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I ching

Ken (Keeping Still)

I Ching Hexagram 52
Ken (Keeping Still)

Action: Meditate

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 40 Liberation: Untangle

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 58 Joy: Encourage

You will discover the germinating power within
in the silence where a thousand seeds
are becoming the landscape of spring.

As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it
as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins. – Albert Schweitzer

Reading at a Glance: To the mind that is still, the entire universe surrenders.” In meditation or yoga people learn to quiet the chatter of the ‘monkey mind’ which is always focused on need, fear or what is wrong in the world. Using the mind to force the body to do what it wouldn’t do naturally is the only way to achieve stillness. The hidden influence of Liberation asks you to untangle the thoughts that have you on the hamster wheel. It is time to get disciplined and learn to control your fear based thinking. In the image of two mountains or two men with their backs to each other, we go into the inner temple and forget about all that is going on around us. This doesn’t mean we should always negate experience. It simply means that prior to resuming activity it is sometimes good to take a sabbatical. Where the underlying cause of Joy or encouragement showed participation in events and interactions with others, you are asked to be still and turn inward. In this situation someone is not doing what you expect them to do. You too may need to stop all the activity and quiet the mind. Whatever your query, now is not the time to act and you need to stop and be still. Perhaps you will discover something you hadn’t considered if you can quiet the mind of its chatter and listen to the sound of the breath emanating from the heart.

lilypads on water with flowers

To the mind that is still,

the entire universe surrenders.

Things cannot move continuously and one must make them stop. Therefore follows the image of keeping still. Keeping the back still, one no longer feels the body.” Just as the back is that part of the body that remains invisible to you, the master said: “going into the courtyard, the king does not see the people.” Turning within, you can disengage yourself from outer events to re-connect with your inner voice. “Composure will straighten out your inner life,” to reflect itself in your outer life.

There are times of advancing forward and times of keeping still. Ken is the image of two Mountains facing each other so the inner and outer can meet in meditation. “One does not permit the thoughts to go beyond the situation.” No longer distracted by sensory input and expectation, you can reconnect with the voice of sincerity within. In the image of an eye, looking around to see what has led to the present situation, when you lose your sense of stillness, you lose the self and become lost in your surroundings. "To find the self, you need only recapture your sense of stillness."

When the master asked a pupil why he would sit in meditation, the pupil replied that it was a way to know Tao. The master picked up a tile and began to polish it against a rock. When the pupil asked why he did this, the master replied that it was a way to make a mirror.

The pupil asked: “How could polishing a tile make a mirror?” The master replied: “How could sitting in meditation produce Tao?”

You turn inward to reflect on events, where the inner and outer can meet in meditation; not to deny the relevance of all experience. Unlike other types of meditation, the ancient Taoist sought only to release the sense of separation existing between ‘in here’ and ‘out there.’

Ken is a message about recapturing this pure perspective. In the image of birds moving through the sky, they seek their destiny, but leave no trace; they are challenged by circumstances, yet eagerly celebrate each sunrise. “Continue easy and you are right.”

The master said: “When the fish is caught the trap is forgotten. You gallop around in search of the mind and are unable to stop it.” When the idea comes, the mind is forgotten. Yet, the mind is the trap, while what you capture is the ‘thing event’ that represents your passing desires. No mind allows you to connect with a greater movement that is endless. Life speaks to you and you must cherish each opportunity to understand it.

“The fish must not be allowed to leave the deep.” The fish is the treasure of Te. It is that place within, which holds you to the center of each experience. You are coached to cultivate an awareness that remains unattached, deep and therefore, becomes profoundly powerful.

The master asked: “Where is your place of birth?”

The pupil replied: “This morning I ate rice and now I am hungry again.” Need is an endless movement without a home.

The master asked: “How is my hand like Tao?” The pupil replied: “Playing the lute under the moon.” Joy comes when you discover yourself emerging upon the tapestry of life.

The master asked: “How is my foot like a donkey’s foot?”

“When the white heron stands upon the snow, it has a different color.” All things will always remain relative to each other…this is all that you can really know.

When you shadow life, you shadow your beliefs. They can become traps on the pathway of true perception. Whatever the trap, you can unseat it by letting go.

“The court is corrupt. The fields are overgrown with weeds. The granaries are empty, yet there are those, who are dressed in fineries.” Oblivious to a lifeless inner landscape, you may come to wear the costume of what is expected of you. If you can open to the mystery within, the real journey of individuation begins.


When the outer world stops responding = stop seeking and turn within. The object of your enquiry is currently in an immovable condition. If you are expecting to hear from someone or get an answer, the time is not right. Others may be taking time for themselves prior to re-engaging. Keeping Still unchanging can show a person with their back turned to you, perhaps out of defensiveness or anger. Nothing you can do or say will change this. Just allow time to heal the wounds. If your question involves making a move, it is probably not the right time. There is more information or time needed to understand the situation more clearly before doing anything. In any type of negotiation, make your offer and then step back. They say ‘the one who speaks last loses.’ If you are feeling frenetic or anxious explore meditation or yoga to learn to quiet the mind. Keeping Still and surrendering to unfolding events will be the easiest way forward.

Line 1:

Keeping the toes still, no blame = continued perseverance furthers. Changes to (22) Grace. While you may be anxious to move forward, the time is not right. There is an element of acceptance or looking beyond the façade at the deeper elements of the situation. Keeping the toes still in perseverance is a message not to take action.

Line 2:

Keeping the calves still, one cannot rescue who they follow = the heart is not glad. Changes to (18) Decay. You may want to change another’s direction because you feel that it is incorrect. This can be a situation of co-dependency where there is nothing you can do, although you feel the sadness it brings. If you are unhappy being swept up in the drama, let it go. There is nothing you can do except create the boundaries where you are not owning another’s condition.

Line 3:

Keeping the hips and sacrum stiff is dangerous = the heart suffocates. Changes to (23) Splitting Apart. Forcing stillness on natural desires creates inner conflict. Splitting Apart can show a time of examining thoughts and feelings so that you can move forward consciously toward your desire. Keeping Still because of fear is not the same as moving freely while establishing boundaries. Some element of the situation requires more flexibility, rather than repression.

Line 4:

Keeping the trunk still = no blame. Changes to (56) The Traveler. While you may be over reacting and frenetically searching for a solution, you are coached to remain still and give the mind a rest. Free from external distractions, you can find a sense of peace within. The Traveler’s greatest lesson is finding the home within.

Line 5:

Keeping the jaws still = the words have order and remorse disappears. Changes to (53) Development. One of the greatest lessons in any type of enlightenment is recognizing how words are a measure of inner certainty. If we are insecure and uneasy, we can talk too much. Keeping Still so that one’s speech is orderly and not arguing or selling anything allows the situation to advance. Development is the patience required to allow a situation to develop naturally. Silence is a powerful way to truly listen or to allow another the space to organize their thoughts. Don't respond habitually but thoughtfully and after careful consideration.

Line 6:

Noble hearted and keeping still = good fortune. Changes to (15) Authenticity. While something is not shared or held back, it is not because of anger or ill will. The hexagram of Keeping Still allows one to organize thoughts and actions with moderation. There is a friendly attitude and much compassion in this situation, even when it seems you are not receiving the response you desire. By remaining still and avoiding worry, you can accept that what is unfolding will lead to good fortune.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 52 unchanging Hexagram 52.1 Hexagram 52.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 52.2 Hexagram 52.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 52.3 Hexagram 52.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 52.4 Hexagram 52.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 52.5 Hexagram 52.5.6 Hexagram 52.6