by Stefan Stenudd

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I Ching Hexagram 22.
Pi / Grace


Hexagram 22

Upper trigram: Kên Keeping Still, Mountain

Lower trigram: Li The Clinging, Flame


The Judgement

Grace has success.
In small matters
It is favorable to undertake something.





The Image

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.


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:

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.


The Judgement

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 Image

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 Lines

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.



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:


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:

I Ching Hexagram 56
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 47
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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I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism as well as other East Asian traditions. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.