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


This hexagram means the force of the small–the power of the shadowy–that restrains, tames, impedes. A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister, 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 Wên, 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 Wên 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.

with one changing line

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 reach. This has come about through the cumulation 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.

Changing to:

5. Hsü / Waiting (Nourishment)


All beings have need of nourishment 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. The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams–strength within, danger in from. 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 after 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.

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44. Kou / Coming to Meet


This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from within and below. Of its own accord the female principle comes to meet the male. It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences. The hexagram is linked with the fifth month [June-July], because at the summer solstice the principle of darkness gradually becomes ascendant again.

COMING TO MEET. The maiden is powerful.
One should not marry such a maiden.

The rise of the inferior element is pictured here in the image of a bold girl who lightly surrenders herself and thus seizes power. This would not be possible if the strong and light-giving element had not in turn come halfway. The inferior thing seems so harmless and inviting that a man delights in it; it looks so small and weak that he imagines he may dally with it and come to no harm. The inferior man rises only because the superior man does not regard him as dangerous and so lends him power. If he were resisted from the fist, he could never gain influence. The time of COMING TO MEET is important in still another way. Although as a general rule the weak should not come to meet the strong, there are times when this has great significance. When heaven and earth come to meet each other, all creatures prosper; when a prince and his official come to meet each other, the world is put in order. It is necessary for elements predestined to be joined and mutually dependent to come to meet one another halfway. But the coming together must be free of dishonest ulterior motives, otherwise harm will result.

Under heaven, wind:
The image of COMING TO MEET.
Thus does the prince act when disseminating his commands
And proclaiming them to the four quarters of heaven.

The situation here resembles that in hexagram 20, Kuan, CONTEMPLATION ( VIEW). In the latter the wind blows over the earth, here it blows under heaven; in both cases it goes everywhere. There the wind is on the earth and symbolizes the ruler taking note of the conditions in his kingdom; here the wind blows from above and symbolizes the influence exercised by the ruler through his commands. Heaven is far from the things of earth, but it sets them in motion by means of the wind. The ruler is far from his people, but he sets them in motion by means of his commands and decrees.

Nine in the second place means:
There is a fish in the tank. No blame.
Does not further guests.

The inferior element is not overcome by violence but is kept under gentle control. Then nothing evil is to be feared. But care must be taken not to let it come in contact with those further away, because once free it would unfold its evil aspects unchecked.

Nine at the top means:
He comes to meet with his horns.
Humiliation. No blame.

When a man has withdrawn from the world, its tumult often becomes unbearable to him. There are many people who in a noble pride hold themselves aloof from all that is low and rebuff it brusquely wherever it comes to meet them. Such persons are reproached for being proud and distant, but since active duties no longer hold them to the world, this does not greatly matter. They know how to bear the dislike of the masses with composure.

Changing to:

31. Hsien / Influence (Wooing)


The name of the hexagram means “universal,” “general,” and in a figurative sense “to influence,” “to stimulate.” The upper trigram is Tui, the Joyous; the lower is Kên, Keeping still. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this stimulation cheerfully and joyously. Kên, the lower trigram, is the youngest son; the upper, Tui, is the youngest daughter. Thus the universal mutual attraction between the sexes is represented. In courtship, the masculine principle must seize the initiative and place itself below the feminine principle. Just as the first part of book 1 begins with the hexagrams of heaven and earth, the foundations of all that exists, the second part begins with the hexagrams of courtship and marriage, the foundations of all social relationships.

Influence. Success.
Perseverance furthers.
To take a maiden to wife brings good fortune.

The weak element is above, the strong below; hence their powers attract each other, so that they unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent the joy from going to excess and hold it within proper bounds. This is the meaning of the added admonition, “Perseverance furthers,” for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men’s hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.

A lake on the mountain:
The image of influence.
Thus the superior man encourages people to approach him
By his readiness to receive them.

A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.

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no changing lines

40. Hsieh / Deliverance


Here the movement goes out of the sphere of danger. The obstacle has been
removed, the difficulties are being resolved. Deliverance is not yet achieved;
it is just in its beginning, and the hexagram represents its various stages.


DELIVERANCE. The southwest furthers.
If there is no longer anything where one has to go,
Return brings good fortune.
If there is still something where one has to go,
Hastening brings good fortune.

This refers to a time in which tensions and complications begin to be eased.
At such times we ought to make our way back to ordinary conditions as soon
as possible; this is the meaning of “the southwest.” These periods of sudden
change have great importance. Just as rain relieves atmospheric tension,
making all the buds burst open, so a time of deliverance from burdensome
pressure has a liberating and stimulating effect on life. One thing is
important, however: in such times we must not overdo our triumph. The
point is not to push on farther than is necessary. Returning to the regular
order of life as soon as deliverance is achieved brings good fortune. If there
are any residual matters that ought to be attended to, it should be done as
quickly as possible, so that a clean sweep is made and no retardations occur.


Thunder and rain set in:
The image of DELIVERANCE.
Thus the superior man pardons mistakes
And forgives misdeeds.

A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing the air; the superior man produces
a similar effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men that induce a
condition of tension. Through clarity he brings deliverance. However, when
failings come to light, he does not dwell on them; he simply passes over
mistakes, the unintentional transgressions, just as thunder dies away. He
forgives misdeeds, the intentional transgressions, just as water washes
everything clean.

In other books Release / Chiai