Hexagram #23 ䷖ Stripping Away

Stripping away does not make it beneficial to go anywhere.

Stripping away is dissolving. As to the qualities of the hexagram, above is Mountain ☶, stopping, below is earth ☷, following : Yin grows as it goes along and yang stops; furthermore, in the body of the hexagram, there are five yins, which have dissolved it down to one yang-the yang energy is about to be exhausted and the yin energy is about to become pure; therefore it is called stripping away. This hexagram represents acquired yin dissolving yang.

When people are first born, essence and life are one, the primordial and the temporal are merged into one, yin and yang are as yet undivided, wrong and right are as yet not distinguished; they are the image of wholeness. Then as they grow up and their energy becomes full, the primordial yang culminates and mixes with acquired conditioning ― one yin surreptitiously arises. Then as the days and years go by, yin energy gradually grows, and yang energy gradually weakens. Until it wanes completely, yang energy does not stop; this is like the body of this hexagram ䷖, which five yins have stripped down to one yang.

At this point, yang cannot overcome yin; what remains is very slight yang. If people do not know this and still take the false for the real, and go somewhere to do something relying on their strength, they will surely come to the complete exhaustion of yang energy, which is very detrimental. Here developed people have a way to suppress yin and enhance yang, which does not let yin energy dissolve yang completely away. That is where this one point of yang energy is not yet exhausted; they accord with it and stabilize it, getting rid of intellectualism, shutting out conditioning influences, and returning to the fundamental, original foundation.

What does not allow yang to avoid turning to yin is the circulating energy mechanism of heaven and earth; yet what is able to preserve yang in the midst of yin is the power of the practice of reverse operation of sages. Since sages have a path that is before time and yet not violated by nature, they can use it to usurp creation and turn life and death around. As for ordinary people, they go along with the course of creation, which strips away yang by yin; when yang energy has waned away and become pure yin, how can they not die? At the one hexagram stripping away, the sage has simply said that it is not beneficial to go anywhere ― any who value essence and life would do well to understand this right away.

Among the six lines of stripping away, those in which yin damages yang are inauspicious, while those where yin obeys yang are auspicious. Practitioners should accord with these latter and stop there, so as to preserve the yang. Accordingly stopping there, in the moment of reversal stripping away turns into return. If people can know that return is latent in stripping away, and set to work where this one yang is not yet exhausted, then they will find the way to restore the primordial while in the midst of the temporal. How many people can know this celestial mechanism? -- Liu Yiming,The I Ching, hexagram #23 Stripping Away

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Hexagram #23 Stripping Away.

On the left the Liushutong character, in the middle another ancient shape and on the right the present shape of the character
for Hexagram #23 Stripping Away

A person daydreaming. When one is daydreaming, one has no self-awareness;
one is immerged in mundane yin energy.

When one is daydreaming, one is listening to thoughts going round in one`s head.
The animals going around the wheel symbolize thoughts going around.
(Dutch Painting, 15th C.)
Click to enlarge.

Tarot Card the Wheel of (un)Fortune