The Book of Changes

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Lü / The Wanderer The Traveler

The mountain, Kên, stands still; above it fire, Li, flames up
and does not tarry. Therefore the two trigrams do not stay
together. Strange lands and separation are the wanderer's lot.


The Wanderer. Success through smallness.
Perseverance brings good fortune
To the wanderer.

When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor
overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should
not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he
protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins

A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must
take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the
proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good
fortune and can go his way unmolested.

The wanderer is a symbol of transitory things that only remain for a while.

Success through smallness means what ends up being big or small
depends therefore on the time of dedication that can be rendered, thus
there is just possibility of achieving small things, because anything big
can be sought in a short lapse.

The perseverance of the wanderer must be adapted to the natural limits
of the situation, which only allows accomplishing small and transitory


Fire on the mountain:
The image of THE WANDERER.
Thus the superior man
Is clear-minded and cautious
In imposing penalties,
And protracts no lawsuits.

When grass on a mountain takes fire, there is bright light. However, the
fire does not linger in one place, but travels on to new fuel. It is a
phenomenon of short duration. This is what penalties and lawsuits should
be like. They should be a quickly passing matter, and must not be dragged
out indefinitely. Prisons ought to be places where people are lodged
only temporarily, as guests are. They must not become dwelling places.

To punish with wisdom avoiding long lawsuits means to eliminate what it
is necessary to eliminate in an intelligent way, avoiding further quarrels.


Six at the beginning means:

If the wanderer busies himself with trivial things,
He draws down misfortune upon himself.

A wanderer should not demean himself or busy himself with inferior
things he meets with along the way. The humbler and more defenseless
his outward position, the more should he preserve his inner dignity. For a
stranger is mistaken if he hopes to find a friendly reception through
lending himself to jokes and buffoonery. The result will be only
contempt and insulting treatment.

A wanderer busy with trivial things means to walk in a bad direction, to
behave in a bad way, with the result that he has deviated himself from
his goal, he has lost the sense of his itinerary. For that reason, fatality
will come towards him, because he won't find more than rejections.

In other interpretation level it means that what arrives is not good,
therefore, it is not convenient to accept it, it is not convenient to give it a

Six in the second place means:

The wanderer comes to an inn.
He has his property with him.
He wins the steadfastness of a young servant.

The wanderer here described is modest and reserved. He does not lose
touch with his inner being, hence he finds a resting place. In the outside
world he does not lose the liking of other people, hence all persons
further him, so that he can acquire property. Moreover, he wins the
allegiance of a faithful and trustworthy servant --a thing of inestimable
value to a wanderer.

To come to an inn means to have achieved a role, to reach a goal. It
also means to be received, to be welcome, to be accepted.

The property represents what he is, his path. The young servant
symbolizes the support he receives, which is good, but also limited, as
a young servant who isn't capable of great things.

Also, the inn is a place of rest. This implies a renovation of energy to
continue the travel.

Nine in the third place means:

The wanderer's inn burns down.
He loses the steadfastness of his young servant.

A truculent stranger does not know how to behave properly. He meddles
in affairs and controversies that do not concern him; thus he loses his
resting place. He treats his servant with aloofness and arrogance; thus he
loses the man's loyalty. When a stranger in a strange land has no one left
on whom he can rely, the situation becomes very dangerous.

To lose both the lodging place and the servant steadfastness is no
casual. It is the result of a self-willed behavior. If one without support is
too much hard and arrogant, this is the natural consequence.

This means also an alienation state. Nobody will take care of him nor
will offer him no credit, because he will be seen as someone who does
not care about elementary norms. For that reason, being foreign, he
loses his reliability.

Nine in the fourth place means:

The wanderer rests in a shelter.
He obtains his property and an ax.
My heart is not glad.

This describes a wanderer who knows how to limit his desires outwardly,
though he is inwardly strong and aspiring. Therefore he finds at least a
place of shelter in which he can stay. He also succeeds in acquiring
property, but even with this he is not secure. He must be always on guard,
ready to defend himself with arms. Hence he is not at ease. He is
persistently conscious of being a stranger in a strange land.

Here reference is made to the fact of not adapting to the place where
one has arrived.

To get a place means achievement, conquest. To get an axe means to
be defensive, to feel fear, to distrust; and it can also means very hard
work to get settled.

Therefore, to get a shelter and an axe could mean to have been
installed in a not comfortable environment, for that reason, his heart is
not glad. It also implies not to still arrive to the convenient placement.

Six in the fifth place means:

He shoots a pheasant.
It drops with the first arrow.
In the end this brings both praise and office.

Traveling statesmen were in the habit of introducing themselves to local
princes with the gift of a pheasant, killing it at the first shot. Thus he
finds friends who praise and recommend him, and in the end the prince
accepts him and confers an office upon him.

Circumstances often cause a man to seek a home in foreign parts. If he
knows how to meet the situation and how to introduce himself in the
right way, he may find a circle of friends and a sphere of activity even in
a strange country.

To shoot a pheasant with the first arrow –the single one arrow, In other
translations-- means a decisive achievement. The pheasant represents
something valuable, looked for, appreciated. To shoot it with the first
arrow means to give with the valuable thing in a sure and effective way,
to have seen the great possibility and not to have wasted it. The first
arrow represents the first intention, that is to say, the first impulse, the
most genuine, more original attitude.

To bring both praise and office means that such a success is
recognized and it is rewarded.

Nine at the top means:

The bird's nest burns up.
The wanderer laughs at first,
Then must needs lament and weep.
Through carelessness he loses his cow.

The picture of a bird whose nest burns up indicates loss of one's resting
place. This misfortune may overtake the bird if it is heedless and
imprudent when building its nest. It is the same with a wanderer. If he
lets himself go, laughing and jesting, and forgets that he is a wanderer, he
will later have cause to weep and lament. For if through carelessness a
man loses his cow --i.e., his modesty and adaptability-- evil will result.

The wanderer laughs at first when it conquests the nest, which means a
lofty position (the top placement in the hexagram).

One stranger occupying a high position would be object of envy by
everyone, and if he isn't careful he will lose his nest and his cow. He
hears nothing, Confucius says, thus he has not communication with other
people, may be because he is stubborn and proud.

As in the case of nomadic people, the cow symbolizes here the
subsistence base. To lose the cow, then, means to lose an
indispensable element for life.

Naturally, in the end he will lament and weep, but it will be too late to
correct the mistake.