Hexagram 40 - Hsieh / Deliverance - James Legge Translation

hexagram 40
  • Above Chen the Arousing, Thunder
  • Below K'an the abysmal, Water


In the state indicated by Hsieh advantage will be found in the south-west. If no further operations be called for, there will be good fortune in coming back to the old conditions. If some operations be called for, there will be good fortune in the early conducting of them.

Meaning Commentary

Hsieh is the symbol of loosing, untying a knot or unravelling a complication; and as the name of this hexagram, it denotes a condition in which the obstruction and difficulty indicated by the preceding Hsieh have been removed. The object of the author is to show, as if from the lines of the figure, how this new and better state of the kingdom is to be dealt with. See what is said on the Thwan of Kien for the advantage to be found in the south-west. If further active operations be not necessary to complete the subjugation of the country, the sooner things fall into their old channels the better. The new masters of the kingdom should not be anxious to change all the old manners and ways. Let them do, as the Duke of Kou actually did do with the subjugated people of Sheng. If further operations be necessary, let them be carried through without delay. Nothing is said in the Thwan about the discountenancing and removal of small men, unworthy ministers or officers; but that subject appears in more! than one of the lines.

See The Richard Wilhelm translation of this hexagram.

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The Image

Thunder and rain set in: The image of Deliverance. Thus the superior man pardons mistakes and forgives misdeeds.

Image Commentary

A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing the air; the superior man produces a similar effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men that induce a condition of tension. Through clarity he brings deliverance. However, when failings come to light, he does not dwell on them; he simply passes over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions, just as thunder dies away. He forgives misdeeds, the intentional transgressions, just as water washes everything clean.

King Wans explanation

  1. In Hsieh we have the trigram expressive of peril going on to that expressive of movement. By movement there is an escape from the peril: this is the meaning of Hsieh.
  2. In the state indicated by Hsieh, advantage will be found in the south-west: the movement thus intimated will win all. That there will be good fortune in coming back to the old conditions shows that such action is that of the due medium. That if some operations be necessary, there will be good fortune in the early conducting of them shows that such operations will be successful.
  3. When heaven and earth are freed from the grasp of winter, we have thunder and rain. When these come, the buds of the plants and trees that produce the various fruits begin to burst. Great indeed are the phenomena in the time intimated by Hsieh.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

The meaning of the hexagram is brought out sufficiently well in paragraph 1 by means of the attributes of the constituent trigrams.

How it is that the movement indicated in the first condition will, win all does not immediately appear. The Khang-hsi editors say that moving to the south and west is the same as returning back to the old conditions, and that winning all and acting according to the due medium are descriptive of the effect and method without reference to the symbolism. Another explanation might be devised; but I prefer to leave the matter in doubt.

Paragraph 3 shows the analogy of what takes place in nature to the beneficent social and political changes described in the text, as is done very frequently in this Appendix.

The Lines

The first SIX, divided, shows that its subject will commit no error.

There is a weak line, instead of a strong, in the first place; but this is compensated for by its strong correlate in 4.

The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject catch, in hunting, three foxes, and obtain the yellow or golden arrows. With firm correctness there will be good fortune.

Ku Hsi says he does not understand the symbolism under line 2. The place is even, but the line itself is strong; the strength therefore is modified or tempered. And 2 is the correlate of the ruler in 5. We are to look to its subject therefore for a minister striving to realize the idea of the hexagram, and pacify the subdued kingdom. He becomes a hunter, and disposes of unworthy men, represented by the three foxes. He also gets the yellow arrows, the instruments used in war or in hunting, whose colour is correct, and whose form is straight. His firm correctness will be good.

The third SIX, divided, shows a porter with his burden, yet riding in a carriage. He will only tempt robbers to attack him. However firm and correct he may try to be, there will be cause for regret

Line 3 is weak, when it should be strong; and occupying, as it does, the topmost place of the lower trigram, it suggests the symbolism of a porter in a carriage. People will say, How did he get there? The things cannot be his own. And robbers will attack and plunder him. The subject of the line cannot protect himself, nor accomplish anything good.

To the subject of the fourth NINE, undivided, it is said, Remove your toes. Friends will then come, between you and whom there will be mutual confidence.

What is said on the fourth line appears in the form of an address to its subject. The line is strong in an even place, and 1, its correlate, is weak in an odd place. Such a union will not be productive of good. In the symbolism 1 becomes the toe of the subject of 4. How the friend or friends, who are to come to him on the removal of this toe, are represented, I do not perceive.

The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject, the superior man or the ruler, executing his function of removing whatever is injurious to the idea of the hexagram, in which case there will he good fortune, and confidence in him will be shown even by the small men.

Line 5 is weak in an odd place; but the place is that of the ruler, to whom it belongs to perfect the idea of the hexagram by removing all that is contrary to the peace and good order of the kingdom. It will be his duty to remove especially all the small men represented by the divided lines, which he can do with the help of his strong correlate in 2. Then even the small men will change their ways, and repair to him.

In the sixth SIX, divided, we see a feudal prince with his bow shooting at a falcon on the top of a high wall, and hitting it. The effect of his action will be in every way advantageous.

Line 6 is the highest line in the figure, but not the place of the ruler. Hence it appears as occupied by a feudal duke, who carries out the idea of the figure against small men, according to the symbolism employed.