First hexagram, Chien for "Heaven" tells of the
The ancient Chinese emperor is called the Lung,
which is the symbol of Heaven's power. It is represented by the
first hexagram of the King Wen Yi Jing. Any
person, like the modern executive and manager, who wishes to
become a great ruler could do so by adopting the strategic
advice contained in first hexagram, Chien for
"Heaven". As the King Wen Yi Jing concerns a
strategic philosophy for dealing with high pressure troubled
conditions, it has particular appropriate relevance to the
likewise high pressure war-like circumstances of the modern
society and business atmosphere.
Duke Chou gave six lines of interpretation to each hexagram.
His six lines of the first hexagram, Chien for
"Heaven" are related to the six necessary sequential stages in
the development of the great ruler, the Lung
(Wilhelm 1951 p.3-5, 369).
Six Sequential Stages of Development of the "Great
The Yi Jing, in the changes to the lines of the
hexagram Ch'ien, shows that the
Lung must be humble enough to realise his power
could be restricted by various conditions, and has to developed
through six stages.
Reflecting that each hexagram is made up of two trigrams, the
six stages are in two major groups, the first three stages
corresponding to the lower trigram, and the next three stages
corresponding to the upper trigram. The lower trigram deals
with the development of the qualities of the individual, while
the upper trigram deals with how the leader handles the external
conditions, particularly those created by people outside him.
That is, the lower trigram concerns primary inner development,
while the upper trigram relates the inner development to the
Lower Trigram's Three Stages:
1. Nine at the beginning means
Do not act.
The lowest line denotes the lowest place, which is far down
deep below the earth. The Lung who is true to
himself is still unrecognised. In his concealed position, he
bides his time, wisely consults the oracle and does not
prematurely expose himself nor act too soon. That is, the
initial task of the rising Lung is the need to
prepare himself and harness the resources before he could act.
He must practise self-examination and reform himself first,
especially in gathering wisdom.
2. Nine in the second place means
appearing in the field
It furthers one to see the Great
The second line often represents the surface of the earth.
It is also the central line of the lower trigram denoting its
regulating influence over whole of the lower trigram. The
Lung has declared his intention, he is surfacing.
He is with peers but is different in his disposition. Destiny
is with him. Those who could recognise him should associate
with him. The Lung must seek the Great Man
Line 2, therefore, refers to the disposition of the
Lung, in that he must acquire the ability to
foster rapport with people. Without this ability to relate to
people, his skills and leadership would have no basis. The
Lung must particularly attract to him the advisor
known as the Great Man or Superior Man.
3. Nine in the third place means
All day long the
Superior Man is creatively active
At nightfall his
mind is still beset with cares
Danger. No blame
Third line is the position of the transition from the lower
to the higher trigrams. It thus always denotes unsettled
conditions and potential danger. The fame of Lung
increases and the masses flock to him. There are many things to
do. But danger lurks in the transition from lowliness to
greatness. Ambition can destroy integrity.
The Superior Man who advises the Lung
has many things to do. But he must exercise care in evaluation
and must particularly watch out for danger. Line 3 denotes that
the Lung must share in the prudence and care in
evaluation - do not be carried away and stick to fundamentals.
Upper Trigram's Three Stages:
4. Nine in the fourth place means
Wavering flight over
No longer is the Lung on square ground. Any
further actions must be equal to the elements of Heaven. A
cross-road is reached. A leader either could become the hero or
withdraw to be the holy hermit sage. Confucius, recognising the
auguries of the times, retired to be a sage.
The starting line of a trigram seems to denote a beginning.
Thus, Line 4, being the starting line of the upper trigram,
means that the initial task in dealing with external conditions
is that the leader must carefully analyse the people. The
Lung and his Great Man can only move if the
masses respond to accept them as the leaders. Otherwise, they
have to prudently retreat and abandon the mission.
5. Nine in the fifth place means
Lung in the heavens
It furthers one to see the
Like the central line of the lower trigram, this fifth line
is the central; and hence influencing line of the whole of the
upper trigram. Like Line 2, the middle of the lower trigram,
Line 5, the middle of the upper trigram, concerns disposition.
Line 2 urges the hidden Lung to develop his
disposition, while Line 5 reminds the emergent
Lung to listen to the Great Man in order to
deal with the masses. Disposition seems to be the controlling
factor in both the lower and upper trigrams.
Water flows to what is wet and fire to what is dry. Cloud
follow the Lung and wind the tiger. The
Lung now in his venture automatically attracts
those he needed to him. Once the people flock to him, he must
listen to the Great Man to handle and lead them. The
correct response of the people is the criterion and test of his
6. Nine at the top means
will have cause to repent
Whatever reaches the top must now turn back. Do not be
extreme. The Lung is isolated in the heights and
failure can follow. Such a ruler stands high but have no real
following. Advisors abound but their advice, especially those
of the Great Man, are not heeded.
The top line of the upper trigram, like the top line of the
lower trigram, seems to denote some form of danger. Near to the
top and end of his mission, the danger in handling the external
is that there may be strife, split, division and even betrayal
among his people. Line 6 shows that the danger would arise from
arrogance in the leader causing the mission to collapse owing to
disunity among the people.
In brief, the six stages cover:
- Initial internal step: Buildup of sublime wisdom, through
self examination and quiet building up of resources.
- Middle internal controlling step: Develop disposition that
could attract people, especially advisors.
- Top internal danger step: Intrinsic carefulness in
- Initial external step: Adaptive consideration of the people
- Middle external controlling step: Active disposition in
listening to advisors to handle people.
- Top external danger step: Humility, to avoid danger of
As an aftermath, Duke Chou also wrote:
Should the Lung and his advisor the Great
Man be able to steer through the six stages of both internal
and external development, the success is complete and they are
the leaders par excellence.
The "Great Leader" Moves According to the Times and
Selects his Advisors
Duke Chou's six lines to the first hexagram
Ch'ien indicate that the most crucial initial
action of Lung the ruler is to find the "Great
Man", i.e. establish his "think tank" or panel of advisors.
Lung is seen as a man of destiny with the "Mandate
of Heaven." Lung is something very close to
Heaven itself, but not Heaven. Lung may be said
to be the representative of Heaven or the One with the "Mandate
of Heaven." But, the Yi Jing shows that
Lung requires the assistance of the Great
Therefore, the Lung is not infallible. He must
be able to gauge the changing conditions of time and adapt to
them. As Sun Tzu would say:
- "Just as water retains no constant shape, in war there
are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics
according to the enemy's situations shall be victorious and may
be called the Divine Commander". (Sun Tzu 6:32-33).
- "If it is to your advantage, move; quit when there is
no more advantage". (Sun Tzu 12:19).
Correct behaviour, appropriate to the changing circumstances,
is paramount in the development of righteous power. With
success, this would be said of the person:
This Lung often has to deal with the evil in
the guise of the last emperor of the former dynasty, in order to
restore calm, peace and prosperity to the nation. As such, he,
with the assistance of the Great Man, is often the next
emperor and founder of a new dynasty.
H.T. 1996. Legend of the Chinese Lung. Eastern Dragon Press.
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Wilhelm, Richard. 1951. The I
Ching. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London and Henley.