Upper trigram: Kên Keeping Still, Mountain
Lower trigram: Chên The Arousing, Thunder
The Corners of the Mouth.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment.
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.
At the foot of the mountain, thunder:
The image of Providing Nourishment.
Thus the superior man is careful of his words
And temperate in eating and drinking.
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:
You let your magic tortoise go,
And look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping.
The 2nd line marked means:
Turning to the summit for nourishment,
Deviating from the path
To seek nourishment from the hill.
Continuing to do this brings misfortune.
The 3rd line marked means:
Turning away from nourishment.
Perseverance brings misfortune.
Do not act thus for ten years.
Nothing serves to further.
The 4th line marked means:
Turning to the summit
For provision of nourishment
Brings good fortune.
Spying about with sharp eyes
Like a tiger with insatiable craving.
The 5th line marked means:
Turning away from the path.
To remain persevering brings good fortune.
One should not cross the great water.
The top line marked means:
The source of nourishment.
Awareness of danger brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are firm lines
of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through
which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment
itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the
three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and
care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.
In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people
should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment
in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to
observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he
cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man
fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men
through them. Mencius says about this:
If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe
what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has
superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure
important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the
superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts
of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his
nature is a superior man.
"God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing": when in the spring the life
forces stir again, all things comes into being anew. "He brings to perfection in
the sign of Keeping Still": thus in the early spring, when the seeds fall to
earth, all things are made ready. This is an image of providing nourishment
through movement and tranquillity. The superior man takes it as a pattern
for the nourishment and cultivation of his character. Words are a movement
going form within outward. Eating and drinking are movements from
without inward. Both kinds of movement can be modified by tranquillity.
For tranquillity keeps the words that come out of the mouth from exceeding
proper measure, and keeps the food that goes into the mouth from exceeding
its proper measure. Thus character is cultivated.
The bottom line marked
The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it
lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment. The image means that a man
fitted by nature and position to live freely and independently renounces this
self-reliance and instead looks with envy and discontent at others who are
outwardly in better circumstances. But such base envy only arouses derision
and contempt in those others. This has bad results.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
Normally a person either provides his own means of nourishment or is
supported in a proper way by those whose duty of privilege it is to provide for
him. If, owing to weakness of spirit, a man cannot support himself, a feeling
of uneasiness comes over him; this is because in shirking the proper way of
obtaining a living, he accepts support as a favor from those in higher place.
This is unworthy, for he is deviating from his true nature. Kept up
indefinitely, this course leads to misfortune.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
He who seeks nourishment that does not nourish reels from desire to
gratification and in gratification craves desire. Mad pursuit of pleasure for the
satisfaction of the senses never brings one to the goal. One should never (ten
years is a complete cycle of time) follow this path, for nothing good can come
The 4th line from the bottom marked
In contrast to the six in the second place, which refers to a man bent
exclusively on his own advantage, this line refers to one occupying a high
position and striving to let his light sine forth. To do this he needs helpers,
because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone. With the greed of a hungry tiger
he is on the lookout for the right people. Since he is not working for himself
but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.
The 5th line from the bottom marked
A man may be conscious of a deficiency in himself. He should be
undertaking the nourishment of the people, but he has not the strength to do
it. Thus he must turn from his accustomed path and beg counsel and help
from a man who is spiritually his superior but undistinguished outwardly. If
he maintains this attitude of mind perseveringly, success and good fortune
are his. But he must remain aware of his dependence. He must not put his
own person forward nor attempt great labors, such as crossing the great water.
The top line marked
This describes a sage of the highest order, from whom emanate all influences
that provide nourishment for others. Such a position brings with it heavy
responsibility. If he remains conscious of this fact, he has good fortune and
may confidently undertake even great and difficult labors, such as crossing
the great water. These undertakings bring general happiness for him and for
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 Thunder
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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