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Hexagram 32. Hêng/Duration

 

No trace remains of the warming rays of yesterday’s sun as I slowly wake to the chill of a dark grey morning. Weather changes, seasons change, and lives change in timeless rhythms of moving presence. I cozy up on my meditation cushion and light a candle- nursing a warm cup of tea between cold hands. Steam rises from the cup as I settle deeper down into myself. I open the I Ching or Book of Changes to 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!

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