Upper trigram: Ch'ien The Creative, Heaven
Lower trigram: K'an The Abysmal, Water
Conflict. You are sincere
And are being obstructed.
A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
It does not further one to cross the great water.
Heaven and water go their opposite ways:
The image of Conflict.
Thus in all his transactions the superior man
Carefully considers the beginning.
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:
If one does not perpetuate the affair,
There is little gossip.
In the end, good fortune comes.
The 2nd line marked means:
One cannot engage in conflict;
One returns home, gives way.
The people of his town,
Three hundred households,
Remain free of guilt.
The 3rd line marked means:
To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.
Danger. In the end, good fortune comes.
If by chance you are in the service of a king,
Seek not works.
The 4th line marked means:
One cannot engage in conflict.
One turns back and submits to fate,
Changes one's attitude,
And finds peace in perseverance.
The 5th line marked means:
To contend before him
Brings good fortune.
The top line marked means:
Even if by chance a leather belt is bestowed on one,
By the end of morning
It will have been snatched away three times.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
The upper trigram, whose image is heaven, has an upward movement; the
lower trigram, water, in accordance with its nature tends downward. Thus the
two halves move away from each other, giving rise to the idea of conflict.
The attribute of the Creative is strength, that of the Abysmal is danger, guile.
Where cunning has force before it, there is conflict.
A third indication of conflict, in terms of character, is presented by the
combination of deep cunning within and fixed determination outwardly. A
person of this character will certainly be quarrelsome.
Conflict develops when one feels himself to be in the right and runs into
opposition. If one is not convinced of being in the right, opposition leads to
craftiness or high-handed encroachment but not to open conflict.
If a man is entangled in a conflict, his only salvation lies in being so clear-
headed and inwardly strong that he is always ready to come to terms by
meeting the opponent halfway. To carry one the conflict to the bitter end has
evil effects even when one is the right, because the enmity is then
perpetuated. It is important to see the great man, that is, an impartial man
whose authority is great enough to terminate the conflict amicably or assure a
just decision. In times of strife, crossing the great water is to be avoided, that
is, dangerous enterprises are not to be begun, because in order to be successful
they require concerted unity of focus. Conflict within weakens the power to
conquer danger without.
The image indicates that the causes of conflict are latent in the opposing
tendencies of the two trig rams. Once these opposing tendencies appear,
conflict is inevitable. To avoid it, therefore, everything must be taken
carefully into consideration in the very beginning. If rights and duties are
exactly defined, or if, in a group, the spiritual trends of the individuals
harmonize, the cause of conflict is removed in advance.
The bottom line marked
While a conflict is in the incipient stage, the best thing To do is to drop the
issue. Especially when the adversary is stronger, it is not advisable to risk
pushing the conflict to a decision. It may come to a slight dispute, but in the
end all goes well.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
In a struggle with an enemy of superior strength, retreat is no disgrace.
Timely withdrawal prevents bad consequences. If, out of a false sense of
honor, a man allowed himself to be tempted into an unequal conflict, he
would be drawing down disaster upon himself. In such a case a wise and
conciliatory attitude benefits the whole community, which will then not be
drawn into the conflict.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
This is a warning of the danger that goes with an expansive disposition. Only
that which has been honestly acquired through merit remains a permanent
possession. It can happen that such a possession may be contested, but since it
is really one's own, one cannot be robbed of it. Whatever a man possesses
through the strength of his own nature cannot be lost. If one enters the
service of a superior, one can avoid conflict only by not seeking works for the
sake of prestige. It is enough if the work is done: let the honor go to the
The 4th line from the bottom marked
This refers to a person whose inner attitude at first lacks peace. He does not
feel content with his situation and would like to improve it through conflict.
In contrast tot the situation of the nine in the second place, he is dealing with
a weaker opponent and might therefore succeed. But he cannot carry on the
fight, because, since right is not on his side, he cannot justify the conflict to
his conscience. Therefore he turns back and accepts his fate. He changes his
mind and finds lasting peace in being at one with eternal law. This brings
The 5th line from the bottom marked
This refers to an arbiter in a conflict who is powerful and just, and strong
enough to lend weight to the right side. A dispute can be turned over to him
with confidence. If one is in the right, one attains great good fortune.
The top line marked
Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has
triumphed. He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last. He is
attacked again and again, and the result is conflict without end.
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:
Heaven upon Water
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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