Hexagram 19 - Lin / Approach - James Legge Translation

hexagram 19
  • Above K'un the Receptive, Earth
  • Below Tui the Joyous, Lake


Lin means great. Lin indicates that under the conditions supposed in it there will be great progress and success, while it will be advantageous to be firmly correct. In the eighth month there will be evil.

Meaning Commentary

Lin is explained as meaning great. The writer, having misunderstood the meaning of the previous Ku, subjoins He who performs such services may become great. But Lin denotes the approach of authority, to inspect, to comfort, or to rule. When we look at the figure, we see two strong undivided lines advancing on the four weak lines above them, and thence follows the assurance that their action will be powerful and successful. That action must be governed by rectitude, however, and by caution grounded on the changing character of all conditions and events. The meaning of the concluding sentence is given in Appendix I as simply being that, the advancing power will decay in no long time. Lu Kan-khi Ming dynasty says: The sun or the day is the symbol of what is Yang; and the moon is the symbol of what is Yin. Eight is the number of the second of the four emblematic figures the smaller Yin, and seven is the number of the third of them the smaller Yang. Hence to indicate the period of the coming of what is Yin, we use the phrase, the eighth month; and to indicate the period of the coming of what is Yang, we use the phrase, the seventh day. The Khang-hsi editors say that this is the best explanation of the language of the Text that can be given: The Yang numbers culminate in 9, the influence then receding and producing the 8 of the smaller Yin. The Yin numbers culminate in 6, and the next advance produces the 7 of the smaller Yang; so that 7 and 8 are the numbers indicating the first birth of what is Yin and what is Yang. If we go to seek, they add, 'any other explanation of the phraseology of the Text, and such expressions as 3 days, 3 years, 10 years, we make them unintelligible.

Lin is the hexagram of the twelfth month.

See The Richard Wilhelm translation of this hexagram.

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The Image

The earth above the lake: The image of Approach. Thus the superior man is inexhaustible in his will to teach, And without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people.

Image Commentary

The earth borders upon the lake from above. This symbolizes the approach and condescension of the man of higher position to those beneath him. The two parts of the image indicate what his attitude toward these people will be. Just as the lake is inexhaustible in depth, so the sage is inexhaustible in his readiness to teach mankind, and just as the earth is boundlessly wide, sustaining and caring for all creatures on it, so the sage sustains and cares for all people and excludes no part of humanity.

King Wans explanation

  1. In Lin we see the strong lines gradually increasing and advancing.
  2. The lower trigram is the symbol of being pleased, and the upper of being compliant. The strong line is in the central position, and is properly responded to.
  3. There is great progress and success, along with firm correctness: this is the way of Heaven.
  4. In the eighth month there will be evil: the advancing power will decay after no long time.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

The paragraphs need no explanation beyond what appears in the supplemented translation.

The Lines

The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject advancing in company with the subject of the second line. Through his firm correctness there will be good fortune.

Line 1 is a strong line in its proper place. The danger is that its subject may be more strong than prudent, hence the caution in requiring firm correctness.

The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject advancing in company with the subject of the first line. There will be good fortune; advancing will be in every way advantageous.

Line 2, as strong, should be in an odd place; but this is more than counterbalanced by the central position, and its correlate in line 5.

The third SIX, divided, shows one well pleased indeed to advance, but whose action will be in no way advantageous. If he become anxious about it however, there will be no error.

Line 3 is weak, and neither central, nor in its correct position. Hence its action will not be advantageous; but being at the top of the trigram Tui, which means being pleased, its subject is represented as well pleased to advance. Anxious reflection will save him from error.

The fourth SIX, divided, shows one advancing in the highest mode. There will be no error.

Line 4, though weak, is in its proper place, and has for its correlate the strong 1. Hence its advance is in the highest style.

The fifth SIX, divided, shows the advance of wisdom, such as befits the great ruler. There will be good fortune.

Line 5 is the position of the ruler. It is weak, but being central, and having for its correlate the strong and central 2, we have in it a symbol of authority distrustful of itself, and employing fit agents; characteristic of the wise ruler.

The sixth SIX, divided, shows the advance of honesty and generosity. There will be good fortune, and no error.

Line 6 is the last of the trigram K'un, the height therefore of docility. Line 2 is not its correlate, but it belongs to the Yin to seek for the Yang; and it is so emphatically in this case. Hence the characteristic and issue as assigned.