The Book of Changes

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K'uei / Opposition Antagonism

This hexagram is composed of the trigram Li above, i.e., flame, which burns upward, and Tui
below, i.e., the lake, which seeps downward. These two movements are in direct contrast.
Furthermore, Li is the second daughter and Tui the youngest daughter, and although they live
in the same house they belong to different men; hence their wills are not the same but are
divergently directed.


OPPOSITION. In small matters, good fortune.

When people live in opposition and estrangement they cannot carry out a great undertaking in common;
their points of view diverge too widely. In such circumstances one should above all not proceed
brusquely, for that would only increase the existing opposition; instead, one should limit oneself to
producing gradual effects in small matters. Here success can still be expected, because the situation is
such that the opposition does not preclude all agreement.

In general, opposition appears as an obstruction, but when it represents polarity within a comprehensive
whole, it has also its useful and important functions. The oppositions of heaven and earth, spirit and
nature, man and woman, when reconciled, bring about the creation and reproduction of life. In the world
of visible things, the principle of opposites makes possible the differentiation by categories through
which order is brought into the world.

When there is opposition between contrary parts, achievements are only gotten in small things. This
means that, under this circumstance, one cannot carry out any task that demands big efforts.

The confrontation is a symbol of polarization of opinions, of non-cooperation for lack of points of
coincidence. For that reason, achievements are only gotten in small things, that is to say, it can only be
aspired to accomplish which doesn't require joint efforts, what one can achieve individually or with
scarce collaboration.

The confrontation also means to be in a side or in another.


Above, fire; below, the lake.
The image of OPPOSITION.
Thus amid all fellowship
The superior man retains his individuality.

The two elements, fire and water, never mingle but even when in contact retain their own natures. So the
superior man is never led into baseness or vulgarity through intercourse or community of interests with
persons of another sort; regardless of all commingling, he will always preserve his individuality.

The fire and the lake are elements of different nature, of different origin, and whose movement is also
opposed. Thus, the superior man differentiates from things while remaining sensitive to their similarities.

Sometimes, contrary things are different, but they share the same goal, so, to accomplish this goal one
must find the common ground to conciliate the differences. This does not mean to lose the own identify,
instead to be capable of collaborative efforts with different people.


Nine at the beginning means:

Remorse disappears.
If you lose your horse, do not run after it;
It will come back of its own accord.
When you see evil people,
Guard yourself against mistakes.

Even in times when oppositions prevail, mistakes can be avoided, so that remorse disappears. When
opposition begins to manifest itself, a man must not try to bring about unity by force, for by so doing he
would only achieve the contrary, just as a horse goes farther and farther away if one runs after it. It it is
one's own horse, one can safely let it go; it will come back of its own accord. So too when someone who
belongs with us is momentarily estranged because of a misunderstanding, he will return of his own accord
if we leave matters to him. On the other hand, it is well to be cautious when evil men who do not belong
with us force themselves upon us, again as the result of a misunderstanding. Here the important thing is to
avoid mistakes. We must not try to shake off these evil men by force; this would give rise to real
hostility. We must simply endure them. They will eventually withdraw of their own accord.

The lost horses that should not be chased means that it should let everything follow its course, until the
time takes charge of vanishing the anger. The lost horses symbolize the forces or persons who are
divided and separate. They should not be chased, because it would imply a useless expense of energy.

Evil people must be tolerated, because they can't be set apart without arouse blame. One must meet
them, but being careful to avoid mistakes.

Nine in the second place means:

One meets his lord in a narrow street.
No blame.

As a result of misunderstandings, it has become impossible for people who by nature belong together to
meet in the correct way. This being so, an accidental meeting under informal circumstances may serve the
purpose, provided there is an inner affinity between them.

This is a fortuitous encounter that happen in times of opposition and does not constitute a deliberate
action. To meet with their lord (chief, authority or master) means to take contact with somebody who can
clarify things with some guidance.

Six in the third place means:

One sees the wagon dragged back,
The oxen halted,
A man's hair and nose cut off.
Not a good beginning, but a good end.

Often it seems to a man as though everything were conspiring against him. He sees himself checked and
hindered in his progress, insulted and dishonored.(1) However, he must not let himself be misled; despite
this opposition, he must cleave to the man with whom he knows he belongs. Thus, notwithstanding the bad
beginning, the matter will end well.

The wagon dragged back symbolizes loss of position. The ox halted indicates that one isn't under
conditions of advancing because one has lost forces. To cut the hair and nose means loss of public face
or reputation.

A superior force stagnates one's advance, but meeting with a more powerful force (top yang) will solve
this unfortunate situation.

Nine in the fourth place means:

Isolated through opposition,
One meets a like-minded man
With whom one can associate in good faith.
Despite the danger, no blame.

If a man finds himself in a company of people from whom he is separated by an inner opposition, he
becomes isolated. But if in such a situation a man meets someone who fundamentally by the very law of
his being, is kin to him, and whom he can trust completely, he overcomes all the dangers of isolation. His
will achieves its aim, and he becomes free of faults.

One is isolated here due to staying faithful to its posture. It also means to be apart because of

To meet a like-minded man means to find what is looked for. Although all union implies a risk, there won't
be misunderstandings and the objective will be reached.

Six in the fifth place means:

Remorse disappears.
The companion bites his way through the wrappings.
If one goes to him,
How could it be a mistake?

Coming upon a sincere man, one fails to recognize him at first because of the general estrangement.
However, he bites his way through the wrappings that are causing the separation. When such a companion
thus reveals himself in his true character, it is one's duty to go to meet him and to work with him.

To bite his way through the wrappings means to overcome everything that impeded the union. It also
means overcoming stages, to arrive in spite of everything.

Biting wrappings implies to cross what is necessary to be crossed. This also means that the obstacle is
in fact superficial.

Nine at the top means:

Isolated through opposition,
One sees one's companion as a pig covered with dirt,
As a wagon full of devils.
First one draws a bow against him,
then one lays the bow aside.
He is not a robber; he will woo at the right time.
As one goes, rain falls; then good fortune comes.

Here the isolation is due to misunderstanding; it is brought about not by outer circumstances but by inner
conditions. A man misjudges his best friends, taking them to be as unclean as a dirty pig and as dangerous
as a wagon full of devils. He adopts an attitude of defense. But in the end, realizing his mistake, he lays
aside the bow, perceiving that the other is approaching with the best intentions for the purpose of close
union. Thus the tension is relieved. The union resolves the tension, just as falling rain relieves the
sultriness preceding a thunderstorm. All goes well, for just when opposition reaches its climax it changes
over to its antithesis.

Misunderstandings and exaggerated opinions distort the vision with resentment. But when realizing
reality, the tension vanishes. The rain gives the idea of washing, purifying, for that reason, the doubts
leave. When one evaluates things with a more objective and less partial vision the good fortune will