I Ching

X . 履 The Lî Hexagram

(Lî suggests the idea of) one treading on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him. There will be progress and success.

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading his accustomed path. If he go forward, there will be no error.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading the path that is level and easy;—a quiet and solitary man, to whom, if he be firm and correct, there will be good fortune.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows a one-eyed man (who thinks he) can see; a lame man (who thinks he) can walk well; one who treads on the tail of a tiger and is bitten. (All this indicates) ill fortune. We have a (mere) bravo acting the part of a great ruler.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading on the tail of a tiger. He becomes full of apprehensive caution, and in the end there will be good fortune.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows the resolute tread of its subject. Though he be firm and correct, there will be peril.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, tells us to look at (the whole course) that is trodden, and examine the presage which that gives. If it be complete and without failure, there will be great good fortune.

履 – Lu
















1: 咥 = 口 + 至
2: 愬 = 上 (top) 朔 + 下 (bottom) 心
3: 夬 = 炔 - 火

Appendix 1

1. In Lî we have (the symbol of) weakness treading on (that of) strength.

2. (The lower trigram) indicates pleasure and satisfaction, and responds to (the upper) indicating strength. Hence (it is said), 'He treads on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him; there will be progress and success.'

3. (The fifth line is) strong, in the centre, and in its correct place. (Its subject) occupies the God-(given) position, and falls into no distress or failure;—(his) action will be brilliant.

Appendix 2

(The trigram representing) the sky above, and below it (that representing the waters of) a marsh, form Lî. The superior man, in accordance with this, discriminates between high and low, and gives settlement to the aims of the people.

1. 'He treads his accustomed path and goes forward:'—singly and exclusively he carries out his (long-cherished) wishes.

2. 'A quiet and solitary man, to whom, being firm and correct, there will be good fortune:'—holding the due mean, he will not allow himself to be thrown into disorder.

3. 'A one-eyed man (who thinks that he) can see:'—he is not fit to see clearly. 'A lame man (who thinks that he can) tread well:'—one cannot walk along with him. 'The ill fortune of being bitten' arises from the place not being the proper one for him. 'A (mere) bravo acting the part of a great ruler:'—this is owing to his aims being (too) violent.

4. 'He becomes full of apprehensive caution, and in the end there will be good fortune:'—his aim takes effect.

5. 'He treads resolutely; and though he be firm and correct, there is peril:'—this is due to his being in the position that is correct and appropriate to him.

6. 'There will be great good fortune,' and that in the occupancy of the topmost line:—this is great matter for congratulation.


X The character giving its name to the hexagram plays an important part also in the symbolism; and this may be the reason why it does not, as the name, occupy the first place in the Thwan. Looking at the figure, we see it is made up of the trigrams Tui, representing a marsh, and Khien, representing the sky. Tui is a yin trigram, and its top line is divided. Below Khien, the great symbol of strength, it may readily suggest the idea of treading on a tiger's tail, which was an old way of expressing what was hazardous (Shû V, XXV, 2). But what suggests the statement that 'the tiger does not bite the treader?' The attribute of Tui is pleased satisfaction. of course such an attribute could not be predicated of one who was in the fangs of a tiger. The coming scatheless out of such danger further suggests the idea of 'progress and success' in the course which king Wăn had in his mind. And according to Appendix VI, that course was 'propriety,' the observance of all the rules of courtesy. On these, as so many stepping-stones, one may tread safely amid scenes of disorder and peril.

Line 1 is an undivided line in an odd place; giving us the ideas of activity, firmness, and correctness. One so characterised will act rightly.

Line 2 occupies the middle place of the trigram, which is supposed to symbolise a path cut straight and level along the hill-side, or over difficult ground. Line, is not a proper correlate, and hence the idea of the subject of 2 being 'a quiet and solitary man.'

Line 3 is neither central nor in an even place, which would be proper to it. But with the strength of will which the occupant of an odd place should possess, he goes forward with the evil results so variously emblemed. The editors of the imperial edition, in illustration of the closing sentence, refer to Analects VII, x.

Line 4 is in contiguity with 5, whose subject is in the place of authority; but he occupies the place proper to a weak or divided line, and hence he bethinks himself, and goes softly.

Beneath the symbolism under line 5, lies the principle that the most excellent thing in 'propriety' is humility. And the subject of the line, which is strong and central, will not be lacking in this, but bear in mind that the higher he is exalted, the greater may be his fall.

What is said on line 6 is good, but is only a truism. The whole course has been shown; if every step has been right and appropriate, the issue will be very good.

App-1-1:X '(The symbol of) weakness' in paragraph 1, according to Wang Shăn-žze (Yüan dynasty), is line 3, urged by the two strong lines below, and having to encounter the three strong lines above. Hû Ping-wan (also of the Yüan dynasty) says that the whole of the lower trigram, Tui, partaking of the yin nature, is the symbol of weakness, and the whole of Khien that of strength. The Keh-Kung editors say that, to get the full meaning, we must hold both views.

Paragraph 2 has been sufficiently explained on the Thwan itself.

Paragraph 3 has also been explained; but there remains something to be said on the Chinese text for 'occupies the God-given position,' or, literally, 'treads on the seat of Tî.' Canon McClatchie has—'The imperial throne is now occupied.' I think that 'the seat of Tî' is synonymous with 'the seat of Heaven,' in paragraph 2 of this treatise on hexagram 5. If Confucius, or whoever was the writer, had before him the phrase as it occurs in the Shû, I, 12, the force of Tî will depend on the meaning assigned to it in that part of the Shû. That the fifth line occupies the place of authority is here the only important point.

App-2-1:X 'The sky above and a marsh lying below it is true,' says Khăng-žze, 'in nature and reason; and so should be the rules of propriety on which men tread.' This symbolism is far-fetched; and so is the application of it, if in any way drawn from it. But it is true that the members of a community or nation must keep their several places and duties in order to its being in a state of good order.

For lines 1, 2, 3, and 4, see notes on the Text.

If we might translate the conclusion of what is said on line 5, by—'in the position that is correctly appropriate to him,' the meaning would he more clear, though still the assumption which I have pointed out on the Text would underlie the statement; and as evidently as there, what is said under line 6 is but a truism.