Category Archives: 30. Li – The Clinging (Fire)

Li – The Clinging (Fire)


This hexagram is another double sign. The trigram Li means, “to cling to something,” “to be conditioned,” “to depend or rest on something,” and also “brightness.” A dark line clings to two light lines, one above and one below—the image of an empty space between two strong lines, whereby the two strong lines are made bright. The trigram represents the middle daughter. The Creative has incorporated the central line of the Receptive, and thus Li develops. As an image, it is fire. Fire has no definite form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright. As water pours down from heaven, so fire flames up from the earth [as the torches that guide and illumine our paths in darkness, as the Hermit’s lamp of his star, they are encroached upon the darkness of Yin, but the hold strong to the purpose thus they are supported from without by the strenght of Heavens and purpose]. While K’an means the soul shut within the body, Li stands for nature in its radiance [the bathing and fire of the soul, that through alchemy of various traditions ignites, rounds and is awakened into the higher body of consciousness]


THE CLINGING. Perseverance furthers.It brings success. Care of the cow brings good fortune.What is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out [continuous spiritual fire is renewed by the Heavens, it never burns out, like the Suns its splendid light is renewed by Aions]. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine.Thus sun and moon cling to heaven, and grain, grass, and trees cling to the earth [a man clings to nature on which he relies, and to Heavens, the middle is the watchtower from which he looks up and down and negotiates to incorporate the laws] So too the twofold clarity of the dedicated man clings to what is right and thereby can shape the world. Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree [that is not to say that he is a slave that lives a pre-determined life, he is free within the laws of the conditioned, whenever he pursues excess he is punished by the laws of worlds that surpass his animal form] and when man recognizes this limitation [responsible freedom is also responsible limitation, not by force, but by a free stance recognizing what are the limits, and by rounding what is given and known, according to capacity and skill, proportionally to need, pioneers and rebels find these limits themselves when they burn their fingers, and discover what their minds and feelings are capable of and establish new discoveries in the light of reason, traditionalists and followers are taught these limits by social contracts and exchange, there are these who explore, these who construct, and these who uphold, these who reform, and these who thrive] and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he achieves success. The cow is the symbol of extreme docility. By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world.


That which is bright rises twice: The image of FIRE. Thus the great man, by perpetuating this brightness, Illumines the four quarters of the world. Each of the two trigrams represents the sun in the course of a day. The two together represent the repeated movement of the sun, the function of light with respect to time. The great man continues the work of nature in the human world. Through the clarity of his nature he causes the light to spread farther and farther and to penetrate the nature of man ever more deeply.


Nine at the beginning means:The footprints run crisscross.If one is seriously intent, no blame.It is early morning and work begins. The mind has been closed to the outside world in sleep; now its connections with the world begin again [the image of the world is re-arranged upon waking, renewed, the mind and senses memorize it, the selfhood creates an illusion of permant continuity, something graspable, it flows through consciousness]. The traces of one’s impressions run crisscross. Activity and haste prevail. It is important then to preserve inner composure and not to allow oneself to be swept along by the bustle of life [even upon waking, one brings oneself to discipline, light, not rigorous, continuity of the terrestrial scene]. If one is serious and composed, he can acquire the clarity of mind needed for coming to terms with the innumerable impressions that pour in [they are difficult to contain at first, but with clarity in mind we regain ourselves brightly grateful]. It is precisely at the beginning that serious concentration is important, because the beginning holds the seed of all that is to follow.

Six in the second place means: Yellow light. Supreme good fortune.Midday has come; the sun shines with a yellow light. Yellow is the color of measure and mean. Yellow light is therefore a symbol of the highest culture and art, whose consummate harmony consists in holding to the mean.

Nine in the third place means: In the light of the setting sun,Men either beat the pot and sing Or loudly bewail the approach of old age [if proportion, mean and measure were set through motion in life, old age is a gift, and a portend of going back home, after leaving the weary bones to decay in the cycles of nature] Misfortune. Here the end of the day has come. The light of the setting sun calls to mind the fact that life is transitory and conditional. Caught in this external bondage, men are usually robbed of their inner freedom as well [with age senses, body and mind refuse to obey our wills, we come close to recognizing the conditions of our animal bodies, in great sickness, and in old age we come close to this melancholic realization, how better it is to prepare oneself for old age knowing thus and training to retain our mind and composure for the senile times, when there is a greater chance we depart in wisdom and in full command of the sobriety of an old mind]. The sense of the transitoriness of life impels them to uninhibited revelry in order to enjoy life while it lasts, or else they yield to melancholy and spoil the precious time by lamenting the approach of old age. Both attitudes are wrong. To the superior man it makes no difference whether death comes early or late. He cultivates himself, awaits his allotted time, and in this way secures his fate.

Nine in the fourth place means: Its coming is sudden;It flames up, dies down, is thrown away. Clarity of mind has the same relation to life that fire has to wood. Fire clings to wood, but also consumes it. Clarity of mind is rooted in life but can also consume it. Everything depends upon how the clarity functions. Here the image used is that of a meteor or a straw fire. A man who is excitable and restless may rise quickly to prominence but produces no lasting effects. Thus matters end badly when a man spends himself too rapidly and consumes himself like a meteor [it is the case with withdrawn or introverted people, these who build their inner temple and carefully furnish it with strong, purposeful and beautiful things, shine them forth as mature works later, or in parallel to their development, these who shine strongly at first, but lack foundations are youthfull fires, they are also beautiful, but they lack the fixed conditions to last and built monoliths of their lives, after all both fames are rarely lasting, and they are soon forgotten – it is better to strife for the better in others, than that of preserving oneself in memory, the ideas put into motion for excelled effects in others are worth many a greater thing than short-lasted fames. Who remembers teachers of Confucius? Yet they trained the young boy and make him outgrow them, a master who did not leave a greater disciple than himself must surely consider himself peerless yet saddened, ‘if there are no monks, there are no masters’ – in other words, if there are no aspirants, the jewels are not found]

Six in the fifth place means: Tears in floods, sighing and lamenting.Good fortune.Here the zenith of life has been reached. Were there no warning, one would at this point consume oneself like a flame. Instead, understanding the vanity of all things, one may put aside both hope and fear, and sigh and lament: if one is intent on retaining his clarity of mind, good fortune will come from this grief. For here we are dealing not with a passing mood, as in the nine in the third place, but with a real change of heart [re-centering around great misfortunes, a new way is found, it shines brightly, as it is a different way, no longer we are troubled by any of these misfortunes that befall on other men, it is to be solved within by realization, it is not to be found elsewhere]

Nine at the top means:The king uses him to march forth and chastise.Then it is best to kill the leaders And take captive the followers. No blame.It is not the purpose of chastisement to impose punishment blindly but to create discipline. Evil must be cured at its roots. To eradicate evil in political life, it is best to kill the ringleaders and spare the followers. In educating oneself it is best to root out bad habits and tolerate those that are harmless. For asceticism that is too strict, like sentences of undue severity, fails in its purpose.