887878Hexagram 39


Line image

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.

Trigram image

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

South and west are favourable.
North and east are unfavourable.
There is advantage in seeing the great man.
Continuance in the way brings good fortune.


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.


The pattern
The life force halts
when each tries to take
the other’s place.
For humans
They fight around him.
He does not take part,
Knowing other ways.
In nature
In upheaval.
The water is upon the land.
The mountain in the water.
Fire springs from chasms.
The life force waits its time.
In forms we make
When the outside forces
are attacking one another
form is overthrown.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yang

life force shows less change

When the life force is inactive less activity is possible, especially when we are in the tao of obstruction.

The Chinese Image
Going meets obstruction.
Remaining brings praise.

Remaining involves being still, being alert, being aware; more being, less doing.

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive 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 Chinese Image
The king’s minister meets
obstruction upon obstruction.
He is disadvantaged but
he is not at fault.

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 yin

outer 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.

The Chinese Image
Goes and meets trouble.
Turns back.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting 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.

The Chinese Image
Going leads to obstruction.
Remaining connects together.

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 yin

more awareness of intuition

The obstruction is so great that we turn to our intuitive feeling, which we have been ignoring.

The Chinese Image
When obstruction is at its height,
friends come.

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 yang

our 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.

The Chinese Image
Going outward meets obstruction.
Remaining is good fortune.
To see the great man brings advantage.
Good fortune.

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.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 64

Incomplete change.

Line image

Here the personal self has withdrawn from both inner and outer activity (lines 4 and 6) and we are in the peace of inactive feeling (lines 2 and 5). This uninvolvement and quiet feeling comes at the end of a cycle of involvement and the common name of the hexagram is “before completion”.

Trigram image

In this flow the energy is hesitant in our outer expression and inner being (both Li) so we will be unsure how to express in a situation that is somewhat empty and confusing. The emerging energy is low (K’an) and so is the energy in our identity (also K’an) which pictures our situation at the end of something we have been involved in, the energy has run out but it is not all completed yet and we are hesitant to invest more energy in it.

The Chinese Oracle

Before completion.
Little fox. Crossing the ice. Tail in the water.
No chosen direction is favourable now.


No chosen direction means not starting something new—for to do that we choose. The tail is in the water because the crossing is not yet complete and it is by keeping our choosing mind frozen that we can complete what we have been engaged in (when this becomes liquid the tail gets wet). So the success is in completing (the crossing) and the little fox is he who is learning to take advantage of his circumstances.


The pattern
Change is not complete.
Only part is changed.
Change is still to come.
For humans
He starts out into opposition.
He is so changed
he opposes no more.
In nature
Water enters fire,
leaving fire.
In forms we make
When existing orders
change their challengers
partial change occurs.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yang

life force shows less change

Here we are not moving sufficiently with the tao we are in; the drive in the tao diminishes before we have completed our transition out of a habit-reality.

The Chinese Image
The little fox gets his tail wet.

We are in transition so it is essential to keep moving, if we stop to consider our position we get submerged in where we are and the transition ceases.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

With our intuitive feelings active we are more aware, and to be more aware when in transition means witnessing, not being involved in action; we just feel our situation.

The Chinese Image
He brakes the wheels of his carriage.
Continuance in the way brings good fortune.

We stop our outer movement; it is this that carries us in the world and so is our carriage. Transition continues here while the old way of moving is stopped, so continuing with this is the way through.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

If we stop movement during transition we may start off in a new direction to save ourselves the effort of inner change.

The Chinese Image
The movement is not complete.
New directions are unfortunate.
The advantage comes in crossing the great water.

Change in our mode of being is not complete so to start any new movement now will be moving from our old motivations and endanger the change that is nearly complete.

Line 4 goes yin

accepting the outer state more

When a change is happening in our identifying pattern our old motivations turn up all sorts of new activities to keep themselves in being; these are the stumbling blocks to change.

The Chinese Image
Continuance in the way brings good fortune.
Subduing the land of Kuei (the land of the devils) took three years and great rewards were gained.

We have to continue through the change (three years symbolically is a cycle of change) continually preventing old and habitual ways from keeping their footholds. Before completion means that we are on our way in a process of change and to complete the transition we must persist.

Line 5 goes yang

less awareness of intuition

Our intuitive feeling is quiet in this tao; we have needed to accept this quietness also so that new action did not arise. Now we are further along the path of change and do not need this vigilance.

The Chinese Image
Continuance in the way brings reward.
No regret.
The attraction of the superior man has effect.
Good fortune.

The transition has passed its doubting phase where we were subject to going back to the old ways. We now have confidence in the wider experience which is the reward of transition.

Line 6 goes yin

our inner being accepts more

The life energy of this tao moves to create change, and here we go with the movement, identifying in it. We need to be careful of this identifying.

The Chinese Image
Confidence and feasting is no error.
If his head gets wet confidence is lost.

Confidence and over-confidence; in the first we trust providence and in the second we trust our heads.