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I Ching Hexagram 57 - Sun / The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind)

hexagram 57
  • Above Sun the Gentle, Wind, Wood
  • Below Sun the Gentle, Wind, Wood


Sun is one of the eight doubled trigrams. It is the eldest daughter and symbolizes wind or wood; it has for its attribute gentleness, which nonetheless penetrates like the wind or like growing wood with its roots. The dark principle, in itself rigid and immovable, is dissolved by the penetrating light principle, to which it subordinates itself in gentleness. In nature, it is the wind that disperses the gathered clouds, leaving the sky clear and serene. In human life it is penetrating clarity of judgment that thwarts all dark hidden motives. In the life of the community it is the powerful influence of a great personality that uncovers and breaks up those intrigues which shun the light of day.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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The Gentle. Success through what is small. It furthers one to have somewhere to go. It furthers one to see the great man.

Judgement Commentary

Penetration produces gradual and inconspicuous effects. It should be effected not by an act of violation but by influence that never lapses. Results of this kind are less striking to the eye than those won by surprise attack, but they are more enduring and more complete. If one would produce such effects, one must have a clearly defined goal, for only when the penetrating influence works always in the same direction can the object be attained. Small strength can achieve its purpose only by subordinating itself to an eminent man who is capable of creating order.

The Image

Winds following one upon the other: The image of The Gently Penetrating. Thus the superior man spreads his commands abroad and carries out his undertakings.

Image Commentary

The penetrating quality of the wind depends upon its ceaselessness. This is what makes it so powerful; time is its instrument. In the same way the ruler's thought should penetrate the soul of the people. This too requires a lasting influence brought about by enlightenment and command. Only when the command has been assimilated by the people is action in accordance with it possible. Action without preparation of the ground only frightens and repels.

The Lines

Six at the beginning means: In advancing and in retreating the perseverance of a warrior furthers.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 9 - Hsiao Chu / The Taming Power of the Small. This line lacks the required persistence to succeed. The inability of this line to make up its mind and stay with its decision is the problem. legge's prescription is concise "He wants vigour and decision." The outcome hexagram is 9, The Taming Power of the Small, which indicates that success may eventually be attained but not yet. Take Legge's advice show some vigor and decision!

Nine in the second place means: Penetration under the bed. Priests and magicians are used in great number. Good fortune. No blame.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 53 - Chien / Development (Gradual Progress). Here we see someone seeking the causes of their problems so they can deal with them. Legge is useful here "The work is great and difficult, so that he appears almost distracted by it but the issue is good." This means that there is a danger that this process may get out of hand and become a source of problems itself. However we escape this tendancy. The resultant hexagram is 53, Development (Gradual Progress), an augury that we cannot rush this activity. We must follow a step by step plan in order to make progress. Eventually good fortune is attained.

Nine in the third place means: Repeated penetration. Humiliation.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 59 - Huan / Dispersion (Dissolution). Plans are good but let us not forget to act! This line is similar to line 1. Here we have at least an attempt to decide but the process of so doing has become an end in itself. Decide! Legge seems to have a different emphasis, this line seeks "...penetrating only by violent and repeated efforts" so perhaps either the wrong decision has been made or the manner of the subject is the problem "...restlessness, and here the vehemence, of its subject." The outcome of this is hexagram 59, Dispersion, which suggests that Legge may be correct and the problem is an egoists attitude that needs to be changed before anything can be achieved. "Here the subject is the dispersing and dissolving of divisive egotism. Dispersion shows the way, so to speak, that leads to gathering together."

Six in the fourth place means: Remorse vanishes. During the hunt three kinds of game are caught.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 44 - Kou / Coming to Meet. Here our goals and attitudes coincide with the requirements of the time and so we attain what we want and more. Legge says "...shows all occasion for repentance in its subject passed away...the omens of evil are counteracted and a good auspice is obtained." So despite a possibly inauspicious start we have a good end. The resultant hexagram 44, Coming to Meet, warns us that evil will not hesitate to reappear so do not allow ones lucky situation to lead to lazy inattention. "It is an unfavorable and dangerous situation, and we must understand and promptly prevent the possible consequences." Continuing caution is required.

Nine in the fifth place means: Perseverance brings good fortune. Remorse vanishes. Nothing that does not further. No beginning, but an end. Before the change, three days. After the change, three days. Good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 18 - Ku / Work on what has been spoiled (Decay). This line can proceed to act in full confidence that it will be successful even though there may be initial doubts. This success is a product of the correct process followed in first, deciding and then acting. Legge's version says of this line "...there will be good fortune to its subject...There may have been no good beginning, but there will be a good end." The outcome hexagram is 18, Work on what has been spoiled, which implies that even more work on correcting the issues at stake here will need to be done, "...we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided"

Nine at the top means: Penetration under the bed. He loses his property and his ax. Perseverance brings misfortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 48 Ching / The Well. Wisdom is not always accompanied by the strength required to bring about great changes and so it is here. If this line were to seek to enforce its will it would fail. Legge is also sure that this line no longer has the power to execute its will "...having lost the axe with which he executed his decisions. However firm and correct he may try to be, there will be evil." The outcome hexagram is 48, The Well. This lines wisdom is like a well that cannot be used, no good will come of it.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 57 Sun / The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind) translation of this hexagram.