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Hexagram 43, Deciding

Key Questions

What do you stand for?
How do you define yourself?
What belongs in your realm, and where do you need to make a clean break?


‘Deciding, tell it in the king’s chambers.
With truth, call out, there is danger.
Notify your own city.
Fruitless to take up arms;
Fruitful to have a direction to go.’

The old Chinese character for ‘Deciding’ shows a hand holding up a token – asserting your identity and right to be heard, even in the king’s chambers. This is where decision begins, at the very centre of power. That centre might be inside your own mind, and yet still not feel safe. Declaring the truth loud and clear is dangerous; it stirs up old ghosts, inner and outer. Yet better this than ignoring and neglecting them.

As the message of the decision spreads out from the centre, it is fruitless to take up arms: this is a time to communicate, not fight. It will serve you better to focus with clear intention on what you’re moving towards, rather than what you’re reacting against.


‘Lake above heaven: Deciding.
A noble one distributes riches to reach those below,
She dwells in power and virtue, and also shuns things.’


Deciding follows from Hexagram 42, Increasing:
‘Increasing and not reaching an end must mean breakthrough, and so Deciding follows. Deciding means breaking through.’


Deciding forms a pair with Hexagram 44, Coupling:
‘Coupling means meeting, supple meets firm.’
‘Deciding means breaking up, firm breaks up supple.’

Changing Lines

Line 1

‘Vigour in the leading foot.
Going on without control means making mistakes.’

Line 2

‘Alarmed, calling out.
Evening and night, bearing arms
Do not fear.’

Line 3

‘Vigour in the cheekbones means a pitfall.
Noble one decides, decides.
Goes on alone, meets the rain,
And is indignant as if she were soaked through.
Not a mistake.’

Line 4

‘Thighs without flesh,
Moving awkwardly now.
Lead a sheep on a rope, regrets vanish.
Hear words, not trusted.’

Line 5

‘Amaranth on high ground.
Decide, decide.
Move to the centre, no mistake.’

Line 6

‘Not calling out.
In the end, pitfall.’

Text excerpted from Hilary Barrett’s I Ching: walking your path, creating your future.
© Hilary Barrett 2010.