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I ching

P'i (Standstill)

I Ching Hexagram 12
P'i (Standstill)

Action: Release

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 53 Development: Permeate

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 11 Peace: Relax

Contentment cannot be held in the hand,
but lives perpetually in the heart.

Fresh activity is the only means of overcoming adversity. – Goethe

Reading at a Glance: Our desire for the familiar and to know peace can often lead us away from further growth. Therefore, after a time of Peace as the underlying cause, a situation can lead to stagnation or Standstill. You are asked to release something so that Development can proceed. The purpose of receiving this hexagram is to remind you that all of life changes and moves toward growth. Humans cannot remain on the sidelines. It can be frustrating to throw your enthusiasm against the course of events that seem to have placed you in a holding pattern. Patience is how you release your sense of urgency and allow the outcome to unfold. The hidden influence allows for the Development of a new awareness, skills or ways of interacting with the world. In order to learn how to be steadfast one must relinquish expectation, assumptions and impatience. Just as winter appears as a time when the world appears lifeless, there is much going on in your underground world. Ten thousand seeds are becoming the landscape of your spring. If you feel frustrated, take a walk in the woods. You’ll be amazed at the realizations you will have when you are away from your phone and computer. In fact if you were to have a conversation with trees and bushes they might ask ‘why do you walk in circles when life plants you exactly where you need to be?’ Nature is the greatest teacher of how to be steadfast and move in time with the changing cycles. Discover the contentment of following life on its terms. Follow the great circle and allow Standstill to unleash an innovative approach within you.

Still pond in forest

In a time of standstill

nothing can withstand submission.

“Things do not stay forever united and can lead to standstill.” The danger of Peace is that it can lead to progressive stagnation. This is because of the lack of necessary tension that life generates to drive change. In other words, too much of a good thing can unwittingly lull you to sleep in the arms of stagnation.

The master said: "Everything flows on and on like the river. We can appreciate the changes taking place in nature, while wholly unaware of our own mutability."

Finding a balance in contentment that still allows for growth becomes an important lesson in following the energy of life. P’i suggests that you are holding on to something that is keeping you from moving forward.

Observing nature, you will see that nothing comes to a standstill. A pool of water that has separated from the rivers and sea will eventually stagnate or dry up. The nuclear trigram of the Mountain is immovable, while the Gentle Wind encourages movement. Together, they ask you to release your expectations, so that you can discover the joy of following life on its terms.

Do not root yourself in the momentary thing that made you happy because contentment is simply the proper response in following. If you do not expect anything, you can discover the magic that life has in store for you.

Exploring what it means to follow, the master said: “contentment cannot be held in the hand, although it can live perpetually in the heart.” You can plant something in a pot and fill it with water, but if it is not provided proper drainage, it will die. As a lesson about letting go, P’i suggests how desiring not to remain full will allow you to be fulfilled anew.

The empire will be at peace of its own accord, whether you choose to worry about it or not. If you find that you are not moving forward, you will discover that it is your will and not the Way.

As an image of the mouth and the symbol for ‘not,’ it suggests how “standstill is giving way.” You can let go, or find that something more profound will come to make you give way. To follow the easier path, try releasing your attachment to something that no longer serves you. Ultimately, you will discover how you were blocking life's greater movement that left you unable to receive something new. Its message is simple: if things are at a standstill, let go.


Everything at a standstill except you = the great usurped by the small. Standstill unchanging can be a message to stop wasting energy attempting to change a situation that has reached an impasse. Sometimes the message is that the answer is ‘no’ and you must come to terms with that. Sometimes the message is that you need to wait out a period of Standstill in this situation and give it more time to develop. This is not a very encouraging answer because we would rather bang our heads against a wall rather than accept defeat and move on. You can be certain however, that its clearest message is to stop. Focus on other areas in your life and allow the period of Standstill to pass. Whatever the blockage, it is external so there is no need to take it personal. You are facing strong opposition and can only wait it out or move on.

Line 1:

Weeding out grass, sod comes with it = each according to its kind. Changes to (25) Innocence. During a period of stagnation it is important to make changes. This is a period of rebuilding and a need to let go of old preconceptions and judgments to approach the atmosphere with a fresh perspective. An outward event may be guiding you toward big inner changes. To pull grass with sod attached can mean that the changes need not be dramatic. The soil allows you to make changes without upsetting what you have built. Honoring differences among others brings success.

Line 2:

Bear and endure = no need to seek favors. Changes to (6) Conflict. Others may feel insecure during periods of stagnation and overly needy or seek instant gratification. The enlightened ones use this period to uncover the reason for stagnation and care for the welfare of all. Discover your higher purpose beyond fear responses and self gratification.

Line 3:

Surroundings entice = shameful action. Changes to (33) Retreat. Someone wasn’t entirely honest yet still succeeded in some way. Now they are paying the price. Behavior can lead to retreat out of a fear of rejection, attack or because of anger and may require time before moving forward. Admitting fault will lead to better developments. Don’t let the surroundings incite you to action that isn’t authentic. Respect others and don’t try to change them.

Line 4:

Working from a higher purpose = those of like mind participate. Changes to (20) Contemplation. Your integrity might be questioned by another who might not understand your message to break through the Standstill. The hexagram of Contemplation shows a monument where one can get a better view of the path. While you are holding to a higher purpose out of respect for yourself or another, an enlightened message can bring about union. However, since this hexagram can show a blockage to communication, the answer can be that there are no hard feelings, just a sense that the time is right to move apart.

Line 5:

Standstill is giving way = what if it should fail? Tie it to a mulberry tree. Changes to (35) Progress. It is normal to feel trepidation on the precipice of change. Whatever blocked you is being released and progress can continue. If you can learn from your mistakes you will successfully create lasting change that leads to good fortune. Don’t expect it to be easy though because without a serious change in attitude the blockage can recur. This is a line that encourages you to transform doubt or fear based attitudes into acceptance and a strong inner core committed to Progress.

Line 6:

The Standstill has ended = at first frustrated then glad. Changes to (45) Gathering Together. The impasse has ended. Much inner strength is achieved when a situation reaches Standstill so the time was not wasted. Like a sailboat without wind, now the wind returns and things begin to flow again. To avoid this type of crisis in the future make sure that you incorporate sustainability in all you do. All good things require the freedom to change and evolve. Go out and meet experience with your new found insight.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 12 unchanging Hexagram 12.1 Hexagram 12.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 12.2 Hexagram 12.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 12.3 Hexagram 12.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 12.4 Hexagram 12.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 12.5 Hexagram 12.5.6 Hexagram 12.6