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Hexagram 63 - Chi Chi / After Completion - James Legge Translation

hexagram 63
  • Above K'an the abysmal, Water
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


Chi Chi intimates progress and success in small matters. There will be advantage in being firm and correct. There has been good fortune in the beginning; there may be disorder in the end.

Meaning Commentary

The character called Ki is used as a symbol of being past or completed. Zi denotes primarily crossing a stream, and has the secondary meaning of helping and completing. The two characters, combined, will express the successful accomplishment of whatever the writer has in his mind. In dealing with this lineal figure, king Wan was thinking of the condition of the kingdom, at length at rest and quiet. The vessel of the state has been brought safely across the great and dangerous stream. The distresses of the kingdom have been relieved, and its disorders have been repressed. Does anything remain to be done still? Yes, in small things. The new government has to be consolidated. Its ruler must, without noise or clamour, go on to perfect what has been wrought, with firmness and correctness, and ever keeping in mind the instability of all human affairs. That every line of the hexagram is in its correct place, and has its proper correlate is also supposed to harmonize with the intimation of progress and success.

Chi Chi is considered the opposite condition to Wei Chi hexagram 64. Whereas Wei Chi stands for the conditions before completion of something Chi Chi represents conditions after completion of an endeavour.

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The Image

Water over fire: the image of the condition In After Completion. Thus the superior man takes thought of misfortune and arms himself against it in advance.

Image Commentary

When water in a kettle hangs over fire, the two elements stand in relation and thus generate energy (cf. the production of steam). But the resulting tension demands caution. If the water boils over, the fire is extinguished an its energy is lost. If the heat is too great, the water evaporates into the air. These elements here brought in to relation and thus generating energy are by nature hostile to each other. Only the most extreme caution can prevent damage. In life too there are junctures when all forces are in balance and work in harmony, so that everything seems to be in the best of order. In such times only the sage recognizes the moments that bode danger and knows how to banish it by means of timely precautions.

King Wans explanation

  1. Chi Chi intimates progress and success: in small matters, that is, there will be that progress and success.
  2. There will be advantage in being firm and correct: the strong and weak Lines are correctly arranged, each in its appropriate place.
  3. There has been good fortune in the beginning: the weak second line is in the centre.
  4. In the end there is a cessation of effort, and disorder arises: the course that led to rule and order is now exhausted.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

It is difficult to see the concatenation in paragraph 3 between the sentiment of the Thwan and the nature of the second line. The Khang-hsi editors compare this hexagram and the next with 11 and 12, observing that the goodness of T'ai 11 is concentrated, as here, in the second line.

The sentiment of paragraph 4 is that which we have often met with, that things move on with a constant process of change. Disorder succeeds to order, and again order to disorder.

The Lines

The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject as a driver who drags back his wheel, or as a fox which has wet his tail. There will be no error.

Line 1, the first of the hexagram, represents the time immediately after the successful achievement of the enterprise it denotes; the time for resting and being quiet. For a season, at least, all movement should be hushed. Hence we have the symbolism of a driver trying to stop his carriage, and a fox who has wet his tail, and will not tempt the stream again.

The second SIX, divided, shows its subject as a wife who has lost her carriage-screen. There is no occasion to go in pursuit of it. In seven days she will find it.

Line 2 is weak, and in its proper place. It also has the strong correlate 5; and might be expected to be forward to act. But it occupies its correct and central place, and suggests the symbol of a lady whose carriage has lost its screen. She will not advance further so soon after success has been achieved; but keep herself hidden and retired. Let her not try to find the screen. When it is said that she will find this after seven days, the meaning seems to be simply this, that the period of Chi Chi will then have been exhausted, the six lines having been gone through, and a new period, when action will be proper, shall have commenced.

The third NINE, undivided, suggests the case of Kao Zung, who attacked the Demon region, but was three years in subduing it. Small men should not be employed in such enterprises.

The strong line 3, at the top of the lower trigram, suggests for its subject one undertaking a vigorous enterprise. The writer thinks of Kao Zung, the sacrificial title of Wu Ting, one of the ablest sovereigns of the Shang dynasty B. C. 1364-1324, who undertook an expedition against the barbarous hordes of the cold and bleak regions north of the Middle States. He is mentioned again under the next hexagram. He appears also in the Shu, IV, ix, and in the Shih, IV, iii, ode 5. His enterprise may have been good, and successful, but it was tedious, and the paragraph concludes with a caution.

The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject with rags provided against any leak in his boat, and on his guard all day long.

Line 4 is weak, and has advanced into the trigram. for water. Its subject will be cautious, and prepare for evil, as in the symbolism, suggested probably by the nature of the trigram.

The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject as the neighbour in the east who slaughters an ox for his sacrifice; but this is not equal to the small spring sacrifice of the neighbour in the west, whose sincerity receives the blessing.

The neighbour in the East is the subject of line 5, and the neighbour in the West is the subject of the correlate 2, the former quarter being yang and the latter yin. Line 5 is strong, and 2 is weak but weakness is more likely to be patient and cautious than strength. They are compared to two men sacrificing. The one presents valuable offerings; the other very poor ones. But the second excels in sincerity, and his small offering is the more acceptable.

The topmost SIX, divided, shows its subject with even his head immersed. The position is perilous.

The topmost line is weak, and on the outmost edge of Khan, the trigram, of peril. His action is violent and perilous, like that one attempting to cross a ford, and being plunged overhead into the water.