The Book of Changes

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Ko / Revolution (Molting) Radical Change

The Chinese character for this hexagram means in its
original sense an animal's pelt, which is changed in the
course of the year by molting. From this word is carried over
to apply to the "moltings" in political life, the great
revolutions connected with changes of governments.

The two trigrams making up the hexagram are the same two
that appear in K'uei, OPPOSITION (38), that is, the two
younger daughters, Li and Tui. But while there the elder of
the two daughters is above, and what results is essentially
only an opposition of tendencies, here the younger daughter
is above. The influences are in actual conflict, and the forces
combat each other like fire and water (lake), each trying to
destroy the other. Hence the idea of revolution.


REVOLUTION. On your own day
You are believed.
Supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance. (See Four Virtues)
Remorse disappears.

Political revolutions are extremely grave matters. They should be
undertaken only under stress of direst necessity, when there is no other
way out. Not everyone is called to this task, but only the man who has the
confidence of the people, and even he only when the time is ripe. He
must then proceed in the right way, so that he gladdens the people and, by
enlightening them, prevents excesses. Furthermore, he must be quite
free of selfish aims and must really relieve the need of the people. Only
then does he have nothing to regret.

Times change, and with them their demands. Thus the seasons change in
the course of the year. In the world cycle also there are spring and
autumn in the life of peoples and nations, and these call for social

On your own day you are believed means that the radical change
wouldn't be believed until it starts. To be believed means also to
acquire external support. If the revolution isn't believed, the time isn't
ripe for it.

The great success gives the perseverance and, this way, the regret
disappears, that is to say, what could be reason of anguish is
eliminated with the attainment of the work.

In other interpretation level, the revolution could mean the necessity of a
great interior or spiritual change, of a great personal transformation that
requires enough faith for a successful end.


Fire in the lake: the image of REVOLUTION.
Thus the superior man
Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.

Fire below and the lake above combat and destroy each other. So too in
the course of the year a combat takes place between the forces of light
and the forces of darkness, eventuating in the revolution of the seasons,
and man is able to adjust himself in advance to the demands of the
different times.

Fire in the lake represents the antagonistic action of factors that can't be
made compatible. Fire in the lake means what is in conflict, on the boil,
about to give birth to a new thing. For that reason, the virtuous man
orders and classifies the times, that is to say, he notices how the events
take place and recognizes the start of a new cycle and the end of


Nine at the beginning means:

Wrapped in the hide of a yellow cow.

Changes ought to be undertaken only when there is nothing else to be
done. Therefore at first the utmost restraint is necessary. One must
become firm in one's mind, control oneself --yellow is the color of the
mean, and the cow is the symbol of docility-- and refrain from doing
anything for the time being, because any premature offensive will bring
evil results.

Yellow is the color of balance, of the fair measure. The cow is symbol of
docility; therefore, to be covered with a hide of a yellow cow implies to
control, not to advance, because it is not time for taking a great
transformation ahead. This also means to be secured in the old ways,
not to innovate, to await.

Six in the second place means:

When one's own day comes, one may create revolution.
Starting brings good fortune. No blame.

When we have tried in every other way to bring about reforms, but
without success, revolution becomes necessary. But such a
thoroughgoing upheaval must be carefully prepared. There must be
available a man who has the requisite abilities and who possesses public
confidence. To such a man we may well turn. This brings good fortune
and is not a mistake. The first thing to be considered is our inner attitude
toward the new condition that will inevitably come. We have to go out to
meet it, as it were. Only in this way can it be prepared for.

The revolution can be launched at this time. If one acts as an obedient
follower, supporting the revolution, one will not be blamed.

Nine in the third place means:

Starting brings misfortune.
Perseverance brings danger.
When talk of revolution has gone the rounds three times,
One may commit himself,
And men will believe him.

When change is necessary, there are two mistakes to be avoided. One
lies in excessive haste and ruthlessness, which bring disaster. The other
lies in excessive hesitation and conservatism, which are also dangerous.
Not every demand for change in the existing order should be heeded. On
the other hand, repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail of a
hearing. When talk of change has come to one's ears three times, and has
been pondered well, he may believe and acquiesce in it. Then he will
meet with belief and will accomplish something.(1)

Starting brings misfortune means that when acting without enough
guarantees; there is a great probability of failure. For that reason, to
persevere with it is risky.

To talk three times about the revolution means to take the necessary
time to made a study, to talk about, to evaluate the perspectives. It also
means to be sure of the loyalty of the followers.

Men will believe means to have the necessary support to carry out the
radical change.

Nine in the fourth place means:

Remorse disappears. Men believe him.
Changing the form of government brings good fortune.

Radical changes require adequate authority. A man must have inner
strength as well as influential position. What he does must correspond
with a higher truth and must not spring from arbitrary or petty motives;
then it brings great good fortune. If a revolution is not founded on such
inner truth, the results are bad, and it has no success. For in the end men
will support only those undertakings which they feel instinctively to be

Here reference is made to the decision of producing changes, thus
remorse disappears, that is to say there are not reasons to question
such modifications. That is why to change the norms leads to
happiness. To change the norms means structure change, change of the
game rules, deep change. To change the norms means to install a new
order. This implies a great resolution, a great trust in something new.

Nine in the fifth place means:

The great man changes like a tiger.
Even before he questions the oracle
He is believed.

A tigerskin, with its highly visible black stripes on a yellow ground,
shows its distinct pattern from afar. It is the same with a revolution
brought about by a great man: large, clear guiding lines become visible,
understandable to everyone. Therefore he need not first consult the
oracle, for he wins the spontaneous support of the people.

The great man represents the elevation, as much spiritual as mental.
The tiger symbolizes the force, the vigor, the value, and the security.
The great man changes like a tiger means that the inner growth gives
him the external power to have a brilliant and encouraging presence.
This gave him the support of the people.

Six at the top means:

The superior man changes like a panther.
The inferior man molts in the face.
Starting brings misfortune.
To remain persevering brings good fortune.

After the large and fundamental problems are settled, certain minor
reforms, and elaborations of these, are necessary. These detailed
reforms may be likened to the equally distinct but relatively small marks
of the panther's coat. As a consequence, a change also takes place among
the inferior people. In conformity with the new order, they likewise
"molt." This molting, it is true, does not go very deep, but that is not to be
expected. We must be satisfied with the attainable. If we should go too
far and try to achieve too much, it would lead to unrest and misfortune.
For the object of a great revolution is the attainment of clarified, secure
conditions ensuring a general stabilization on the basis of what is
possible at the moment.

The superior man changes like a panther means that he develops a new
pattern, as a model for the common folk (the Chinese believed that the
color of the panther changes with the seasons). The inferior man who
molts on the face can mean two things: acceptance, or fake attitude. But
anyway, who changes only in its face is adapting, in his limited way, to
the new order.

Starting brings misfortune is a warning about restless change. The
attained changes will be consolidated, instead of keeping on
advancing, and having good fortune.

(1) Cf. Goethe's tale, "Das Märchen," in which the phrase, "The hour has
come!" is repeated three times before the great transformation begins.