878878Hexagram 29

The unfamiliar.

Line image

The two lines to do with intuitive feeling, lines 2 and 5, are inactive while all the other lines are active about their business; we are not feeling intuitively and we are not aware of this lack. There is difficulty in changing this structure; the inner is active (lines 1 and 6) and the outer is active (lines 3 and 4) but there is no connection between them because it is feeling that connects. This leads to a pattern of continuing through the experience of polarity as we have not the means to change.

Trigram image

We can see that without a feeling of the life force, its energy is easily misjudged and the little flow (K’an) is quickly exhausted in outer activity (Chên) so there is little energy to create change in us (Kên seeks stillness and K’an at the top has little or no flow).

Continuing in this pattern does not itself get us out of it, but this is what we have to do until the pattern itself changes. Intellect cannot itself create feeling, it can only be alert to what feeling is there; this awareness is where our attention is most useful.

The Chinese Oracle

Abyss followed by abyss.
To maintain confidence and alertness promotes success.


The traditional image is a gorge with water running down it and it is as if we were the water confined by chosen polarity symbolized by the sides of the gorge. We have to keep the flow moving by keeping ourselves alert to different ways of moving, possibilities; if we lose confidence and give ourselves up for lost, the image turns into a pit without the outlet a gorge has. We are not really assailed by fate but by our ignorance of feeling the life force, our circumstances and possibilities. Alertness needs to be directed towards feeling our way rather than acting on our outer circumstances, although it is these which appear to be the problem.


The pattern
Downward flow resisted.
Fitful progress
must be passed through.
For humans
Away from the familiar.
Pitfalls and barriers
endanger the weary.
Continuing to flow out
and overflow them
passes danger by.
In nature
Water flows into low places
and overflows
and around rocks
and on.
In forms we make
Not recognizing a downward path
he promises a high place, and is confused.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yang

life force shows less change

Without awareness of what the life force is doing we will continue to act when it becomes still and our action will not be supported.

The Chinese Image
He falls into a pit in the abyss.

The pit stops our progress through the gorge; we fall into it because we cannot see when to go on and when to stop.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

When feeling awakens it awakens to the tao, feels the difficulties that we still have to pass through. Feeling the tao, the way through, will hasten the experience but feeling for escape will delay us.

The Chinese Image
The abyss is dangerous.
Only in small matters
can there be success.

Small matters are those to which we are not attaching importance; what seems to be important here is to change our circumstances, but to change our circumstances when we are unaware is dangerous.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

To decrease activity because of difficulty disconnects us further from what is going on, yet to identify ourselves in the struggle of decisions makes us less aware of possibilities; either way there is a problem.

The Chinese Image
Backwards or forwards
there is the abyss.
Stops, falls into a pit.

The only way out of the gorge is by flowing on; activity is necessary for movement but attaching importance to our activity, always choosing, creates always further polarity, not less. The art of flowing through an abyss is not to attach ourselves to either side.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

Here we become less involved in outer activity and this is a relief of stress; being less involved in activity means that we go with it and do not manipulate, thus we get relief and thus we follow the tao as well.

The Chinese Image
A jug of wine.
A basket of rice.
Vessels of clay.
Simplicity handed in through an opening.
There will be no blame.

This offering from the greater open reality into ours enclosed by polarity is for our basic needs; when we stop trying to manipulate our reality to get what we think we need, our basic needs are found to be there; if we do not manipulate there is no blame.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

Here we are able to involve ourselves in the feelings of this difficult time without being overwhelmed (when we shut off feeling).

The Chinese Image
The abyss does not overflow.
It is filled to the brim.
No error.

If we feel too fulsomely we are carried away in the overflow; if we empty ourselves of feeling, we are in a great empty chasm (abyss). Here there is a balance.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

Not accepting our circumstances, our confinement by polarity, we will not recognize changes that occur in it, not accept it as the natural state of affairs.

The Chinese Image
Bound by ropes of two or of three strands and surrounded by thorns.
For three years he fails to find a way.

The two strands are polarity choices and the three are how to change, the thorns are the discomfort of choosing amongst the uncomfortable. Three years stands for a long cycle of change; there comes a time in manifestation where it has become externalized and has to be settled, experienced, out there where it is felt to be real, and until the cycle is complete we cannot consider not choosing.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 27

Choice from the flow.

Line image

Our intuitive feelings are active and are accepted (lines 2 and 5) and the outer world also (lines 3 and 4). The inner is not active in providing new energy so we are acting out energy already in our outer identity. This hexagram is commonly called “nourishment”; our inner being is nourished by the experience of identity in relationship. The outer is food for the inner and the inner is food for the outer in continuous cycles of experience.

Trigram image

The emerging energy is very active (Chên) and flows freely in the outer world and our outer being, identity, (both K’un). This is only seen distantly by our inner being (Kên).

Here is a flow of energy that is freely out into action and the experience is viewed widely by the stillness of our inner being. This expresses outer experience nourishing the inner.

The Chinese Oracle

Persistence in being correct
brings good fortune.
Watch how people nourish others and themselves.


Nourishing requires the supply of what is lacking; to nourish others we often provide what we have in surplus regardless of what the other needs. It is necessary to persist in seeing widely and witnessing ourselves (being correct) to see what is needed.


The pattern
All action has results in form.
All growth towards the archetypes.
For humans
From what has passed through
we are made.
From what we choose
we are nourished according to our need.
In nature
Storm and torrents flow.
In every crevice watered something grows.
Every crack eroded shows
what has passed,
each hollow filled, another shape.
In forms we make
To provide what others need
to fill their form,
follow the pattern of their choice.
For our own we follow ours.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

Where new energy is becoming available we may look for nourishment in some new experience from the life force rather than that available in our present circumstances.

The Chinese Image
You let your magic tortoise go and look at me with drooping mouth.

Tortoise shells were used for divination, and divination is the link between the outer and inner knowing; without the link we lose the thread of what experience is about—nourishing the inner self from outer experience. What is needed is in our experience now.

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive feeling less active

Intuitive feeling is necessary for us to know our circumstances and if we cannot feel our circumstances we seek nourishment elsewhere.

The Chinese Image
Seeking nourishment from below
is not proper.
Seeking nourishment from above
brings evil.

Both below and above identity in the hexagram we come to the inner, and this hexagram is about nourishing the inner through outer experience; so to seek the emerging life force is to look to nourishment coming to identity in the future, which is not correct or proper, not existing. To look to the inner being for nourishment is to look to what is already formed so it is narrowing or evil.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

In this tao outer activity is the source of experience and is essential to nourishment, without our taking part in outer experience the tao is useless to us.

The Chinese Image
He refuses nourishment.
For ten years there is no progress.

When we avoid outer experience at the time it is offered in our circumstances it is lost and the nourishment of it cannot be had until such circumstances come to us again; this is symbolically the complete cycle of ten years.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

Outer activity in the world is an essential part of this tao from which we gain nourishment; we do not, however, benefit from owning that activity and so nourishing our separate ego-being. Here in this line we diminish our owning of outer activity and so can participate more because with less desire we have a wider view.

The Chinese Image
Nourishment on the mountain top.
Good fortune.
He glares like a tiger looking down.
No error.

A hunter which has perfected the art of being alert; the tiger. Looking down he has a wide view. On the mountain we also have a wide view which comes from a vantage point of disinvolvement.

Line 5 goes yang

less awareness of intuition

We normally accept ourselves to be as we feel ourselves to be (which is the interpretation line 5 puts upon line 2). Here we are less aware.

The Chinese Image
Leaving the usual ways.
Perseverance, keeping still,
brings good fortune.
Do not cross the great water.

Without a feeling of ourselves in our circumstances action becomes hazardous so it is inadvisable to instigate changes.

Line 6 goes yin

our inner being accepts more

The inner being accepts nourishment and is the source of outer nourishment while doing so. The position has a fine balance and so has a danger of imbalance; either way it is the producer of a flow of nourishment.

The Chinese Image
The source of nourishment.
Peril but good results.
Crossing the great water brings good fortune.

Crossing the great water is changing our way of being, and experiencing without choice makes this change, but if we choose we are fed from past experience, not from the source of nourishment, the present.