...life can be translucent


Blog post: The noble one’s constancy, and inner light


Staff member
Apr 8, 1970
Reaction score
The noble one’s constancy, and inner light

Hexagram 12 is no fun at all…

‘Blocking it, non-people.
Noble one’s constancy bears no fruit.
Great goes, small comes.’

Hexagram 12, Oracle

The noble one is typically imaginative and willing to learn; constancy means persistence, loyalty, holding firmly to the truth… and none of this is going to make any difference.

The trigram picture…

…conveys the same message: heaven, idea and inspiration and spirit, is pulling away from earth, the field where things grow. Of course new ideas can’t take root.

But then in Hexagram 13,

‘People in harmony in the wilds: creating success.
Fruitful to cross the great river.
A noble one’s constancy bears fruit.’

Hexagram 13, Oracle

There’s a direct, deliberate contrast: now, a noble one’s constancy does bear fruit.

It’s not unusual to see this kind of contrast between adjacent hexagrams in the Sequence: ‘small goes, great comes’ in 11 versus ‘great goes, small comes’ in 12; ‘fruitful to cross the great river’ in 5 versus ‘fruitless to cross the great river in 6.

But those are paired hexagrams that belong together structurally. (It’s quite common for people to allow that the hexagrams of the Sequence are arranged in pairs, but then maintain there’s no bigger structuring principle at work.) 12 and 13 aren’t a pair, they just happen to sit next to one another in the Sequence. Could there be something more going on…?

Here are hexagrams 12 and 13:

The outer trigram is unchanged: heaven. The inner trigram has changed from earth, that sinks and settles downward, away from heaven, to li, fire, that rises up towards it. We can imagine a new hexagram picture: the stars ‘hung from’ the night sky, perhaps, or the flames of a camp fire leaping up towards it. Reading the Image,

‘Heaven joins with fire. People in harmony.
In the same way, the noble one sorts the clans and differentiates between beings.’

we might imagine sparks rising from the fire towards the gathered clans’ ancestral constellations.

(Or you might imagine something else altogether – but do imagine the whole hexagram as a trigram picture.)

So… it’s fire that makes the difference, because it relates to heaven in a new way. And interestingly, this is the first time the trigram li makes an appearance in the Yijing, though all the others were introduced within the first ten hexagrams. It’s as if it were held back for this impressive entrance: look, now the lights have come on!

And this also reflects Hexagram 13’s moment of the Zhou story, when they finally saw heaven’s support for their venture written across the sky in the movements of the planets. Harmony with heaven supported harmony among people, and they could gather with their allies in the wilds.

(There’s more detail on this and many more hidden gems of the Sequence in my Exploring the Sequence book, available inside Change Circle.)

Camp fire under starry sky

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).