Do not struggle with impediments. You have what you need to succeed. Hold fast in place until there is an opening.
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#39, line 6, #33
The hexagram pictures a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. We are surrounded by obstacles; at the same time, since the mountain has the attribute of keeping still, there is implicit a hint as to how we can extricate ourselves. The hexagram represents obstructions that appear in the course of time but that can and should be overcome. Therefore all the instruction given is directed to overcoming them.
OBSTRUCTION. The southwest furthers.
The northeast does not further.
It furthers one to see the great man.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
The southwest is the region of retreat, the northeast that of advance. Here an individual is confronted by obstacles that cannot be overcome directly. In such a situation it is wise to pause in view of the danger and to retreat. However, this is merely a preparation for overcoming the obstructions. One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation: then one will succeed in removing the obstacles. This requires the will to persevere just when one apparently must do something that leads away from his goal. This unswerving inner purpose brings good fortune in the end. An obstruction that lasts only for a time is useful for self-development. This is the value of adversity.
Water on the mountain:
The image of OBSTRUCTION.
Thus the superior man turns his attention to himself
And moulds his character.
Difficulties and obstructions throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on other persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself, and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.
Six at the top means:
Going leads to obstructions,
Coming leads to great good fortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
This refers to a man who has already left the world and its tumult behind him. When the time of obstructions arrives, it might seem that the simplest thing for him to do would be to turn his back upon the world and take refuge in the beyond. But this road is barred to him. He must not seek his own salvation and abandon the world to its adversity. Duty calls him back once more into the turmoil of life. Precisely because of his experience and inner freedom, he is able to create something both great and complete that brings good fortune. And it is favorable to see the great man in alliance with whom one can achieve the work of rescue.
The power of the dark is ascending. The light retreats to security, so that the dark cannot encroach upon it. This retreat is a matter not of man’s will but of natural law. Therefore in this case withdrawal is proper; it is the correct way to behave in order not to exhaust one’s forces.1
In the calendar this hexagram is linked with the sixth month (July-August), in which the forces of winter are already showing their influence.
In what is small, perseverance furthers.
Conditions are such that the hostile forces favored by the time are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is through retreat that success is achieved. But success consists in being able to carry out retreat correctly. Retreat is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength. We must be careful not to miss the right moment while we’re in full possession of power and position. Then we shall be able to interpret the signs of the time before it is too late and to prepare for provisional retreat instead of being drawn into a desperate life-and-death struggle. Thus we do not simply abandon the field to the opponent; we make it difficult for him to advance by showing perseverance in single acts of resistance. In this way we prepare, while retreating, for the counter- movement. Understanding the laws of a constructive retreat of this sort is not easy. The meaning that lies hidden in such a time is important.
Mountain under heaven: the image of RETREAT.
Thus the superior man keeps the inferior man at a distance,
Not angrily but with reserve.
The mountain rises up under heaven, but owing to its nature it finally comes to a stop. Heaven on the other hand retreats upward before it into the distance and remains out of reach. This symbolises the behavior of the superior man toward a climbing inferior; he retreats into his own thoughts as the inferior man comes forward. He does not hate him, for hatred is a form of subjective involvement by which we are bound to the hated object. The superior man shows strength (heaven) in that he brings the inferior man to a standstill (mountain) by his dignified reserve.
1. The idea expressed by this hexagram is similar to that in the saying of Jesus: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39).