I Ching

Past (that is excessive) misusage has taught me how nasty the consequences of abusing the powers of the I Ching can be. So for quite a while now I have been casting the coins only once a year, on my birthday to do a reading for the upcoming year. I have an ancient Richard Wilhelm translation which is practically falling apart at the binding and I just use 3 identical coins that I fish out of my purse – so, nothing fancy whatsoever. I also tend to get quite nervous before I start since I trust the I Ching implicitly. Today was the day and this is what I got. I am totally thrilled about this one. And so I should be, given that it is one of the most powerful ones in the book…

49. Ko / Revolution (Molting)
above Tui (The Joyous), Lake
below Li (The Clinging), Fire

The setup of a well must necessarily be revolutionized in the course of time. Hence there follows the hexagram of Revolution.

Revolution means removal of that which is antiquated.

The Judgement
Revolution. On your own day you are believed.
Supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Remorse disappears.

The Image
Fire in the lake: the image of Revolution. Thus the superior man sets the calendar in order and makes the seasons clear. Fire below and the lake above combat and destroy each other. So too in the course of the year a combat takes place between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, eventuating in the revolution of the seasons, and man is able to adjust himself in advance to the demands of the different times.

And I even have two changing lines:

Six in the second place means:
When one’s own day comes, one may create revolution.
Starting brings good fortune. No blame.

Nine in the third place means:
Starting brings misfortune.
Perseverance brings danger.
When talk of revolution has gone the rounds three times,
One may commit himself,
And men will believe him.

(This line sounds like it is negative and/or contradictory to the previous line but actually it is not in any way contradictory or negative, in that it is actually expounding upon the correct way to start/proceed, so I am adding the commentary of this one also: When change is necessary, there are two mistakes to be avoided. One lies in excessive haste and ruthlessness, which bring disaster. The other lies in excessive hesitation and conservatism, which are also dangerous. Not every demand for change in the existing order should be heeded. On the other hand, repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail of a hearing. When talk of change has come to one’s ears three times, and has been pondered well, he may believe and acquiesce in it. Then he will meet with belief and will accomplish something.)


What I got last year is below. Looking back on the year I know that it has been very accurate. I had no changing lines then, just the main commentary:

9. Hsiao Ch’u / The Taming Power of the Small
above Sun (The Gentle), Wind
below Ch’ien (The Creative), Heaven

Through holding together, restraint is certain to come about. Hence there follows The Taming Power of the Small. The Taming Power of the Small is slight..

This hexagram means the force of the small–the power of the shadowy–that restrains, tames, impedes. A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister, holds the five strong lines in check. In the Image it is the wind blowing across the sky. The wind restrains the clouds, the rising breath of the Creative, and makes them grow dense, but as yet is not strong enough to turn them to rain. The hexagram presents a configuration of circumstances in which a strong element is temporarily held in leash by a weak element. It is only through gentleness that this can have a successful outcome.

The Judgement
The Taming Power of the Small has success. Dense clouds, no rain from our western region.

This image refers to the state of affairs in China at the time when King Wên, who came originally from the west, was in the east at the court of the reigning tyrant Chou Hsin. The moment for action on a large scale had not yet arrived. King Wên could only keep the tyrant somewhat in check by friendly persuasion. Hence the image of many clouds, promising moisture and blessing to the land, although as yet no rain falls. The situation is not unfavorable; there is a prospect of ultimate success, but there are still obstacles in the way, and we can merely take preparatory measures. Only through the small means of friendly persuasion can we exert any influence. The time has not yet come for sweeping measures. However, we may be able, to a limited extent, to act as a restraining and subduing influence. To carry out our purpose we need firm determination within and gentleness and adaptability in external relations.

The Image
The wind drives across heaven: The image of The Taming Power of the Small. Thus the superior man refines the outward aspect of his nature.

The wind can indeed drive the clouds together in the sky; yet, being nothing but air, without solid body, it does not produce great or lasting effects. So also an individual, in times when he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of his nature in small ways.


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