778787Hexagram 38

Opposition in time. (Taking turns.)

Line image

There is outer activity (line 3) but we are not accepting this (line 4); there is no activity of intuitive feeling (line 2) but we are looking for it (line 5). The other lines are all yang so such activity as there is here is in opposition to our circumstances, and “opposition” is the common name of the hexagram.

Trigram image

The very light emerging energy (Tui) is hesitant in the world (Li), stopped by doubt (K’an) in identity and our inner being is also hesitant to accept it (Li). Hesitation and doubt alternate and oppose the life force flow as we are divided as to whether we should be still or moving, observing or involved.

The Chinese Oracle

Success in small matters.


When there is opposition we cannot go far in any direction without being opposed, we can move about a little but this tao is restrictive and set against itself, we are set against our self.


The pattern
Forces of opposition
cannot coexist
without losing character,
so they take turns.
For humans
To move with the easy and rest simply
in harmony with others
allows his actions to be his own.
When the young realize taking turns
they can express fully without frustration.
In nature
The cosmos moves in cycles
of the active and tranquil.
In forms we make
To realize form
is to allow its innate character.
Wise government is not impaired.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

Here the source is changing towards active manifestation; if we wait peacefully it will reach the outside in time. It is the source that carries our activities.

The Chinese Image
Regret disappears.
Do not chase after the lost horse,
it will return.
Although there is evil company
he does not mix with it.

Regret disappears because activity (the horse which carries identity) returns of its own accord. The evil company is the narrow frame of mind which demands that it gets what it wants, and now, but we do not tangle with that, we let the tao unfold.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

When we feel the life force in this tao we feel opposition, the narrowness of a single-minded point of view. To become aware of such a situation within ourselves is not a mistake, but it is uncomfortable.

The Chinese Image
He meets his lord in a narrow street.
No mistake.

We come to realize something quite suddenly and cannot escape from it, there is nowhere to go (our lord is the one we must follow). We meet him coming the other way but it is good to see truth when, or particularly when, it is going the opposite way to the one we are facing.

Line 3 goes yang

outer world changes less

Our present outer activity comes to the end of its energy and our attempts to proceed appear to be opposed.

The Chinese Image
They drag at the axle
and strike the oxen.
His head is shaved
and his nose cut off.
No good beginning
but a good end.

The good end comes because we give up futile effort and allow the tao. The trouble comes because we were insufficiently aware.

Line 4 goes yin

accepting the outer state more

Here we accept the outer world as our way of being. Participation is symbiotic relationship instead of opposition and this is no error; it does carry the danger of forgetting the tao and entering a narrow reality.

The Chinese Image
He stands alone amongst opposition.
He finds a companion with whom he co-operates.
Danger but no error.

Line 5 goes yang

less awareness of intuition

Here is a very inner act but it is occurring in our conscious identity. Our interest in the silence of intuitive feeling has been to enliven it, not to accept it, because no other activity was available. Now we cease this and so trust the life force even though it is not doing what identity wanted—it is a change in mind, a change of mind.

The Chinese Image
Regret disappears.
He and the one with whom he relates
bite through the barrier layer.
What error can there be then?

The one with whom he relates innerly is the “companion” (see section 1, page 2) but in outer life this may work through others. When the outer identity and the inner companion are not separated there is certainty and no question of error.

Line 6 goes yin

our inner being accepts more

In this tao the emerging life force is unchanging (line 1 is yang) and we have felt opposed to this. We now see things differently.

The Chinese Image
Lonely and opposed.
He saw a pig covered with mud,
a waggon-load of phantoms.
He drew his bow but then put it aside
seeing that this was not an assailant but a close relative.
As he goes gentle rain falls and good fortune comes.

The pig is nourishment but obscured by mud (confusion); the waggon-load of phantoms are frightening appearances. By ceasing to oppose we become unopposed, for the opposition in this tao is a misunderstanding of our situation which causes us to fear it.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 63


Line image

Outer activity is quiet and this is accepted (lines 3 and 4), inner life force activity is also quiet and is accepted (lines 1 and 6); there is active feeling but we are not making this our sense of reality (lines 2 and 5). So here is a stillness which, in the Chinese oracle is called “after completion”; it represents a phase where an activity has come to an end and in this phase we just exist in undefined feeling and there is no ongoing activity. It is the state in which we find ourselves after a change is completed.

Trigram image

The emerging energy clings to its source (Li) and is inactive in the outer world (K’an); it starts again tentatively in our identity (Li) and is again quenched in our inner being (K’an). We can hardly speak of flow here because the flow has been completed and is no longer accepted innerly or outerly; it is an end which signals a beginning. The change may be just a small part of our activity or it may involve our whole mode of experiencing, but it is a clear transition; it is expressed by hexagrams 63 and 64 together (after completion and before completion) and is a very useful concept arising out of these trigrams Li and K’an which is discussed further in appendix one.

The Chinese Oracle

After completion.
Success of the small.
Continuing in the way is rewarded.
Good fortune in beginnings,
misfortune in endings.


The great movement of a cycle is over and we are re-born, we are small again in a new environment as we were small when born in the world. This is not an end so continuance is necessary and its success is the development of a new cycle of experience. We should concentrate on beginnings because the old, the ending, is in dis-order, dis-integrating.


The pattern
Fire enters water.
Water enters fire.
Mutually they change
each other’s reality
forming what is different
after they have changed.
For humans
He may be surprised
to find himself
without the thing he has made
with such care.
He can rejoice in passing
from one reality to another.
In nature
Under the sun.
Through the sea.
The reality of rock
is sand.
In forms we make
Complete change is an end
and a beginning.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

Here is new activity developing from the inside; we need to await its development so that we act outside in phase with it.

The Chinese Image
He brakes the carriage wheels.
The tail is in the water.
No error.

The general rule when going through transition is to keep going, but here we are just in “after completion” and there are still parts which have not completed the change, or the tail is still in the water in the image of crossing the great water. It is no error to slow down so that these parts can catch up with the change.

Line 2 goes yang

intuitive feeling less active

In a new situation, after transition, there may be feelings of insecurity which cause us to feel over-exposed and withdraw our feelings.

The Chinese Image
The lady in a carriage loses the blind to her window.
It will return after seven days, she should not go after it.

She feels vulnerable as we do at this time, but as the cycle completes itself (the seven days) the protection of confidence returns. This vulnerability is actually an advantage if we accept it as natural to our situation and not an error to be corrected, it gives us additional sensitivity which we need in new surroundings.

Line 3 goes yin

outer world changes more

If we have outer activity increasing directly after completion it shows that we have not yet changed our external mode of being; transition does not occur through making changes out there in the world, it is by change in the way we ourselves are.

The Chinese Image
The illustrious ancestor subdued the province of Kuei Fang (the devil’s country) after three years.
Men of inferior ability would have been useless.

Three is the number of transition or change, so it is this that creates the success. A devil or evil one in a situation of change is the narrow view which will not change and allow enlargement, and this is also the inferior man—the opposite of the great man so often referred to.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

Our outer state (line 3) is inactive in this tao and we need to preserve that inactivity if we are to change out of our mind-desire mode of being—the mode of trying to make something “better”.

The Chinese Image
Amongst fine silks are ragged clothes.
Be careful all day.

Amongst our wide aspirations are narrow desires; all day is throughout conscious activity, and being always aware of them will itself change them.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

Intuitive feeling is the basis of our knowing our circumstance and this line 5 is about the conscious interpretation of that feeling; when we become more involved here we consider how to use the life force.

The Chinese Image
Someone in the east sacrifices an ox with less benefit than one in the west who makes a spring offering.

The ox is the strength of outer activity and this is sacrificed at the beginning (the east where the sun rises).
The spring offering is the sacrifice of beginnings (a giving up before we start and so an offering, not a killing); this is made at the end of a cycle (the west).
So it is more beneficial to give up starting new things, which arises when the old are ended, than to kill off the outside activity after it has developed.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

If our inner being does not accept the end of a cycle the transition cannot complete.

The Chinese Image
His head is submerged in the water.

The head is the controller and here it is right in the liquifying process of change. For identity to emerge changed from transition it needs to flow in the momentum of being changed, not to get involved in controlling it.