Upper trigram: Kên Keeping Still, Mountain
Lower trigram: Li The Clinging, Flame
Grace has success.
In small matters
It is favorable to undertake something.
Fire at the foot of the mountain:
The image of Grace.
Thus does the superior man proceed
When clearing up current affairs.
But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.
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:
He lends grace to his toes, leaves the carriage, and walks.
The 2nd line marked means:
Lends grace to the beard on his chin.
The 3rd line marked means:
Graceful and moist.
Constant perseverance brings good fortune.
The 4th line marked means:
Grace or simplicity?
A white horse comes as if on wings.
He is not a robber,
He will woo at the right time.
The 5th line marked means:
Grace in the hills and gardens.
The roll of silk is meager and small.
Humiliation, but in the end good fortune.
The top line marked means:
Simple grace. No blame.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
This hexagram shows a fire that breaks out of the secret depths of the earth
and, blazing up, illuminates and beautifies the mountain, the heavenly
heights. Grace-beauty of form-is necessary in any union if it is to be well
ordered and pleasing rather than disordered and chaotic.
Grace brings success. However, it is not the essential or fundamental thing; it
is only the ornament and therefore be used sparingly and only in little things.
In the lower trigram of fire a yielding line comes between two strong lines
and makes them beautiful, but the strong lines are the essential content and
the weak line is the beautifying form. In the upper trigram of the mountain,
the strong line takes the lead, so that here again the strong element must be
regarded as the decisive factor. In nature we see in the sky the strong light of
the sun; the life of the world depends on it. But this strong, essential thing is
changed and given pleasing variety by the moon and the stars. In human
affairs, aesthetic form comes into being when traditions exist that, strong and
abiding like mountains, are made pleasing by a lucid beauty. By
contemplating the forms existing in the heavens we come to understand time
and its changing demands. Through contemplation of the forms existing in
human society it becomes possible to shape the world.
The fire, whose light illuminates the mountain and makes it pleasing, does
not shine far; in the same way, beautiful form suffices to brighten and to
throw light upon matters of lesser moment, but important questions cannot
be decided in this way. They require greater earnestness.
The bottom line marked
A beginner in subordinate place must take upon himself the labor of
advancing. There might be an opportunity of surreptitiously easing the way-
symbolized by the carriage-but a self-contained man scorns help gained in a
dubious fashion. He thinks it more graceful to go on foot than to drive in a
carriage under false pretenses.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
The beard is not an independent thing; it moves only with the chin. The
image therefore means that form is to be considered only as a result and
attribute of content. The beard is a superfluous ornament. To devote care to it
for its own sake, without regard for the inner content of which it is an
ornament, would bespeak a certain vanity.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
This represents a very charming life situation. One is under the spell of grace
and the mellow mood induced by wine. This grace can adorn, but it can also
swamp us. Hence the warning not to sink into convivial indolence but to
remain constant in perseverance. Good fortune depends on this.
The 4th line from the bottom marked
An individual is in a situation in which doubts arise as to which is better-to
pursue the grace of external brilliance, or to return to simplicity. The doubt
itself implies the answer. Confirmation comes from the outside; it comes like
a white winged horse. The white color indicates simplicity. At first it may be
disappointing to renounce the comforts that might have been obtained, yet
one finds peace of mind in a true relationship with the friend who courts
him. The winged horse is the symbol of the thoughts that transcend all limits
of space and time.
The 5th line from the bottom marked
A man withdraws from contact with people of the lowlands, who seek
nothing but magnificence and luxury, in to the solitude of the heights. There
he finds an individual to look up to, whom he would like to have as a friend.
But the gifts he has to offer are poor and few, so that he feels ashamed.
However, it is not the material gifts that count, but sincerity of feeling, and so
all goes well in the end.
The top line marked
Here at the highest stage of development all ornament is discarded. Form no
longer conceals content but brings out its value to the full. Perfect grace
consists not in exterior ornamentation of the substance, but in the simple
fitness of its form.
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:
Mountain 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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