Q&A: I Ching

Responses to I Ching enquiries will be posted here for easier viewing.

The meanings of Heaven and Earth

Heaven is qian”, a trigram of three solid lines. It represents yang (the sun, the male, the father, the positive, exposed), everything that can be seen in full glory, the sun, the male since the male genitalia is exposed and can be seen, prosperity which is measurable and noticeable, brightness, the positive since the positive can usually be seen, the sky during the day, dominance of the male, the emperor, etc. Obtaining a qian” hexagram would indicate bright future, progress, advancement, without hindrance, aggressive advance, positive development. Classically, it would indicate the birth of a son.

Earth is kun, a trigram of three broken lines. It represents yin (the earth, the female, the mother, the negative, hidden), everything that cannot be seen in full glory, the moon since the dark side of the moon is always hidden from view, the female since the female genitalia is hidden and cannot be seen, stagnation which is measured only in comparison with growth or progress, darkness like the dark side of the moon, the negative since negativity may not be obvious until we see the negative results of some action, the night sky hidden behind clouds, dominance of the female thus the empress who governs behind the scene like the Dowager Tzu Hsi, etc. Obtaining a kun hexagram would indicate yin, not bright, not progressive, no aggressive advancement, no positive development, dominance of females, and so on. Classically, it would indicate the birth of daughters.

Enquiry about the Chinese characters of the trigrams

The Chinese characters of the eight trigrams are now posted. My original material was unable to provide sufficiently large characters for my small camera to get a relatively clear focus. I found these characters large enough for a relatively legible image.

Trigram Xun

Trigram Xun is Wind, indicating dispersion, spreading, change, unpredictability, and Southeast.

Each trigram indicates a direction. Hurricanes and typhoons approach from the southeast. They bring high winds and a lot of rain. In the classical Xiang annotation to the classical I Ching, Xun is wind and it indicates “following the wind” (shui feng). The Xiang annotation also explains that Xun is wind and it indicates “going through” (tong). In the classical Zhuan annotation to the I Ching, Xun is wind and it indicates “penetration” since wind blows through cracks and narrow slits.

Trigram gen, Mountain
Posted on November 11, 2011
In response to the above.

The I Ching trigram gen is the Mountain trigram. It indicates difficulty, no passage, difficult road ahead, blockage, obstruction, hindrance, something is blocking progress, etc.

One mountain is an obstruction. Two mountains, Hexagram 52, Mountain Over Mountain, indicate that the situation is doubly difficult. A mountain does not really move unless there is an earthquake, a volcanic explosion or the fabled stubborn old man who “moved a mountain.” The mountain came to symbolize difficulty in ancient times because one would most likely meet up with such animals as tigers, snakes, monkeys, and maybe some falling rocks, cliffs, ghosts and little demons, and such hidden dangers.

Changing lines Hexagram 1 to Hexagram 44

Hexagram 1 Heaven changes to Hexagram Gou (Kou) 44 is a nine at first change. “Nine at first (chu jiu, beginning nine)”, according to the Zhou I Da Zhuan Jin Zu (Modern Annotation of the Grand Classic Book of Change of Zhou, by Gao Heng, (first printing April, 1998), “are qian long (hidden dragon) and wu yong (do not take action), being hidden, being hidden by water. The hidden dragon hides and does not appear in public. It stays hidden and motionless. Therefore, this hexagram advises take no action.”

The Chinese name of Hexagram 44, kou or gou, is the classical character made up of the radical of a woman and the character of the queen. There is a meeting of all women of the harem where hidden plots, secret schemes are being formulated. Therefore, the dragon hides and takes no action.

Now to your question: How can such positive hexagram indicating success at every level turn to a negative hexagram when changing lines follow?”

The first hexagram cast, in this case, Hexagram 1, Qian, Heaven, is the main prognostication. The hexagram resulting from a line change is the secondary hexagram. The first hexagram cast is prognosticative. The secondary hexagram is an evolution or a revelation. This is based on the concept that I Ching prognostication is evolutionary, i.e., it is a system of divination that evolves. A secondary hexagram is therefore a derivative of the first, and thus provides more detailed information, supplementary information, information that is not obvious in the first hexagram. The secondary hexagram from a line change reveals background information and hidden information.

Now, let us look at the groupings of the lines. Hexagram 1, Qian, Heaven, consists of six solid lines. Upper three lines are the Heaven Trigram, and the lower three lines are also the Heaven Trigram. Hexagram 44, Gou (Kuo), consists of three solid upper lines of the Heaven Trigram, and the Wind Trigram at the bottom, consisting of two solid lines over one broken line. Wind is blowing below the Sky. There is disturbance below the seeming calmness. There is instability within a seemingly flawless plan. The heat shields of the shuttle disaster, the mid section weakness of the Titanic, etc. are examples.

The Tai Chi circle is divided by a line separating the white and the black, the red and the black, the positive and the negative. However, the line is not straight. It has two little “bellies” at the ends. These “bellies” or curves indicate change. In every “white” there is “a belly of black” and in every “black” there is a “belly of white.”

In our case, the bottom wind revealed by Hexagram 44 from the line change represents this “belly”.

In my many I Ching classes, students would cast their hexagrams and they would ask for an explanation. In class, I would explain each hexagram line by line instead of just trigram by trigram. Confucius’ annotations of the I Ching, the annotations by Zuan (etymological annotations) and Xiang (imagery or ideographic annotations) studied the lines and their relative positions in the hexagrams. The solid line is the male and the broken line is the female.

In Hexagram 44, gou, we have five solid lines on top of one broken line. In my class, I interpreted this as five males on top of one female. There are many real life situations that this image describes: a gang rape, a spy amongst the loyalists, a deep hidden fissure, a concealed seismic fault line, a crack in a water pipe, a weak spot in the fuselage of that Hawaiian airlines passenger plane that landed without the top part of the fuselage, etc.

The significance of the line change, from a positive hexagram to a negative hexagram, is evolutionary or evolving revelation, or the evolved revelation. This is an illustration of the evolutionary characteristic of the I Ching divination system. Unlike the straight reading of Tarot cards and numbers, I ching hexagrams provide evolving revelations.

Water over Thunder, Hexagram 3
Posted on November 7, 2011 by masterchensays
Water over Thunder, Hexagram 3, chun, difficulty at the beginning.

In imagery, Hexagram 3, Water over Thunder, consists of a top broken line over one solid line over three broken lines over one bottom solid line. The beginning male line is pinned down by three broken lines. In the top two Heaven Lines, the female broken line dominates the male solid line. In the Man Lines, the females dominate. In the Earth Lines, the female broken line also dominates the bottom male solid line.

This imagery illustrates “initial difficulty”, temporary setback, not advancing.

The original character chun refers to a yurt. The Turks lived and the Mongols still live in yurts. Ancient Chinese used yurts as storage sheds and battlefield encampments.

Water over Thunder indiates a thunderstorm with a lot of rain. A thunderstorm usually temporarily halts human outdoor activity.

Water over Heaven, Hexagram 5
Posted on November 11, 2011
In response to the above.

Water over Heaven in I Ching is Hexagram 5, Hsu or Xu, literally meaning to need. Its classical meaning is needing, waiting for nourishment. The Chinese character Xu consists of the character (radical) for rain on top of a Chinese ideographic character that looks like a rake. This bottom character means “but.” The Chinese character Xu thus reflects the image of the hexagram of Water over Heaven.

Water in the sky (Heaven) means rain which is much needed in any agricultural society. There is a constant need for rain. This is the origin of the character and its meaning of needing and waiting for nourishment.

Hexagram 5, Water over Heaven, consists of a broken line over a solid line over a broken line over three solid lines. Water is fluid, indicating instability and in this hexagram instability dominates. Therefore it advises “to wait”. Of the top two Heaven Lines, the broken line (female line) dominates the solid line (male line). In the Man Lines (the middle two lines of the hexagram), the broken line (female line) dominates the bottom three solid lines (male lines). The broken lines or female lines indicate “receptiveness.”

This hexagram classically advises one “to wait for needed nourishment.” There are also classical annotations advising “good fortune will come from misfortune.” The bottom Chinese ideographic character that looks like a rake and means “but” is an ancient Chinese character meaning to transfer, to spread, thus other classical annotations advise: “Be respectful and spread the ‘rain’ (pronounced yu”’) which is phonetically synonymous to ‘fish’ (pronounced yu”), symbolizing abundance. Thus, be respectful and spread the abundance.”

This hexagram indicates that the dominating situation is fluid since Water is on top and it dominates the hexagram. The Heaven of three solid male lines therefore must wait.

Earth over Water, Hexagram 7

Earth over Water is Hexagram 7, Shih, a person who leads, to lead, an army division, to teach, to guide. The hexagram advises seeking guidance and leadership. The image of the hexagram is four broken lines on top of one solid line above another broken line. This indicates in-fighting, internal division that has surfaced. The male is being pinned down by four females on top of him while he dominates only one female at the bottom.

Moon over Water, Earth over Water, Hexagram 7

The moon in I Ching is represented by Earth, Kun, because the moon is a satellite of Earth and therefore a part of Earth and the moon is the counterpart of the sun, i.e., Qian, Heaven, the Sun.

Moon over Water is Earth over Water, Hexagram 7, Shih, meaning “teacher.” Shih means to lead, as a teacher, and in many classical annotations of the I Ching, shih designates the “army”, equivalent to the character shuai, to “lead,” the “general”, to “command”, as in “zheng zhi gua shuai” or “politics take command”, a common expression during the 1950s and early 1960s on mainland China under Mao Zedong. The character of the name of this hexagram, shih, indicates that a good general, a good leader, a good guide, a good commander is required.

The image of Hexagram 7, Earth over Water, is composed of four broken lines over one solid line over a bottom broken line. Females are heavily dominant over the male. The male is also trapped. The male dominates only one female while four females dominate him. The image thus describes a harem that lacks leadership. A general is needed to establish order and stop in-fighting. The in-fighting is not hidden but in the open. The hexagram advices the enquirer to seek out a teacher, an adviser, a leader, a general who can lead the various internal factions represented by the multitude of broken lines.

Wind over Heaven, Hexagram 9

Wind over Heaven, Hexagram 9, indicates winds blowing in the skies. Shifting winds, changes, future instability are in the forecast. We see the high clouds being blown by the winds. The Chinese name of this hexagram is xiao chu, indicating small domesticated animals like chicks, ducklings, piglets, kids of goat and sheep, etc. In China, they provide nourishment, but their future is subject to changes, either sold or slaughtered. Winds in the skies are unpredictable like a sudden air turbulence.

In imagery, seeming certainty represented by the bottom three lines are topped by a broken line, making the future uncertain. This uncertainty (the broken line) is topped by two solid lines so the uncertainty is hidden and unpredictable.

Heaven over Earth, Hexagram 12
3-solid-over-3-broken
Posted on November 7, 2011 by masterchensays
In response to the above.

This is Heaven over Earth, Hexagram 12, traditionally pronounced pi, meaning standstill and stagnation. The character pronounced as pi means bad, evil, to criticize others as bad. In modern Chinese, this character is no longer used as pi. In modern Chinese it is recognized as “fou”, meaning “no, not so, to veto (fou jue), to deny (fou ren)”.

In imagery, three male solid lines dominate the three female broken lines completely. In ancient China, emperors and prime ministers were known to be stern and stubborn. It is very difficult to convince them of what is good and what is bad. Proposals are routinely denied. Anyone who makes any kind of unsolicited suggestion faces the possibility of death for speaking up.

Heaven over Earth, Hexagram 12

Heaven over Earth, Hexagram 12, indicates the male mounting the female, the male dominating the female, man on top of woman, the positive dominating the negative, the sun outshines the moon (a common scene at dawn). Positive forces and circumstances have arisen to suppress the negative forces and negative circumstances. Obstacles to one’s positive ambition are now suppressed and circumstances are now positive for progress towards one’s goals. Negative forces which have stymied and frustrated one’s attempts to progress and advance are now suppressed, thus, positive progress and advancement are able to proceed.

In case this enquiry was about health, Hexagram 12, Heaven over Earth, is a positive indication that whatever has been done in treatment is taking over and the illness is being suppressed. In case this enquiry was made by the enquirer who is contemplating a change in treatment of an illness, this hexagram indicates that whatever changes the enquirer is contemplating will be positive in promoting the suppression of the illness if treatment over the past period has not been successful in controlling the worsening of the illness. In many cases, what the traditional Western doctor has been prescribing and the prescribed treatment by the medical establishment doctors fail completely and utterly to slow down the progressive worsening of an illness. In these cases, a caretaker must decide whether to continue with the failed treatment or to take matters into one’s own hand and go against conventional “wisdom” of the failed medical treatment by doctors. If the enquiry was about this, the hexagram indicates that positive results should come about by going ahead with whatever change in treatment the enquirer is contemplating.

Heaven over Fire, Hexagram 13

Heaven over Fire, Hexagram 13, tong ren, its classical name means togetherness. The interpretation of Heaven over Fire indicates prosperity over prosperity, prosperity over great advancement, prosperity rises with fiery progress. Fire reaches the Heavens, meaning great and rapid progress without encountering obstacles. The classical name of “tong ren” or togetherness indicates Heaven and Fire are “together”. It also indicates that Heaven is receiving full support of Fire. The image is three solid lines over one solid line, one broken line and on solid line. So, image wise, we have four solid lines over a broken line over a solid line. The bottom male line and the second broken line, the female line, are both at the bottom supporting the four male lines above. The image would indicate that both the overt (male) and the covert (female) forces are working together to support advancement (four solid lines above). This is a positive hexagram indicating the time to act is now.

Hexagram 15

Hexagram 15, Earth over Mountain, Qian, means modesty. It advises modesty, to yield the way, to be humble.

The character qian consists of a radical “yan” or “to speak”, meaning “do not be boastful” and to speak humbly.

The hexagram consists of three broken female lines over one solid male line over two broken female lines. The feminine dominates. Hardness is hidden in the belly, indicating one should hide one’s sharpness, harshness, and straightforwardness. Be humble and yielding, and show humility and withdrawal.

Mountain over Wind, Hexagram 18
Posted on November 29, 2011 by masterchensays
I Ching Mountain over Wind is Hexagram 18, Gu (Ku).

In nature, winds often blow through a narrow mountain pass between two towering mountains, and in the narrow pass, wind speed increases. This is the same effect as water flowing into a funnel, down a drain or sink, and water coming out of a water hose when one squeezes the end of the spout to make the water jet come out stronger and faster.

In modern cities, winds are stronger at street level between tall buildings. San Francisco, New York, Chicago around the Sears Tower, etc.

The image of the hexagram is one solid male line over two broken female lines over two solid male lines over one broken female line. It illustrates internal chaos between equal and opposing forces, i.e., two solid male lines (lines 2 and 3) versus two broken female lines (lines 4 and 5). It describes a situation of internal chaos.

The name of the hexagram is gu (ku). It is an ideographic character of three bugs in a bowl. It is said that an ancient vicious bug called “gu” will fight to the death until only one remains. The remaining victor acquires the venom of those it kills and thus becomes the most venomous bug. The venom is then taken by people to use as a poison.

In the Q&A: I Ching section, there is a response to an enquiry (in the comments box) about a “good” hexagram changing to a “bad” hexagram. In the case of Hexagram 18, Gu, that we have here, it is important to read the changing lines to find out what possibilities evolve from it.

Find the solid lines that were “nine” lines and the broken lines that were “six” lines, make the changes and see which hexagram emerges. This emerging hexagram would provide a “solution” to the situation described by the hexagram 18, Gu.

Earth over Lake, Hexagram 19

Earth over Lake is Hexagram 19. Its I Ching name is ling, which means arrival and approaching. Earth over Lake provides a natural scene of a hidden lake inside a mountain cave. Separately, a mountain indicates an obstacle and the lake indicates hidden dangers, or a lot of potential and abundant reserves.

One interpretation is that there seems to be a seemingly insurmountable obstacle ahead with a lot of hidden dangers within the obstacle. One is approaching the obstacle and one feels overwhelmed by seeing it.

Advice of Hexagram 19: The hexagram’s natural scene invites exploration. Take a closer look. Try to see what is inside the “obstacle” and “explore” the inside. One may find that the obstacle is hiding a “world of wonders” and an abundance of “potential resources”. The hexagram also advises getting inside the obstacle and to try to utilize it to one’s own advantage. The obstacle is but an empty cover, a superficial disguise, a paper tiger, an empty threat, a bully, a boss who likes to make empty threats. One can explore and take advantage of the inner “softness” of the obstacle, like taking over an enemy tank and turning the turret around to shoot at the enemy from the rear or from inside the enemy line.

Wind over Earth, Hexagram 20

Hexagram 20, Wind over Earth, indicates windy weather, change, chaos, and instability. It is a natural occurrence. Strong winds will blow away things on the ground, however, things and people underground will not be affected by surface winds. The indication here is avoidance of and hiding from the wind. The wind will blow from one direction and then the wind will shift and change direction. Thus the disturbance caused by the wind is temporary and the situation will change when the wind changes direction or when the wind dies down. Avoid the disturbance by going underground.

The Chinese name of Hexagram 20, Wind over Earth, is guan, meaning to watch and observe. It indicates watching the wind and observing how it changes. Observation of the situation is advised, but not direct involvement or action.

Hexagram 21

The I Ching hexagram Fire over Thunder is Hexagram 21, Shi` Ke` (Shih Ho)*.

Shi` means to bite. Ke` is the crackling sound made when one bites on a nut between the teeth. In my treatise on the I Ching that I used as a basis for my lectures, I have notes on the imagery and etymological origins of the Chinese characters of the names of the hexagrams.

“Hexagram 21, Shi` Ke` is the image of chewing on something with a hard shell, like a walnut shell, and making a loud crackling sound (ke, ke, ke)**.

“Shi` is the sound of sucking in saliva. Ke` is the sound of chewing the shell.”**

** I Ching, the Book of Change, New Interpretation of the I Ching hexagrams, Prophetic readings of the hexagrams, by Victor Chen

In the section on “Prophetic readings of the hexagrams” of my treatise I wrote:

“Hexagram 21, Shi` Ke`, Fire over Thunder, describes the sound of mastication. As mentioned abvoe, Shi` is the sound of slurping and Ke` is the sound of chewing on a hard walnut shell. It infers cacophony, malicious gossip, polemical argument, debate and contention.”**

* Modern English rendering of this name often seen is Shih Ho. This Romanization is neither Mandarin nor Cantonese. It may have been Shanghainese in origin. Wade and Giles were two Canadians who were in Shanghai in the early 1900s and they cooperated in creating a Romanization for Mandarin Chinese in Shanghai. At that time, no Shanghainese spoke any Mandarin. The chances of Wade and Giles to hear genuine Mandarin being spoken at the time was nil. The Shanghainese all spoke Shanghainese and few Mandarin speakers were in Shanghai at the time.

Another good example of this pertains to the Shanghai Jews. The last Shanghai Jews left in 1950 after the Chinese Communists established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing (October 1, 1949). The Shanghai Jews spoke English because of the British companies operating around the Japanese Concession throughout the 8-year (1937-1945) War of Resistance against Japan. They spoke Russian because many were Russian Jews. Many also spoke German because some German Jews first arrived in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, also known as the Birobidzhan Autonomous Subdivision of the Russian Federated Socialist Republic (S.F.S.R) and later the U.S.S.R, on the Amur river, which was set aside in 1928 by the Soviet government for colonization by Jews, and made an autonomous region in 1934. In Shanghai, the Shanghai Jews were inundated by Russian radio and loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts. They also spoke perfect Shanghainese because they had to go out to buy groceries everyday. And almost all of them spoke German because they were German Jews who took the Trans Siberian Railroad from Moscow to Siberia. German Jews as well as many Russian Jews were moved down to Shanghai and confined within the Japanese Concession, a move by the Japanese that deviated from Hitler’s demands. Hitler requested the Japanese to place all the Jews into concentration camps but the Japanese did not want to build a concentration camp to house the Jews in Manchukuo so the Jews were gathered up and placed inside the Japanese Concession in Shanghai.

None of the Shanghai Jews spoke any Mandarin. Many of the Shanghai Jews were actually born in Shanghai. The Russian and German Jews would have arrived in Shanghai after moving east since circa 1927-8 and after Manchukuo was established by the Japanese in 1933.

Hexagram 21, Shi` Ke`, is formed by Fire over Thunder, and it consists of one solid male line over a broken female line over a solid male line over two broken female lines over a solid male line at the bottom.

Hexagram 21, Fire over Thunder, conveys the image of a volcanic eruption, an active volcano spewing fire into the sky while explosions thunder below it inside the belly of the volcano.

Hexagram 21, Shi` Ke` indicates that there are rumblings underneath that pose a potential danger but the real danger is visible as fire spewing out. The second and third lines are broken female lines that suppress the single male line at the bottom. He is being pinned down. However, the fourth line is a solid male line, and it is the top line of the middle two lines (the Man lines) and it is keeping the two female broken lines in check. The top two Heaven lines consist of the male line over the female line.

Two male lines with a female line in-between is the Trigram Li (Fire). In other words, two men and one woman, a love triangle, will definitely make sparks fly. The English description of this hexagram, Shi` Ke`, is “biting through.”

Hexagram 25

I Ching hexagram Heaven over Thunder is Hexagram 25, Wu Wang. Wu Wang has been rendered in English as innocence, unexpected. Interpretations based on “innocence, unexpected” however have been confusing at best.

Wu means “none”, Wang means “rash, irrational, undisciplined”. Therefore Wu Wang should be rendered as “do not be irrational, do not be rash, do not be undisciplined”, in other words, Hexagram 25, Heaven over Thunder, advises “do not take rash action, do not take irrational action, do not take undisciplined action.”

Hexagram 25, Wu Wang, consists of three solid male lines over two broken female lines over one solid male line at the bottom. Although there is thunder, the sky is clear. Thunder becomes an empty threat for the thunder will not bring any rain. The negative is being kept under wrap and the positive dominates on top. The negative forces (the two broken female lines) cannot escape because of the bottom male line.

If one acts in a just and upright manner, if one does not scheme or plot evil deeds, if one follows the righteous path, one will succeed.

Repeated hexagram 31 opening to my telepathic abilities?”

Hexagram 31, Xian, Lake over Mountain, indicates a mountain lake. Rain water collects on top of the mountain and forms a lake, a reserve, thus new resources on top of the mountain.

An indication of telepathic abilities is not so much the ability to predict an outcome. It is an ability to intentionally cause something to happen. For example, you can consciously and intentionally project a mental image that is received by others and they respond by telling you that they received a mental image which you have secretly projected. This was proven many times in my mental projection and dowsers’ classes.

If you intentionally willed that the next outcome repeats the first outcome, and you practice this a dozen times or more and your score is almost 99 percent, or even 100 percent, then you have begun to open up your telepathic abilities.

It is your specific intention and will something to happen and it happens almost every time that indicates telepathic abilities.

In I Ching divination, different hexagrams indicating a similar evolutionary result occur very often. These outcomes are not telepathically obtained.

For example, if you are in a room and your pet is in another room, and you intentionally project a silent mental call by mentally thinking about the pet’s name and to call for it to come to you, and the pet comes to you shortly afterwards, then this would be an indication of telepathic abilities.

Hexagrams 32 and 42

I Ching hexagrams wind over thunder and thunder over wind
Posted on January 28, 2012

The I Ching hexagram Wind over Thunder is Hexagram 42, I, meaning increase and beneficial. The I Ching hexagram Thunder over Wind is hexagram 32, Heng, meaning constant and constancy.

Hexagram 42 indicates benefits and favorable events will come. Hexagram 32 indicates that one should remain steady and steadfast on one’s present course. Unwavering constancy will win out in the long run.

Hexagram 36

I Ching Earth over Fire

Posted on January 12, 2012

Earth over Fire, Hexagram 36, is ming yi. Ming means bright. Yi refers to barbarians especially in Southern China in ancient times. Its etymological meaning is to annihilate or obliterate. Interpretations of this hexagram vary. An authoritative explanation by modern Chinese scholar Gao Heng (1970) says in his book (published in April, 1998) that Ming Yi, Hexagram 36, means: “It is beneficial to seek answers to difficult questions with this hexagram.”

In imagery, the hexagram consists of three broken female lines over one solid male line over one broken female line over a solid male bottom line.

The male lines are suppressed by the female lines. The first two Earth lines consist of the female dominating the male. The middle two Man lines consist of a female dominating a male. The top two Heaven lines consist of two female lines.

The positions of the two trigrams show that the Earth covers Fire, and provides an image of the dormant volcano. The fire is hidden and is too weak to rise. The fire is hidden deep within the earth.

Hexagram 36, Ming yi, indicates that brightness is hidden by darkness, the positive is being hidden, overshadowed, suppressed, overcome by the negative. This stems from the history of the Shang dynasty (1600 B.C. to 1066 B.C.) and the beginning struggles of the Zhou dynasty (1066 B.C. to 256 B.C.)

Other annotations interpret Ming yi as the upright gentleman (brightness) who encounters a narrow minded self righteous bullying person (darkness) and is scolded and humiliated by the bully.

Ming yi is thus classically interpreted as the darkness or the negative destroying and obliterating the brightness or the positive.

Although fortunetellers like to give “advice” based on their readings since ancient times, I Ching interpretations are more revelation than prediction. In my I Ching classes, I based my interpretations on the meanings of the lines, their interplay, the positions of the trigrams within a hexagram, rather than issuing any prediction. It turned out that my straightforward interpretation of meaning was more revealing to the students than advice and prediction.

Mountain over lake, Hexagram 41

Mountain over lake, Hexagram 41, sun, is the character meaning damage, loss, harmfulness, to damage, to lose, to harm. The hexagram consists of a top solid line over three broken lines over two solid lines. The Mountain trigram is one solid line over two broken lines, and the Lake trigram is one broken line over two solid lines.

The trigrams describe a hidden lake inside a mountain. The lake indicates lurking danger not obvious from the outside, a soft spot, a soft fluid core that cannot be seen from the outside, a rotten core, an internal weakness. The hexagram also shows a mountain with internal treasures or internal dangers, something appearing solid on the outside that has a soft rotten core.

The one solid line on top hides the three broken lines, i.e., the soft, feminine center. The soft feminine center overwhelms and suppresses the hard male lines at the bottom. The male lines are pinned down by the female lines. The soft center three lines form Trigram Kun, Earth, the dominant female, the Mother Earth. The inner female forces are suppressing and dominating the male forces that are weaker because the male forces are in the minority, and they are at the bottom. Two males are being sat on by three females one on top of each other. The male on top has a fluid support. The male on top has no solid support below him. His solid male supporters are pinned down and cannot help him. The internal negative forces are overwhelming within.

Damage comes from hidden flaws inside and internal weaknesses. A hidden disease or dysfunction may be lurking within and not yet diagnosed. There may be an activity or a habit that is causing internal damage that is unnoticed from the outside. There may be several rotting apples hiding within and covered by good apples and thus not noticed from the outside. Negative forces dominate the inner workings but they are not seen from the outside.

Traditionally, this hexagram described a harem with a king on top while the other males were eunuchs at the bottom.

It may indicate internal chaos and internal fighting.

Lake inside a mountain, or Mountain Over Lake, is hexagram 41, suan, meaning damage, to lose.

The image of the hexagram is one solid line over three broken lines over two solid lines at the bottom.

The Chinese character is:

Hexagram 42

I Ching hexagram 42, wind over thunder
Posted on January 26, 2012

Hexagram 42, Wind over Thunder, is Yi, meaning benefits and beneficial. The traditional meaning of Yi is increase. It is a very good prognostication indicating that benefits and increases will come.

Wind over Thunder indicates that the wind carries the sound of thunder. The image of the hexagram is two solid male lines over three broken female lines over one solid bottom male line. The wind dominates in the Heaven lines (the top two lines). The middle two Man lines are female lines and they are augmented by the top Earth line (the second line from the bottom) while the single male bottom line provides solid support. The three broken female lines indicate that there is no threat from the thunder.

The hexagram image suggests that the single male line at the bottom can rise to dominate at top as indicated by the two uppermost solid Heaven lines. This signifies increases. Whatever has been wished for will come.

Hexagram 43

I Ching hexagram Lake over Heaven
Posted on February 3,2012

I Ching Hexagram Lake over Heaven is Kuai,Hexagram 43, meaning resoluteness and breakthrough. It consists of one female broken line over five solid male lines. One of the classical annotations says that “gang ke rou ye” or the hard can conquer the soft with this hexagram. Lao Tsu and many other ancient Chinese philosophers believed that soft female power is more powerful than hard male power, something like the saying: The pen is mightier than the sword.

The image of the hexagram illustrates that the five male solid lines have enough strength to breakthrough and attack the weak force above them. Resolute decision to go on the attack will achieve a breakthrough. This is part of the classical interpretation of this hexagram. The other part of the classical interpretation is that eventhough there is breakthrough, danger still lurks.

Hexagram 44

Hexagram 44, gou, is Heaven over Wind.

The classical interpretations of this is a warning for men not to marry a particular woman because she is flirtatious. The imagery of the hexagram is five males on top of one female and that the one female can charm all five males and manipulate them at will.

The imagery is also explained classically that the soft conquers the hard (Lao Tzu). It can also be interpreted as five males pursuing one female.

The hexagram consists of the trigram for Wind at the bottom and Heaven on top. The wind blows freely under the sky and nothing can stop it. The observation that wind can blow away anything not nailed down, or the soft conquers the hard, is thus expressed by the positions of the two trigrams.

Hexagram 44, gou, advises caution and to stay away from that woman.

In current political terminology, the term “soft power” is used. Another saying is: The man controls the world but the woman controls the man.

Earth over Wind, Hexagram 46
Posted on November 25, 2011 by masterchensays
The I Ching Hexagram 46, Sheng, is Earth over Wind. Sheng means to rise (sheng kong, launched), to raise (sheng qi, flag raising ceremony), to elevate (sheng jiang ji, elevator).

In imagery, the Earth dominates the Wind. Stability dominates instability. Forces maintaining stability dominate forces that cause instability.

Three broken female lines above dominate two solid male lines over one bottom broken female line. The Earth is open so the two male forces can rise up. It is like a volcano that is about to blow.

The positive forces will rise. All the unstable negative forces will not be able to stop the positive forces from rising up and succeeding.

Lake over Water, Hexagram 47

Lake over Water is hexagram 47, kun, traditionally meaning a pile of wood surrounded by a fence. Its modern day meaning is a prison, being surrounded by the enemy, in difficulty, being cornered, being trapped, etc.

The imagery indicates a very deep lake with undercurrents, a seemingly calm lake above has a flowing undertow. In the bottom trigram, one solid male line is sandwiched between two open female lines. In the top trigram, an open female line is on top of two solid male lines. If we look at the top four lines, we see two solid male lines sandwiched between two open female lines. The positive lines are surrounded and sandwiched in by the negative lines. The imagery provides the meaning of being trapped, being surrounded, in prison, etc.

The hexagram indicates that there will be difficulty with whatever the enquirer enquired. All of the changing lines, six at first, nine at second, six at third, nine at fourth, nine at fifth, and six at top, indicate lack of progress, the golden chariot does not arrive, one trips over a rope and falls, etc.

Thunder over Lake, Hexagram 54

Thunder over Lake, Hexagram 54, indicates tranquility is being threatened. This is my definition of the hexagram.

Thunder is an empty threat that has approached. It is physically harmless. The lake as scenery symbolizes tranquility, and it is a pool of resources or hidden dangers. This hexagram, Thunder over Lake, can be interpreted in several ways.

In human relations, it indicates negative rumors overwhelming positive intent. This indication is shown by the trigram Thunder, two broken lines over one solid line. One’s background resources however are rich as indicated by the trigram Lake, one broken line over two solid lines, and therefore the rumors are more or less empty threats and relatively harmless.

If this hexagram is drawn in relation to an illness, it indicates that the symptoms are not the real causes of the illness. The real causes of the illness are hidden and unseen superficially.

A more generalized interpretation is that the rumors and criticism one hears are relatively harmless and not really damaging, but what is hidden behind the relativley harmless rumors and the intention of spreading rumors may be more vicious, more sinister and more profound.

The traditional name of Hexagram 54 is gui mei, meaning “returning maiden”. The classical Chinese interpretation of gui mei describes the proper manner of behavior of a maiden who returns to her own family after marriage. It also describes the relationship between the bride, now a daughter-in-law, and her husband and her husband’s family. A bride is allowed to return to visit her own family after her first year of marriage, and a “returning bride” during her first visit home after marriage makes preparations with her birth mother to take care of her first newborn during her month of post natal recuperation. During that month (zuo yue zi), the bride must not take a bath, catch a cold, drink cold water, and go outdoors. Her mother would not only take care of her but also her newborn.

Hexagram 54 is gui mei, the “returning maiden”, so named because a maiden who is betrothed in marriage goes and becomes a membere of the husband’s family. Gui means to return to and to belong to. So, the gui mei, or maiden, is to belong to the husband and his family. It is like the expression “my wife” instead of “the wife”.

Hexagram 54 is Thunder over Lake, and it consists of two broken female lines over one solid male line over one broken female line over two solid male lines.

Line 5 counting from the bottom up is a broken female line. It is the first line of the Heaven lines (top two lines). Thunder does not physically damage the earth, so the top two broken female lines do not affect the solid line. The middle three lines (lines 3, 4, 5) form the trigram Water. Line 5 symbolizes fludity. Since thunder is random, so is fluidity. Fluidity means there is no stationary spot on the surface or beneath the waves.

Line 5 thus indicates that the situation in the immediate future is fluid, changeable, not really firm, stable nor fixed in position.

Hexagram 55
Thunder over Fire is Hexagram 55, Feng, meaning abundance and fullness. The Chinese character “feng” refers to an abundant harvest and a storage full of grain stalks and beans. The hexagram indicates that success will be to the fullest extent.

The image of Hexagram 55, Feng, consists of two broken female lines over two solid male lines over one broken female line over one solid male line at the bottom. The Earth lines (two bottom lines) consist of a broken female line over a bottom solid male line. This indicates that the family is complete. The middle two Man lines are both solid male lines. This indicates that the sons have matured. The top two Heaven lines are both broken female lines. It conjures up an image of an abundant harvest and grain stalks are piled up inside a storage basin.

Thunder and lightning occur naturally together. One sees lightning and then hears thunder. The result of lightning is often forest fires. This indicates that the moment is right when the thunder sounds and one can take action, i.e., lightning strikes and causes a forest fire.

Fire over Mountain, Hexagram 56
Posted on November 3, 2011 by masterchensays
In response to the above.

Fire over Mountain, Hexagram 56, Lu”, a wanderer, to travel, traveling, traveler, tourist, one who travels, etc.

Fire burns on mountains. Mountain fires leave an aftermath of devastation. If you drive east on Highway 80 from California to Reno, Nevada, when you get to within 30 miles west of Reno, you will see bare mountaintops devasted by fire. Fire that burns on mountains is not easily controlled. It spreads rather quickly. Mountain inclines help the fire spread.

In imagery, Hexagram 56, fire over Mountain, consists of one solid line on top, over a broken line, over two solid lines, over two broken bottom lines. The force of the fire is above and is stronger than the moisture (broken line) of the trees that burn, and the strength of the fire is doubly strong beneath the trees, and the moisture and water on the hillside go underground.

A hexagram has six lines. The bottom two lines represent Earth. The middle two lines represent Man. The top two lines represent Heaven. Thus we have in a hexagram two Heaven Lines over two Man Lines over two Earth Lines, i.e., this is the basic structure of the hexagram, Tian (Heaven), Ren (Man), Di (Earth).

In Hexagram 56, Fire over Mountain, the bottom two lines are female lines. These are the Earth lines. The middle two lines are male lines. These are the Man lines. The top two lines are the male line over the female line. These are the Heaven lines. In the Heaven Lines, i.e., top two lines, there is a struggle of the man and the woman, the yin and the yang, the positive and the negative, the bright and the dark, the struggle of two opposites.

Hexagram 56 indicates wandering, passing by, like the fire on the mountain that burns and then dies out when there is nothing left to burn, like a tornado that passes. Both the fire and the tornado leave devastation in their wake.

One advice from this hexagram is to stay safe and let the stronger force pass. Do not get caught in it nor fight it. The stronger force that portends destruction will pass.

Wind over Water, Hexagram 59

Hexagram 59 (wind over water) changed to hexagram 38 (fire over lake).  The change would be first-six, fourth-six, and fifth-nine.  The bottom trigram changed from water indicating hidden danger and fluidity, uncertainty, instability, to a lake, a relatively stable body of water, tranquil on the surface, a reserve of resources.  The top trigram of wind, instability, shifting winds, sudden change, changes to fire, prosperity, rising flames, rising reputation.  In general, what was double uncertainty of both flowing water and wind is now changed to prosperity, bright future over calm reserves and a pool of resources. 

Assigning the value 2 to heads and 3 to tails will give us the minimum number of 2+2+2=6, and a maximum number of 3+3+3=9.  According to the rules of change, 6 and 9 change.  Six is the broken line of the female that changes to the solid line of the male and nine is the solid line of the male that changes to the broken line of the female.

Hexagram 62

Thunder over Mountain, Hexagram 62, is xiao guo. Xiao means small. Guo means to pass. The classical interpretation is that by paying attention to small things, one will have good fortune. If one decides to take major action or radical action, one will meet with disaster. One classical annotation says: “Like the sound of a bird taking flight, the farther it flies, the less audible the sound. Bu yi` shang`, yi` xia`, da` ji”, i.e., it is not good to go up, it is good to go down, great fortune.”

In imagery, the hexagram consists of Thunder over Mountain, i.e., two broken female lines over two solid male lines over two broken female lines at the bottom. The bottom two lines, i.e., the Earth lines, are female. The Man lines or middle two lines are solid male lines. The two top lines, i.e., the Heaven lines, are two female lines. It indicates two males are being sandwiched between four females, two on top and two underneath. Based on tradition, women do the finer things like sewing, embroidering, being dainty, etc. The hexagram advises paying attention to little things.

Thunder is an empty threat when it is far away. Thunder sounds louder when one is on a mountain top. Therefore, thunder may bring lightning and rain. Mountain tops are more exposed to lightning strikes than else where. From this comes the advice to pay attention to the interior as indicated by the positions of the two male lines.

Fire over Water, Hexagram 64

Hexagram 64, the last hexagram, is named wei ji, the traditional meaning of which is “before completion.”  Wei means “not yet”, and “ji” means “to be full” or “to arrive at” (in its classical meaning).  The hexagram consists of Fire over Water as in burning oil on the surface of water.  Since fire is on top of water, the water has not been able to and is not putting out the fire.  Water contains hidden dangers and water, as a fluid, flows, indicating instability.  We therefore have advancdement (fire) on top of instability (water), therefore, whatever endeavors one attempts are in a stage before completion.  The predictability of any outcome is still uncertain.  Hexagram wei ji also means that not all elements for completion are yet mature.  As we say in English, the time has not yet come, or it is not the time yet.  It is a period of waiting. 

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43 Responses to Q&A: I Ching

  1. jkeuhs says:

    I have a hexagram, The Creative, #1, with a changing line at the bottom, first place. Hidden dragon, not the time to act. This hexagram turns to 44 Coming to Meet, which is a negative type of hexagram- Wilhelm’s interpretation: “This hexagram indicates a situation in which the principle of darkness, after having been eliminated, furtively and unexpectedly obtrudes again from
    within and below”. My question: how can such a positive hexagram which indicates success at every level turn to a negative hexagram when the changing lines are followed?

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