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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

12: Standstill


In a state of standstill and decline, confusion and disorder prevail. Inferior forces are on the rise, while the powers of clarity and creativity are on the decline. In such times, the wise take shelter in their own integrity and quietly remain faithful to their principles. Retreat from public activities and common exchanges until the times once again favor direct action.

During periods of stagnation, inferior elements in society prevail. When the inmates are overrunning the asylum, summon up your fortitude, hide your worth and withdraw. Concentrate on your personal affairs with a quiet dignity, even if that means forfeiting short-term rewards.

Desiring to change a situation too quickly often creates extra conflict. By accepting hardship, while striving to maintain integrity, you are preparing for future growth. “A seed of prosperity is often hidden inside the husk of misfortune.”

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Inferior forces are advancing, so it is best to reduce your visibility. Others of like mind may follow you into a temporary shelter from events; it is through this means that plans can be made for future action.

Line 2

When events have reached a standstill because of the corrupt influence of inferior people, the wise endure the period of stagnation, and accept suffering willingly in order to preserve their integrity. Avoid submission to inducements that do not serve your long-term interests or violate your value system.

Line 3

Lesser people who have usurped power improperly eventually realize that they are not equal to the task they took upon themselves. When this occurs, a sense of shame overcomes them, and though they may not admit it, they know that they have committed a serious miscalculation. After this point, events may soon take a turn in your favor. Observe your adversaries closely, for their inner feelings may hold the key to future changes.

Line 4

Stagnation is on the wane; the dam is about to burst. At such times, it is essential to act only within the boundaries of your authority. Personal exuberance during the potential breaking of a deadlock can lead to excesses and error if you are not careful. Use your intuition, trust your instincts. Are the time and conditions ripe for you to act? If this is your calling, the energy of the time will support you.

Line 5

The moment of transition has arrived, and conditions are changing rapidly. But before you take action, ask yourself, “How could I fail? What could go wrong?” Here danger besets a person who is overly confident of his or her capacities. Remain alert and skeptical, and take care to see that all of your assets are well protected. Move cautiously but determinedly, like someone crossing a canyon on a tightrope. There is no going back -- and there is no safety net below.

Line 6 (top line)

The period of stagnation has come to an end, and the timing is ripe for direct action. Disintegration does not automatically give rise to peace and harmony, but requires the action of a strong person capable of shaping a new order. In such circumstances, great achievements are possible -- particularly if fresh thinking results in new options that excite those who had been mired in stagnation.