Hexagram #3 Difficulty

In difficulty, creativity and development are effective if correct. Do not use. There is a place to go. It is beneficial to set up a ruler.

EXPLANATION: Difficulty means having trouble progressing. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is the pitfall of Water ☲, below the movement of Thunder ☳. Acting in danger, danger in action, one cannot easily get out of danger; so it is called difficulty. This hexagram represents starting the advancement of yang. Advancement of yang is advancement of strength. It is precisely because of not being strong that one promotes strength. The quality of strength is primordial real yang, the original true energy. But people are confused by things of the world, enveloped in wandering thoughts, so they miss it even when it is right there. Those who know it diligently cultivate it, restoring the primordial within the temporal. From vagueness, it becomes clear; from one yang it gradually grows, until it inevitably reaches the pure completeness of six yangs. This means that in difficulty too there is a path of creativity and development.

However, people are restricted by temperament, influenced by accumulated habit; the primal energy of true yang is deeply buried. Even though there be a time of restoration, the true sane energy is weak and aberrated energy is strong; as long as the true does not prevail over the false, it cannot immediately expand and rise. So it is a matter of carefully containing and securely storing, it, preserving this living potential, not letting it be damaged by external influences, making it the basis of restoration. This is why the text says "effective if correct," and it also says "Do not use. There is a place to go."

If you want to restore yang energy, it is best to first correct the mind. When the text says, it is beneficial to set up a ruler this symbolizes correcting the mind. The ruler is the leader of a country, the mind is the leader of the body. Set up a ruler, and the difficulties of the nation can gradually be overcome; rectify the mind, and the perils of the body can gradually be dissolved. Once the mind is right, the root is firm, and the original energy does not dissipate: then one can "advance the fire" according to the time, gradually culling, gradually refining; then what has been lost can be regained, what has gone can be restored.

Generally speaking, in the course of operating the fire advancing yang, it is necessary to know the proper timing. By knowing the time to take the medicine, using the temporal to restore the primordial, one can get out of difficulty, one can resolve difficulty. If you do not know the proper timing, and go too far or not far enough, real yang will be trapped by negative energy and will not be able to get out. This is why the statement of the hexagram says that creativity and development are effective if correct; only when correct can they be effective. When effective, the creativity leads to development. Creativity and development that are effective by correctness mean waiting for the appropriate time to get out of difficulty.
-- Liu Yiming, Hexagram #3 Difficulty, The Taoist I Ching

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On the left the ancient shape of the character
for Difficulty. On the right
the present-day shape.

Hexagram #13 Difficulty

Six souls, representing 'the pure completeness of six yangs', adoring God the Father and pagans worshipping devils, representing yin energy, French illuminated manuscript.

The Immovable King of Light, the mind ruler with the sword of wisdom engaged in the firing process, by Unkei, 13th c. Jyōraku-ji Temple, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan