Friday, June 09, 2023
  I Ching (Book of Changes)  


1. Ch'ien / The Creative


above: CH'IEN


below: CH'IEN


The first hexagram is made up of six unbroken lines. These unbroken lines stand for the primal power, which is light-giving, active, strong, and of the spirit.

  • The hexagram is consistently strong in character, and since it is without weakness, its essence is power or energy. Its image is heaven.
  • Its energy is represented as unrestricted by any fixed conditions in space and is therefore conceived of as motion. Time is regarded as the basis of this motion.
  • Thus the hexagram includes also the power of time and the power of persisting in time, that is, duration.

The power represented by the hexagram is to be interpreted in a dual sense in terms of its action on the universe and of its action on the world of men.

  • In relation to the universe, the hexagram expresses the strong, creative action of the Deity.


1 The hexagram is assigned to the fourth month, May-June, when the light-giving power is at its zenith,
i.e., before the summer solstice has marked the beginning of the year's decline.
  • [The German text reads "April-May"; this is obviously a slip, for the first month of the Chinese lunar year
    extends approximately from the beginning of February to the beginning of March.
  • New Year is a variable date, falling around February 5. Two or three other slips of this sort occurring
    later in the book have been similarly corrected, but without special mention.]
  • In relation to the human world, it denotes the creative action of the holy man or sage, of the ruler or leader of men, who through his power awakens and develops their higher nature.1
  • THE CREATIVE works sublime success,


2 The German word used here is fördernd, literally rendered by "furthering."
  • It occurs again and again as a key word in Wilhelm's rendering of the Chinese text.
    To avoid extreme awkwardness, the phrase "is favorable" is occasionally used as an alternative.
  • Furthering2 through perseverance.

According to the original meaning, the attributes [sublimity, potentiality of success, power to further, perseverance] are paired.

  • When an individual draws this oracle, it means that success will come to him from the primal depths of the universe and that everything depends upon his seeking his happiness and that of others in one way only, that is, by perseverance in what is right.

The specific meanings of the four attributes became the subject of speculation at an early date.

  • The Chinese word here rendered by "sublime" means literally "head," "origin," "great."
  • This is why Confucius says in explaining it:


3 This quotation and those following are from commentary material on this hexagram appearing in bk. III.
  • It will be noted here, as well as in a number of other instances, that the wording of the passages is not identical in the two books.
  • Great indeed is the generating power of the Creative; all beings owe their beginning to it. This power permeates all heaven.3
  • For this attribute inheres in the other three as well.

The beginning of all things lies still in the beyond in the form of ideas that have yet to become real.

  • But the Creative furthermore has power to lend form to these archetypes of ideas.
  • This is indicated in the word success, and the process is represented by an image from nature:


4 Cf. Gen. 2:1 ff., where the development of the different creatures is also attributed to the fall of rain.
  • “The clouds pass and the rain does its work, and all individual beings flow into their forms.”4

Applied to the human world, these attributes show the great man the way to notable success:

  • “Because he sees with great clarity and cause and effects, he completes the six steps at the right time and mounts toward heaven on them at the right time, as though on six dragons.”
  • The six steps are the six different positions given in the hexagram, which are represented later by the dragon symbol.
  • Here it is shown that the way to success lies in apprehending and giving actuality to the way of the universe [Tao], which, as a law running through end and beginning, brings about all phenomena in time.
  • Thus each step attained forthwith becomes a preparation for the next. Time is no longer a hindrance but the means of making actual what is potential.

The act of creation having found expression in the two attributes sublimity and success, the work of conservation is shown to be a continuous actualization and differentiation of form. This is expressed in the two terms:

  • "Furthering" (literally, "creating that which accords with the nature of a given being") and
  • "Persevering" (literally, "correct and firm").
  • “The course of the Creative alters and shapes beings until each attains its true, specific nature, then it keeps them in conformity with the Great Harmony. Thus does it show itself to further through perseverance.”

In relation to the human sphere, this shows how the great man brings peace and security to the world through his activity in creating order:

  • “He towers high above the multitude of beings, and all lands are united in peace.”

Another line of speculation goes still further in separating the words "sublime," "success," "furthering," "perseverance," and parallels them with the four cardinal virtues in humanity.

  • To sublimity, which, as the fundamental principle, embraces all the other attributes, it links love.


5 "Mores" is the word chosen to render the German word Sitte, when the latter refers, as in the present instance, to what the Chinese know as li.
  • However, neither "mores" nor any other available English word, such as "manners" or "customs," conveys an adequate idea of what li stood for in ancient China, because none of them necessarily denotes anything more than behavior growing out of and regulated by tradition.
  • The ideas for which li stands seem to have had their origin in a religious attitude to life and in ethical principles developing out of that attitude.
  • On the religious side li meant the observance 'with true piety of the ritual through which the "will of heaven" was interpreted and made to prevail on earth.

On the moral side it meant the sense of propriety — understood to be innate in man — that, through training, makes possible right relationships in personal life and in society.

  • Li was the cornerstone upon which Confucius built in his effort to bring order out of chaos in his era (see The Sacred Books of the East, XXVII: The Li Ki.
  • Obedience to the code of li was entirely self-imposed as regards the "superior man," who in feudal times was always a man of rank.
  • The conduct of the inferior man — the lower-class individual — was governed by law
  • To the attribute success are linked the mores,5 which regulate and organize expressions of love and thereby make them successful.
  • The attribute furthering is correlated with justice, which creates the conditions in which each receives that which accords with his being, that which is due him and which constitutes his happiness.
  • The attribute perseverance is correlated with wisdom, which discerns the immutable laws of all that happens and can therefore bring about enduring conditions.


6 See page 259. The text of the Wen Yen (Commentary on the Words of the Text) appears in bk. III

These speculations, already broached in the commentary called Wên Yen,6 later formed the bridge connecting the philosophy of the "five stages (elements) of change," as laid down in the Book of History (Shu Ching) with the philosophy of the Book of Changes, which is based solely on the polarity of positive and negative principles. In the course of time this combination of the two systems of thought opened the way for an increasingly intricate number symbolism.7


7 The Creative causes the beginning and begetting of all beings, and can therefore be designated as heaven, radiant energy, father, ruler.
  • It is a question whether the Chinese personified the Creative, as the Greeks conceived it in Zeus.
  • The answer is that this problem is not the main one for the Chinese.
  • The divine-creative principle is suprapersonal and makes itself perceptible only through its all-powerful activity.
  • It has, to be sure, an external aspect, which is heaven, and heaven, like all that lives, has a spiritual consciousness, God, the Supreme Ruler.
    But all this is summed up as the Creative.
  • The movement of heaven is full of power.
  • Thus the superior man makes himself strong and untiring.

Since there is only one heaven, the doubling of the trigram Ch'ien, of which heaven is the image, indicates the movement of heaven.

  • One complete revolution of heaven makes a day, and the repetition of the trigram means that each day is followed by another. This creates the idea of time.
  • Since it is the same heaven moving with untiring power, there is also created the idea of duration both in and beyond time, a movement that never stops nor slackens, just as one day follows another in an unending course.
  • This duration in time is the image of the power inherent in the Creative.

With this image as a model, the sage learns how best to develop himself so that his influence may endure.

  • He must make himself strong in every way, by consciously casting out all that is inferior and degrading.
  • Thus he attains that tirelessness which depends upon consciously limiting the fields of his activity.


8 The lines are counted from the bottom up, i.e., the lowest is taken as the first.
  • If the person consulting the oracle draws a seven, this is important in relation to the structure of the hexagram as a whole, because it is a strong line, but inasmuch as it does not move [change] it has no meaning as an individual line.
  • On the other hand, if the questioner draws a nine, the line is a moving one, and a special meaning is attached to it; this must be considered separately.
  • The same principle applies in respect to all the other strong lines [and also as regards moving and nonmoving weak lines, i.e., sixes and eights].
  • The two lowest lines in each hexagram stand for the earth, the two in the middle for the world of man, and the upper two for heaven.
  • Further details as to the meaning of the nines and sixes are given on page 722.
    (I. On Consulting the Oracle – 1. THE YARROW-STALK ORACLE)
  • Nine at the beginning8 means:
  • Hidden dragon. Do not act.

In China the dragon has a meaning altogether different from that given it in the Western world.

  • The dragon is a symbol of the electrically charged, dynamic, arousing force that manifests itself in the thunderstorm.
  • In winter this energy withdraws into the earth; in the early summer it becomes active again, appearing in the sky as thunder and lightning.
  • As a result the creative forces on earth begin to stir again.

Here this creative force is still hidden beneath the earth and therefore has no effect.

  • In terms of human affairs, this symbolizes a great man who is still unrecognized.
  • Nonetheless he remains true to himself. He does not allow himself to be influenced by outward success or failure, but confident in his strength, he bides his time.
  • Hence it is wise for the man who consults the oracle and draws this line to wait in the calm strength of patience. The time will fulfill itself.
  • One need not fear lest strong will should not prevail; the main thing is not to expend one's powers prematurely in an attempt to obtain by force something for which the time is not yet ripe.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • Dragon appearing in the field.
  • It furthers one to see the great man.

Here the effects of the light-giving power begin to manifest themselves.

  • In terms of human affairs, this means that the great man makes his appearance in his chosen field of activity.
  • As yet he has no commanding position but is still with his peers.

However, what distinguishes him from the others is his seriousness of purpose, his unqualified reliability, and the influence he exerts on his environment without conscious effort.

  • Such a man is destined to gain great influence and to set the world in order. Therefore it is favorable to see him.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • All day long the superior man is creatively active.
  • At nightfall his mind is still beset with cares.
  • Danger. No blame.


9 The upper trigram is considered to be "outside," the lower "inside" (see page 357).
  • This distinction underlies the constant juxtaposition, to be observed throughout bks. I and III, of inner mental states and external actions or events, of subjective and objective experiences.
  • From this also arise the frequent comparisons between ability and position, form and content, outer adornment and inner worth.

A sphere of influence opens up for the great man. His fame begins to spread. The masses flock to him. His inner power is adequate to the increased outer activity.9

  • There are all sorts of things to be done, and when others are at rest in the evening, plans and anxieties press in upon him.
  • But danger lurks here at the place of transition from lowliness to the heights.
  • Many a great man has been ruined because the masses flocked to him and swept him into their course. Ambition has destroyed his integrity.

However, true greatness is not impaired by temptations. He who remains in touch with the time that is dawning, and with its demands, is prudent enough to avoid all pitfalls, and remains blameless.

  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • Wavering flight over the depths.
  • No blame.

A place of transition has been reached, and free choice can enter in. A twofold possibility is presented to the great man:

  • He can soar to the heights and play an important part in the world, or
  • He can withdraw into solitude and develop himself.
  • He can go the way of the hero or that of the holy sage who seeks seclusion.

There is no general law to say which of the two is the right way.

  • Each one in this situation must make a free choice according to the inner law of his being.
  • If the individual acts consistently and is true to himself, he will find the way that is appropriate for him.
  • This way is right for him and without blame.


10 The circle [Ο - positioned to the left] indicates that this line is a governing ruler of the hexagram.
  • Constituting rulers are marked by a square .
  • For explanation of governing and constituting rulers, see page 364.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place10 means:
  • Flying dragon in the heavens.
  • It furthers one to see the great man.

Here the great man has attained the sphere of the heavenly beings.

  • His influence spreads and becomes visible throughout the whole world.
  • Everyone who sees him may count himself blessed.

Confucius says about this line:

Things that accord in tone vibrate together. Things that have affinity in their inmost natures seek one another. Water flows to what is wet, fire turns to what is dry. Clouds (the breath of heaven) follow the dragon, wind (the breath of earth) follows the tiger. Thus the sage arises, and all creatures follow him with their eyes. What is born of heaven feels related to what is above. What is born of earth feels related to what is below. Each follows its kind.

  • Nine at the top means:
  • Arrogant dragon will have cause to repent.

When a man seeks to climb so high that he loses touch with the rest of mankind, he becomes isolated, and this necessarily leads to failure.

  • This line warns against titanic aspirations that exceed one's power. A precipitous fall would follow.
    • When all the lines are nines, it means:
    • There appears a flight of dragons without heads.
    • Good fortune.

When all the lines are nines, it means that the whole hexagram is in motion and changes into the hexagram K'un, THE RECEPTIVE, whose character is devotion.

    • The strength of the Creative and the mildness of the Receptive unite.
    • Strength is indicated by the flight of dragons, mildness by the fact that their heads are hidden.
    • This means that mildness in action joined to strength of decision brings good fortune.


2. K'un / The Receptive


above: K'UN


below: K'UN


This hexagram is made up of broken lines only. The broken line represents the dark, yielding, receptive primal power of yin.

  • The attribute of the hexagram is devotion; its image is the earth.


1 [Hexagrams that are opposites in structure are not necessarily opposites in meaning.]
  • It is the perfect complement of THE CREATIVE – the complement, not the opposite,1 for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it.
  • It represents nature in contrast to spirit, earth in contrast to heaven, space as against time, the female-maternal as against the male-paternal.
  • However, as applied to human affairs, the principle of this complementary relationship is found not only in the relation between man and woman, but also in that between prince and minister and between father and son.
  • Indeed, even in the individual this duality appears in the coexistence of the spiritual world and the world of the senses.

But strictly speaking there is no real dualism here, because there is a clearly defined hierarchic relationship between the two principles.

  • In itself of course the Receptive is just as important as the Creative, but the attribute of devotion defines the place occupied by this primal power in relation to the Creative.
  • For the Receptive must be activated and led by the Creative; then it is productive of good.
  • Only when it abandons this position and tries to stand as an equal side by side with the Creative, does it become evil. The result then is opposition to and struggle against the Creative, which is productive of evil to both.
  • THE RECEPTIVE brings about sublime success,
  • Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
  • If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead,
  • He goes astray;
  • But if he follows, he finds guidance.
  • It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,
  • To forego friends in the east and north.
  • Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.

The four fundamental aspects of the Creative — "sublime success, furthering through perseverance" — are also attributed to the Receptive.

  • Here, however, the perseverance is more closely defined: it is that of a mare.
  • The Receptive connotes spatial reality in contrast to the spiritual potentiality of the Creative.
  • The potential becomes real and the spiritual becomes spatial through a specifically qualifying definition.

Thus the qualification, "of a mare," is here added to the idea of perseverance.

  • The horse belongs to earth just as the dragon belongs to heaven.
  • Its tireless roaming over the plains is taken as a symbol of the vast expanse of the earth.
  • This is the symbol chosen because the mare combines the strength and swiftness of the horse with the gentleness and devotion of the cow.

Only because nature in its myriad forms corresponds with the myriad impulses of the Creative can it make these impulses real.

  • Nature's richness lies in its power to nourish all living things;
  • Its greatness lies in its power to give them beauty and splendor.
  • Thus it prospers all that lives.
  • It is the Creative that begets things, but they are brought to birth by the Receptive.

Applied to human affairs, therefore, what the hexagram indicates is action in conformity with the situation.

  • The person in question is not in an independent position, but is acting as an assistant.
  • This means that he must achieve something. It is not his task to try to lead — that would only make him lose the way — but to let himself be led.
  • If he knows how to meet fate with an attitude of acceptance, he is sure to find the right guidance.
  • The superior man lets himself be guided; he does not go ahead blindly, but learns from the situation what is demanded of him and then follows this intimation from fate.

Since there is something to be accomplished, we need friends and helpers in the hour of toil and effort, once the ideas to be realized are firmly set.

  • The time of toil and effort is indicated by the west and the south, for west and south symbolize the place where the Receptive works for the Creative, as nature does in summer and autumn.
  • If in that situation one does not mobilize all one's powers, the work to be accomplished will not be done.
  • Hence to find friends there means to find guidance.

But in addition to the time of toil and effort, there is also a time of planning, and for this we need solitude.

  • The east symbolizes the place where a man receives orders from his master, and the north the place where he reports on what he has done.
  • At that time he must be alone and objective.
  • In this sacred hour he must do without companions, so that the purity of the moment may not be spoiled by factional hates and favoritism.
  • The earth's condition is receptive devotion.
  • Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
  • Carries the outer world.

Just as there is only one heaven, so too there is only one earth.

  • In the hexagram of heaven the doubling of the trigram implies duration in time,
  • But in the hexagram of earth the doubling connotes the solidity and extension in space by virtue of which the earth is able to carry and preserve all things that live and move upon it.

The earth in its devotion carries all things, good and evil, without exception.

  • In the same way the superior man gives to his character breadth, purity, and sustaining power, so that he is able both to support and to bear with people and things.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • When there is hoarfrost underfoot,
  • Solid ice is not far off.

Just as the light-giving power represents life, so the dark power, the shadowy, represents death.

  • When the first hoarfrost comes in the autumn, the power of darkness and cold is just at its beginning.
  • After these first warnings, signs of death will gradually multiply, until, in obedience to immutable laws, stark winter with its ice is here.

In life it is the same. After certain scarcely noticeable signs of decay have appeared, they go on increasing until final dissolution comes.

  • But in life precautions can be taken by heeding the first signs of decay and checking them in time.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the second place means:
  • Straight, square, great.
  • Without purpose,
  • Yet nothing remains unfurthered.

The symbol of heaven is the circle, and that of earth is the square.

  • Thus squareness is a primary quality of the earth.
  • On the other hand, movement in a straight line, as well as magnitude, is a primary quality of the Creative.
  • But all square things have their origin in a straight line and in turn form solid bodies.

In mathematics, when we discriminate between lines, planes, and solids, we find that rectangular planes result from straight lines, and cubic magnitudes from rectangular planes.

  • The Receptive accommodates itself to the qualities of the Creative and makes them its own.
    Thus a square develops out of a straight line and a cube out of a square.
  • This is compliance with the laws of the Creative; nothing is taken away, nothing added.
  • Therefore the Receptive has no need of a special purpose of its own, nor of any effort; yet everything turns out as it should.

Nature creates all beings without erring: this is its straightness.

  • It is calm and still: this is its foursquareness.
  • It tolerates all creatures equally: this is its greatness.
  • Therefore it attains what is right for all without artifice or special intentions.
  • Man achieves the height of wisdom when all that he does is as self-evident as what nature does.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Hidden lines.
  • One is able to remain persevering.
  • If by chance you are in the service of a king,
  • Seek not works, but bring to completion.

If a man is free of vanity he is able to conceal his abilities and keep them from attracting attention too soon; thus he can mature undisturbed.

  • If conditions demand it, he can also enter public life, but that too he does with restraint.
  • The wise man gladly leaves fame to others.
  • He does not seek to have credited to himself things that stand accomplished, but hopes to release active forces;
  • That is, he completes his works in such a manner that they may bear fruit for the future.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • A tied-up sack. No blame, no praise.


2 See page 301, sec. 2.

The dark element opens when it moves and closes when at rest.2

  • The strictest reticence is indicated here.
  • The time is dangerous, because any degree of prominence leads either to the enmity of irresistible antagonists if one challenges them or to misconceived recognition if one is complaisant.
  • Therefore a man ought to maintain reserve, be it in solitude or in the turmoil of the world, for there too he can hide himself so well that no one knows him.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • A yellow lower garment brings supreme good fortune.

Yellow is the color of the earth and of the middle; it is the symbol of that which is reliable and genuine.

  • The lower garment is inconspicuously decorated — the symbol of aristocratic reserve.
  • When anyone is called upon to work in a prominent but not independent position, true success depends on the utmost discretion.
  • A man's genuineness and refinement should not reveal themselves directly; they should express themselves only indirectly as an effect from within.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Dragons fight in the meadow.
  • Their blood is black and yellow.

In the top place the dark element should yield to the light.

  • If it attempts to maintain a position to which it is not entitled and to rule instead of serving, it draws down upon itself the anger of the strong.
  • A struggle ensues in which it is overthrown, with injury, however, to both sides.
  • The dragon, symbol of heaven, comes to fight the false dragon that symbolizes the inflation of the earth principle.
  • Midnight blue is the color of heaven; yellow is the color of the earth.


3 While the top line of THE CREATIVE indicates titanic pride and forms a parallel to the Greek legend of Icarus, the top line of THE RECEPTIVE presents a parallel to the myth of Lucifer's rebellion against God, or to the battle between the powers of darkness and the gods of Valhalla, which ended with the Twilight of the Gods.
  • Therefore, when black and yellow blood flow, it is a sign that in this unnatural contest both primal powers suffer injury.3
    • When all the lines are sixes, it means:
    • Lasting perseverance furthers.

When nothing but sixes appears, the hexagram of THE RECEPTIVE changes into the hexagram of THE CREATIVE.

    • By holding fast to what is right, it gains the power of enduring.
    • There is indeed no advance, but neither is there retrogression.


3. Chun / Difficulty at the Beginning


above: K'AN


below: CHÊN


The name of the hexagram, Chun, really connotes a blade of grass pushing against an obstacle as it sprouts out of the earth — hence the meaning, "difficulty at the beginning."

  • The hexagram indicates the way in which heaven and earth bring forth individual beings.
  • It is their first meeting, which is beset with difficulties.

The lower trigram Chen is the Arousing; its motion is upward and its image is thunder.

The upper trigram K'an stands for the Abysmal, the dangerous. Its motion is downward and its image is rain.

The situation points to teeming, chaotic profusion; thunder and rain fill the air. But the chaos clears up.

  • While the Abysmal sinks, the upward movement eventually passes beyond the danger.
  • A thunderstorm brings release from tension, and all things breathe freely again.
  • Difficulty at the Beginning works supreme success,
  • Furthering through perseverance.
  • Nothing should be undertaken.
  • It furthers one to appoint helpers.

Times of growth are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth.

  • But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to attain form.
  • Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger.

When it is a man's fate to undertake such new beginnings, everything is still unformed, dark.

  • Hence he must hold back, because any premature move might bring disaster.
  • Likewise, it is very important not to remain alone; in order to overcome the chaos he needs helpers.
  • This is not to say, however, that he himself should look on passively at what is happening. He must lend his hand and participate with inspiration and guidance.
  • Clouds and thunder:
  • The image of Difficulty at the Beginning.
  • Thus the superior man
  • Brings order out of confusion.

Clouds and thunder are represented by definite decorative lines; this means that in the chaos of difficulty at the beginning, order is already implicit.

  • So too the superior man has to arrange and organize the inchoate profusion of such times of beginning, just as one sorts out silk threads from a knotted tangle and binds them into skeins.
  • In order to find one's place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the beginning means:
  • Hesitation and hindrance.
  • It furthers one to remain persevering.
  • It furthers one to appoint helpers.

If a person encounters a hindrance at the beginning of an enterprise, he must not try to force advance but must pause and take thought.

  • However, nothing should put him off his course; he must persevere and constantly keep the goal in sight.
  • It is important to seek out the right assistants, but he can find them only if he avoids arrogance and associates with his fellows in a spirit of humility.
  • Only then will he attract those with whose help he can combat the difficulties.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Difficulties pile up.
  • Horse and wagon part.
  • He is not a robber;
  • He wants to woo when the time comes.
  • The maiden is chaste,
  • She does not pledge herself.
  • Ten years-then she pledges herself.

We find ourselves beset by difficulties and hindrances.

  • Suddenly there is a turn of affairs, as if someone were coming up with a horse and wagon and unhitching them.
  • This event comes so unexpectedly that we assume the newcomer to be a robber.
  • Gradually it becomes clear that he has no evil intentions but seeks to be friendly and to offer help.
  • But this offer is not to be accepted, because it does not come from the right quarter.
  • We must wait until the time is fulfilled; ten years is a fulfilled cycle of time. Then normal conditions return of themselves, and we can join forces with the friend intended for us.

Using the image of a betrothed girl who remains true to her lover in face of grave conflicts, the hexagram gives counsel for a special situation.

  • When in times of difficulty a hindrance is encountered and unexpected relief is offered from a source unrelated to us, we must be careful and not take upon ourselves any obligations entailed by such help; otherwise our freedom of decision is impaired.


1 A different translation is possible here, which would result in a different interpretation:
     Difficulties pile up.
     Horse and wagon turn about.
     If the robber were not there,
     The wooer would come.
     The maiden is faithful, she does not pledge herself.
     Ten years-then she pledges herself.
  • If we bide our time, things will quiet down again, and we shall attain what we have hoped for.1
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Whoever hunts deer without the forester
  • Only loses his way in the forest.
  • The superior man understands the signs of the time
  • And prefers to desist.
  • To go on brings humiliation.

If a man tries to hunt in a strange forest and has no guide, he loses his way. When he finds himself in difficulties he must not try to steal out of them unthinkingly and without guidance.

  • Fate cannot be duped; premature effort, without the necessary guidance, ends in failure and disgrace.
  • Therefore the superior man, discerning the seeds of coming events, prefers to renounce a wish rather than to provoke failure and humiliation by trying to force its fulfillment.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Horse and wagon part.
  • Strive for union.
  • To go brings good fortune.
  • Everything acts to further.

We are in a situation in which it is our duty to act, but we lack sufficient power. However, an opportunity to make connections offers itself.

  • It must be seized. Neither false pride nor false reserve should deter us.
  • Bringing oneself to take the first step, even when it involves a certain degree of self-abnegation, is a sign of inner clarity.
  • To accept help in a difficult situation is not a disgrace. If the right helper is found, all goes well.
  • Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Difficulties in blessing.
  • A little perseverance brings good fortune.
  • Great perseverance brings misfortune.

An individual is in a position in which he cannot so express his good intentions that they will actually take shape and be understood.

  • Other people interpose and distort everything he does.
  • He should then be cautious and proceed step by step.
  • He must not try to force the consummation of a great undertaking, because success is possible only when general confidence already prevails.
  • It is only through faithful and conscientious work, unobtrusively carried on, that the situation gradually clears up and the hindrance disappears.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Horse and wagon part.
  • Bloody tears flow.

The difficulties at the beginning are too great for some persons.

  • They get stuck and never find their way out; they fold their hands and give up the struggle.
  • Such resignation is the saddest of all things.

Therefore Confucius says of this line:

Bloody tears flow: one should not persist in this.


4. Mêng / Youthful Folly


above: KÊN


below: K'AN



1 "Fool" and "folly" as used in this hexagram should be understood to mean the immaturity of youth
and its consequent lack of wisdom, rather than mere stupidity.
     ■ Parsifal is known as the "pure fool" not because he was dull-witted but because he was inexperienced.

In this hexagram we are reminded of youth and folly1 in two different ways.

  • The image of the upper trigram, Ken, is the mountain,
  • That of the lower, K'an, is water;

The spring rising at the foot of the mountain is the image of inexperienced youth.

  • Keeping still is the attribute of the upper trigram; that of the lower is the abyss, danger.
  • Stopping in perplexity on the brink of a dangerous abyss is a symbol of the folly of youth.

However, the two trigrams also show the way of overcoming the follies of youth.

  • Water is something that of necessity flows on.
  • When the spring gushes forth, it does not know at first where it will go.
  • But its steady flow fills up the deep place blocking its progress, and success is attained.
  • YOUTHFUL FOLLY has success.
  • It is not I who seek the young fool;
  • The young fool seeks me.
  • At the first oracle I inform him.
  • If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.
  • If he importunes, I give him no information.
  • Perseverance furthers.

In the time of youth, folly is not an evil. One may succeed in spite of it, provided one finds an experienced teacher and has the right attitude toward him.

  • This means, first of all, that the youth himself must be conscious of his lack of experience and must seek out the teacher.
  • Without this modesty and this interest there is no guarantee that he has the necessary receptivity, which should express itself in respectful acceptance of the teacher.
  • This is the reason why the teacher must wait to be sought out instead of offering himself.
  • Only thus can the instruction take place at the right time and in the right way.

A teacher's answer to the question of a pupil ought to be clear and definite like that expected from an oracle; thereupon it ought to be accepted as a key for resolution of doubts and a basis for decision.

  • If mistrustful or unintelligent questioning is kept up, it serves only to annoy the teacher.
  • He does well to ignore it in silence, just as the oracle gives one answer only and refuses to be tempted by questions implying doubt.

Given in addition a perseverance that never slackens until the points are mastered one by one, real success is sure to follow. Thus the hexagram counsels the teacher as well as the pupil.

  • A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
  • The image Of YOUTH.
  • Thus the superior man fosters his character
  • By thoroughness in all that he does.

A spring succeeds in flowing on and escapes stagnation by filling up all the hollow places in its path.

  • In the same way character is developed by thoroughness that skips nothing but, like water, gradually and steadily fills up all gaps and so flows onward.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • To make a fool develop
  • It furthers one to apply discipline.
  • The fetters should be removed.
  • To go on in this way brings humiliation.

Law is the beginning of education. Youth in its inexperience is inclined at first to take everything carelessly and playfully.

  • It must be shown the seriousness of life.
  • A certain measure of taking oneself in hand, brought about by strict discipline, is a good thing.
  • He who plays with life never amounts to anything.
  • However, discipline should not degenerate into drill. Continuous drill has a humiliating effect and cripples a man's powers.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the second place means:
  • To bear with fools in kindliness brings good fortune.
  • To know how to take women
  • Brings good fortune.
  • The son is capable of taking charge of the household.

hese lines picture a man who has no external power, but who has enough strength of mind to bear his burden of responsibility.

  • He has the inner superiority and strength that enable him to tolerate with kindliness the shortcomings of human folly.
  • The same attitude is owed to women as the weaker sex. One must understand them and give them recognition in a spirit of chivalrous consideration.
  • Only this combination of inner strength with outer reserve enables one to take on the responsibility of directing a larger social body with real success.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Take not a maiden who, when she sees a man of bronze,
  • Loses possession of herself.
  • Nothing furthers.

A weak, inexperienced man, struggling to rise, easily loses his own individuality when he slavishly imitates a strong personality of higher station.

  • He is like a girl throwing herself away when she meets a strong man.
  • Such a servile approach should not be encouraged, because it is bad both for the youth and the teacher.
  • A girl owes it to her dignity to wait until she is wooed.
  • In both cases it is undignified to offer oneself, and no good comes of accepting such an offer.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Entangled folly brings humiliation.

For youthful folly it is the most hopeless thing to entangle itself in empty imaginings.

  • The more obstinately it clings to such unreal fantasies, the more certainly will humiliation overtake it.
  • Often the teacher, when confronted with such entangled folly, has no other course but to leave the fool to himself for a time, not sparing him the humiliation that results.
  • This is frequently the only means of rescue.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • Childlike folly brings good fortune.

An inexperienced person who seeks instruction in a childlike and unassuming way is on the right path, for the man devoid of arrogance who subordinates himself to his teacher will certainly be helped.

  • Nine at the top means:
  • In punishing folly
  • It does not further one
  • To commit transgressions.
  • The only thing that furthers
  • Is to prevent transgressions.

Sometimes an incorrigible fool must be punished. He who will not heed will be made to feel.

  • This punishment is quite different from a preliminary shaking up.
  • But the penalty should not be imposed in anger; it must be restricted to an objective guarding against unjustified excesses.
  • Punishment is never an end in itself but serves merely to restore order.

This applies not only in regard to education but also in regard to the measures taken by a government against a populace guilty of transgressions.

  • Governmental interference should always be merely preventive and should have as its sole aim the establishment of public security and peace.


5. Hsü / Waiting (Nourishment)


above: K'AN


below: CH'IEN



1 In the German translation, this secondary name does not appear in bk. I. See page 410.

All beings have need of nourishment1 from above. But the gift of food comes in its own time, and for this one must wait.

  • This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows and to provide mankind with food and drink.
  • The rain will come in its own time. We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it.


2 The upper trigram is considered to be in front of the lower. See page 357.
  • The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams — strength within, danger in front.2

Strength in the face of danger does not plunge ahead but bides its time,

  • Whereas weakness in the face of danger grows agitated and has not the patience to wait.
  • WAITING. If you are sincere,
  • You have light and success.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.
  • It furthers one to cross the great water.

Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal.

  • Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success.
  • This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water.

One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing.

  • Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself].
  • It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.

This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action.

  • For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it adequately.
  • Then he will be able to cross the great water — that is to say, he will be capable of making the necessary decision and of surmounting the danger.
  • Clouds rise up to heaven:
  • The image of WAITING.
  • Thus the superior man eats and drinks,
  • Is joyous and of good cheer.

When clouds rise in the sky, it is a sign that it will rain. There is nothing to do but to wait until the rain falls.

  • It is the same in life when destiny is at work. We should not worry and seek to shape the future by interfering in things before the time is ripe.
  • We should quietly fortify the body with food and drink and the mind with gladness and good cheer.
  • Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • Waiting in the meadow.
  • It furthers one to abide in what endures.
  • No blame.

The danger is not yet close. One is still waiting on the open plain.

  • Conditions are still simple, yet there is a feeling of something impending.
  • One must continue to lead a regular life as long as possible.
  • Only in this way does one guard against a premature waste of strength, keep free of blame and error that would become a source of weakness later on.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • Waiting on the sand.
  • There is some gossip.
  • The end brings good fortune.

The danger gradually comes closer. Sand is near the bank of the river, and the water means danger. Disagreements crop up.

  • General unrest can easily develop in such times, and we lay the blame on one another.
  • He who stays calm will succeed in making things go well in the end.
  • Slander will be silenced if we do not gratify it with injured retorts.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • Waiting in the mud
  • Brings about the arrival of the enemy.

Mud is no place for waiting, since it is already being washed by the water of the stream.

  • Instead of having gathered strength to cross the stream at one try, one has made a premature start that has got him no farther than the muddy bank.

Such an unfavorable position invites enemies from without, who naturally take advantage of it.

  • Caution and a sense of the seriousness of the situation are all that can keep one from injury.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Waiting in blood.
  • Get out of the pit.

The situation is extremely dangerous. It is of utmost gravity now — a matter of life and death. Bloodshed seems imminent.

  • There is no going forward or backward; we are cut off as if in a pit.
  • Now we must simply stand fast and let fate take its course.
  • This composure, which keeps us from aggravating the trouble by anything we might do, is the only way of getting out of the dangerous pit.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Waiting at meat and drink.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

Even in the midst of danger there come intervals of peace when things go relatively well.

  • If we possess enough inner strength, we shall take advantage of these intervals to fortify ourselves for renewed struggle.
  • We must know how to enjoy the moment without being deflected from the goal, for perseverance is needed to remain victorious.

This is true in public life as well; it is not possible to achieve everything all at once.

  • The height of wisdom is to allow people enough recreation to quicken pleasure in their work until the task is completed. Herein lies the secret of the whole hexagram.
  • It differs from Chien, OBSTRUCfION (39), in the fact that in this instance, while waiting, we are sure of our cause and therefore do not lose the serenity born of inner cheerfulness.
  • Six at the top means:
  • One falls into the pit.
  • Three uninvited guests arrive.
  • Honor them, and in the end there will be good fortune.

The waiting is over; the danger can no longer be averted. One falls into the pit and must yield to the inevitable. Everything seems to have been in vain.

  • But precisely in this extremity things take an unforeseen turn.
  • Without a move on one's own part, there is outside intervention.

At first one cannot be sure of its meaning: is it rescue or is it destruction?

  • A person in this situation must keep his mind alert and not withdraw into himself with a sulky gesture of refusal, but must greet the new turn with respect.
  • Thus he ultimately escapes the danger, and all goes well. Even happy turns of fortune often come in a form that at first seems strange to us.


6. Sung / Conflict


above: CH'IEN


below: K'AN


The upper trigram, whose image is heaven, has an upward movement;
The lower trigram, water, in accordance with its nature, tends downward.

  • Thus the two halves move away from each other, giving rise to the idea of conflict.

The attribute of the Creative is strength, that of the Abysmal is danger, guile.

  • Where cunning has force before it, there is conflict.

A third indication of conflict, in terms of character, is presented by the combination of deep cunning within and fixed determination outwardly.

  • A person of this character will certainly be quarrelsome.
  • CONFLICT. You are sincere
  • And are being obstructed.
  • A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
  • Going through to the end brings misfortune.
  • It furthers one to see the great man.
  • It does not further one to cross the great water.

Conflict develops when one feels himself to be in the right and runs into opposition.

  • If one is not convinced of being in the right, opposition leads to craftiness or high-handed encroachment but not to open conflict.

If a man is entangled in a conflict, his only salvation lies in being so clear-headed and inwardly strong that he is always ready to come to terms by meeting the opponent halfway.

  • To carry on the conflict to the bitter end has evil effects even when one is in the right, because the enmity is then perpetuated.
  • It is important to see the great man, that is, an impartial man whose authority is great enough to terminate the conflict amicably or assure a just decision.
  • In times of strife, crossing the great water is to be avoided, that is, dangerous enterprises are not to be begun, because in order to be successful they require concerted unity of forces.
  • Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.
  • Heaven and water go their opposite ways:
  • The image of CONFLICT.
  • Thus in all his transactions the superior man
  • Carefully considers the beginning.

The image indicates that the causes of conflict are latent in the opposing tendencies of the two trigrams. Once these opposing tendencies appear, conflict is inevitable.

  • To avoid it, therefore, everything must be taken carefully into consideration in the very beginning.
  • If rights and duties are exactly defined, or if, in a group, the spiritual trends of the individuals harmonize, the cause of conflict is removed in advance.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • If one does not perpetuate the affair,
  • There is a little gossip.
  • In the end, good fortune comes.

While a conflict is in the incipient stage, the best thing to do is to drop the issue.

  • Especially when the adversary is stronger, it is not advisable to risk pushing the conflict to a decision.
  • It may come to a slight dispute, but in the end all goes well.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • One cannot engage in conflict;
  • One returns home, gives way.
  • The people of his town,
  • Three hundred households,
  • Remain free of guilt.

In a struggle with an enemy of superior strength, retreat is no disgrace. Timely withdrawal prevents bad consequences.

  • If, out of a false sense of honor, a man allowed himself to be tempted into an unequal conflict, he would be drawing down disaster upon himself.
  • In such a case a wise and conciliatory attitude benefits the whole community, which will then not be drawn into the conflict.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.
  • Danger. In the end, good fortune comes.
  • If by chance you are in the service of a king,
  • Seek not works.

This is a warning of the danger that goes with an expansive disposition.

  • Only that which has been honestly acquired through merit remains a permanent possession.
  • It can happen that such a possession may be contested, but since it is really one's own, one cannot be robbed of it.
  • Whatever a man possesses through the strength of his own nature cannot be lost.

If one enters the service of a superior, one can avoid conflict only by not seeking works for the sake of prestige.

  • It is enough if the work is done: let the honor go to the other.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • One cannot engage in conflict.
  • One turns back and submits to fate,
  • Changes one's attitude,
  • And finds peace in perseverance.
  • Good fortune.

This refers to a person whose inner attitude at first lacks peace. He does not feel content with his situation and would like to improve it through conflict.

  • In contrast to the situation of the nine in the second place, he is dealing with a weaker opponent and might therefore succeed.
  • But he cannot carry on the fight, because, since right is not on his side, he cannot justify the conflict to his conscience.
  • Therefore he turns back and accepts his fate.
  • He changes his mind and finds lasting peace in being at one with eternal law. This brings good fortune.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • To contend before him
  • Brings supreme good fortune.

This refers to an arbiter in a conflict who is powerful and just, and strong enough to lend weight to the right side.

  • A dispute can be turned over to him with confidence. If one is in the right, one attains great good fortune.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • Even if by chance a leather belt is bestowed on one,
  • By the end of a morning
  • It will have been snatched away three times.

Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed.

  • He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last.
  • He is attacked again and again, and the result is conflict without end.


7. Shih / The Army


above: K'UN


below: K'AN


This hexagram is made up of the trigrams K'an, water, and K'un, earth, and thus it symbolizes the ground water stored up in the earth.

  • In the same way military strength is stored up in the mass of the people — invisible in times of peace but always ready for use as a source of power.

The attributes of the two trigrams are danger inside and obedience outside.

  • This points to the nature of an army, which at the core is dangerous, while discipline and obedience must prevail outside.

Of the individual lines, the one that controls the hexagram is the strong nine in the second place, to which the other lines, all yielding, are subordinate.

  • This line indicates a commander, because it stands in the middle of one of the two trigrams.
  • But since it is in the lower rather than the upper trigram, it represents not the ruler but the efficient general, who maintains obedience in the army by his authority.
  • THE ARMY. The army needs perseverance
  • And a strong man.
  • Good fortune without blame.

An army is a mass that needs organization in order to become a fighting force.

  • Without strict discipline nothing can be accomplished, but this discipline must not be achieved by force.

It requires a strong man who captures the hearts of the people and awakens their enthusiasm.

  • In order that he may develop his abilities he needs the complete confidence of his ruler, who must entrust him with full responsibility as long as the war lasts.

But war is always a dangerous thing and brings with it destruction and devastation.

  • Therefore it should not be resorted to rashly but, like a poisonous drug, should be used as a last recourse.

The justifying cause of a war, and clear and intelligible war aims, ought to be explained to the people by an experienced leader.

  • Unless there is a quite definite war aim to which the people can consciously pledge themselves, the unity and strength of conviction that lead to victory will not be forthcoming.
  • But the leader must also look to it that the passion of war and the delirium of victory do not give rise to unjust acts that will not meet with general approval.
  • If justice and perseverance are the basis of action, all goes well.
  • In the middle of the earth is water:
  • The image of THE ARMY.
  • Thus the superior man increases his masses
  • By generosity toward the people.

Ground water is invisibly present within the earth. In the same way the military power of a people is invisibly present in the masses.

  • When danger threatens, every peasant becomes a soldier; when the war ends, he goes back to his plow.

He who is generous toward the people wins their love, and a people living under a mild rule becomes strong and powerful. Only a people economically strong can be important in military power.

  • Such power must therefore be cultivated by improving the economic condition of the people and by humane government.
  • Only when there is this invisible bond between government and people, so that the people are sheltered by their government as ground water is sheltered by the earth, is it possible to wage a victorious war.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • An army must set forth in proper order.
  • If the order is not good, misfortune threatens.

At the beginning of a military enterprise, order is imperative.

  • A just and valid cause must exist, and the obedience and coordination of the troops must be well organized, otherwise the result is inevitably failure.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the second place means:
  • In the midst of the army.
  • Good fortune. No blame.
  • The king bestows a triple decoration.

The leader should be in the midst of his army, in touch with it, sharing good and bad with the masses he leads.

  • This alone makes him equal to the heavy demands made upon him.

He needs also the recognition of the ruler.

  • The decorations he receives are justified, because there is no question of personal preferment here: the whole army, whose center he is, is honored in his person.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Perchance the army carries corpses in the wagon.
  • Misfortune.

Here we have a choice of two explanations.

  • One points to defeat because someone other than the chosen leader interferes with the command;
  • The other is similar in its general meaning, but the expression, "carries corpses in the wagon," is interpreted differently.

At burials and at sacrifices to the dead it was customary in China for the deceased to whom the sacrifice was made to be represented by a boy of the family, who sat in the dead man's place and was honored as his representative.

  • On the basis of this custom the text is interpreted as meaning that a "corpse boy" is sitting in the wagon,
  • Or, in other words, that authority is not being exercised by the proper leaders but has been usurped by others.

Perhaps the whole difficulty clears up if it is inferred that there has been an error in copying.

  • The character fan, meaning "all," may have been misread as shih, which means "corpse."
  • Allowing for this error, the meaning would be that if the multitude assumes leadership of the army (rides in the wagon), misfortune will ensue.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • The army retreats. No blame.

In face of a superior enemy, with whom it would be hopeless to engage in battle, an orderly retreat is the only correct procedure, because it will save the army from defeat and disintegration.

  • It is by no means a sign of courage or strength to insist upon engaging in a hopeless struggle regardless of circumstances.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • There is game in the field.
  • It furthers one to catch it.
  • Without blame.
  • Let the eldest lead the army.
  • The younger transports corpses;
  • Then perseverance brings misfortune.

Game is in the field — it has left its usual haunts in the forest and is devastating the fields. This points to an enemy invasion.

  • Energetic combat and punishment are here thoroughly justified, but they must not degenerate into a wild melee in which everyone fends for himself.
  • Despite the greatest degree of perseverance and bravery, this would lead to misfortune.

The army must be directed by an experienced leader.

  • It is a matter of waging war, not of permitting the mob to slaughter all who fall into their hands;
  • If they do, defeat will be the result, and despite all perseverance there is danger of misfortune.
  • Six at the top means:
  • The great prince issues commands,
  • Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
  • Inferior people should not be employed.

The war has ended successfully, victory is won, and the king divides estates and fiefs among his faithful vassals.

  • But it is important that inferior people should not come into power.
  • If they have helped, let them be paid off with money, but they should not be awarded lands or the privileges of rulers, lest power be abused.


8. Pi / Holding Together [Union]


above: K'AN


below: K'UN


The waters on the surface of the earth flow together wherever they can, as for example in the ocean, where all the rivers come together.

  • Symbolically this connotes holding together and the laws that regulate it.

The same idea is suggested by the fact that all the lines of the hexagram except the fifth, the place of the ruler, are yielding.

  • The yielding lines hold together because they are influenced by a man of strong will in the leading position, a man who is their center of union.
  • Moreover, this strong and guiding personality in turn holds together with the others, finding in them the complement of his own nature.
  • HOLDING TOGETHER brings good fortune.
  • Inquire of the oracle once again
  • Whether you possess sublimity, constancy, and perseverance;
  • Then there is no blame.
  • Those who are uncertain gradually join.
  • Whoever comes too late
  • Meets with misfortune.

What is required is that we unite with others, in order that all may complement and aid one another through holding together.

  • But such holding together calls for a central figure around whom other persons may unite.

To become a center of influence holding people together is a grave matter and fraught with great responsibility.

  • It requires greatness of spirit, consistency, and strength.
  • Therefore let him who wishes to gather others about him ask himself whether he is equal to the undertaking, for anyone attempting the task without a real calling for it only makes confusion worse than if no union at all had taken place.

But when there is a real rallying point, those who at first are hesitant or uncertain gradually come in of their own accord.

  • Late-comers must suffer the consequences, for in holding together the question of the right time is also important.
  • Relationships are formed and firmly established according to definite inner laws.
  • Common experiences strengthen these ties, and he who comes too late to share in these basic experiences must suffer for it if, as a straggler, he finds the door locked.

If a man has recognized the necessity for union and does not feel strong enough to function as the center, it is his duty to become a member of some other organic fellowship.

  • On the earth is water:
  • The image of HOLDING TOGETHER.
  • Thus the kings of antiquity
  • Bestowed the different states as fiefs
  • And cultivated friendly relations
  • With the feudal lords.

Water fills up all the empty places on the earth and clings fast to it.

  • The social organization of ancient China was based on this principle of the holding together of dependents and rulers.

Water flows to unite with water, because all parts of it are subject to the same laws.

  • So too should human society hold together through a community of interests that allows each individual to feel himself a member of a whole.
  • The central power of a social organization must see to it that every member finds that his true interest lies in holding together with it, as was the case in the paternal relationship between king and vassals in ancient China.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • Hold to him in truth and loyalty;
  • This is without blame.
  • Truth, like a full earthen bowl:
  • Thus in the end
  • Good fortune comes from without.

Fundamental sincerity is the only proper basis for forming relationships.

  • This attitude, symbolized by a full earthen bowl, in which the content is everything and the empty form nothing, shows itself not in clever words but through the strength of what lies within the speaker.
  • This strength is so great that it has power to attract good fortune to itself from without.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Hold to him inwardly.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

If a person responds perseveringly and in the right way to the behests from above that summon him to action, his relations with others are intrinsic and he does not lose himself.

  • But if a man seeks association with others as if he were an obsequious office hunter, he throws himself away.
  • He does not follow the path of the superior man, who never loses his dignity.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • You hold together with the wrong people.

We are often among people who do not belong to our own sphere.

  • In that case we must beware of being drawn into false intimacy through force of habit.

Needless to say, this would have evil consequences.

  • Maintaining sociability without intimacy is the only right attitude toward such people, because otherwise we should not be free to enter into relationship with people of our own kind later on.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Hold to him outwardly also.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

Here the relations with a man who is the center of union are well established.

  • Then we may, and indeed we should, show our attachment openly.
  • But we must remain constant and not allow ourselves to be led astray.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Manifestation of holding together.
  • In the hunt the king uses beaters on three sides only
  • And foregoes game that runs off in front.
  • The citizens need no warning.
  • Good fortune.

In the royal hunts of ancient China it was customary to drive up the game from three sides, but on the fourth the animals had a chance to run off.

  • If they failed to do this they had to pass through a gate behind which the king stood ready to shoot.
  • Only animals that entered here were shot; those that ran off in front were permitted to escape.
  • This custom accorded with a kingly attitude; the royal hunter did not wish to turn the chase into a slaughter, but held that the kill should consist only of those animals which had so to speak voluntarily exposed themselves.

There is depicted here a ruler, or influential man, to whom people are attracted.

  • Those who come to him he accepts, those who do not come are allowed to go their own way.
  • He invites none, flatters none — all come of their own free will.

In this way there develops a voluntary dependence among those who hold to him.

  • They do not have to be constantly on their guard but may express their opinions openly.
  • Police measures are not necessary, and they cleave to their ruler of their own volition.

The same principle of freedom is valid for life in general.

  • We should not woo favor from people.
  • If a man cultivates within himself the purity and the strength that are necessary for one who is the center of a fellowship, those who are meant for him come of their own accord.
  • Six at the top means:
  • He finds no head for holding together.
  • Misfortune.

The head is the beginning. If the beginning is not right, there is no hope of a right ending.

  • If we have missed the right moment for union and go on hesitating to give complete and full devotion, we shall regret the error when it is too late.


9. Hsiao Ch'u / The Taming Power of the Small


above: SUN


below: CH'IEN


This hexagram means the force of the small — the power of the shadowy — that restrains, tames, impedes.


1 See page 360.
  • A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister,1 holds the five strong lines in check.

In the Image it is the wind blowing across the sky.

  • The wind restrains the clouds, the rising breath of the Creative, and makes them grow dense, but as yet is not strong enough to turn them to rain.

The hexagram presents a configuration of circumstances in which a strong element is temporarily held in leash by a weak element.

  • It is only through gentleness that this can have a successful outcome.
  • Has success.
  • Dense clouds, no rain from our western region.

This image refers to the state of affairs in China at the time when King Wen, who came originally from the west, was in the east at the court of the reigning tyrant Chou Hsin.

  • The moment for action on a large scale had not yet arrived.
  • King Wen could only keep the tyrant somewhat in check by friendly persuasion.
  • Hence the image of many clouds, promising moisture and blessing to the land, although as yet no rain falls.

The situation is not unfavorable; there is a prospect of ultimate success, but there are still obstacles in the way, and we can merely take preparatory measures.

  • Only through the small means of friendly persuasion can we exert any influence.
  • The time has not yet come for sweeping measures.
  • However, we may be able, to a limited extent, to act as a restraining and subduing influence.

To carry out our purpose we need firm determination within and gentleness and adaptability in external relations.

  • The wind drives across heaven:
  • Thus the superior man
  • Refines the outward aspect of his nature.

The wind can indeed drive the clouds together in the sky; yet, being nothing but air, without solid body, it does not produce great or lasting effects.

  • So also an individual, in times when he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of his nature in small ways.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • Return to the way.
  • How could there be blame in this?
  • Good fortune.

It lies in the nature of a strong man to press forward. In so doing he encounters obstructions.

  • Therefore he returns to the way suited to his situation, where he is free to advance or to retreat.
  • In the nature of things this will bring good fortune, for it is wise and reasonable not to try to obtain anything by force.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • He allows himself to be drawn into returning.
  • Good fortune.

One would like to press forward, but before going farther one sees from the example of others like oneself that this way is blocked.


2 See page 359 for an explanation of what is meant by the "time."
  • In such a case, if the effort to push forward is not in harmony with the time,2 a reasonable and resolute man will not expose himself to a personal rebuff, but will retreat with others of like mind.
  • This brings good fortune, because he does not needlessly jeopardize himself.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • The spokes burst out of the wagon wheels.
  • Man and wife roll their eyes.

Here an attempt is made to press forward forcibly, in the consciousness that the obstructing power is slight.

  • But since, under the circumstances, power actually lies with the weak, this sudden offensive is doomed to failure.
  • External conditions hinder the advance, just as loss of the wheel spokes stops the progress of a wagon.
  • We do not yet heed this hint from fate, hence there are annoying arguments like those of a married couple.

Naturally this is not a favorable state of things, for though the situation may enable the weaker side to hold its ground, the difficulties are too numerous to permit of a happy result.

  • In consequence even the strong man cannot so use his power as to exert the right influence on those around him.
  • He experiences a rebuff where he expected an easy victory, and he thus compromises his dignity.
  • constituting ruler 14Six in the fourth place means:
  • If you are sincere, blood vanishes and fear gives way.
  • No blame.

If one is in the difficult and responsible position of counselor to a powerful man, one should restrain him in such a way that right may prevail.

  • Therein lies a danger so great that the threat of actual bloodshed may arise.
  • Nonetheless, the power of disinterested truth is greater than all these obstacles.
  • It carries such weight that the end is achieved, and all danger of bloodshed and all fear disappear.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • If you are sincere and loyally attached,
  • You are rich in your neighbor.

Loyalty leads to firm ties because it means that each partner complements the other.

  • In the weaker person loyalty consists in devotion, in the stronger it consists in trustworthiness.

This relation of mutual reinforcement leads to a true wealth that is all the more apparent because it is not selfishly hoarded but is shared with friends.

  • Pleasure shared is pleasure doubled.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • The rain comes, there is rest.
  • This is due to the lasting effect of character.
  • Perseverance brings the woman into danger.
  • The moon is nearly full.
  • If the superior man persists,
  • Misfortune comes.

Success is at hand. The wind has driven up the rain. A fixed standpoint has been reached.

  • This has come about through the accumulation of small effects produced by reverence for a superior character.

But a success thus secured bit by bit calls for great caution. It would be a dangerous illusion for anyone to think he could presume upon it.

  • The female principle, the weak element that has won the victory, should never persist in vaunting it — that would lead to danger.
  • The dark power in the moon is strongest when the moon is almost full. When it is full and directly opposite the sun, its waning is inevitable.

Under such circumstances one must be content with what has been achieved.

  • To advance any further, before the appropriate time has come, would lead to misfortune.


10. Lü / Treading [Conduct]


above: CH'IEN


below: TUI


The name of the hexagram means on the one hand the right way of conducting oneself.

  • Heaven, the father, is above, and the lake, the youngest daughter, is below.
  • This shows the difference between high and low, upon which composure, correct social conduct, depends.


1 Auftreten, the German word used for the name of the hexagram, means both "treading" and "conduct."

On the other hand, the word for the name of the hexagram, TREADING,1 means literally treading upon something.

  • The small and cheerful [Tui] treads upon the large and strong [Ch'ien].
  • The direction of movement of the two primary trigrams is upward.

The fact that the strong treads on the weak is not mentioned in the Book of Changes, because it is taken for granted.

  • For the weak to take a stand against the strong is not dangerous here, because it happens in good humor [Tui] and without presumption, so that the strong man is not irritated but takes it all in good part.
  • TREADING. Treading upon the tail of the tiger.
  • It does not bite the man. Success.

The situation is really difficult. That which is strongest and that which is weakest are close together.

  • The weak follows behind the strong and worries it.
  • The strong, however, acquiesces and does not hurt the weak, because the contact is in good humor and harmless.

In terms of a human situation, one is handling wild, intractable people.

  • In such a case one's purpose will be achieved if one behaves with decorum.
  • Pleasant manners succeed even with irritable people.
  • Heaven above, the lake below:
  • The image of TREADING.
  • Thus the superior man discriminates between high and low,
  • And thereby fortifies the thinking of the people.

Heaven and the lake show a difference of elevation that inheres in the natures of the two, hence no envy arises.

  • Among mankind also there are necessarily differences of elevation; it is impossible to bring about universal equality.

But it is important that differences in social rank should not be arbitrary and unjust, for if this occurs, envy and class struggle are the inevitable consequences.

  • If, on the other band, external differences in rank correspond with differences in inner worth, and if inner worth forms the criterion of external rank, people acquiesce and order reigns in society.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • Simple conduct. Progress without blame.

The situation is one in which we are still not bound by any obligations of social intercourse.

  • If our conduct is simple, we remain free of them.
  • We can quietly follow our predilections as long as we are content and make no demands on people.

The meaning of the hexagram is not standstill but progress.

  • A man finds himself in an altogether inferior position at the start.
  • However, he has the inner strength that guarantees progress.
  • If he can be content with simplicity, he can make progress without blame.

When a man is dissatisfied with modest circumstances, he is restless and ambitious and tries to advance, not for the sake of accomplishing anything worth while, but merely in order to escape from lowliness and poverty by dint of his conduct.

  • Once his purpose is achieved, he is certain to become arrogant and luxury-loving.
  • Therefore blame attaches to his progress.

On the other hand, a man who is good at his work is content to behave simply.

  • He wishes to make progress in order to accomplish something.
  • When he attains his goal, he does something worthwhile, and all is well.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • Treading a smooth, level course.


2 See explanation of this line in bk. III, pp. 437-38.
  • The perseverance of a dark man.2
  • Brings good fortune.

The situation of a lonely sage is indicated here.

  • He remains withdrawn from the bustle of life, seeks nothing, asks nothing of anyone, and is not dazzled by enticing goals.
  • He is true to himself and travels through life unassailed, on a level road.
  • Since he is content and does not challenge fate, he remains free of entanglements.
  • constituting ruler 14Six in the third place means:
  • A one-eyed man is able to see,
  • A lame man is able to tread.
  • He treads on the tail of the tiger.
  • The tiger bites the man.
  • Misfortune.
  • Thus does a warrior act on behalf of his great prince.

A one-eyed man can indeed see, but not enough for clear vision. A lame man can indeed tread, but not enough to make progress.

  • If in spite of such defects a man considers himself strong and consequently exposes himself to danger, he is inviting disaster, for he is undertaking something beyond his strength.
  • This reckless way of plunging ahead, regardless of the adequacy of one's powers, can be justified only in the case of a warrior battling for his prince.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • He treads on the tail of the tiger.
  • Caution and circumspection
  • Lead ultimately to good fortune.

This text refers to a dangerous enterprise.

  • The inner power to carry it through is there, but this inner power is combined with hesitating caution in one's external attitude.

This line contrasts with the preceding line, which is weak within but outwardly presses forward.

  • Here one is sure of ultimate success, which consists in achieving one's purpose, that is, in overcoming danger by going forward.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Resolute conduct.
  • Perseverance with awareness of danger.

This refers to the ruler of the hexagram as a whole. One sees that one has to be resolute in conduct.

  • But at the same time one must remain conscious of the danger connected with such resoluteness, especially if it is to be persevered in.
  • Only awareness of the danger makes success possible.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • Look to your conduct and weigh the favorable signs.
  • When everything is fulfilled, supreme good fortune comes.

The work is ended. If we want to know whether good fortune will follow, we must look back upon our conduct and its consequences.

  • If the effects are good, then good fortune is certain. No one knows himself.
  • It is only by the consequences of his actions, by the fruit of his labors, that a man can judge what he is to expect.


11. T'ai / Peace


above: K'UN


below: CH'IEN


The Receptive, which moves downward, stands above; the Creative, which moves upward, is below.

  • Hence their influences meet and are in harmony, so that all living things bloom and prosper.

This hexagram belongs to the first month (February-March), at which time the forces of nature prepare the new spring.

  • PEACE. The small departs,
  • The great approaches.
  • Good fortune. Success.

This hexagram denotes a time in nature when heaven seems to be on earth.

  • Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth, and so their powers unite in deep harmony.
  • Then peace and blessing descend upon all living things.

In the world of man it is a time of social harmony;

  • Those in high places show favor to the lowly,
  • And the lowly and inferior in their turn are well disposed toward the highly placed.
  • There is an end to all feuds.

Inside, at the center, in the key position, is the light principle; the dark principle is outside.

  • Thus the light has a powerful influence, while the dark is submissive. In this way each receives its due.
  • When the good elements of society occupy a central position and are in control, the evil elements come under their influence and change for the better.
  • When the spirit of heaven rules in man, his animal nature also comes under its influence and takes its appropriate place.

The individual lines enter the hexagram from below and leave it again at the top.

  • Here the small, weak, and evil elements are about to take their departure, while the great, strong, and good elements are moving up.
  • This brings good fortune and success.
  • Heaven and earth unite: the image of PEACE.
  • Thus the ruler
  • Divides and completes the course of heaven and earth;
  • He furthers and regulates the gifts of heaven and earth,
  • And so aids the people.

Heaven and earth are in contact and combine their influences, producing a time of universal flowering and prosperity.

  • This stream of energy must be regulated by the ruler of men.

It is done by a process of division.

  • Thus men divide the uniform flow of time into the seasons, according to the succession of natural phenomena, and mark off infinite space by the points of the compass.
  • In this way nature in its overwhelming profusion of phenomena is bounded and controlled.

On the other hand, nature must be furthered in her productiveness.

  • This is done by adjusting the products to the right time and the right place, which increases the natural yield.
  • This controlling and furthering activity of man in his relation to nature is the work on nature that rewards him.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • When ribbon grass is pulled up, the sod comes with it.
  • Each according to his kind.
  • Undertakings bring good fortune.

In times of prosperity every able man called to fill an office draws like-minded people along with him, just as in pulling up ribbon grass one always pulls up a bunch of it, because the stalks are connected by their roots.

  • In such times, when it is possible to extend influence widely, the mind of an able man is set upon going out into life and accomplishing something.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the second place means:
  • Bearing with the uncultured in gentleness,
  • Fording the river with resolution,
  • Not neglecting what is distant,
  • Not regarding one's companions:
  • Thus one may manage to walk in the middle.

In times of prosperity it is important above all to possess enough greatness of soul to bear with imperfect people.

  • For in the hands of a great master no material is unproductive; he can find use for everything.
  • But this generosity is by no means laxity or weakness.

It is during times of prosperity especially that we must always be ready to risk even dangerous undertakings, such as the crossing of a river, if they are necessary.

  • So too we must not neglect what is distant but must attend scrupulously to everything.
  • Factionalism and the dominance of cliques are especially to be avoided.
  • Even if people of like mind come forward together, they ought not to form a faction by holding together for mutual advantage; instead, each man should do his duty.

These are four ways in which one can overcome the hidden danger of a gradual slackening that always lurks in any time of peace.

  • And that is how one finds the middle way for action.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • No plain not followed by a slope.
  • No going not followed by a return.
  • He who remains persevering in danger
  • Is without blame.
  • Do not complain about this truth;
  • Enjoy the good fortune you still possess.

Everything on earth is subject to change. Prosperity is followed by decline: this is the eternal law on earth.

  • Evil can indeed be held in check but not permanently abolished. It always returns.

This conviction might induce melancholy, but it should not; it ought only to keep us from falling into illusion when good fortune comes to us.

  • If we continue mindful of the danger, we remain persevering and make no mistakes.
  • As long as a man's inner nature remains stronger and richer than anything offered by external fortune, as long as he remains inwardly superior to fate, fortune will not desert him.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • He flutters down, not boasting of his wealth,
  • Together with his neighbor,
  • Guileless and sincere.

In times of mutual confidence, people of high rank come in close contact with the lowly quite simply and without boasting of their wealth.

  • This is not due to the force of circumstances but corresponds with their inmost sentiment.
  • The approach is made quite spontaneously, because it is based on inner conviction.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • The sovereign I
  • Gives his daughter in marriage.
  • This brings blessing
  • And supreme good fortune.


1 This refers to Ch'êng T'ang, the first of the Shang rulers, whose reign is thought to have begun in 1766 B.C.
However, modern Chinese scholarship no longer accepts the identification of the Emperor I (1191-1155 B.C., according to tradition) with T'ang, and holds that the daughter mentioned was given to King Wên's father, or perhaps to King Wên himself.

The sovereign I is Tang the Completer.1

  • By his decree the imperial princesses, although higher in rank than their husbands, had to obey them like all other wives.
  • Here too we are shown a truly modest union of high and low that brings happiness and blessings.
  • Six at the top means:
  • The wall falls back into the moat.
  • Use no army now.
  • Make your commands known within your own town.
  • Perseverance brings humiliation.

The change alluded to in the middle of the hexagram has begun to take place.

  • The wall of the town sinks back into the moat from which it was dug. The hour of doom is at hand.
  • When matters have come to this pass, we should submit to fate and not try to stave it off by violent resistance.

The one recourse left us is to hold our own within our intimate circle.

  • Should we persevere in trying to resist the evil in the usual way, our collapse would only be more complete, and humiliation would be the result.


12. P'i / Standstill [Stagnation]


above: CH'IEN


below: K'UN


This hexagram is the opposite of the preceding one.

  • Heaven is above, drawing farther and farther away, while the earth below sinks farther into the depths.

The creative powers are not in relation. It is a time of standstill and decline.

  • This hexagram is linked with the seventh month (August-September), when the year has passed its zenith and autumnal decay is setting in.
  • STANDSTILL. Evil people do not further
  • The perseverance of the superior man.
  • The great departs; the small approaches.

Heaven and earth are out of communion and all things are benumbed. What is above has no relation to what is below, and on earth confusion and disorder prevail.

  • The dark power is within, the light power is without.
  • Weakness is within, harshness without.
  • Within are the inferior, and without are the superior.
  • The way of inferior people is in ascent; the way of superior people is on the decline.

But the superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles.

  • If the possibility of exerting influence is closed to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.
  • Heaven and earth do not unite:
  • The image of STANDSTILL.
  • Thus the superior man falls back upon his inner worth
  • In order to escape the difficulties.
  • He does not permit himself to be honored with revenue.

When, owing to the influence of inferior men, mutual mistrust prevails in public life, fruitful activity is rendered impossible, because the fundamentals are wrong.

  • Therefore the superior man knows what he must do under such circumstances; he does not allow himself to be tempted by dazzling offers to take part in public activities.
  • This would only expose him to danger, since he cannot assent to the meanness of the others.
  • He therefore hides his worth and withdraws into seclusion.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • When ribbon grass is pulled up, the sod comes with it.
  • Each according to his kind.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune and success.

The text is almost the same as that of the first line of the preceding hexagram, but with a contrary meaning.

  • In the latter a man is drawing another along with him on the road to an official career;
  • Here a man is drawing another with him into retirement from public life.
  • This is why the text says here, "Perseverance brings good fortune and success," and not "Undertakings bring good fortune."

If it becomes impossible to make our influence count, it is only by retirement that we spare ourselves humiliation.

  • Success in a higher sense can be ours, because we know how to safeguard the value of our personalities.
  • constituting ruler 14Six in the second place means:
  • They bear and endure;
  • This means good fortune for inferior people.
  • The standstill serves to help the great man to attain success.

Inferior people are ready to flatter their superiors in a servile way.

  • They would also endure the superior man if he would put an end to their confusion.
  • This is fortunate for them. But the great man calmly bears the consequences of the standstill.
  • He does not mingle with the crowd of the inferior; that is not his place.
  • By his willingness to suffer personally he insures the success of his fundamental principles.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • They bear shame.

Inferior people who have risen to power illegitimately do not feel equal to the responsibility they have taken upon themselves.

  • In their hearts they begin to be ashamed, although at first they do not show it outwardly.
  • This marks a turn for the better.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • He who acts at the command of the highest
  • Remains without blame.
  • Those of like mind partake of the blessing.

The time of standstill is nearing the point of change into its opposite.

  • Whoever wishes to restore order must feel himself called to the task and have the necessary authority.

A man who sets himself up as capable of creating order according to his own judgment could make mistakes and end in failure.

  • But the man who is truly called to the task is favored by the conditions of the time, and all those of like mind will share in his blessing.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Standstill is giving way.
  • Good fortune for the great man.
  • "What if it should fail, what if it should fail?"
  • In this way he ties it to a cluster of mulberry shoots.

he time undergoes a change. The right man, able to restore order, has arrived. Hence "Good fortune."

  • But such periods of transition are the very times in which we must fear and tremble.

Success is assured only through greatest caution, which asks always, "What if it should fail?"

  • When a mulberry bush is cut down, a number of unusually strong shoots sprout from the roots.
  • Hence the image of tying something to a cluster of mulberry shoots is used to symbolize the way of making success certain.

Confucius says about this line:

Danger arises when a man feels secure in his position. Destruction threatens when a man seeks to preserve his worldly estate. Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order. Therefore the superior man does not forget danger in his security, nor ruin when he is well established, nor confusion when his affairs are in order. In this way he gains personal safety and is able to protect the empire.

  • Nine at the top means:
  • The standstill comes to an end.
  • First standstill, then good fortune.

The standstill does not last forever. However, it does not cease of its own accord; the right man is needed to end it.

  • This is the difference between a state of peace and a state of stagnation.
  • Continuous effort is necessary to maintain peace: left to itself it would change into stagnation and disintegration.

The time of disintegration, however, does not change back automatically to a condition of peace and prosperity; effort must be put forth in order to end it.

  • This shows the creative attitude that man must take if the world is to be put in order.


13. Tung Jên / Fellowship with Men


above: CH'IEN


below: LI


The image of the upper trigram Ch'ien is heaven, and that of the lower, Li, is flame.

  • It is the nature of fire to flame up to heaven. This gives the idea of fellowship.
  • It is the second line that, by virtue of its central character, unites the five strong lines around it.

This hexagram forms a complement to Shih, THE ARMY (7).

  • In the latter, danger is within and obedience without — the character of a warlike army, which, in order to hold together, needs one strong man among the many who are weak.
  • Here, clarity is within and strength without — the character of a peaceful union of men, which, in order to hold together, needs one yielding nature among many firm persons.
  • FELLOWSHIP WITH MEN in the open.
  • Success.
  • It furthers one to cross the great water.
  • The perseverance of the superior man furthers.

True fellowship among men must be based upon a concern that is universal.

  • It is not the private interests of the individual that create lasting fellowship among men, but rather the goals of humanity.
  • That is why it is said that fellowship with men in the open succeeds.

If unity of this kind prevails, even difficult and dangerous tasks, such as crossing the great water, can be accomplished.

  • But in order to bring about this sort of fellowship, a persevering and enlightened leader is needed — a man with clear, convincing, and inspiring aims and the strength to carry them out. (The inner trigram means clarity; the outer, strength.)
  • Heaven together with fire:
  • The image of FELLOWSHIP WITH MEN.
  • Thus the superior man organizes the clans
  • And makes distinctions between things.

Heaven has the same direction of movement as fire, yet it is different from fire.

  • Just as the luminaries in the sky serve for the systematic division and arrangement of time, so human society and all things that really belong together must be organically arranged.

Fellowship should not be a mere mingling of individuals or of things — that would be chaos, not fellowship.

  • If fellowship is to lead to order, there must be organization within diversity.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • Fellowship with men at the gate.
  • No blame.

The beginning of union among people should take place before the door.

  • All are equally close to one another. No divergent aims have yet arisen, and one makes no mistakes.
  • The basic principles of any kind of union must be equally accessible to all concerned.
  • Secret agreements bring misfortune.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the second place means:
  • Fellowship with men in the clan.
  • Humiliation.

There is danger here of formation of a separate faction on the basis of personal and egotistic interests.

  • Such factions, which are exclusive and, instead of welcoming all men, must condemn one group in order to unite the others, originate from low motives and therefore lead in the course of time to humiliation.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • He hides weapons in the thicket;
  • He climbs the high hill in front of it.
  • For three years he does not rise up.

Here fellowship has changed about to mistrust.

  • Each man distrusts the other, plans a secret ambush, and seeks to spy on his fellow from afar.
  • We are dealing with an obstinate opponent whom we cannot come at by this method.

Obstacles standing in the way of fellowship with others are shown here.

  • One has mental reservations for one's own part and seeks to take his opponent by surprise.
  • This very fact makes one mistrustful, suspecting the same wiles in his opponent and trying to ferret them out.
  • The result is that one departs further and further from true fellowship.
  • The longer this goes on, the more alienated one becomes.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • He climbs up on his wall; he cannot attack.
  • Good fortune.

Here the reconciliation that follows quarrel moves nearer.

  • It is true that there are still dividing walls on which we stand confronting one another.
  • But the difficulties are too great.
  • We get into straits, and this brings us to our senses.
  • We cannot fight, and therein lies our good fortune.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament,
  • But afterward they laugh.
  • After great struggles they succeed in meeting.

Two people are outwardly separated, but in their hearts they are united. They are kept apart by their positions in life.

  • Many difficulties and obstructions arise between them and cause them grief.
  • But, remaining true to each other, they allow nothing to separate them, and although it costs them a severe struggle to overcome the obstacles, they will succeed.
  • When they come together their sadness will change to joy.

Confucius says of this:

  • Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
  • Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
  • Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
  • There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
  • But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
  • They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
  • And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
  • Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • Fellowship with men in the meadow.
  • No remorse.

The warm attachment that springs from the heart is lacking here.

  • We are by this time actually outside of fellowship with others. However, we ally ourselves with them.
  • The fellowship does not include all, but only those who happen to dwell near one another.

The meadow is the pasture at the entrance to the town.

  • At this stage, the ultimate goal of the union of mankind has not yet been attained, but we need not reproach ourselves.
  • We join the community without separate aims of our own.


14. Ta Yu / Posession in Great Measure


above: LI


below: CH'IEN


The fire in heaven above shines far, and all things stand out in the light and become manifest.

  • The weak fifth line occupies the place of honor, and all the strong lines are in accord with it.


1 The meaning of this hexagram parallels the saying of Jesus: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

All things come to the man who is modest and kind in a high position.1

  • Supreme success

The two trigrams indicate that strength and clarity unite.

  • Possession in great measure is determined by fate and accords with the time.

How is it possible that the weak line has power to hold the strong lines fast and to possess them?

  • It is done by virtue of unselfish modesty.

The time is favorable — a time of strength within, clarity and culture without.


2 It might be supposed that HOLDING TOGETHER (8) would be a more favorable hexagram than POSSESSION IN GREAT MEASURE, because in the former one strong individual gathers five weak ones around him.
But the judgment added in the present hexagram, "Supreme success," is much the more favorable.
  • The reason is that in the eighth hexagram the men held together by the powerful ruler are only simple subordinate persons, while here those who stand as helpers at the side of the mild ruler are strong and able individuals.
  • Power is expressing itself in a graceful and controlled way. This brings supreme success and wealth.2
  • Fire in heaven above:
  • Thus the superior man curbs evil and furthers good,
  • And thereby obeys the benevolent will of heaven.

The sun in heaven above, shedding light over everything on earth, is the image of possession on a grand scale.

  • But a possession of this sort must be administered properly.

The sun brings both evil and good into the light of day.

  • Man must combat and curb the evil, and must favor and promote the good.
  • Only in this way does he fulfill the benevolent will of God, who desires only good and not evil.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • No relationship with what is harmful;
  • There is no blame in this.
  • If one remains conscious of difficulty,
  • One remains without blame.

Great possession that is still in its beginnings and that has not yet been challenged brings no blame, since there has been no opportunity to make mistakes.

  • Yet there are many difficulties to be overcome.
  • It is only by remaining conscious of these difficulties that one can keep inwardly free of possible arrogance and wastefulness, and thus in principle overcome all cause for blame.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • A big wagon for loading.
  • One may undertake something.
  • No blame.

Great possession consists not only in the quantity of goods at one's disposal, but, first and foremost, in their mobility and utility, for then they can be used in undertakings, and we remain free of embarrassment and mistakes.

  • The big wagon, which will carry a heavy load and in which one can journey far, means that there are at hand able helpers who give their support and are equal to their task.
  • One can load great responsibility upon such persons, and this is necessary in important undertakings.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • A prince offers it to the Son of Heaven.
  • A petty man cannot do this.

A magnanimous, liberal-minded man should not regard what he possesses as his exclusive personal property, but should place it at the disposal of the ruler or of the people at large.

  • In so doing, he takes the right attitude toward his possession, which as private property can never endure.


3 This offers the same dictum about possessions as that found in the words of the Bible:
"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" [Luke 17:33].
  • A petty man is incapable of this. He is harmed by great possessions, because instead of sacrificing them, he would keep them for himself.3
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • He makes a difference
  • Between himself and his neighbor.
  • No blame.

This characterizes the position of a man placed among rich and powerful neighbors.

  • It is a dangerous position. He must look neither to the right nor to the left, and must shun envy and the temptation to vie with others.


4 Another generally accepted translation of the line is as follows:
     He does not rely on his abundance.
     No blame.
This would mean that the individual avoids mistakes because he possesses as if he possessed nothing.
  • In this way he remains free of mistakes.4
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified,
  • Has good fortune.

The situation is very favorable. People are being won not by coercion but by unaffected sincerity, so that they are attached to us in sincerity and truth.

  • However, benevolence alone is not sufficient at the time of POSSESSION IN GREAT MEASURE.
  • For insolence might begin to spread. Insolence must be kept in bounds by dignity; then good fortune is assured.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • He is blessed by heaven.
  • Good fortune.
  • Nothing that does not further.

In the fullness of possession and at the height of power, one remains modest and gives honor to the sage who stands outside the affairs of the world.

  • By this means one puts oneself under the beneficent influence descending from heaven, and all goes well.

Confucius says of this line:

To bless means to help. Heaven helps the man who is devoted; men help the man who is true. He who walks in truth and is devoted in his thinking, and furthermore reveres the worthy, is blessed by heaven. He has good fortune, and there is nothing that would not further.


15. Ch'ien / Modesty


above: K'UN


below: KÊN


This hexagram is made up of the trigrams Ken, Keeping Still, mountain, and K'un.

  • The mountain is the youngest son of the Creative, the representative of heaven on earth.
  • It dispenses the blessings of heaven, the clouds and rain that gather round its summit, and thereafter shines forth radiant with heavenly light.
  • This shows what modesty is and how it functions in great and strong men.

K'un, the earth, stands above.

  • Lowliness is a quality of the earth: this is the very reason why it appears in this hexagram as exalted, by being placed above the mountain.
  • This shows how modesty functions in lowly, simple people: they are lifted up by it.
  • MODESlY creates success.
  • The superior man carries things through.

It is the law of heaven to make fullness empty and to make full what is modest.

  • When the sun is at its zenith, it must, according to the law of heaven, turn toward its setting, and at its nadir it rises toward a new dawn.
  • In obedience to the same law, the moon when it is full begins to wane, and when empty of light it waxes again.
  • This heavenly law works itself out in the fates of men also.

It is the law of earth to alter the full and to contribute to the modest.

  • High mountains are worn down by the waters, and the valleys are filled up.
  • It is the law of fate to undermine what is full and to prosper the modest.
  • And men also hate fullness and love the modest.

The destinies of men are subject to immutable laws that must fulfill themselves.

  • But man has it in his power to shape his fate, according as his behavior exposes him to the influence of benevolent or of destructive forces.
  • When a man holds a high position and is nevertheless modest, he shines with the light of wisdom;
  • If he is in a lowly position and is modest, he cannot be passed by.
  • Thus the superior man can carry out his work to the end without boasting of what he has achieved.
  • Within the earth, a mountain:
  • The image of MODESlY.
  • Thus the superior man reduces that which is too much,
  • And augments that which is too little.
  • He weighs things and makes them equal.

The wealth of the earth in which a mountain is hidden is not visible to the eye, because the depths are offset by the height of the mountain.

  • Thus high and low complement each other, and the result is the plain.
  • Here an effect that it took a long time to achieve, but that in the end seems easy of accomplishment and self-evident, is used as the image of modesty.


1 This hexagram offers a number of parallels to the teachings of the Old and the New Testament, e.g.,
  • "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" [Matt. 23:12];
  • "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain" [Isa. 40:4];
  • "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" [Jas. 4:6].
  • The concept of the Last Judgment in the Parsee religion shows similar features.

The Greek notion of the jealousy of the gods might be mentioned in connection with the third of the biblical passages here cited.
  • The superior man does the same thing when he establishes order in the world; he equalizes the extremes that are the source of social discontent and thereby creates just and equable conditions.1
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • A superior man modest about his modesty
  • May cross the great water.
  • Good fortune.

A dangerous enterprise, such as the crossing of a great stream, is made much more difficult if many claims and considerations have to be taken into account.

  • On the other hand, the task is easy if it is attended to quickly and simply.
  • Therefore the unassuming attitude of mind that goes with modesty fits a man to accomplish even difficult undertakings: he imposes no demands or stipulations but settles matters easily and quickly.
  • Where no claims are put forward, no resistances arise.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Modesty that comes to expression.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

"Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh."

When a man's attitude of mind is so modest that this expresses itself in his outward behavior, it is a source of good fortune to him.

  • For the possibility of exerting a lasting influence arises of itself, and no one can interfere.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the third place means:
  • A superior man of modesty and merit
  • Carries things to conclusion.
  • Good fortune.

This is the center of the hexagram, where its secret is disclosed.

  • A distinguished name is readily earned by great achievements.
  • If a man allows himself to be dazzled by fame, he will soon be criticized, and difficulties will arise.
  • If, on the contrary, he remains modest despite his merit, he makes himself beloved and wins the support necessary for carrying his work through to the end.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Nothing that would not further modesty
  • In movement.

Everything has its proper measure. Even modesty in behavior can be carried too far.

  • Here, however, it is appropriate, because the place between a worthy helper below and a kindly ruler above carries great responsibility.

The confidence of the man in superior place must not be abused nor the merits of the man in inferior place concealed.

  • There are officials who indeed do not strive for prominence; they hide behind the letter of the ordinances, decline all responsibility, accept pay without giving its equivalent in work, and bear empty titles.

This is the opposite of what is meant here by modesty.

  • In such a position, modesty is shown by interest in one's work.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • No boasting of wealth before one's neighbor.
  • It is favorable to attack with force.
  • Nothing that would not further.

Modesty is not to be confused with weak good nature that lets things take their own course.

  • When a man holds a responsible position, he must at times resort to energetic measures.
  • In doing so he must not try to make an impression by boasting of his superiority but must make certain of the people around him.

The measures taken should be purely objective and in no way personally offensive.

  • Thus modesty manifests itself even in severity.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Modesty that comes to expression.
  • It is favorable to set armies marching
  • To chastise one's own city and one's country.

A person who is really sincere in his modesty must make it show in reality.

  • He must proceed with great energy in this.

When enmity arises nothing is easier than to lay the blame on another.

  • A weak man takes offense perhaps, and draws back, feeling self-pity; he thinks that it is modesty that keeps him from defending himself.

Genuine modesty sets one to creating order and inspires one to begin by disciplining one's own ego and one's immediate circle.


2 There are not many hexagrams in the Book of Changes in which all the lines have an exclusively favorable meaning, as in the hexagram of MODESTY.

This shows how great a value Chinese wisdom places on this virtue.

  • Only through having the courage to marshal one's armies against oneself, will something forceful really be achieved.2


16. Yü / Enthusiasm


above: CHÊN


below: K'UN


The strong line in the fourth place, that of the leading official, meets with response and obedience from all the other lines, which are all weak.

  • The attribute of the upper trigram, Chen, is movement;
  • The attributes of K'un, the lower, are obedience and devotion.

This begins a movement that meets with devotion and therefore inspires enthusiasm, carrying all with it.

  • Of great importance, furthermore, is the law of movement along the line of least resistance, which in this hexagram is enunciated as the law for natural events and for human life.
  • ENTHUSIASM. It furthers one to install helpers
  • And to set armies marching.

The time of ENTHUSIASM derives from the fact that there is at hand an eminent man who is in sympathy with the spirit of the people and acts in accord with it.

  • Hence he finds universal and willing obedience.

To arouse enthusiasm it is necessary for a man to adjust himself and his ordinances to the character of those whom he has to lead.

  • The inviolability of natural laws rests on this principle of movement along the line of least resistance.
  • These laws are not forces external to things but represent the harmony of movement immanent in them.

That is why the celestial bodies do not deviate from their orbits and why all events in nature occur with fixed regularity.

  • It is the same with human society: only such laws as are rooted in popular sentiment can be enforced, while laws violating this sentiment merely arouse resentment.

Again, it is enthusiasm that enables us to install helpers for the completion of an undertaking without fear of secret opposition.

  • It is enthusiasm too that can unify mass movements, as in war, so that they achieve victory.
  • Thunder comes resounding out of the earth:
  • The image of ENTHUSIASM.
  • Thus the ancient kings made music
  • In order to honor merit,
  • And offered it with splendor
  • To the Supreme Deity,
  • Inviting their ancestors to be present.

When, at the beginning of summer, thunder — electrical energy — comes rushing forth from the earth again, and the first thunderstorm refreshes nature, a prolonged state of tension is resolved.

  • Joy and relief make themselves felt.

So too, music has power to ease tension within the heart and to loosen the grip of obscure emotions.

  • The enthusiasm of the heart expresses itself involuntarily in a burst of song, in dance and rhythmic movement of the body.
  • From immemorial times the inspiring effect of the invisible sound that moves all hearts, and draws them together, has mystified mankind.

Rulers have made use of this natural taste for music; they elevated and regulated it.

  • Music was looked upon as something serious and holy, designed to purify the feelings of men.
  • It fell to music to glorify the virtues of heroes and thus to construct a bridge to the world of the unseen.
  • In the temple men drew near to God with music and pantomimes (out of this later the theater developed).

Religious feeling for the Creator of the world was united with the most sacred of human feelings, that of reverence for the ancestors.

  • The ancestors were invited to these divine services as guests of the Ruler of Heaven and as representatives of humanity in the higher regions.
  • This uniting of the human past with the Divinity in solemn moments of religious inspiration established the bond between God and man.
  • The ruler who revered the Divinity in revering his ancestors became thereby the Son of Heaven, in whom the heavenly and the earthly world met in mystical contact.

These ideas are the final summation of Chinese culture. Confucius has said of the great sacrifice at which these rites were performed:

He who could wholly comprehend this sacrifice could rule the world as though it were spinning on his hand.

  • Six at the beginning means:
  • Enthusiasm that expresses itself
  • Brings misfortune.

A man in an inferior position has aristocratic connections about which he boasts enthusiastically.

  • This arrogance inevitably invites misfortune.

Enthusiasm should never be an egotistic emotion;

  • It is justified only when it is a general feeling that unites one with others.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Firm as a rock. Not a whole day.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

This describes a person who does not allow himself to be misled by any illusions.

  • While others are letting themselves be dazzled by enthusiasm, he recognizes with perfect clarity the first signs of the time.
  • Thus he neither flatters those above nor neglects those beneath him; he is as firm as a rock.

When the first sign of discord appears, he knows the right moment for withdrawing and does not delay even for a day.

  • Perseverance in such conduct will bring good fortune.

Confucius says about this line:

To know the seeds, that is divine indeed. In his association with those above him, the superior man does not flatter. In his association with those beneath him, he is not arrogant. For he knows the seeds. The seeds are the first imperceptible beginning of movement, the first trace of good fortune (or misfortune) that shows itself. The superior man perceives the seeds and immediately takes action. He does not wait even a whole day. In the Book of Changes it is said: “Firm as a rock. Not a whole day. Perseverance brings good fortune.”
     Firm as a rock, what need of a whole day?
     The judgment can be known.
     The superior man knows what is hidden and what is evident.
     He knows weakness, he knows strength as well.
     Hence the myriads look up to him.

  • Six in the third place means:
  • Enthusiasm that looks upward creates remorse.
  • Hesitation brings remorse.

This line is the opposite of the preceding one: the latter bespeaks self-reliance, while here there is enthusiastic looking up to a leader.

  • If a man hesitates too long, this also will bring remorse.
  • The right moment for approach must be seized: only then will he do the right thing.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fourth place means:
  • The source of enthusiasm.
  • He achieves great things.
  • Doubt not.
  • You gather friends around you
  • As a hair clasp gathers the hair.

This describes a man who is able to awaken enthusiasm through his own sureness and freedom from hesitation.

  • He attracts people because he has no doubts and is wholly sincere.
  • Owing to his confidence in them he wins their enthusiastic cooperation and attains success.
  • Just as a clasp draws the hair together and holds it, so he draws men together by the support he gives them.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • Persistently ill, and still does not die.

Here enthusiasm is obstructed. A man is under constant pressure, which prevents him from breathing freely.

  • However, this pressure has its advantage — it prevents him from consuming his powers in empty enthusiasm.
  • Thus constant pressure can actually serve to keep one alive.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Deluded enthusiasm.
  • But if after completion one changes,
  • There is no blame.

It is a bad thing for a man to let himself be deluded by enthusiasm.

  • But if this delusion has run its course, and he is still capable of changing, he is freed of error.
  • A sober awakening from false enthusiasm is quite possible and very favorable.


17. Sui / Following


above: TUI


below: CHÊN


The trigram Tui, the Joyous, whose attribute is gladness, is above;
Chên, the Arousing, which has the attribute of movement, is below.

  • Joy in movement induces following.

The Joyous is the youngest daughter, while the Arousing is the eldest son.

  • An older man defers to a young girl and shows her consideration.
  • By this he moves her to follow him.
  • FOLLOWING has supreme success.
  • Perseverance furthers. No blame.

In order to obtain a following one must first know how to adapt oneself.

If a man would rule he must first learn to serve, for only in this way does he secure from those below him the joyous assent that is necessary if they are to follow him.

  • If he has to obtain a following by force or cunning, by conspiracy or by creating factions, he invariably arouses resistance, which obstructs willing adherence.
  • But even joyous movement can lead to evil consequences, hence the added stipulation, "Perseverance furthers" — that is, consistency in doing right— together with "No blame."

Just as we should not ask others to follow us unless this condition is fulfilled, so it is only under this condition that we can in turn follow others without coming to harm.

  • The thought of obtaining a following through adaptation to the demands of the time is a great and significant idea; this is why the appended judgment is so favorable.
  • Thunder in the middle of the lake:
  • The image of FOLLOWING.
  • Thus the superior man at nightfall
  • Goes indoors for rest and recuperation.

In the autumn electricity withdraws into the earth again and rests.

  • Here it is the thunder in the middle of the lake that serves as the image — thunder in its winter rest, not thunder in motion.

The idea of following in the sense of adaptation to the demands of the time grows out of this image.

  • Thunder in the middle of the lake indicates times of darkness and rest.
  • Similarly, a superior man, after being tirelessly active all day, allows himself rest and recuperation at night.

No situation can become favorable until one is able to adapt to it and does not wear himself out with mistaken resistance.

  • governing ruler 14Nine at the beginning means:
  • The standard is changing.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.
  • To go out of the door in company
  • Produces deeds.

There are exceptional conditions in which the relation between leader and followers changes.

  • It is implicit in the idea of following and adaptation that if one wants to lead others, one must remain accessible and responsive to the views of those under him.
  • At the same time, however, he must have firm principles, so that he does not vacillate where there is only a question of current opinion.

Once we are ready to listen to the opinions of others, we must not associate exclusively with people who share our views or with members of our own party;

  • Instead, we must go out and mingle freely with all sorts of people, friends or foes.
  • That is the only way to achieve something.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • If one clings to the little boy,
  • One loses the strong man.

In friendships and close relationships an individual must make a careful choice.

  • He surrounds himself either with good or with bad company; he cannot have both at once.
  • If he throws himself away on unworthy friends he loses connection with people of intellectual power who could further him in the good.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • If one clings to the strong man,
  • One loses the little boy.
  • Through following one finds what one seeks.
  • It furthers one to remain persevering

When the right connection with distinguished people has been found, a certain loss naturally ensues.

  • A man must part company with the inferior and superficial.
  • But in his heart he will feel satisfied, because he will find what he seeks and needs for the development of his personality.
  • The important thing is to remain firm. He must know what he wants and not be led astray by momentary inclinations.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • Following creates success.
  • Perseverance brings misfortune.
  • To go one's way with sincerity brings clarity.
  • How could there be blame in this?

It often happens, when a man exerts a certain amount of influence, that he obtains a following by condescension toward inferiors.

  • But the people who attach themselves to him are not honest in their intentions.
  • They seek personal advantage and try to make themselves indispensable through flattery and subservience.
  • If one becomes accustomed to such satellites and cannot do without them, it brings misfortune.

Only when a man is completely free from his ego, and intent, by conviction, upon what is right and essential, does he acquire the clarity that enables him to see through such people, and become free of blame.

  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Sincere in the good. Good fortune.

Every man must have something he follows — something that serves him as a lodestar.

  • He who follows with conviction the beautiful and the good may feel himself strengthened by this saying.
  • Six at the top means:
  • He meets with firm allegiance
  • And is still further bound.
  • The king introduces him
  • To the Western Mountain.

his refers to a man, an exalted sage, who has already put the turmoil of the world behind him.

  • But a follower appears who understands him and is not to be put off.
  • So the sage comes back into the world and aids the other in his work.
  • Thus there develops an eternal tie between the two.

The allegory is chosen from the annals of the Chou dynasty.

  • The rulers of this dynasty honored men who had served them well by awarding them a place in the royal family's temple of ancestors on the Western Mountain.
  • In this way they were regarded as sharing in the destiny of the ruling family.


18. Ku / Work on What Has Been Spoiled [Decay]


above: KÊN


below: SUN


The Chinese character ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay.

  • It has come about because the gentle indifference of the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation.
  • Since this implies guilt, the conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause.
  • Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply "what has been spoiled" but "work on what has been spoiled."
  • Has supreme success.
  • It furthers one to cross the great water.
  • Before the starting point, three days.
  • After the starting point, three days.

What has been spoiled through man's fault can be made good again through man's work.

  • It is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom.
  • Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords with the possibilities of the time.
  • We must not recoil from work and danger — symbolized by crossing of the great water — but must take hold energetically.
  • Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. This is expressed by the lines,
  • "Before the starting point, three days. After the starting point, three days."

We must first know the causes of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start.

  • Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start.
  • Decisiveness and energy must take the place of the inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning.
  • The wind blows low on the mountain:
  • The image of DECAY.
  • Thus the superior man stirs up the people
  • And strengthens their spirit.

When the wind blows low on the mountain, it is thrown back and spoils the vegetation. This contains a challenge to improvement.

  • It is the same with debasing attitudes and fashions; they corrupt human society.

To do away with this corruption, the superior man must regenerate society.

  • His methods likewise must be derived from the two trigrams, but in such a way that their effects unfold in orderly sequence.
  • The superior man must first remove stagnation by stirring up public opinion, as the wind stirs everything, and must then strengthen and tranquillize the character of the people, as the mountain gives tranquility and nourishment to all that grows in its vicinity.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • Setting right what has been spoiled by the father.
  • If there is a son,
  • No blame rests upon the departed father.
  • Danger. In the end good fortune.

Rigid adherence to tradition has resulted in decay.

  • But the decay has not yet penetrated deeply and so can still be easily remedied.
  • It is as if a son were compensating for the decay his father allowed to creep in.
  • Then no blame attaches to the father.

However, one must not overlook the danger or take the matter too lightly.

  • Only if one is conscious of the danger connected with every reform will everything go well in the end.
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • Setting right what has been spoiled by the mother.
  • One must not be too persevering.

This refers to mistakes that as a result of weakness have brought about decay — hence the symbol, "what has been spoiled by the mother."

  • In setting things right in such a case, a certain gentle consideration is called for. In order not to wound, one should not attempt to proceed too drastically.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • Setting right what has been spoiled by the father.
  • There will be a little remorse. No great blame

This describes a man who proceeds a little too energetically in righting the mistakes of the past.

  • Now and then, as a result, minor discords and annoyances will surely develop. But too much energy is better than too little.
  • Therefore, although he may at times have some slight cause for regret, he remains free of any serious blame.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Tolerating what has been spoiled by the father.
  • In continuing one sees humiliation.

This shows the situation of someone too weak to take measures against decay that has its roots in the past and is just beginning to manifest itself.

  • It is allowed to run its course.
  • If this continues, humiliation will result.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • Setting right what has been spoiled by the father.
  • One meets with praise

An individual is confronted with corruption originating from neglect in former times.

  • He lacks the power to ward it off alone, but with able helpers he can at least bring about a thorough reform, if he cannot create a new beginning, and this also is praiseworthy.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • He does not serve kings and princes,
  • Sets himself higher goals.

Not every man has an obligation to mingle in the affairs of the world.

  • There are some who are developed to such a degree that they are justified in letting the world go its own way and in refusing to enter public life with a view to reforming it.

But this does not imply a right to remain idle or to sit back and merely criticize.

  • Such withdrawal is justified only when we strive to realize in ourselves the higher aims of mankind.


1 Goethe's attitude after the Napoleonic wars is an example of this in European history.
  • For although the sage remains distant from the turmoil of daily life, he creates incomparable human values for the future.1


19. Lin / Approach


above: K'UN


below: TUI


The Chinese word lin has a range of meanings that is not exhausted by any single word of another language.

The ancient explanations in the Book of Changes give as its first meaning, "becoming great."

  • What becomes great are the two strong lines growing into the hexagram from below; the light-giving power expands with them.
  • The meaning is then further extended to include the concept of approach, especially the approach of what is strong and highly placed in relation to what is lower.
  • Finally the meaning includes the attitude of condescension of a man in high position toward the people, and in general the setting to work on affairs.

This hexagram is linked with the twelfth month (January-February), when, after the winter solstice, the light power begins to ascend again.

  • APPPROACH has supreme success.
  • Perseverance furthers.
  • When the eighth month comes,
  • There will be misfortune.

The hexagram as a whole points to a time of joyous, hopeful progress.

  • Spring is approaching. Joy and forbearance bring high and low nearer together. Success is certain.
  • But we must work with determination and perseverance to make full use of the propitiousness of the time.

And one thing more: spring does not last forever.

  • In the eighth month the aspects are reversed.
  • Then only two strong, light lines are left; these do not advance but are in retreat (see next hexagram).

We must take heed of this change in good time.

  • If we meet evil before it becomes reality — before it has even begun to stir — we can master it.
  • The earth above the lake:
  • The image of APPROACH.
  • Thus the superior man is inexhaustible
  • In his will to teach,
  • And without limits
  • In his tolerance and protection of the people.


1 See the two trigrams.

The earth borders upon the lake from above.1

  • This symbolizes the approach and condescension of the man of higher position to those beneath him.

The two parts of the image indicate what his attitude toward these people will be.

  • Just as the lake is inexhaustible in depth, so the sage is inexhaustible in his readiness to teach mankind, and just as the earth is boundlessly wide, sustaining and caring for all creatures on it, so the sage sustains and cares for all people and excludes no part of humanity.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the beginning means:
  • Joint approach.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.

The good begins to prevail and to find response in influential circles.

  • This in turn is an incentive to men of ability.
  • It is well to join this upward trend, but we must not let ourselves be carried away by the current of the time; we must adhere perseveringly to what is right.
  • This brings good fortune.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the second place means:
  • Joint approach. Good fortune.
  • Everything furthers.

When the stimulus to approach comes from a high place, and when a man has the inner strength and consistency that need no admonition, good fortune will ensue.

  • Nor need the future cause any concern.

He is well aware that everything earthly is transitory, and that a descent follows upon every rise, but need not be confused by this universal law of fate.

  • Everything serves to further. Therefore he will travel the paths oflife swiftly, honestly, and valiantly.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Comfortable approach.
  • Nothing that would further.
  • If one is induced to grieve over it,
  • One becomes free of blame.

Things are going well for a man: he achieves power and influence.

  • But in this lies the danger that he may relax, and confident of his position, allow the easygoing, careless mood to show itself in his dealings with other people.
  • This would inevitably be harmful.

But there is possibility of a change of mood.

  • If he regrets his mistaken attitude and feels the responsibility of an influential position, he frees himself of faults.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Complete approach.
  • No blame.

While the three lower lines indicate rise to power and influence, the three upper lines show the attitude of persons in higher position toward those of lower rank for whom they procure influence.

  • Here is shown the open-minded approach of a person of high rank to a man of ability whom he draws into his own circle, regardless of class prejudice.
  • This is very favorable.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • Wise approach.
  • This is right for a great prince.
  • Good fortune.

A prince, or anyone in a leading position, must have the wisdom to attract to himself people of ability who are expert in directing affairs.

  • His wisdom consists both in selecting the right people and in allowing those chosen to have a free hand without interference from him.
  • For only through such self-restraint will he find the experts needed to satisfy all of his requirements.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Greathearted approach.
  • Good fortune. No blame.

A sage who has put the world behind him and who in spirit has already withdrawn from life may, under certain circumstances, decide to return once more to the here and now and to approach other men.

  • This means great good fortune for the men whom he teaches and helps.
  • And for him this greathearted humbling of himself is blameless.


20. Kuan / Contemplation (View)


above: SUN


below: K'UN


A slight variation of tonal stress gives the Chinese name for this hexagram a double meaning.

  • It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example.
  • These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.


A tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country; at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around.

  • Thus the hexagram shows a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses.

This hexagram is linked with the eighth month (September-October).

  • The light-giving power retreats and the dark power is again on the increase.
  • However, this aspect is not material in the interpretation of the hexagram as a whole.
  • CONTEMPLATION. The ablution has been made,
  • But not yet the offering.
  • Full of trust they look up to him.

The sacrificial ritual in China began with an ablution and a libation by which the Deity was invoked, after which the sacrifice was offered.

  • The moment of time between these two ceremonies is the most sacred of all, the moment of deepest inner concentration.
  • If piety is sincere and expressive of real faith, the contemplation of it has a transforming and awe-inspiring effect on those who witness it.
  • Thus also in nature a holy seriousness is to be seen in the fact that natural occurrences are uniformly subject to law.

Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects.

  • This requires that power of inner concentration which religious contemplation develops in great men strong in faith.
  • It enables them to apprehend the mysterious and divine laws of life, and by means of profoundest inner concentration they give expression to these laws in their own persons.
  • Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing and dominating others without their being aware of how it happens.
  • The wind blows over the earth:
  • The image of CONTEMPLATION.
  • Thus the kings of old visited the regions of the world,
  • Contemplated the people,
  • And gave them instruction.

When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power.

  • These two occurrences find confirmation in the hexagram.

The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old;

  • In making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice;
  • In the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed.

All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality.

  • On the one hand, such a man will have a view of the real sentiments of the great mass of humanity and therefore cannot be deceived;
  • On the other, he will impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • Boylike contemplation.
  • For an inferior man, no blame.
  • For a superior man, humiliation.

This means contemplation from a distance, without comprehension.

A man of influence is at hand, but his influence is not understood by the common people.

  • This matters little in the case of the masses, for they benefit by the actions of the ruling sage whether they understand them or not.
  • But for a superior man it is a disgrace.
  • He must not content himself with a shallow, thoughtless view of prevailing forces; he must contemplate them as a connected whole and try to understand them.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Contemplation through the crack of the door.
  • Furthering for the perseverance of a woman.

Through the crack of the door one has a limited outlook; one looks outward from within.

  • Contemplation is subjectively limited.
  • One tends to relate everything to oneself and cannot put oneself in another's place and understand his motives.
  • This is appropriate for a good housewife. It is not necessary for her to be conversant with the affairs of the world.
  • But for a man who must take active part in public life, such a narrow, egotistic way of contemplating things is of course harmful.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Contemplation of my life
  • Decides the choice
  • Between advance and retreat.

This is the place of transition.

  • We no longer look outward to receive pictures that are more or less limited and confused, but direct our contemplation upon ourselves in order to find a guideline for our decisions.
  • This self-contemplation means the overcoming of naive egotism in the person who sees everything solely from his own standpoint.

He begins to reflect and in this way acquires objectivity.

  • However, self-knowledge does not mean preoccupation with one's own thoughts; rather, it means concern about the effects one creates.
  • It is only the effects our lives produce that give us the right to judge whether what we have done means progress or regression.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Contemplation of the light of the kingdom.
  • It furthers one to exert influence as the guest of a king.

This describes a man who understands the secrets by which a kingdom can be made to flourish.

  • Such a man must be given an authoritative position, in which he can exert influence.
  • He should be, so to speak, a guest — that is, he should be honored and allowed to act independently, and should not be used as a tool.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Contemplation of my life.
  • The superior man is without blame.

A man in an authoritative position to whom others look up must always be ready for self-examination.

  • The right sort of self-examination, however, consists not in idle brooding over oneself but in examining the effects one produces.
  • Only when these effects are good, and when one's influence on others is good, will the contemplation of one's own life bring the satisfaction of knowing oneself to be free of mistakes.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the top means:
  • Contemplation of his life.
  • The superior man is without blame.

While the preceding line represents a man who contemplates himself, here in the highest place everything that is personal, related to the ego, is excluded.

  • The picture is that of a sage who stands outside the affairs of the world.
  • Liberated from his ego, he contemplates the laws of life and so realizes that knowing how to become free of blame is the highest good.


21. Shih Ho / Biting Through


above: LI


below: CHÊN


This hexagram represents an open mouth (cf. hexagram 27) with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet.

  • To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle.

Since the hexagram is made up of the trigrams for thunder and for lightning, it indicates how obstacles are forcibly removed in nature.

  • Energetic biting through overcomes the obstacle that prevents joining of the lips;
  • The storm with its thunder and lightning overcomes the disturbing tension in nature.
  • Recourse to law and penalties overcomes the disturbances of harmonious social life caused by criminals and slanderers.

The theme of this hexagram is a criminal lawsuit, in contradistinction to that of Sung, CONFLICT (6), which refers to civil suits.

  • BITING THROUGH has success.
  • It is favorable to let justice be administered.

When an obstacle to union arises, energetic biting through brings success. This is true in all situations.

  • Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking the way.
  • To prevent permanent injury, vigorous measures must be taken at once. Deliberate obstruction of this sort does not vanish of its own accord.
  • Judgment and punishment are required to deter or obviate it.

However, it is important to proceed in the right way.

  • The hexagram combines Li, clarity, and Chên, excitement. Li is yielding, Chên is hard.
  • Unqualified hardness and excitement would be too violent in meting out punishment;
  • Unqualified clarity and gentleness would be too weak.
  • The two together create the just measure.

It is of moment that the man who makes the decisions (represented by the fifth line) is gentle by nature, while he commands respect by his conduct in his position.

  • Thunder and lightning:
  • The image of BITING THROUGH.
  • Thus the kings of former times made firm the laws
  • Through clearly defined penalties.

Penalties are the individual applications of the law. The laws specify the penalties.

Clarity prevails when mild and severe penalties are clearly differentiated, according to the nature of the crimes.

  • This is symbolized by the clarity of lightning.

The law is strengthened by a just application of penalties.

  • This is symbolized by the terror of thunder.

This clarity and severity have the effect of instilling respect; it is not that the penalties are ends in themselves.

The obstructions in the social life of man increase when there is lack of clarity in the penal codes and slackness in executing them.

  • The only way to strengthen the law is to make it clear and to make penalties certain and swift.

1 Apart from the meaning of the hexagram as a whole, the single lines are explained as follows:

  • The persons represented by the first and the top line suffer punishment,
  • The others inflict it.
  • (see the corresponding lines in hexagram 4, Mêng, YOUTHFUL FOLLY)
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • His feet are fastened in the stocks,
  • So that his toes disappear.
  • No blame.

If a sentence is imposed the first time a man attempts to do wrong, the penalty is a mild one.

  • Only the toes are put in the stocks.
  • This prevents him from sinning further and thus he becomes free of blame.
  • It is a warning to halt in time on the path of evil.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Bites through tender meat,
  • So that his nose disappears.
  • No blame.

It is easy to discriminate between right and wrong in this case; it is like biting through tender meat.

  • But one encounters a hardened sinner, and, aroused by anger, one goes a little too far.
  • The disappearance of the nose in the course of the bite signifies that indignation blots out finer sensibility.
  • However, there is no great harm in this, because the penalty as such is just.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Bites on old dried meat
  • And strikes on something poisonous.
  • Slight humiliation. No blame.

Punishment is to be carried out by someone who lacks the power and authority to do so.

  • Therefore the culprits do not submit.

The matter at issue is an old one — as symbolized by salted game — and in dealing with it difficulties arise.

  • This old meat is spoiled: by taking up the problem the punisher arouses poisonous hatred against himself, and in this way is put in a somewhat humiliating position.
  • But since punishment was required by the time, he remains free of blame.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • Bites on dried gristly meat.
  • Receives metal arrows.
  • It furthers one to be mindful of difficulties
  • And to be persevering.
  • Good fortune.

There are great obstacles to be overcome, powerful opponents are to be punished.

  • Though this is arduous, the effort succeeds.
  • But it is necessary to be hard as metal and straight as an arrow to surmount the difficulties.
  • If one knows these difficulties and remains persevering, he attains good fortune.
  • The difficult task is achieved in the end.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • Bites on dried lean meat.
  • Receives yellow gold.
  • Perseveringly aware of danger.
  • No blame.

The case to be decided is indeed not easy but perfectly clear.

  • Since we naturally incline to leniency, we must make every effort to be like yellow gold — that is, as true as gold and as impartial as yellow, the color of the middle [the mean].
  • It is only by remaining conscious of the dangers growing out of the responsibility we have assumed that we can avoid making mistakes.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue,
  • So that his ears disappear.
  • Misfortune

In contrast to the first line, this line refers to a man who is incorrigible.

  • His punishment is the wooden cangue, and his ears disappear under it — that is to say, he is deaf to warnings.


2 It should be noted here that there is an alternative interpretation of this hexagram, based on the idea,
  "Above, light (the sun); below, movement."

  • In this interpretation the hexagram symbolizes a market below, full of movement, while the sun is shining in the sky above.
  • The allusion to meat suggests that it is a food market. Gold and arrows are articles of trade.

The disappearance of the nose means the vanishing of smell, that is, the person in question is not covetous.

  • The idea of poison points to the dangers of wealth, and so on throughout.

Confucius says in regard to the nine at the beginning in this hexagram:

The inferior man is not ashamed of unkindness and does not shrink from injustice. If no advantage beckons he makes no effort. If he is not intimidated he does not improve himself, but if he is made to behave correctly in small matters he is careful in large ones. This is fortunate for the inferior man.

On the subject of the nine at the top Confucius says:

If good does not accumulate, it is not enough to make a name for a man. If evil does not accumulate, it is not strong enough to destroy a man. Therefore the inferior man thinks to himself, 'Goodness in small things has no value,' and so neglects it. He thinks, 'Small sins do no harm,' and so does not give them up. Thus his sins accumulate until they can no longer be covered up, and his guilt becomes so great that it can no longer be 'wiped out.

  • This obstinacy leads to misfortune.2


22. Pi / Grace


above: KÊN


below: LI


This hexagram shows a fire that breaks out of the secret depths of the earth and, blazing up, illuminates and beautifies the mountain, the heavenly heights.

  • Grace — beauty of form — is necessary in any union if it is to be well ordered and pleasing rather than disordered and chaotic.
  • GRACE has success.
  • In small matters
  • It is favorable to undertake something.

Grace brings success. However, it is not the essential or fundamental thing; it is only the ornament and must therefore be used sparingly and only in little things.

  • In the lower trigram of fire a yielding line comes between two strong lines and makes them beautiful, but the strong lines are the essential content and the weak line is the beautifying form.
  • In the upper trigram of the mountain, the strong line takes the lead, so that here again the strong element must be regarded as the decisive factor.

In nature we see in the sky the strong light of the sun; the life of the world depends on it.

  • But this strong, essential thing is changed and given pleasing variety by the moon and the stars.

In human affairs, aesthetic form comes into being when traditions exist that, strong and abiding like mountains, are made pleasing by a lucid beauty.

  • By contemplating the forms existing in the heavens we come to understand time and its changing demands.


1 This hexagram shows tranquil beauty — clarity within, quiet without.

  • This is the tranquillity of pure contemplation.

When desire is silenced and the will comes to rest, the world-as-idea becomes manifest.

  • In this aspect the world is beautiful and removed from the struggle for existence.
  • This is the world of art.

However, contemplation alone will not put the will to rest absolutely.

  • It will awaken again, and then all the beauty of form will appear to have been only a brief moment of exaltation.
  • Hence this is still not the true way of redemption.
  • For this reason Confucius felt very uncomfortable when once, on consulting the oracle, he obtained the hexagram of GRACE.
  • Through contemplation of the forms existing in human society it becomes possible to shape the world.1
  • Fire at the foot of the mountain:
  • The image of GRACE.
  • Thus does the superior man proceed
  • When clearing up current affairs.
  • But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.

The fire, whose light illuminates the mountain and makes it pleasing, does not shine far;

  • In the same way, beautiful form suffices to brighten and to throw light upon matters of lesser moment, but important questions cannot be decided in this way. They require greater earnestness.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • He lends grace to his toes, leaves the carriage, and walks.

A beginner in a subordinate place must take upon himself the labor of advancing.

  • There might be an opportunity of surreptitiously easing the way — symbolized by the carriage — but a self-contained man scorns help gained in a dubious fashion.
  • He thinks it more graceful to go on foot than to drive in a carriage under false pretenses.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the second place means:
  • Lends grace to the beard on his chin.

The beard is not an independent thing; it moves only with the chin.

  • The image therefore means that form is to be considered only as a result and attribute of content.

The beard is a superfluous ornament.

  • To devote care to it for its own sake, without regard for the inner content of which it is an ornament, would bespeak a certain vanity.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • Graceful and moist.
  • Constant perseverance brings good fortune.

This represents a very charming life situation.

  • One is under the spell of grace and the mellow mood induced by wine.
  • This grace can adorn, but it can also swamp us.
  • Hence the warning not to sink into convivial indolence but to remain constant in perseverance. Good fortune depends on this.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Grace or simplicity?
  • A white horse comes as if on wings.
  • He is not a robber,
  • He will woo at the right time.

An individual is in a situation in which doubts arise as to which is better — to pursue the grace of external brilliance, or to return to simplicity.

  • The doubt itself implies the answer.

Confirmation comes from the outside; it comes like a white winged horse.

  • The white color indicates simplicity.
  • At first it may be disappointing to renounce comforts that might have been obtained, yet one finds peace of mind in a true relationship with the friend who courts him.
  • The winged horse is the symbol of the thoughts that transcend all limits of space and time.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • Grace in hills and gardens.
  • The roll of silk is meager and small.
  • Humiliation, but in the end good fortune.

A man withdraws from contact with people of the lowlands, who seek nothing but magnificence and luxury, into the solitude of the heights.

  • There he finds an individual to look up to, whom he would like to have as a friend.
  • But the gifts he has to offer are poor and few, so that he feels ashamed.
  • However, it is not the material gifts that count, but sincerity of feeling, and so all goes well in the end.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the top means:
  • Simple grace. No blame.

Here at the highest stage of development all ornament is discarded.

  • Form no longer conceals content but brings out its value to the full.
  • Perfect grace consists not in exterior ornamentation of the substance, but in the simple fitness of its form.


23. Po / Splitting Apart


above: KÊN


below: K'UN


The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it.

  • The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually and imperceptibly, so that it finally collapses.
  • The lines of the hexagram present the image of a house, the top line being the roof, and because the roof is being shattered the house collapses.

The hexagram belongs to the ninth month (October-November).

  • The yin power pushes up ever more powerfully and is about to supplant the yang power altogether.
  • SPLITTING APART. It does not further one
  • To go anywhere.

This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior men.

  • Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the superior man to undertake anything.

The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes.

  • The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion.
  • The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness.

This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet.

  • For it is a question not of man's doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness.
  • It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time.
  • Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.
  • The mountain rests on the earth:
  • The image of SPLITTING APART.
  • Thus those above can ensure their position
  • Only by giving generously to those below.

The mountain rests on the earth.

  • When it is steep and narrow, lacking a broad base, it must topple over.
  • Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep.

So likewise those who rule rest on the broad foundation of the people.

  • They too should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all.
  • Then they will make their position as secure as a mountain is in its tranquility.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • The leg of the bed is split.
  • Those who persevere are destroyed.
  • Misfortune.

Inferior people are on the rise and stealthily begin their destructive burrowing from below in order to undermine the place where the superior man rests.

  • Those followers of the ruler who remain loyal are destroyed by slander and intrigue.
  • The situation bodes disaster, yet there is nothing to do but wait.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • The bed is split at the edge.
  • Those who persevere are destroyed.
  • Misfortune.

he power of the inferior people is growing.

  • The danger draws close to one's person; already there are clear indications, and rest is disturbed.

Moreover, in this dangerous situation one is as yet without help or friendly advances from above or below.

  • Extreme caution is necessary in this isolation. One must adjust to the time and promptly avoid the danger.
  • Stubborn perseverance in maintaining one's standpoint would lead to downfall.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • He splits with them. No blame

An individual finds himself in an evil environment to which he is committed by external ties.

  • But he has an inner relationship with a superior man, and through this he attains the stability to free himself from the way of the inferior people around him.
  • This brings him into opposition to them of course, but that is not wrong.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • The bed is split up to the skin.
  • Misfortune.

Here the disaster affects not only the resting place but even the occupant.

  • No warning or other comment is added.
  • Misfortune has reached its peak: it can no longer be warded off.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • A shoal of fishes. Favor comes through the court ladies.
  • Everything acts to further.

Here, in immediate proximity to the strong, light-giving principle at the top, the nature of the dark force undergoes a change.

  • It no longer opposes the strong principle by means of intrigues but submits to its guidance.
  • Indeed, as the head of the other weak lines, it leads all of these to the strong line, just as a princess leads her maids-in-waiting like a shoal of fishes to her husband and thus gains his favor.
  • Inasmuch as the lower element thus voluntarily places itself under the higher, it attains happiness and the higher also receives its due. Therefore all goes well.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the top means:
  • There is a large fruit still uneaten.
  • The superior man receives a carriage.
  • The house of the inferior man is split apart.

Here the splitting apart reaches its end.

  • When misfortune has spent itself, better times return.
  • The seed of the good remains, and it is just when the fruit falls to the ground that good sprouts anew from its seed.

The superior man again attains influence and effectiveness.

  • He is supported by public opinion as if in a carriage.
  • But the inferior man's wickedness is visited upon himself.
  • His house is split apart.

A law of nature is at work here.

  • Evil is not destructive to the good alone but inevitably destroys itself as well.
  • For evil, which lives solely by negation, cannot continue to exist on its own strength alone.
  • The inferior man himself fares best when held under control by a superior man.


24. Fu / Return (The Turning Point)


above: K'UN


below: CHÊN


The idea of a turning point arises from the fact that after the dark lines have pushed all of the light lines upward and out of the hexagram, another light line enters the hexagram from below.

  • The time of darkness is past.
  • The winter solstice brings the victory of light.
  • This hexagram is linked with the eleventh month, the month of the solstice (December-January).
  • RETURN. Success.
  • Going out and coming in without error.
  • Friends come without blame.
  • To and fro goes the way.
  • On the seventh day comes return.
  • It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

After a time of decay comes the turning point.

  • The powerful light that has been banished returns.
  • There is movement, but it is not brought about by force.

The upper trigram K'un is characterized by devotion; thus the movement is natural, arising spontaneously.

  • For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy.
  • The old is discarded and the new is introduced.
  • Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results.

Societies of people sharing the same views are formed.

  • But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made.

The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature.

  • The movement is cyclic, and the course completes itself.
  • Therefore it is not necessary to hasten anything artificially.
  • Everything comes of itself at the appointed time.
  • This is the meaning of heaven and earth.

All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings return.

  • Thus the winter solstice, with which the decline of the year begins, comes in the seventh month after the summer solstice;
  • So too sunrise comes in the seventh double hour after sunset.

herefore seven is the number of the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is increased by one.

  • In this way the state of rest gives place to movement.
  • Thunder within the earth:
  • The image of THE TURNING POINT.
  • Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
  • At the time of solstice.
  • Merchants and strangers did not go about,
  • And the ruler
  • Did not travel through the provinces.

The winter solstice has always been celebrated in China as the resting time of the year — a custom that survives in the time of rest observed at the new year.

  • In winter the life energy, symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still underground.
  • Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely.

This principle, i.e., of allowing energy that is renewing itself to be reinforced by rest, applies to all similar situations.

  • The return of health after illness, the return of understanding after an estrangement: everything must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return may lead to a flowering.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the beginning means:
  • Return from a short distance.
  • No need for remorse.
  • Great good fortune.

Slight digressions from the good cannot be avoided, but one must turn back in time, before going too far.

  • This is especially important in the development of character; every faintly evil thought must be put aside immediately, before it goes too far and takes root in the mind.
  • Then there is no cause for remorse, and all goes well.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Quiet return. Good fortune

Return always calls for a decision and is an act of self-mastery.

  • It is made easier if a man is in good company.
  • If he can bring himself to put aside pride and follow the example of good men, good fortune results.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Repeated return. Danger. No blame.

There are people of a certain inner instability who feel a constant urge to reverse themselves.

  • There is danger in continually deserting the good because of uncontrolled desires, then turning back to it again because of a better resolution.
  • However, since this does not lead to habituation in evil, a general inclination to overcome the defect is not wholly excluded.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Walking in the midst of others,
  • One returns alone.

A man is in a society composed of inferior people, but is connected spiritually with a strong and good friend, and this makes him turn back alone.

  • Although nothing is said of reward and punishment, this return is certainly favorable, for such a resolve to choose the good brings its own reward.
  • Six in the fifth place means:
  • Noblehearted return. No remorse.

When the time for return has come, a man should not take shelter in trivial excuses, but should look within and examine himself.

  • And if he has done something wrong he should make a noblehearted resolve to confess his fault.
  • No one will regret having taken this road.
  • Six at the top means:
  • Missing the return. Misfortune.
  • Misfortune from within and without.
  • If armies are set marching in this way,
  • One will in the end suffer a great defeat,
  • Disastrous for the ruler of the country.
  • For ten years
  • It will not be possible to attack again.

If a man misses the right time for return, he meets with misfortune.

  • The misfortune has its inner cause in a wrong attitude toward the world.
  • The misfortune coming upon him from without results from this wrong attitude.
  • What is pictured here is blind obstinacy and the judgment that is visited upon it.


25. Wu Wang / Innocence (The Unexpected)


above: CH'IEN


below: CHÊN


Ch'ien, heaven, is above; Chên, movement, is below.

  • The lower trigram Chên is under the influence of the strong line it has received from above, from heaven.

When, in accord with this, movement follows the law of heaven, man is innocent and without guile.

  • His mind is natural and true, unshadowed by reflection or ulterior designs.
  • For wherever conscious purpose is to be seen, there the truth and innocence of nature have been lost.

Nature that is not directed by the spirit is not true but degenerate nature.

  • Starting out with the idea of the natural, the train of thought in part goes somewhat further and thus the hexagram includes also the idea of the unintentional or unexpected.
  • INNOCENCE. Supreme success.
  • Perseverance furthers.
  • If someone is not as he should be,
  • He has misfortune,
  • And it does not further him
  • To undertake anything.

Man has received from heaven a nature innately good, to guide him in all his movements.

  • By devotion to this divine spirit within himself, he attains an unsullied innocence that leads him to do right with instinctive sureness and without any ulterior thought of reward and personal advantage.
  • This instinctive certainty brings about supreme success and "furthers through perseverance."

However, not everything instinctive is nature in this higher sense of the word, but only that which is right and in accord with the will of heaven.

  • Without this quality of rightness, an unreflecting, instinctive way of acting brings only misfortune.

Confucius says about this:

He who departs from innocence, what does he come to?
Heaven's will and blessing do not go with his deeds.

  • Under heaven thunder rolls:
  • All things attain the natural state of innocence.
  • Thus the kings of old,
  • Rich in virtue, and in harmony with the time,
  • Fostered and nourished all beings.

In springtime when thunder, life energy, begins to move again under the heavens, everything sprouts and grows, and all beings receive from the creative activity of nature the childlike innocence of their original state.

So it is with the good rulers of mankind: drawing on the spiritual wealth at their command, they take care of all forms of life and all forms of culture and do everything to further them, and at the proper time.

  • governing ruler 14Nine at the beginning means:
  • Innocent behavior brings good fortune.

The original impulses of the heart are always good, so that we may follow them confidently, assured of good fortune and achievement of our aims.

  • Six in the second place means:
  • If one does not count on the harvest while plowing,
  • Nor on the use of the ground while clearing it,
  • It furthers one to undertake something.

We should do every task for its own sake as time and place demand and not with an eye to the result.

  • Then each task turns out well, and anything we undertake succeeds.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Undeserved misfortune.
  • The cow that was tethered by someone
  • Is the wanderer's gain, the citizen's loss.

Sometimes undeserved misfortune befalls a man at the hands of another, as for instance when someone passes by and takes a tethered cow along with him.

  • His gain is the owner's loss.
  • In all transactions, no matter how innocent, we must accommodate ourselves to the demands of the time, otherwise unexpected misfortune overtakes us.
  • Nine in the fourth place means:
  • He who can be persevering
  • Remains without blame.

We cannot lose what really belongs to us, even if we throw it away.

  • Therefore we need have no anxiety.
  • All that need concern us is that we should remain true to our own natures and not listen to others.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fifth place means:
  • Use no medicine in an illness
  • Incurred through no fault of your own.
  • It will pass of itself.

An unexpected evil may come accidentally from without.

  • If it does not originate in one's own nature or have a foothold there, one should not resort to external means to eradicate it, but should quietly let nature take its course. Then improvement will come of itself.
  • Nine at the top means:
  • Innocent action brings misfortune.
  • Nothing furthers.

When, in a given situation, the time is not ripe for further progress, the best thing to do is to wait quietly, without ulterior designs.

  • If one acts thoughtlessly and tries to push ahead in opposition to fate, success will not be achieved.


26. Ta Ch'u / The Taming Power of the Great


above: KÊN


below: CH'IEN


The Creative is tamed by Kên, Keeping Still.

This produces great power, a situation in contrast to that of the ninth hexagram, Hsiao Ch'u, THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL, in which the Creative is tamed by the Gentle alone.

  • There one weak line must tame five strong lines, but here four strong lines are restrained by two weak lines;
  • In addition to a minister, there is a prince, and the restraining power therefore is far stronger.

The hexagram has a threefold meaning, expressing different aspects of the concept "holding firm."

  • Heaven within the mountain gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding together;
  • The trigram Kên, which holds the trigram Ch'ien still, gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding back;
  • The third idea is that of holding firm in the sense of caring for and nourishing.

This last is suggested by the fact that a strong line at the top, which is the ruler of the hexagram, is honored and tended as a sage.

  • The third of these meanings also attaches specifically to this strong line at the top, which represents the sage.
  • Perseverance furthers.
  • Not eating at home brings good fortune.
  • It furthers one to cross the great water.

To hold firmly to great creative powers and store them up, as set forth in this hexagram, there is need of a strong, clearheaded man who is honored by the ruler.

  • The trigram Ch'ien points to strong creative power; Kên indicates firmness and truth.
  • Both point to light and clarity and to the daily renewal of character.
  • Only through such daily self-renewal can a man continue at the height of his powers.

Force of habit helps to keep order in quiet times; but in periods when there is a great storing up of energy, everything depends on the power of the personality.

  • However, since the worthy are honored, as in the case of the strong personality entrusted with leadership by the ruler, it is an advantage not to eat at home but rather to earn one's bread by entering upon public office.
  • Such a man is in harmony with heaven; therefore even great and difficult undertakings, such as crossing the great water, succeed.
  • Heaven within the mountain:
  • Thus the superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity
  • And many deeds of the past,
  • In order to strengthen his character thereby.

Heaven within the mountain points to hidden treasures.

  • In the words and deeds of the past there lies hidden a treasure that men may use to strengthen and elevate their own characters.
  • The way to study the past is not to confine oneself to mere knowledge of history but, through application of this knowledge, to give actuality to the past.
  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • Danger is at hand. It furthers one to desist.

A man wishes to make vigorous advance, but circumstances present an obstacle.

  • He sees himself held back firmly.
  • If he should attempt to force an advance, it would lead him into misfortune.
  • Therefore it is better for him to compose himself and to wait until an outlet is offered for release of his stored-up energies
  • Nine in the second place means:
  • The axletrees are taken from the wagon.

Here advance is checked just as in the third line of THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL (9).

  • However, in the latter the restraining force is slight; thus a conflict arises between the propulsive and the restraining movement, as a result of which the spokes fall out of the wagon wheels,
  • While here the restraining force is absolutely superior; hence no struggle takes place.

One submits and removes the axletrees from the wagon — in other words, contents himself with waiting.

  • In this way energy accumulates for a vigorous advance later on.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • A good horse that follows others.
  • Awareness of danger,
  • With perseverance, furthers.
  • Practice chariot driving and armed defense daily.
  • It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

The way opens; the hindrance has been cleared away.

  • A man is in contact with a strong will acting in the same direction as his own, and goes forward like one good horse following another.
  • But danger still threatens, and he must remain aware of it, or he will be robbed of his firmness.

Thus he must acquire skill on the one hand in what will take him forward, and on the other in what will protect him against unforeseen attacks.

  • It is good in such a pass to have a goal toward which to strive.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • The headboard of a young bull.
  • Great good fortune.

This line and the one following it are the two that tame the forward-pushing lower lines.

  • Before a bull's horns grow out, a headboard is fastened to its forehead, so that later when the horns appear they cannot do harm.
  • A good way to restrain wild force is to forestall it.
  • By so doing one achieves an easy and a great success.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • The tusk of a gelded boar.
  • Good fortune.

Here the restraining of the impetuous forward drive is achieved in an indirect way.

  • A boar's tusk is in itself dangerous, but if the boar's nature is altered, the tusk is no longer a menace.
  • Thus also where men are concerned, wild force should not be combated directly; instead, its roots should be eradicated.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the top means:
  • One attains the way of heaven. Success.

The time of obstruction is past.

  • The energy long dammed up by inhibition forces its way out and achieves great success.
  • This refers to a man who is honored by the ruler and whose principles now prevail and shape the world.


27. I / The Corners of the Mouth


above: KÊN


below: CHÊN


This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are the firm lines of the lips, and between them the opening.

  • Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself.
  • Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines,
  • While the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.
  • Perseverance brings good fortune.
  • Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
  • And to what a man seeks
  • To fill his own mouth with.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way.

  • If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes.

Nature nourishes all creatures.

  • The great man fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men through them.

Mencius says about this:

If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his nature is a superior man.1


1 Book of Mencius, bk. VI, sec. A, 14. [Mencius lived from 389 to 305 B.C.]
  • At the foot of the mountain, thunder:
  • Thus the superior man is careful of his words
  • And temperate in eating and drinking.


2 See page 268, sec. 5.

"God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing"2:

  • When in the spring the life forces stir again, all things come into being anew.

"He brings to perfection in the sign of Keeping Still":

  • Thus in the early spring, when the seeds fall to earth, all things are made ready.
  • This is an image of providing nourishment through movement and tranquillity.

The superior man takes it as a pattern for the nourishment and cultivation of his character.

  • Words are a movement going from within outward.
  • Eating and drinking are movements from without inward.
  • Both kinds of movement can be modified by tranquillity.

For tranquillity keeps the words that come out of the mouth from exceeding proper measure, and keeps the food that goes into the mouth from exceeding its proper measure. Thus character is cultivated.

  • Nine at the beginning means:
  • You let your magic tortoise go,
  • And look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping.
  • Misfortune.

The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment.

  • The image means that a man fitted by nature and position to live freely and independently renounces this self-reliance and instead looks with envy and discontent at others who are outwardly in better circumstances.
  • But such base envy only arouses derision and contempt in those others.
  • This has bad results.
  • Six in the second place means:
  • Turning to the summit for nourishment,
  • Deviating from the path
  • To seek nourishment from the hill.
  • Continuing to do this brings misfortune.

Normally a person either provides his own means of nourishment or is supported in a proper way by those whose duty and privilege it is to provide for him.

  • If, owing to weakness of spirit, a man cannot support himself, a feeling of uneasiness comes over him;
  • This is because in shirking the proper way of obtaining a living, he accepts support as a favor from those in higher place.
  • This is unworthy, for he is deviating from his true nature.
  • Kept up indefinitely, this course leads to misfortune.
  • Six in the third place means:
  • Turning away from nourishment.
  • Perseverance brings misfortune.
  • Do not act thus for ten years.
  • Nothing serves to further.

He who seeks nourishment that does not nourish reels from desire to gratification and in gratification craves desire.

  • Mad pursuit of pleasure for the satisfaction of the senses never brings one to the goal.
  • One should never (ten years is a complete cycle of time) follow this path, for nothing good can come of it.
  • Six in the fourth place means:
  • Turning to the summit For provision of nourishment
  • Brings good fortune.
  • Spying about with sharp eyes
  • Like a tiger with insatiable craving.
  • No blame.

In contrast to the six in the second place, which refers to a man bent exclusively on his own advantage, this line refers to one occupying a high position and striving to let his light shine forth.

  • To do this he needs helpers, because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone.
  • With the greed of a hungry tiger he is on the lookout for the right people.
  • Since he is not working for himself but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.
  • governing ruler 14Six in the fifth place means:
  • Turning away from the path.
  • To remain persevering brings good fortune.
  • One should not cross the great water.

A man may be conscious of a deficiency in himself.

  • He should be undertaking the nourishment of the people, but he has not the strength to do it.
  • Thus he must turn from his accustomed path and beg counsel and help from a man who is spiritually his superior but undistinguished outwardly.

If he maintains this attitude of mind perseveringly, success and good fortune are his.

  • But he must remain aware of his dependence.
  • He must not put his own person forward nor attempt great labors, such as crossing the great water.
  • governing ruler 14Nine at the top means:
  • The source of nourishment.
  • Awareness of danger brings good fortune.
  • It furthers one to cross the great water.

This describes a sage of the highest order, from whom emanate all influences that provide nourishment for others.

  • Such a position brings with it heavy responsibility.
  • If he remains conscious of this fact, he has good fortune and may confidently undertake even great and difficult labors, such as crossing the great water.
  • These undertakings bring general happiness for him and for all others.


28. Ta Kuo / Preponderance of the Great


above: TUI


below: SUN


This hexagram consists of four strong lines inside and two weak lines outside.

  • When the strong are outside and the weak inside, all is well and there is nothing out of balance, nothing extraordinary in the situation.
  • Here, however, the opposite is the case.

The hexagram represents a beam that is thick and heavy in the middle but too weak at the ends.

  • This is a condition that cannot last; it must be changed, must pass, or misfortune will result.
  • The ridgepole sags to the breaking point.
  • It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
  • Success.

The weight of the great is excessive. The load is too heavy for the strength of the supports.

  • The ridgepole, on which the whole roof rests, sags to the breaking point, because its supporting ends are too weak for the load they bear.
  • It is an exceptional time and situation; therefore extraordinary measures are demanded.
  • It is necessary to find a way of transition as quickly as possible, and to take action.

This promises success. For although the strong element is in excess, it is in the middle, that is, at the center of gravity, so that a revolution is not to be feared.

  • Nothing is to be achieved by forcible measures.
  • The problem must be solved by gentle penetration to the meaning of the situation (as is suggested by the attribute of the inner trigram, Sun); then the change-over to other conditions will be successful.
  • It demands real superiority; therefore the time when the great preponderates is a momentous time.
  • The lake rises above the trees:
  • Thus the superior man, when he stands alone,
  • Is unconcerned,
  • And if he has to renounce the world,
  • He is undaunted.

Extraordinary times when the great preponderates are like floodtimes when the lake rises over the treetops.

  • But such conditions are temporary.

The two trigrams indicate the attitude proper to such exceptional times:

  • The symbol of the trigram Sun is the tree, which stands firm even though it stands alone,
  • And the attribute of Tui is joyousness, which remains undaunted even if it must renounce the world.
  • Six at the beginning means:
  • To spread white rushes underneath.
  • No blame.

When a man wishes to undertake an enterprise in extraordinary times, he must be extraordinarily cautious, just as when setting a heavy thing down on the floor, one takes care to put rushes under it, so that nothing will break.

  • This caution, though it may seem exaggerated, is not a mistake.
  • Exceptional enterprises cannot succeed unless utmost caution is observed in their beginnings and in the laying of their foundations.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the second place means:
  • A dry poplar sprouts at the root.
  • An older man takes a young wife.
  • Everything furthers.

Wood is near water; hence the image of an old poplar sprouting at the root.

  • This means an extraordinary reanimation of the processes of growth.

In the same way, an extraordinary situation arises when an older man marries a young girl who suits him.

  • Despite the unusualness of the situation, all goes well.
  • From the point of view of politics, the meaning is that in exceptional times one does well to join with the lowly, for this affords a possibility of renewal.
  • Nine in the third place means:
  • The ridgepole sags to the breaking point.
  • Misfortune.

This indicates a type of man who in times of preponderance of the great insists on pushing ahead.

  • He accepts no advice from others, and therefore they in turn are not willing to lend him support.
  • Because of this the burden grows, until the structure of things bends or breaks.
  • Plunging willfully ahead in times of danger only hastens the catastrophe.
  • governing ruler 14Nine in the fourth place means:
  • The ridgepole is braced. Good fortune.
  • If there are ulterior motives, it is humiliating

Through friendly relations with people of lower rank, a responsible man succeeds in becoming master of the situation.

  • But if, instead of working for the rescue of the whole, he were to misuse his connections to obtain personal power and success, it would lead to humiliation.
  • Nine in the fifth place means:
  • A withered poplar puts forth flowers.
  • An older woman takes a husband.
  • No blame. No praise.

A withered poplar that flowers exhausts its energies thereby and only hastens its end.

  • An older woman may marry once more, but no renewal takes place. Everything remains barren.
  • Thus, though all the amenities are observed, the net result is only the anomaly of the situation.

Applied to politics, the metaphor means that if in times of insecurity we give up alliance with those below us and keep up only the relationships we have with people of higher rank, an unstable situation is created.

  • Six at the top means:
  • One must go through the water.
  • It goes over one's head.
  • Misfortune. No blame