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Hexagram 32 - Heng / Duration - James Legge Translation

hexagram 32
  • Above Chen, the Arousing, Thunder
  • Below Sun, the Gentle, Wind


Heng indicates successful progress and no error in what it denotes. But the advantage will come from being firm and correct; and movement in any direction whatever will be advantageous.

Meaning Commentary

The subject of this hexagram may be given as perseverance in well doing, or in continuously acting out the law of one's being. The sixth Appendix makes it a sequel of the previous figure. As that treats, it is said, of the relation between husband and wife, so this treats of the continuous observance of their respective duties. Hsien, we saw, is made up of Kan, the symbol of the youngest son, and Tui, the symbol of the youngest daughter, attraction and influence between the sexes being strongest in youth. Heng consists of Sun, the oldest daughter, and Kan, the oldest son. The couple are more staid. The wife occupies the lower place; and the relation between them is marked by her submission. This is sound doctrine, especially from a Chinese point of view; but I doubt whether such application of his teaching was in the mind of king Wan. Given two parties, an inferior and superior in correlation. If both be continuously observant of what is correct, the inferior being also submissive, and the superior firm, good fortune and progress may be predicated of their course.

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The Image

Thunder and wind: the image of Duration. Thus the superior man stands firm and does not change has direction.

Image Commentary

Thunder rolls, and the wind blows; both are examples of extreme mobility and so are seemingly the very opposite of duration, but the laws governing their appearance and subsidence, their coming and going, endure. In the same way the independence of the superior man is not based on rigidity and immobility of character. He always keeps abreast of the time and changes with it. What endures is the unswerving directive, the inner law of his being, which determines all his actions.

King Wans explanation

  1. Heng denotes long continuance. The strong trigram is above, and the weak one below; they are the symbols of thunder and wind, which are in mutual communication; they have the qualities of docility and motive force; their strong and weak
  2. When it is said that Heng indicates successful progress and no error in what it denotes; but the advantage will come from being firm and correct, this indicates that there must be long continuance in its way of operation. The way of heaven and earth is to be long continued in their operation without stopping.
  3. When it is said that Movement in any direction whatever will be advantageous, this implies that when the moving power is spent, it will begin again.
  4. The sun and moon, realizing in themselves the course of Heaven, can perpetuate their shining. The four seasons, by their changing and transforming, can perpetuate their production of things. The sages persevere long in their course, and all under the sky are transformed and perfect. When we look at what they continue doing long, the natural tendencies of heaven, earth, and all things can be seen.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

All the conditions in paragraph 1 must be understood as leading to the indication of progress and success, which is explained in paragraph 2, and illustrated by the analogy of the course of heaven and earth.

Movement in any direction, as explained in paragraph 3, indicates the ever-occurring new modes and spheres of activity, to which he who is firm and correct is called.

Paragraph 4, and especially its concluding sentence, are of a meditative and reflective character not uncommon in the treatise on the Thwan.

The Lines

The first SIX, divided, shows its subject deeply desirous of long continuance. Even with firm correctness there will be evil; there will be no advantage in any way.

Line 1 has a proper correlate in 4; but between them are two strong lines; and it is itself weak. These two conditions are against its subject receiving much help from the subject of 4. He should be quiet, and not forward for action.

The second NINE, undivided, shows all occasion for repentance disappearing.

Line 2 is strong, but in the place of a weak line. Its position, however, being central, and its subject holding fast to the due mean, the unfavorable condition of an even place is more than counteracted.

The third NINE, undivided, shows one who does not continuously maintain his virtue. There are those who will impute this to him as a disgrace. However firm he may be, there will be ground for regret.

Line 3 is strong, and in its proper place; but being beyond the centre of the trigram, its subject is too strong, and coming under the attraction of his correlate in 6, he is supposed to be ready to abandon his place and virtue. He may try to be firm and correct, but circumstances are adverse to him.

The fourth NINE, undivided, shows a field where there is no game.

Line 4 is strong in the place of a weak line, and suggests the symbolism of the Duke of Kou.

The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject continuously maintaining the virtue indicated by it. In a wife this will be fortunate; in a husband, evil.

The weak 5th line responds to the strong 2nd, and may be supposed to represent a wife conscious of her weakness, and docilely submissive; which is good. A husband, however, and a man generally, has to assert himself, and lay down the rule of what is right.

The topmost SIX, divided, shows its subject exciting himself to long continuance. There will be evil.

In line 6 the principle of perseverance has run its course; the motive power of Chen is exhausted. The line itself is weak. The violent efforts of its subject can only lead to evil.