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I Ching Hexagram 22 - Pi / Grace

hexagram 22
  • Above Ken Keeping Still, Mountain
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


This hexagram shows a fire that breaks out of the secret depths of the earth and, blazing up, illuminates and beautifies the mountain, the heavenly heights. Grace-beauty of form-is necessary in any union if it is to be well ordered and pleasing rather than disordered and chaotic.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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Grace has success in small matters It is favorable to undertake something.

Judgement Commentary

Grace brings success. However, it is not the essential or fundamental thing; it is only the ornament and therefore be used sparingly and only in little things. In the lower trigram of fire a yielding line comes between two strong lines and makes them beautiful, but the strong lines are the essential content and the weak line is the beautifying form. In the upper trigram of the mountain, the strong line takes the lead, so that here again the strong element must be regarded as the decisive factor. In nature we see in the sky the strong light of the sun; the life of the world depends on it. But this strong, essential thing is changed and given pleasing variety by the moon and the stars. In human affairs, aesthetic form comes into being when traditions exist that, strong and abiding like mountains, are made pleasing by a lucid beauty. By contemplating the forms existing in the heavens we come to understand time and its changing demands. Through contemplation of the forms existing in human society it becomes possible to shape the world.

The Image

Fire at the foot of the mountain: The image of Grace. Thus does the superior man proceed when clearing up current affairs. But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.

Image Commentary

The fire, whose light illuminates the mountain and makes it pleasing, does not shine far, in the same way, beautiful form suffices to brighten and to throw light upon matters of lesser moment, but important questions cannot be decided in this way. They require greater earnestness.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: He lends grace to his toes, leaves the carriage, and walks.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 52 - Ken / Keeping Still, Mountain. This line does not seek to overstate his position or importance. He is more concerned with the reality of his position and so doesn't give himself airs. Legge sees someone who "...cultivates himself in his humble position but, if need be, righteousness requiring it, he can give up every luxury and indulgence." The resultant hexagram is 52, an inward focusing hexagram that shows that the subject of this line will cultivate his inner attributes and not be so concerned with outwards display.

Six in the second place means: Lends grace to the beard on his chin.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 26 - Ta Chu / The Taming Power of the Great. Superficial ornamentation is of little importance to anyone but he who practices it. Legge's version says "What is substantial commands and rules what is merely ornamental." How very true. The resultant hexagram is 26 and suggests that we need to set about more substantial activities that produce real outcomes of importance.

Nine in the third place means: Graceful and moist. Constant perseverance brings good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 27 - I / Corners of the Mouth (Providing Nourishment). Mere luck can buy nice clothes, fine dinner parties and great art works but such a situation, depending as it does on external forces, can quickly degenerate. Legge refers to this happy condition as an accident that we must be careful to preserve lest it vanish as quickly as it arrived. The resultant hexagram 27 reminds us that what we nourish ourselves with determines who we are. What food and wisdom do you eat?

Six in the fourth place means: Grace or simplicity? A white horse comes as if on wings. He is not a robber, He will woo at the right time.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 30 - Li / The Clinging, Fire. The simple elegance of wisdom beckons and we must choose. Wisdom or further pursuit of pleasure able comfort. This line chooses wisdom as seen in the resultant hexagram 30, The Clinging/Fire "By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world". Legge's discussion of this line is confusing and unclear. The important line is this "All this is intended to indicate how ornament recognizes the superiority of solidity." Wisdom is not mere ornament.

Six in the fifth place means: Grace in the hills and gardens. The roll of silk is meager and small. Humiliation, but in the end good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan). Here is someone whose personal attributes more than compensate for lack of wealth. Legge's version says "He may appear stingy; but there will be good fortune in the end." The resultant hexagram 37, The Family counsels us to be aware of our true status in the situation we face. Even though we have good on our side we should still be aware of the limitations of our position. This line predicts good fortune so obviously this is will be well understood by whom ever draws this line.

Nine at the top means: Simple grace. No blame.

Here at the highest stage of development all ornament is

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 36 - Ming I / Darkening of the light. Ornamental no longer substance only. This line does not predict success or good fortune and this is reinforced by the resultant hexagram 36, Darkening of the Light, a very inauspicious hexagram to draw. In Legge we see "Ornament has had its course...substantiality is better than ornament." In this case however perhaps it is taken to far and we end up in adverse circumstances. Perhaps the common people can not see the substantial inner self and only see the simple plain exterior and so disregard the good?

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 22 - Pi / Grace translation of this hexagram.