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I Ching Hexagram 9 - Hsiao Chu / The Taming Power of the Small

hexagram 9
  • Above Sun the Gentle, Wind
  • Below Ch'ien the Creative, Heaven


This hexagram means the force of the small--the power of the shadowy--that restrains, tames, impedes. A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister, holds the five strong lines in check. In the Image it is the wind blowing across the sky. The wind restrains the clouds, the rising breath of the Creative, and makes them grow dense, but as yet is not strong enough to turn them to rain. The hexagram presents a configuration of circumstances in which a strong element is temporarily held in leash by a weak element. It is only through gentleness that this can have a successful outcome.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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The Taming Power of the Small has success, dense clouds, no rain from our western region.

Judgement Commentary

This image refers to the state of affairs in China at the time when King Wen, who came originally from the west, was in the east at the court of the reigning tyrant Chou Hsin. The moment for action on a large scale had not yet arrived. King Wen could only keep the tyrant somewhat in check by friendly persuasion. Hence the image of many clouds, promising moisture and blessing to the land, although as yet no rain falls. The situation is not unfavorable; there is a prospect of ultimate success, but there are still obstacles in the way, and we can merely take preparatory measures. Only through the small means of friendly persuasion can we exert any influence. The time has not yet come for sweeping measures. However, we may be able, to a limited extent, to act as a restraining and subduing influence. To carry out our purpose we need firm determination within and gentleness and adaptability in external relations.

The Image

The wind drives across heaven: The image of The Taming Power of the Small. Thus the superior man Refines the outward aspect of his nature.

Image Commentary

The wind can indeed drive the clouds together in the sky; yet, being nothing but air, without solid body, it does not produce great or lasting effects. So also an individual, in times when he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of his nature in small ways.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: Return to the way. How could there be blame in this? Good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 57 Sun / The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind). Here we see someone turning away from a course of action that would fail and going back to what is correct for him. The resultant hexagram 57 gives good advice on how to make progress in this situation, use "... gradual and inconspicuous effects". The description Legge gives is the same "...shows its subject returning and pursuing his own course". The good fortune described is based on not using force to attain your goals, there is another way.

Nine in the second place means: He allows himself to be drawn into returning. Good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan). This line describes a very similar situation to the previous one. Retreat from a hopeless situation is the best course. Here the resultant hexagram 37 is perhaps showing us what we should be concentrating on in such a time, ones family and the proper regulation of same. Legge says the same thing.

Nine in the third place means: The spokes burst out of the wagon wheels. Man and wife roll their eyes.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 61 Chung Fu / Inner Truth. Even though this line is almost comically bad in its reading, the resultant hexagram is good. The sort of influence we should be using is seen there. Trying to force our way to our goals creates upset and chaos. The husband and wife "...looking on each other with averted eyes." that Legge uses to illustrate the situation is quite apt. How happy and successful a marriage can there be when both parties to it are always fighting?

Six in the fourth place means: If you are sincere, blood vanishes and fear gives way. No blame.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 1 - Ch'ien / The Creative. This line is tasked with restraining great power and this is a dangerous thing to do. The resultant hexagram 1 is probably the most auspicious hexagram you can receive so this indicates the great good fortune that results from such activities. The attributes required to perform such duties are sincere, disinterested truth. Legge promises that such an approach averts bloodshed and any grounds "...for apprehension (will be) dismissed".

Nine in the fifth place means: If you are sincere and loyally attached, You are rich in your neighbor.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 26 - Ta Chu / The Taming Power of the Great. Here the small restraining power of this hexagram turns into the, The Taming Power of the Great of hexagram 26. How? By being, as Legge writes " possessed of sincerity, and drawing others to unite with him.". One is able to influence successfully and such influence can have great affect.

Nine at the top means: The rain comes, there is rest. This is due to the lasting effect of character. Perseverance brings the woman into danger. The moon is nearly full. If the superior man persists misfortune comes.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 5 - Hsu / Waiting (Nourishment). Conditions have come to a head, change has occurred. We have gradually attained our goals but now must be careful not to press on. The resultant hexagram 5 counsels patience. "One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing." The interpretation given by Legge is "...weakness that has achieved ... will be in a position of peril." When you have attained, remain quiet do not attract attention lest ones achievements be taken away.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 9 - Hsiao Chu / The Taming Power of the Small translation of this hexagram.