Upper trigram: K'un The Receptive, Earth
Lower trigram: Li The Clinging, Flame
Darkening of the Light. In adversity
It furthers one to be persevering.
The light has sunk into the earth:
The image of Darkening of the Light.
Thus does the superior man live with the great mass:
He veils his light, yet still shines.
These texts apply only for the lines that were marked, when the hexagram was cast. Note that the lines are counted from the bottom up.
The bottom line marked means:
Darkening of the light during flight.
He lowers his wings.
The superior man does not eat for three days
On his wanderings.
But he has somewhere to go.
The host has occasion to gossip about him.
The 2nd line marked means:
Darkening of the light injures him in the left thigh.
He gives aid with the strength of a horse.
The 3rd line marked means:
Darkening of the light during the hunt in the south.
Their great leader is captured.
One must not expect perseverance too soon.
The 4th line marked means:
He penetrates the left side of the belly.
One gets at the very heart of the darkening of the light,
And leaves gate and courtyard.
The 5th line marked means:
Darkening of the light as with Prince Chi.
The top line marked means:
Not light but darkness.
First he climbed up to heaven,
Then he plunged into the depths of the earth.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
Here the sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened. The name
of the hexagram means literally "wounding of the bright"; hence the
individual lines contain frequent references to wounding. The situation is
the exact opposite of that in the foregoing hexagram. In the latter a wise man
at the head of affairs has able helpers, and in company with them makes
progress; here a man of dark nature is in a position of authority and brings
harm to the wise and able man.
One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable
circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by
maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and
tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities.
In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his
will prevail inspite of difficulties in his immediate environment.
Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be
discernible from without. Only thus is a man able to maintain his will in the
face of difficulties.
In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved. One should
not needlessly awaken overwhelming enmity by inconsiderate behavior. In
such times one ought not to fall in with the practices of others; neither
should one drag them censoriously into the light. In social intercourse one
should not try to be all-knowing. One should let many things pass, without
The bottom line marked
With grandiose resolve a man endeavors to soar above all obstacles, but thus
encounters a hostile fate. He retreats and evades the issue. The time is
difficult. Without rest, he must hurry along, with no permanent abiding
place. If he does not want to make compromises within himself, but insists
on remaining true to his principles, he suffers deprivation. Never the less he
has a fixed goal to strive for even though the people with whom he lives do
not understand him and speak ill of him.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
Here the Lord of Light is in a subordinate place and is wounded by the Lord of
Darkness. But the injury is not fatal; it is only a hindrance. Rescue is still
possible. The wounded man gives no thought to himself; he thinks only of
saving the others who are also in danger. Therefore he tries with all his
strength to save all that can be saved. There is good fortune in thus acting
according to duty.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
It seems as if chance were at work. While the strong, loyal man is striving
eagerly and in good faith to create order, he meets the ringleader of the
disorder, as if by accident, and seizes him. Thus victory is achieved. But in
abolishing abuses one must not be too hasty. This would turn out badly
because the abuses have been in existence so long.
The 4th line from the bottom marked
We find ourselves close to the commander of darkness and so discover his
mot secret thoughts. In this way we realize that there is no longer any hope of
improvement, and thus we are enabled to leave the scene of disaster before
the storm breaks.
The 5th line from the bottom marked
Prince Chi lived at the court of the evil tyrant Chou Hsin, who, although not
mentioned by name, furnished the historical example on which this whole
situation is based. Prince Chi was a relative of the tyrant and could not
withdraw from the court; therefore he concealed his true sentiments and
feigned insanity. Although he was held a slave, he did not allow external
misery to deflect him from his convictions.
This provides a teaching for those who cannot leave their posts in times of
darkness. In order to escape danger, they need invincible perseverance of
spirit and redoubled caution in their dealings with the world.
The top line marked
Here the climax of the darkening is reached. The dark power at first held so
high a place that it could wound all who were on the side of good and of the
light. But in the end it perishes of its own darkness, for evil must itself fall at
the very moment when it has wholly overcome the good, and thus
consumed the energy to which it owed its duration.
Here I add some perspectives on this hexagram, as well as other methods to read its meaning, in additon to what Richard Wilhelm derives from it above.
Meaning of the Trigrams Combined
Each hexagram combines two trigrams, making one the upper and the other the lower. The meaning of the hexagram is mainly derived from that combination. Here's what it means for this hexagram:
Earth upon Flame
This part of the text is being edited. It will be added shortly.
Compare to the Reversed Trigrams
It's common to compare a hexagram to the one where the lines are the opposite: a full line is broken and a broken line full. But I find it much more interesting to compare hexagrams with the trigrams reversed: the upper trigram becomes the lower, and the lower trigram becomes the upper. That deepens the understanding of the trigrams at work — when they're not identical. Click the image to see what it means for the two trigrams of this hexagram:
The hexagram with the trigrams reversed
Compare to the Reversed Lines
You can also compare this hexagram to its opposite according to the six lines, where each broken line is full, and vice versa. In some cases it leads to the same hexagram as the one where the trigrams are switched. Here is the hexagram with reversed lines (click it to get to its webpage):
Hexagram with opposite lines
Click the header to read more about the eight trigrams that are combined into the 64 hexagrams.
The 64 I Ching Hexagrams
An I Ching hexagram is composed of two trigrams. Each of the 64 hexagrams has its own name, meaning, and divinatory text. Here they all are, in the traditional order. Click on the image of an I Ching hexagram to get to its webpage.
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