I Ching Hexagram 40 - Hsieh / Deliverance

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


Here the movement goes out of the sphere of danger. The obstacle has been removed, the difficulties are being resolved. Deliverance is not yet achieved; it is just in its beginning, and the hexagram represents its various stages.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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Deliverance. The southwest furthers. If there is no longer anything where one has to go, Return brings good fortune. If there is still something where one has to go, Hastening brings good fortune.

Judgement Commentary

This refers to a time in which tensions and complications begin to be eased. At such times we ought to make our way back to ordinary conditions as soon as possible; this is the meaning of the southwest. These periods of sudden change have great importance. Just as rain relieves atmospheric tension, making all the buds burst open, so a time of deliverance from burdensome pressure has a liberating and stimulating effect on life. One thing is important, however: in such times we must not overdo our triumph. The point is not to push on farther than is necessary. Returning to the regular order of life as soon as deliverance is achieved brings good fortune. If there are any residual matters that ought to be attended to, it should be done as quickly as possible, so that a clean sweep is made and no retardations occur.

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.

The Lines

Six at the beginning means: Without blame.

In keeping with the situation, few words are needed. The hindrance is past, deliverance has come. One recuperates in peace and keeps still. This is the right thing to do in times when difficulties have been overcome.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 54 - Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden. Recovering from bad times we should just relax and enjoy the good times. Legge is just as brief "...its subject will commit no error." The resultant hexagram 54, The Marrying Maiden, advises that we not get involved in any adventures "Undertakings bring misfortune. Nothing that would further."

Nine in the second place means: One kills three foxes in the field and receives a yellow arrow. Perseverance brings good fortune.

The image is taken from the hunt. The hunter catches three cunning foxes and receives a yellow arrow as a reward. The obstacles in public life are the designing foxes who try to influence the ruler through flattery. They must be removed before there can be any deliverance. But the struggle must not be carried on with the wrong weapons. The yellow color points to measure and mean in proceeding against the enemy; the arrow signifies the straight course. If one devotes himself wholeheartedly to the task of deliverance, he develops so much inner strength from his rectitude that it acts as a weapon against all that is false and low.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 16 - Yu / Enthusiasm. Good fortune comes from being able to achieve great works without attracting or being manipulated by useless hangers on who seek to use you for their purposes. Hence the need for perseverance. Legge is very similar here, this line "...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." The resultant hexagram 16, Enthusiasm, is very relevant here as it states "It furthers one to install helpers and to set armies marching."

Six in the third place means: If a man carries a burden on his back and nonetheless rides in a carriage, he thereby encourages robbers to draw near. Perseverance leads to humiliation.

This refers to a man who has come out of needy circumstances in to comfort and freedom from want. If now, in the manner of an upstart, he tries to take his ease in comfortable surroundings that do not suit his nature, he thereby attracts robbers. If he goes on thus he is sure to bring disgrace upon himself. Confucius says about this line: Carrying a burden on the back is the business of common man, a carriage is the appurtenance of a man of rank. Now, when a common man uses the appurtenance of man of rank, robbers plot to take it away from him. If a man is insolent toward those above him and hard toward those below him, robbers plot to attack him. Carelessness in guarding things tempts thieves to steal. Sumptuous ornaments worn by a maiden are an enticement to rob her of her virtue.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 32 - Heng / Duration. This line is acting in an manner inappropriate for its position. Do not put on airs or seek to act in a snobbish way or else! Legge uses similarly colorful language to Wilhelm "...when a common man uses the appurtenance of man of rank, robbers plot to take it away from him." The outcome is hexagram 32, Duration, an invitation to develop in oneself those attributes neccessary for long term success. Arrogant snobbery is not one of those attributes.

Nine in the fourth place means: Deliver yourself from your great toe. Then the companion comes, And him you can trust.

In times of standstill it will happen that inferior people attach themselves to a superior man, and through force of daily habit they may grow very close to him and become indispensable, just as the big toe is indispensable to the foot because it makes walking easier. But when the time of deliverance draws near, with its call to deeds, a man must free himself from such chance acquaintances with whim he has no inner connection. For otherwise the friends who share his views, on whom he could really rely and together with whom he could accomplish something, mistrust him and stay away.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 7 - Shih / The Army. In the long run it is better to surround yourself with people of merit and value than to allow inferior people to exercise too great an influence over you. When you get rid of the bad, the good arrive. Legge says "Remove your toes. Friends will then come, between you and whom there will be mutual confidence." The resultant hexagram 7, Army, predicts that one will need to be as careful as a general running an army if you wish to be successful fulfilling this lines meaning.

Six in the fifth place means: If only the superior man can deliver himself, It brings good fortune. Thus he proves to inferior men that he is in earnest.

Times of deliverance demand inner resolve. Inferior people cannot be driven off by prohibitions or any external means. If one desires to be rid of them, he must first break completely with them in his own mind, they will see for themselves that he is in earnest and will withdraw.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 47 - K'un / Oppression (Exhaustion). This is a development of the previous line in that here we have a leader/ruler removing all of the negative influences he can. He must prove to these negative influences, just how serious he is if he is to be successful. Legge's interpretation is "the superior man or the ruler, executing his function of removing whatever is injurious... It will be his duty to remove especially all the small men." The fact that the resultant hexagram is 47, Oppression (Exhaustion) indicates just how dangerous and difficult such actions will be. The outcome, though difficult, is "The great man brings about good fortune, no blame."

Six at the top means: The prince shoots at a hawk on a high wall. He kills it. Everything serves to further.

The hawk on a high wall is the symbol of a powerful inferior in a high position who is hindering the deliverance. He withstands the force of inner influences, because he is hardened in his wickedness. He must be forcibly removed, and this requires appropriate means. Confucius says about this line: The hawk is the object of the hunt; bow and arrow are the tools and means. The marksman is man (who must make proper use of the means to his end). The superior man contains the means in his own person. He bides his time and then acts. Why then should not everything go well? He acts and is free. Therefore all he has to do is to go forth, and he takes his quarry. This is how a man fares who acts after he has made ready the means.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 64 - Wei Chi / Before Completion. Forceable removal of those high ranking but negative influences who will not voluntarily leave requires careful thorough, preparation and execution. Legge wants us to remove the "small men" who are hindering the deliverance we are trying to achieve. The resultant hexagram 64, Before Completion, predicts success that may fail at the last moment so be very careful to proceed to the end and not let off the pressure half way. If one does slacken ones efforts one will definitely fail.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 40 - Hsieh / Deliverance translation of this hexagram.