788778Hexagram 17

Becoming. New form.

Line image

Yang lines 4 and 5 show that we are not involving our identity in outer manifestation although lines 2 and 3 show that active manifestation continues. Our inner being is changing in this tao but not our identity. The hexagram is called “following”; we follow the tao in the same way that a floating stick will follow a stream, individual yet part of the flow.

Trigram image

The emerging energy is forceful (Chên) but this is stilled (Kên) by our unchanging identity (Sun). In our inner being there is a budding (Tui) of change. The influence that this tao has on us is an inner one, the flow from the emerging life force enters and becomes our being without identifying what it is—we go with it, accepting the circumstances of our life as they come to us.

The Chinese Oracle

Supreme success.
Continuance in the way is needed.
No error.


Continuing to follow the life force, the tao, our circumstances, may sometimes seem to be an error not asserting our individuality enough. Our situation is not, however, a haphazard affair, it is the choice of our inner need; to follow this rather than an identified desire brings about the supreme success of following our own particular pattern of growth and completion.


The pattern
The high is fed from below.
This is service,
undemanding and constant,
becoming an awakening.
For humans
Our energy from inner depths
supports the highest place,
the widest view.
When established and firm
there are new realizations.
In nature
Evolution is the devoted service
of life to a form.
It is form in service to life.
In forms we make
To serve, we follow.
We move towards that form,
becoming it.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

Line 6 being yin, we are following this emerging life force as it becomes more active.

The Chinese Image
The basis of circumstance is changing.
Correct continuance brings good fortune
It is beneficial to go out of the gate to find associates.
He gains merit.

Now there is energy where there was none, but this needs to be used in following (correct continuance). To follow our circumstances we need to go out to them, to follow with them (the associates).

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive feeling less active

To follow the life force we need to feel it. Here we are feeling it less and we lack experience of it.

The Chinese Image
He lets go the man
and clings to the boy.

The boy is youth seeking identification and self-experience while the mature man does not need this. That we need it now shows that an inexperienced aspect is active in us and we should allow this experience while witnessing it with our mature aspect if we can. To follow it without witnessing becomes an indulgence.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

When outer activity decreases in the tao of following, we do not follow what is on the outside, seeking experience, but follow what is inner, accumulated experience.

The Chinese Image
He lets go the boy and follows the man.
By continuing in this he gains what he needs.

What he needs is the wisdom to follow, not to seek experience.

Line 4 goes yin

accepting the outer state more

Here identity is following outer activity and when we do this we do it for purposes, to obtain something we have identified.

The Chinese Image
He is followed yet there is evil.
If he has sincerity that is evident
what error can there be?

Having purposes in the world is to get it to follow us, which is narrowing (evil), but if we constantly follow our circumstances as we see them we learn about the narrowness, and this is no error.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

Intuition follows (feels) the emerging life force which is inactive here, so we are turning our following to the inner. As the inner is quiet we find ourselves remarkably close to being in the tao—following quite naturally by being part of it—where this feeling becomes very real.

The Chinese Image
Sincerity, excellence, and good fortune.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

Our inner being does not accept following. It may be his followers he does not accept or his own following of the tao.

The Chinese Image
Sincerity firmly held. Bound fast.
The king sacrifices on the western mountain.

Holding sincerely to changing circumstances as though bound fast to them, identification (the king) sacrifices itself in the mature state (the evening is the day matured, the mountain is the wide view of maturity). Whether followers or following is the subject here, identification as a mode of being is given up as a mature view is taken. Identification is not following but a form of owning.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 53


Line image

The active emerging life force (line 1) leaves our inner being unchanged (line 6); our active intuitive feeling is ignored by our identity (lines 2 and 5), while we accept an inactive outer world (lines 4 and 3). This is not a structure to carry much flow or achievement but rather a stubborn, almost perverse, obstruction to outer change. An attitude of patience and continuation of effort is required to produce results; with this is a desire to find a place to rest from the continuing effort, shown by line 4.

Trigram image

As the life force emerges it is stilled in the image of Kên and has little flow outside (K’an). We are hesitant to act (Li) and our structured inner being is difficult to change (Sun). This unflowing tao is most usefully experienced in a docile manner; it is strong and we do best to comply with it, moving where and how it will allow. We can learn from it the strength of necessity and also that our own necessities have the strength to make progress without our forcing them. Its common name is “gradual progress”.

The Chinese Oracle

Gradual progress.
Like a maiden’s marriage,
bringing good fortune.
Continuance in the way
brings advantage.


Circumstances are too stubborn for much movement to take place, but feeling is active and is a movement we can benefit from if we can become one with it, hence the symbol of a maiden’s marriage; this will serve us better than continually reassessing our situation. Continuance is of course necessary to harvest the fruits of gradual progress.

The image common to all the lines which move is the progress of a wild goose. The goose migrates over great distances and the various images show the vicissitudes of his arrival—our own arrival in wholeness where flow is neither resisted nor pressured and so is harmonious.


The pattern
Clinging to the firm
avoids being swept away;
allows progress
where there is opposition.
For humans
Endurance gives time
for achieving ends.
A presence continued
acquires influence.
Amongst uncertainty
he remains calm and firm.
In nature
The tree on the mountain
grows tenaciously,
refusing to be uprooted.
In forms we make
That which continues
while changing
to meet circumstances
has the art of endurance.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yang

life force shows less change

Here the life force comes to a state of rest, so activities that we are just beginning may run into difficulties as their energy peters out. If we do not push forward we may seem weak to those who do not recognize the situation but we do best to go at the pace that circumstances allow.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose
gradually approaches the shore.
The son has difficulties.
There is criticism but no error.

The wild goose approaches land and so a place to rest; renewal, however, (the son) has difficulties, young or new efforts are not supported by the life force. The lack of progress towards any completion leads to criticism but it is not our fault, it is time for gradually finishing a journey, not starting a new one.

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive feeling less active

Here our feelings become stilled by the tao and we can relax efforts towards activity. There is no need and no profit to be gained from pushing forward towards what we desire, there is enough nourishment here in our present situation to rest and renew us.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose gradually approaches rock.
Contented eating and drinking.
Good fortune.

Rock is what underlies the surface and so is symbolic of underlying truth. The truth of our situation is that we can relax and enjoy what nourishment our circumstances provide—there is no need to continue the journey at present.

Line 3 goes yin

outer world changes more

In a tao that has so little flow it is not an advantage to set out on new activity because it is not supported by the life energy and will not reach completion. Identity’s need for activity tempts us to move, activity is its food, but here it will lead us astray.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose approaches a dry land.
The man goes out and does not return.
The woman is with child but does not give forth.
It is time to ward off evil.

The goose has gone too far, its natural habitat is near water and here it approaches dry land; we identify too far into a defined world where values are fixed, dry so unflowing, so the defining element in us (the man) is projected into our circumstances and is lost there. The flowing and feeling element in us could give birth to new experience but cannot bring it forth because we identify our outer self as the source of action and ignore the womb where growth occurs “of itself”. The evil is this narrow attitude.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

In this line we are less interested in holding off activity, we allow it to be what comes, so we may find that there is a way, in which case we can take advantage of it, or we may find that there is not and we must be prepared to carry on. Persisting in this mode of being we ride life, allowing it to take us on its way, and we learn lessons about our desire for security.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose approaches a tree.
It may find a branch to land on.
No error.

Geese do not live in trees; identity may visit identified places but they are not its home either. This visiting is not an error but neither is it a home-coming.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

As our intuitive state is active (line 2) this recognition of it restores the flow of feeling to our conscious self.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose approaches the crest of a hill.
Three years the woman has no child, then success comes.
Good fortune.

For a goose the crest of a hill does not mean home, it is something to rise over. This images an effort and then success and the three years the woman waits for her child is a period of change, change to new feeling which allows the natural processes to complete themselves.

Line 6 goes yin

our inner being accepts more

By accepting the tao in our inner being we give up trying to force the pace and so we become part of this phase of gradual progress. In our bodies if a part calls attention to itself it is taken as a sign that something is wrong, it is no longer part of the organic whole but has become separate. Similarly identity is part of our whole being and the being is healthy when identity is not demonstrating its separateness.

The Chinese Image
The wild goose gradually
approaches the heights.
Its feathers are used in ritual.
Good fortune.

Heaven and spirituality are imaged as “above” so the heights are towards heaven or the inner whole reality, the state of wholeness. The goose (our identifying) disappears into this unmanifest reality leaving just an outer appearance, the feathers, as indicators of where it has gone.