The Book of Changes

Ask your question


Sun / Decrease Diminish

This hexagram represents a decrease of the lower trigram in
favor of the upper, because the third line, originally strong,
has moved up to the top, and the top line, originally weak, has
replaced it. What is below is decreased to the benefit of what
is above. This is out-and-out decrease.

If the foundations of a
building are decreased in strength and the upper walls are
strengthened, the whole structure loses its stability.
Likewise, a decrease in the prosperity of the people in favor
of the government is out-and-out decrease. And the entire
theme of the hexagram is directed to showing how this shift
of wealth can take place without causing the sources of
wealth in the nation and its lower classes to fail.


DECREASE combined with sincerity
Brings about supreme good fortune
Without blame.
One may be persevering in this.
It furthers one to undertake something.
How is this to be carried out?
One may use two small bowls for the sacrifice.

Decrease does not under all circumstances mean something bad.
Increase and decrease come in their own time. What matters here is to
understand the time and not to try to cover up poverty with empty
pretense. If a time of scanty resources brings out an inner truth, one
must not feel ashamed of simplicity.

For simplicity is then the very thing
needed to provide inner strength for further undertakings.

Indeed, there
need by no concern if the outward beauty of the civilization, even the
elaboration of religious forms, should have to suffer because of
simplicity. One must draw on the strength of the inner attitude to
compensate for what is lacking in externals; then the power of the
content makes up for the simplicity of form. There is no need of
presenting false appearances to God. Even with slender means, the
sentiment of the heart can be expressed.>(1)

It is mentioned here the attitude of being authentic in periods of
shortage. This means to know how to adapt at times that demand
austerity. To be sincere in the decrease implies not to take attitudes or
postures that are not coherent with the reality. To be sincere in the
decrease is to make the little thing be worthy. This supposes a will
towards to reaffirm the own identity.

The two small bowls symbolize two fundamental attitudes: the one of
strengthening the own interior and the other one of reflecting towards out
what is been internally. This way, what is modest on the outside is
strengthened from inside. The two small bowls represent how much one
can make with the scarce thing, when there is capacity for the sacrifice.
The two small bowls are the inner and external factors that, balanced,
grant an excellent potentiality.


At the foot of the mountain, the lake:
The image of DECREASE.
Thus the superior man controls his anger
And restrains his instincts.

The lake at the foot of the mountain evaporates. In this way it decreases
to the benefit of the mountain, which is enriched by its moisture. The
mountain stands as the symbol of stubborn strength that can harden into
anger. The lake is the symbol of unchecked gaiety that can develop into
passionate drives at the expense of the life forces. Therefore decrease is
necessary; anger must be decreased by keeping still, the instincts must
be curbed by restriction. By this decrease of the lower powers of the
psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.

The lake that diminishes its waters to humidify the mountain represents
what is sacrificed for a superior cause. The mountain represents the
great thing, the superior thing, on which the resources are overturned.
The waters of the lake represent what diminishes to enrich another more
important aspect.

The superior man regulates his energy displacing it from a place to
other, where it is more necessary for his personal growth. This means to
be deprived of what is not so useful or lower (anger and instincts) and to
take advantage of what is more valuable or higher (virtue).


Nine at the beginning means:

Going quickly when one's tasks are finished
Is without blame.
But one must reflect on how much one may decrease others.

It is unselfish and good when a man, after completing his own urgent
tasks, uses his strength in the service of others, and without bragging or
making much of it, helps quickly where help is needed. But the man in a
superior position who is thus aided must weigh carefully how much he
can accept without doing the helpful servant or friend real harm. Only
where such delicacy of feeling exists can one give oneself
unconditionally and without hesitation.

To go quickly in help of others (fourth line) means solicitous action,
good will, and spirit of cooperation. Also, this line refers to the solicitous
one who recognizes when he is being used in excess, that is to say to
know how to differ from being generous to being menial.

Nine in the second place means:

Perseverance furthers.
To undertake something brings misfortune.
Without decreasing oneself,
One is able to bring increase to others.

A high-minded self-awareness and a consistent seriousness with no
forfeit of dignity are necessary if a man wants to be of service to others.
He who throw himself away in order to do the bidding of a superior
diminishes his own position without thereby giving lasting benefit to the
other. This is wrong. To render true service of lasting value to another,
one must serve him without relinquishing oneself.

This implies to carry out a cooperative work from a posture that doesn't
diminish the own category, to maintain the own level, thus is convenient
to be constant.

Being consequent with the own way will be enough for not making
mistakes; hence one can allow the other ones to grow without being
lowered to such point of losing the own dignity.

Six in the third place means:

When three people journey together,
Their number decreases by one.
When one man journeys alone,
He finds a companion.

When there are three people together, jealousy arises. One of them will
have to go. A very close bond is possible only between two people. But
when one man is lonely, he is certain to find a companion who
complements him.

This means that between two people can exist connection points that
are impenetrable for others. The one who should go away feels that he
doesn't belong to the group, but he will find his own complementary

Six in the fourth place means:

If a man deceases his faults,
It makes the other hasten to come and rejoice.
No blame.

A man's faults often prevent even well-disposed people from coming
closer to him. His faults are sometimes reinforced by the environment
in which he lives. But if in humility he can bring himself to the point of
giving them up, he frees his well-disposed friends from an inner pressure
and causes them to approach the more quickly, and there is mutual joy.

When one polishes its defects and improves its behavior, one avoids
causing rejections from the others. To reduce the faults means to be
more accessible.

Other translations use "anxiety" or "affliction" instead of "faults". This
means that to relax oneself will be a positive attitude.

Six in the fifth place means:

Someone does indeed increase him.
Ten pairs of tortoises cannot oppose it.
Supreme good fortune.

If someone is marked out by fate for good fortune, it comes without fail.
All oracles --as for instance those that are read from the shells of
tortoises-- are bound to concur in giving him favorable signs. He need
fear nothing, because his luck is ordained from on high.

The tortoises represent signs, guarantees, and tendencies. Ten
couples of tortoises mean signs in great quantity. Thus, the tendency is
completed inevitably. This means that there is a potentiality that has
begun to be developed and it begins to give its fruits through a
projection that gives signs of that.

Nine at the top means:

If one is increased without depriving another,
There is no blame.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
It furthers one to undertake something.
One obtains servants
But no longer has a separate home.

There are people who dispense blessings to the whole world. Every
increase in power that comes to them benefits the whole of mankind and
therefore does not bring decrease to others. Through perseverance and
zealous work a man wins success and finds helpers as they are needed.
But what he accomplishes is not a limited private advantage; it is a public
good and available to everyone.

One stays in the growth and shares it with the other ones. This way, what
is made is carried out with an extensive sense, without selfishness, what
is obtained is for the sake of the whole community and not for personal
benefit. To find servants who do not belong to one's own house means
that they are collaborating with the fair cause.

(1) Cf. the story of the widow's mite in the Gospel of Luke.