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I ching

Ji’an (Development)

I Ching Hexagram 53
Ji’an (Development)

Action: Flower

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 64 Before Completion: Prepare

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 54 Propriety: Subordinate

Success comes
when you pull your nature forward
without pushing yourself into the world.

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that is unlocked
and opens inwards, as long as it does not
occur to him to pull rather than push. – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Reading at a Glance: Ji’an shows the gradual development of how a woman follows a man to become his wife. The hidden influence of Before Completion reveals how all developments must be allowed the time and patience necessary for the course to complete itself in a natural way. In the image of a tree, which grows slowly, something rises from a seed or blueprint within. We too are endowed with Te, or the knowledge within that guides our dreams and holds the design of who we are growing to become. The underlying cause of Propriety reflected subordinating the will or being placed too quickly in an unnatural situation where you must catch up. Gradual Development shows the opposite as a time of moving forward step by step or patiently waiting for something to unfold. This hexagram has emphasis on living from the inside-out rather than the outside-in. Like a tree nourished by the sun and rain, we may look to the outer world for elements that nourish us, but we do not look to others for answers about who we are. This information is sacred to our Te or internal blueprint. We don’t push ourselves into the world, we pull from the core of our inspired center and Permeate our being-ness into the world. There is a need for a gentle, adaptable and penetrating approach just as a tree spreads its arms displaying its rich foliage – “this is who I am.” A commitment to endurance and the elimination of the ‘monkey mind’ is required. We must quiet its tendency toward survival, always looking for threats and what is wrong in the environment. Instead, we wake up in each and every moment, balanced in the knowledge that we are living from the inside out. By honoring who we are, life celebrates our arrival. The lines refer to the Geese which symbolize a connection between our organic and spiritual nature demonstrated in grace and dignity. They walk on land, float in water and soar through the sky revealing how following instinct and relying on surrounding elements to uplift us, we always arrive exactly where we need to be. This hexagram can show a relationship with a need to allow for patience so that one or the other has time to catch up to the other’s feelings.

red rose close up

For the benefit of the roses

we water the thorns too.

“Things cannot stop forever; therefore follows the idea of development.” The Gentle Wind moves on the Mountain in the image of a tree developing according to the laws of its being. The tree on a mountain benefits all, but must grow slowly in accordance with the seasons.

The seed holds within, all that it will one day become, although it must remain steadfast through the changing climate. The tree becomes a lesson of perseverance in your unfolding as you move forward from the foundation of Te. Because its growth is slow and steady, it demonstrates the principle: “a little then benefited; a lot then perplexed.” Should it shoot up too quickly, or at the wrong time, its roots will never keep it upright when the first storms set in. What you are attempting must be cultivated slowly and patiently.

Bo Ju ji wrote about trees: “they are useful friends to me and they fulfill my wish for conversations with the wise.” Steadfast and benefiting those seeking comfort, they are the wisest of the earth’s teachers. “When difficulties come, do not lose sight of the power of life. It is only in the depth of winter when there is frost and snow that we have means of knowing how luxuriant the pines and cypresses are. To be in unbroken contact with the stem of life, the germinating power of nature, and to make Te the door to all wisdom; that is what is meant by being a sage.”

You may push yourself forward into the world to achieve success, although if you pulled yourself forward from the roots within, you will find authentic and lasting success. No two trees are alike and they do not grow well in each other’s shadow. “Only one that is entirely real in each experience will have the power to give full development to one’s nature. Realness is self-completing and the Way is self-directing. Realness is the end as well as the beginning of things, for without realness there would be no things at all; which is why the sage prizes above everything coming-to-be-real.”

Development coaches you to observe the gradual way that you cultivate the roots of who you are, rather than searching outwardly for validation. If you merely strive to be real, success will come naturally. Like a tree, you must remain steadfast in your unbroken contact with the germinating power of life. In relationships there can be time needed for two very different people to move forward in tandem. In work, the message is that there are great possibilities for growth but it will take time to develop.


From planting to harvest = many seasons of patience and care. Both the upper and lower trigrams of Development show a tranquil, patient and meditative attitude. When you receive Development unchanging you may be feeling that events should be moving more quickly and you can be feeling impatient. The message is that patience is the only way to achieve your goal. It is not that you need to stop any action. You should work diligently, but know that progress will go slowly. In a relationship, you may need to allow the partner time to understand their feelings and catch up to you. Whatever the question, a conservative and practical approach on a traditional path would lead to success. You can’t sell anybody anything. Allow events to unfold naturally and organically.

Line 1:

The wild goose gradually draws near the shore = there is danger and talk. No blame. Changes to (37) Family. In moving toward the object of your enquiry, you may have received criticism which can teach you something. Because you are innocent of fault, don’t take it personally. Boundaries may need to be established so communication can flow more easily.

Line 2:

The wild goose gradually draws near the cliff, eating and drinking in peace and concord = good fortune. Changes to (57) Penetration. As you move forward, a concession may be necessary that allows you to Penetrate more deeply into the situation. This leads to peaceful sharing and Development reaching solid ground.

Line 3:

The wild goose gradually draws near the plateau = the man goes forth and does not return. The woman carries a child but does not bring it forth. Misfortune. It furthers one to fight off robbers. Changes to (20) Contemplation. The progress one had is lost because of differing goals. It may feel like you are being taken advantage of in this situation but there is a need for Contemplation. You may be wasting your energy or attempting to force your will in the wrong direction or on the wrong person. However, it may simply be your fear that is seeking to validate its own existence so let it go.

Line 4:

The wild goose gradually draws near the tree, perhaps it will find a flat branch = no blame. Changes to (33) Retreat. You may need to adapt to an unusual situation by leveling out your thinking. While the situation may not be ideal it does provide for a safe environment while you wait for something better. Being docile and pliant allows you to find comfort while you examine your future direction.

Line 5:

The wild goose gradually draws near the summit. For three years the woman has no child = in the end progress. Good fortune. Changes to (52) Keeping Still. While you make progress toward your goal this can bring about jealousy and opposition. You must continue to work diligently toward your aspiration knowing that by Keeping Still and doing the work you will reach your goal.

Line 6:

The wild goose gradually draws near the clouds heights = its feathers can be used for the sacred dance. Good fortune. Changes to (39) Obstruction. The situation allows you to reach your aims and you can even become a source of inspiration for others. By understanding how Obstruction is just a need to innovate while pushing forward, you have much to teach others. You achieve success like getting a feather in your cap.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 53 unchanging Hexagram 53.1 Hexagram 53.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 53.2 Hexagram 53.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 53.3 Hexagram 53.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 53.4 Hexagram 53.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 53.5 Hexagram 53.5.6 Hexagram 53.6