I Ching

XXV. 無妄 The Wû Wang Hexagram

Wû Wang indicates great progress and success, while there will be advantage in being firm and correct. If (its subject and his action) be not correct, he will fall into errors, and it will not be advantageous for him to move in any direction.

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject free from all insincerity. His advance will be accompanied with good fortune.

2. The second SIX, divided, shows one who reaps without having ploughed (that he might reap), and gathers the produce of his third year's fields without having cultivated them the first year for that end. To such a one there will be advantage in whatever direction he may move.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows calamity happening to one who is free from insincerity;—as in the case of an ox that has been tied up. A passer by finds it (and carries it off), while the people in the neighbourhood have the calamity (of being accused and. apprehended).

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows (a case) in which, if its subject can remain firm and correct, there will be no error.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows one who is free from insincerity, and yet has fallen ill. Let him not use medicine, and he will have occasion for joy (in his recovery).

6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject free from insincerity, yet sure to fall into error, if he take action. (His action) will not be advantageous in any way.

无妄 – Wu Wang
















耕 = 上 (top) 艹 下 (bottom) 甾

Appendix 1

In Wû Wang we have the strong (first) line come from the outer (trigram), and become in the inner trigram lord (of the whole figure); we have (the attributes of) motive power and strength; we have the strong line (of the fifth place) in the central position, and responded to (by the weak second):—there will be 'great progress proceeding from correctness; such is the appointment of Heaven.

'If (its subject and his action) be not correct, he will fall into errors, and it will not be advantageous for him to move in any direction:'—whither can he (who thinks he is) free from all insincerity, (and yet is as here described) proceed? Can anything be done (advantageously) by him whom the (will and) appointment of Heaven do not help?

Appendix 2

The thunder rolls all under the sky, and to (every)thing there is given (its nature), free from all insincerity. The ancient kings, in accordance with this, (made their regulations) in complete accordance with the seasons, thereby nourishing all things.

1. When 'he who is free from insincerity makes any movement,' he will get what he desires.

2. 'He reaps without having ploughed:'—(the thought of) riches to be got had not risen (in his mind).

3. 'The passer-by gets the ox:'—this proves a calamity to the people of the neighbourhood.

4. 'If he can remain firm and correct there will be no error:'—he firmly holds fast (his correctness).

5. 'Medicine in the case of one who is free from insincerity!'—it should not be tried (at all).

6. 'The action (in this case) of one who is free from insincerity' will occasion the calamity arising from action (when the time for it is) exhausted.


XXV Wang is the symbol of being reckless, and often of being insincere; Wû Wang is descriptive of a state of entire freedom from such a condition; its subject is one who is entirely simple and sincere. The quality is characteristic of the action of Heaven, and of the highest style of humanity. In this hexagram we have an essay on this noble attribute. An absolute rectitude is essential to it. The nearer one comes to the ideal of the quality, the more powerful will be his influence, the greater his success. But let him see to it that he never swerve from being correct.

The first line is strong; at the commencement of the inner trigram denoting movement, the action of its subject will very much characterise all the action set forth, and will itself be fortunate.

Line 2 is weak, central, and in its correct place. The quality may be predicated of it in its highest degree. There is an entire freedom in its subject from selfish or mercenary motive. He is good simply for goodness' sake. And things are so constituted that his action will be successful.

But calamity may also sometimes befal the best, and where there is this freedom from insincerity; and line 3 being weak, and in the place of an even line, lays its subject open to this misfortune. 'The people of the neighbourhood' are of course entirely innocent.

Line 4 is the lowest in the trigram of strength, and 1 is not a proper correlate, nor is the fourth the place for a strong line. Hence the paragraph must be understood as a caution.

Line 5 is strong, in the central place of honour, and has its proper correlate in 2. Hence its subject must possess the quality of the hexagram in perfection. And yet he shall he sick or in distress. But he need not be anxious. Without his efforts a way of escape for him will be opened.

Line 6 is at the top of the hexagram, and comes into the field when the action has run its course. He should be still, and not initiate any fresh movement.

App-1-1:XXV The advocates of one trigram's changing into another, which ought not to be admitted, we have seen, into the interpretation of the Yî, make Wû Wang to be derived from Sung (No. 6), the second line there being manipulated into the first of this; but this representation is contrary to the words of the text, which make the strong first line come from the outer trigram, i. e. from Khien. And so it does, as related, not very intelligibly, in Appendix V, 10, Kăn, the lower trigram here, being the eldest son,' resulting from the first application of Khwăn to Khien. The three peculiarities in the structure of the figure afford the auspice of progress and success; and very striking is the brief and emphatic declaration, that such progress is 'the appointment of Heaven.'

App-2-1:XXV The composition of the hexagram is given here in a manner different from what we have met with in the account of any of the preceding figures; and as the text is not called in question, I have made the best I could in the translation of the two commencing clauses. The application of the symbolism to what the ancient kings did is also hard to comprehend.

The paragraph on line 1 is another way of saying that in the course of things real goodness may be expected to be fortunate,—'by the appointment of Heaven.'

Paragraph 2. 'The thought of getting rich had not risen in his mind:'—he did what he did, because it was right, not because of the gain it would bring him.

On paragraph 3, it is said, 'The superior man seeks simply to be free from insincerity, and leaves the questions of happiness and calamity to Heaven.'

Paragraph 5. Sickness ought not to happen to one who is perfectly sincere. If it do happen, he must refer it to some inexplicable will of Heaven. As that has afflicted, so it will cure.'

Paragraph 6. 'When a thing is over and done, submission and acquiescence are what are required, and not renewed attempts at action.'