Still the mind. Be in shuniya. Let go. Keep up.
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#52, line 4, #50
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 Yi Jing holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that always posits movement as its complement. 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.
He goes into his courtyard
And does not see his people.
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.
The hexagram signifies the end and the beginning of all movement. The back is named because in the back are located all the nerve fibres 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. 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.
Mountains standing close together:
The image of KEEPING STILL.
Thus the superior man
Does 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.
As has been pointed out above in the comment on the Judgement, 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.
At the same time, the image suggests the idea of nourishment. The ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked viands in the temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The head of the family served the food from the ting into the bowls of the guests.1
THE WELL (48) likewise has the secondary meaning of giving nourishment, but rather more in relation to the people. The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilisation, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state.2
This hexagram and THE WELL are the only two in the Yi Jing that represent concrete, man-made objects. Yet here too the thought has its abstract connotation.
Sun, below, is wood and wind; Li, above, is flame. Thus together they stand for the flame kindled by wood and wind, which likewise suggests the idea of preparing food.
THE CALDRON. Supreme good fortune.
While THE WELL relates to the social foundation of our life, and this foundation is likened to the water that serves to nourish growing wood, the present hexagram refers to the cultural superstructure of society. Here it is the wood that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit. All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order.
Here we see civilisation as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be sacrificed to the divine. But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart from man. The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads to great good fortune and success.
Fire over wood:
The image of THE CALDRON.
Thus the superior man consolidates his fate
By making his position correct.
The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the fire burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.