I Ching Hexagram 19 - Lin / Approach

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


The Chinese word lin has a range of meanings that is not exhausted by any single word of another language. The ancient explanations in the Book of Changes give as its first meaning, becoming great. What becomes great are the two strong lines growing into the hexagram from below; the light-giving power expands with them. The meaning is then further extended to include the concept of approach, especially the approach of what is lower. Finally the meaning includes the attitude of condescension of a man in high position toward the people, and in general the setting to work on affairs. This hexagram is linked with the twelfth month (January-February), when after the winter solstice, the light power begins to ascend again.

See the James Legge Translation of this hexagram.

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Approach has supreme success. Perseverance furthers. When the eighth month comes, There will be misfortune.

Judgement Commentary

The hexagram as a whole points to a time of joyous, hopeful progress. Spring is approaching. Joy and forbearance bring high and low nearer together. Success is certain. But we must work with determination and perseverance to make full use of the propitiousness of the time. And on thing more: spring does not last forever. In the eighth month the aspects are reversed. Then only two strong, light lines are left, these do not advance but are in retreat (see next hexagram). We must take heed of this change in good time. If we meet evil before it becomes reality before it has even begun to stir, we can master it.

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.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: Joint approach. Perseverance brings good fortune.

The good begins to prevail and to find response in influential circles. This in turn is an incentive to men of ability. It is well to join this upward trend, but we must not let ourselves be carried away by the current of the time, we must adhere perseveringly to what is right. This bring good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 7 - Shih / The Army. The initial approach where the change to more positive conditions becomes evident. We see advance in company here so we need to be careful just who we choose to advance with. Legge gives a more explicit caution "The danger is that its subject may be more strong than prudent, hence the caution in requiring firm correctness". The resultant hexagram is hexagram 7, The Army, the ultimate joint approach. Armies are dangerous things hence the need for perseverance in order to be successful and to enjoy good fortune.

Nine in the second place means: Joint approach. Good fortune. Everything furthers.

When the stimulus to approach comes from a high place, and when a man has the inner strength and consistency that need no admonition, good fortune will ensue. Nor need the future cause any concern. He is well aware that everything earthly is transitory, and that a descent follows upon every rise, but need not be confused by this universal law of fate. Everything serves to further. Therefore he will travel the paths of life swiftly, honestly, and valiantly.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 24 - Fu / Return (The Turning Point). An even more positive position than the previous line. Joint approach that can not fail. Legge is equally happy here "...advancing will be in every way advantageous." The resultant hexagram 24, The Return, shows that the outcome of the condition of this line is a return to good times.

Six in the third place means: Comfortable approach. Nothing that would further. If one is induced to grieve over it one becomes free of blame.

Things are going well for a man: he achieves power and influence. But in this lies the danger that he may relax, and confident of his position, allow the easygoing, careless mood to show itself in his dealings with other people. This would inevitably be harmful. But there is possibility of a change of mood. If he regrets his mistaken attitude and feels the responsibility of an influential position, he frees himself of faults.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 11 - T'ai / Peace. The danger of successful advance is one becomes complacent and self satisfied. Be careful! However in this position we will most likely recover our senses and the danger will pass. Legge has the following description of this line "...shows one well pleased indeed to advance, but whose action will be in no way advantageous" however he goes on to say "Anxious reflection will save him from error." The resultant hexagram 11, Peace, shows that the temptations areconqueredd and good fortune and success attained.

Six in the fourth place means: Complete approach. No blame.

While the three lower lines indicate rise to power and influence, the three upper lines show the attitude of persons in higher position toward those of lower rank for whom they procure influence. Here is shown the open-minded approach of a person of high rank to a man of ability whom he draws in to his own circle, regardless of class prejudice. This is very favorable.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 54 - Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden. The approach of lower ranked people is acceptedmagnanimouslyy by the powerful. This seems good but the resultant hexagram 54, would seem to indicate that the ultimateoutcomee is not so good "Undertakings bring misfortune. Nothing that would further." What does this mean? Even though no blame is attributed to the higher ranked person accepting the approach of the lower ranked in this line, perhaps a more discriminative approach would work better? Legge senothingngh wrong here "There will be no error." but the outcome is still the same.

Six in the fifth place means: Wise approach. This is right for a great prince. Good fortune.

A prince, or anyone in a leading position, must have the wisdom to attract to himself people of ability who are expert in directing affairs. His wisdom consists both in selecting the right people and in allowing those chosen to have a free hand without interference from him. For only through such self-restraint will he find the experts needed to satisfy all of his requirements.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 60 - Chieh / Limitation . The ruler must have the competent and honest in his employ. Legge puts it "we have the symbol of authority distrustful of itself, and employing fit agents." However the resultant hexagram 60, states that overly strict regulation (of self as well as family or state) will result in failure. The question here is, is the ruler giving up to much of his authority to those he delegates to? Thedecisionsons bind the ruler irrespective of whether agreesees with them or not. Should he make more of his own abilities? The good fortune predicted by this line must be viewed in the context of the outcome predicted.

Six at the top means: Great hearted approach. Good-hearted approach. Good fortune. No blame.

A sage who has put the world behind him and who in spirit has already withdrawn from life may, under certain circumstances, decide to return once more to the here and now and to approach other men. This means great good fortune for the men whom he teaches and helps. And for him this great hearted humbling of himself is blameless.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 41 - Sun / Decrease. The undoubted qualities of a great hearted person causes the good omen here. Legge describes the person indicated by this line as "...the advance of honesty and generosity." What could go wrong? The resultant hexagram 41, shows that the sincere reduction of the weak and negative influences causes supreme good fortune. What more could be wanted?

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 19 - Lin / Approach - James Legge Translation of this hexagram.