Hexagram #53 Gradual Progress

Gradual progress is good when a woman marries. It is beneficial to be correct.

EXPLANATION: Gradual Progress means going slowly, not rushing. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Wind ☴, entering, and below is Mountain ☶, still. Staying in the proper place and slowly entering, therefore it is called gradual progress.

This hexagram represents gradual practice (循序漸修 — in sequence or step by step) following the appropriate order; it follows on the previous hexagram Thunder. Thunder involves practicing introspection in action, not acting arbitrarily. Not acting arbitrarily, one is cautious and wary; strong energy resides within, the mind is firm and the will far-reaching — one can thereby practice the path of doing for the gold elixir.

This path is like the way a woman marries. Usually when a woman marries a man, the man first seeks the woman, using an intermediary to communicate; if both families have no objection, then the woman marries into the man's family. Mutually attracted, the man and woman produce children, who produce grandchildren, and husband and wife grow old together. So, what is good for a woman in marriage is good for the man. If the man does not seek the woman, and the woman seeks the man first, privately communicating without an intermediary, hastily seeking consummation, not only will the woman not be happy, neither will the man. Both the man and the woman will be unhappy, having merely attained a moment's pleasure, surely failing in the long run.

Therefore, practitioners of Tao work gradually, not seeking quick success. Firmness used with flexibility is like the man seeking the woman. Not rushing yet not lagging, proceeding in an orderly fashion(循序而進), more strongly as time goes by, is like communicating properly through an intermediary. When the work is done, it returns from effort to spontaneity; yin and yang join, firmness and flexibility merge, and a bead of spiritual elixir congeals from nothingness into form. This is like the woman marrying the man; man and woman espoused, they naturally give birth and rear offspring. Therefore, the path of gradual cultivation is good when it is like a woman marrying.

However, though the gradual path is good, it is only beneficial if the gradual progress is correct. If it is not correct, it is not good. Among those in the world who practice material or sexual alchemy, those who cling to emptiness or stick to forms, there are those who do their practices all their lives without stopping — they are certainly proceeding gradually, but their gradual progress is not correct. So, they waste their lives, growing old without achievement. What is the good of that? So, it is necessary to proceed gradually(循序漸進) in the correct manner, thoroughly investigating truth, completely realizing essence, to arrive at the meaning of life. From doing entering into non-doing, from effort arriving at spontaneity, how could one not attain the great Tao. -- Liu Yiming, The Taoist I Ching

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Hexagram #53 Gradual progress

Left: the character for Gradual Progress.
Right: the ancient shape for Gradual progress

Yin - Shakti and yang - Shiva united, Jasmine City Tower, Bangkok, Thailand

The ten oxherding pictures. Image one to six represents the path of doing, when one tries to control the bull, one`s discriminating spirit. At image seven one enters non-doing, when the original spirit has returned.