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I ching

Qiān (Authenticity)

I Ching Hexagram 15
Qiān (Authenticity)

Action: Balance

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 40 Liberation: Untangle

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 10 Treading: Cautious Advance

If you know no boundaries,
you will discover no limitations.

One who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount. – Chinese Proverb

Reading at a Glance: After a period of feeling fulfilled, perhaps full of yourself, it is normal to return to reality and not take yourself so seriously. The hidden influence of Liberation or freedom needs to be balanced with the cautious conduct of Treading. Watching the steps and checking unfolding events against inspiration led to a greater sense of having purpose in life. Now humility and moderation return you to a place where you need to ensure that all parts of your life are moving in harmony. The Receptive is above the Mountain where Keeping Still returns you to your nature. It is normal to succeed at a point in life and want to keep doing the same thing. Suddenly what worked before isn’t working anymore. This is because life moves in cycles, and the future will never be anything like the past. Moderation and modesty return you to the center of your Authenticity. Your unique path hones you for the next level of growth. It is Tao’s way to fill what is deficient and to reduce what is in excess. No matter where you look in nature, you will find it balancing out its extremes to ensure the well being of the entire tapestry. Yin is receptive while Yang is active. They push and pull until all of life is in equal balance. Authenticity can be a message to step back and slow down to connect with sincerity. Trust that everything is unfolding in its own time and exactly as it should. Moderation is a way of taking stock of your life to ensure that one area has not become so important that other areas are deficient. Pride generates enthusiasm and inspirational freedom, but humility keeps you focused on how you tread on the path so you don’t become disconnected from what is right for you. It is said that “those who go against the way end up being called unlucky.” Authenticity is every step you take and all the steps together that reveal your path. The journey of 1,000 miles begins under your feet.

Colorful peacock

This long

upward climb -

with periods of falling.

Balance ensures

a stable footing.

“One who possesses something great should not make it too full.” The Mountain bows down to the Receptive Earth in an unusual display of modesty and temperance. Even the summit of Mount Everest contains proof of its humble beginnings, in rocks that were once formed in a shallow sea.

The master said: “The vessel in the temple of Chou stands upright when empty, but overturns when full. Rather than fill it to the brim, it is better to stop in time,” so nothing gets overturned. Qiān offers a message about turning back and ceasing action to ensure that nothing needs to be undone.

Humility is a necessary virtue that reveals the fine line between taking and giving. In our effort to grow abundant produce, we apply chemicals that ward off disease, although they destroy the bees and ladybugs that keep the plants healthy.

Tourists are attracted to colorful reefs where they can snorkel with abundant fish populations. As hotels appear along the coastline, they tear out the mangroves that trap and process excess nutrients and pollutants in the water. As the water quality in the coral reef environment diminishes, the reefs soon die, and all that the tourists came to see is destroyed.

As nature finds ways of purifying itself, we discover that what we throw away does not necessarily go away. Because you cannot trace the line of excess, “it is better to stop in time.” In all you eat and do, strike a balance between productive and fiery Yang and replenishing or earthy Yin.

“The way that leads forward seems to lead backward.” Nature achieves forward movement sometimes by turning back, and you too, can be moving forward when it appears as if you are going backward. After every rise, you may fall, but you only appear to be rising and falling in relation to your expectations. In the larger scheme of things, you are always moving forward toward Authenticity.

The master said: “what is vast resembles nothing because if it resembled anything, it would become small.” Turning back to replenish, while still moving forward is the constant motion of life. This is the essence of moderation.

Turning back, you can find contentment in modesty; through authenticity, you will re-connect with the way. Do not become so distant from your actions that you forget that you are a part of both the smallness and largeness of life. “There are times when you climb and times when you fall. The climb is difficult, but the fall is quick and inexorable.” As you rise, offset your times of falling with your knowledge of this turning.

Authenticity ensures that you do not close your mind with structures and ideas that can become obstructions to your sincerity. In your search for absolutes, you must succumb to the gravity of the unknowable.

“When there is nothing that you cannot overcome, no one knows the limit.” When there is something you must overcome, you discover your limits. A path of Authenticity suggests that if you are content to know no boundaries, you will discover no limitations. As the image of establishing limits on the outer world through words and ideas, it asks you to turn back and be content not to know.

“The Way goes round and round. Being great, it is described as receding. Receding, it is described as far away. Being far away, it is described as turning back.” In the Great Circle, turning back is how all things continue in their forward movement.


Words, ideas and structures = let them fall down. Authenticity unchanging can be a message about having expectations that are too high or unrealistic. This answer can be the sound of a mother quieting a child : “Now you know why I told you not to eat so much cake.” You may be overly enthusiastic or stuck. Instead of the balance that is brought about by combining modesty and enthusiasm, one or the other is running amok. Both K’un and Ken are images of stopping in meditation. The absence of lines suggests stopping to take a breath. Whatever you are seeking – it is either not the time or you need to gain more clarity. Be patient, the way will unfold and you will be glad you didn’t act so impetuously.

Line 1:

Authentic about modesty = good for crossing the river. Changes to (36) Brightness Hiding. Being humble doesn’t mean being timid or false. Being modest doesn’t mean being a ‘yes’ person. There is a difficult task ahead. What you are attempting may not be easy, but you will succeed. Respect the energy of the time that is guiding your forward movement. Keep your story to yourself while pushing through to achieve enlightenment and don't blame others. Being humble allows you to learn through difficulty without the need to defend an old outlook. The same energy that pushes back on you is allowing you to tap your inner brightness. What part do your own projections play in creating a negative environment? Authenticity is the ability to fearlessly face ego's neediness. What you need can only be found within and after discovering this, you find yourself on a different shore.

Line 2:

Making humble gestures = persisting in this yields success. Changes to (46) Pushing Upward. At this time you may need to make a sacrifice in order to succeed. Gaining the support of others because you are authentic and not threatening ensures the success of Pushing Upward.

Line 3:

Modesty is demanded to get the job done = don’t underestimate and under deliver. Changes to (2) Receptive. Your dedication to do the work required is more important than accolades or compensation. There can be some sort of boundary where you can only do what you can and then must let go without expecting anything in return. Authenticity leading to the opening suggested by the Receptive can describe being humble enough to know what is beyond your power to do.

Line 4:

Modesty gains merit = but gaining prestige is not the goal. Changes to (62) Overwhelming of Small. It is your work or actions that define your character. Keep to a modest approach and express humbleness to the other. Overwhelming of the Small shows that small things done over time lead to great rewards.

Line 5:

Not getting what you need = to balance modesty with success force is required. Changes to (39) Obstruction. There is no need to show you have the upper hand. However, to achieve success, you may have to be more assertive. Take what you need which doesn’t harm the other. All benefit because you are being authentic. This is the only way to work through the Obstruction.

Line 6:

Modesty comes to expression = don’t blame others. Changes to (52) Keeping Still. Even though you have not achieved your aims, you have learned a valuable lesson about authenticity. Blaming others is useless. Real strength is first and foremost the ability to conquer yourself. A friendly attitude prevails. Perhaps you set your sights too high. As the highest point of Modesty, being authentic is the surest way to your goal.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 15 unchanging Hexagram 15.1 Hexagram 15.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 15.2 Hexagram 15.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 15.3 Hexagram 15.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 15.4 Hexagram 15.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 15.5 Hexagram 15.5.6 Hexagram 15.6