Upper trigram: Li The Clinging, Flame
Lower trigram: Li The Clinging, Flame
The Clinging. Perseverance furthers.
It brings success.
Care of the cow brings good fortune.
That which is bright rises twice:
The image of Fire.
Thus the great man, by perpetuating this brightness,
Illumines the four quarters of the world.
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:
The footprints run crisscross.
If one is seriously intent, no blame.
The 2nd line marked means:
Yellow light. Supreme good fortune.
The 3rd line marked means:
In the light of the setting sun,
Men either beat the pot and sing
Or loudly bewail the approach of old age.
The 4th line marked means:
Its coming is sudden;
It flames up, dies down, is thrown away.
The 5th line marked means:
Tears in floods, sighing and lamenting.
The top line marked means:
The king uses him to march forth and chastise.
Then it is best to kill the leaders
And take captive the followers. No blame.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
This hexagram is another double sign. The trigram Li means "to cling to
something," and also "brightness." A dark line clings to two light lines, one
above and one below - the image of an empty space between two strong lines,
whereby the two strong lines are made bright. The trigram represents the
middle daughter. The Creative has incorporated the central line of the
Receptive, and thus Li develops. As an image, it is fire. Fire has no definite
form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright. As water pours down
from heaven, so fire flames up from the earth. While K'an means the soul
shut within the body, Li stands for nature in its radiance.
What is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the
latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something
that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives
light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may
continue to shine.
Thus the sun and moon cling to heaven, and grain, grass, and trees cling to
the earth. So too the twofold clarity of the dedicated man clings to what is
right and thereby can shape the world. Human life on earth is conditioned
and unfree, and when man recognizes this limitation and makes himself
dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he
achieves success. The cow is the symbol of extreme docility. By cultivating in
himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires
clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world.
Each of the two trigrams represents the sun in the course of a day. The two
together represent the repeated movement of the sun, the function of light
with respect to time. The great man continues the work of nature in the
human world. Through the clarity of his nature he causes the light to spread
farther and farther and to penetrate the nature of man ever more deeply.
The bottom line marked
It is early morning and work begins. The mind has been closed to the outside
world in sleep; now its connections with the world begin again. The traces of
one's impressions run crisscross. Activity and haste prevail. It is important
then to preserve inner composure and not to allow oneself to be swept along
by the bustle of life. If one is serious and composed, he can acquire the clarity
of mind needed for coming to terms with the innumerable impressions that
pour in. It is precisely at the beginning that serious concentration is
important, because the beginning holds the seed of all that is to follow.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
Midday has come; the sun shines with a yellow light. Yellow is the color of
measure and mean. Yellow light is therefore a symbol of the highest culture
and art, whose consummate harmony consists in holding to the mean.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
Here the end of the day has come. The light of the setting sun calls to mind
the fact that life is transitory and conditional. Caught in this external
bondage, men are usually robbed of their inner freedom as well. The sense of
the transitoriness of life impels them to uninhibited revelry in order to enjoy
life while it lasts, or else they yield to melancholy and spoil the precious time
by lamenting the approach of old age. Both attitudes are wrong. To the
superior man it makes no difference whether death comes early or late. He
cultivates himself, awaits his allotted time, and in this way secures his fate.
The 4th line from the bottom marked
Clarity of mind has the same relation to life that fire has to wood. Fire clings
to wood, but also consumes it. Clarity of mind is rooted in life but can also
consume it. Everything depends upon how the clarity functions. Here the
image used is that of a meteor or a straw fire. A man who is excitable and
restless may rise quickly to prominence but produces no lasting effects. Thus
matters end badly when a man spends himself too rapidly and consumes
himself like a meteor.
The 5th line from the bottom marked
Here the zenith of life has been reached. Were there no warning, one would
at this point consume oneself like a flame. Instead, understanding the vanity
of all things, one may put aside both hope and fear, and sigh and lament: if
one is intent on retaining his clarity of mind, good fortune will come from
this grief. For here we are dealing not with a passing mood, as in the nine in
the third place, but with a real change of heart.
The top line marked
It is not the purpose of chastisement to impose punishment blindly but to
create discipline. Evil must be cured at its roots. To eradicate evil in political
life, it is best to kill the ringleaders and spare the followers. In educating
oneself it is best to root out bad habits and tolerate those that are harmless.
For asceticism that is too strict, like sentences of undue severity, fails in its
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:
Flame 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.
Since these two are identical, it makes more sense to compare with the hexagram that has reversed lines (see below).
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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