41 – decrease

Graphic hexagram 41

Scope of Questions

So far I received various questions regarding hexagram 41 – decrease:

  • A user asks: “Was it just my own thought … or did I really hear his voice?”*
  • Another user would like to buy a nice condominium, but is not yet sure if he should do so. His question to the I Ching: “What happens if I buy the condo?”
  • One user describes himself as a person full of mental blockades. However, these began to loosen up recently. His question now to the I Ching is: “How do I get closer to a new professional vision?”
  • A user asks: “How can I fulfill my life path/soul path?”

*The I Ching’s initial response was hexagram 19 – approach, with 41 – decrease as a variant. Both hexagrams are identical except for the top line. While Hexagram 19 – approach ends with a (broken) yin-line, 41 – decrease is completed by a (solid) yang-line. This is why below I repeat part of hexagram 19’s interpretation and just add some extra paragraphs regarding the last (upper) trigram.

Case Study

Hexagram 41 – decrease starts out with Dui, the lake as the lower trigram. Dui represents opening: the interior opens outwards and the exterior penetrates inwards. It is about the boundary between these two poles, and about overcoming it. More specifically: external inspiration touches our inside and we express our inner being outwardly.
Listening is one of these movements: whatever we hear penetrates from the exterior into our inner being and touches us. But we also experience Dui while breathing: we allow something – new breath – to penetrate us, and entrust ourselves to this penetration. In return we release something from within ourselves – our breath permeated with our existence – into the environment.
Perhaps the user’s uncertainty (“was it his voice?”) indicates that she has a slight doubt whether indeed something from the external world has touched her inside. Dui means that we shall entrust ourselves openly to the external world’s inspiration, to the extrinsic, to the un-familiar. Because it is precisely the ability of the un-familiar to nourish us, to fertilize and to refresh us.
For Dui, the ideal posture is to receive empty-handed that what is offered. This attitude requires openness, curiosity, and the willingness to engage with the un-known without any prior knowledge or bias. That is how children are, sometimes, and: spiritual masters.
In the further course of the hexagram Dui‘s openness and receptiveness evolves into impulse and decision (Zhen, the thunder; first core character). The encounter with the un-familiar triggers a change from within ourselves. Something starts shifting, starts germinating and growing within our core. This impulse, Zhen, is then followed by a phase of growth and materialization (Kun, the earth; second core character). This growth happens within us, invisibly, and though we may not notice it, it happens.
It may be most difficult for us to just allow this growth without interfering. Because we are used to do things, to act, to manipulate. And non-acting, while apparently nothing happens, is a real challenge and may irritate us.
But if we watch out carefully, at this point we may also be able to detect the triggers for our insecurity: negative thought patterns, doubts, vague fears. Usually we ward them off through activism.
Why do we hold on to them while they weaken and hurt us? Perhaps because they are so familiar therefore give an illusion of security. Gen, the mountain, as the upper trigram invites us to let go of unnecessary things and thinking patterns, to create space for the new, to unblock our forces.
Perhaps the user’s question is not so much about whether “the voice” stems from her interior or has penetrated from the outside world. Maybe it is all about herself and the process that now is taking place within herself. What kind of commotion did the experience cause inside her? What was set free? What belongs to her, to her being – and what are old, redundant ways of thinking that bind her and which should be released now?


Erschütterer – Anemone,
Die Erde ist kalt, ist nichts,
da murmelt Deine Krone
Ein Wort des Glaubens, des Lichts.

Der Erde ohne Güte,
der nur die Macht gerät,
ward Deine leise Blüte
so schweigend hingesät.

Erschütterer – Anemone,
Du trägst den Glauben,
das Licht, den einst der Sommer
als Krone aus großen Blüten flicht.
Benn, Gottfried

Erschütterer, Anemone… these are the opening words of a poem by Gottfried Benn. The anemone heralds of spring – in the midst of a cold and gray country. It is difficult to believe in her heralding, not to believe would be easier. But the anemone exists, and just by their existence it challenges the current view of reality.

The judgment (classical texts) states that chances are good to make a difference as long as the questioner remains true to him/herself and systematically implements his/her own ideas: Decrease combined with sincerity brings about sublime good fortune without blame.

The current interpretation can be found here: https://www.no2do.com/hexagramme_en/778887.htm