the secluded way, stay away from them] Inferior people are ready to flatter their superiors in a servile way [as an inferior, hide your inner worth and truth in times of rule of the inferior, never flatter anyone, as a superior do not allow anyone to flatter you, evident inner worth should be spoken of as little as possible, likewise one should never boast of anything, it is an inflated principle]. They would also endure the superior man if he would put an end to their confusion. This is fortunate for them. But the great man calmly bears the consequences of the standstill [fortitude combined with guarding ones words, one may suffer in silence, but that forges character, one words begin to flow, they turn into evil and hurt, if not checked, soon arrogance develops and one invites scorn and contempt, it is better to be patient and full of restraint, contemplating the signs, “right thought, right speech, right action” one preceding the other, defaulted against virtues developed by the light of reason, solved within and judged as good]. He does not mingle with the crowd of the inferior; that is not his place. By his willingness to suffer personally he insures the success of his fundamental principles [one should not disperse pain within by wrong associations, or scatter it through foolish action, but contain it and reshape it, change the energy of it into renewal, re-center oneself, and as a phoenix-like energy illumine the within, if it is directed outward it may turn despotic, sadistic, or domineering]

Six in the third place means:They bear shame.Inferior people who have risen to power illegitimately do not feel equal to the responsibility they have taken upon themselves. In their hearts they begin to be ashamed, although at first they do not show it outwardly. This marks a turn for the better.

Nine in the fourth place means:He who acts at the command of the highest. Remains without blame.Those of like mind partake of the blessing.The time of standstill is nearing the point of change into its opposite. Whoever wishes to restore order must feel himself called to the task and have the necessary authority [these who do not, should refrain from doing so, otherwise they will collapse in hesitant digression, and lose the impulse for action, strong foundations build a creative impulse if the purpose is well-defined and fixed, yet it is also open-minded and sublime, relying on strong nature, otherwise one erects “castles in clouds” and tries to take a leap – before he realizes he lacks the impetus, the castles fall from clouds into ruin]. A man who sets himself up as capable of creating order according to his own judgment could make mistakes and end in failure [it would be his personal flawed projection, supported by a vision similar to that of a maniac in pursuit of permeating his deformed will]. But the man who is truly called to the task is favored by the conditions of the time, and all those of like mind will share in his blessing.

Nine in the fifth place means: Standstill is giving way.Good fortune for the great man.

What if it should fail, what if it should fail?” In this way he ties it to a cluster of mulberry shoots.The time undergoes a change. The right man, able to restore order, has arrived. Hence “Good fortune.” But such periods of transition are the very times in which we must fear and tremble. Success is assured only through greatest caution, which asks always, “What if it should fail?” When a mulberry bush is cut down, a number of unusually strong shoots sprout from the roots. Hence the image of tying something to a cluster of mulberry shoots is used to symbolize the way of making success certain. Confucius says about this line: “Danger arises when a man feels secure in his position [likewise in the mind, too much stiffness may give rise to delusion, ignorance, arrogance, to little self-worth and certainty brings irresolute dispersion of one’s character and nature, both should be regulated and checked] . Destruction threatens when a man seeks to preserve his worldly estate. Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order. Therefore the superior man does not forget danger in his security, nor ruin when he is well established, nor confusion when his affairs are in order [having the opposite in mind, one prepares oneself for the other, former position, developing both]. In this way he gains personal safety and is able to protect the empire.”

Nine at the top means:The standstill comes to an end. First standstill, then good fortune.The standstill does not last forever. However, it does not cease of its own accord; the right man is needed to end it. This is the difference between a state of peace and a state of stagnation. Continuous effort is necessary to maintain peace: left to itself it would change into stagnation and disintegration. The time of disintegration, however, does not change back automatically to a condition of peace and prosperity; effort must be put forth in order to end it. This shows the creative attitude that man must take if the world is to be put in order.