Hexagram #24 Return

Return is developmental, going out and coming in, there is no ill. When a companion, comes, there is no fault. Reversing the path, Returning in seven days, it is beneficial to have a place to go.

Return means coming back. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is earth, obedient, below is thunder, active; when activity obeys the mind, the heavens turn in their course while human affairs proceed successfully. Also, in the body of the hexagram one yang moves below a group of yins; this hexagram represents the Return of yang within primordial yin.

To return it, restore it, it is necessary to take advantage of times when this living potential appears and set about quickly gathering it — only then can it be one's own. If the living potential has not yet appeared, and you keep to quietude in empty silence, how can it return? Thus it returns when a companion comes, and only then can one be without fault. The character for companion is written as a conjunction of two moons 朋; one is yang, and one is yin. When yin culminates. yang is born; there is yang within yin-this is called a companion comes. If yin does not culminate, yang is not born, and the companion does not come; if the companion does not come, yin and yang do not interact-then where would creative energy come from?

The way to do it involves working in sequence, restoring it gradually; one cannot restore it immediately, or even if one does restore it immediately it cannot be stabilized. It is necessary to first refine oneself and master the mind, waiting for the time to act. Therefore, reversing the path, reality returns in seven days. Reversing means turning around and operating in reverse, away from progressive conditioning back to the original integrity of the real mind; seven days, is the number of the yang fire. The energy of harmony of essence and feeling in people is the yang fire; this is the real. The restlessness of acquired energy in people is the yin fire; this is the false.

This path is not difficult to know, but it is difficult to practice. "Having a place to go" and promptly setting about cultivating it, it will surely Return gradually, from a single yang, until six yangs are pure and complete. What can compare to the growth and fruition of that Return? -- Liu Yiming (The taoist I Ching)

This path is not difficult to know, but it is difficult to practice because it requires extreme alertness and one needs to put one`s heart behind it.

All changes of spiritual consciousness depend upon the heart. This wonderful charm, although it works very accurately, is yet so fluid that it needs extreme wisdom and alertness, and the most complete absorption and tranquility. People without this highest degree of wisdom and alertness do not find the way to apply the charm; people without this utmost capacity for absorption and tranquility cannot keep fast hold of it. -- The Secret of the Golden Flower

It requires that one have an illuminated teacher, and internal and external companions.

The medicinal substances are hard to know, and the firing process is not easy to understand. Students should hasten to find a genuine teacher. -- Liu Yiming (Commentary on Understanding Reality)
Entrust yourself to reliable friends who carefully protect you and support you, they will make sure that within the furnace, the fire times occur as due. -- Zhang Sanfeng (13th c. Taoist master) The Rootles Tree)

The 3rd line: Repeated Return; danger, no fault.

EXPLANATION: When Return to good is not stable, and you return again and again and lose it again and again, this is called repeated Return. Yet if your nature is flexible and your will is firm, and you are single-mindedly intent on Return, and you handle yourself in danger, if you can do it once you can do it a hundred times, and if you can do it a hundred times you can do it a thousand times. Even though you may be ignorant, you will surely gain understanding, and even though you may be weak you will surely become strong; even though faulty at first, you can thereby come to be without fault. This is Return in which one studies when at a loss and strives diligently to carry it out. -- Liu Yiming (The taoist I Ching)
There is the Return of the times of Heaven and the Return of human affairs. The Return of the times of Heaven is the manifestation of true yang, which comes about through the natural Self. The Return of human affairs is the stabilization of true yang, which comes about through effort. Only when the times of Heaven and human affairs are united can there be completion. Leaving aside the top line of the six, "straying from Return," the other five lines all indicate a path of Return, whether carried out intensely or calmly or with concerted effort; in all of them the ultimate accomplishment is Returning to the Original Self. -- Liu Yiming (The taoist I Ching)

The first six of the ten Oxherding pictures represent the times of Heaven. In these pictures the lower is brought under controll so that the presence of the Original Self can occur. They represent the same as the six yang lines of the Hexagram #1 Heaven. The last four images represent the return of human affairs. Now that the Original Spirit has returned, one can engages in one`s normal affair, while the Original Spirit observes the lower self as an interesting stranger.

Return to the Individual Hexagrams page

The hexagram Return

The trigram Thunder

A salmon swimming against the stream

Dogu with a heart-shaped face
(Jomon period,10.000-1000 BC)

A signboard at the Koryuji temple
(Kyoto, Japan) with the Chinese characters "one heart" (read from left to right). The Chinese text says 一心于複:you are
single-mindedly intent on Return

A Japanese Daruma tumbler doll, modelled after Bodidharma, the 1st Patriarch of Zen Buddhism. A tumbler doll is weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always Return to an upright position when tilted over.

Japanese proverb:
Fall seven times, stand up eight.