Hexagram #18 Degeneration

Correcting degeneration is greatly developmental. It is beneficial to cross great rivers. Three days before the start, three days after the start.

Degeneration means deterioration. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Mountain ☶ stopping, and below is Wind ☴, penetrating: it represents one yin entering and yang stopping it. Also, Wind ☴ is inside stopping, representing stopping the yin so that it does not advance upward; it includes the meaning of correcting degeneration.

This hexagram represents abandoning the false and returning to the true. When people are first born they are utterly good, with no evil, integrated with natural principle. Originally there is nothing to cultivate, nothing to realize; since there is no defect, there is nothing to correct. But when they get to be sixteen years old, yang peaks, producing yin; by the development of habits they become estranged from what is near by nature. This is like the one yin of wind arising below two yangs; as negative (yin) energy advances, the original being degenerates.

However, before the celestial Tao has yin, it cannot be yang; before human affairs have degeneration they cannot be repaired. This is why the path of correction of degeneracy is valuable. The path of correction of degeneracy is like the one yang of Mountain stopping on top of two yins, not injured by negative (yin) influences. Using this one yang to go back to the root and return to life is the study of working on the fundamental. When the superior man focusses his attention on the fundamental, the path appears. When one thought brings back the (celestial) mechanism, which is like obtaining the fundamental from degeneration. This is attaining great development in degeneracy.

The benefit of crossing great rivers involves action and the firing process, from which no deviation can be admitted. "Three days before the start, three days after the start" is the secret of the active process. The yin and yang in people is like the waning and waxing of the moon. In the first three nights of the moon's appearance, the yang light appears in the south-west. This is represented by the trigram Thunder ☳. On the night of the fifteenth, the moon appears in the east. This is represented by the trigram Heaven ☰. On the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, the light becomes round; this is three days before the start. On the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth, the light starts to wane; this is three days after the start. When people's yang energy is pure, this is three days before the start. Once their yin energy has arisen, this is three days after the start.

Before the start is yang, after the start is yin. This is the boundary of primordial and temporal yin and yang. People who practice the Tao need to know clearly whether things are degenerate or not. It is all in this boundary of before the start and after the start. When yang energy is about to become pure, ward off yin to preserve yang; after yin energy has arisen, repel yin to restore yang. If you ward off yin energy before it arises, and repel yin energy after it arises, then the yang energy that has not degenerated can be preserved, and that which has degenerated can be restored. This is the real science of working on the fundamental. getting rid of falsehood and returning to reality. Correctness is unfailingly developmental, development is unfailingly beneficial. -- Liu Yiming, Hexagram #18 Degeneration, The Taoist I Ching

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The hexagram 18 Degeneration

On the left the ancient shape of the
character for Hexagram #18 Degeneration.
On the right the present-day shape.

The Tempter, showing degeneration on his back, Nuremberg, Germany. This symbolizes psychologial degeneration rather than physical degerenation.

The mind of Tao is not injured by
negative (yin) influences. The six fingers on the hand represent six yangs — pure yang (The Dance of Death, The Munster of Bern, Switzerland, 15th C.)
(Click to enlarge)

Waxing is the cohort of life,
waning is the cohort of death.
-- Shui-Ching Tzu ,Cultivating Stillness

The Celestial Mechanism: six trigrams are matched with the 30-day moon cycle.
Water ☵ and Fire ☲ are not part of this cycle because they represent the medicine.
(Click to enlarge)