With this hexagram even more than most, I’m all too aware that I can only scratch the surface. I’ll start with some of the sources that flow into its meaning, and sketch in some meanings for practical divination.
The shape of this hexagram is especially evocative: that open centre, safely enclosed by strong, solid lines, seems to be a picture of something. The authors of the Commentary on the Judgement imagined they were looking down on a simple boat:
‘Harvest in crossing the great river,
Riding a wooden boat, hollowed out.’
To me, this pattern has always suggested a channel, and so I was excited to find pictures at the Chinaknowledge site of an ancient jade talisman, a cong, which was a squared tube with a circular hollow running through it. The earth is symbolised by a square, heaven by a circle: the power of heaven runs through the heart of the earth. Could the people who connected this hexagram figure with ‘inner truth’ have had the cong in mind?
But whatever this shape brings to mind for you, it’s the space at the centre (and at your centre) that creates the potential. Later theory says that the lines of the I Ching can be seen as three pairs: the bottom two are earth, then come the lines of man, then heaven. In Inner Truth, the human space is open to mediate between heaven and earth.
The two characters of ‘inner truth’ carry that same idea of connecting heaven and earth. The ideogram ‘inner’, zhong, is now a very simple picture of a line running through a square – signifying both the centre, and something that connects two sides. Originally it might have shown an arrow at the centre of a target – or the pole for a banner with a drum mounted on it. Both the significance of the banner and, especially, the vibrations of the drum go right through you, so that you resonate in harmony with something greater than yourself.
‘Truth’, fu, is a hand or the claw of a bird reaching down over a young one. Though in the context of the hexagram this naturally makes you think of a protecting hand, the same character can also mean grasping and holding on to prisoners of war, the tangible proof of victory. The underlying idea is of a powerful, connecting grasp – 100% present, owning the moment and everything in it.
I think that Inner Truth means being completely at one with your place and time, and hence also connected to its deeper source. It gives you the sense of being in the right place at the right time: you trust the universe and yourself, and so you become wholly sincere and yourself worthy of trust. Of course, this is the ideal moment for crossing the great river and committing yourself to a new venture – and because your inspiration is coming from the right place, there will be a rich harvest from constancy.
I’ve also sometimes received this hexagram to encourage me to trust in the universe even when there seems no particular reason to do so (much as Hexagram 14, Great Possession, can sometimes come up when you are feeling particularly impoverished). Inner Truth is knowledge that life has meaning: it exemplifies the natural spirit for talking with the oracle.
What are the practical results of Inner Truth? According to the Judgement, ‘pigs and fishes, good fortune’. Pigs and fishes are the manifestations of great good fortune, both in what you grow and tend to, and also in what simply comes to you when you place your nets wisely. This is what we might call ‘manifestation’: visions that begin in our thoughts are manifested over time in our lives.
Any book on manifesting your goals will tell you that whatever you focus on will become manifest, whether or not it is what you wanted. And sure enough, when Inner Truth is the primary hexagram, the outcome in practice seems more than usually open to influence from the relating hexagram. There’s a great variety of moods and outcomes running through the changing lines.
The Image shows how Inner Truth works, as an interface between the responsive human heart (the inner trigram, lake) and the breath of spirit (the upper trigram, wind):
‘Above the lake is the wind. Inner Truth.
The noble one deliberates over legal arguments and delays executions.’
There are to be no hasty decisions, no premature endings. The lake sets no limits on its response to the wind; the noble one, with the insight of sincerity, keeps the evolving process of creation open.