困 Kun ䷮ hexagram meanings:
Exhausting, Obstruction, Oppression, Exhaustion, Adversity, Weariness
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The forty-seventh gua, Kun, translates to Exhausting, hardship, adversity, difficulty, or being surrounded by enemies/misfortune. It is the inverse of Sheng and is associated with the ninth month of the lunar year (October in the solar calendar). This gua indicates a situation of great exhaustion. One no longer has the strength to continue advancing, they spread themselves too thin as it is. A difficult situation becomes harder the less energy one has to approach the solution. Therefore, Kun teaches us to wait when we are experiencing a moment of exhaustion. This gua may also indicate one has been surrounded by enemies, possibly even outnumbered. This instance calls for patience and steadiness as well, one cannot act too soon so now is the time to regenerate.
The ideograph representing Kun depicts a tree placed inside of a giant mouth. In this ideograph, the mouth indicates an enclosure rather than a symbol to count people with. The enclosure prevents the tree from growing, it exhausts and weakens the tree until it eventually dies. Before this ideograph, the original ideograph for Kun was depicted through a piece of wood and the symbol meaning “stop.” This was another way of expressing the hindrance of growth due to exhaustion. To avoid death, the tree must identify the source of this hindrance and resolve it. Kun explores the many ways human beings deal with exhaustion and shows us the best way to solve hardship.
Kun is Lake above Water, which suggests the image of a lake that no longer contains water. The water is entirely used up and the lake is emptied. The lake in this image has been exhausted and no longer has any energy left to spare. The I Ching describes this as one of the most difficult situations to be in, but where there is difficulty, prosperity is likely to follow. Without the energy to spare the situation appears hopeless, but Kun reminds one that this is no time to give up. Instead, it is time to rest and replenish energy. The lake must wait for the next heavy rainfall to fill up again and we must remember to rest when our energy has been spent. During this period of rest, we must also seek the solution to our problem. We may not have the strength to solve it right away, but identifying the solution will improve one’s chance of success when one regains one’s energy.
Kun refers to the difficulties King Wen faced with expanding the Zhou dynasty’s borders. He remained strong and honest in the face of these obstacles, believing prosperity was still achievable. Although he felt his energy was spent and he had difficulty gaining people’s trust, he decided to pause his advancement and seek the solution to this. Without the trust of the people, the kingdom had no strength and so he needed to cultivate trust before advancing. This point in King Wen’s journey serves as an ideal example for the forty-seventh gua.
䷮ Kun hexagram
䷮ Kun hexagram meaning
In a difficult situation, One might predict a great man. The future looks good, With no downside, But you may not be believed.
Bottom Line meaning
Perch yourself in the canopy Of a tall tree in a canyon. Meditate in solitude For three secluded years.
Line Two meaning
Addiction to food and wine Makes it hard to sacrifice. But you’ve received the red robe To wear for the ritual - And you must put it on. It’s not a good time to go traveling, But you will survive the trip.
Line Three meaning
Stranded among rocks, You step over the sandbar, And at last you reach home, Where you get the unwelcome news That your wife is missing.
Line Four meaning
Weighted down with heavy bronze, The cart advanced but slowly. It is not an easy trip, But you will reach your goal.
Line Five meaning
You will be punished With the loss Of your nose and feet. Though stranded and lame Among the red-robed, You’ll see a chance and escape. Show gratitude for this blessing When you have the means.
Top Line meaning
All tangled in kudzu and grass, You blurted out, panic-stricken, “I regret any movement, but even so, I must go on a journey.”
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