Category Archives: 52. Ken – Keeping Still, Mountain

Ken – 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 is downward. Thus there is rest because the 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 [and thus finding a harmonious motion that is swift in stillness along with change is the middle position]. 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 [a state of deep concentration when body and mind is dropped].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 [one dances when music plays, and ceases when it stops, one moves when the music of change plays, one stops when it ceases, all in complete submersion in the dance, what is learned expresses itself in dance and stopping and thus the quality of result is the sum of all the movements, the greater whole is the summa summarum of all dances and stops and is a swift adaptation to the situation as the events flow, when it is congested we trip and fall, when we move when it is time to still ourselves, we are swept under its current].

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 [practical yoga]. 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 [How to differentiate this from personal impulses and instincts? One knows through complete honesty of all movements in moments, that flow through one’s whole being – that is a thing of mysticism, spontaneity, and transparency, freedom, true impulse and true feeling appears from the worlds of ideas, that is Heavens, and flows through the man and woman that serve as a vehicle for the transformation of themselves and the world, taking off the mask in front of the world and becoming clear minded and transparent is the first step, for no false self-image nor defensive, conjured illusion or delusion about ourselves and the world will let the depths of ideas and currents through themselves] .


Mountains standing close together: The image of KEEPING STILL. Thus the superior manD oes 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 sore [that does not mean lack of foresight and insight into future events, it is being committed to the immediate, and having a peerless view on the whole of time, causality and events].


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 truth, finds the right way. But persisting firmness is needed to keep one from drifting irresolutely [sometimes the lure of advancement, furthering our desires and false refinement, or competition may drag one on a wrong path, sometimes we are pushed into the wrong way by circumstances and need to react, thus losing original innocence of the way, but experience harnessed in such a way is assisting us if we correct ourselves later, it is however advised to persist in this inner truth and innocent moves for as long as possible – then errors are rarely made]

Six in the 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 [here the tragedy of loyalty and autonomy plays forth, if one is truly loyal, he persists and falls with the master, or wisely prevents his fall, when one breaks this vow, the open space seems poisoned, and the freedom gained blackened, when one is autonomous one rarely enters into such loyal relation, for it would compromise his or hers own freedoms, loyalty abounds in high times, in low times there is mere opportunism of self-interest]

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 [one does not cut and pick the lotus flower out of the pond of one’s heart, but acts to nourish it within our own nature, in other words, if natural stances co-arise and inner circumstances for tranquility are developed, they bloom out of themselves, when a beginner sits to meditate and sees no results, or becomes unsettled at heart and impatient, but forces oneself to sit still without understanding, only annoyance will develop, if on the other hand one sits like a baby and slowly merges by teaching, focus, and prepares and develops his mind, slowly he rounds and completes himself and herself]. 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 for 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 tranquility. 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.