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I ching

Wu Wang (Innocence)

I Ching Hexagram 25
Wu Wang (Innocence)

Action: Open

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 53: Development: Flower

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 46: Pushing Upward: Ascend

If you don't know what cannot be done,
you will accomplish great things.

Like a kite cut from the string,
lightly the soul of my youth has taken flight. – Ishikawa Takuboku

Reading at a Glance: A Taoist perspective honors Three Treasures: Ci is the ability to know compassion when relating to others, where you treat all experience as if it is a part of you. This is called owning your condition. Jian is your appreciation for the 'uncarved block,' or the ever changing aspect of life, by remaining malleable in your observations and simple in your desires. Bugan wei tianxia xian is how you do not play the host but remain the guest of a greater unfolding. You rise from sleep where your mind was open and then climb back into a type of sensory awareness that classifies everything. Just as you do in dreams, it is important to hover at the doorway of perception, without judgment or attachment to an outcome. Innocence asks you to keep an open mind so that the Creative can lead you toward an environment that is beneficial to you, suggested by the hidden influence of Development. Where Pushing Upward required action, Innocence is best developed through non action. Step back and allow events to show you what and why a situation is unfolding. Without this purity of perception calamity can ensue. Yet even in calamity you can discover the Sage’s greatest lesson: tranquility in disturbance. Synchronize your inner thoughts to events. Know that you are free of blame if you follow the course of events rather than attempt to coerce a solution for the sake of speed or gratification. Be like the child who has not yet learned to smile but simply remains observant to unfolding events.

young leaf on branch



the doorway



“When you turn back, you are returned to a state of innocence.” Approaching the gateway of perception, you can cherish the opportunity not to know to move beyond all sense of boundaries. Baby birds do not develop their colorful beaks and feathers until adolescence, when the territorial urge begins. Until then, their coloring allows them to remain hidden and protected. This is the protection offered to a state of innocence.

Like a hatchling protected from early danger, you can approach the threshold of perception with a sense of discovery. The master said: “Those who do not know what cannot be done can accomplish great things.”

Wu Wang means ‘not attached,’ or not caught up in defending yourself against unfolding events. Exerting the will can sometimes create disharmony in the flow of life. Unattached, you can observe your fundamental harmony with what unfolds. The master said: “those who know no limits meet with no obstruction.” This state of innocence ensures your success.

Innocence allows you to see how events cultivate your power of your Te. It requires three things: compassion when relating to others, an appreciation for the ‘uncarved block,’ or the ever changing aspect of life by remaining simple in your desires not playing the host but remaining the guest of a greater unfolding.

Even while you are the ruler of your empire, you do not dare take the lead, but follow. You can discover a new way of perceiving the world where a return to a state of Innocence will allow you to cultivate what is to come.

“One who possesses virtue in abundance is comparable to a new born babe. The baby goes without knowing where it is going, and merges with the surroundings, moving along with it.” Wu Wang is the image of not wasting time lost on the by-paths where you wander away from where you need to be. Unattached to that place that would generate a response, you do not contend and therefore, nothing blocks your way.

Transcending unnatural distinctions, it is now, you have arrived, and you are just so. You make the choice of whether you use mind to establish boundaries or tear them down. Observing the emotions that trap you in your ability to discover, trace their illusions and let them go. At this threshold, observe how anxiety and fear attach you to expectations about the future, while guilt and anger tie you to actions of the past. Recognizing and discarding these responses, all that is left is innocence.

“Like a baby that has not learned to smile,” move to that place before the response to participate with how life is shaping you. Although “desire brings you to observe life’s manifestations,” having no attachment to the passing scenery, is the key to your success.

Evolution brings about variations, but these random changes rarely improve what already works well. Creatures adapt in ways that are not always beneficial, and natural selection comes to purge mutations and reveals why the Way is described as turning back. As one of nature’s self-organizing systems, you seek stasis, while life leads you to transform. Every plant and animal on the earth has outlasted a struggle for existence that is three and a half billion years old. This means that moving forward without worry will not be second nature.

Wu wang, ‘not attached,’ and wu wei, ‘taking no unnatural action’ allow you to move forward unattached to the past and not creating an unnecessary response. “I alone, am inactive and reveal no signs; listless as though I have no home to go back to.” The home you would have gone back to houses your paradigm. Let go of what you believe cannot be done and you will accomplish great things.


If you push too hard to be in the world = the unexpected cannot find you. You may be blameless in a situation although you feel guilty. However there is not a lot you can do other than to wait for the situation to right itself. Prior to taking any action explore whether you can do it with sincerity. Do you possess enough facts or certainty to proceed? Whatever is going to happen will not be what you expected so it is better to step back. Something amazing can happen if you can practice not pushing and prodding. Innocence unchanging can be a message that you don’t yet have all of the information needed to proceed because an element of the unexpected is still at play. Be receptive to whatever unfolds.

Line 1:

Innocent behavior = brings good fortune. Changes to (12) Standstill. Even during difficulty it is important to be non judgmental and accepting. A situation may be more entangled than you realize but don’t sacrifice your integrity for an easy solution. Acting without prejudice and with an open mind leads to success. When in doubt, follow your heart. Standstill met with openness and submission leads to success.

Line 2:

Plow without thought of harvest, clear the land without thought of the use = it is good to go on this way. Changes to (10) Treading. The moment has called you to do the work it requires in a calm and precise manner. Anxiety rises when you forget what you are doing and start worrying about the future. To develop Innocence while working in this way you can apply this awareness to all you do. Show up to do the work and forget everything else. Be here now and deliver all that you are in this moment. This is the art of being ‘just so’ and it aligns you with Tao.

Line 3:

Undeserved misfortune = the wanderer’s gain is the citizen’s loss. Changes to (13) Fellowship. An unexpected event may not benefit the one who stays in one place as much as the one who might be called a wanderer, who gets a boon. Releasing what you thought you needed helps another in their time of need, but opens your arms to receive something better: a sense of trust that all is perfect in the world. If you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails and let life guide you. Innocence is best developed by learning to follow the course of events. Fellowship is achieved by responding to the needs of the group without selfish aims. While not a complete win for both sides – there is good companionship suggested by Fellowship.

Line 4:

To be persevering = one is without blame. Changes to (42) Increase. You may need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep pushing on. You are not a victim and nothing is wrong. If something is meant for you it will come to you. Operating from abundance allows you to let go of attachment with the certainty that you always have what you need. To be persevering is the type of consistency of character that allows you to proceed with an optimistic attitude.

Line 5:

Let nature take its course = don’t use medicine to cover uneasiness. Changes to (21) Biting Through. You need to explore what the situation truly offers you. Substances or illusions that hide the real problem won’t cure anything. If something about the situation is bothering you then acknowledge it. Let nature takes its course by allowing the truth to reveal itself. You may need to address this situation gently to achieve the best result. Co-dependency means that another may have the dependency, but you show the symptoms. Your unconditional support may be innocent but is it really serving the other’s higher needs?

Line 6:

Innocent but not a time to act = nothing that would further. Changes to (17) Following. If you are meeting resistance it is futile to demonstrate overly emotional behavior. Even the most innocent actions can create further difficulty. It is best to step back and sleep on it. Follow another’s lead in this situation. Difficulties are learning experiences and the reward is the freedom of non attachment. You may be worrying about the future which is doing nothing but keeping you from enjoying 'what is.' Non attachment is the highest point of an innocent outlook without judgment. Attachment has its own creative powers...step back and relax. Stop fueling the fire.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 25 unchanging Hexagram 25.1 Hexagram 25.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 25.2 Hexagram 25.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 25.3 Hexagram 25.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 25.4 Hexagram 25.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 25.5 Hexagram 25.5.6 Hexagram 25.6