877878Hexagram 48

Bringing out the life within.

Line image

The structure is centred on the inner life energy, line 1, which is active. Our interest is in this activity, what will it bring? What is there for us to manifest? This interest and our acceptance of outer stillness in line 4 give the flavour of this tao, it is an inner need to experience the life energy itself, not an outer manifestation of it. The common name of the hexagram is “the well”, the water is often deep down in the well and we are trying to reach it.

Trigram image

The life force emerging in the image of Sun means that it cannot flow of itself, however the “outer world” trigram Tui shows a hope of this flow of activity. Identity in the form of the trigram Li approaches this inner task hesitantly and our inner being, our ongoing personal self, receives no energy for change. Yet we note that as the sixth line is yin there is change in our inner being due to this tao.

From the view we have as identity this is a situation where the outcome is still in doubt; there is activity, line 1, or water in the well, and it is recognized in line 6, but can it be reached?

The Chinese Oracle

The well.
A town may be moved but not a well.
A well keeps its level constant.
People come and go drawing water.
If the rope is too short,
or the pitcher is broken,


The basis of personality (the place of the town) can be changed but the life force is always the same, it is always there but when we cannot reach it we think it has deserted us and cry misfortune. The image of people coming and going to draw water from the well is quite exact, for it is our coming and going in ourselves (the cycles of our manifestation) that draws the life force—manifests it.


The pattern
At the source it is constant,
ready to give forth;
but it clings to its source.
Too gentle to overcome opposition
without help it cannot flow.
For humans
He is shy
yet has much to give.
When persuaded to flow
he nourishes all around him.
In nature
Not all the animals at the water-hole
have means to reach the water,
but nature grows ways
to achieve necessities.
In forms we make
Obtaining water from a well
takes some effort,
some equipment,
some skill.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yang

life force shows less change

The ability to tap the life force depends on where we make our reality, where we sink our well; here it dries up, we have exhausted the possibilities of something yet we still expect life-giving energy from it, so it is time to sink a new well, to seek other sources of nourishment for our life.

The Chinese Image
The bottom of the well is mud.
Animals do not go to an old well.

Instead of water there is mud. The well is exhausted and no animals, no manifestation, is refreshed by it. The animals know by instinct, but our own intuitive feeling is inactive and ignored in this tao.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

Feeling is a flow, and by feeling the life force more in this tao where it is difficult to manifest it we are defining by feeling, creating by feeling. This will create more of our own images and we will not reach the experience of the source which is the quite innocent and inconsequent experience the tao is offering.

The Chinese Image
Fish and hunting at the well-hole.
The pitcher is cracked and leaks.

Fish, our manifestations in the life force or water, are first defined by feeling; we are hunting them with our feeling, trying to find them. The water level has been raised to the surface by our feeling but it becomes filled with our images and our hunting for manifest reality. Our method is not sound so the pitcher is cracked and leaks.

Line 3 goes yin

outer world changes more

Here the life force flows in outer activity, but according to trigram Li of the tao our responses are hesitant and cannot take advantage, cannot see the possibilities so that the inhibitions in the situation are not overcome, but there is the possibility.

The Chinese Image
The well has been cleaned.
No one uses it
which makes my heart sad.
If the king is wise
the people share good fortune.

Access to the water is no longer blocked but we are not tasting it. If the king, our identifying syndrome, were wise it would be shared by the many parts of our identity. The need in this tao is to taste the emerging life force, not to project it outwards.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

We have been concerned with the inactivity of our outer reality (line 3) but now we become unconcerned which gives more energy to the other yin line in our receiving experience, line 6; this is attentive to the life force emerging in line 1, so this movement is turning our attention inward to our reception of the life force.

The Chinese Image
The well is being tiled.
No error.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

Here we are concerned with our quietness of feeling (the yang line 2); we experience it. To experience the existing inner quietness is to experience the inner being as it is.

The Chinese Image
The well water tastes cool
and pure.

This is its natural condition and we taste it, experience it. It is pure because we have not put identifications into it. Here we experience without identifying, and this is what the tao offers.

Line 6 goes yang

our inner being accepts less

Our concern in line 6 of this tao has been to experience the emerging life force because of a lack of flow or a lack of “depth” in our experience. The tao is about not being able to reach this inner depth and here in this moving line the tao is ending so we are no longer concerned because we have “found a way”.

The Chinese Image
The raising of the water
is open to all.
Greatest good fortune.

What has made it difficult to experience the water was a lack of reach and an inability to hold it; our ability to reach the life force depends on our not turning it into something else that we want; our ability to hold it is our ability to hold our own identifying, our own self, empty.

Nuclear HexagramHexagram 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.