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Hexagram 61 - Chung Fu / Inner Truth - James Legge Translation

hexagram 61
  • Above Sun the Gentle, Wind
  • Below Tui the Joyous, Lake


Chung Fu moves even pigs and fish, and leads to good fortune. There will be advantage in crossing the great stream. There will be advantage in being firm and correct.

Meaning Commentary

Chung Fu, the name of this hexagram, may be represented in English by 'Inmost Sincerity.' It denotes the highest quality of man, and gives its possessor power so that he prevails with spiritual beings, with other men, and with the lower creatures. It is the subject of the Doctrine of the Mean from the 21st chapter onwards. The lineal figure has suggested to the Chinese commentators, from the author of the first Appendix, two ideas in it which deserve to be pointed out. There are two divided lines in the centre and two undivided below them and above them. The divided lines in the centre are held to represent the heart or mind free from all pre-occupation, without any consciousness of self; and the undivided lines, on each side of it, in the centre of the constituent trigrams are held to denote the solidity of the virtue of one so free from selfishness. There is no unreality in it, not a single flaw.

The Daily Lecture at the conclusion of its paraphrase of the Thwan refers to the history of the ancient Shun, and the wonderful achievements of his virtue. The authors give no instance of the affecting, of pigs and fishes by sincerity, and say that these names are symbolical of men, the rudest and most unsusceptible of being acted on. The Text says that the man thus gifted with sincerity will succeed in the most difficult enterprises. Remarkable is the concluding sentence that he must be firm and correct. Here, as elsewhere throughout the Yi, there comes out the practical character which has distinguished the Chinese people and their best teaching all along the line of history.

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The Image

Wind over lake: the image of Inner Truth. Thus the superior man discusses criminal cases in order to delay executions.

Image Commentary

Wind stirs water by penetrating it. Thus the superior man, when obliged to judge the mistakes of men, tries to penetrate their minds with understanding, in order to gain a sympathetic appreciation of the circumstances. In ancient China, the entire administration of justice was guided by this principle. A deep understanding that knows how to pardon was considered the highest form of justice. This system was not without success, for its aim was to make so strong a moral impression that there was no reason to fear abuse of such mildness. For it sprang not from weakness but from a superior clarity.

King Wans explanation

  1. In Chung Fu we have the two weak
  2. Lines in the innermost part of the figure, and strong Lines occupying the central places in the trigrams. We have the attributes of pleased satisfaction and flexible penetration. Sincerity thus symbolled will transform a country.
  3. Pigs and fish are moved, and there will be good fortune: sincerity reaches to and affects even pigs and fishes. 'There will be advantage in crossing the great stream:' we see in the figure one riding on the emblem of wood, which forms an empty boat.
  4. In the exercise of the virtue denoted by Chung Fu, it is said that there will be advantage in being firm and correct: in that virtue indeed we have the response of man to Heaven.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

The structure of the lineal figure which is here insisted on has been pointed out in explaining the Thwan. On what is further said as to the attributes of the trigrams and their effect, Khang-zze observes We have in the sincerity shown in the upper trigram superiors condescending to those below them in accordance with their peculiarities, and we have in that of the lower those below delighted to follow their superiors. The combination of these two things leads to the transformation of the country and state.

Paragraph 2. The two divided Lines in the middle of the figure are supposed to give the semblance of an empty boat, and an empty boat, it is said with doubtful truth, is not liable to be upset. The trigram Sun symbolizes both wind and wood.

A good commentary on paragraph 3 is supplied in many passages of the Doctrine of the Mean, eg. chap. 20. 18: Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The attainment of sincerity is the way of men.

The Lines

The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject resting in himself. There will be good fortune. If he sought to any other, he would not find rest.

The translation of paragraph 1 is according to the view approved by the Khang-hsi editors. The ordinary view makes the other to whom the subject of line 1 looks or might look to be the subject of 4 but they contend that, excepting in the case of 3 and 6, the force of correlation should be discarded from the study of this hexagram; for the virtue of sincerity is all centred in itself, thence derived and thereby powerful.

The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject like the crane crying out in her hidden retirement, and her young ones responding to her. It is as if it were said, I have a cup of good spirits, and the response were, I will partake of it with you.

For paragraph 2, see Appendix III, Section i, 42. It is in rhyme, and I have there rendered it in rhyme. The young ones of the crane are represented by line 1. In the third and fourth sentences we have the symbolism of two men brought together by their sympathy in virtue. The subject of the paragraph is the effect of sincerity.

The third SIX, divided, shows its subject having met with his mate. Now he beats his drum, and now he leaves off. Now he weeps, and now he sings.

The mate of line 3 is 6. The principle of correlation comes in. Sincerity, not left to itself, is influenced from without, and hence come the changes and uncertainty in the state and moods of the subject of the line.

The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject like the moon nearly full, and like a horse in a chariot whose fellow disappears. There will be no error.

Line 4 is weak, and in its correct place. The subject of it has discarded the correlate in 1, and hastens on to the confidence of the ruler in 5, being sysymbolizeds the moon nearly full. The other symbol of the horse whose fellow has disappeared has reference to the discarding of the subject of 1. Anciently chariots and carriages were drawn by four horses, two outsides and two insides. Lines 1 and 4 were a pair of these but 1 disappears here from the team, and 4 goes on and joins 5.

The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject perfectly sincere, and linking others to him in closest union. There will be no error.

Line 5 is strong and central, in the ruler's place. Its subject must be the sage on the throne, whose sincerity will go forth and bind all in union with himself.

The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject in chanticleer trying to mount to heaven. Even with firm correctness there will be evil.

Line 6 should be divided, but is undivided; and coming after 5, what can the subject of it do? His efforts will be ineffectual, and injurious to himself. He is sysymbolizedy a cock literally, the plumaged voice. But a cock is not fitted to fly high, and in attempting to do so will only suffer hurt.