I Ching Hexagram 14 - Ta Yu / Possession in Great Measure

hexagram 14
  • Above Li the Clinging, Flame
  • Below Ch'ien the Creative, Heaven


The fire in heaven above shines far, and all things stand out in the light and become manifest. The weak fifth line occupies the place of honor and all the strong lines are in accord with it. All things come to the man who is modest and kind in a high position.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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Possession in Great Measure. Supreme success.

Judgement Commentary

The two trigrams indicate that strength and clarity unite. Possessions great measure is determined by fate and accords with the time. How is it possible that the weak line has power to hold the strong lines fast and to possess them? It is done by virtue of unselfish modesty. The time is favorable--a time of strength within, clarity and culture without. Power is expressing itself in graceful and controlled way. This brings supreme success and wealth.

The Image

Fire in heaven above: the image of Possession in Great Measure. Thus the superior man curbs evil and furthers good, And thereby obeys the benevolent will of heaven.

Image Commentary

The sun in heaven above, shedding light over everything one earth, is the image of possession on a grand scale. But a possession of this sort must be administered properly. The sun brings both evil and good into the light of day. Man must combat and curb the evil, and must favor and promote the good. Only in this way does he fulfill the benevolent will of God, who desires only good and not evil.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: No relationship with what is harmful; There is no blame in this. If one remains conscious of difficulty, one remains without blame.

Great possession that is still in its beginnings and that has not yet been challenged brings no blame, since there has been no opportunity to make mistakes. Yet there are many difficulties to be overcome. It is only by remaining conscious of theses difficulties that one can keep inwardly free of possible arrogance and wastefulness, and thus in principle overcome all cause for blame.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 50 - Ting / The Caldron. Great possessions have not yet tainted the mind nor attitudes of their possessor here. It is assumed by the I Ching that arrogance and self regard are always a threat to one and must be carefully guarded against. This line is still unaffected and so safe for now but only for as long as we are vigilant. Legge says "No external influences have as yet acted injuriously on its subject" and this puts it well. The resultant hexagram 50 shows how to use the great possessions of this hexagram. The Ting (Cauldron) "...suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state" not merely for the benefit of oneself.

Nine in the second place means: A big wagon for loading. One may undertake something. No blame.

Great possession consists not only in the quantity of goods at one's disposal, but first and foremost, in their mobility and utility, for then they can be used in undertakings, and we remain free of embarrassment and mistakes. The big wagon, which will carry a heavy load and in which one can journey farm means that there are at hand able helpers who give their support to and are equal to their task. One can load great responsibility upon such persons, and this is necessary in important undertakings.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 30 - Li / The Clinging, Fire. This lines indicates the most valuable of great possessions are those of real utility. Gold and silver are good, but practical useful items used for a good purpose indicate real wealth. This line is concerned with what wealth is used for not its mere possession. The resultant hexagram 30 indicates success as long as one is persevering in using ones wealth for the good of society as a whole. The use of ones wealth, not merely accumulating it, is also discussed by Legge "we have a large waggon with its load, In whatever direction advance is made, there will be no error."

Nine in the third place means: A prince offers it to the Son of Heaven. A petty man cannot do this.

A magnanimous, liberal-minded man should not regard what he possesses as his exclusive personal property , but should place it at the disposal of the ruler or of the people at large. In so doing, he takes the right attitude toward his possession, which as private property can never endure. A petty man is incapable of this. He is harmed by great possessions, because instead of sacrificing them, he would keep them for himself.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 38 - K'uei / Opposition which indicates that the good augury of this line will only be temporary. Legge considers offering up ones wealth sounds good and it is but perhaps one should not make to big a deal of it "A small man, having the place without the virtue, would give himself airs". The resultant hexagram 38 has a short judgment "Opposition. In small matters, good fortune." which shows the estrangement that differences in wealth can create, irrespective of the good intentions of all parties.

Nine in the fourth place means: He makes a difference Between himself and his neighbor. No blame.

This characterizes the position of a man placed among rich and powerful neighbors. It is a dangerous position. He must look neither to the right nor to the left, and must shun envy and the temptation to vie with others. In this way he remains free of mistakes.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 26 - Ta Chu / The Taming Power of the Great. Not irritating the strong is a wise approach to life. Just because you have some wealth and power does not mean you can act impudently. Legge says this line "...shows its subject keeping his great resources under restraint." To his and others great benefit. The resultant hexagram 26 how such restraint can lead to good fortune.

Six in the fifth place means: He whose truth is accessible, yet dignified, Has good fortune.

The situation is very favorable. People are being won not by coercion but by unaffected sincerity, so that they are attached to us in sincerity and truth. However, benevolence alone is not sufficient at the time of Possession in Great Measure. For insolence might begin to spread. Insolence must be kept in bounds by dignity; then good fortune is assured.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 1 - Ch'ien / The Creative. Wealth can be of personal qualities as well as financial. This line is a good omen to get yet still there is the warning to make sure that you do not trivialize yourself and thereby negate all of the attributes that attracted support to you in the first place. Legge makes clear the necessity of maintaining "...a proper majesty" so people do not presume upon their relationship with you. The resultant hexagram 1, Ch'ien, is very positive and indicates that the warning in the line is taken and your influence continues to be positive.

Nine at the top means: He is blessed by heaven. Good fortune. Nothing that does not further.

In the fullness of possession and at the height of power, one remains modest and gives honor to the sage who stands outside the affairs of the world. By this means one puts oneself under the beneficent influence descending form heaven, and all goes well. Confucius says of this line: To bless means to help. Heaven helps the man who is devoted; men help the man who is true. He who walks in truth and is devoted in his thinking, and furthermore reveres the worthy, is blessed by heaven. He has good fortune, and there is nothing that would not further.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 34 - Ta Chuang / The Power of the Great.Good fortune comes, possessions follow, as if from heaven itself. Yet this line is saying that heaven tends to help the deserving and so implies that if you become deserving of help, it will come. This help from heaven is also to be found in Legge's version of this line "...shows its subject with help accorded to him from Heaven." The resultant hexagram 34 shows that the outcome of the situation represented by this line is great power that power needs tempering by perseverance in the right or the power may degenerate into might is right.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 14 - Ta Yu / Possession in Great Measure translation of this hexagram.