The Book of Changes

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Shêng / Pushing Upward Ascent

The lower trigram, Sun, represents wood, and the upper,
K'un, means the earth. Linked with this is the idea that wood
in the earth grows upward. In contrast to the meaning of
Chin, PROGRESS (35), this pushing upward is associated
with effort, just as a plant needs energy for pushing upward
through the earth.

That is why this hexagram, although it is
connected with success, is associated with effort of the will.
In PROGRESS the emphasis is on expansion; PUSHING
UPWARD indicates rather a vertical ascent --a direct rise
from obscurity and lowliness to power and influence.


PUSHING UPWARD has supreme success.
One must see the great man.
Fear not.
Departure toward the south
Brings good fortune.

The pushing upward of the good elements encounters no obstruction and
is therefore accompanied by great success. The pushing upward is made
possible not by violence but by modesty and adaptability.
Since the
individual is borne along by the propitiousness of the time, he advances.
He must go to see authoritative people. He need not be afraid to do this,
because success is assured. But he must set to work, for activity (this is
the meaning of "the south") brings good fortune.

This form of ascending represents a growth that takes place for one's
own maturation in agreement with the time. The great man means mental
and spiritual elevation. Therefore, to see the great man means to rise in
that sense. For that reason, one should see him without fear, that is to
say the moment of growth should be assumed. To see the great man
without fears also means to request the support and the collaboration of
those who can guide us during the ascent. In such favorable
circumstance, it is indispensable to develop the potentiality that is
possessed; consequently it is fortunate to departure towards the south,
that is to say to undertake the action.


Within the earth, wood grows:
The image of PUSHING UPWARD.
Thus the superior man of devoted character
Heaps up small things
In order to achieve something high and great.

Adapting itself to obstacles and bending around them, wood in the earth
grows upward without haste and without rest. Thus too the superior man
is devoted in character and never pauses in his progress.

The wood growing within the earth means what grows although it cannot
be perceived. The wood that grows within the earth little by little
becomes lofty and great.


Six at the beginning means:

Pushing upward that meets with confidence
Brings great good fortune.

This situation at the beginning of ascent. Just as wood draws strength for
its upward push from the root, which in itself is in the lowest place, so
the power to rise comes from this low and obscure station. But there is a
spiritual affinity with the rulers above, and this solidarity creates the
confidence needed to accomplish something.

Pushing upward with confidence implies an ascent in agreement with the
rulers. Those who occupy a higher place are not opposed; they agree
and await the ascent.

This line symbolizes the root; those in higher places are second and
third line, symbolizing the trunk. The root and the trunk growth as a
whole, one can't growth without the other.

Nine in the second place means:

If one is sincere,
It furthers one to bring even a small offering.
No blame.

Here a strong man is presupposed. It is true that he does not fit in with
his environment, inasmuch as he is too brusque and pays too little
attention to form. But as he is upright in character, he meets with
response, and his lack of outward form does no harm. Here uprightness
is the outcome of sound qualities of character, whereas in the
corresponding line of the preceding hexagram it is the result of innate

To be sincere connote that one is ascending because of one's own
merits. To make a small offering means to demonstrate that one can still
give more. It is favorable to do it because this will reinforce the reached
position and will increase the perspectives of continuing pushing

There is not misunderstanding, because what is shown is the real thing,
it means that what comes ascending is consistent, for that reason,
sincerity in a reason of rejoicing.

Nine in the third place means:

One pushes upward into an empty city.
All obstructions that generally block progress fall away here. Things
proceed with remarkable ease. Unhesitatingly one follows this road, in
order to profit by one's success. Seen from without, everything seems to
be in the best of order. However, no promise of good fortune is added. It
is a question how long such unobstructed success can last. But it is wise
not to yield to such misgivings, because they only inhibit one's power.
Instead, the point is to profit by the propitiousness of time.

To push upward into an empty city means to take possession easily, to
ascend without more inconveniences, not to be resisted. The city is the
center of a domain and symbolizes the rule of it; then it connotes to
acquire control over a territory. The city is unguarded and empty; thus it
is a proper opportunity to take it.

It is human nature to be suspicious about such opportunity, but the
commentary says, "There is no reason to hesitate."

On the other hand, good fortune isn't mentioned here.

Six in the fourth place means:

The king offers him Mount Ch'i.
Good fortune. No blame.

Mount Ch'i is in the western China, the homeland of King Wên, whose
son, the Duke of Chou, added the words to the individual lines. The
pronouncement takes us back to a time when the Chou dynasty was
coming into power. At that time King Wên introduced his illustrious
helpers to the god of his native mountain, and they received their places
in the halls of the ancestors by the side of the ruler. This indicates a
stage in which pushing upward attains its goal. One acquires fame in the
sight of gods and men, is received into the circle of those who foster the
spiritual life of the nation, and thereby attains a significance that endures
beyond time.

The king represents an influential person who has certain power. To be
presented to the mountain means to be shown, to be raised, and to be
recommended towards an entity of fame or importance. There is no
blame because there are real facts that give place to such

Six in the fifth place means:

Perseverance brings good fortune.
One pushes upward by steps.

When a man is advancing farther and farther, it is important for him not
to become intoxicated by success. Precisely when he experiences great
success it is necessary to remain sober and not to try to skip any stages;
he must go on slowly, step by step, as though hesitant. Only such calm,
steady progress, overleaping nothing, leads to the goal.

To push upward step by step means that all the requirements that the
ascent implies are completed. It also means to complete all the stages
rigorously without omitting a single one, each thing at its time.
Consequently the will reaches the objective; that is to say every
achievement is the projection of a series of rules that it is necessary to
continue to make it possible.

In another analysis level, Wang Bi says that such position is achieved
entrusting responsibilities to others and acting with softness and

Six at the top means:

Pushing upward in darkness.
It furthers one
To be unremittingly persevering.

He who pushes upward blindly deludes himself. He knows only advance,
not retreat. But this means exhaustion. In such a case it is important to be
constantly mindful that one must be conscientious and consistent and
must remain so. Only thus does one become free of blind impulse, which
is always harmful.

Pushing upward in darkness means that one doesn't know what is
coming. The darkness is symbol of ignorance. May be there is (in the
darkness) not wealth, perhaps it is a sterile effort.

To be unremittingly persevering implies to take all possible cautions to
avoid danger.