32. Duration – A Guide To The I-Ching By Carol K. Anthony

Hexagram 32.


(Go on, as before, without wavering, or changing direction.)

On one level this hexagram means to endure; on another it means to remain the same. Here is described the I-Ching principle that life is a ‘going on’. While straying from our path invokes the I-Ching council to ‘return’ to our true self, and to the correct way, we return to going on. In going on we are neutral in attitude; we detach from ‘looking behind’ ‘looking aside’ or ‘looking ahead’. to turn our attention straight ahead. We pay attention only to that which is put directly before us to do, and concern ourselves only with what is essential and correct.

We get this hexagram when we wonder what state of mind we should have. Conditions have changed; we wonder whether we should be more open, or more reserved. Should we be glad and more relaxed, or should we be more wary? The Hexagram councils that we should go on as if nothing has changed.

Often we hope that the change is for the better, or we dread that it may be for the worse. Involved in hoping or dreading, our ego insinuates that we should do something to aid, or block, or adapt, to what is happening.

If we have seen a situation improve, we should regard the improvement as only one of the many steps that must be taken in the right direction. We avoid becoming hopeful or enthusiastic; we go on as before. If we see the situation as worse, we remind ourselves that regressions are unavoidable. The situation will become irreversible only if we fix on it as “bad”. If we relate properly, each new slide backwards will be less than the last one. The general direction will be towards improvement.

Improvements, we should remember, invite us to become selfishly involved. We begin to see the improved situation as benefiting us, thus causing us to lose our inner independence. This, in turn, invites others to manipulate us. There is only one course- to go straight ahead without being impressed by any signs of change. We should not change our way of relating, but continue on, “steady as she goes”. The final victory will be so genuine that there will be no doubts to make us wonder.

The images of thunder and wind, as elements which always accompany each other, symbolize relationships which endure through times of challenge and change. The example given is that of marriage as social institution which has endured through the ages. The hexagram also concerns the attitudes that are essential if marriage, and the sort of human relationships which provide a sound basis for society, are to endure.

Throughout the I-Ching it is emphasized that a strong, orderly, peaceful society has its foundation in a strong, orderly, peaceful family. The strength and security of the family, in turn, has its roots in a strong and correct relationship between husband and wife. In The Family (Hex 37) it is said that if the husband fulfills his duty and the wife fulfills hers, and if the relationship between the siblings are correct, the family becomes secure and has a good influence on society.

The hexagram notes that at the heart of the family is the persevering wife. Since either a man or woman may draw this hexagram, we must regard the wife as symbolizing the one (male or female) who, in the given relationship or situation, must persevere. To have a beneficial effect and nourish everyone correctly, such a person must content himself to work in a background position; in this way he acts to keep the situation in order.

Duration refers to our spiritual development, reminding us to hold to our principles during times of challenge. ” The superior man stands firm and does not change his direction”. The ultimate constancy is exemplified by the holy man who, through remaining forever in his course enables the world to reshape itself.

Steadiness requires that we prevent outer evils from effecting our spirit, and successes from making us arrogant. It means we remain modest and detached, listening to our sense of what is true, essential and correct. Perseverance in the correct attitude leads to the firmness and unity of character needed to transform evil and create the willing assent of others to follow the good.

It furthers one to have somewhere to go. This refers to our path. If we keep our path in mind – the low road, as opposed to the high road – we will not so easily stray from it. The low road symbolizes serving the good through perseverance, patience and restraint, and through being content to work through the invisible means of inner truth. The high road is that of self-assertion, the heavy handed use of power, and the pursuit of self interest by which we relax into indulgence, and act with abandon.