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Hexagram 32. Hêng/Duration
“Duration is a state whose movement is not worn down by hindrances. It is not a state of rest, for mere standstill is regression. Duration is rather the self-contained and therefore self-renewing movement of an organized, firmly integrated whole, taking place in accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending. The end is reached by an inward movement, by inhalation, systole, contraction, and this movement turns into a new beginning, in which the moment is directed outward, in exhalation, diastole, expansion.” “Duration means that which already is. What is in the middle abides always.”1
As I wonder about the source from which and around which this ever-weaving tapestry of change is able to continuously come into being, a rumbling of thunder reverberates through my body and the structure of the house. I leave my cozy space to step outside into the crashing atmosphere. The pungent smell of ozone fills my nostrils. I recall that the two trigrams that make up Hexagram 32 Hêng are thunder over wind. I smile at the synchronicity of this timely event!
Thunder and wind are both part of the wood element- bringing change in each their own way. Wind penetrates, and thunder moves through clouds as atmospheric pressures change. I find it interesting that such strong forces of movement and change (thunder and wind) comprise the essence of ‘duration’- a state which is seemingly opposite- one of solidity and lastingness. If ‘duration means that which already is’, I reflect on the origin at the center of all movement and change where endings and beginnings are one.
I muse about the butterfly that I followed on a path through the woods yesterday, reflecting on the incredible process of transforming from caterpillar to butterfly. The caterpillar eats profusely for a period of time before forming a chrysalis. Inside, digestive enzymes break down the caterpillar until nothing is left but a liquid mush. Just when it appears that nothing living remains, imaginal discs/cells begin to emerge. At first they are fought by other cells, but they slowly and persistently keep multiplying and join together. This activity wakes up the gene which organizes the formation of a new being- the butterfly. Scientists have found that the butterfly retains memory from when it was a caterpillar- something essential of the caterpillar remains within the butterfly!
It seems that the mystery of origin is experienced after all else falls away. Thunder and wind rearrange the atmosphere of one’s internal landscape, creating an enduring possibility for change. While the butterfly, whose possibility existed within the caterpillar all along, comes into being from the ‘self-renewing movement’ of the imaginal cells which are activated after the caterpillar endures deconstruction. By holding steady through the duration of the process, an entirely new being is created that is the same but different.
My gaze moves out the window as I write this, the thunder has subsided, the rain has come and gone. The winged ones, four-leggeds, creepy crawlies, and standing ones go on much the same as they did during the thunder. I exhale, emptying my lungs to create space for new air to be inhaled- intermingling outer with inner- inner with outer. My heart opens and closes taking in deoxygenated blood and pumping out oxygenated blood to circulate to the outermost reaches of my flesh and back again. I will one day perish, as will all the creature beings, and all living things. Yet life will continue ‘in accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending.’
‘“What is in the middle abides always.” 2 Outer movement, supported within by devotion, is likewise such that it is capable of duration.” 3
Through surrender and turning one’s focus within, space is created for ’that which already is’- the mystery at the heart of existence- to be experienced by the human soul. In this way, it is possible to touch the untouchable- to know the unknowable- ever-present source of all.
“The Valley Spirit never dies. It is named the Mysterious Female. And the Doorway of the Mysterious Female Is the base from which Heaven and Earth Spring. It is there within us all the while; Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.”
Tao Te Ching 4
4 Waley, Tao Te Ching p 149
About the Author: Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ’Nourishing Change Through Connection’.