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Wei Chi – Before Completion


This hexagram indicates a time when the transition from disorder to order is not yet completed. The change is indeed prepared for, since all the lines in the upper trigram are in relation to those in the lower. However, they are not yet in their places. While the preceding hexagram offers an analogy to autumn, which forms the transition from summer to winter, this hexagram presents a parallel to spring, which leads out of winter’s stagnation into the fruitful time of summer. With this hopeful outlook the Book of Changes comes to its close.


BEFORE COMPLETION. Success. But if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing, gets his tail in the water, there is nothing that would further.The conditions are difficult. The task is great and full of responsibility. It is nothing less than that of leading the world out of confusion back to order. But it is a task that promises success, because there is a goal that can unite the forces now tending in different directions. At first, however, one must move warily, like an old fox walking over ice. The caution of a fox walking over ice is proverbial in China. His ears are constantly alert to the cracking of the ice, as he carefully and circumspectly searches out the safest spots. A young fox who as yet has not acquired this caution goes ahead boldly, and it may happen that he falls in and gets his tail wet when he is almost across the water. Then of course his effort has been all in vain [when we move swiftly like a fox and avoid dangers alert, confront the necessary in a cunning fashion, yet time does not further we age and then the greatest of our efforts go to waste, there is a proper mean to proper age and time]. Accordingly, in times “before completion,” deliberation and caution are the prerequisites of success.


Fire over water: The image of the condition before transition.Thus the superior man is careful. In the differentiation of things, so that each finds its place. When fire, which by nature flames upward, is above, and water, which flows downward, is below, their effects take opposite directions and remain unrelated. If we wish to achieve an effect, we must first investigate the nature of the forces in question and ascertain their proper place. If we can bring these forces to bear in the right place, they will have the desired effect, and completion will be achieved [all rounding is done through combining the perceived dualisms through a transcendent which sees the whole]. But in order to handle external forces properly, we must above all arrive at the correct standpoint ourselves, for only from this vantage can we work correctly.


Six at the beginning means:

He gets his tail in the water. Humiliating. In times of disorder there is a temptation to advance oneself as rapidly as possible in order to accomplish something tangible. But this enthusiasm leads only to failure and humiliation if the time for achievement has not yet arrived. In such a time it is wise to spare ourselves the opprobrium of failure by holding back.

Nine in the second place means:

He brakes his wheels.Perseverance brings good fortune.Here again the time to act has not yet come. But the patience needed is not that of idle waiting without to any success. Instead, an individual must develop in himself the strength that will enable him to go forward. He must have a vehicle, as it were, to effect the crossing. But he must for the time being use the brakes [if one loses breaks, it is wise to limit his action through forcing new ones in, otherwise he falls apart in degeneration and disorder]. Patience in the highest sense means putting brakes on strength. Therefore he must not fall asleep and lose sight of the goal. If he remains strong and steadfast in his resolve, all goes well in the end.

Six in the third place means:Before completion, attack brings misfortune.It furthers one to cross the great water.The time of transition has arrived, but one lacks the strength to complete the transition. If one should attempt to force it, disaster would result, because collapse would then be unavoidable. What is to be done? A new situation must be created; one must engage the energies of able helpers and in this fellowship take the decisive step—cross the great water. Then completion will become possible.

Nine in the fourth place means: Perseverance brings good fortune.Remorse disappears. Shock, thus to discipline the Devil’s Country. For three years, great realms are awarded thought of the morrow. Kept up indefinitely, this would not lead. Now it is the time of struggle. The transition must be completed. We must make ourselves strong in resolution; this brings good fortune. All misgivings that might arise in such grave times of struggle must be silenced. It is a question of a fierce battle to break and to discipline the Devil’s Country, the forces of decadence. But the struggle also has its reward. Now is the time to lay the foundations of power and mastery for the future.

Six in the fifth place means:Perseverance brings good fortune.No remorse.The light of the superior man is true.Good fortune.The victory has been won. The power of steadfastness has not been routed. Everything has gone well. All misgivings have been overcome. Success has justified the deed. The light of a superior personality shines forth anew and makes its influence felt among men who have faith in it and rally around it. The new time has arrived, and with it good fortune. And just as the sun shines forth in redoubled beauty after rain, or as a forest grows more freshly green from charred ruins after a fire, so the new era appears all the more glorious by contrast with the misery of the old.

Nine at the top means:There is drinking of wineIn genuine confidence. No blame.But if one wets his head,He loses it, in truth. Before completion, at the dawning of the new time, friends foregather in an atmosphere of mutual trust, and the time of waiting is passed in conviviality. Since the new era is hard on the threshold, there is no blame in this. But one must be careful in all this to keep within proper bounds. If in his exuberance a man gets drunk, he forfeits the favorableness of the situation through his intemperance [moderation in golden times of great joy are dignified, they don’t turn to excess]

NOTE. The hexagram AFTER COMPLETION represents a gradual transition from a time of ascent past a peak of culture to a time of standstill. The hexagram BEFORE COMPLETION represents a transition from chaos to order. This hexagram comes at the end of the Book of Changes. It points to the fact that every end contains a new beginning. Thus it gives hope to men. The Book of Changes is a book of the future.


Chieh – Limitation


A lake occupies a limited space. When more water comes into it, it overflows. Therefore limits must be set for the water. The image shows water below and water above, with the firmament between them as a limit. The Chinese word for limitation really denotes the joints that divide a bamboo stalk. In relation to ordinary life it means the thrift that sets fixed limits upon expenditures. In relation to the moral sphere it means the fixed limits that the superior man sets upon his actions—the limits of loyalty and disinterestedness [not exceeding the boundaries of inner truth, and conducting oneself in a right manner]


LIMITATION. Success. Galling limitation must not be persevered in. Limitations are troublesome, but they are effective [what is strongly bound in limitation, grows elsewhere, if this growth is wise and directed, it leads to supreme effects in character, similar to mental yoga or meditation, disciplining the mind serves to toughen and render it more attentive, perceptive and intelligent]. If we live economically in normal times, we are prepared for times of want. To be sparing saves us from humiliation. Limitations are also indispensable in the regulation of world conditions. In nature there are fixed limits for summer and winter, day and night, and these limits give the year its meaning. In the same way, economy, by setting fixed limits upon expenditures, acts to preserve property and prevent injury to the people. But in limitation we must observe due measure. If a man should seek to impose galling limitations upon his own nature, it would be injurious. And if he should go too far in imposing limitations on others, they would rebel. Therefore it is necessary to set limits even upon limitation [limitations turning into rigour is a stiff attachment, contracting and expanding to shape the nature, to give it direction according to command over self polishes the men and women]


Water over lake: the image of LIMITATION. Thus the superior man creates number and measure and examines the nature of virtue and correct conduct [virtues are resolved through reason, they are therefore reasonable in the light of the whole, what is a vice is unreasonable in the light of the whole, and resolves itself in darkened delusion, or ignorance, when reason is tied with Intellect, we are hunting for mirroring the Divine. When sets the proportion and content, maps the inner and outer boundaries of the worldly, the human, and the Divine, and thus measures it in a fine harmony, contemplaing the structure and the web of inter-relations and causality he incorporates and sees the essence within and without]. A lake is something limited. Water is inexhaustible. A lake can contain only a definite amount of the infinite quantity of water; this is its peculiarity. In human life too the individual achieves significance through discrimination and the setting of limits. Therefore what concerns us here is the problem of clearly defining these discriminations, which are, so to speak, the backbone of morality. Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man [they destroy him, excessive passions and attachments consume him until he destroys himself, and then finding himself on the bottom, he raises himself above them, never to suffer them again, similarly, men is not infinite, he has a form and nature, half animal, aspiring to the divine, the bodies and minds have their limit in exposure to chaos beyond order, thus one unwisely subject to excess is corrected or perishes, one dwelling on chaos becomes insane if he truly meets these forces, and as soon as he sobers up, sets limits to his activity, creating a new order] if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man’s life needs the limitations ordained by duty [if one is dutiless, may he judge – what can he apply himself into, what skills and talents does he possess – and thus the duties may be self-forged, giving sense and meaning to life, otherwise one is lost in discouragous stagnation, taking effective action in one’s area is important, pioneers are characterized by such boldness, people of strenght are self-tone and self-directed towards greated aims and duties, they don’t need to be asked or forced to perform their duties] and voluntarily accepted. The individual attains significance as a free spirit only by surrounding himself with these limitations and by determining for himself what his duty is.


Nine at the beginning means: Not going out of the door and the courtyard is without blame. Often a man who would like to undertake something finds himself confronted by insurmountable limitations. Then he must know where to stop. If he rightly understands this and does not go beyond the limits set for him, he accumulates an energy that enables him, when the proper time comes, to act with great force. Discretion is of prime importance in preparing the way for momentous things.

Concerning this, Confucius says:

“Where disorder develops, words are the first steps. If the prince is not discreet, he loses his servant. If the servant is not discreet, he loses his life. If germinating things are not handled with discretion, the perfecting of them is impeded. Therefore the superior man is careful to maintain silence and does not go forth.” [if a young plant is exposed to scorching sunlight as in droughts, it dies, the scorching sunlight are the unsurmountable difficulties, it needs to gather strenght and emerges at the right time, least all will be spoiled, become too accustomed to count, losing its initial break-through force and disappear without notice]

Nine in the second place means:Not going out of the gate and the courtyard brings misfortune. When the time for action has come, the moment must be quickly seized. Just as water first collects in a lake without flowing out, yet is certain to find an outlet when the lake is full, so it is in the life of man. It is a good thing to hesitate so long as the time for action has not come, but no longer. Once the obstacles to action have been removed, anxious hesitation is a mistake that is bound to bring disaster, because one misses one’s opportunity [missing opportunity and not taking decisive action by whatsoever reason, inner or outer, cognizant or ignored should not however be lamented upon, one may lose a major strategical move, but let him settle for what he may still achive, and thus progress, otherwise one becries a lost moment and freezes in a stagnant mindset of ‘what if?’ Life has its own laws, and they need to be accommodate to their fullest, like the lake that sets the limit to water]

Six in the third place means: He who knows no limitation will have cause to lament. No blame. If an individual is bent only on pleasures and enjoyment, it is easy for him to lose his sense of the limits that are necessary. If he gives himself over to extravagance, he will have to suffer the consequences, with accompanying regret. He must not seek to lay the blame on others. Only when we realize that our mistakes are of our own making will such disagreeable experiences free us of errors [the wheel of karma has turned, may all blame be banished to self-grasping, seeking fault in the world means we have a wrong relation to occurences of events, and need to change our perspective, similarly – seeking blame in others is outsourcing our command over our self to something outside of our control, and disables us in perfecting and rounding ourselves, for every misdeed against us, we should think “if we wouldn’t exist in a network of causality, would such a chain of events happen, it does not mean that we should abhor our existence, but accept it as a whole, and have enough willpower to forge ourselves bravely in relation to the worlds events, ameliorating the negative mishaps, and overcoming looking towards the creative Heavens]

Six in the fourth place means: Contented limitation. Success. Every limitation has its value, but a limitation that requires persistent effort entails a cost of too much energy. When, however, the limitation is a natural one (as for example, the limitation by which water flows only downhill), it necessarily leads to success, for then it means a saving of energy. The energy that otherwise would be consumed in a vain struggle with the object, is applied wholly to the benefit of the matter in hand, and success is assured.

Nine in the fifth place means:Sweet limitation brings good fortune.Going brings esteem. The limitation must be carried out in the right way if it is to be effective. If we seek to impose restrictions on others only, while evading them ourselves, these restrictions will always be resented and will provoke resistance [be expectant of yourself, don’t expect too much of others, in this way no disillusionments occur, don’t rely on others too much, build your own resilience and direction, if your friends on which you relied abandon you, you have only your own mind and muscles to rely on, as in a saying ‘if we rely too much on others in our own inner battles, our own astuteness and muscles fade’, take friendship in good conduct and cheer, but don’t put the weigh on others when it comes to your independence, everything you have carry within, people come and go like mirages, busying themselves like mirages, you are a mirage in their life after a while. Better it is to be remembered in Heavens in solitude, then caught amongst people moving hither and tither with joys and sorrows, and joining the family of the grave, better to win Heavenly memory, then erect a monolith of fame or memory on Earth. The dead want to be remembered, they thrive on memory, millions of lights and candles are aflame in the underworld when we remember all these small and great who passed away, that is the memory of the human race]. If, however, a man in a leading position applies the limitation first to himself, demanding little from those associated with him, and with modest means manages to achieve something, good fortune is the result. Where such an example occurs, it meets with emulation, so that whatever is undertaken must succeed [self-sacrifice of the little creates a following in self-sacrifice in others, the nobility of spirit rises in the whole].

Six at the top means: Galling limitation.Perseverance brings misfortune. Remorse disappears. If one is too severe in setting up restrictions, people will not endure them. The more consistent such severity, the worse it is, for in the long run a reaction is unavoidable [that which is free in nature will not bear the yoke of limitation that denies it and forcefully breaks its nature]. In the same way, the tormented body will rebel against excessive asceticism. On the other hand, although ruthless severity is not to be applied persistently and systematically, there may be times when it is the only means of safeguarding against guilt and remorse. In such situations ruthlessness toward oneself is the only means of saving one’s soul, which otherwise would succumb to irresolution and temptation. [ruthless methods of limitations should be used on oneself, when transgressions of our principles, due to external or internal incitement occur, however ruthlessness that is turned outward becomes bloody hatred, and cruelty without boundaries. Drakon laws of ancient Greece foresaw legal genocide, but it was never used, it stood as a dead law and a terrifying warning]

Kuai – Breakthrough (Resoluteness)


This hexagram signifies on the one hand a break-through after a long accumulation of tension, as a swollen river breaks through its dikes, or in the manner of a cloudburst. On the other hand, applied to human conditions, it refers to the time when inferior people gradually begin to disappear [if corruption eats us, we may be demoted to the inferior lot, and then we are gradually removed, that harbors a lot of injury and ill-will towards the rest, even if the superior people to whom we belonged once begin to rise, we then turn either towards inferior scheming, or withdraw with injured natures from the scene to contemplate things that are still possible, not adding evil from an injured nature is also a gigantomachy]. Their influence is on the wane; as a result of resolute action, a change in conditions occurs, a break-through. The hexagram is linked with the third month [April–May].


BREAK-THROUGH. One must resolutely make the matter known at the court of the king.It must be announced truthfully. Danger.It is necessary to notify one’s own city.It does not further to resort to arms.It furthers one to undertake something.Even if only one inferior man is occupying a ruling position in a city, he is able to oppress superior men. Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side—therefore fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail.In a resolute struggle of the good against evil, there are, however, definite rules that must not be disregarded, if it is to succeed. First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness. Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; evil must under all circumstances be openly discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over. Third, the struggle must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion [only cold-blooded animals have venom, never underestimate the bloodthirst and vengeance of a bitter and defeated person, in wisdom he still tries to warn, in malice he begins to observe the foolishness and self-destruction of others]. Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil become dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.


The lake has risen up to heaven: The image of BREAK-THROUGH. Thus the superior man dispenses riches downward and refrains from resting on his virtue.When the water of a lake has risen up to heaven, there is reason to fear a cloudburst. Taking this as a warning, the superior man forestalls a violent collapse. If a man were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse. For all gathering is followed by dispersion [Epictetus “Nothing belongs to us, when we ‘lose’ something, we simply return it to the world”]. Therefore the superior man begins to distribute while he is accumulating. In the same way, in developing his character he takes care not to become hardened in obstinacy but to remain receptive to impressions by help of strict and continuous self-examination [especially on the rise or in elevated position, one needs to be especially on guard for the sake of himself and others, a man with a dagger and a status of a downthrodden vile beggar is more dangerous, for he is free to use it as he pleases, not checked by hierarchical and traditional sentiments, or societal constraints, a magician with a sharp tongue may use it to kill, negotiate or create, but a downcast dog with such power will use it in a manner appropriate to the treatment he received, wheels of fortunes turn, overcoming is especially important in a matter of force and command, regardless of the status]


Nine at the beginning means: Mighty in the forward-striding toes. When one goes and is not equal to the task, one makes a mistake.In times of a resolute advance, the beginning is especially difficult. We feel inspired to press forward but resistance is still strong; therefore we ought to gauge our own strength and venture only so far as we can go with certainty of success. To plunge blindly ahead is wrong, because it is precisely at the beginning that an unexpected setback can have the most disastrous results. [measure means against odds at all times]

Nine in the second place means:

A cry of alarm. Arms at evening and at night.Fear nothing.Readiness is everything. Resolution is indissolubly bound up with caution. If an individual is careful and keeps his wits about him, he need not become excited or alarmed. If he is watchful at all times, even before danger is present, he is armed when danger approaches and need not be afraid [continuous danger should not blunten the senses too, by the force of being accustomed to it, we lower our guards, we should be ever-fresh like in a spontaneous sabre dance, focused, and ready to confront, interact, withdraw, hit, and defend, watch and assess]. The superior man is on his guard against what is not yet in sight and on the alert for what is not yet within hearing; therefore he dwells in the midst of difficulties as though they did not exist. If a man develops his character, people submit to him of their own accord. If reason triumphs, the passions withdraw of themselves. To be circumspect and not to forget one’s armor is the right way to security.

Nine in the third place means: To be powerful in the cheekbones brings misfortune. The superior man is firmly resolved. He walks alone and is caught in the rain.He is bespattered, and people murmur against him.No blame.Here we have a man in an ambiguous situation. While all others are engaged in a resolute fight against all that is inferior, he alone has a certain relationship with an inferior man. If he were to show strength outwardly and turn against this man before the time is ripe, he would only endanger the entire situation, because the inferior man would too quickly have recourse to countermeasures. The task of the superior man becomes extremely difficult here. He must be firmly resolved within himself and, while maintaining association with the inferior man, avoid any participation in his vileness. He will of course be misjudged. It will be thought that he belongs to the party of the inferior man. He will be lonely because no one will understand him. His relations with the inferior man will sully him in the eyes of the multitude, and they will turn against him, grumbling. But he can endure this lack of appreciation and makes no mistake, because he remains true to himself. [while murmuring, gossip and vile slander and lies develop, while one’s enterprises are openly mocked without asking, and censored, being steady on the path with the inner truth, if it is truly wise, is a way of strenghtening the principle and steadfast maturation, one should move away form such a place, if not possible one should assume a silent, kind and withdrawn posture to avoid being injured, or attacked]

Nine in the fourth place means:

There is no skin on his thighs,And walking comes hard.If a man were to let himself be led like a sheep, remorse would disappear.But if these words are heard they will not be believed.Here a man is suffering from inner restlessness and cannot abide in his place. He would like to push forward under any circumstances, but encounters insuperable obstacles. Thus his situation entails an inner conflict. This is due to the obstinacy with which he seeks to enforce his will. If he would desist from this obstinacy, everything would go well. But this advice, like so much other good counsel, will be ignored. For obstinacy makes a man unable to hear, for all that he has ears.

Nine in the fifth place means:

In dealing with weeds, Firm resolution is necessary. Walking in the middle Remains free of blame.Weeds always grow back again and are difficult to exterminate. So too the struggle against an inferior man in a high position demands firm resolution. One has certain relations with him, hence there is danger that one may give up the struggle as hopeless. But this must not be. One must go on resolutely and not allow himself to be deflected from his course. Only in this way does one remain free of blame.

Six at the top means: No cry.In the end misfortune comes. Victory seems to have been achieved. There remains merely a remnant of the evil resolutely to be eradicated as the time demands. Everything looks easy. Just there, however, lies the danger. If we are not on guard, evil will succeed in escaping by means of concealment, and when it has eluded us new misfortunes will develop from the remaining seeds, for evil does not die easily. So too in dealing with the evil in one’s own character, one must go to work with thoroughness. If out of carelessness anything were to be overlooked, new evil would arise from it. [contemplate on one defects – correct them – Buddhist stanza]

Shih Ho – Biting Through


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 [sometimes separating to unite on solid grounds, that are agreed by both parties, and sweeping the resolution and direction, shaping it onto a new path is necessary, the process of gathering the freed social and personal energies and directing them in a masterful fashion, if that is not done, the by-products and splinters are hindering a correct resolution, biting through for it’s own sake is survival, or an attempt to grind one’s teeth and persevere, biting through with a view in mind, simultaneously engaging the direction, the course, and the solutions, tactical and strategical thinking about the effects is of utmost importance, child-like commitment with boy-like contemplation, or being reactive in a simplistic way, or retorting to misfortunes in egoistic fashion may corrupt many a man, with a broader view, one commits and discarding or self-grasping carries forth with resilience]. 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 meeting out punishment; unqualified clarity and gentleness would be too weak. The two together create the just measure [discernment and proportion in knowing the circumstances, the context, and the human, restoring parity to the situation and avoiding cascading into disharmony on a greater scale]. 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 [the feeling of lawfulness and fairness, prevalent in societies in which the rule of just law and fairness is strengthened]. 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.


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 [vulgarity ruins openness and sublimity, Intellect and reason, it is reduced to the coarseness of a mind and heart and dwells on ignorance, the more one is inadvertadly pulled into such situations of anger and loses temper and composure – by the force of habit – the harder it is to discipline oneself and return to the openness] . 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 [more like an executioner, he does not command respect, but is seen as a henchman oppressing people, or a person]. 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.

Six 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 [the forgotten ‘unknowns’ still constitute greater danger than the known dangers and preparation for the unknown ones. To forget about a known danger is to be foolish, but the awareness of danger should not petrify nor arrest our movements, they should be pursued energetically, patiently, and cautiously. In a mine-field, one does move when forced to with extreme caution, in an open plain, one speeds on a horse swiftly]

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. This obstinacy leads to misfortune.

Ch’ien – Modesty


This hexagram is made up of the trigrams Kên, 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.


MODESTY creates success.The superior man carries things through [whether living through turmoil, or saddening times, one has a sense of purpose without inflation].It is the law of heaven to make fullness empty and to make full what is modest [modesty is the mean in-between fullness and emptiness, encompassing both as is justice – a regulative force]; 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 [trends and threads of his decisions, behavior, nature, and character, sew the threads of fate and fortune, even if misfortuned, one is holding still to his premises of character and molds himself, one is also not isolated from circumstances, or the threads and trends of other clusters of co-arising co-dependent webs of events put into motion, one may withstand them, or if in accord and of beneficience – further them in oneself, that is a question of discernment]. 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 MODESTY.Thus the superior man reduces that which is too much, And augments that which is too little [detecting the flaws and good parts of his nature, he remedies and strenghtens accordingly, ties, and releases according to need].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. 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 [the equilibria of harmony and the means of achieving are found in the times at hand, one needs to recognize the times, and know them thoroughly and simply, without succumbing to them, one sets them against motion, movement and change of other ages, and then sees what is to be done].


Six at the beginning means: A superior man modest about his modesty [not a virtue inflated, not a vice deflated into delusion or ignorance] 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 [with no arrogance or disregard, one listens in-depth and solves 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.

Nine 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 [or meakness]. 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. Only through having the courage to marshal one’s armies against oneself, will something forceful really be achieved [the inner strenght of using one’s force, integrity to chastise oneself in time, before things get spoiled, or put oneself into line of one’s foundations]