Qian (represents) what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm.彖传: 大哉乾元,万物资始,乃统天. 云行雨施,品物流形. 大明始终,六位时成,时乘六龙以御天. 乾道变化,各正性命,保合大和,乃利贞. 首出庶物,万国咸宁. Tuàn zhuàn: Dà zāi qián yuán, wàn wù zī shǐ, nǎi tǒng tiān. Yún háng yǔ shī, pǐn wù liú xíng. Dà míng shǐ zhōng, liù wèi shí chéng, shí chéng liù lóng yǐ yù tiān. Qián dào biàn huà, gè zhēng xìng mìng, bǎo gě dà hé, nǎi lì zhēn. Shǒu chū shù wù, wàn guó xián níng.
Vast is the 'great and originating (power)' indicated by Qian! All things owe to it their beginning: - it contains all the meaning belonging to (the name) heaven. The clouds move and the rain is distributed; the various things appear in their developed forms. (The sages) grandly understand (the connection between) the end and the beginning, and how (the indications of) the six lines (in the hexagram) are accomplished, (each) in its season. (Accordingly) they mount (the carriage) drawn by those six dragons at the proper times, and drive through the sky. The method of Qian is to change and transform, so that everything obtains its correct nature as appointed (by the mind of Heaven); and (thereafter the conditions of) great harmony are preserved in union. The result is 'what is advantageous, and correct and firm. (The sage) appears aloft, high above all things, and the myriad states all enjoy repose.象传: 天行健,君子以自强不息. Xiàng zhuàn: Tiān háng jiàn, jūn zǐ yǐ zì qiáng bù xī.
Heaven, in its motion, (gives the idea of) strength. The superior man, in accordance with this, nerves himself to ceaseless activity.
In the first (or lowest) ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as) the dragon lying hid (in the deep). It is not the time for active doing.潜龙勿用, 阳在下也 Xiàng zhuàn: Qián lóng wù yòng, yáng zài xià yě
'The dragon lies hid in the deep; - it is not the time for active doing:' - (this appears from) the strong and undivided line's being in the lowest place.
In the second ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as) the dragon appearing in the field. It will be advantageous to meet with the great man.象传: 见龙在田,德施普也 Xiàng zhuàn: Jiàn lóng zài tián, dé shī pǔ yě
'The dragon appears in the field:' - the diffusion of virtuous influence has been wide.九三君子终日乾乾, 夕惕若, 厉, 无咎 Jiǔ sān jūn zǐ zhōng rì qián qián, xī tì ruò, lì, wú jiù
In the third ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as) the superior man active and vigilant all the day, and in the evening still careful and apprehensive. (The position is) dangerous, but there will be no mistake.象传: 终日乾乾,反复道也 Xiàng zhuàn: Zhōng rì qián qián, fǎn fù dào yě
'Active and vigilant all the day:' - (this refers to) the treading of the (proper) path over and over again.九四: 或跃在渊, 无咎. Jiǔ sì: Huò yuè zài yuān, wú jiù.
In the fourth ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as the dragon looking) as if he were leaping up, but still in the deep. There will be no mistake.象传: 或跃在渊,进无咎也 Xiàng zhuàn: Huò yuè zài yuān, jìn wú jiù yě
'He seems to be leaping up, but is still in the deep:' - if he advance, there will be no error.
In the fifth ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as) the dragon on the wing in the sky. It will be advantageous to meet with the great man.象传: 飞龙在天,大人造也 Xiàng zhuàn: Fēi lóng zài tiān, dà ren zào yě
'The dragon is on the wing in the sky:' - the great man rouses himself to his work.
In the sixth (or topmost) ‘nine’, undivided, (we see its subject as) the dragon exceeding the proper limits. There will be occasion for repentance.象传: 亢龙有悔, 盈不可久也 Xiàng zhuàn: Kàng lóng yǒu huǐ, yíng bù kě jiǔ yě
'The dragon exceeds the proper limits; - there will be occasion for repentance:' - a state of fulness, that is, should not be indulged in long.用九见群龙无首, 吉 Yòng jiǔ jiàn qún lóng wú shǒu, jí
The lines of this hexagram are all strong and undivided, as appears from the use of the number ‘nine’. If the host of dragons (thus) appearing were to divest themselves of their heads, there would be good fortune.象传: 用九, 天德不可为首也 Xiàng zhuàn: Yòng jiǔ, tiān dé bù kě wéi shǒu yě
'The same ‘nine’ (undivided) is used' (in all the places of this hexagram), but the attribute of heaven (thereby denoted) should not (always) take the foremost place.‘元’者, 善之长也; ‘亨’者, 嘉之会也; ‘利’者, 义之和也; ‘贞’者, 事之干也. 君子体仁足以长人, 嘉会足以合礼, 利物足以和义, 贞固足以干事. 君子行此四德者, 故曰‘乾,元,亨,利,贞’. Yuē: ‘ yuán’ zhě, shàn zhī cháng yě; ‘ hēng’ zhě, jiā zhī huì yě; ‘ lì’ zhě, yì zhī hé yě; ‘ zhēn’ zhě, shì zhī gàn yě. Jūn zǐ tǐ rén zú yǐ cháng rén, jiā huì zú yǐ gě lǐ, lì wù zú yǐ hé yì, zhēn gù zú yǐ gàn shi. Jūn zǐ háng cǐ sì dé zhě, gù yuē‘ qián, yuán, hēng, lì, zhēn’. 大哉乾元, 万物资始, 乃统天.云行雨施, 品物流形.大明始终, 六位时成, 时乘六龙以御天.乾道变化, 各正性命, 保合大和, 乃利贞.首出庶物, 万国咸宁. Dà zāi qián yuán, wàn wù zī shǐ, nǎi tǒng tiān. Yún háng yǔ shī, pǐn wù liú xíng. Dà míng shǐ zhōng, liù wèi shí chéng, shí chéng liù lóng yǐ yù tiān. Qián dào biàn huà, gè zhēng xìng mìng, bǎo gě dà hé, nǎi lì zhēn. Shǒu chū shù wù, wàn guó xián níng.
What is called (under Qian) ‘the great and originating’ is (in man) the first and chief quality of goodness; what is called ‘the penetrating’ is the assemblage of distinctions; what is called ‘the advantageous’ is the harmony of all that is right; and what is called ‘the correct and firm’ is the faculty of action. The superior man, embodying benevolence, is fit to preside over men; presenting the assemblage of distinctions, he is fit to show in himself the union of all propriety; benefiting (all) creatures, he is fit to exhibit the harmony of all that is right; correct and firm, he is fit to manage (all) affairs. The fact that the superior man practices these four virtues justifies the application to him of the words - ‘Qian represents what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm.’
What is the meaning of the words under the first ‘nine’, (undivided), 'The dragon lies hid (in the deep) - it is not the time for active doing?' The Master said: There he is, with the powers of the dragon, and yet lying hid. The influence of the world would make no change in him; he would do nothing (merely) to secure his fame. He can live, withdrawn from the world, without regret; he can experience disapproval without trouble of mind. Rejoicing (in opportunity), he carries his principles into action; sorrowing (for want of opportunity), he keeps with them in retirement. Yes, he is not to be torn from his root (in himself).' This is 'the dragon lying hid.'
What is the meaning of the words under the second ‘nine’, 'The dragon shows himself and is in the field - it will be advantageous to see the great man?' The Master said: 'There he is, with the dragon's powers, and occupying exactly the central place. He is sincere (even) in his ordinary words, and earnest in his ordinary conduct. Guarding against depravity, he preserves his sincerity. His goodness is recognized in the world, but he does not boast of it. His virtue is extensively displayed, and transformation ensues. The language of the Yi, "The dragon shows himself and is in the field - it will be advantageous to see the great man." refers to a ruler's virtue.'九三曰: ‘君子终日乾乾,夕惕若,厉,无咎’. 何谓也? 子曰: ‘君子进德修业, 忠信, 所以进德也, 修辞立其诚, 所以居业也. 知至至之, 可与几也, 知终终之, 可与存义也. 是故居上位而不骄, 在下位而不忧, 故乾乾因其时而惕, 虽危无咎矣.’ Jiǔ sān yuē: ‘Jūn zǐ zhōng rì qián qián, xī tì ruò, lì, wú jiù’. hé wèi yě? Zǐ yuē: ‘ jūn zǐ jìn dé xiū yè, zhōng xìn, suǒ yǐ jìn dé yě, xiū cí lì qí chéng, suǒ yǐ jū yè yě. Zhī zhì zhì zhī, kě yú jī yě, zhī zhōng zhōng zhī, kě yú cún yì yě. Shì gù jū shàng wèi ér bù jiāo, zài xià wèi ér bù yōu, gù qián qián yīn qí shí ér tì, suī wēi wú jiù yǐ.’
What is the meaning of the words under the third ‘nine’,' The superior man is active and vigilant all the day, and in the evening (still) careful and apprehensive - the position is dangerous, but there will be no mistake? ' The Master said: 'The superior man advances in virtue, and cultivates all the sphere of his duty. His dependability and good faith are the way by which he advances in virtue. His attention to his words and establishing his sincerity are the way by which he occupies in his sphere. He knows the utmost point to be reached, and reaches it, thus showing himself in accord with the first springs (of things); he knows the end to be rested in, and rests in it, thus preserving his righteousness in accordance with that end. Therefore he occupies a high position without pride, and a low position without anxiety. Thus it is that, being active and vigilant, and careful (also) and apprehensive as the time requires, though his position be perilous, he will make no mistake.'九四曰: ‘或跃在渊, 无咎. ’何谓也? 子曰: ‘上下无常, 非为邪也. 进退无恒, 非离群也. 君子进德修业, 欲及时也, 故无咎. ’ Jiǔ sì yuē: ‘Huò yuè zài yuān, wú jiù. ’ hé wèi yě? Zǐ yuē: ‘ shàng xià wú cháng, fēi wéi xié yě. Jìn tuì wú héng, fēi lí qún yě. Jūn zǐ jìn dé xiū yè, yù jí shí yě, gù wú jiù.’
What is the meaning of the words under the fourth ‘nine’, ‘He is as if he were leaping up, (but still) is in the deep - there will be no mistake?’ The Master said: ‘He finds no permanent place either above or below, but he does not commit the error (of advancing). He may advance or recede - there is no permanent place for him: but he does not leave his fellows. The superior man, advancing in virtue and cultivating the sphere of his duty, yet wishes (to advance only) at the (proper) time, and therefore there is no mistake.’
What is the meaning of the words under the fifth ‘nine’, ‘The dragon is on the wing in the sky - it will be advantageous to see the great man?’ The Master said: ‘Notes of the same key respond to one another; creatures of the same nature seek one another; water flows towards the place that is (low and) damp; fire rises up towards what is dry; clouds follow the dragon, and winds follow the tiger:(so) the sage makes his appearance, and all men look to him. Things that draw their origin from heaven move towards what is above; things that draw their origin from the earth cleave to what is below: - so does everything follow its kind.’
What is the meaning of the words under the topmost ‘nine’, ‘The dragon exceeds the proper limits - there will be occasion for repentance?’ The Master said: ‘The position is noble, but it is not that of office; (its occupant) dwells on high, but he has no people (to rule); and the men of talent and virtue in the positions below will give him no aid - should he move in such a case, there will be occasion for repentance.’‘潜龙勿用’, 下也; ‘见龙在田’, 时舍也; ‘终日乾乾’, 行事也; ‘或跃在渊’, 自试也; ‘飞龙在天’, 上治也; ‘亢龙有悔’,穷之灾也. ‘Qián lóng wù yòng’, xià yě; ‘jiàn lóng zài tián’, shí shè yě; ‘ zhōng rì qián qián’, xíng shì yě; ‘ huò yuè zài yuān’, zì shì yě; ‘ fēi lóng zài tiān’, shǎng zhì yě; ‘kàng lóng yǒu huǐ’, qióng zhī zāi yě.
‘The dragon lies hid - it is not the time for active doing:’ - the position is (too) low. ‘The dragon shows himself and is in the field:’ - the time (requires him still) to be unemployed. ‘All the day active and vigilant:’ - (he now) does his (proper) business. ‘He is as if he were leaping up, (but still) is in the deep:’ - he is making trial of himself. ‘The dragon is on the wing in the sky:’ - (the subject of the line) is on high and ruling. ‘The dragon exceeds the proper limit, and there will be occasion for repentance:’ - when things have been carried to extremity, calamity ensues. Undivided lines appear in all these representations of the great and originating power denoted by Qian: - (what follows in the Yao tells us how) all under the sky there will be good order.‘潜龙勿用’, 阳气潜藏. ‘见龙在田’, 天下文明. ‘终日乾乾’, 与时偕行. ‘或跃在渊’, 乾道乃革. ‘飞龙在天’, 乃位乎天德. ‘亢龙有悔’, 与时偕极. 乾元‘用九’, 乃见天则. ‘Qián lóng wù yòng’, yáng qì qián cáng. ‘Jiàn lóng zài tián’, tiān xià wén míng. ‘Zhōng rì qián qián’, yú shí xié háng. ‘Huò yuè zài yuān’, qián dào nǎi gé. ‘Fēi lóng zài tiān’, nǎi wèi hū tiān dé. ‘Kàng lóng yǒu huǐ’, yú shí xié jí. Qián yuán ‘ yòng jiǔ’, nǎi jiàn tiān zé.
‘The dragon lies hid in the deep - it is not the time for active doing:’ - the energy denoted by the undivided line is laid up and hid away as in the deep. ‘The dragon appears in the field:’ - all under heaven (begins to be) adorned and brightened. ‘All the day active and vigilant:’ - continually, as the time passes and requires, does he act. ‘He is as if he were leaping up, (but still) is in the deep:’ - a change is taking place in the method indicated by (this) Qian diagram. ‘The dragon is on the wing in the sky this shows that his place is based on his heavenly virtue. ’The dragon exceeds the (proper) limit - there will be occasion for repentance:‘ - the time is come to an end, and so also is his opportunity. Undivided ‘nines’ appear in all these representations of the great and originating power denoted by Qian: - and (from what follows in the Yao) we see the model (of action) afforded by heaven.‘元’者, 始而亨者也. ‘利贞’者, 性情也. 乾始能以美利利天下, 不言所利, 大矣哉! “Qián”‘ yuán’ zhě, shǐ ér hēng zhě yě. ‘Lì zhēn’ zhě, xìng qíng yě. Qián shǐ néng yǐ měi lì lì tiān xià, bù yán suǒ lì, dà yǐ zāi!
The ‘greatness’ and ‘originating’ represented by Qian refer to it as (the symbol of) what gives their beginning (to all things), and (also) secures their growth and development. ‘The advantage and the correctness and firmness’ refer to its nature and feelings (as seen in all the resulting things).大哉乾乎! 刚健中正, 纯粹精也. 六爻发挥, 旁通情也. ‘时乘六龙’,以‘御天’也, ‘云行雨施’,天下平也. 君子以成德为行, 日可见之行也. ‘潜’之为言也, 隐而未见, 行而未成, 是以君子‘弗用’也. Dà zāi qián hū! Gāng jiàn zhōng zhèng, chún cuì jīng yě. Liù yáo fā huī, páng tōng qíng yě. ‘Shí chéng liù lóng’, yǐ‘ yù tiān’ yě, ‘ yún háng yǔ shī’, tiān xià píng yě. Jūn zǐ yǐ chéng dé wéi háng, rì kě jiàn zhī háng yě. ‘Qián’ zhī wéi yán yě, yǐn ér wèi jiàn, háng ér wèi chéng, shì yǐ jūn zǐ‘ fú yòng’ yě.
Qian, (thus) originating, is able with its admirable benefits to benefit all under the sky. We are not told how its benefits are conferred; but how great is (its operation)! How great is (what is demonstrated by) Qian! - strong, vigorous, unerring, correct, and (in all these qualities) pure, unmixed, exquisite! The six lines, as explained (by the duke of Zhou), bring forth and display (its meaning), and everything about it is (thus) indirectly exhibited. (The great man) at the proper time drives with these six dragons through the sky. The clouds move, and the rain is distributed; all under heaven enjoys repose. In the superior man his conduct is (the fruit of) his perfected virtue, which might be seen therefore in his daily course; but the force of that phrase, ‘lying hid,’ requires him to keep retired, and not yet show himself, nor proceed to the full development of his course. While this is the case, the superior man (knows that) it is not the time for active doing.君子学以聚之, 问以辩之, 宽以居之, 仁以行之. “易”曰 ‘见龙在田,利见大人’, 君德也. Jūn zǐ xué yǐ jù zhī, wèn yǐ biàn zhī, kuān yǐ jū zhī, rén yǐ háng zhī. “Yì” yuē‘ jiàn lóng zài tián, lì jiàn dà ren’, jūn dé yě.
The superior man learns and accumulates the results of his learning; puts questions, and discriminates among those results; dwells magnanimously and without ambitious in what he has attained to; and carries it into practice with benevolence. What the Yi says, 'The dragon appears in the field: - it will be advantageous to meet with the great man,' has reference to the virtuous qualities of a ruler (as thus described).九三重刚而不中, 上不在天, 下不在田, 故‘乾乾’因其时而‘惕’, 虽危‘无咎’矣. Jiǔ sān chóng gāng ér bù zhōng, shǎng bù zài tiān, xià bù zài tián, gù‘ qián qián’ yīn qí shí ér‘ tì’, suī wēi‘ wú jiù’ yǐ.
In the third ‘nine’, there is a twofold symbol of) strength, but (the position) is not central. (Its occupant) is not in heaven above, nor is he in the field beneath. Therefore there must be active vigilance and cautious apprehension as the time requires; and though (the position be) perilous, there will be no mistake.九四重刚而不中, 上不在天, 下不在田, 中不在人, 故‘或’之. ‘或’之者,疑之也, 故‘无咎’. Jiǔ sì chóng gāng ér bù zhōng, shǎng bù zài tiān, xià bù zài tián, zhōng bù zài rén, gù‘ huò’ zhī. ‘Huò’ zhī zhě, yí zhī yě, gù‘ wú jiù’.
In the fourth ‘nine’, there is (the symbol of) strength, but (the position) is not central. (Its occupant) is not in heaven above, nor is he in the field beneath, nor is he in the place of man intermediate. Hence he is in perplexity; and being so, he has doubts about what. should be his movements, and so will give no occasion for blame.夫‘大人’者,与天地合其德, 与日月合其明, 与四时合其序, 与鬼神合其吉凶, 先天而天弗违, 后天而奉天时. 天且弗违, 而况于人乎? 况于鬼神乎? Fū ‘dà ren’ zhě, yú tiān dì gě qí dé, yú rì yuè gě qí míng, yú sì shí gě qí xù, yú guǐ shén gě qí jí xiōng, xiān tiān ér tiān fú wéi, hòu tiān ér fèng tiān shí. Tiān qiě fú wéi, ér kuàng yú rén hū? Kuàng yú guǐ shén hū?
The great man is he who is in harmony, in his attributes, with heaven and earth; in his brightness, with the sun and moon; in his orderly procedure, with the four sea-sons; and in his relation to what is fortunate and what is calamitous, in harmony with the spirit-like operations (of Providence). He may precede Heaven, and Heaven will not act in opposition to him; he may follow Heaven, but will act (only) as Heaven at the time would do. If Heaven will not act in opposition to him, how much less will men! how much less will the spirit-like operation (of Providence)!‘亢’之为言也, 知进而不知退, 知存而不知亡, 知得而不知丧. 其唯圣人乎! 知进退存亡而不失其正者, 其唯圣人乎! ‘ kàng’ zhī wéi yán yě, zhī jìn ér bù zhī tuì, zhī cún ér bù zhī wáng, zhī dé ér bù zhī sāng. Qí wéi shèng rén hū! Zhī jìn tuì cún wáng ér bù shī qí zhēng zhě, qí wéi shèng rén hū!
The force of that phrase - 'exceeding the proper limits' - indicates the knowing to advance but not to retire; to maintain but not to let perish to get but not to lose. He only is the sage who knows to advance and to retire, to maintain and to let perish; and that without ever acting incorrectly. Yes, he only is the sage!
This translation of the YiJing classic text uses the original Chinese including the 象传 Xiàng zhuàn commentary converted to modern simplified characters and pinyin.
The English translation is based on William Legge (1899) ➚ which is now out of copyright. We have changed some wording and converted to American spelling.
We hope to replace this with a more modern translation.
In the first few paragraphs each gua is described. The name of the gua (hexagram) is followed by the two trigrams that make it up (lake, mountain, fire, water, earth, heaven, thunder and wind). Each gua has a controlling element (earth, fire, water, metal and wood). After this information there are three related guas. The Opposite gua is the one where all yang is changed to yin and yin to yang - it is usually opposite in meaning. The Inverse gua is the gua with the order inverted so first is last and vice versa. The mutual gua is a more complex combination and re-ordering of the internal trigrams making up the gua. Then the association of the gua to the annual cycle is shown - this is the Chinese lunar month number (not Western month). The controlling or host yao is considered the most important line in the gua and is highlighted in the hexagram.
The main description for the hexagram is then followed by a section for each of the six possible changing lines which indicate the transformation into another, related gua. The text uses ‘nine’ to refer to a yang line and ‘six’ for a yin line. The pure yin and yang hexagrams have, however, a different text structure as they are so important.
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