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I ching

Xiao Guo (Small Exceeding)

Ching Hexagram 62

Hsiao Kua Small Exceeding

Action: Conserve

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 28 Critical Mass: Adjust

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 61 Inner Truth: Trust

The weak force is more powerful than gravity, and the smallest of life forms are the most successful. Appreciating what is small is called enlightenment.

I once had a sparrow alight on my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. – Thoreau

Reading at a Glance: In Small Exceeding the flying bird brings you the message: “it is not well to strive upward, it is well to remain below. Great good fortune.” If you are able to keep a low profile and stick to simplicity you will succeed. Since small lines surround the two yang lines there is not a lot you can do in this situation except concentrate on small matters and wait before making your move. Wu Wei, the principle of non action is a lesson about succeeding without striving. Rather than take action, adjust to the changing time and conserve your energy. The hidden influence of Critical Mass also shows a type of instability that is going through transition where adjustments are required. Inner Truth as the underlying cause was a time to test your vision and ability to be centered in interactions with others. It was a time to learn about establishing trust. Now you are called to step out of your normal routine of pushing your way out into to the world to stand beside yourself as a witness to unfolding events. The good fortune comes from witnessing the small things that are normally missed. You might volunteer your time through charity or make a sacrifice in a lowly position to arrive where you would like to be later. Don’t think about where you are going – look around you now to see where you are. Not striving means not trying but simply doing. It means not looking so far ahead that you miss what is unfolding for you now. “Striving upward is rebellion, striving downward is devotion.” Devote yourself to the work and the rewards will come in time.

Bird flying low over water

When the heart

soars like a bird,

and the mind tumbles

in endless curiosity -

the small exceeds itself.

“When one has the trust of the creatures, one sets them in motion. Therefore, follows the overwhelming of the small.” In the same way that spiders pursue only what lands in their web, millions of tiny jellyfish ride the ocean currents to trap plankton wherever they are led. Observing nature’s smallest manifestations, you can emulate how they do not strive, yet still find success.

As one of the last principles in the Book of Changes, it is interesting that it focuses on the little things in life. There is always a turning of events when anything exceeds the mean, and you are given a snapshot of a transitional state that arises from extraordinary conditions. "Overwhelming of the Small signifies a transition." Hsiao Kuo offers a message about the enormous power that arises from what appears to be insignificant.

The multi-cellular kingdom of plants demonstrate the overwhelming power of the small. As the most prolific of all life forms, they offer a picture of the great industry taking place at a micro level. The ocean too, is covered in green algae and plankton, although algae sits just below the surface and does not reflect the vibration of green. The ocean may appear blue to the masses, although “in the perception of the smallest is the secret of correct vision.”

Your contribution is made in the small things that you are doing. In the things you fail to see - life guides you the most. Life pushes ever-onward toward its goal: to release the potential energy that can become locked within stagnation." You can continue on a pathway of success by keeping a low profile.

Life’s smallest creatures reveal a type of success that is not always obvious. Those that travel the least teach will teach you the most about existing just so where your character develops. This principle resembles a bird, and suggests a type of transition that warns you of losing your sense of being grounded. “The small bird brings the message: it is not well to strive upward. It is well to remain below.”

The master said: “Striving upward is rebellion, striving downward is devotion.” Striving downward allows you to cultivate your character. Traveling little helps you to strengthen your ability to follow. Not striving ‘out there’ allows you to develop strength ‘in here.’

As the opposite of Inner Truth, there is a warning that striving upward can disconnect you from your Inner Truth. You push upward to break through barriers, although at times you must “bow down for preservation.” You are reminded of the flight of the bird and how it must return to the earth for sustenance out of necessity.

The longevity and flexibility of the insect world and plant kingdom can teach you about adaptability. Seeds find life in the most inhospitable environments. Some grow by oxygen alone, while others hitchhike on animal fur or on the wind to find a home. It is not where they are going, but how they get there that defines their unique nature. You travel in a circle that brings you back to your center so your purpose can take wing.

Seeds offer a lesson about blossoming because of the conditions that unfold. Yet, everything you will ever become grows from within. Cyclically, plants shed their growth and “bow down to be preserved.” In this, you are reminded that life is not a constant flowering.

The idea of restraint might seem negative, but King Wen, imprisoned by the tyrant Chou Hsin, used his time in confinement to focus on the small matters that gave birth to his understanding of these sixty-four principles. Overwhelming of the Great suggested a beam that was excessive in weight and required support. Overwhelming of the Small prepares a solid foundation. In this way, restraint can lead to greater power.

“If the mind is not overlaid with wind and waves, you will always be living among blue mountains and green trees.” Observing the power of the small, the master said: “this is why I know the benefit of resorting to no action; the Way shows no favoritism.”

Like the plant, something profound takes root within, called forward by what takes place without. You might not recognize how you are following, although you can be certain that you are being led.

Success is assured when you realize how nature fortifies cyclical flowering. "The great relic that existed before birth enters the heart one day." Bowing down and not striving, you will discover the purpose of the great vessel within.


Take a different approach = less is more. The message of Small Exceeding unchanging is to not impose your will or try to sell anybody on anything. Step back and follow another’s lead and ensure that you are paying close attention to the subtleties in the situation. It is the little things that matter not the big picture and sometimes releasing the pressure and stepping back allows another to process their fears and respond in their own time. The saying “less is more” is underscored in this situation. If you are asking about taking action the answer would suggest patience but if an opportunity presents itself you may need to take the road less traveled and act fast. Because of your willingness to open to the unusual you will gain a great deal.

Line 1:

The bird meets with misfortune = through flying. Changes to (55) Abundance. The core message of Small Exceeding is to stop striving or pushing. Perhaps you are impatient or attempting too much too soon. The first step toward attempting to make changes through small efforts can fail if you are overly concerned with the outcome or what you will get. Remember that only small things can be achieved at this time.

Line 2:

Passing by the grandfather and meeting the grandmother = not reaching the prince but meeting an official, no blame. Changes to (32) Duration. The situation isn’t following the formalities which you are expecting. In meeting the grandfather or prince, one would gain recognition or be given a seal of approval to advance toward one’s desire. With this line, one associates or gains assistance by showing sensitivity or coddling. This grandmotherly type of behavior is necessary to ensure that Duration and commitment is achieved. It isn’t about formalities but tenderness and an awareness of the subtle nuances that are required to achieve your goal.

Line 3:

If one is not extremely careful somebody may strike from behind = misfortune. Changes to (16) Enthusiasm. In your enthusiasm to achieve your aim, caution is advised. Self confidence can make you unprepared to meet the challenge presented in what you may dismiss as insignificant. You may need to protect yourself from just blindly following another’s lead. You are warned about the mysterious elements that are in the details should you not attend to them. Enthusiasm can run away with you, but you will be left holding the bag.

Line 4:

Without blame, one does not pass the danger but meets it = be on guard and constantly persevering. Changes to (15) Authenticity. Rather than avoid the difficulty you choose to face it head on which is not a mistake. However, it is important to watch the situation carefully and be on guard for further disruption. The test of your character rests in being authentic and not just accommodating. Any mistakes made are simply an opportunity to discover more about yourself.

Line 5:

Dense clouds, no rain from our western territory = the prince shoots and hits what is in the cave. Changes to (31) Influence/Wooing. Rather than force your will on the situation, examine how ‘wooing’ or the law of attraction might serve you better. You can’t rely on what worked in the past and may need to come up with an innovative approach. This can be a time when results or responses are not forthcoming so you may need to just focus on getting your basic needs met. In order to obtain the object of your desire you may need to face your fear or weather a period of darkness or uncertainty. Don’t give up.

Line 6:

Not meeting but passing by the flying bird, self imposed injury = misfortune. Changes to (56) The Wanderer. Because of your inability to establish a foundation through wandering, you are missing opportunities. Perhaps you are seeking greener pastures and not enjoying the opportunity that is right in front of you. The message of this line is to stop and examine the simple joys of life to prevent any further lack of fulfillment. At the same time, you may be living like a refugee and clinging to an unhealthy sense of fulfillment. You can't blame anyone because you have created this for yourself through unwise choices. Look at your motivation. Arrogance may be at play or you may be over-reaching yourself trying to capture the unobtainable.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 62 unchanging Hexagram 62.1 Hexagram 62.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 62.2 Hexagram 62.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 62.3 Hexagram 62.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 62.4 Hexagram 62.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 62.5 Hexagram 62.5.6 Hexagram 62.6