777877Hexagram 9

Using what is small.

Line image

In line 4, the only yin line, we are accepting that there is quietness in our outer world—we experience it directly, physically, and so accept it as real—but we are not experiencing the inactivity of inner energies and our absence of feeling about them so we are prone to expect more than there is available to us.

Trigram image

The emerging flow is tranquil (Ch’ien) but there is a hope or expectation of outer action (Tui). Identity is hesitant to act on this (Li) so our inner being is structured, unflowing (Sun). We learn to change our expectations to suit circumstances in this tao and the common name for the hexagram is “nourishment of the small”; it is part of the maturing of the personal self when the activity of its growth is no longer the only thing that matters.

The Chinese Oracle

Nourishment of the small.
Dense clouds but no rain
from the west.


When we are aware that we are nourished by what is small, the success is that we take that nourishment instead of rejecting it for something we see as more important (larger). The clouds presage rain (relief, flow of activity) from the west (maturity, sunset) but this relief is something we are looking for, the effect of maturing has not reached us yet and we are to be content with what progress (success) our situation provides.

If we feel disappointed with this it indicates that we are using our energy in anticipation to the detriment of our present experience.


The pattern
Creative tranquility
feels for activity.
Hesitates to move.
A little movement
soon matures.
For humans
To expect more than there is
will lose the value
of what we have.
To savour this little
gives nourishment.
In nature
The sun breaks through the clouds
late in the day,
giving a mellow evening.
If a small fire is blown
it is soon ashes.
In forms we make
Wise government
and good craftsmen
attend to quality.

Changing Lines

Line 1 goes yin

life force shows more change

At this first sign of activity in this restricting tao, we should not move, the emerging energy that is available will turn out to be too small; so we need to return to the tao of accommodating ourselves to it and thus we learn how to manage this situation.

The Chinese Image
The return to the way is beneficial and blameless.

This may seem to be a setback or error just as we thought we were free to be active, but this is the separate view of identity and not wide enough to take in the situation.

Line 2 goes yin

intuitive feeling more active

Here our feelings open to the tao instead of being in it with resentment; we are willing to play the game that small is beautiful instead of always looking for more.

The Chinese Image
We comply with a need to go back and that is beneficial.

Here, going back is from the point of view of outer identity in which going on means creating more of itself—more clarity of separateness by definition. Here, after hexagram 8, growth takes more subtle forms.

Line 3 goes yin

outer world changes more

When we create outer activity that the tao (our circumstances) will not support, this makes a stress in our situation. We are attempting to drive our vehicle but there is no driving power.

The Chinese Image
A carriage or spoked wheel, separated.
Man and wife with eyes averted.

The spokes of a wheel join the inner and the outer, the hub and the rim. The chariot is separated from the wheel, the rim is separated from its hub, the man is separated from his wife. The inner is separated from the outer here because we identify outwards without awareness that our activity is not supported by the life energies.

Line 4 goes yang

accepting the outer state less

If we do not accept the stillness of our outer world (line 3) we itch for activity and lose confidence in following the tao.

The Chinese Image
Blood and fear are no more.
No error.

Confidence in the inner energies, in the tao. Blood is the life flow and if we have confidence we do not lose this energy needlessly and our fear of not having enough disappears. To a part of ourselves, we may seem to be doing too little, so this is answered by the addition of “no error”.

Line 5 goes yin

more awareness of intuition

In this tao intuition is quiet; by accepting this quietness of feeling we also feel the quietness of acceptance. Quiet feeling is open to its environment in a way that active feeling can never be because it already has direction, so our acceptance of what is small in importance to us makes us at one with our situation.

The Chinese Image
Genuine involvement binds his heart to others and enriches his neighbour.

“Bind” is used here not in the sense of restricting but of making a very close relationship. Our neighbours are the circumstances we find ourselves amongst.

Line 6 goes yin

our inner being accepts more

When we accept the lightly manifest energy of this tao it is almost to accept the non-manifest as real. This has dangers to our manifest identity which still has its active cycle to run. We should witness without entanglement.

The Chinese Image
Rain and rest come. Virtue increases.
Even natural action brings peril to women.
The moon is nearly full.
Persistence by the superior man would bring misfortune.

The essence of virtue is that the whole is not led astray by the part. Here the part rests in the whole which is an increase of virtue. For the part to persist in its separate activity, whether of feeling or of distinguishing, will diminish the virtue and we will miss the peak of restfulness (the moon is nearly full); so we do not pursue our situation but simply rest in it.

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.