by Stefan Stenudd

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I Ching Hexagram 11.
T'ai / Peace


Hexagram 11

Upper trigram: K'un The Receptive, Earth

Lower trigram: Ch'ien The Creative, Heaven


The Judgement

Peace. The small departs,
The great approaches.
Good fortune. Success.





The Image

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.


The Lines

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 new spring.


The Judgement

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 appropriate place.

       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.


The Image

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 rewards him.


The Lines

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 desert him.


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 conviction.


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.



Further Reading


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:

I Ching Hexagram 12
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):

I Ching Hexagram 12
Hexagram with opposite lines


The I Ching Trigrams

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.


I Ching Hexagram 1
1
Creative
I Ching Hexagram 2
2
Receptive
I Ching Hexagram 3
3
Difficulty
I Ching Hexagram 4
4
Folly
I Ching Hexagram 5
5
Waiting
I Ching Hexagram 6
6
Conflict
I Ching Hexagram 7
7
Army
I Ching Hexagram 8
8
Union
I Ching Hexagram 9
9
Taming
I Ching Hexagram 10
10
Treading
I Ching Hexagram 11
11
Peace
I Ching Hexagram 12
12
Standstill
I Ching Hexagram 13
13
Fellowship
I Ching Hexagram 14
14
Possession
I Ching Hexagram 15
15
Modesty
I Ching Hexagram 16
16
Enthusiasm
I Ching Hexagram 17
17
Following
I Ching Hexagram 18
18
Decay
I Ching Hexagram 19
19
Approach
I Ching Hexagram 20
20
View
I Ching Hexagram 21
21
Biting
I Ching Hexagram 22
22
Grace
I Ching Hexagram 23
23
Splitting
I Ching Hexagram 24
24
Return
I Ching Hexagram 25
25
Innocence
I Ching Hexagram 26
26
Taming
I Ching Hexagram 27
27
Mouth
I Ching Hexagram 28
28
Preponderance
I Ching Hexagram 29
29
Abysmal
I Ching Hexagram 30
30
Clinging
I Ching Hexagram 31
31
Influence
I Ching Hexagram 32
32
Duration
I Ching Hexagram 33
33
Retreat
I Ching Hexagram 34
34
Power
I Ching Hexagram 35
35
Progress
I Ching Hexagram 36
36
Darkening
I Ching Hexagram 37
37
Family
I Ching Hexagram 38
38
Opposition
I Ching Hexagram 39
39
Obstruction
I Ching Hexagram 40
40
Deliverance
I Ching Hexagram 41
41
Decrease
I Ching Hexagram 42
42
Increase
I Ching Hexagram 43
43
Resoluteness
I Ching Hexagram 44
44
Coming
I Ching Hexagram 45
45
Gathering
I Ching Hexagram 46
46
Pushing
I Ching Hexagram 47
47
Oppression
I Ching Hexagram 48
48
Well
I Ching Hexagram 49
49
Revolution
I Ching Hexagram 50
50
Caldron
I Ching Hexagram 51
51
Arousing
I Ching Hexagram 52
52
Still
I Ching Hexagram 53
53
Development
I Ching Hexagram 54
54
Marrying
I Ching Hexagram 55
55
Abundance
I Ching Hexagram 56
56
Wanderer
I Ching Hexagram 57
57
Gentle
I Ching Hexagram 58
58
Joyous
I Ching Hexagram 59
59
Dispersion
I Ching Hexagram 60
60
Limitation
I Ching Hexagram 61
61
Truth
I Ching Hexagram 62
62
Small
I Ching Hexagram 63
63
After
I Ching Hexagram 64
64
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