Your question: I Ching Online

The original Richard Wilhelm translation for the hexagram...


Hexagram 41
Sun - Decrease

yang
yin above: Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain
yin
yin
yang below: Tui / The Joyous, Lake
yang

I Ching Online

This hexagram represents a decrease of the lower trigram in favour of the upper, because the third line, originally strong, has moved up to the top, and the top line, originally weak, has replaced it.1 What is below is decreased to the benefit of what is above. This is out-and-out decrease. If the foundations of a building are decreased in strength and the upper walls are strengthened, the whole structure loses its stability. Likewise, a decrease in the prosperity of the people in favour of the government is out-and-out decrease. And the entire theme of the hexagram is directed to showing how this shift of wealth can take place without causing the sources of wealth in the nation and its lower classes to fail.


THE JUDGEMENT


DECREASE combined with sincerity
Brings about supreme good fortune
Without blame.
One may be persevering in this.
It furthers one to undertake something.
How is this to be carried out?
One may use two small bowls for the sacrifice.


Decrease does not under all circumstances mean something bad. Increase and decrease come in their own time. What matters here is to understand the time and not to try to cover up poverty with empty pretence. If a time of scanty resources brings out an inner truth, one must not feel ashamed of simplicity. For simplicity is then the very thing needed to provide inner strength for further undertakings. Indeed, there need be no concern if the outward beauty of the civilisation, even the elaboration of religious forms, should have to suffer because of simplicity. One must draw on the strength of the inner attitude to compensate for what is lacking in externals; then the power of the content makes up for the simplicity of form. There is no need of presenting false appearances to God. Even with slender means, the sentiment of the heart can be expressed.2

THE IMAGE


At the foot of the mountain, the lake:
The image of DECREASE.
Thus the superior man controls his anger
And restrains his instincts.


The lake at the foot of the mountain evaporates. In this way it decreases to the benefit of the mountain, which is enriched by its moisture. The mountain stands as the symbol of a stubborn strength that can harden into anger. The lake is the symbol of unchecked gaiety that can develop into passionate drives at the expense of the life forces. Therefore decrease is necessary; anger must be decreased by keeping still, the instincts must be curbed by restriction. By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.



1. [The present hexagram and the following one, INCREASE, are regarded as formed by changes in T'ai, PEACE (11), and P'i, STANDSTILL (12), respectively.]
2. Cf. the story of the widow's mite in the Gospel of Luke.


Click on this bar to go to the top of the page...