778788Hexagram 54

Held back—breaks forth.

Line image

There is contradiction in this structure. We accept what is inactive innerly (lines 6 and 5) and reject what is active outside (line 4), so all movement is held up and nothing can be done. Such restraints on change cannot last for long because without change there is atrophy and the structure gives way to another; commonly the danger signals of being contained cause identity to break out of the restraint in some way.

It is an awkward structure because anything we do will be to relieve our feelings of being trapped without really changing our situation. While held thus by circumstances we will benefit by witnessing our reactions to it; it is always identity that traps itself—outer identity (line 4) cannot recognize activity as valid, it may, indeed, have been afraid for a long time, and then activity becomes awkward and undisciplined.

Trigram image

The flow is self-restricting, starting with hope (Tui) and then tentative in the world (Li) and sluggish in identity (K’an), but then with great force in our inner being (Chên). We hope for release of pent-up energies, but realizing their difficulties we are hesitant to let them out, so our activity is full of plans but very little outer action is possible. When energy cannot flow outwards it moves in our inner being and then awaits another chance of expression; when this chance comes the feeling that comes with it is “emotional”—charged with a purposeful need for expression.

The Chinese Oracle

The maiden seeks marriage.
Active undertakings bring misfortune.
No direction is favoured now.


The maiden (feeling) seeks the “other”, seeks definition and sense of purpose; a goal or direction is other to feeling, it is the male element to the female element. This goal or direction is to express the feeling in outer activity but this need is now out of phase with the tao—against the circumstances we are now in—and we usually get into such a situation by having experienced frustration of action at some earlier time and that action still needs expression. At present the circumstances of that challenge do not exist so if we act we are out of context.


The pattern
Young and joyful
but shy to venture.
Jumps with both feet;
becomes an active force.
For humans
His natural flow,
too long held back,
accepts any course for action.
Desire long unfulfilled
breaks forth.
How else could it become?
In nature
The lake flows out.
A young river, reluctant to flow,
comes to an abyss
and turns into a torrent.
In forms we make
When great force
overcomes unmoving friction
it is suddenly unopposed.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

A change to greater activity of the life force cannot be fully used in this tao where we are without a feeling of it and not identifying in outer action.

The Chinese Image
The maiden marries as a concubine.
A lame man can walk.
Active directions bring good fortune.

She marries but not fully, he can walk but not fully; it is better to have this partial movement than none, it is better to participate in what is on offer than to live in our images of what ought to be on offer.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

As the emerging life force is tending to become active in this tao (the trigram Tui) and everything is slow in our outer world, it is natural for our feelings towards activity to turn to this line which feels the life force. Feeling seeks the “other”, something to feel, but in these circumstances there is nothing available so we can only feel our own responses.

The Chinese Image
The one-eyed man can see.
Continuance of the solitary man brings advantage.

Feeling “looks” both inwards and outwards, but here vision is only on offer inwards so continuing in this is the way to proceed.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

We do not properly take part in the outer activity of this tao; we long to share but we cannot (sometimes dare not) give ourselves up to it. When the activity decreases we are able to take some part in it, an entrance into a world we wish to share.

The Chinese Image
From being a servant
she becomes a concubine.

A servant does not participate, a concubine does; a servant has separate quarters, a concubine co-inhabits. Here we become a participator, we enter the world of others and our energies have some outlet.

Line 4 goes yin

accepting the outer state more

In this moving line we are involved, we are interested or even dedicated to becoming involved; but this tao is a result of a long time of denial of outer flow and of acceptance of inner inactivity, so becoming interested in feelings of flow does not cause a torrent of activity, it prepares for movement.

The Chinese Image
The maiden does not marry at the usual age, she delays and makes a late marriage.

Line 5 goes yang

less awareness of intuition

In this tao we have been accepting that feeling is inactive; here we no longer accept this and so create a mind-feeling, a feeling stimulated by mind rather than the life force.

The Chinese Image
The emperor’s daughter was married in a gown less impressive than that of the serving maid.
The moon is nearly full, good fortune.

Our feeling is, in this symbol, the serving maid of our identifying, supplying the experience that is then identified, and this moving line 5 is about what identity does with feeling, how it dresses it up. The emperor is the ruler and our ruler in identity is the identifying process; this dresses up the experience in a way that is less beautiful than its original natural self. But the moon is nearly full, the growth of the feeling influence is waxing and about to reach its full radiance, so this opening to feeling will allow natural feeling to show itself again and this is good fortune.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

Here we cease to accept the life force as it emerges into manifestation and act as though we could create activity; but the life force is not active so our actions become gestures only.

The Chinese Image
The woman’s basket is empty.
When the man stabs a sheep
no blood flows.
No direction is now favourable.

In both these images the action of the person is empty, nothing in the basket and no blood in the sheep. Whether we feel (the woman) or try to make identifying nourishment for identity (the man) there is nothing there and no direction we take, no action we make, will produce the result we desire at present. It is something to learn that we are not the creators.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 63


Line image

Outer activity is quiet and this is accepted (lines 3 and 4), inner life force activity is also quiet and is accepted (lines 1 and 6); there is active feeling but we are not making this our sense of reality (lines 2 and 5). So here is a stillness which, in the Chinese oracle is called “after completion”; it represents a phase where an activity has come to an end and in this phase we just exist in undefined feeling and there is no ongoing activity. It is the state in which we find ourselves after a change is completed.

Trigram image

The emerging energy clings to its source (Li) and is inactive in the outer world (K’an); it starts again tentatively in our identity (Li) and is again quenched in our inner being (K’an). We can hardly speak of flow here because the flow has been completed and is no longer accepted innerly or outerly; it is an end which signals a beginning. The change may be just a small part of our activity or it may involve our whole mode of experiencing, but it is a clear transition; it is expressed by hexagrams 63 and 64 together (after completion and before completion) and is a very useful concept arising out of these trigrams Li and K’an which is discussed further in appendix one.

The Chinese Oracle

After completion.
Success of the small.
Continuing in the way is rewarded.
Good fortune in beginnings,
misfortune in endings.


The great movement of a cycle is over and we are re-born, we are small again in a new environment as we were small when born in the world. This is not an end so continuance is necessary and its success is the development of a new cycle of experience. We should concentrate on beginnings because the old, the ending, is in dis-order, dis-integrating.


The pattern
Fire enters water.
Water enters fire.
Mutually they change
each other’s reality
forming what is different
after they have changed.
For humans
He may be surprised
to find himself
without the thing he has made
with such care.
He can rejoice in passing
from one reality to another.
In nature
Under the sun.
Through the sea.
The reality of rock
is sand.
In forms we make
Complete change is an end
and a beginning.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

Here is new activity developing from the inside; we need to await its development so that we act outside in phase with it.

The Chinese Image
He brakes the carriage wheels.
The tail is in the water.
No error.

The general rule when going through transition is to keep going, but here we are just in “after completion” and there are still parts which have not completed the change, or the tail is still in the water in the image of crossing the great water. It is no error to slow down so that these parts can catch up with the change.

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive feeling less active

In a new situation, after transition, there may be feelings of insecurity which cause us to feel over-exposed and withdraw our feelings.

The Chinese Image
The lady in a carriage loses the blind to her window.
It will return after seven days, she should not go after it.

She feels vulnerable as we do at this time, but as the cycle completes itself (the seven days) the protection of confidence returns. This vulnerability is actually an advantage if we accept it as natural to our situation and not an error to be corrected, it gives us additional sensitivity which we need in new surroundings.

Line 3 goes yin

outer world changes more

If we have outer activity increasing directly after completion it shows that we have not yet changed our external mode of being; transition does not occur through making changes out there in the world, it is by change in the way we ourselves are.

The Chinese Image
The illustrious ancestor subdued the province of Kuei Fang (the devil’s country) after three years.
Men of inferior ability would have been useless.

Three is the number of transition or change, so it is this that creates the success. A devil or evil one in a situation of change is the narrow view which will not change and allow enlargement, and this is also the inferior man—the opposite of the great man so often referred to.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

Our outer state (line 3) is inactive in this tao and we need to preserve that inactivity if we are to change out of our mind-desire mode of being—the mode of trying to make something “better”.

The Chinese Image
Amongst fine silks are ragged clothes.
Be careful all day.

Amongst our wide aspirations are narrow desires; all day is throughout conscious activity, and being always aware of them will itself change them.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

Intuitive feeling is the basis of our knowing our circumstance and this line 5 is about the conscious interpretation of that feeling; when we become more involved here we consider how to use the life force.

The Chinese Image
Someone in the east sacrifices an ox with less benefit than one in the west who makes a spring offering.

The ox is the strength of outer activity and this is sacrificed at the beginning (the east where the sun rises).
The spring offering is the sacrifice of beginnings (a giving up before we start and so an offering, not a killing); this is made at the end of a cycle (the west).
So it is more beneficial to give up starting new things, which arises when the old are ended, than to kill off the outside activity after it has developed.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

If our inner being does not accept the end of a cycle the transition cannot complete.

The Chinese Image
His head is submerged in the water.

The head is the controller and here it is right in the liquifying process of change. For identity to emerge changed from transition it needs to flow in the momentum of being changed, not to get involved in controlling it.