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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

63: After Completion

After Completion

It is a fine irony that after the completion of a project or great enterprise, there is still much left to do. Completion is merely a pause in the cycle of creation and decay, a momentary still point for the swinging pendulum of life. Though completion implies a period of restful pause — one that has been well earned — it is not an actual ending, but a uniquely harmonious flat spot in the constancy of change and movement, like that still point between the inhalation and exhalation of one’s breath.

One image of After Completion is that of a kettle of water boiling over a fire. When the forces are balanced, the water boils properly; but if the pot is too full and boils over, it puts out the fire. On the other hand, if the fire is too hot for too long, it can evaporate all the water. In maintaining the equilibrium that follows the completion of an arduous task, forces at work in the situation must be monitored carefully to ensure that a proper balance is maintained. The state of After Completion is a time for fine-tuning, for refinements and embellishments of what has been accomplished.

Even as we enjoy a rewarding situation at the moment, the laws of the natural world dictate that influence and success must eventually decline. Don’t let current good fortune give rise to adopting an attitude that is too careless or relaxed. Whatever is successful, or already established, needs to be carefully maintained, without trying to expand it now. What is incomplete, on the other hand, should be brought to fruition without delay. Take satisfaction upon completion, enjoy a sense of fulfillment, but do not linger too long on endings.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

In the period following the completion of a major undertaking, the momentum of previous effort still exists, and there is a tendency to continue onward. Be careful at such moments, for once a project has reached its proper end point, continuation for its own sake can bring misfortune. Pressing ahead after completion can threaten to bring collapse to established success; even in this case, however, no real harm results if one’s demeanor has been correct.

Line 2

If a kind of stagnation has seeped into the current situation because of past success, your talents may now be hidden -- either by circumstance, or by the efforts of others who are in positions of power. When this happens, it is important not to try to attract attention to yourself through immodest behavior. Be patient. That which is rightfully yours in the end can never ultimately be denied.

Line 3

After the completion of a great enterprise, be wary of the urge to keep expanding. Allow victories some time to settle in, and approach new steps with the same determination and attention to detail that have sustained past efforts. If success has brought new responsibility into your life, try to delegate it properly by choosing people of talent and ability to work with you. This will not be an easy task, so gather your energies.

Line 4

During times of harmony and prosperity, certain small imperfections may still show themselves. While it is important not to overreact, the prudent will take decisive action to eliminate small problems before they are allowed to become big ones.

Line 5

In spiritual and religious matters, prosperity can breed pomp and ostentation. It is vital to remember that wealth is not a signal of divine favor. What is lacking in such a display is piety and respect for the Tao. Humankind sees what is manifest in the material world, but spirit notices what is held in the heart. In times of prosperity, it is vital to retain humility and preserve goodness of heart. Ornate religious displays devoid of true spirit are like gaudy, empty carriages rattling in the wind. Whether rich or poor, nothing is more important than sincerity, modesty and honesty in whatever is offered.

Line 6 (top line)

When one has scaled a dangerous cliff, there is a natural tendency to look back, and revel in the drama of having overcome it. But lingering may present a greater danger: what has been safely in the background (or in the past) may be gaining on you. Don’t look back. Whatever you have transcended is best left behind. Now is the time to focus on forward movement. Don’t hesitate, or allow yourself to be complacent or too self-congratulatory. If you pause right now, greater risks could quickly mount up. This is a time of opportunity, but one where seemingly stable circumstances conceal negative influences. A failure to move forward quickly now might cause you to fall back, perhaps into hazardous circumstances. To bask in admiration for yourself for how well you have done to achieve this position will only invite the old challenges back. Move on!