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I ching

Gou (Coming to Meet)

I Ching Hexagram 44
Gou (Coming to Meet)

Action: Encounter

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 1 Creative: Initiate

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 24 Return: Go Back.

Hope is like a flower forced to grow without sunlight.

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by
standing in one’s own sunshine. – Emerson

Reading at a Glance: There is no other hexagram with so much controversy surrounding it. The only consensus is the intensity of feeling inherent in it. The powerful feminine energy of rebirth is at play because of the single yin line emerging at the bottom of many yang lines. Some see it as the emperor’s first wife’s child who becomes the heir. Gou can be important in creative readings as suggested by the hidden influence of the Creative. Others define it as a temptress who may lead a man astray. If we look deeper into the transformative power of the entire I Ching we find room for all images. As the Shadow or Anima in a man’s dream, the Trickster temptress is actually allowing a breakthrough of his feeling nature. For a woman, the Shadow shows how her own power may need to be resurrected after being forced underground because it was misunderstood or thought to be bad. The underlying cause of Return may have caused the present to be overlaid with unacknowledged images of the past. Return relates to what is going on inside and you may be judging a situation subjectively when you should really be looking at it objectively. Therefore, Gou can symbolize any type of encounter that leads to Shadow transformation and putting misunderstandings under the proper light. This may be why Kung fu tzu said: “when meeting contention in another it would be wise to examine oneself.” The Shadow is always portraying the opposite of what we believe about ourselves. Just as hate is the Shadow of love and fear the Shadow of trust, something is on the horizon that will teach you a great deal about transforming difficulty into meaning. Look at the things you want to judge harshly or that you avoid because they can teach you much about your Shadow. Coming to Meet shows an unavoidable encounter where opposites fund powerful creative growth just like a heir depicted in a royal marriage. There are many challenges in the individual lines but nothing inauspicious. Tread carefully but go. Revisit the past to forgive yourself or others. Only by overcoming fear and pain can one move from a period of Return or introspection into healthy interaction. The penetrating Wind is below the Creative, and together they unleash what is hidden to reveal your authentic power. The situation won’t be anything like you expected but it is important that you move forward to see what you can learn.

Sand blown parched desert with dead tree

The unexpected

draws the breath in -

It is a wind that tugs

with a million teeth

on the uninhabited.

“Through resoluteness, one is certain to encounter something. Hence, follows the principle of coming to meet.” Gou embodies how you can waste much energy fighting against imaginary foes. “Riding and hunting make the mind go wild with excitement.” Expecting difficulty can be a way of ensuring that you meet with constant difficulty. A negative outlook ensures that the outcome is relentless. Life is attempting to break you out of your self-made prison.

Resoluteness can sometimes cost you the inner treasure that remains at home with the possibilities of the unknown. The master said: “To know yet to think one does not know is best.” This hexagram can bring up a past experience so that you might understand it differently.

Gou is associated with the idea that inferior forces are on the rise. But just as nightmares are a positive sign that repressed power is become available in the psyche, meeting the Shadow or confronting contention in another is best approached by observing what the situation may teach you about yourself.

A student asked: “If nature creates all things, then is evil too, its creation?”

The master replied: “What need has nature of thought and care? When the sun goes, the moon comes; when the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon alternate, thus light comes into view. When cold goes, heat comes; when heat goes, cold comes. Can one be any different from the other? Suchness is neither pure nor impure.”

“What about the cruelty in the world?” The student continued: “What about crime and suffering?”

“In the absence of seeing, you wander in the darkness in search of light. Yet, darkness comes every night without fail. One who excels in understanding uses no counting rods. Why struggle like beating a drum in search of a fugitive?”

If you think of yourself as a victim and blame events for your sense of failure, you might never discover life’s fundamental goodness. To “beat a drum in search of a fugitive,” is to attract others that can share in your misery. Fugitives will come, but it will be those who are alsohiding.

Psychologists agree that people who commit atrocities are conflicted by inner compulsions. Coming to meet reveals how you trade validation for discovery, while you beat your drum to attract all that you believe. A hardened perspective will be made pliable: “when the people lack a proper sense of awe, it seems that an awful visitation descends on them.” Too much hardness of thought and experience comes to carve away your shackles. Coming to meet is how you create your own misfortune and an opportunity to discover freedom at the same time.

“Thus the good transforms the bad, and the bad is the material that the good works on. Not to value the teacher, nor to love the material, betrays great bewilderment.”

Opposites give contrasting symbolism meaning: up/down, sound/silence, order/disorder. Although they stand in relationship to one another, they fail to capture the real essence of what is. One variation is simply a degree of the other and therefore, “suchness is neither pure nor impure.” You can become attached to the things that generate a response in you, when in reality the actual value resides in your response. "Take the one and discard the other." Once you have been moved by the experience or the 'carved block,' you must let it go.

The greatest thing Gou can teach you is how to move away from extremes of judgment and feeling to see that life is just so.

The master was having tea with two students and tossed his fan to one of them. “What is this?” The student opened it and began fanning himself. The master nodded because the student had transcended the need to give the object a name.

“Now you,” he passed the fan to the other student. This one closed it and began scratching his neck with it. He opened it, and placed a piece of cake on it, offering it to the master. Beyond the need to classify the present in terms of the past, real vision begins. You may need to train yourself to see beyond the limitations that you are placing on experience.

Walking around knowing that “when there is frost underfoot, solid ice is not far off,” you tread with care because the first sign of danger makes you defensive. Yet, there is a fine line between avoiding danger and stalking adversity; danger is often the first phase of emerging opportunity. “The more taboos there are in the empire, the poorer the people. The conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind.” Hope is like a flower forced to grow without sunlight. It is a blindfold, which keeps you from discovering the beauty of what is. Acceptance of what is in order to see life's harmony is your elixer.

Gou is the image of intercourse and how you can be made whole by integrating ‘that thing,’ which is completely opposite from everything you believe about yourself. Kou demonstrates both the danger and opportunity presented when opposites first approach each other.

The great image of what you believe will eventually come to meet you. “Coming to you and meeting with no harm, it will be safe and sound.” When you observe, reflect and own your experiences as a reflection of your beliefs, you come to recognize the profound harmony at the root of life.


All that you attract = a reflection of the life unlived within you. The situation is charged with energy that may feel addictive or destructive in its unchanging form. We may give someone the power to push our buttons but the response is still our own. In fact, this power is ours to do with as we like and we might as well own it. There may be an obsessive attachment to the situation where you are not seeing the transformative opportunity it presents but would rather stay in your comfort zone as a victim. You can be attracted to a powerful partner and then fall back into a sense of unworthiness when you feel outshined. There is a fated encounter unfolding that is simply the meeting of opposites to give birth to something new. If you are brave enough to see the situation or person as a teacher, you will discover that your inner core can be shaken out of its self perpetuating story of woe. If you’d rather run each time an opportunity for growth shows itself through conflict, you will miss this enormous Creative and transformative opportunity. The situation won’t be anything like what you have known but if you can overcome your fear, it will teach you a great deal. Whatever you have or will accomplish is like the 'birth of the royal heir' that could not have happened without the pain of labor. The trying situations you have faced are inextricably linked to your success.

Line 1:

Persevering in stopping something from taking its course = a tied up pig will seek freedom from rage. Changes to (1) The Creative. There is a sense of dominance versus passivity at play in this situation which is not allowing for more natural interaction. In providing for another you may actually be causing them to feel restricted or restrained. Even with the best of intentions this lack of balance in give and take can lead to resentments. In the beginning of any fated encounter it is wise to not rush forward. However, not allowing for the natural unfolding of events can only leave one stuck in their own story of being a victim.

Line 2:

There is fish in the tank = does not benefit guests, no blame. Changes to (33) Retreat. A new insight or perspective is emerging although you may not know exactly how to describe it. Without being defensive, you may need to hold your cards to your chest and wait for the appropriate time to share your feelings. It is wise to recognize an inferior response or reaction and keep it to yourself. Blaming others is inappropriate as this situation has personal significance for your growth. In this case, Retreat is an opportunity to sit with the feeling to better understand its cause.

Line 3:

No skin on the thighs and walking comes hard = mindful of danger, no mistake. Changes to (6) Conflict. Through the blending of opposites or incompatible outlooks creativity is heightened. Do not allow another's difference of opinion make you feel misunderstood or like an outcast. There is much to be gained in this situation if you recognize that the only danger is in not meeting the challenge. In nature when opposite forces come together all are lifted to a higher level.

Line 4:

No fish in the tank = leads to misfortune. Changes to (57) Penetration. This can be a difficult line in that it suggests that something or someone is being undervalued or dismissed as empty, unnecessary or useless. This perspective leads to misfortune because when what is truly valuable is dismissed, one lives 'less than' the fullness of what life had intended. Whatever it is ~ it was put there for a specific reason. We are brought together propitiously so that new life emerges. What appears to be empty is actually the potential for discovery through Contemplation. "It is the emptiness of the vessel that makes it useful." All creativity and change begins with a blank slate. Inspiration is born of the faith that something is there that can impregnate you with vision. Penetration allows one to recognize the difference between discernment and judgment. Where judgment creates polarization and is based on past assumptions, discernment allows for compassion and realizations without criticism. If a shift in thinking always remains a possibility, you can make more conscious choices. In Coming to Meet, unfortunately, the valuable encounter might be dismissed with this line.

Line 5:

A melon covered with willow leaves = what drops from heaven remains hidden. Changes to (50) The Cauldron. You may need to keep your light burning when feeling misunderstood. The Cauldron promises transformation and the call to something deep and profound if you open to it. While the time may not be right to realize your desire, by keeping faith you will succeed. You know the importance of what you are doing and that will see you through.

Line 6:

He comes to meet with horns = humiliation but no blame. Changes to (28) Critical Mass. All encounters are propitious in that something valuable can be learned. Meeting with horns shows a defensive posture that can only block the potential for transformation. One can only be humiliated if they are upholding something that is not true or no longer relevant. It is better to approach the situation with openness and a willingness to learn. Critical Mass is the condition of upholding beliefs that can no longer serve you.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 44 unchanging Hexagram 44.1 Hexagram 44.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 44.2 Hexagram 44.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 44.3 Hexagram 44.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 44.4 Hexagram 44.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 44.5 Hexagram 44.5.6 Hexagram 44.6