Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain Restraint
The image of this hexagram is the mountain, the youngest
son of heaven and earth. The male principle is at the top
because it strives upward by nature; the female principle is
below, since the direction of its movement has come to its
In its application to man, the hexagram turns upon the
problem of achieving a quiet heart. It is very difficult to
bring quiet to the heart. While Buddhism strives for rest
through an ebbing away of all movement in nirvana, the Book
of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that
always posits movement as its complement. Possibly the
words of the text embody directions for the practice of yoga.
KEEPING STILL. Keeping his back still
So that he no longer feels his body.
He goes into his courtyard
And does not see his people.
True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and
going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and
movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there
is light in life.
The hexagram signifies the end and the beginning of all movement. The
back is named because in the back are located all the nerve fibers that
If the movement of these spinal nerves is brought to
a standstill, the ego, with its restlessness, disappears as it were. When a
man has thus become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no
longer sees in it the struggle and tumult of individual beings, and
therefore he has that true peace of mind which is needed for
understanding the great laws of the universe and for acting in harmony
with them. Whoever acts from these deep levels makes no mistakes.
This means that it is time for stopping, of not following a rhythm that at
the moment is not convenient. Therefore, to quiet the back means to
leave aside the impulsive thing, to avoid reacting to things. The still
means let something happen without acting, not to be an active part of
Not seeing the people means that one isn't attached to any group.
Keeping still shows how is possible to modify the influence that the
environment has on one.
Mountains standing close together:
The image of KEEPING STILL.
Thus the superior man
Does not permit his thoughts
To go beyond his situation.
The heart thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements
of the heart --that is, a man's thoughts-- should restrict themselves to the
immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the
The mountains standing close together represent what stays in its
placed, what can't be moved. It means a situation that remains an
intention of not advancing.
Not to allow the thoughts to go beyond this situation means that one
doesn't take into consideration matters that, at the moment, are not
pertinent, being, instead, focused on current circumstances. It also
means not to be a dreamer, not to give credit to illusions.
Six at the beginning means:
Keeping his toes still.
Continued perseverance furthers.
Keeping the toes still means halting before one has even begun to move.
The beginning is the time of few mistakes. At that time one is still in
harmony with primal innocence. Not yet influenced by obscuring
interests and desires, one sees things intuitively as they really are. A man
who halts at the beginning, so long as he has not yet abandoned the truth,
finds the right way. But persisting firmness is needed to keep one from
To keep the toes still means to stop the march, not to throw in. A further
perseverance means that it is convenient to be consequent.
Six in the second place means:
Cuidado, custodia su ternero calmo. Keeping his calves still.
No puede rescatarse de quienes He cannot rescue him whom he follows.
His heart is not glad.
The leg cannot move independently; it depends on the movement of the
body. If a leg is suddenly stopped while the whole body is in vigorous
motion, the continuing body movement will make one fall.
The same is true of a man who serves a master stronger than himself. He
is swept along, and even though he may himself halt on the path of
wrongdoing, he can no longer check the other in his powerful movement.
Where the master presses forward, the servant, no matter how good his
intentions, cannot save him.
To keep still the calves means an action that is not enough to achieve
the detention. One cannot stop the movement that has already started
because a force more powerful is pushing ahead.
Nine in the third place means:
Keeping his hips still.
Making his sacrum stiff.
Dangerous. The heart suffocates.
This refers to enforced quiet. The restless heart is to be subdued by
forcible means. But fire when it is smothered changes into acrid smoke
that suffocates as it spreads.
Therefore, in exercises in meditation and concentration, one ought not
to try to force results. Rather, calmness must develop naturally out of a
state of inner composure. If one tries to induce calmness by means of
artificial rigidity, meditation will lead to very unwholesome results.
The restraint is applied to the wrong point and with excess. This is an
intransigent and unwholesome attitude that annoys the heart.
Six in the fourth place means:
Keeping his trunk still.
As has been pointed out above in the comment on the Judgment, keeping
the back at rest means forgetting the ego. This is the highest stage of
rest. Here this stage has not yet been reached: the individual in this
instance, though able to keep the ego, with its thoughts and impulses, in a
state of rest, is not yet quite liberated from its dominance. Nonetheless,
keeping the heart at rest is an important function, leading in the end to
the complete elimination of egotistic drives. Even though at this point
one does not yet remain free from all the dangers of doubt and unrest,
this frame of mind is not a mistake, as it leads ultimately to that other,
To maintain still the trunk means to control the whole individuality in a
balanced manner, without being influenced by external factors.
Six in the fifth place means:
Keeping his jaws still.
The words have order.
A man in a dangerous situation, especially when he is not adequate to it,
is inclined to be very free with talk and presumptuous jokes. But
injudicious speech easily leads to situations that subsequently give much
cause for regret. However, if a man is reserved in speech, his words take
ever more definite form, and every occasion for regret vanishes.
To keep the jaws still means not to speak without care, just to speak the
fair and necessary. To keep the jaws still gives the idea of thinking what
one will say before saying it.
For that reason the remorse disappears, because what is spoken is
Nine at the top means:
Noblehearted keeping still.
This marks the consummation of the effort to attain tranquility. One is at
rest, not merely in a small, circumscribed way in regard to matters of
detail, but one has also a general resignation in regard to life as a whole,
and this confers peace and good fortune in relation to every individual
The highest point in the still has been reached. One can contemplate
things taking place from an impartial perspective, neutral, unaware of
their stimuli, and the fortune will come.