Our identity accepts an inactive outer world (lines 4 and 3) while it does not accept our active intuitive feeling (lines 5 and 2); this does not favour our taking new directions, but acceptance by our inner being (line 6) creates change there, so although the tao restrains outer activity we are furthered by experiencing it.
The life force seeks to be still (Kên) and there is little flow in our outer world (K’an), so we are unable to act effectively; we hesitate (Li). The K’an, Li, K’an sequence on top of the stillness of Kên contradicts itself, giving the hexagram its common name of “obstruction” as no direction can be usefully taken.
The Chinese Oracle
The sun traverses the south and west from midday to night; the north and east is traversed through darkness to morning; so the south and west is activity becoming tranquil and the north and east is tranquility becoming active, so it is better to complete works rather than start new ones. It is an advantage to experience widely (the great man) when obstructed and work through the situation so that our inner experience is enriched.
Line 1 goes yanglife force shows less change
When the life force is inactive less activity is possible, especially when we are in the tao of obstruction.
Remaining involves being still, being alert, being aware; more being, less doing.
Line 2 goes yangintuitive feeling less active
The natural reaction of feeling to troubled times is to become less sensitive; it is an instinctive move to balance sensitivity with aggravating circumstance.
The minister supplies the king with advice and information, as feeling does for identifying. Feeling is suffering under the stress of our circumstances but this is not a fault in the way we feel.
Line 3 goes yinouter world changes more
Here we act out to overcome our frustration although there is no path there; our objectives cannot be reached so we will then give up the attempt.
Line 4 goes yangaccepting the outer state less
The unflowing state of outer action appears to us to be an obstruction. By becoming less involved in this we can be more aware of what is actually going on around us.
Connecting things together is a state of awareness, not of outer activity; here we try to understand our situation instead of battling against it.
Line 5 goes yinmore awareness of intuition
The obstruction is so great that we turn to our intuitive feeling, which we have been ignoring.
Feeling our circumstances helps as a friend would, be relating innerly. Our ignorance of this feeling was part of the obstruction so this improves matters.
Line 6 goes yangour inner being accepts less
The obstruction in this tao is about our not being able to be still nor to act. Here our inner being becomes still, which is helpful.
Remaining is also keeping still and to see the great man is to see widely, not narrowing our view by choice; this is the good fortune.