Upper trigram: K'un The Receptive, Earth
Lower trigram: Ch'ien The Creative, Heaven
Peace. The small departs,
The great approaches.
Good fortune. Success.
Heaven and earth unite: the image of Peace.
Thus the ruler
Divides and completes the course of heaven and earth;
He furthers and regulates the gifts of heaven and earth,
And so aids the people.
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:
When ribbon grass is pulled up, the sod comes with it.
Each according to his kind.
Undertakings bring good fortune.
The 2nd line marked means:
Bearing with the uncultured in gentleness,
Fording the river with resolution,
Not neglecting what is distant,
Not regarding one's companions:
Thus one may manage to walk in the middle.
The 3rd line marked means:
No plain not followed by a slope.
No going not followed by a return.
He who remains persevering in danger
Is without blame.
Do not complain about this truth;
Enjoy the good fortune you still possess.
The 4th line marked means:
He flutters down, not boasting of his wealth,
Together with his neighbor,
Guileless and sincere.
The 5th line marked means:
The sovereign I
Gives his daughter in marriage.
This brings blessing
And supreme good fortune.
The top line marked means:
The wall falls back into the moat.
Use no army now.
Make your commands known within your own town.
Perseverance brings humiliation.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
The Receptive, which moves downward, stands above; the Creative, which
moves upward, is below. Hence their influences meet and are in harmony,
so that all living things bloom and prosper. This hexagram belongs to the
first month (February-March), at which time the forces of nature prepare the
This hexagram denotes a time in nature when heaven seems to be on earth.
Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth, and so their powers unite in deep
harmony. Then peace and blessing descend upon all living things.
In the world of man it is a time of social harmony; those in high places
show favor to the lowly, and the lowly and inferior is an end to all feuds.
In side, at the center, in the key position, is the light principle; the dark
principle is outside. Thus the light has a powerful influence, while the dark
is submissive. In this way each receives its due. When the good elements of
society occupy a central position and are in control, the evil elements come
under their influence and change for the better. When the spirit of heaven
rules in man, his animal nature also comes under its influence and takes its
The individual lines enter the hexagram from below and leave it again at
the top. Here the small, weak, and evil elements are about to take their
departure, while the great, strong, and good elements are moving up. This
brings good fortune and success.
Heaven and earth are in contact and combine their influences, producing a
time of universal flowering and prosperity. This stream of energy must be
regulated by the ruler of men. It is done by a process of division. Thus men
divide the uniform flow of time into the seasons, according to the succession
of natural phenomena, and mark off infinite space by the points of the
compass. In this way nature in its overwhelming profusion of phenomena is
bounded and controlled. One the other hand, nature must be furthered in
her productiveness. This is done by adjusting the products to the right time
and the right place, which increases the natural yield. This controlling and
furthering activity of man in his relation to nature is the work on nature that
The bottom line marked
In times of prosperity every able man called to fill an office draws like minded
people along with him, just as in pulling up ribbon grass one always pulls up
a bunch of it, because the stalks are connected by their roots. In such times,
when it is possible to extend influence widely, the mind of an able man is set
upon going out into life and accomplishing something.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
In times of prosperity it is important and above all to possess enough
greatness of soul to bear with imperfect people. For in the hands of a great
master no material is unproductive; he can find use for everything. But this
generosity is by no means laxity or weakness. It is during times of prosperity
especially that we must always be ready to risk even dangerous undertakings,
such as the crossing of a river, if they are necessary. So too we must not
neglect what is distant but must attend scrupulously to everything.
Factionalism and the dominance of cliques are especially to be avoided. Even
if people of like mind come forward together, they ought not to form a faction
by holding together for mutual advantage; instead, each man should do is
duty. Theses are four ways in which one can overcome the hidden danger of
a gradual slackening that always lurks in any time of peace. And that is how
one finds the middle way for action.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
Everything on earth is subject to change. Prosperity is followed by decline:
this is the eternal law on earth. Evil can indeed be held in check but not
permanently abolished. It always returns. This conviction might induct
melancholy, but it should not; it ought only to keep us from falling into
illusion when good fortune comes to us. If we continue mindful of the
danger, we remain persevering and make no mistakes. As long as a man's
inner nature remains stronger and richer than anything offered by external
fortune, as long as he remains inwardly superior to fate, fortune will not
The 4th line from the bottom marked
In times of mutual confidence, people of high rank come in close contact with
the lowly quite simply and without boasting of their wealth. This is not due
to the force of circumstances but corresponds with their inmost sentiment.
The approach is made quite spontaneously, because it is based on inner
The 5th line from the bottom marked
The sovereign I is T'ang the Completer. By his decree the imperial princesses,
although higher in rank than their husbands, had to obey them like all other
wives. Here too we are shown a truly modest union of high and low that
brings happiness and blessings.
The top line marked
The change alluded to in the middle of the hexagram has begun to take place.
The wall of the town sinks back into the moat from which it was dug. The
hour of doom is at hand. When matters have come to this pass, we should
submit to fate and not try to stave it off by violent resistance. The one
recourse left us is to hold our own within our intimate circle. Should we
persevere in trying to resist the evil in the usual way, our collapse would only
be more complete, and humiliation would be the result.
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 Heaven
This is an absurdity. How can Earth rest upon Heaven, how can Heaven settle under Earth? Yet, there is balance between them. And even from below, mighty Heaven can support Earth and make it bloom.
But it must be understood as a unique occasion. It may be splendid, bringing abundant and lasting success, but this opportunity cannot be expected to recur anytime soon.
If this hexagram appears in divination, it shows a unique opportunity to accomplish what would normally be impossible. Something great, something overwhelming. Grab the opportunity, because it's not likely to come back, at least not in this splendor.
It's the hexagram of peace, because in the success it brings, nobody thinks of war. It's the blessing of peace - everyone avoids the horrors of war, and is free to explore the countless possibilities that life contains.
Yin and Yang Significances
The hexagram has a perfect balance between Yin (broken) and Yang (full) lines, although upside-down. The basic forces of the world are in balance, albeit oddly misplaced. Still, they make a complete whole. Sometimes the world is upside-down. That's how it renews itself, and so can we at such times.
Read more about the polarity of Yin and Yang here:
Yin and Yang
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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