53 Jian4 漸
The lower: Gen (keeping still, the mountain). The upper: Xun (to enter, the wind).
Jian: to progress gradually and sequentially; a woman gets married in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
Things cannot be stopped (Gen) forever; therefore Jian is granted. Jian signifies to progress. It must resume movement gradually after stopping in the last hexagram Gen. The progress of Jian highlights gradual progression as 漸jian4 is commonly understood as proceeding slowly and by degrees. It is a measured advance like line 3 of hexagram Pi (12) advancing by one step and exchanging positions with line 4; this way line 3 attains its right position and hexagram Jian is formed.
The upper trigram Xun denotes wood, i.e. a tree, while the lower trigram Gen represents a mountain. Jian indicates trees on top of a mountain; they grow with the seasons thereby making the landscape of the mountain rise gradually.
In hexagram Jian, one must progress step by step, in sequence like a woman getting married in accordance with the prescribed procedure for becoming a wife. Its reverse and changing hexagram is Gui Mei (54), the younger sister accompanying her older sister in marriage to her brother-in-law as a concubine. This is a result of reaching the goal in one step. Its inner hexagram is Wei Ji (64), not completed yet, suggesting that the task must be continuously carried out, step by step; in hexagram Jian the task takes place in stages.
Text: Jian (to progress gradually and sequentially), it is auspicious for a woman to get married; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist.
Commentary on the text: the progress of Jian (gradual progression); it is auspicious for a woman to get married. To progress and attain a (right) position (like line 3 of hexagram Pi (12) advancing by one step), there will be merit in going forth (to position 5). (Lines 3 and 4, as well as lines 2 and 5 are in the position) to progress with righteousness, which can rectify the country. The position (i.e. position 5, the king's position, is occupied by one who) is rigid and attains (the principle of) moderation. (Jian exhibits its norm in the form of) stopping (in accordance with the lower trigram Gen when necessary) then Xun (i.e. acting with the obedience and devotion of the upper trigram Xun when indicated); it won’t be destitute of (i.e. prevented from) moving.
The progress of Jian is to advance gradually and in sequence; it is like a woman who marries in accordance with the customs and etiquette of a formal marriage, step by step; this is auspicious, as the woman will become a wife. Therefore it is advantageous to persist in following the procedural steps to accomplish the task in an orderly manner.
Hexagram Jian is given its name according to the gradual progress of line 3 of hexagram Pi (12) advancing by one step. Following that rhythm, its next advance will reach position 5, the king's position, where significant merit is available. Therefore, the formed hexagram Jian suggests that its line 2 (the female) progresses gradually in accordance with the prescribed procedures (of a formal marriage), to reach line 5 (her husband). Lines 3 and 4 attain their right positions through gradual progress and form hexagram Jian. Likewise, line 2 acts righteously in following the gradual procedure to achieve its target. Similarly a country can be rectified this way, gradually from the core to the outskirts especially if its king (line 5) is strong and firm with the principle of moderation. Hence, the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63) once lines 1 and 6 are corrected becoming righteous.
The lower trigram Gen is signified as to stop, while the upper trigram Xun expresses obedience and devotion like its feminine line prostrated beneath the two masculine lines; this suggests stopping whenever it is required, and being submissive when following the established procedure, i.e. being orderly rather than impetuous to allow for continuous progress.
According to traditional Chinese marriage customs, there are five steps involved, from matchmaking to the wedding; they must proceed, step by step, in sequence:
1. The family of the boy proposes marriage to the family of the girl through a go-between.
2. Birthdays of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be are checked with an astrologer to determine whether they are a good match.
3. The family of the groom-to-be presents an initial gift to the family of the bride-to-be.
4. The family of the
groom-to-be presents a formal gift to the family of the bride-to-be.
Commentary on the image: On the mountain, there are trees, Jian. A gentleman, in accordance with this, increases virtue so as to improve customs.
The gentleman realises that he should imitate trees growing on a mountain; customs can be improved gradually through his increasing virtue, like the landscape of a mountain growing higher and higher.
It is auspicious for a woman to get married according to the sequence of a formal marriage because she will become a wife by following correct procedure; this is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist
Its changing hexagram is Gui Mei (54), the younger sister accompanying her older sister in marriage to her brother-in-law as a concubine. Although she is married to a man, it doesn't conform to etiquette and is in no way favourable. Hexagram Jian takes a longer route to reach the desired goal; it will attain the position of a wife. This signifies that gradualness can lead to merit, while impulse (i.e. reaching a goal in one step) will cause failure.
Hexagram Jian possesses the virtues of advantage and persistence (expressed in the form of persistence bringing forth benefit). But it excludes those of origination and smooth progress, signifying that it must follow the prescribed steps and progress gradually.
The gradual progress in sequence of hexagram Jian can refer to the evolution of living creatures. Its line phrasing reflects the properly timed and orderly migration of wild geese; thus, hexagram Jian can also speak to a well developed project or a team work.
Wild geese are migrating birds; they travel according to seasons and fly in an orderly array; this pattern is seen in Jian: to progress, step by step, in sequence and order. In Chinese culture pair-bonded geese are symbolic of the firm commitment of marriage; if one of the geese passes away, its partner will remain single for the rest of its life. Therefore the lines of hexagram Jian move in a way that reflects the migration of geese.
Procedures related to formal marriage unfold along Jian's timeline, i.e. from one position to the next. The correlation of the feminine with the masculine is signified as a good match (according to the birthday check) which allows for a formal engagement, like line 2 being firmly engaged to line 5; it will lead to marriage by following correct procedure.
On the other hand, marriage between two friendly lines next to each other is signified as one not conforming to correct procedure. For example, line 3 is next to line 4 but ridden over by it, which is an ominous omen; the hexagram will become Pi (12) if they marry by exchanging their positions. Line 4 sustains line 5 and line 5 occupies it, which signifies that it might still marry a reliable husband, but it only ends up with freedom from calamity or fault, rather than auspiciousness.
The 1st line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) to the shallows. A youth is stern and cruel; (there is) some criticism (or complaints), (but) no fault (or calamity).
The progress of Jian is a gradual advance in sequence. When the procedure is designated one should remain still and disregard any interference while waiting for the right time; this will ensure freedom from fault or calamity as waiting (when indicated) conforms to the norm of Jian.
The inner lower trigram Kan (the abyss, water) is a river and line 1 stays next to it; so the wild goose rests at the shallows of the river to wait for the right time to begin its long journey. A youth is stern and cruel; he shouts at it trying to scare it away. The lower trigram Gen is the youngest son and here is taken for the youth; its representative line, line 3, is also the representative line of Kan, peril, i.e. sternness and cruelty.
Although line 3 is making a proposal, there is no correlation between them; therefore line 1 remains still as a feminine line is designated to do, like a girl waiting for a perfect match.
Commentary on the image: The sternness and cruelty of a youth, which signifies no fault (or calamity).
Although the youth is stern and cruel in his complaints, there is no fault or calamity if the girl follows the right procedure and refuses his proposal.
Enlightenment through six one: to wait according to the designated procedure or schedule. The wild goose is resting at the shallows before its long journey; a youth is very stern and cruel in criticising it for being lazy. To progress according to the designated procedure, to act at the right time, and to disregard outside interference is the way to freedom from fault or calamity. The hexagram that appears after this line is activated, changing to masculine and acting righteously, is Jia Ren (37), the household, which signifies that the girl should stay with her family (while waiting for the proposal).
The 2nd line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) onto a big rock, and takes food and drink in a joyous and easy manner; (this is of) auspiciousness.
Position 2 is usually taken for an attitude of readiness, but what can be done is still limited. Therefore the wild goose just flies onto a big rock (after leaving the shallows) to eat and drink in preparation for the journey ahead.
The lower trigram Gen (the mountain) here is seen as a big rock in the river of the inner lower trigram Kan; line 2 perches on it.
The water of the inner lower trigram Kan (water) is the drink. The inner upper trigram Li is fire, while the upper trigram Xun denotes wood and wind; wood enters fire with wind signifying setting a fire for cooking. The wild goose eats and drinks in an easy manner with a view to building up itself (for the journey ahead) rather than just gorging itself.
Line 2 is a feminine axle centre at its right position and in correlation with line 5, suggesting that after the birthdays are checked, it is firmly engaged to line 5 and acts righteously according to the norm of Jian and with the principle of moderation, i.e. it is active but not in haste, like a bride-to-be joyfully preparing her dowry.
Commentary on the image: (Line 2 ought) to take food and drink in a joyous and easy manner, rather than gorging itself.
The girl will have her own family to take care, and the wild goose will have a long distance to fly. What they are doing now is preparing for the long term.
Enlightenment through six two: to prepare oneself for the upcoming event. The girl is engaged to a man who is designated for her, and becomes a bride-to-be. She is joyfully preparing for the wedding, like a wild goose eating and drinking in an easy manner for the journey ahead. If this line is activated, the hexagram will become Xun (57), the wind, which facilitates taking off. Xun is also signified as submissiveness and obedience as it presents a feminine line prostrating itself beneath two masculine lines.
The 3rd line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) onto land. The husband who goes on an expedition doesn’t come back; the wife who carries a baby doesn’t bring it forth; (this is) an ominous omen. It is advantageous (or appropriate) to defend against a bandit.
Line 3 is the representative line of both the lower trigram Gen (the mountain) and inner lower trigram Kan (the river); therefore the wild goose alights on the raised ground from the river, i.e. the banks of the river, which is best suited for human inhabitation, suggesting that line 3 should remain still here.
From the perspective of marriage protocol, progress reaches the stage where the initial gift should be presented. However, both lines 3 and 5 are masculine and have no correlation with each other, signifying that their birthdays don't match. In the case of marriage, the husband wouldn't return from his expedition and the baby wouldn't be born. It had better stop instead of moving to the next step.
Should line 3 not follow the procedure but approach line 5 by exchanging positions with line 4, the hexagram would become Pi (12), blockage and stagnation; there the masculine upper trigram Qian (heaven) tends to ascend, while the female trigram Kun (earth) remains still at the bottom, suggesting that the husband is gone forever.
The inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) denotes a big belly, i.e. pregnancy. Once lines 3 and 4 exchange positions, trigram Li disappears, signifying that the baby won't be brought forth.
The inner upper trigram Li denotes armour and weaponry, i.e. symbols of armed force, and the inner lower trigram Kan (the abyss, water) below denotes a bandit. From the perspective of progressing gradually according to the prescribed procedure, it is advantageous or appropriate to maintain the state of line 4 riding on line 3 as if defending against a bandit, since attacking the bandit would cause a counter-strike like line 3 moving upward and exchanging positions with line 4.
Commentary on the image: The husband who goes on an expedition doesn’t come back, (signifying that) he leaves behind a crowd of ugliness (i.e. the female who does not follow the procedure to marry). The wife who carries a baby doesn’t deliver it (signifying that) she loses the norm (Jian, or what a woman should do). It is advantageous (or appropriate) to defend against the bandit; submissiveness provides mutual protection.
The norm of hexagram Jian is to stop (when necessary, like the lower trigram Gen represented by line 3) and submit (like the upper trigram Xun represented by line 4) to designated procedure; therefore lines 3 and 4 should remain still in a state of defending against the bandit. Being submissive, following the correct procedure will protect both the female and male.
Enlightenment through nine three: to remain still rather than
forcibly take action when the goal is not reachable. The husband
goes on an expedition and doesn’t come back. The wife carries a baby
but doesn't deliver it. These are due to the fact that the marriage
doesn't conform to protocol. The wild goose flies onto land which is
the best place for humans to live; one should remain still instead
of advancing. The hexagram that appears while this line is
activated, changing to feminine and remaining still, is Guan (20),
(the feminine below) to observe (the masculine above). Here it is
advised to review its life to decide what future it wants.
The 4th line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) onto a tree; perhaps it could attain a flat branch, (which will end up with) no calamity (or fault).
Progress appears to arrive at an unfavourable position; it must determine the best means while in adversity to carry out its mission without fault or calamity.
Line 4 is the representative line of the upper trigram Xun denoting wood, i.e. a tree; therefore the wild goose flies onto a tree. The feminine line 4 rides on masculine line 3, like the wild goose perching precariously on a branch (as its webbed feet can't grip). However masculine line 5 above occupies it as if the wild goose were to find a flat branch. The inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) represented by line 4 is a hollow tree with a withered top, i.e. a flat branch, where the wild goose is able to perch.
Line 4 is the founding line of Jian and next to the target, line 5; but it is not at the position for correlation with it. Even if a woman can’t afford to conform to the formal marriage procedure, she is still able to marry a reliable husband to count on, like line 5 occupying line 4 and line 4 sustaining it. However this marriage ends up merely with freedom from fault or calamity, rather than auspiciousness like lines 2 and 5. From the perspective of proper procedure, a marriage without formal protocol, and just a single gift, is more fitting for a concubine.
Commentary on the image: Perhaps it could attain a flat branch; (line 4 should be) submissive in accordance with Xun.
Although the procedure is fixed, actions at each stage can be flexible. Xun is a trigram of modesty and obedience; it also denotes wind which possesses flexibility. Line 4, the representative of trigram Xun, submits to the status quo, acts with flexibility and keeps moving toward its target (which is unfortunately designated when hexagram Jian is formed).
Enlightenment through six four: take an alternative route to
reach a target or goal.
The tree is not a place suitable for the wild goose to perch.
However, if one can submit to adversity and be flexible with what
is available, one can still find a way to reach the target; this
will result in freedom from fault or calamity. Should this line
change to masculine, the hexagram would appear as Dun (33), to
retreat. Here it is advised to forsake vested interests
and leave with no obsession.
The 5th line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) onto a high mound; the female has not conceived for three years; at last nothing can defeat (them); (this is of) auspiciousness.
After progress has gradually passed through each step and overcome all difficulties, one after another, the wedding can take place.
Position 5 is where a hexagram reaches its full development and the highest point of gradual progress; thus the wild goose now flies onto a high mound. Line 5 is a masculine axle centre at its right position and in correlation with line 2; it is the one to whom the girl is engaged. The girl, line 2, practices fidelity; she has completed all the steps of the marriage procedure, but she hasn’t been wed, or conceived, even though there were other opportunities available on the way to position 5.
Three years signifies that line 2 has passed through three positions arriving at position 5; it also indicates a period of time that is neither long nor short.
Commentary on the image: At last nothing can defeat (them); (this is of) auspiciousness; one attains what one wishes.
Enlightenment through nine five: to accomplish what is intended. The wild goose flies onto a high mound, i.e. the highest place where humans reside. The girl who practices fidelity succeeds in following the correct procedure and ultimately weds. The girl and the wild goose reach their goals, their aims are realised. When this line is triggered to move toward femininity transforming along the way, the hexagram starts appearing as Gen (52), the mountain and keeping still, which signifies moving and stopping when appropriate, i.e. according to what is prescribed. Then the mountain is reached when hexagram Gen forms.
The 6th line
Text: The wild goose gradually progresses (Jian) to the land (where most humans reside); its feathers can be used as ornaments for the sacred dance; (this is of) auspiciousness.
The gradual progress in sequence has been accomplished at position 5 and achieves a satisfactory result; line 6 now reaches the end of the hexagram. It should return to normal from its exalted state, present this as a paragon and manifest it for others, like the wild goose returning to the land (i.e. the ground, from the high mount of position 5) and offering its feathers as ornaments for the sacred dance at the sacrificial ceremony.
The upper trigram Xun is wind which travels back and forth like a dance, while the inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire, brightness) denotes the pheasant and here is taken for the brilliant feathers of the wild goose. The feathers are dancing on the land at position 3 as signified below.
After the grand wedding party is held at position 5, the girl takes off her wedding gown and starts her new life as a wife; she will follow her husband forever, which is signified as a paragon, and which is auspicious.
Commentary on the image: Its feathers can be used as ornaments for the sacred dance; (this is of) auspiciousness; this cannot be disorderly.
Jian progresses gradually according to prescribed procedures from the beginning to the end as its hexagram name appears in every line; it doesn't permit disorder. A woman abides by the procedures and gets married; her husband is her desired goal. People who carry out their missions in sequence must not have an unlimited desire for more when their goals have been achieved.
Enlightenment through nine six: to retire when a mission is accomplished and establish a model for others to follow. After the wild goose has finished its journey, it flies back to the ground, like life returning to the normal after wedding. It offers its feathers as ornaments for the sacred dance in the sacrificial ceremony. All its steps have been orderly achieved; this is auspicious. If this line acts accordingly, it will change to feminine and remain still as the hexagram will become Jian3 (39), difficulty (in proceeding). Here it is advised to retreat.