䷳ Gen

Gen I Ching Gua Meaning

艮 Gen ䷳ hexagram meanings:

Keeping Still, Splitting, Mountain, Desisting, Stillness

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The fifty-second gua is Gen. The character gen translates to forthright, blunt, and straightforward in the northern Chinese dialect, but is only used to refer to this gua in written language. Gen is one of the eight primary gua, embodying the characteristics of Mountain: Keeping Still, stillness, or desisting. It is associated with the tenth month of the lunar year, or November in the solar calendar. Gen is the inverse of Zhen, one refers to action while the other refers to the lack of action or stillness. There is the implication of meditation present in Gen. Meditation requires one to engage in stillness and control the breath and mind. It also acts as a tool for mindfulness and introspection, which allows one to cultivate one’s virtues at the same time. This gua’s purpose is to remind us how important meditation and mindfulness are in preparing for progress. One cannot proceed with their journey until they have learned to discipline themselves.

The ideograph representing Gen contains two parts. At the top is mu or a picture of an eye. At the bottom is bi, which translates to “close by.” When mu and bi are combined, they suggest the action of staring. One must keep still if one is to stare at or stand watch over something. The watchfulness of Gen reinforces the connotation it has with meditation. For one to meditate properly, they must submit to being an observer in their own body. One must watch without responding or taking action.

Gen is Mountain above Mountain, which doubles the power of Mountain in this gua. Stillness is emphasized when Mountain is multiplied, which means one keeps more still than they would with only one Mountain. The yang energy in Gen has moved to the top of the gua, meaning it has nowhere else to go. When yang has nowhere to go, it must be kept at rest until a new cycle begins. The fifty-second gua concludes that keeping still is also preparing for the next action.

Gen teaches us to learn when one should act and when one should keep still. There are times when action goes too far. Alternatively, there are times when not enough action is taken. People experienced a great shock after King Wen reestablished the Jing land system and did away with slavery. Although he liberated people and brought happiness to the Zhou dynasty, there were people (slave owners) who resented this change. The king anticipated dangerous responses to these changes, so he retreated to stillness. Zhen and Gen teach this balancing act to point out that stillness and advancement work best with each other. Advancement is most successful after a period of stillness and contemplation. The same is true of stillness, which brings the most benefit after a period of advance. King Wen acknowledged this and kept still after his moment of action to allow the kingdom to balance itself out again. People needed time to adjust to the new systems he’d put in place.

䷳ Gen hexagram

Gen ䷳ Gen hexagram Illustration

䷳ Gen hexagram meaning

Suspicious, you looked back,
But saw only shadows.
When you stepped into the garden,
There was nothing there at all.
Everything was peaceful.

Bottom Line

Gen Bottom Line Illustration

Bottom Line meaning

Stopping to check on your feet,
You realize this is the time
To make a long-term plan.

Line Two

Gen Line Two Illustration

Line Two meaning

You stopped for a look at your calf,
And what you saw made you sad.
Your calf was in no condition
To support the rest of your leg.

Line Three

Gen Line Three Illustration

Line Three meaning

A sharp intake of breath,
And you stop to look at your side –
You’ve torn an intercostal,
A muscle you can’t spare.

Line Four

Gen Line Four Illustration

Line Four meaning

You stopped to admire your body.
You like what you observe.

Line Five

Gen Line Five Illustration

Line Five meaning

Stop! Feel your cheeks.
This way you can speak wisely,
And not open your mouth 
Out of turn.
If your cheeks don’t move, 
Your mouth is closed. 

Top Line

Gen Top Line Illustration

Top Line meaning

A favored future awaits
The thoughtful man,
Who stops at sacred places
To think about who he should be.

Comments: I Ching Illustrated Book of Changes

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