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I Ching Hexagram 36 - Ming I / Darkening of the light

hexagram 36
  • Above K'un the Receptive, Earth
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


Here the sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened. The name of the hexagram means literally 'wounding of the bright'; hence the individual lines contain frequent references to wounding. The situation is the exact opposite of that in the foregoing hexagram. In the latter a wise man at the head of affairs has able helpers, and in company with them makes progress; here a man of dark nature is in a position of authority and brings harm to the wise and able man.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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Darkening of the light. In adversity. It furthers one to be persevering.

Judgement Commentary

One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities. In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail in spite of difficulties in his immediate environment. Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be discernible from without. Only thus is a man able to maintain his will in the face of difficulties.

The Image

The light has sunk into the earth: The image of Darkening of the light. Thus does the superior man live with the great mass: He veils his light yet still shines.

Image Commentary

In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved. One should not needlessly awaken overwhelming enmity by inconsiderate behavior. In such times one ought not to fall in with the practices of others; neither should one drag them censoriously into the light. In social intercourse one should not try to be all-knowing. One should let many things pass, without being duped.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: Darkening of the light during flight. He lowers his wings. The superior man does not eat for three days on his wanderings. But he has somewhere to go. The host has occasion to gossip about him.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 15 - Ch'ien / Modesty. This line had high hopes but has suffered a setback and cannot attain his goals. He nonetheless holds them still. He will suffer some embarrassing disrepute but that is all. Legge's interpretation is "...he does withdraw, opposition follows him but it is implied that he holds on to his own good purpose." So at least this line can maintain its inner values. The outcome predicted by hexagram 15, Modesty, is a good outcome as long as the subject of this line remembers "It is the law of heaven to make fullness empty and to make full what is modest."

Six in the second place means: Darkening of the light injures him in the left thigh. He gives aid with the strength of a horse. Good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 11 - T'ai / Peace. Wounded in the line of duty, this line continues to do the right thing by his colleagues and by so doing helps himself as well. Legge describes this line as follows "He finds means to save himself, and maintains his good purpose." The outcome of hexagram 11, Peace, shows that this lines subject will come through the fire and earn good fortune.

Nine in the third place means: Darkening of the light during the hunt in the south. Their great leader is captured. One must not expect perseverance too soon.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 24 - Fu / Return (The Turning Point). An accidental victory may only be temporary so caution is needed here. Legge see this "The good officer will be successful in his struggle, but let him not be over eager to put all things right at once." The resultant hexagram 24, Return, tells us that this lines outcome is positive. The "...old is discarded and the new is introduced." The victory we seek is achieved and consolidated.

Six in the fourth place means: He penetrates the left side of the belly. One gets at the very heart of the darkening of the light.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 55 - Feng / Abundance (Fullness. This line gains insight into the real situation he faces and sees he cannot prevail, so he flees. Legge puts it poetically "...quitting the gate and courtyard of the lord of darkness." The outcome for this line is hexagram 55, Abundance. We must remember that there can be abundance of bad as well as good so think carefully just what kind abundance one can expect here.

Six in the fifth place means: Darkening of the light as with Prince Chi. Perseverance furthers.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 63 - Chi Chi / After Completion. This line is faced with unavoidable danger and can only endure as best it can. Legge merely restates Wilhelm in a more obscure fashion. The outcome for this line is described by hexagram 63, After Completion, showing that we will have to deal with a negative outcome to our plans "At the beginning good fortune. At the end disorder."

Six at the top means: Not light but darkness. First he climbed up to heaven, then plunged into the depths of the earth.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 22 - Pi / Grace. There is a terrible warning here for those who seek to rule at all costs. The fall from power can be total and complete. Legge again has a poetic turn "Instead of becoming as the sun, enlightening all from the height of the sky, he is as the sun hidden below the earth." The resultant hexagram 22, Grace, suggests that only small trivial successes can be expected now.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 36 - Ming I / Darkening of the light translation of this hexagram.